Monday, December 20, 2010

Getting Near To The End

I have written about my Aunt Frieda before, but as I get closer to get to the end of life, the lessons that I learned from her are becoming more relevant and important to me.

Frieda was born and raised in Magdeburg, Germany. It is about 1-1/2 hours West of Berlin (150 km, 93 miles). Even today it is a delightful, beautiful middle aged town. She went to medical school, but had not quite finished when WWII came along and abruptly ended that dream permanently.

My Father's older brother served in the Army during WWII, and apparently was one of the allied soldiers who liberated Magdeburg. I don't know the details of how it came about, but he and Frieda met and they eventually ended up getting married. She loved Joe dearly. They had a wonderful, long marriage, and she was loyal and devoted to him even after his death from cancer many years later.

Frieda always had a lot of friends. People just naturally liked her, and she had a tremendous amount of energy. She had a dachshund that she loved dearly. All of her life she was active physically, up until the final year or 18 months at the end.

When her legs gave out on her she was devastated. It just totally destroyed her quality of life, which of course had a very negative effect on her outlook and attitude. I learned about Do Not Resuscitate from her. Once she could no longer get around her attitude towards life completely turned around. Each time I would call her, she went on and on about how much she hated her life now, and how much she wished that her life would go ahead and end. She was very ready to go, and was not at all happy about having to keep living out such a terrible end story.

I tried to be sympathetic, but I couldn't really. I guess that I had mixed feelings and felt that somehow she was being negative, weak and just wanted to give up. It seemed like a cop out.

Now I find myself in almost her exact same situation. I have always been active; one of those people who is constantly on the go. My legs have been one of my best assets. Hiking, racing bicycles, backpacking, snow skiing, mountain climbing, and scuba diving.

It just seems like my legs have let me down. Disloyal somehow.

I am typing this on the computer that I keep on the dining room table. After having peeled a Clementine orange and eaten it, I needed to go wash my hands. The kitchen sink is about 15 feet (4-1/2 meters) away. With the help of my cane I made the major journey over there. A pretty big deal, quite painful and a really major exercise.

I have been battling leukemia for almost ten years now. I am now in Stage 4 (there is no Stage 5). I think I have been strong and uncomplaining during this battle. I am not sure, but I think that I may now be in the process of kidney failure too. My legs have almost totally given out on me. I am in constant pain, and I cannot remember the last time that I had a good night's sleep.

It is considered rude or maybe not politically correct, but I have come to the conclusion I have every right to complain. I don't see how my quality of life could get much worse. This is not a temporary illness, from which I will recover. This is an inexorable decline. I own a high powered hand gun, so I have the means at my disposal to easily put myself out of my misery. I can now see that it is time to write at the end of the book: The End.

I now realize that it is totally insensitive and uncaring for people to be subtly putting pressure on me to continue with this pain and suffering, no matter how bad it gets. People who truly care about me should be listening with sympathy and compassion. They should be checking on me regularly by phone, and they should be trying to do whatever they can to make the remaining interval of my life as happy and painless as possible.



OBITUARY: On December 20, 2010 Paul Garland passed away peacefully in his home in El Paso, Texas.

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

The No Fast Moves Disease

As this medical situation continues to evolve, hopefully I now seem to be gradually moving beyond the phase of chest and nasal mucus. I still bring up a lot of mucus, but it seems like maybe it is a little less than it was a week ago. What with my fear of viral pneumonia, this would be good news.

The part of the disease where every tissue in the body aches terribly continues as strong as ever. Actually today it is much worse than it has been. It clearly is getting worse. Last night I wheeled the reclining office chair from my home office into the bedroom, right next to the bed. For several hours I tried sleeping it it. The idea being to spread the body's weight over a much larger surface area. The jury is still out.

When I am laying in bed, the thigh tissues get so painful from the contact and pressure from their own weight, that I eventually have to get up. Driving the little geezer mobility scooter my ass is just as unable to sustain the pressure which comes from the weight of the body; I suffer the exact same phenomenon even when driving the car and sitting on a nice soft seat. The ass skin and fat tissue are just no longer able to support any significant quantity of weight over time.

The feet and legs are sometimes more connected with the central nervous system; more common is for them to be largely uncontrollable, and for them to behave almost as dead weight. This is the situation today. The best advice when they are acting this way is, Keep all moves really slow.

The digestive system continues to be almost dysfunctional. At this time the kidneys and bladder appear to be functioning almost normally, other times the urine is extremely low volume and very highly concentrated. Some of this can be attributed to dehydration caused by inadequate drinking of water. I still have no explanation, not even any kind of wild speculation, for the testicles and penis to be so grotesquely swollen. After taking a shower, looking in the bathroom mirror, the swollen penis appears almost to have large blisters circling the head.

I am not afraid of dying. I already seem to have accomplished everything I want. But I am afraid of continuing on with this horrible pain and suffering. I still have a bit of hope that I have infuenza, and that I may begin getting better. But I don't really believe it. I almost constantly think of that Taurus Tracker .44 magnum, loaded with the silver Glaser Safety Slugs, and putting it up to my head. It would be such a relief.

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Dream Act

This proposed legislation finally died today. It was inevitable since many viewed this as a form of amnesty. The idea is good, although I think these kids need to have come to America when they were 10 years old or younger. And the amount of service needs to at least double. There probably should be an English language provision in it.

The real problem is, this time before anyone gets citizenship, the border problem has to be solved. Since we cannot built walls that tall or deep enough to prevent tunnels, the real answer is jobs. If the employers get in big trouble and pay large fines for hiring illegals it will help. By that I mean everyone from homeoners and farmers, to large manufacturing companies and food processors. Make the companies genuinely afraid of getting caught (what frightens companies is big fines and significantly lower profits), and they will stop.

After the continual undocumented alien entry situation is solved, then people will be more receptive to dealing with finding a fair way to provided citizenship to some of these illegals.

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Update - December 18, 2010

My abdomen has been bloated, distended, and very painful for a couple of weeks now. During the day the pain is bad, but at night it is very close to intolerable.

I haven't had a bowel movement of any significance in about the same period. Several times I have taken a fairly large dose of laxatives, but the only result has been a small amount of brown water about 10 - 12 hours later.

It seems like the body has just shut down the digestive process. The kidneys are still working a little, but they seem to be shutting down too. We may be facing a situation of multiple organ failure.

The respiratory infection battle which was making such a great mount of the nasal mucus and the mucus from the lungs seems to be abating. But even so the wracking cough continues, and I do still continue to cough up a big sticky load.

Much of the body remains very sensitive (painful) to the touch, from the thighs and abdomen around to the back of the torso. Hence laying down (to sleep) has become a big challenge. Perhaps I slept a little last night. Maybe not. It didn't feel like I got any sleep; and for a week or two sleep has been difficult.

The legs and feet barely work at all now. Even just lifting the legs into bed is a major undertaking. Inserting the legs, or removing them, from a set of loose fitting sweat pants sometimes is a major ordeal. The fingers and especially the fingertips are numb most of the time.

The dilemma continues. I am battling Stage IV leukemia (there is no Stage V). For several weeks now I have had at least one other serious illness layered on top of the leukemia. Perhaps influenza.

This is all so stressful that I am almost surprised I have not suffered a heart attack or some other major organ failure. I feel like the kidneys are borderline.

My criteria to myself has not changed. If the situation evolves into one where the pain and suffering become intolerable AND that it is all downhill from here, there is no hope that things are going to improve, then it is fair (maybe even sensible ) to consider the option of checking out at a time of your choosing. Rather than just accepting more terrible suffering which has to possibility of improving.

The goal is reduce NEEDLESS suffering. If there is even a remote possibility of improvement, then suicide is a very permanent solution to a temporary problem.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Latest Report

Some remarkable things have been happening with my body during the last 24 - 36 hours.

The body's immune system certainly has not defeated the bad head and chest cold; or maybe it is the flu. But it does seem to be making a bit of progress, if progress is measured in the quantity of sputum, snot, and mucus being expelled. Both the head and chest are still very much engaged in the battle though.

My entire torso, front and back, has become exceedingly tender and sensitive. The mind comes up with all sorts of seemingly logical and horribly frightening ideas, but the odds weigh in favor of simple muscle soreness due to the constant wracking cough. But I fear that without this violent coughing my lungs would rapidly fill up with this sticky mucus. Then I would drown in my own juices.

Now some fairly odd things: My fingers are now almost completely numb. This makes typing, doing buttons on shirts, tying shoes, etc. a challenge. Basically the same with my toes and feet; even walking as little as ten feet has become a real quest.

Under my arms and all around my neck I have had these enormous swollen lymph nodes, which were really hard. Now in the span of just one or two days these swollen lymph nodes have become soft, and seem to have decreased in size substantially. I can speculate as to what is happening here, but it would just be wild speculation.

The diameter of my flaccid penis has increased by at least 50%. Makes aiming it a real interesting situation. I've lived with this weenie for more than 60 years, and I know it well. I can't even begin to speculate about what is happening here!

I am in substantial pain, and I am suffering about as much as I can ever remember. If I thought that things would inexorably only remain the same or go down hill from here, then the .44 Magnum Dirty Harry option would become very attractive. Fortunately I am not convinced of this.

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Lunar Eclipse


Next week America will see the finest total lunar eclipse until 2014. So will much of the rest of the world. December 20, my nephew Matt's birthday.

I have spent many hours watching and photographing the moon. The moon, Saturn, and Jupiter and her moons are my favorites. I've got 6 telescopes, and for just "watching" the 8" Dobsonian is my favorite. See what Wikipedia has to say about them. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dobsonian

In years past the inventor, John Dobson, spent spent quite a bit of time here in El Paso with the local astronomy group.

At the moment I am very sick. I was diagnosed with this CLL leukemia almost ten years ago. It has gradually gotten worse. Every night now I wonder if I am going to make it through the night. I am now in Stage IV of the battle (there is no Stage V).

I have seen many lunar and solar eclipses, both in Europe and here in America. I guess this one will do just fine without me outside photographing it.

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I Am No Longer An Obama Apologist

Is Barack Obama a sellout? Of course the answer is Overwhelmingly Yes. For almost two years I defended his compromises with the right wing, but no more.

This Bush tax cut renewal for the super rich is the most disastrous thing he has done. Add in a social security payroll tax cut and it is an absolute disaster. I won't any longer even bother to list all the ways he has hurt the Democrats and helped the Republicans.

Obama campaigned as one type of person, but once elected almost immediately began behaving as Republican In Chief.

If it were two years from now and I was in the voting booth I would either vote for, or write in if I had to, the independent senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders. Check out this website: http://www.sandersforpresident.org/

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Dr. Who Christmas

In the run up to the Dr. Who Christmas Special they have made a fun little Dr. Who game.

http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/adventure_09/doctor-in-the-house.pdf

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Third Party Candidate To Oppose Obama

If looks like Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who caucuses with the Democrats, may well be our man to run against No-Backbone Obama.

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e Book Readers

I have "almost" bought a Kindle lots of times. They seem like neat toys. These electronic books are getting much cheaper.

The problem I see is that many times I buy used books. Used paper books are FAR cheaper than the equivalent e Book. Also, not every book is available electronically.

So for the time being I'm staying with paper. In fact yesterday I was reading a very long article from the internet about how Mexico is losing it. After a few pages I printed it on my laser printer...it was far easier to read when printed on paper.

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The Disingenuous Republicans

The right wing talks constantly about how bad off the federal budget is. But they will not consider reasonable solutions, like reducing defense spending considerably, or raising the level at which rich people no longer have to contribute to FICA. In actual fact these lying bastards on the right want to totally eliminate Social Security and Medicaid. They use various synonyms like privatization, but they have been very consistent about their ultimate goal for many years.

Their continuation of the Bush tax cuts on the super-rich is going to have disastrous consequences. Their "compromise" with Obama has already meant substantial cuts to the mission and funding of the Environmental Protection Agency.

So why are these right wingers willing to allow substantial cuts (temporary) in the employee payroll deductions for Social Security? Simple. The Republicans can then claim even more so (incorrectly) that the Social Security retirement trust fund is in serious and immediate trouble. Absolutely untrue. The big problem is medicaid, but the right wing would prefer that we not understand the distinction. between the two social programs.

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WikiLeaks

(Once again it is 1:00 a.m., and all the sticky mucus in my lungs is making breathing and sleeping difficult.)

After seeing this unfold for several days now, I feel like I have a little broader perspective.

If hackers do actual or financial damage to a website which can be documented to the satisfaction of a jury of your peers, there should be some way to hold them accountable. But for the most part that is not what is happening in this situation. What with the anonymity of the web, and so many of the people using it employing fake names, this will be difficult to solve.

What WikiLeaks has been doing is really a different situation entirely. The New York Times and the Guardian Newspaper in England have printed much of the leaked stuff. These are largely governmental documents that have been classified. What we have found out in reading them is that in many cases having this information be out in the open just gives ordinary citizens and voters a better and more accurate view of what their governments really are doing. In many cases the government officials, even in democracies like the USA, have been saying one thing to the people, but actually pursuing a totally different course in secret.

In many, perhaps most, of the cases the purpose of this government secrecy appears to be only to protect the government from its own people. This is not how democracies are supposed to function. Over-classification is absolutely rampant, at least in America. So in this way what all this disclosing is doing is actually proving very positive. Uncomfortable for many of the people who this excessive secrecy has been protecting, but supportive indeed for government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

WikiLeaks, The New York Times, and others have tried to verify the accuracy of the information disclosed. They have even asked the government to help them weed out names or things which might put people in actual danger. WikiLeaks is not the one who stole and disclosed this information. I guess they encouraged it, but in many ways I am having a hard time defining big differences between what they did and what the New York Times has done.
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(It is 6:45 a.m. the next day. I made it through the night, even though last night I felt like a 50:50 chance of making it through the night was downright optimistic. I started showing signs of this respiratory infection five days ago, and so far it has gotten worse each day. My abdomen is very sore from all the coughing and trying to get rid of the mucus. My lungs and sinuses keep expelling large quantities of this mucus. The good news: One more day of one day at a time.)
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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Super Sticky Mucus

It is 1:00 a.m.

I finally decided to just quit fighting trying to breathe, so I got up out of a nice warm bed. I guess that most of the people who would do that and are up now in the middle of the night are either old folks and/or sick people. If I turned on the TV right now I would probably see all the advertisements and infomercials directed at separating sick old people from some of their money. Geezer mobility carts (the modern day, battery powered wheelchair), all sorts of insurance, some of dubious reputability, and maybe even one of the Bernie Madoff type of so called investment advisers.

I was having problems with all the dryish, very sticky mucus in the lungs. It was there and I was very aware of it, but I wasn't having much luck in coughing it up. Then I remembered having bought a single person vaporizer about a year or two ago. I got up, and fairly quickly I found it in the back of the cabinet under the sink in the guest bathroom.

Here in the desert the relative humidity normally is fairly low. And in the winter it gets even dryer. Just bone ass dry.

You plug this thing in (they call it an inhaler), and put maybe 1/8 of a cup of water in it. Once it heats up it starts making hot, very wet air which you breathe in. The ideal would be to get the inside of your nasal passages and lungs nice and moist in order to help get this dryish and amazingly sticky mucus to come out.

I have been using it while I typed the above, and I remembered from when I bought it and used it the first time. Yes, technically it does make the heated moist air, but breathing it doesn't actually help nearly as much in real life as one would think it might. The super sticky mucus is a problem. It is my best option at this point, so I'm continuing, periodically stopping to try and blow my nose or cough up some nasty sticky stuff.

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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia - CLL

I read on someone's web site today this description: "I am battling Stage IV leukemia, and there is no Stage V." That is a factually correct description of my situation too.

I won't bore you by going over the long list of symptoms of CLL again. At the moment I also have a massive head and chest cold, or maybe it is the flu. Lots of very sticky, green phlegm and mucus, from the sinuses and also from the lungs. I don't know if it is viral or bacterial, but I am conserving the few antibiotics I have left, now that I can no longer go over to Juarez, Mexico and buy more.

Of course this is America, so being out of work I have no health insurance, thus no access to the medical establishment.

What I do know is that the combination of a bad cold or flu, and the leukemia is just almost more than my body can take. I barely have the strength to walk the 15 or 20 feet to the bathroom. I arrive heavily out of breath. Raising my arm and keeping it aloft while I brush my teeth is pushing the limits of my stamina too.

At the end of the CLL road, many people die from pneumonia. Even with antibiotics and proper medical care, the body's weakened immune system simply isn't strong enough to win the battle. I don't think that is what is going to happen this time, but heaven only knows.

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Obama Fighting The Democrats

Don't you wish he would fight the Republicans this hard? He knows that the progressives and liberals don't want him damaged, so he can self indulge his bully like behavior.

Oh goodness, we sure made a horrible mistake electing this dishonest, no backbone, wanna be Republican.

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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Single Term Obama

After President Obama supporting the extension of the budget-breaking Bush tax cuts for the super wealthy, it now is firmly set in concrete. Mr. Obama will not win a second term as President. No way. Not a chance.

By authorizing drilling in environmentally sensitive areas where even Bush would not tread, he has demonstrated to the environmental community that he is anti-environmentalist. Same with his support for nuclear power. He is the most pro-nuke president America has had in a long time. His pathetic simulation of universal health care shows his timidity. Many millions of Americans still will not have access to health care. No responsible economist is saying that his reforms of the gross abuses on Wall Street are anywhere nearly up to the job. This guy is all talk, very little action.

He has greatly increased the funding and staffing for needless wars. The killings by drone with no trial, no charges, no judge or jury have expanded greatly. This expense of the military and intelligence is bankrupting America.

Obama has gone along with cuts in social security and other social safety nets. He has done nothing to help reverse, not even talk about, the growing death of the middle class. Banana Republic America.

Mr. Obama has no backbone. He is a wimpy, low testosterone man. He sometimes says the correct things, like during the campaign where he said he supported single-payer health care, but his actions have proven to be that of a warmonger and a right wing wanna be Republican.

He is a pitiful example of someone pretending to be something they are not. How sad.

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Monday, December 06, 2010

The Obama Tax Cuts

Since Obama and his Republican buddies extended the tax cuts for the super-wealthy, we need to stop calling them the Bush tax cuts and start calling them the Obama tax cuts.

This guy is an absolute loser. No guts, no backbone, no balls.

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CLL

I am in the phase of CLL where the itching is a pretty good imitation of intolerable. I did some research today on the internet, and I see that even my old leukemia doctor in the UK doesn't for sure accept that itching is caused by CLL. Apparently some think it may be a side effect of the various toxic treatments. But not with me, since I have had no treatment of any kind for my leukemia. Lots of blood tests, but no actual treatment.

There are even some reputable leukemia docs who do not agree for sure that the extreme fatigue and weariness is actually a symptom of CLL. To these people I say that, "You are full of baloney." It amazes me that with CLL being as common as it is, the doctors do not know more about it or have therapies that work better. CLL is still incurable for most people, and in some cases the patient would be better off and have a longer life expectancy without any therapy.

I am at the stage now after almost 10 years where my platelets have declined well below normally accepted minimum levels. Same with the red blood cells and hemoglobin. So if I do anything even the slightest bit active, the important tissues in my body quickly run out of oxygen. I can barely walk, and I nod off with little short naps throughout the day.

This afternoon it was beautiful outside, so I took the dog for a walk, with me riding the geezer mobility scooter. A friend calls his a motorized wheelbarrow. I kept nodding off while driving, and twice I drove off the sidewalk. Once I ran into the rock wall which paralleled the sidewalk. Fortunately no damage was done to the wall or to my scooter.

Twice during the course of our walk today we stopped so that Inu could sniff and pee. And I immediately fell sound asleep. I didn't drift off to sleep; it was like someone turned the light switch off. Each time he yanked on the leash to wake me up, indicating that we needed to continue on with our walk. The little guy really has become a service dog.


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Continuing The Tax Cuts For The Wealthy

No Backbone Obama is getting ready to cave, as always.

I just called the Congressman for our district at his office in Washington, D.C. I asked the lady to pass the message to Congressman Silvestre Reyes that I would like for him to vote against the bill extending the Bush tax cuts if the tax cuts for the wealthy are included.

I have a prepay cellphone, and this call from Texas to Washington, D.C. cost fifty cents. I urge everyone to call their representatives. It is time to start standing up to President Obama and his center right wing agenda, even if we have to wage a revolt within the Democratic Party.

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Sunday, December 05, 2010

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Communication and Compromise

Since the invention of movable type by Gutenberg, and mass literacy, most of us have gotten our news from the same sources. Before radio it was the newspaper or even newsreels at the theater before the movie started. Then radio came along and there was a small bit of diversification. When TV got popular in the 1950's we all watched the same nightly news from the same commentator. Perhaps someone like Walter Concrite.

Nearly all Americans spoke the same language, practically everyone was a Christian and even went to church pretty often, literacy rates were at least as high as they are today, and with some minor regional differences we basically all were part of the same culture. If not, then you were isolated from society. Now some expect and demand that it be possible to be a success in American society while not even being able to speak the English language.

In the twenty first century it is common to have well over a hundred channels on one's TV. There are news channels dedicated to the right wing racists, and other news channels which pretend to be more balanced. I get most of my news from the internet, not the nightly news on TV or even PBS. One of the great things about internet browsers is that I can set up my home page almost whatever way I like. I have mine showing me the news from various smart and honest people like Rachel Maddow and Jon Stewart. Of course I don't want to get my hands dirty by getting my news from the lying and biased racists like FOX News.

When watching TV (even on PBS) people don't normally talk and reason with each other anymore. Compromise for the greater good is a dying art. They talk at each other, and have no qualms about being horribly rude by constantly interrupting the other person. Trying to form a consensus is no longer fashionable. If the other guy gives or concedes just a little bit, then I should brutally slap him down, advance, and take full advantage of him.

Enjoying watching people get Punked, and even enjoying watching people get physically hurt; as well as "put down humor" are part of this same sadistic phenomenon. Isolation and anonymity are associated with this all.

This is President Obama's biggest problem. He still thinks that it is possible and realistic that people in Congress will form a consensus and compromise with each other for the greater good. That is why he continually gets brutalized and has sand kicked in his face.

Having lived almost twenty years of my adult life abroad I can say with some level of certainty that the problems of cooperating and forming a consensus are not somehow isolated to America. One thing is absolutely certain: If we do not all speak and use the same language our communication with each other will be even more stunted and defective. Spanish speakers in America, Turkish in Germany, French vs. Flemish in Belgium, etc. This Tower of Babel problem is very serious, and it appears to be getting worse rather than improving.

So how can we take this information and use it to help us lead better lives that are more satisfying? Beats me. I haven't figured that out yet. Maybe this is what living in a gated community is all about.

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Religion

I got an email from Amazon.co.uk this morning. Apparently they think I am seriously spiritually challenged, because they thought I might be interested in buying a CD called Vedic Mantras (Sacred Hindu Chants) by Saashwathi Prabhu. It includes the following songs: Om Chant, Om Namaha Shivaya, Atmashatak (Nivanashatak), Shiva Manasa Puja, and of course the rocking famous Swasti Mantra and Shanti Path.

I don't know what any of these words mean, and I don't care even slightly. Whether it is Hindu, Buddhism, Islam, Shinto, or Christianity I am sure that there are some people who actually live better, kinder, and more caring lives because of their blind faith. Not me.

In my experience all "organized" religions are about enriching the priesthood and their holding power.....maybe even taking unfair advantage of their parishioners. No thanks. I'll pass on the whole religion thing.

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Friday, December 03, 2010

Dissolve The Government and Call For New Elections

Many Democracies around the world have procedures whereby the government can be dissolved and new elections called.

Under the American form of Democracy there is basically no realistic way to call for new Presidential Elections. Once you have a president you are just stuck with him until his term expires.

America is facing a turbulent period during the next 5 to 10 years. It is just so sad that we have to do so watching a guy with no backbone constantly caving in to the right wingers. It will take many years to recover from the Obama/Republican damage...if American ever does. This may just be the start of the rapid and permanent decline of America.

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Watching President Obama Self Destruct

Obama Has No Backbone

The latest episode in the sad decline of Mr. Obama goes this way.

The center right wing (the Obama administration) has been negotiating with (caving in to, as always) the radical right wing, also called the Republicans. The Obama led center right wing is once again going back on his campaign promises. They are going to continue the outrageous Bush tax breaks on the wealthy who earn more than $250,000 per year.

This right wing economic theory has been proven to be total hogwash. The Republicans are not bright enough to see that they are bankrupting the country and tearing it apart culturally. Some Republicans are blinded by their greed, but many others just don't care.

President Obama is not in any way a progressive or a liberal. He is nothing more than a spineless, no conviction, right wing Chicago politician.

Oh God, how sad. This is happening at the very worst time too.


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Thursday, December 02, 2010

Where Do We Go From Here?

America, and much of the rest of the world, has really serious problems with their economies. I read yesterday that this is the worst the American economy has been in eighty years. In America we have an aging population as in Europe, Russia, Japan, and even China.

The Republicans no longer even try to hide their contempt for the poor and the working-middle classes. They and their tea party buddies are openly racist. It is their clear intent to eliminate government funded social security, and they have devoted a lot of time and resources to turning back Obama's modest health care reforms.

I am now in my sixties as are many of my friends. It is pretty common at this age to develop chronic diseases or serious, life threatening things like cancer. Young people think old geezers just quietly fade away. Maybe this is how it used to happen when the old folks were taken care of as part of a larger familial group. But now that the kids and grandkids live a long way away, and they are so busy keeping their own lives afloat, the communication with grandpa and grandma is becoming increasingly less frequent.

Many of the baby boomers who are just now reaching the 60's are well educated, and grew up during the civil rights and Vietnam War protests. We have believed in Democracy, capitalism, and the free market. And now it is all turning out to be a house of cards and false.

Democrats have moved so far to the right that they are virtual Republicans. The voters vote, especially us old folks, and then the elected officials do what their large campaign contributors want rather than what the voters back home want. American democracy has turned into a sham. Capitalism and the free market are destroying the middle class and enriching only the wealthy. The "trickle down" phenomenon has turned out to be Ray-guns hogwash and a complete lie.

So you have a growing group of rather angry old folks. Maybe even a bit bitter. Once the doctors tell you that you have incurable cancer, it changes your outlook subtly. Once you no longer have anyone dependent upon you, there certainly is far less to lose. Increasingly the census bureau reports more and more single person household. This is true of young people, but also among us old folks. Anonymity. A dangerous word and a dicey concept.

I am beginning to worry that some of the less emotionally stable members of the old folks group may start thinking about taking extreme action. If you have lost your job, have lost your house and family, and you have no health insurance you begin to realize that most of this is because of the breakdown in democracy and the evils of the market and capitalism. And greed and arrogance.

Then when the doctors tell you that you are dying of some incurable disease, there may be some who think, "Why not just put a large caliber bullet in my brain?"

More dangerous in my mind are the other old folks who might conclude, "Before I put that handgun to my own head, perhaps I can do society one more bit of good by murdering someone else first. Some dishonest, fat-assed, racist, right wing politician." It used to be only the red necks and radical right wingers that had these dangerous ideas. I fear that with the societal breakdown that is occurring we will begin to see more and more of the smart, well educated, progressive-liberal old folks coming to the same conclusion.

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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Car Ad Spoof - Really Funny

The best part is right at the end. video

Tax Cuts For The Rich

The overwhelming and vast majority of voters in the American Democracy do not want to continue the Bush tax cuts for the rich. Large majority.

The Republicans and their fellow travelers are beholden to the rich because of the way way that political campaigns are financed in America. I call this corruption and bribery. If Obama caves in to the Republicans now on this issue, then I give up on him. We may as well just go ahead and plan on a single term Presidency, with a Republican as our next President.

Democracy is not just voting for a candidate every few years, and then forgetting all about what the voters back home want. There have been cases where the legitimacy of the vote has been seriously eroded too; see Bush vs. Gore. President Jimmy Carter's foundation goes all over the world supervising and auditing elections to make sure that they are conducted in fair and transparent manner, and that the results are accurate. He says that there is no way the American system would pass the test. Not even close.

Representative Democracy means that once elected the public official should try his best to do his job in the manner that the people back home would want. So if most of the people in his district want to end the Bush tax breaks for the super rich, or do not want social security benefits reduced, then that is how he should vote on legislation or amendments. Regardless of how his largest campaign contributors might react, or whether he will be re-elected for another term in office.

Link to a good article on this: http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2010/11/30/tax_cut_showdown/index.html

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It Is Cold!


Yahoo weather says that it is 25 degrees F (-3.8 degrees C) in El Paso, Texas right now. That is cold, for sure. But nothing compared with what my European friends are experiencing right now. The biggest airport in Europe (Frankfurt, Germany) has had problems remaining open as has Gatwick in London. I read that it has been below 0 F, and that the maximum daytime temperature is going to stay below freezing for the next few days. Snow everywhere.

In Amsterdam they have rounded up the homeless people and are requiring them to sleep inside. In other places it remains voluntary and a recommendation.

These are good times to stay inside, nice and toasty warm, and enjoy the beauty of the snow by looking out the window. Although really, if you are dressed up properly a nice walk in the forest or even snow camping can be very pleasant. Of course if you are not dressed correctly either could be quite deadly.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bookmarks

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I've had a lot of bookmarks over the years, but at the moment these are my favorites.


I bought the Bronze Bear and Charlemagne's Tomb from some nuns who were holding a sort of rummage sale in the annex to the Treasury of Charlemagne's magnificent 1,200 year old Cathedral in Aachen, Germany. Both are printed on thin aluminum.


The real bear is to your right as you come into the cathedral. I guess it is about 3 or 4 feet tall and allegedly dates to the Roman era, almost 2,000 years ago. In Germany they call Charlemagne "Karl The Great." His throne is on the second floor, looking down at the people in the church.








I got the now well worn Clan MacGregor bookmark on one of my trips to Scotland. We have distant ancestors who were a part of Clan MacGregor.


The You Are Here came with a used book which I purchased from a bookstore in New York City.








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Sanctuary


One of my top five favorite TV shows is a science fiction series out of Canada called Sanctuary.

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Dear Hilary,

Dear Hilary,

I guess people before you have asked our diplomats to spy on the diplomats of our allies, but if so they did it a little more discretely.

You should have learned by now: If you are going to discuss doing something illegal or something which has the potential to be extremely embarrassing, do it in person, with no one else in the room. You should know better than to leave such a great paperwork trail.

Emails are never actually erased. You may click that button which says erase, and your copy may go away, but you can be sure that there are backups upon the backs of backups of your original incriminating email.

You won't be fired over this, but only because President Obama is such a weak and inexperienced leader. You should have the dignity to resign over it.

Best Regards,


Paul Garland
El Paso, Texas

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World AIDS Day

Wednesday is World AIDS Day. Worldwide so much more could be done to reduce further spread of HIV/AIDS.

The media has been been very honest and straightforward in telling needle drug users not to share needles. Governments have even instituted programs of giving way free hypodermic needles.

The same sort of honesty needs to be heard about male-male homosexuality and anal intercourse. I don't hold any religious beliefs for or against being a gay or a lesbian. But the male homos are wasting many millions of dollars every year with their expensive taxpayer paid treatments. This money should be going to poor, sick people's medical care who did not cause their disease by constantly doing dumb things.

We need to be open and honest about it. Anal intercourse is something that only really stupid and/or abusive people do.

So I don't care if two men want to kiss and pretend they are married, as long as there is no anal intercourse or oral sex either. They will just have to get by with hand jobs.

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Wikileaks

I'm sure that lots of people hate Wikileaks. Especially those who are trying to keep things hidden from public view: corruption, dishonesty, and all different varieties of sick manipulative behavior.

I can't say that I fully 100% agree with everything they are doing, but in general I think that in the long term, most things work out best when one is honest. Letting the sun shine in can solve all sorts of problems. "Does this dress make my ass look enormous?" That is a trick question, and if you answer it "Yes" this is not honesty...it is brutality.

It is just too bad that most of the investigative reporters and journalists have been let go and are now employed in new career fields. With the rise of the internet and blogs, newspapers are dying. Greed and excessive concern for the short term bottom line by the owners of these papers is another part of the problem. With all the dishonesty and corruption going on in Washington, D.C., we never needed honest, career investigative journalists more than we do now.

Only repeating what someone says is simply being their publicist. Verifying and digging into the details of what they are saying to see if they are coloring the truth is essential to the proper functioning of a Democracy. There isn't a lot of this going on anymore in the just-in-time 24 hour news cycle.

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Bipartisan My Ass

“Whenever a fellow tells me he's bipartisan I know he's going to vote against me” - Harry Truman

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Homeland Security Is Totally Out Of Control

The Somali born Portland bomber once again reinforces an important point. This guy is a university student and a naturalized U.S. citizen. The U.S. Government, and in particular the ignorant cretins at Homeland Security continue to try and pretend to themselves and try to convince other people that 60 year old white grandmothers and 9 year old blonde haired boys pose as large a security threat as some 20-30'ish dark skinned fellow with a name like Mohamed.

While the former cannot be totally ruled out, the later is far more likely to be the person that Homeland Security needs to be worried about.

These people at Homeland Security are delusional, they are casing all sorts of headaches to innocent travelers, and they are wasting large chunks of taxpayer money.

Now they have excluded pilots and big muckity-muck government workers and elected officials from the humiliation of getting publicly molested and felt up, not to mention the cumulative effects of small doses of scanner radiation.

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Is President Obama a Bully? Honest...

Since Barack Obama has become President there have been persistent reports about him using his sharp elbows very aggressively while playing basketball. There is a problem with this. Back when he was merely another struggling young lawyer, if he wanted to get physical with his opponents that was his legitimate option. The guys he elbowed could in turn inflict physical pain on him if they were that kind of person.

This syndrome of excessive competitiveness combined with aggression and even physical violence is fairly normal among some not very morally and spiritually advanced men. Read jocks. Ray Decerega, who works for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, was playing basketball with the President. Apparently he had taken all the elbowing that he could handle. He very deftly elbowed our bully of a young President right back, and Mr. Obama required some 12 stitches to his lip.

The difference now is that most people are in awe of the office of President, and all the regal trappings of wealth, glory, and power. Not to mention that the President is constantly surrounded by his bodyguards, the very competent secret service agents. When one has a job that confers great prestige and power, one has a duty to behave in a civilized fashion and not abuse the power which comes with the job title.

Getting a reputation as the kind of guy who vigorously elbows his opponents while playing basketball indicates that one has problems with the abuse of power and being a bully. Of course in real life if you actually confront a bully, maybe even slap him around a little (intellectually or physically), they normally just slink off whimpering with their tails solidly between their legs.

This is just the exact syndrome we have grown used to seeing every time that President Obama has been confronted by the right wingers and political opposition. He will go down in history as our "no-backbone president." Maybe being raised in a household without a father present caused this.

What a pity.

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Energy Consumption

Looking at the latest bills from the electric company and the gas company together is interesting to me. My little energy efficient house uses almost no natural gas except during the winter, and then it peaks in January.

The electricity consumption of the house is almost exactly the inverse. Average usage is fairly low but goes up greatly during the summer when the air conditioning is running. Electrical usage peaks in July.

I have had my second Toyota Prius for just over a year now. One of the trip odometers keeps track of average fuel economy since the moment I drove the car off the Toyota dealer's lot almost 9,000 miles ago. My average including bad days and good ones is just over 56 miles per gallon.

My overall energy footprint is far below the American average. I live comfortably too. It is possible to have a nice lifestyle while wasting far less energy.


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Virgin Mobile Mifi


This is unsolicited. I don't sell these devices or have anything to gain financially. I'm just an owner/user.

The Virgin Mobile Mifi is wonderful. It is about the same size as a thick credit card. It is your own personal wifi hot spot. The program I am on is $40- per month full internet access, unlimited usage. But it is a pay as you go set up, so if I choose I can not use it for several months and not pay. Then, like this morning, when I do want to use it I simply do a few clicks and another one month at $40- goes into it.

Today is the day after Thanksgiving. Some call it Black Friday. I guess lots of people are at home using their AT&T DSL because mine is running a bit slower than normal. Today I am getting much faster internet access using the Virgin Mobile Mifi.

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Barack Obama - Enemy Of The Working Man

I find it interesting how often after you get to know people that they end up being something entirely different than they appeared at first. Some of this is self delusion, hoping that they will be a certain type of person, and some of it is very intentional dishonesty. People pretending to be something they really are not.

Barack Obama certainly is not at all who we thought he was when we were working on his campaign for President. He allegedly had the very most liberal voting record of anyone in the U.S. Senate, and he described himself as a Community Organizer.

It turns out that in real life Obama is just another Republican sympathizer masquerading as a Democrat. He continues to say many of the right words, but his actions are almost always right-wing. When he actually does finally, eventually take some action. He has shown himself to be a timid, spineless man who quickly sells out his campaign promises and the principles of the Democratic party pretty much every single time he gets into any kind of a negotiating situation.

Obama and his team are now openly working to destroy social programs like Social Security and Medicare. The idea that the rich would receive a tax increase and the middle and working classes would not is losing favor and just isn't going to happen.

Obama and his fellow travelers are completely opposed to reducing the grossly wasteful spending on the military, defense, homeland security, and intelligence. Instead they want to destroy the meager social safety net which was in place when he became President. If Obama were a genuine Democrat he would be doing everything he could to improve this social safety net.

There is a genuine problem with increasing the age of normal retirement under Social Security. While white collar workers and the rich are indeed living longer, farmers, farm workers, truckers, construction workers, factory workers, janitors, and cooks are not living longer. Increasing their normal full retirement age to 69 is cruel and barbarous.

Obama loaded up his deficit reduction commission with right-wingers. If this was not absolutely intentional on his part then it shows a neglect and incompetence on the scale one would expect from the intellectually challenged ex-beauty queen Mrs. Palin.

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful in 2010

Experiencing and showing gratitude, humility, and thankfulness may well be the most important qualities needed in order to lead a happy life.

Certainly resilience and the ability to make major moves and changes when necessary are also important. Having tried very hard to make three marriages work, I can say with certainty that realistic (i.e., lowered) expectations are critical to both a successful marriage and a fulfilling life.

The leukemia is getting pretty advanced now, and it is almost like the alcoholics say, "One Day At A Time." Perhaps I'll be around for another Thanksgiving, but equally likely not. So now is a good time to openly be thankful.

My life has been blessed with lots of success and good luck. Of course there are those who say that the harder you work, the luckier you get. Yes, I have worked hard. Isn't that what turns an irresponsible boy into a man?

I've traveled widely abroad, I've been a certified scuba diver, a pilot, an amateur radio operator, a photographer, I have raced bicycles in Europe, owned horses, and have occasionally been an enthusiastic lover. I learned computer programming just as home computers were first beginning to come out in the 1970's, and I was on the ballot and got elected to a post as a minor Democratic Party official.

Between the love of reading (thanks to my parents for that), an open mind, some great professors at the University of Texas campuses in El Paso and Austin, Texas and the Ball State University campus in West Germany (plus an ulcer and migraine headaches) I was fortunate to end up being a fairly well educated man. My main career in food processing was challenging - and I mean that in the good way.

As I went along I've managed to gather together world class collections of oil lamps from the late 1800's, carbide bicycle lamps from the early 1900's, fluorescent minerals, vaseline glass, cameras from the twentieth century, Renaissance and middle age stoneware pottery, some African art, and a good collection of two thousand year old Roman coins and antiquities. I've collected a bit of art along the way too. In some ways the chase was the best part.

I've had some great friends and a few really wonderful bosses too. There were a few scoundrels and bitter enemies along the pathway too, but they just made me even stronger and wiser. So if there is some kind of higher being out there (doubtful but possible) I would like to thank him for all these opportunities I was given. To my friends and family, thank you for your support, loyalty, and friendship.

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Tavis Smiley Interview of Jimmy Carter



Last night from my DVR I watched an interview of President Jimmy Carter by Tavis Smiley which was conducted just a few weeks ago. Carter is on a publicity trip promoting his newest book "White House Diary."

I found this interview to be really amazing. Carter is almost 90 years old, but he is just as sharp as a tack. And the really amazing part is that he is still humble. I can't recommend this interview highly enough.

Jimmy Carter explained very succinctly why we must achieve campaign finance reform, discussed negative campaign ads, and other presidents from Reagan to Obama.

One little minor part of the interview sticks out in my memory. Jimmy Carter is at heart a very enthusiastic, upbeat, and positive thinking man. No negative energy for him! Somehow the conversation got around to whether the federal government in Washington, D.C. has evolved into something that cannot accomplish anything meaningful, and has actually become an ungovernable monster. Carter said that in national politics things were worse now than he had ever seen at any time in his long life.

This interview is only about 20 minutes long. You can be apathetic and go back to watching TV or surfing Facebook and Twitter. Or you can make the decision to take a few minutes to watch this. Its up to you.
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LINK TO INTERVIEW VIDEO: http://video.pbs.org/video/1625548776/
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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Fluorescent Minerals


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A few of my fluorescent mineral pictures from the website of the Flourescent Mineral Society:

http://uvminerals.org/gallery/v/members/hpgarland/

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Old Folks Voting Patterns

One of the reasons that the Democrats suffered such a big loss in the recent mid-term elections is because so many of the swing voters switched from the Democrats to the right wingers like the Republicans and the Tea Party.

If you look deeper into the numbers you find that the main group which made the switch were us old geezers; and old folks vote in large numbers. Seniors may no longer be able to do many things, but this generation of seniors still realizes the power they wield when they go into that polling place to vote.

This move to the right may be in the self interest of old people, or it may not. But in large numbers they became convinced that Obama and the liberals wanted to institute death panels and make cuts to sacred programs like social security, medicare, and medicaid. In fact as it turns out there have been some cuts made, and there is talk of even deeper cuts. Whether the right or the left has been responsible for these cuts is difficult to say. Generally speaking traditional Democrats supported social programs like social security. Over the last thirty years the Democrats have gradually shifted further to the right wing, so as not to alienate their large campaign contributors. It is now often to tell the difference between a Republican and a Democrat.

Even though old people are consistently high voters, they can easily be misled and actually end up voting for politicians who cut their favored programs once they get in office.

Defense, the military, and intelligence gathering have to see their funding cut substantially. On the order of 40% budget cuts. Once this is done there will be more than enough money to adequately fund the programs which help out seniors.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has one purpose: Making certain that the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution stays alive and that no legislation is passed limiting the right of individual citizens to own and carry loaded guns. Primarily for self protection, but also for hunting. The focus of the NRA is extremely narrow. They are a single issue group, and they do not allow themselves to get weakened by branching off into other issues like abortion. This focus on one issue (pro-gun) and one group of constituents (gun owners) has helped make them the most effective lobbying group in Washington.

Old folks need this same kind of narrow focus, single issue group. I had hoped that the American Association of Retired People (AARP) or the Grey Panthers might become this sort of advocacy group. Instead both have become top heavy bureaucracies where most of their revenue comes from being an insurance sales agency. Survival and growth of the group has become the first priority, and supporting the political programs which help old people has gone far down their list of priorities.

Neither has been the slightest bit effective at communicating to old people the issues or politicians who want to cut their social security, medicaid, and medicare. Alerting old people to contact their senators or representatives regarding a particular bill, etc. The NRA does a great job of this day-to-day work. AARP doesn't even seem to care. As the demographics of our population and our society gradually gets older, this need will become even more urgent. There is a real void here that is not being properly filled, so the right wing weirdos are inserting themselves. The result has not been good for old people.

It is a pity to see old people voting in such really large numbers, but in their ignorance actually voting for issues or people which are harmful to old people. The internet can be helpful or it can lead people astray. What is essential is having a narrowly focused, single minded, effective group like the NRA which is strong and active in Washington, D.C.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Blue Moon

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We had a full moon last night, and technically it was a blue moon. I took this picture by removing the lens from my Nikon D300s digital SLR camera, and using a Meade RB-60 telescope as the lens. This gives me an effective focal length of 1050 mm in 35 mm equivalents.

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

The TSA is Out Of Control

In totalitarian states like North Korea, Iran, China, or the old USSR the government routinely abused its citizens in a variety of ways.

This is not the USSR. America is a Democracy, and our government is By The People and For The People. It is inexcusable that the TSA was allowed to get to this bad. We tolerated them because we sort of believed that maybe it was helping protect the country from Terrorists. No More.

These are just low paid, power mad little people showing us all that they can get away with this crap. In a representative Democracy our elected officials are supposed to protect us from this sort of overbearing abuse. But these jerks with the TSA are even doing the same stuff to our elected representatives.

Out of control. Yet President No Balls Obama says that we just have to put up with it. Sorry Pal, you lose.

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

TSA Caves In to Pilots

The TSA has granted pilots an exemption from both getting scanned and getting felt up.

What about the waitresses, oops, stewardesses and stewards. They also might receive excessive radiation from all the constant scans, and is it really appropriate to have some fat dyke who works for TSA constantly feeling up their breasts and vaginas? I think this is borderline rape.

This whole TSA thing is B.S. anyway. They have never caught one single terrorist. And they should in fact be profiling. None of the terrorists have been white grandmothers or children. Most were males with dark skin in a certain age group, with a foreign sounding name like Mohamed. They all came in on international flights. The problem is not flights originating in America.

And our timid, "don't kick sand in my face, please" president, Barack Obama, just says we have to put up with this crap. I have been a liberal Democrat for more than 40 years now, but I mean it when I say that if Obama ends up being a single term president that is probably all for the best.

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Boner




Emotionally unstable.




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War With China?

War with China? Just get in line behind Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Iran.

They used to try and hide their enormous egos and arrogance, and at least pretend. But the pretense of courtesy and international diplomacy is gradually being dropped. Whether it is artificially manipulating the value of their currency, restricting the importation of competing foreign goods, human rights, taking a no prisoners approach with the Japanese over rare earth metals, the disputed islands between their two countries, internet censorship within China, exporting very hazardous children's toys, or briefly taking over the world wide internet on two different occasions.

I am not a Catholic, so I shouldn't care that China's state-backed Catholic church has challenged the Vatican by ordaining a bishop without papal approval. This is a clear indication of their excessive pride and high handedness.

The Chinese have been behaving like poorly raised teenaged boys, constantly testing the limits of what they can get away with. Pushing further and further.

Lets hope that internal dissension by the Chinese people solves this problem before it becomes necessary for the Western powers to take the Chinese leaders down and notch or two. One sure wouldn't want to go into something like this with a weak and timid leader like the U.S. Has at the moment.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Coal

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BBC's article today about the coal mine explosion in New Zealand has a graphic showing the coal seams in the area. It intrigued me. It made me wonder, how was coal formed, and why is it found in just in these thin seams?

I say thin, but looking at the Brunner seam in the Pike River mine it shows that the coal seam is 7 meters (23 feet) thick. That is thick enough to be significant and easily workable with heavy machinery. Twenty three feet of compacted, fossiled ferns is one hell of a lot of ancient plant life.

“Coal begins as layers of plant matter accumulate at the bottom of a body of water. For the process to continue the plant matter must be protected from biodegradation and oxidization, usually by mud or acidic water. The wide shallow seas of the Carboniferous period provided such conditions. This trapped atmospheric carbon in the ground in immense peat bogs that eventually were covered over and deeply buried by sediments under which they metamorphosed into coal. Over time, the chemical and physical properties of the plant remains (believed to mainly have been fern-like species antedating more modern plant and tree species) were changed by geological action to create a solid material.” - According to the Wikipedia article on coal.

I have been to several coal mining museums over the years, and it is indeed rather common to find fossilized ferns embedded in the coal.

There is a lot of coal around the world. It is really a shame that the term “clean coal” is just marketing hype and spin. No such thing exists at this time.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

CLL Symptoms

I am not a doctor or any kind of medical professional; I am merely a patient who is doing his best to be well informed. CLL seems to wax and wane, but over time gradually gets worse.
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I have had chronic lymphocytic leukemia for at least eight years now. No telling what caused it, but I did spill massive amounts of the weed killed 2,4-D on myself twice during the year or so before I was diagnosed. The symptoms I have experienced have changed and evolved over time, but pretty much they all are the ones described in the literature and research on CLL.

The first symptom was massive night sweats. I was in England the first time this occurred. Now these night sweats are no longer quite as severe, but they take place most nights.

Itching is another symptom. Severe itching, so bad that sometimes people scratch themselves bloody. Normally I don't draw blood, but I admit that I have occasionally.

Swollen lymph nodes are another common symptom. Especially around your neck, under your arms, your abdomen or groin, etc. Mine have grown absolutely massive...like grapefruit. At first they are soft, then they turn hard. They do get really quite painful at times. Some people get massive swelling of the spleen and/or liver.

Tiredness and an extreme lack of stamina is a frequently mentioned symptom.

Of course a gradual decrease in the effectiveness of the body's immune system is almost normal with CLL. This suppression of the immune system causes more pneumonia and upper respiratory problems, and surprisingly tooth decay becomes a genuine problem. Healing of common cuts and scrapes takes much longer than before.

As the amount of defective cancerous white blood cells increases dramatically, both the platelets (which help clotting) and the hemoglobin containing red blood cells start decreasing. So blood clotting becomes a big problem, and as the red blood cells decrease one gets to the point where insufficient oxygen reaches important organs like the body's major organs and muscles such as the heart, the brain, the digestive process, the arms and legs, etc. This anemia has a simple name, but it really is quite devastating and debilitating. With this poor oxygen supply comes an urge to dose off. If one is driving at the time this is problematic.
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A few days ago just lifting up my digital SLR camera (with a long telephoto lens) to my eye to try and get a nice moon shot required so much oxygen that I honestly thought I was having a heart attack. This phenomenon occurs every week or so, or pretty much whenever I forget that I need to move very slowly and take things really easy. The dog barking and thinking there might be a night time intruder (getting my loaded pistol out, etc.) with all the adrenalin is another example; or just the effort of hooking up the little utility trailer to the car.

Nocturnal leg cramps are frequently associated with CLL, and I have dealt with this problem for several years. It now is a several times nightly occurrence. The muscles in my lower legs have become so stiff that it is now very difficult for me to walk. My fingers now cramp and involuntarily contract also. All of this falls under the medical terms myopathy and tetany.
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There are other unpleasant symptoms, but I'm not certain if they are caused by the CLL, are actually as a result of various diseases I have acquired because of the weakened immune system; or might be side effects of the various antibiotics I have had to take: One's hands and feet become quite numb and are mostly unable to perform normal tasks. I have now completely lost all sense of smell, which of course greatly affects one's ability to taste. Very significant loss of hearing, although this seems to be gradually improving.
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At first this disease is not really a big deal, but as one gets to an advanced stage CLL is an unpleasant experience indeed. Some people even begin to question their quality of life. If this disease is not curable, and things are gradually going to get more and more unpleasant, does one reach a point where it no longer makes sense to keep beating one's head against the wall?

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Civilian Guantanamo Trial

Everywhere I see people who seem profoundly disappointed that a civilian jury found Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani guilty of only one of more than 280 charges levied against him by the U.S. Government, various secret intelligence agencies, and the U.S. military.

I think many people, especially the right-wingers, wanted vengeance. These fat, lazy Republicans, most of whom never even served in the military, were like members of a Roman crowd 2,000 years ago watching the Christians and the lions. They mostly just wanted to see blood, suffering, and watch who they thought was the bad guy get convicted and punished.

In the current political climate no one wants to be perceived as disloyal or as un-American. You can be sure that the prosecutors used their finest team of lawyers. The jury was not made up of socialist radical college students from San Francisco.

The fact that a jury only found him guilty of one charge is certainly not an indictment of President Obama or any of the current team of government workers. It is a clear cut proof that what Cheney, Bush, and Rumsfeld did was in harsh violation of America's constitution and laws. How many other dark skinned, poorly educated men spent years and years in Guantanamo, some being openly tortured, when they were in fact clearly not guilty?

But Mr. Obama does not have clean hands either. Now that the American military has figured out how rigorous the American system of jurisprudence is, they have changed their tactics. They no longer take prisoners, it is just too much hassle. They simply kill anyone they think is a bad guy using an unmanned drone. Him, his family, friends, and everyone around him. All without the benefit (or silly waste of time) of a judge, jury, or antiquated rules like the American Constitution.

We are watching the guilty until proven innocent crowd gone wild.

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http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/19/nyregion/19detainees.html


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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New Cellphone


I ordered a new cellphone, and it arrived today by FedEx. It is made by Nokia.
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Nokia is a Scandinavian company headquartered out of Helsinki, Finland. They are by far the world's largest manufacturer of cellphones. I have been to the city of Helsinki, and I find it to be a very nice place.


I was a bit surprised by what I saw on the back of the packaging. But just a bit. Everything is so tied in and international now.


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The Failing European Common Currency

First it was Greece. Now Ireland, then probably Portugal. Next Spain or Italy? It really is a terrible shame, but the Euro common currency is doomed. It has been from the very beginning.

The men who set it all up were politicians, not economists. They were good, decent men who had gone through world war II and knew first hand how terrible warfare is. The idea was to bring the countries in Europe together so closely (financially and most other ways) that they would talk to each other rather than fighting wars with each other.

Very admirable and lofty goals for sure, but these bozo politicians got the math part of it all completely wrong.

You can see the same sort of gross ignorance today among most of the American politicians. Instead of focusing on the political policy goals of job creation, a reduction in poverty, and improving life for the middle class they all mistakenly think they have now suddenly been transformed into economists...even though they have problems balancing their own personal check books. So in their arrogance they are doing exactly the complete opposite of what they should be doing. The consequences are going to be disastrous.

The same thing happened back at the beginning of the European common currency. Decent men who were good salesmen but lousy economists. It is not difficult to see how this is going to play out. At some point Germany, Austria, Finland and other northern Europeans will get tired of supporting the dishonesty and irresponsibility of their mostly dark skinned southern European colleagues. Portugal, Spain, Greece, Italy, etc. The Germans will set up impossible conditions for these economically failing countries. The Euro currency will cease to exist, and along with it the whole idea for the European Union may fail too.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Democracy in El Paso

In America we mostly practice representative democracy, although occasionally the voters directly decide things by voting, which is called direct democracy.

In many different elections over the past 2 or 3 years, the voters in America have been asked whether they want to authorize things like gay marriage or taxpayer paid health insurance benefits for partners of gay and lesbian government workers. In the vast majority of cases the voters have clearly rejected any sort of approval or affirmation of the homosexual, lesbian, and gay lifestyle.

The city council in El Paso, Texas authorized health insurance benefits to the partners of gay city employees. The voters got this issue put on the ballot, and they rejected the idea. Now several elected officials want to find some tricky way to go ahead and do it anyway. Regardless of what the voters want.

To some people this is a religious issue. Other voters say, “Private industry doesn't offer these benefits to live in partners of our homosexual employees, why should my tax dollars go to fund this outrageously generous employee benefit for city workers?” For some it is just fiscal responsibility.

One thing is clear. The city council did something the voters didn't like. Once it was placed on the ballot the voters reaffirmed that this was not their desire. There are now almost half of the members of the city council who are perfectly happy to blow off the wishes of the voters and implement it anyway.

This feels like arrogance. Opposing democracy in a high handed and blatant way like this is dangerous to their future political careers. This feels like the city council telling the voters just how its going to be, when in fact things need to go the other way around. The voters tell our representatives what to do. Or the bums are voted out of office.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Deflation or a Seriously Undervalued Chinese Currency?


I was at Wal-Mart this morning buying groceries, and I happened to see this. A made in China, solar powered calculator, which Wal-Mart sells at a normal price of $1.11

There is enough profit all along the supply chain to make this work, and it sells at this incredibly low price. Inflation is certainly not the problem right now.

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Terlingua Type Calcite


Axel Emmerman in Belgium is one of the nicest and funniest guys I have ever known. Probably the smartest too.

If you have any interest in fluorescent minerals or calcite fluorescing under UV lights, this link is invaluable:
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LINK TO AXEL EMMERMAN ON TERLINGUA TYPE CALCITE: http://users.telenet.be/axel.emmerman/FiatLux/TerlinguaexperimentEN.html#top

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The Disaster Called Barack Obama

I am not some tea partier fanatic. I am not an ignorant, racist Republican. I am a life long, active, Liberal Democrat.

Mr. Obama really is terribly way far out in space. The latest issues he is caving on are tax cuts for the rich and beginning to leave Afghanistan in 2011. Has he no dignity or self respect at all? No principles? Apparently not.

Please take a moment to open this link and read what Paul Krugman is saying today. He is far more articulate than I am.

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LINK TO KRUGMAN: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/15/opinion/15krugman.html?

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Alien Invaders









Our neighborhood has been invaded by aliens.
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And I don't mean the good kind of alien that does construction, picks vegetables and fruit, cleans your house, and does your laundry.
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I'm talking about scary little UFO type extra-terrestrial guys, masquerading as scarecrows.
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I haven't seen any rusty tin men or scraggly yappy dogs yet.
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Worldwide Oil Supplies

The demand for oil continues to grow, and this growth shows no signs of abating or slowing. Just look at all the Chinese and Indians who are beginning to use automobiles.

The world's supply of economically recoverable oil is past its peak and is declining. People who think there is an unlimited supply of economically recoverable oil are just poorly informed or not very bright. Why do you think oil companies have been forced to begin hazardous deep water drilling? Or fracking for natural gas? It is simple reality that the earth's supplies of oil, water, and clean air are not unlimited.

People and countries who plan ahead will be able to maintain a decent quality of life complete with good cars, flush toilets, and air conditioning. The way to do this is to become far more efficient – stop foolishly wasting so much energy. Those who are unable to adapt and are afraid of change are indeed going to suffer badly.
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LINK: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/14/is-peak-oil-behind-us/?src=twt&twt=nytimesscience

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P.S. My second Toyota Prius is now a year old. I drove my first Prius all over western Europe. Over its entire life so far, good days and bad, I have averaged 55 mpg with this latest Prius. This includes more than once/week leaving it and my dog in the parking lot of the supermarket with the airconditioning running...if I didn't do that the average would be above 60 mpg.

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