Don't ask me why, but as I was laying in bed this morning thinking about the things I planned to do on New Year's Eve day, all of a sudden I started thinking about kazoos. How something so obscure would do a firecracker in my mind is beyond me. Mind quirk.
It's like a catchy tune that stays with you... thoughts and memories of the kazoo have continued to pop up at odd times as I've had my hot tea (2 cup morning, may have a third), eaten breakfast, cleaned up, updated web sites...
So, now I'm going to try and exorcise the returning thoughts on kazoos from my mind by writing about them and maybe it'll nag someone else and leave me alone!
Kazoos were big when I was in my early teens. I didn't know why at the time, it was just one of those crazy fads that comes and goes. Everyone it seemed had a kazoo.
I took a look on the Internet and was really surprised to find out how pervasive kazoos were and are. I rarely hear about them, or hear them, anymore.
Did you know that Jimi Hendrix used one in one of the songs on his Electric Lady album? Maybe that's what started the craze, although that album was out in 1968 and it seems the bid fad I'm thinking about was later than that. Maybe not.
Probably it was the Beatles who made them so huge. They used them in two songs on the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Who knew?
Pink Floyd, The Cure, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and The Kinks are some other bands that have buzzed on their kazoo in some well-known songs.
Another thing I didn't know about the kazoo is that the modern version we tingled our lips with was invented in Macon, Georgia. A guy named Alabama Vest created it in the 19th century. The first one was manufactured in that same town.
The kazoo is in the "mirliton" family, a group of instruments characterized by having a vibrating membrane.
Just discovered that January 28th is National Kazoo Day! I may have to see if I can find a kazoo before then!
If you want to know more about the kazoo, here's a site with more info:
Monday, December 31, 2007
Don't ask me why, but as I was laying in bed this morning thinking about the things I planned to do on New Year's Eve day, all of a sudden I started thinking about kazoos. How something so obscure would do a firecracker in my mind is beyond me. Mind quirk.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Another neat story below that shows the better side of human nature.
Short version: A woman lost a treasured ring, someone found it when biting into some fudge she'd made and sold. They returned it.
Happy endings do happen. I'm sure the person who bit into the fudge is happy they didn't crack a tooth, too!
I bet that's the last time the fudge lady wears a ring with that much sentimental value while cooking!
There are those who might have kept the ring, thought about pawning it or having the diamond re-set into another ring or necklace. I think most of us would have made an attempt to find the owner.
I remember a number of years ago losing a diamond earring. I really loved those earrings even though they weren't ultra-expensive. They were my first diamond earrings so they had some meaning. They were a gift, not something I would normally purchase for myself.
I looked for weeks and weeks in all kinds of odd places and finally gave up.
Later in the year, can't tell you how much time had gone by, I had to stay with my grandmother for some reason. I spent the night in the guest room as I always did. I got up the following morning, stepped to the shower, then reached over to turn it on. I just happened to look down for some reason, not something you normally do when focusing on turning on the shower. There, right on the edge of the drain, sat my earring. If I'd turned the water on the earring would have gone into the drain before I could grab it, if I'd even noticed it.
Thank goodness no one had spent the night since the last time I had done so.
The fudge lady and I both thought we'd lost something of importance. Both of us found our piece of jewelry by happenstance. The big difference (aside from the cost and sentimental value) was the return of her ring involved the goodness of other people. Here's the story, it's short:
Man Finds Fudge Maker's Lost Diamond Ring Inside Candy
LAFAYETTE, Indiana — A woman whose diamond ring vanished while she was making fudge for a bake sale was despondent after scouring her home and finding no sign of it.
But Linda Vancel recently got a sweet surprise: A relative of the woman who bought the fudge found the ring when he bit into a piece of the candy.
This is a release I just came across, was from back in November. I'm not gonna comment on it 'cause I'll just get myself in trouble. Ha, I guess just saying that could get me in trouble!!!
United States, Canada and Mexico Agree to Mutual Assistance
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the Ministry of Health of the United Mexican States today agreed to strengthen cross-border coordination and cooperation in the surveillance, prevention, and control of infectious diseases for the protection of the health, well-being, and quality of life of their peoples.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), signed by HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt, Canadian Minister of Health Tony Clement, and Mexican Secretary of Health José Ángel Córdova Villalobos, commits the three countries to assist one another during a public health emergency, whenever possible, and sets forth examples of the types of aid the three countries may provide to and accept from one another during a public health emergency.
"The health of our three nations relies upon our cooperation with and assistance to each other in times of need," Secretary Leavitt said. "As North American neighbors, we owe it to our citizens to work together whenever possible to minimize the spread and impact of an infectious disease outbreak or other public health emergency that may affect our nations."
"International collaboration is important in protecting the health security of our citizens, and those of the international community," Minister Clement said. "Threats to public health and safety transcend borders and this agreement represents a meaningful step forward in improving our nations' readiness to deal with these threats."
"The signing of this memorandum reflects a true cooperative intention from our nations to join forces during exceptional public health emergencies of international concern, and may be used as a model for other countries and regions of the world," said Secretary Córdova Villalobos. "In working together to consolidate this effort, I am sure that we will find numerous opportunities to keep growing together as a region."
As outlined in the MOU, all three countries agree to cooperate to improve their public health emergency preparedness and response efforts in activities such as border health, laboratory testing, diagnosis and treatment, epidemiological investigation, and the control of infectious diseases. The MOU also commits all three countries to strengthen their operating procedures and processes for the sharing of laboratory information before and during an emergency; to continue the technical review and the sharing of assay methods, reagents and laboratory results; and to participate in trilateral or bilateral exercises to assess and strengthen public health emergency response plans.
In addition the agreement directs all three countries to develop and implement protocols to share:
Health care and public health personnel;
Medical products approved by each country's relevant regulatory agency and contained within each country's National Stockpile ("Medical Products");
Non-pharmaceutical supplies and goods not regulated by a country's relevant regulatory agency, but contained within the country's National Stockpile ("Supplies and Goods"); and
Sharing specimens and reagents with each country's national reference laboratories (as well as with relevant international health bodies).
Saturday, December 29, 2007
A few years back a group of us were in Augusta for a convention. One night we hit a local bar and restaurant on the river for dinner. We hadn't been there long before James Brown and his entourage dropped in. We didn't know it was one of the places he liked to frequent, but we soon learned he was somewhat of a regular.
It was interesting talking with him for a few minutes. If I hadn't been at the right time at the right place that little tiny exchange wouldn't have happened. Can't tell you the name of the restaurant 'cause I don't remember, can't tell you what I said to him 'cause it was no more than typical surface talk that you have with someone you don't know.
What is interesting is how when paths cross, no matter how lightly, some sort of connection is formed. I payed attention to new articles and was saddened to hear of his death. He was so alive it was hard to imagine a world without him.
Now I find that I click on stories about all the hoopla that continues to occur after his death.
Five of his children are contesting his will. It's a family brawl that I imagine will leave scars that will never heal.
Money has a way of tearing people apart. Brothers and sisters who have shared their closest confidences become bitter enemies when a parent dies and things have to be split.
Brown left a large portion of his estate to charity. Commendable. He also took care of his grandkids. Again, commendable. I would assume he felt his older children were capable of standing on their own two feet, taking care of themselves. Obviously, they disagree.
While he definitely didn't lead a perfect life by any stretch of the imagination, most of us will remember Brown for his antics, his enthusiasm, his music. I think it's time for me to stop reading articles about James Brown and let the memories of his music be what I think about when I hear his name.
Friday, December 28, 2007
You have to wonder how much money they spent on the study referred to below... and who paid for it! The members of United Egg Producers must be really concerned about free range hens. The popularity of free range eggs has ta be cuttin' into their profits somehow or they wouldn't have commissioned a study or felt it worth a press release.
I'm one who buys free range eggs. I just like the idea that the hens are doing what's natural. I want them to peck on dirt, to chip at rocks, have beaks, run around outside or do whatever it is that chickens do when they're in the wild.
I read sometime ago that "free range" doesn't mean what it seems to mean. According to the info I read, technically the label can be used even if the chickens are only let out to roam for an hour or two or some set time. The rest of the time they can be in cages. I hope that's not true.
I know "they" (there's that elusive, pervasive, always-to-be-blamed "they" again) remove the beaks from the birds when they're crammed into small spaces. I don't know if all companies do that or if it's just done under certain circumstances. It's been a long time since I did any reading on chickens and egg laying. Somehow I always seem to have other tasks that crowd that one out...
Not sure if they get to keep their beaks if they're free range. Can you tell I'm not sure about much of anything when it comes to chickens... I hate the idea of torturing any animal. I'm not totally adverse to eating their by-products (eggs, milk, cheese).
When it comes to eggs, my main concern is the hormones and antibiotics that are prevalent in meats, poultry and pork. And probably many other foods we eat. That's a subject that deserves more attention than a single paragraph or even a single blog. Maybe someday I'll tackle it.
While reading the press release, I kept getting a giggle from the title "United Egg Producers." Somehow I don't think the chickens have united! Although, a poultry union sounds like it would be loads of fun... Chickens of the world unite, save your beaks, free worms for all!
Here's the article that sparked this ramble:
United Egg Producers: Are Free Range Birds Happier? Maybe Not!
ATLANTA, Dec. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Animal rights activists have long alleged that hens in modern cages live a horribly stressed life, but new research appears to debunk those claims. Researchers have discovered that free range hens experience just as much or more stress than hens raised in modern, conventional cages.
A recent study conducted by Dr. Jeff Downing at University of Sydney measured corticosterone, a hormone produced in response to stress or fear, in eggs from free range and modern caged hens. The study showed that the levels of the hormone were similar in both types of eggs.
Free range hens deal with pressures that hens in modern cages do not, researchers explained. For instance, hens in modern cages are protected from outside predators, while free range hens are not. "They are constantly in fear of attack by predators," said Downing. "A shadow (a bird flying overhead) comes over and they are completely startled."
Hens in modern cages also are protected from many of the manure-borne diseases and parasites that affect free range hens. And hens in modern cages are protected from extreme weather which adds stress to free range hens which are not protected. Modern cages also help prevent infection and spread of the avian influenza virus which can affect wild birds and outdoor flocks of hens. Free range eggs can cost up to three times as much as conventional eggs.
"This study confirms what America's egg farmers already knew," said Gene Gregory, president of the United Egg Producers, the nation's leading trade association for U.S. family egg farmers. "That well-run, clean modern cage housing systems have many benefits for hens as well as consumers." Separate research studies also show that hens raised in conventional cages tend to have fewer diseases and live longer, Gregory added.
Modern egg production under the UEP Certified animal welfare program provides hens with nutritious food, clean water, fresh air and sufficient space to allow hens to stand, turn around, lie down, stretch and preen. Farms are inspected annually to ensure compliance. Consumers should look for the UEP Certified logo on cartons from participating farmers. For more information visit, http://www.uepcertified.com/.
UEP developed the UEP Certified program for modern egg production from scientific guidelines established by an independent advisory committee of top animal welfare experts in the U.S.
Source: United Egg Producers
I love it when I hear a story about someone being rewarded for doing something good or for just being a good person. Life isn't always fair. OK, it's rarely fair, but I haven't found the place where we were promised it would be yet.
Here's a feel-good story of sorts. A waitress in Texas had a cranky customer she waited on in a local restaurant for around seven years. She says the 89-year old was rather mean. She smiled and catered to his wishes. The World War II vet died in July.
Right before Christmas Melina Salazar found out that Walter "Buck" Swords had left her $50,000 and a 2000 Buick.
Not a bad tip for waiting on him off and one. The article didn't say whether he was a decent tipper or if he stiffed her when he ate at the restaurant.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
You get a two-fer today. I have a number of blogs, a few that are posted on the Fayette Front Page and the Georgia Front Page. All of my blogs are going to be about shopping on-line with Amazon. I rarely get irritated. There are few things in life that are worth raising your blood pressure over.
If it were solely about me, if something I ordered for myself came in late, I'd give it a rest.
This is about two grandchildren who didn't get their Christmas present 'cause Amazon goofed. Can you imagine being 5 years old and 11 years old, watching others open their presents while you had none? From your grandparents much less?
We called when we received a partial shipment from Amazon on the 20th. Waited until the 22nd to call. Got some snippy guy who said all was well, we were worrying for nothing, they were receiving a lot of calls and our shipment would arrive in time for Christmas.
Well, it's the day after Christmas, the kids have come and gone, and we still don't have the presents.
I sent an email complaining (rather nicely, maybe too nicely). Twelve hours later I got a response. Nothing about their snooty customer service, just an apology for delaying the shipment. Guess what? It's coming on the 28th. That's two weeks after we ordered it.
If they'd sent an email and said oops, we're having to back order, we're delayed, etc. I'd have cancelled the order and been able to get to the store to find a gift for the kids to unwrap. Nope, they said it's definitely going to be here before Christmas, don't get excited like all these other people.
The guy didn't even bother to check to see if there was a delay, a problem.
I won't be shopping Amazon anymore. I'll pay more somewhere else rather taking a chance on poor service and disappointed children. They did say that when the order arrived we could return it for a full refund. Whoop-te-doo. What good will that do? We've already told the kids what to expect. Now of course, it's going to cost us money to ship it to them or drive it up. If we want to see their faces as they open their gifts, we'll have to take a trip. I never mind, in fact I love, visiting. However, it's going to be sometime in January before we can travel as the reason we ordered on-line was my husband's surgery.
I realize I'm ranting. But this blog is mine to ramble. The other's will be a little more purposeful and direct.
Amazon stinks. Their response to the problem was slow, didn't address the problem and certainly didn't do anything to make me feel more inclined to shop with them again. My daughter-in-law (the children's parent) has been a heavy shopper at Amazon. Two shoppers down and I bet I can influence a few more in my extremely large extended family.
Anyone asking my advice on shopping on-line will be steered toward any company other than Amazon. I worked in Customer Service for quite some number of years, both in the ranks and in management. Guess what? I know how to handle unhappy customers. I know how much damage one unhappy customer can do. I tried to be decent because I have been on the receiving end in the past. Didn't work. From personal experience, I can tell you that Amazon doesn't get top marks by any means on taking care of unhappy customers. I guess I should have YELLED.
We had a double Blob Christmas this year. Somehow toward the end of the day, after stuffing our faces and filling a couple of bags with torn wrapping paper, we ended up in front of the boob tube watching movies.
We started out with one of my old favorites, Gods Must Be Crazy and ended with two Blobs. First the old 1958 version with Steve McQueen (then known as Steven) then we succumbed to watching the 1988 version.
Bad dialogue, bad acting, bad effects, bad everything... Aren't old movies great? The remakes usually stink, and the Blob remake definitely reeked. Both movies could have been one page short stories and a ten minute movie-short easily.
Regarding the plot for the remake: I couldn't help but picture a group of people at a party, high on something, sitting around coming up with wild ways to jazz up the original story. The '58 version is probably 90% dialogue. They couldn't do that in '88, they had to have something to grab attention. They completely changed the blob's origins (not that the first one really ever speculated much in that area).
This time somehow we created it and it escaped (or was set free) and flung from the sky to the earth inside a meteor. It was faster, meaner, and managed to leave behind body parts, tremendously upping the gory factor. The blob had tentacles, which in my mind takes away some of the blob factor. I rather liked the '58 version where it just absorbed everything instead of being picky about which body parts it chose to eat. The acid was harder to believe in some ways. If it was that corrosive then it should have just eaten through walls rather than having to slip, slide and slink through corridors and shafts.
There were evil scientists / military, bad guys turning good (Matt Dillon's little brother was an environmental disgrace, throwing cans into the wilderness!). Good guys dying, snotty nurses, girls flirting with guys, the list of cliches and stereotypes is too long to capture in one short double blob blog...
Neither movies has any redeeming qualities other than yuk-value. They also both capture the idea the producers and directors had of life during those times. Great time capsules, whether there's any modicum of the true reality of life during the late 50's and late 80's is another story. I certainly remember the 80's a little differently (even without the evil Blob).
I highly recommend watching both movies. Be sure to watch the old one first. Don't watch them alone, you must have someone to laugh with, the more the merrier.
Monday, December 24, 2007
Pesky price tags. How much time have you wasted trying to get price tags off gifts? They were designed by evil elves.
There's the tag that is stuck on with crazy glue. No matter what you do, you can't get it off the item. Vinegar or alcohol may take some of the gummy residue, but who wants to go through that stinky process? Soapy water, sometimes. It takes forever to get the main part off just to get to the gummy gook they used to hot glue it on with.
And the price tags that come off fairly easy... in a million little slivers. They're designed to thwart those who like to switch price tags in the store. With great success I would imagine. However, they thwart all but the most adept at home, too. It seems that with bar code technology that we wouldn't need price tags. However, it takes time for a store clerk to run back to verify a price on the shelf... because if I understand correctly, if it IS marked with the wrong price on the shelf (or all of the products), they must give it to you for that price. That could be just a store policy rather than a "law" but either way, I can see the store's side.
I can understand, too, why they can't just go to a straight bar code system. I want to know how much an item is when I'm shopping and I don't come equipped with a bar code reader...
The last of my price tag pet peeves? The ones that are part of the package. There's no removing them and who wants to give a gift that shows how much you spent? Well, there are times you might not mind. For instance, if you got the item on sale you might want someone to think you spent the price on the package. My Mom used to always "forget" to take the price tags off gifts she gave. She wanted to make sure we all knew the value of the gift so we'd appreciate it. Didn't work, but it did give us something to laugh about as we were growing up. Kind of an added bonus to look for the price tag and snicker with the siblings! She stopped as we got older. Another Christmas tradition down the drain.
I think only the value stores do the permanent price printing on the packages. What's fun is when they put them on sale so then you have the added bonus of a price tag that either splits into a million pieces or one that leaves gummy residue on the package. Bargain shoppers nightmare.
There has to be a better way.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Working on the Fayette Front Page and the Georgia Front page I see a large, large number of releases and stories about all the good things people are doing in the world. Turn on the television, especially at this time of year, and you're bound to see a commercial or a story for or about a charity.
I hear huge dollar amounts tossed out. Millions are donated to feed the homeless, cure a disease, right a wrong.
So how come we're not making a dent in things? We're tossing zillions of dollars toward research. Zillions of dollars to rebuild homes. Zillions of dollars to feed people across the world.
Off and on I think about the industry of helping others. It's a huge business. HUGE.
It's not always a business that is a good steward of our donated dollars and time. I remember visiting the Atlanta office a very well known organization fighting a deadly disease. I should be so lucky to sit in an office of similar opulence.
Think about all of the people who make their living fighting diseases. We have managers, vice presidents, presidents, staff workers, accountants, doctors, scientists and untold numbers who would be jobless if they found a cure for the disease they're trying to eradicate. Do away with those who are now in poverty and we'd create a whole new group of out-of-work poverty fighters on the dole because they no longer had a job (no matter how minuscule the pay they're currently getting).
Now, I'm not saying that the people aren't working diligently to cure whatever disease they're fighting. There are many very dedicated individuals out there who would love to lose their job if it meant success.
However, the fighting poverty, fighting disease industry is huge. I remember when there was a big scandal of sorts some years back where charities were attacked for having such huge operating costs. Now everyone is proud to show that ten percent or some small percent is going to operating costs.
Call me skeptical, call me scrooge, but I find it difficult to see all the high dollar amounts going to various organizations and not see any major strides in fighting poverty or illnesses. I'm also smart enough to know that books can be cooked and operating costs can be downplayed by moving things into a different column. Not saying there are any shenanigans going on, just noting that it's possible.
I see our local charities and I can feel the dedication, I can see them helping individuals. I see their crowded offices and know that in many, many cases the space is donated by a local business person. I know they work for meager salaries. I see the impact they make in people's lives. I volunteer, donate, help raise money and know it's going to a good cause and being used wisely.
Take it a step higher and I start to lose a bit of faith. I still help when I can. I donate when possible, help raise money, give of my time. Wondering about something I can't know doesn't stop me from wanting to do whatever I can to stop cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, etc.
But I wonder if there's not a better way sometimes.
Funny. As I was typing this the Georgia Front Page phone rang. I picked it up. It was a charity (calling from Florida) wanting us to make a donation. Great timing...
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Toilet Paper Bride Update
Flipped on Fox News this morning as I was getting ready for work. There was the blushing toilet paper bride, all dressed in white paper, standing in a bathroom with her new husband. He didn't wear toilet paper. Someone flushed a toilet, not sure if it truly flushed or Fox just had the sound affect.
I guess the one advantage of having a toilet paper dress is that it's easy to get out of it. Hope it wasn't raining in New York...
Another story on Fox this morning...
An adopted son in Michigan went searching for his birth mom. He found her name, mentioned it to his boss at Lowes. The boss said there was a woman with the same name working at the store, head cashier. Turns out it was his mom and they'd been working at the same Lowes.
The pair are going to be on Fox News tomorrow morning. What are the chances that you'd search the world over and find your true mom one aisle over? Might be worth trying to catch that one on the tube Friday morning. Although, in today's media, it'll probably be plastered all over before the end of the day. It's Christmas and everyone likes a good sappy story at this time of year (well, everyone but Grinches).
Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you all have a wonderful, warm, love-filled Christmas holiday.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
We have too much time on our hands. We've topped the Maslow's heirarchy chart and we're standing on our tip toes reaching for ridiculous.
What set me off this morning? A couple in Lexington, Kentucky are getting married in a bathroom. The bride is going to be dressed in toilet paper.
Yep, too many people sitting around in a room trying to come up with the outrageous.
They "won" a contest sponsored by Cheap-Chic-Weddings.com. The dress was designed by Hanah Kim (is she a famous designer? I'm not in the know on that one). Charmin is opening their New York bathroom for free use in honor of the wedding. Great advertising for all involved. And I learned something new... I didn't know that Charmin HAD public bathrooms in New York. Been a while since I visited.
I have to admit, I'm just nutty enough to be someone who'd have probably gotten a kick out of getting married in a bathroom in Times Square dressed in toilet paper way back when. Today, I'm a little more sedate, I wouldn't want the bathroom, but certainly wouldn't want to stand outside in the rain or strong wind either.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
The FCC voted 3-2 today to overturn a longstanding ban and will now allow broadcasters in the nation's 20 largest media markets to also own a newspaper.
This could get interesting.
Do you remember when it was a huge stink to have mega-companies, monopolies?
It seems the every swinging pendulum is hanging in the opposite direction at the moment.
In reading about the move, it seems that pretty much everyone was against the switch. Both sides of the political spectrum, Dem and Rep, didn't want the change.
They made another move which is going to have an impact on Comcast... they voted to cap the size of any cable company at 30% of the nationwide market. Comcast is bumping up against that 30% already.
That was another 3 - 2 vote, but it wasn't the same three-two as the broadcast / newspaper vote.
I was just reading a short article on mail going to Santa. The "Universal Postal Union" is expecting Santa to receive more mail this year than last. In 2006 the number of letters sent to Santa topped six million! That's a lot of mail.
In Canada Santa has his own zip code.
Unfortunately, not all of the letters are children asking Santa for a much wanted toy. Many are children with serious needs. They ask for food, underwear, toothpaste and sometimes a roof over their head. Sometimes it's parents in dire straits hoping for help in providing the basics for their children.
Across the world postal workers stand in as Santa. They adopt families or children with verifiable needs and they get others to adopt these families.
I think it's admirable that the postal workers, and the many, many businesses and individuals who heed their plea for help, reach out to do something special for others at this time of year.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Every day I see how great our soldiers are! Tales of sharing, giving, reaching out to people across the world. Our soldiers are the kids next door. They're the Boy Scouts, the straight A students who volunteered to clean up the shut-ins yard, they're the ones who went on church missions to build homes in Mexico, they're the ones who held the door open for the lady carrying heavy bags and offered to help. They are the children we raised to do the right thing. We took care of them for years, raising them right, and now they're off trying to take care of us.
Here's another story about something good our soldiers are doing:
Soldiers and leaders of 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony Dec. 11 to open a health clinic in Wahida, Iraq.
Four months ago, city council members came to the regiment's leaders with concerns about the existing clinic's lack of space and equipment, said Army Capt. Matthew Givens, from Columbus, Ga., the battalion's non-lethal effects officer.
Council members and soldiers decided to renovate the existing building by adding more examination rooms, an emergency room and an upstairs apartment for the doctors with two bedrooms, a kitchen and a bathroom.
"This clinic gives the doctors a lot more to work with, and they will be able to treat more patients," Givens said. "With the upstairs apartment, doctors can stay overnight. Before, the doctors would have to come from Baghdad early, then leave and go back to Baghdad that same night."
Wahida has no hospital, Givens said. The new clinic will serve as the city's primary medical facility. It has enough room to bed patients overnight instead of treating them and sending them home.
"The clinic is going to be helpful to the Wahida citizens," Dr. Taher Awaed, the clinic's director, said through an interpreter. "The clinic is good. However, with a few more pieces of equipment, it will be perfect. But everyone is very grateful."
Givens said more equipment, including an X-ray machine, is on the way.
After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, doctors and medics from 203rd Brigade Support Battalion and 489th Civil Affairs Battalion, a reserve unit from Knoxville, Tenn., attached to 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, held a free medical operation.
Soldiers used four of the new health clinic rooms to treat men, women and children from all over the city. Patients came to the medical staff with ailments ranging from the common cold to blood pressure problems.
"This is a way for me to give back to humanity," said Army Capt. Aaron Wilson, from Watertown, N.Y., battalion surgeon with 203rd Base Support Battalion.
When patients were ready to be seen, they explained their medical issues through an interpreter to a physician or medic from 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team.
"Going through the translator is tough," said Sgt. 1st Class Wayne Pack, from Knoxville, Tenn., a medic in the 489th Civil Affairs Battalion. "You have to concentrate. You can't lose focus. After the conversation is translated, I sometimes wonder if I'm getting the full story. I enjoy it, though. We get to see a lot of sick people, and that's what we do. Most of these people don't have a lot of money. If we didn't do this, they wouldn't be getting any medical attention at all."
Awaed and Wilson agreed the villagers appreciated the free medical treatment.
"I can see it in their eyes," Awaed said through an interpreter. "They are very thankful for the coalition forces for their help. Together, we just try to help as many people as we can."
"Everyone I saw was so grateful," Wilson said. "They all smiled and said, 'thank you'. I just wish I could do more."
(Army Sgt. Natalie Rostek is assigned to 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs.)
Friday, December 14, 2007
I have been so bad. How many times have I said that? So many things to do, so little time to write. And I love to write.
Wouldn't know it by the infrequency of my blog posts this year!
Did anyone watch the Iowa candidate debates? I still haven't figured out how that woman who moderated, controlled, decided on the questions, controlled, was chosen. One moderator? She gets to make the rules?
How'd they decide to put Keyes on the Republican side but ditch two contenders who've been included in all other debates on the Democratic side? Was it because Keyes was going to go after Republicans? And on the Dem side the gestapo queen wanted smoother sailing?
It was interesting to watch. Unfortunately, it was only interesting because the moderator was such a puzzle. She didn't allow the candidates the freedom they needed to show their personalities or to really share any pertinent info.
Ah well. At least this go around there are more opportunities to see the candidates. In the past they just kind of popped out to the world already annointed.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Officials Open School, Health Clinic in Afghanistan
By Capt. Erick Saks, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service
KAPISA PROVINCE, Afghanistan, Nov. 28, 2007 - Months of work and cooperation between the Bagram Provincial Reconstruction Team and the Afghan government culminated in two ribbon-cutting ceremonies Nov. 26, as hundreds of community members and several civic leaders officially opened a girls school and a health clinic in the Kapisa province's Kohistan II district.
Kapisa Gov. Kwaia Kholam Abubaker and Army Capt. Jordan Berry, Bagram PRT's Kapisa civil affairs team leader, presided over the ceremonies opening the Dihat Dasht girls school and the Jamalagha basic health clinic.
The Dihat Dasht girls school is an eight-classroom facility that will accommodate about 160 students. The $150,000 facility includes four faculty offices, restrooms, a well, a guard house and a perimeter wall.
Hamidullah Hatan, Department of Education representative, spoke at the school-opening ceremony, emphasizing the Afghan government's focus on education and stressing the community's duty to their new school.
"We are very grateful to the PRT for building this great school," Hatan said. "Now, it is the responsibility of the community to maintain it and keep those people away who would shoot rockets at it."
The eight-room Jamalagha basic health clinic is the first of its kind in the area and will be staffed by a doctor, a midwife, two nurses and two vaccination technicians, said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Deborah Taylor, PRT medical team noncommissioned officer in charge.
"This clinic offers family-practice care, prenatal care, vaccinations and pharmaceutical services," she said. "Before this clinic was built, there wasn't a place for the people to find this kind of care in the area. This facility will have a huge impact on the lives of the people here."
Aziz Jan was the contractor for the $85,000 health clinic and said he was very satisfied with the project and was glad to create the facility for the people of the region.
"The community here is made up of good people," he said. "They were always helpful and are very excited about the clinic."
The relative peacefulness of the community allows the PRT to complete projects like this in the area, Berry said. "Kohistan II is a beautiful district with friendly people," he said. "We have never had any issues with the people here, and this security allows us to help the community."
The governor agreed, expressing his gratitude to the community for embracing peace and supporting the government. "Thank you to the people of Kohistan for keeping the peace here," the governor said. "Only with peace can we build schools and clinics, giving the people freedom to study and improve themselves."
These ceremonies are the first of a series of about a dozen ribbon-cutting ceremonies planned over the next month, Army Maj. Jim Blashford, Bagram PRT acting commander, said.
"The projects we're finalizing range from schools and clinics to roads and wells," Blashford said. "It's a busy and exciting time for the Bagram PRT. From the time the team arrived in March, our focus had been coordinating new projects and overseeing their construction. Now many of those projects are wrapping up, and we're all finally able to see the fruits of our labor."
(Air Force Capt. Erick Saks serves with the Bagram Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan.)
at 8:38 PM
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
I wash my car once every couple of years whether it needs it or not. It's a work vehicle, not actually a "car", it's a 1997 Jimmy SUV. It has been a great vehicle... despite the fact that it stays rather dirty.
Finally, finally, I can be proud of the fact that it has a dusty sheen. Governor Perdue is ASKING us not to wash our autos to help with the drought. Although, while it's nice not to have to attempt to have the Jimmy cleaned, or make excuses, I'd prefer not to be going through the drought.
Lest you think I'm a complete slob, it's only cars that cause me problems. I hate to get gas and I hate to wash cars or even take the time to go through a car wash. Well, I don't get along with vacuum cleaners either, but I do manage to overcome and conquer that one often enough that I'm not embarrassed when someone visits!
Just before the drought I finally started wondering if the car was being held together by all the dirt on it... I decided I would wash it. I found a gas station that had a car wash, filled it up to the point where I got the lowest price on the car wash and wandered in to pay. Of course, the car wash had broken not too long before I started pumping gas. All that gas pumping for naught.
A few days later, having trouble remembering what color the Jimmy really was... I decided to try again. I was heading to a meeting and had a few minutes to kill so I stopped in to the stand-alone pay and get the full treatment car wash. There were ten or eleven cars in front of me. I didn't have time so pulled a u-turn and headed to the meeting.
Now there's a drought. I don't think my Jimmy wants to be clean.
at 8:26 PM
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
We have some fantastic, caring soldiers fighting for us... and for those in Iraq! The commitment these soldiers have to helping others is really something. It amazes me that while they're tough, ready and willing to fight, they also have a heart. We have every reason to be thankful to all of those who signed up to protect our country and our freedoms! Take a moment from your Thanksgiving day and say THANKS to and for our military.
Iraqi Forces, Local Citizens Help to Reduce Violence in Northern Iraq
A robust partnership between coalition troops and Iraqi security forces and support from the Iraqi people is showing success in bringing down violence in Iraq's Multinational Division North sector, the troop commander there said today.
Army Maj. Gen. Mark P. Hertling, who also commands the Germany-based 1st Armored Division, told Pentagon reporters via videoconference that attacks in his area of operations are higher than anywhere else in Iraq.
However, Hertling noted "a marked reduction" in violence, particularly in improvised explosive device attacks. Enemy forces planted 1,830 IEDs in June, he said. By October, that number had dropped to about 900. As of today, the November number was 520.
Operation Iron Hammer, an ongoing counterinsurgency operation launched Nov. 5, is building on this success. To date, coalition and Iraqi forces detained 400 terror suspects and uncovered 79 weapons caches containing "an unbelievable amount of weapons and ammunition," Hertling said.
Among the weaponry was the largest cache of explosively formed projectiles yet to be discovered in Iraq. Hertling said there's no question these armor-piercing EFPs originated in Iran, but said he has no indication they arrived since Iran pledged to stop these shipments. "I am hopeful the Iranians are keeping their promise to not interfere with the international security conditions of Iraq by supplying either arms or equipment or trained personnel," he said.
Hertling said he's optimistic about the trends, but recognizes more attacks are likely. "You are still going to read about spectacular attacks," he said, particularly those targeting Iraqi security forces and concerned local citizens who have both become key partners in confronting the terrorist threat in the region.
Hertling noted steady increases in the capability of Iraqi security forces who have become solid partners in the counterinsurgency fight. During Iron Hammer, Hertling said, the Iraqis did more than he asked of them and performed at higher levels than he had expected.
"We've got a partner now," he said. "They are speaking the same language tactically and operationally that we are, and they are going after the same enemy we are."
Insurgents are noticing these improvements, too, and are likely to respond by singling out more Iraqi forces as targets, he said. "The enemy realizes that they're growing in capability, and if there is any kind of chance of stopping the representative movement of the government, that they have to attack the security forces," he said.
Similarly, Hertling said, the enemy recognizes the role local Iraqi citizens are playing in helping the coalition and Iraqi forces confront the terrorist threat in their neighborhoods. Nearly one-fourth of the weapons caches uncovered during Iron Hammer resulted from tips by local citizens.
"Iraqi citizens across the board are tired of seeing people use their country for a traumatic playground, and the Iraqi people have stepped up," Hertling said. "They are tired of the violence. They just want to go back to having their children go to school, farming their fields (and) running their businesses."
Friday, November 16, 2007
The National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve is seeking employers with records of stellar support for military employees.
The group is accepting nominations for the 2008 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Awards through Jan. 21.
"Almost one-half of the U.S. military is comprised of the National Guard and Reserve," said Beth Sherman, an ESGR spokeswoman. "The Department of Defense shares these citizen warriors with their civilian employers, many of whom provide significant support to (these) employees."
Past recipients of the award have provided full salary, a continuation of benefits, care packages and other forms of help such as home and lawn care for families of employees fulfilling military obligations.
"While all employer support is exemplary, small employers that go above and beyond the requirements of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act to assist their employees serving in the National Guard and Reserve, really set the bar high (last year)," Sherman said.
USERRA prohibits discrimination against people because of military service.
Augustine and Sons, a family-owned farm in Iowa, is one example of a small business that goes out of its way for its employees, Sherman said.
When one of its employees, 1st Sgt. Matthew Strasser, an Iowa Army National Guardsman, was deployed, the farm lost half its staff. Yet the Augustine family offered its continuing support to the family Strasser left behind.
"They allowed Strasser's wife and ... two sons to live on the farm rent-free," Sherman said. "The Augustines took the boys fishing, attended their sports games and fixed their dirt bikes."
Large businesses previously recognized for their exemplary support include Sears and Starbucks. The commonwealth of Massachusetts and the state of Tennessee both are past recipients of the public-sector award.
ESGR is encouraging National Guardsmen, reservists and their family members to nominate employers who offer their employees similar support. Nomination forms are available on the committee's Web site, www.esgr.org.
Last year, 1,119 nominations were received. To date, ESGR has received 268 already this year.
"Given that employer support is so strong, we hope reserve-component members will see fit to nominate their deserving employers," Sherman said. "This kind of recognition establishes a benchmark for all employers, and we hope this recognition is a small thank you from the Department of Defense."
Winners selected in three categories will be announced in early spring and will receive their awards during a Sept. 18 award ceremony.
Founded in 1972, the National Committee for Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve is a Defense Department agency established to promote cooperation and understanding between reserve-component members and their civilian employers. The organization also is a supporter of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and corporations with military personnel and their families serving at home and abroad.
Then-Defense Secretary William Perry instituted the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award in 1996.
Related Sites: Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act America Supports You
Monday, November 12, 2007
I know I mentioned it in a previous blog, but I am getting really tired of never hearing anything good about the war in Iraq, etc. from main stream media. The news doesn'te exactly "fit" with the mission and flavor of the Fayette Front Page and the Georgia Front Page. We do local community news. What I've decided to do is occasionally post some stories on this blog. Most will be from the Armed Services folks, but I get them from all over. I'll try to give credit, depends on how fast I'm zooming that day...
Here's today's bit:
Coalition forces detained 16 suspects, including three wanted individuals, during operations today to disrupt al Qaeda in Iraq and foreign terrorist operations in central and northern Iraq.
-- During an operation in southern Baghdad, coalition forces captured a wanted individual believed to be involved in the car-bombing network in the Rusafa and Karkh areas. Reports indicated the suspect was associated with several of the network's senior leaders and allegedly tried to reestablish operations after significant degradation by coalition forces.
-- An operation northeast of the capital city netted an individual believed to be tied to foreign-terrorist facilitators and other senior al Qaeda leaders operating in Salman Pak. Coalition forces entered the target area and called for a building's occupants to come out. They complied without incident. The suspect identified himself to the ground forces and was detained.
-- Farther north in Mosul, coalition forces captured another wanted individual believed to be involved in the city's terrorist propaganda network. The ground force isolated the target building and called for the building's occupants to come out. During the operation, coalition forces found significant al Qaeda propaganda believed to be for distribution as part of the media network. The wanted individual identified himself to the ground forces and was detained.
-- In three separate operations near Salman Pak, Beiji and Mosul, coalition forces detained eight suspects while targeting alleged foreign-terrorist facilitators, couriers, associates of senior level al Qaeda members, and planners of improvised-explosive-device attacks against the Iraqi people.
"These captures are another step forward in disrupting al-Qaeda networks," said Army Maj. Winfield Danielson, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman.
In raids yesterday, coalition forces detained 10 suspects during operations to disrupt al Qaeda in Iraq in central and northern Iraq.
Coalition forces captured a wanted individual during operations northeast of Baghdad targeting an alleged al Qaeda in Iraq financier. Reports indicated the wanted individual was an associate of senior terrorist leaders in the region, and his sons were believed to be snipers for the terrorist network. Upon entering the target area, coalition forces called for a building's occupants to come out, and the occupants complied without incident. The ground force found multiple weapons and detained five other suspects on site.
Meanwhile, south of Mosul, coalition forces captured a wanted individual believed to be a military commander familiar with improvised-explosive-device attacks and an associate of senior al Qaeda leaders in the area.
In other operations in the Beiji area, coalition forces detained two suspects while targeting foreign-terrorist facilitators, media networks and al Qaeda leaders responsible for improvised-explosive-device attacks in the region. "We are continuing to take the fight to the enemy," Danielson said. "Iraqi and coalition forces are diminishing al Qaeda's ability to attack the Iraqi people."
Elsewhere in Iraq yesterday, soldiers with 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, joined with Iraqi National Police officers in recovering a cache in eastern Baghdad. The find, made by soldiers of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, and officers of 1st Battalion, 4th Brigade, 1stIraqi National Police Division, consisted of two mines and eight magazines, along with one radio. This was the sixth time in three weeks that Iraqi security forces had recovered a cache in eastern Baghdad.
In earlier operations:
-- Baghdad soldiers seized two suspected extremists and uncovered two caches during ongoing operations in the Rashid district of the Iraqi capital Nov. 9. "Warriors" from Company C, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, attached to 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, detained two men suspected of terrorist activities and identified by Iraqi security volunteers. The suspects are being held for further questioning.
-- Soldiers of Company D., 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry, found a weapons cache Nov. 9 in the Jazair neighborhood. The cache consisted of a rocket-propelled-grenade launcher, a PKC machine gun with two barrels, three RPG rounds and eight RPG boosters, a 60 mm mortar tube and two rounds, a bolt-action rifle, an AK-47 with 19 full magazines, four hand grenades, a suicide vest, three sets of body armor, about 3,000 rounds of small-arms ammunition, and 22 ski masks.
-- The "Black Lions" of Company C, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, attached to Task Force 1-18, part of the 4th Interim Brigade Combat Team. Soldiers found eight mortar rounds of various sizes, four RPG rounds, two rocket fuses, five radios, and a set of body armor. Both caches were taken to a coalition base for disposal.
–- Iraqi police conducted a combined operation with coalition forces against al Qaeda in Iraq west of Samarra on Nov. 9. During the operation, seven insurgents were killed, four were detained, and a weapons cache was secured.
–- Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 502nd Airborne, found a large cache during a combat patrol in Haswa on Nov. 9. The soldiers discovered the cache while setting up a cordon. They found a building containing 22 blocks of C4, one improvised Claymore mine, one propane tank of accelerant, and one 125 mm mortar round. Upon finding the cache, located near an area mosque, the soldiers called in an explosive ordnance disposal team to destroy the cache. All munitions found were destroyed in place.
(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq and Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Day after day I get releases and stories from those serving in the military about what is going on in the Iraq, Afghanistan and the surrounding areas. WOW! I have to tell you it's pretty much great news.
Yes, we're still losing lives and I wish it didn't have to be. I'd love to live in a world where we didn't have to fight to live free. But we do. I firmly believe if we let our guard down we'll someday go down... and it won't be pretty. I thank God for those who are willing to do everything in their power to keep my family safe and give them a brighter future.
So, I get all this great news and yet I don't read it anywhere in the main stream media.
I know I'm not the first to ask that question and I've heard a hundred answers. But it just doesn't make sense.
Isn't it great that we have the Internet and we have the ability to bypass the mainstream media if we choose? It doesn't seem to stop the vast majority from walking in their sleep believing whatever headlines they may hear or read. But it is helping to put another perspective on the table.
A note to all of our fine military personnel: THANKS!!!
Thursday, October 25, 2007
In 2004, most people in the United States had married only once, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Marriage and Divorce: 2004 said 58 percent of women and 54 percent of men 15 and older had made only one trip down the aisle.
The Census Bureau also reported first marriages for women during the peak of the baby boom lasted longer than recent marriages. Of the first marriages for women from 1955 to 1959, about 79 percent marked their 15th anniversary, compared with only 57 percent for women who married for the first time from 1985 to 1989.
People born in the leading edge of the baby boom experienced high divorce rates in the 1970s and 1980s. About 38 percent of men born from 1945 to 1954 and 41 percent of women in the same age group had been divorced by 2004.
-- On average, first marriages that end in divorce last about eight years.
-- The median time between divorce and a second marriage was about three and a half years.
-- In 2004, 12 percent of men and 13 percent of women had married twice, and 3 percent each had married three or more times.
-- Among adults 25 and older who had ever divorced, 52 percent of men and 44 percent of women were currently married.
-- Just over half of currently married women in 2004 had been married for at least 15 years,and 6 percent had been married at least 50 years.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
It's not a male Cinderella story exactly, but it's close! This shy, unassuming cell-phone salesman floored Simon (American Idol fame) and the other judges with his astonishing voice. Now Paul Potts is living every aspiring singer and actor's dream. So well-dererving it seems, too. Bullied as a child, not someone who could get by solely on his looks, crooked teeth to boot... When he sings, you forget everything but his music. Watch the video and see for yourself. I had tears streaming down my face... I don't see how anyone can listen and not be touched by the beauty he brings to this world.
at 8:44 AM
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Live, as in live your life to its fullest every day. You never know what kind of curve ball life is going to throw. I remember years and years ago hearing my parents talking about some older friends of theirs. This couple had everything planned out. They scrimped and saved so they could live their dream when they retired. They saved every spare penny in order to buy one of those big motor homes. They planned the trips they would take and managed their money so they could live their perfect life. Nothing wrong with having a dream, but “today” didn’t exist for this couple. It was all about the day they retired.
I know you’re expecting to read that one of them died, or one came down with a debilitating illness. Nope, nothing that tragic. But the gas shortage did hit. They couldn’t afford, or find, enough gas to fuel their dream. I don’t know if they ever did get to go tooling around the country as they’d planned. I know they were pretty miserable for at least that period of time.
That conversation I overheard stuck with me. It sparked many thoughts about the balance that’s needed in life to live today fully yet plan for a future. Yes, it’s important to plan for the future ‘cause hopefully you’ll have one. But life doesn’t always let you live out your plans.
I could tell tale after tale of people who were hit with the unexpected. Some were living their life to the fullest and while they may have had some regrets when life dumped on them, they generally accepted the rock thrown through the window of their plans. Others had focused completely on their future leaving behind a long line of “if only’s”.
I remember the young woman I met at a concert whose goal throughout her 30 year life was to be married. She finally found Mr. Right after years and years of searching only to find out within weeks of being married that she had an inoperable brain tumor and had less than six months to live. How much life slipped by her as she focused on a future that had to include a husband? Who knows, we didn’t get that far into her life.
I know way too many people who lived their life for retirement only to die within a few months or come down with some catastrophic illness that sapped their savings or otherwise prevented the attainment of their dream.
It’s important to find the right balance and oft times it’s impossible to find the right balance.
I’ve learned that it’s more important to spend a day with the kids than to update a website. Sure I want to accomplish things. However, when everyone is standing around my coffin someday I seriously doubt they’ll be remembering the times I completed a video or finished a work product… unless it kept me from doing something with them. I don’t want to be remembered for the things I missed.
Likewise, when I’m on my deathbed (yes, the blog has taken on a rather morbid tone hasn’t it?) I doubt I’ll be regretting an unfinished load of clothes that didn’t get washed or a yard that wasn’t mowed or a garage that wasn’t swept or the television program unwatched. Nope, if I’m regretting anything it’ll be the times I didn’t spend with my family and friends.
Again, balance. You have to pay the bills, you have to keep a clean house and neat yard… but not at the expense of a life with real meaning. Life is short and it gets shorter as you’re getting older and looking back on the life you’ve lived.
The older I get the more I realize how fleeting life truly is. Planning ahead is still important to me, but more and more I see just how important it is to build good memories, too. Memories are built on todays, not on tomorrows.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Two kinds of wild life... the kind you live and the kind you see. Could be that others think of something different than those two, but they're all that come to my mind when I hear the term.
It's funny how life changes which type pops into someone's mind first!
Used to be I probably wouldn't have thought first of deer, wild turkeys and birds... I'd have thought about someone's wild life.
What spurred this short blog this fairly early Saturday morning was the little blur of motion I caught out of the corner of my eye as I worked on the computer. My office has windows that reach from the top of the desk to the ceiling on three sides. I have a huge custom-built "desk" that wraps around the entire outer walls of the office.
The view out those many windows is spectacular and distracting at times! Hummingbird feeders keep the little birds fighting to defend their territory. An occasional rabbit zips across the yard. A week or so ago a huge hawk sailed across the window front to land on the side yard just long enough for me to run get the cameras... he took off when I moved to take the photo.
More frequently the deer distract me from my work. This morning's eye-catching movement was a family (I assume) of deer. It looked like mom, pop and baby. They moved around the edge of the woods that enclose our yard, nipping at the bushes, helping to keep our grass short.
We have three sets of wild turkeys that migrate around the house. They'll wander through for days, then vanish for a while. I understand they can travel up to ten miles in one day. If that's true it's quite a feat for those usually plodding creatures. I have seen them move -- fast. Most of the time they seem to be used to my intrusion with the camera. They'll slowly move off into the nearest cover they find when the see me.
It's a tough life out here in the middle of the county! You'd think we were out in the boonies, but we're in the middle of a fairly large county. The elected officials in this county have done a phenomenal job keeping oasis like ours intact. The county has a one-acre minimum for homes, and they do a step up and down of two-acres, to three-acres, etc. We're in a five acre minimum area at the moment that steps down to smaller land lots until it reaches the cities on either side of us.
So much for a short blog! I start rambling and pretty soon I have the beginnings of a book no one would buy! I've been writing a lot in one of my other blogs lately, Politics: Fayette County Georgia and Beyond. The current county commission seems determined to toss away what so many of our past commissioners have built. I think they may be tagged with the ruin of the county in years to come and it's worrying me. Hence, I've been writing... I'll try to do better with this blog, my favorite!
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
The nation’s minority population reached 100.7 million, according to
the national and state estimates by race, Hispanic origin, sex and age
released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. A year ago, the minority
population totaled 98.3 million.
"About one in three U.S. residents is a minority," said Census Bureau
Director Louis Kincannon. "To put this into perspective, there are more
minorities in this country today than there were people in the United
States in 1910. In fact, the minority population in the U.S. is larger than
the total population of all but 11 countries."
The population in 1910 was 92.2 million. On Oct. 17, 2006, the Census
Bureau reported that the overall population had topped 300 million.
California had a minority population of 20.7 million -- 21 percent of
the nation’s total. Texas had a minority population of 12.2 million -- 12
percent of the U.S. total.
There were other milestones reached as well during the July 1, 2005, to
July 1, 2006, period: The nation’s black population surpassed 40 million,
while the Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander group reached the 1
Hispanic remained the largest minority group, with 44.3 million on July
1, 2006 --14.8 percent of the total population. Black was the
second-largest minority group, totaling 40.2 million in 2006. They were
followed by Asian (14.9 million), American Indian and Alaska Native (4.5
million), and Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander (1 million). The
population of non-Hispanic whites who indicated no other race totaled 198..7
million in 2006.
With a 3.4 percent increase between July 1, 2005, and July 1, 2006,
Hispanic was the fastest-growing minority group. Asian was the second
fastest-growing minority group, with a 3.2 percent population increase
during the 2005-2006 period. The population of non-Hispanic whites who
indicated no other race grew by 0.3 percent during the one-year period.
(See Table 1.)
Four states and the District of Columbia are "majority-minority."
Hawaii led the nation with a population that was 75 percent minority in
2006, followed by the District of Columbia (68 percent), New Mexico (57
percent), California (57 percent) and Texas (52 percent). No other state
had a minority population exceeding 42 percent of the total. (See Table 2..)
Highlights for the various groups:
-- Hispanics accounted for almost half (1.4 million) of the national
population growth of 2.9 million between July 1, 2005, and July 1, 2006.
-- California had the largest Hispanic population of any state as of
July 1, 2006 (13.1 million), followed by Texas (8.4 million) and Florida
(3.6 million). Texas had the largest numerical increase between
2005 and 2006 (305,000), with California (283,000) and Florida (161,000)
following. In New Mexico, Hispanics comprised the highest proportion
of the total population (44 percent), with California and Texas
(36 percent each) next in line.
-- The Hispanic population in 2006 was much younger, with a median age
of 27.4 compared with the population as a whole at 36.4. About a third
of the Hispanic population was younger than 18, compared with one-fourth of
the total population.
-- The black population increased by 1.3 percent, or 522,000, between
2005 and 2006.
-- New York had the largest black population in 2006 (3.5 million),
followed by Florida (3 million) and Texas (2.9 million). Texas had the
largest numerical increase between 2005 and 2006 (135,000), with
Georgia (101,000) and Florida (86,000) next. In the District of Columbia,
the black population comprised the highest percentage (57 percent);
Mississippi (37 percent) and Louisiana (32 percent) were next.
-- The black population in 2006 was younger, with a median age of 30.1,
compared with the population as a whole at 36.4. About 31 percent of the
black population was younger than 18, compared with 25 percent of the total
-- The Asian population rose by 3.2 percent, or 460,000, between 2005
-- California had the largest Asian population on July 1, 2006 (5
million), as well as the largest numerical increase during the 2005 to 2006
period 114,000). New York (1.4 million) and Texas (882,000)
followed in population; Texas (43,000) and New York (34,000) followed in
numerical increase. In Hawaii, Asians made up the highest proportion of
the total population (56 percent), with California (14 percent) and New
Jersey and Washington (8 percent each) next.
-- The Asian population in 2006 was younger with a median age of 33.5,
compared with the population as a whole at 36.4.
American Indian and Alaska Native
-- The American Indian and Alaska Native population rose by 1 percent or
45,000, from 2005 to 2006.
-- California had the largest population of American Indians and Alaska
Natives (689,000) on July 1, 2006, with Oklahoma (397,000) and Arizona
(331,000) next. Arizona had the largest numerical increase (8,000) since
July 1, 2005, followed by Texas (7,000) and Florida (4,000). In Alaska,
American Indians and Alaska Natives made up the highest proportion of the
total population (18 percent), with Oklahoma and New Mexico, at 11
percent each, next.
-- The American Indian and Alaska Native population in 2006 was younger,
with a median age of 31, compared with the population as a whole at
36.4. About 28 percent of the American Indian and Alaska Native population
was younger than 18, compared with 25 percent of the total population.
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander
-- The Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population rose by 1..7
percent, or 17,000, from 2005 to 2006.
-- Hawaii had the largest population (275,000), followed by California
(260,000) and Washington (49,000); California had the largest numerical
increase (3,400) of people of this group, with Texas (2,000) and
Florida (1,500) next. In Hawaii, Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific
Islanders comprised the largest proportion (21 percent) of the total
population, followed by Utah (1 percent) and Alaska (0.9 percent).
-- The Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population in 2006 was
younger, with a median age of 28.6, compared with the population as a
whole at 36.4. About 30 percent of the Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific
Islander population was younger than 18, compared with 25 percent of the
-- The non-Hispanic, single-race white population, which represented 66
percent of the total population, accounted for less than a fifth
(18 percent) of the nation’s total population growth.
-- California, New York and Texas had the largest population of this
group (15.7 million, 11.7 million and 11.4 million, respectively), but
Texas experienced the largest numerical increase (104,000),
followed by North Carolina (91,000) and Arizona (78,000). Maine and Vermont
had the highest proportion of single-race non-Hispanic whites (96
percent each), followed by West Virginia (94 percent).
-- The non-Hispanic, single-race white population in 2006 was older than
the population as a whole: The respective median ages were 40.5 and
36.4. About 21 percent of the population of this group was younger than 18,
compared with 25 percent of the total population.
Also released today were tabulations by age, which showed:
-- There were 37.3 million people 65 and older in 2006, accounting for
12 percent of the total population. In 2005, this group numbered an
estimated 36.8 million.
-- The number of people 85 and older reached 5.3 million, up from 5.1
million in 2005.
-- In 2006, working-age adults (18 to 64) totaled 188.4 million, which
was 63 percent of the population. A year earlier, the total was 186.2
-- The number of preschoolers (younger than 5) in the United States in
2006 was estimated at 20.4 million, up slightly from 20.3 million.
-- The number of elementary school-age (5 through 13) children was 36.1
million, with high-school age (14 through 17) children numbering 17.2
-- States with the highest percentages of older people (65 and older)
include Florida(16.8 percent), West Virginia (15.3 percent) and
Pennsylvania(15.2 percent). States with the lowest percentages were
Alaska (6.8 percent), Utah (8.8 percent) and Georgia (9.7 percent).
-- States with the highest percentages of preschoolers include Utah (9..7
percent), Texas (8.2 percent) and Arizona (7.8 percent). States with the
lowest percentages were Vermont (5.3 percent), Maine (5.3 percent)
and New Hampshire (5.6 percent).
at 8:46 PM
Friday, June 8, 2007
Yesterday, Thursday June 7th, five people lost their lives in a tragic fire in Riverdale, Georgia. We missed the first press conference but were there for the second. At that point we knew that at least five had died and that there might possibly be others who had been trapped in the Budget Inn.
I couldn’t help but think about the tragedy, the lives lost, the sadness that was already there for the families of those lost. Later as we found out more about what happened in the hotel room where that family died, it became even more horrific.
The fire started early in the morning and, from all reports, spread quickly. It was an older hotel, built before current sprinkler ordinances were in place, composed of wood and stucco. According to articles I’ve read in other publications it seems that people would cover the smoke alarms so they could smoke in their rooms. Some cooked in their rooms. Many lived in the hotel for extended periods of time. In fact, the family that died had been living in the hotel for about six months.
Skakita Jones, 32, her three children, daughter Shavon Butler, 14, son Devon Butler, 11, and daughter Desha Butler, 10, lived in the hotel with fiancé Freddie Lee Colston, Jr., 26. Shakita and Freddie Lee were to be married shortly. He was planning to be fitted for his tuxedo the day he died. Shakita’s uncle, Melvin Jones, 43, was staying with the family in order to help them move into their new home in Riverdale. They were moving out Thursday. Instead all but Shavon lost their lives in the fire.
Shavon was rescued by Riverdale and Clayton County Fire Fighters and flown to Grady Hospital with 2nd and 3rd degree burns on approximately 18% of her body.
As I edited our film and read other stories to check facts, my imagination took me into that small bathroom with Shakita, Freddie Lee, Melvin and the children. They retreated to the bathroom, unable to get out. They knew to put a towel across the bottom of the door to keep out smoke. Shakita used her cell phone to call for help. Unfortunately, the fire had spread across the roof and ultimately the roof collapsed.
Fire fighters were only able to rescue Shavon.
The family probably went to bed the night before the fire looking forward to what the future held. They had a new home they were moving into on Thursday. They had a wedding to plan. The children were probably excited about moving and being a complete family. They may have been thinking about their friends, what they planned to do for the weekend or the rest of the summer.
Thursday morning they lost their future.
I don’t know how long they huddled in the tub before they were overcome. I can’t begin to imagine what the mother of two suffered knowing she couldn’t save her young children. Her uncle loved and cared enough about her to travel to be with her and help her embark on a better future. Freddie Lee had embraced the entire family as his own yet he was helpless to save them. Did they hold out hope right to the last minute, knowing the fire was racing toward them? Did the cell phone connection allow them to share last minute endearments with family? What would these young children have done had they lived?
How did it happen that the fire was able to take hold and trap the family at a time when they were possibly already up and getting ready for their day? Why didn’t they hear smoke alarms going off, if they did? How did the fire start? If an ordinance were in place requiring that older hotels and multi-family dwellings upgrade their sprinkler system would these five still be alive?
There are a lot of questions to be answered and in the days to come we’ll probably get the answers to some. Unfortunately, by the time many of the answers are disclosed the media will have moved on to another story. The lessons that could be learned from the tragedy may never bear fruit simply because this fire might be an old memory by the time all the investigations are completed.
We talked with Fire Chief Alex Cohilas, Clayton County Fire Department, after the official press conference. It’s obvious from his comments that he is passionate about fire prevention, increased standards and he cares deeply about stopping the unnecessary loss of life. Although the press may move on to another story, it seems Cohilas will not move on until he wins the battle to enact the strongest possible building codes with proper enforcement in place.
My prayers go out to the families of those who lost their lives and in support of Shavon, who still has many battles of her own to overcome.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
How Mainstream America is Influencing the Film Industry
(ARA) - For several years now, attendance has been in decline at movie theaters all over the country. While ticket prices are up, overall receipts are down. A recent Zogby survey found that 45 percent of American moviegoers had decreased their attendance over the last five years, with the highest percentage of that decrease in the 18- to 24-year-old demographic; at the same time, 21 percent of respondents said they never went to the movies. One of the main reasons listed for this trend was the quality of the films.
What can Americans do to bring back the “golden age” of Hollywood, when films were designed to appeal to the whole family, and were based on good stories that inspired and uplifted? The answer, according to many industry insiders, is not to simply stay at home and save your money, but to get involved in the process. Good films begin with good stories, and where are the majority of these to be found? in the hearts and minds of everyday people all over the country.
People like R. Wyatt Scott, Daniel S. Elliott and Stan Himes, who recently split a $50,000 award given for writing “spiritually uplifting screenplays.” The contest is sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation and presented by “Movieguide: A Family Guide to Movies and Entertainment.”
From communities as diverse as Jacksonville, Fla., Rochester, Minn., and West Des Moines, Iowa, and with careers as far removed from the entertainment field as a surgeon and an ad copywriter, these winners represent the broad-based outcry from across the nation, for films that both entertain and uplift, and that whole families can enjoy together.
Just how quickly, really, can winning a script contest effect real change? Try less than a year. Two of last year’s contest winners, David Anthony and Heather Hughes, have had offers made on their scripts from major film companies. Anthony has even been hired by the production company PureFlix, to direct his film. PureFlix is new film company based in Hollywood whose goal is to create more of these types of films, and having a choice of these kinds of scripts in the pipeline helps make this possible.
So, the message to Americans out there everywhere, who want to see more films they can support at the box office, is do your part. If you have a great idea for a movie, or know someone who does, send it in. Information on the script contest can be found at www.kairosprize.com. Entries from first-time screenwriters are sought to keep the ideas fresh and creative.
Secondly, check out new companies like PureFlix, that may not get wide support as they often have to distribute their films independently. And when you know of a film releasing soon that you want to see in your local theater, call you theater managers and tell them about it. If enough public support for a film is generated, they will be more likely to try and bring it to their theater.
Some of these new films to be on the look-out for include Scott’s “Cheers & Laughter,” a drama focusing on a professional athlete whose career is cut short by injury -- a story line that appeals across the board, and, while not being “preachy,” shows the value of redemption and grace in bringing hope out of tragedy and despair. “Movies are a great medium for reaching people in need of this kind of comfort and encouragement,” says Scott.
Himes’ “Sarah’s Gift” is a comedy -- a genre that seems an unlikely winner for a spiritual competition. However, writer Stan Himes captures well the struggle of a teen trying to fit in, in a light and humorous way, as the only non-musical member of her family. Sarah learns about the power of prayer, as hers are answered with the gift of singing -- but only in church. She then becomes prideful of her new gift, but comes to understand the importance of humility, family commitment and sense of community as she is faced with the loss of more than just her singing talent. “It’s more than a faith-based film; it’s a fun, family movie,” says Himes. He believes Hollywood needs more of these “good movies with spiritual values rather than preachy movies that people don’t want to see.”
Elliott’s “By Might & Power” is an adventure story chronicling Captain Robert Scott’s ill-fated 1911 expedition to the South Pole. While not inherently spiritual, the script deals with the issues of purpose and meaning in life, and is very inspirational to others as Captain Scott comes to realize the true legacy he must leave for his son. “There is something far more grand in producing something that edifies, motivates and changes peoples’ lives,” Elliott summarizes, in comparison to writing a film or script that merely entertains.
While none of these winners plans to “quit his day job,” they are each open to what the future might hold. As part of winning the competition, their scripts are being reviewed by top Hollywood producers and studio executives, and any one of these films could be optioned and made into a real Hollywood blockbuster.
Stan Himes, especially, is hopeful for the future -- not for him alone but for the industry as a whole. He believes his script is an example of what most people are looking for in a movie -- a positive energy that taps into many emotions, with an eyes-watering, feel-good ending.
And that’s just what Hollywood needs more of.
More information is available at www.kairosprize.com.
Courtesy of ARAcontent
at 6:16 PM
Monday, April 23, 2007
Somehow we missed this release. Well worth a read & some thought on the way some minds work!
3-14-07 A small clinical trial of a medication to treat kleptomania has failed to find any conclusive benefit for patients with the impulsive stealing disorder, according to researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. But the results leave open the possibility that some medications, including the one in the trial, may still be an effective treatment for certain patients.
More than 1.2 million people in the United States are thought to suffer from kleptomania, the guilt-ridden, impulsive stealing of inexpensive and unneeded items. The condition differs from shoplifting, in which the action is usually planned and motivated by need or monetary gain. People suffering from kleptomania often fail to seek treatment for fear of legal repercussions.
The medication in the trial was escitalopram, marketed as Lexapro. The drug belongs to a class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and earlier studies have suggested that SSRIs can be effective in treating some impulse control disorders, such as skin picking.
In an earlier, non-blinded open-label phase of the kleptomania study, when trial participants were aware that they were taking escitalopram and not a placebo, 78 percent of the patients responded to the drug. In the second phase of the study, conducted as a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, the benefit was not seen.
"When we randomized people to drug vs. placebo, the same proportion of people relapsed on drug as relapsed on placebo, suggesting that it was really a placebo response in the initial phase of the study," said Lorrin Koran, MD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and first author of the study, which will be published in the March issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
In the double-blind trial, 15 subjects were assigned to receive either a placebo or escitalopram. For both groups, the relapse rates were effectively the same, with three of seven patients on the drug relapsing, compared with four of eight on the placebo.
Koran says that the small number of subjects in the study makes it impossible to know with certainty whether the results of the trial are really indicative of the effectiveness of escitalopram. "For some people, I think these drugs really do work. And for others, maybe not, but until you have large studies you can't tease that out," he said.
Koran emphasized that the results of the clinical trial are not definitive, and some people may be helped by therapy involving medication. For others, receiving psychological treatment, perhaps in combination with medication, may prove most effective. But regardless, he said, "People with this disorder should definitely seek treatment."
This study was funded by Forest Laboratories, which makes and markets Lexapro. Koran has served as a paid speaker for Forest Laboratories, as has second author Elais Aboujaoude, MD, clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and director of Stanford's Impulse Control Clinic. Nona Gamel, clinical research manager, was also a co-author on the study.
at 9:28 AM
Saturday, April 21, 2007
The Coca-Cola Company: Retooling Its Atlanta Headquarters to Conserve Natural Resources, Combat Climate Change
Collaboration with Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute is good for the environment and good for business
Actions to eliminate over 10,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions each year, save in excess of $1 million in annual operating costs
ATLANTA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Coca-Cola Company today announced that it was implementing measures to reduce energy consumption at its two million square foot world headquarters by 23 percent and reduce its water consumption by nearly 15 percent. These efforts are expected to eliminate more than 10,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year, which is the equivalent of removing 2,000 cars from the road.
“By taking bold measures to conserve natural resources in our own backyard, we want to send a message to companies and individuals that combating a leading global environmental problem demands local action,” said Bryan Jacob, The Coca-Cola Company’s energy and climate protection manager. “We all have a role to play, from using energy-efficient lighting where we can, to repairing leaky faucets and watering our lawns only in the morning and the evening. Each leaky faucet in our homes or offices could be wasting 180 gallons of water per week.”
The Coca-Cola Company’s efforts to protect the Earth’s climate at its Atlanta headquarters include an approximate $3 million investment in energy-efficient lighting and air conditioning equipment, rainwater harvesting techniques and advanced irrigation control systems. Furthermore, Coca-Cola will continue to enhance its state-of-the-art building automation system to increase the effectiveness of these improvements.
“As the number one ingredient in our beverages and an essential component to life on Earth, water is important to our Company,” Jacob continued. “Since climate change will have a profound impact on freshwater resources, we are making water conservation – in our plants around the world and at our headquarters – a priority. The irrigation improvement projects at our Atlanta Office Complex will reduce the water used for landscaping by an estimated 75 percent.”
The Coca-Cola Company is collaborating with Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute in these efforts to reduce water and energy consumption. “Companies have long embraced innovation to improve their products, services and operating practices, but we’ve entered a new era in which new technologies can help us become even better stewards of the natural resources that sustain our businesses,” said Bill Meffert, group manager of the Environmental and Energy Management Services Division with the Enterprise Innovation Institute. “Companies like Coca-Cola have the ability to make a tremendous impact in their operations and through the example they set for others.”
Currently, The Coca-Cola Company’s Atlanta Office Complex spends over $6 million annually on utilities, and substantial efforts to improve efficiency have been phased in gradually over the last ten years. For example, a recent project converted the North Avenue Tower’s famous marquee from neon to more energy efficient LED lighting that is expected to produce over $10,000 a year in energy savings.
The initiative being announced today represents a significant increase in the Company’s efforts to deliver even better results faster. Many of these planned upgrades are already underway and all are expected to be finished within the next twelve to eighteen months.
The Coca-Cola Company’s environmental protection efforts – global water stewardship, sustainable packaging and energy and climate protection – address areas that are most important to its business and are where the company can make the biggest impact. Each of these initiatives helps reduce the company’s carbon footprint.
The Company’s announcement comes ahead of Earth Day, which is commemorated in the United States and around the world on April 22. Since it was first celebrated in 1970, Earth Day has helped focus national attention on the progress that businesses, individuals, communities, governments and other organizations are making to protect the environment.
The Coca-Cola Company is the world's largest beverage company. Along with Coca-Cola®, recognized as the world's most valuable brand, the Company markets four of the world's top five nonalcoholic sparkling beverage brands, including Diet Coke®, Fanta® and Sprite®, and a wide range of other beverages, including diet and light beverages, waters, juices and juice drinks, teas, coffees, energy and sports drinks. Through the world's largest beverage distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy the Company's beverages at a rate exceeding 1.4 billion servings each day. For more information about The Coca-Cola Company, please visit our website at http://www.thecoca-colacompany.com/.
at 8:09 AM
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
ARA) – These days, too many children are growing up snacking on candy and cookies rather than foods that are good for them like fruits, vegetables and grains. But if America’s grocery stores have anything to do with it, that’s about to change! Area grocers throughout the U.S, from Massachusetts to Idaho, from Minneapolis to San Antonio, from the suburbs of Chicago to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, are encouraging healthy eating habits in their communities.
Realizing they have the ability to make a difference, local grocery stores are partnering with Field Trip Factory to offer free field trips that teach kids how to make smart food choices. It’s good for our communities and our kids.
“The field trips reach a wide cross-section of the youth in our area. These children go home and influence their parents to adopt healthy habits,” says Bob Gumbleton, manager of the Shaw’s Supermarket in Lynn, Mass.
“When we reach the kids and schools in our community, they bring their parents back to buy the healthy products they try during the field trip,” adds Dale Watson, manager of the Albertsons store in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho.
On these hands-on field trips kids get to sample healthy foods, and come away with an understanding of the essential concepts about nutrition and diet, as well as the importance of staying physically active. A little math is worked into it too as kids learn about pricing. The trip is designed with the goal in mind of producing not only healthy kids, but smart kids.
Meijer stores in suburban Chicago, kids learn fundamental concepts about how exercise, balanced meals, and healthy living will positively affect them. Jan Olszowski, store director of the chain’s store in Rolling Meadows, Ill., says the kids always leave smiling.
“In essence, the trips show kids that shopping for groceries at a Meijer store is fun. A lot of the chaperones have commented they have never been here before, and they will now return to shop here for healthier foods in the future,” he says.
Down in Texas, H-E-B stores are also finding that their trip helps build a partnership with kids in the community that goes beyond food. The Be A Healthy Buddy program focuses on making healthy decisions as well as teaching students about careers in the grocery retail business. “It’s important to us to have a positive impact on kids and their health. They are our future shoppers as well as our future employees,” points out Keith Jackson, who manages one of the chain’s San Antonio, Texas store.
At Rainbow Foods stores in Minnesota, stores see the benefit to both students and their families. Carole Fust, store manager for Rainbow Foods in Plymouth says, “We expose students to information that will help them make better nutrition decisions. They go home and share what they’ve learned with their parents and siblings.”
Over 2,000 local grocery stores are now offering this important real-life health lesson. These grocers are making a difference in their communities by encouraging kids to eat healthy today so they can make a difference tomorrow. Rommel Morrison, manager of the Lowes Foods store in Jamestown, N.C., adds, “This program is a valuable asset to the community.”
To learn more about these free, experience-based field trips, log on to www.fieldtripfactory.com and type in your zip code to find out which programs are available in your community. If you don’t have Internet access, call (800) 987-6409 for more information.
Courtesy of ARAcontent
at 11:19 PM