Monday, August 30, 2010

This is an article in the local paper written by Dr. David Katz. At the end, I will add my editorial comment.
Which came first is what may prove to be the nation's largest salmonella outbreak: the chicken or the tainted egg?
Neither, in my opinion. Both are effects. We are the cause.
Any gardener knows that to solve a weedy problem, you have to get it at its roots.
Why is it that some 500 million eggs have been recalled, and 1,500 people have gotten sick in the U.S. due to salmonella contamination? Proximal causes have much to do with modern farming and food-handling techniques, and something to do with FDA resource limitations. But what about the root cause?
And how about the worst drought in Russia in 50 years, leading to massive crop failure? Could it be fed by the same root?
What of massive population displacement in Pakistan due to inundation, and similar is lesser upheaval due to flooding in China? And while we're at it, can we trace the root to accelerated melting of the polar ice, with ramifications we are still guessing at?
I think we can. The root cause that connects these dots, and many others besides, is global population growth. There are too many of us, and too many more each year.
This particular topic carries something of a wince factor for me, a father of five. I usually enjoy the comfort of practicing what I preach. But, then again, former drug users often make the best addiction counsellors, and some of the top obesity experts struggle with their own weight. I suppose i can come clean about population pressures, despite having done such a poor job of keeping my genes to myself.
I raise the issue because it's ominously absent from the discourse in preventative medicine, public health and public policy. Mum's the word about the global population in almost all discussion of global warming and climate change: modern industrial agricultural practices: and propagation and transmission of infectious and chronic diseases. This is odd, and worrisome. It suggests either obliviousness, fatalism, denial, ideological intransigence or capitulation, and none of these is good.
I was stunned when I spoke last year at the Imagine Solutions Conference in Naples, Fla, that my fellow speakers addressing the trials and tribulations of the planet spoke about a rapid ascent toward a global population of 9 billion or more as a fait accompli. Even though rapid population growth was the driving force behind the problems they went on to discuss--depletion of the oceans, climate change, deforestation and so forth--it was not discussed as a problem in its own right. I had a similar impression when last I participated in the Aspen Ideas Festival.
If the harms of excessive global population have become a taboo topic, I didn't get the memo.
There are more than 6 billion of us here now. I am inclined to think there is no problem 9 billion could solve that 6-plus billion can't. However, 9 billion may be the problem that the 6-plus billion need to solve, if we are to solve any other. Because the growing horse of us consuming the planet's resources, not to mention eggs, in uniquely modern fashion is the problem underlying many other problems.
The massive demands and ramifications of an ever-more-massive human population may be the root of the roots of many of our most urgent crises. Certainly, it is the reason 500,000 eggs were laid, packed and shipped at the same time in the first place. And, like most perils that fall within my preventive medicine purview, it is something we can address by means at our disposal, but only if we are cognizant of it and willing to talk about it.
We have met the enemy, and, in our ever-increasing, ever more modern, ever more voracious multitudes, it is us. While 500 million seems a big number, We have 9 billion things to start talking about, and the sooner, the better.

My thoughts on the topic; Dr. Katz is correct. From his medical background, He can see that distributing birth control can help. Empowering women so they can control the size of their family.....that can also help. Men need to be educated to learn that women are people with just as much right to a say as their men have. Men need to learn that women are not baby making machines. Political entities need to know that encouraging families to not use birth control may enlarge their political base in the short run, but in the long run, will be the destruction of us all.

We need to get our numbers down. The last time I saw a statistic, world population was 4 times what the earth's resources can sustain. That means We are using up resources faster than they can regenerate. From my background in human development, I learned that when families are educated and live with enough money and resources to be in charge of their lives, they automatically limit the number of children in their family. Therefore, one major key to population control is to help families rise out of poverty into relative wealth and comfort.

Empower people with good education and the resources to control their own lives. Let people know that it is OK to stay single, or to marry but not have children, or to adopt. Let people in villages speak with one voice and improve the life in the village . As I said, the key here is to empower people ..... Thanks, Dr. Katz, for opening this topic.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Good things happened to this family in August. Chris , with a lot of courage, quit his job to relocate to Raleigh North Carolina. This is where the lady He loves lives. He grew up there, so He knows the city and suburbs. His old boss asked him to continue work as a consultant from Raleigh, so there was no interruption in paychecks. With a phone line and a computer, Chris continued working for his old boss. That is the first miracle. The second miracle is the job He wanted came through....with training free included....that He was willing to pay tuition for. The third miracle is that Tara agreed to marry Chris.

The Fourth miracle is that Stephen now has a job. He works as an auto mechanic, but lost his job because He lost his license from driving under the influence. He will never do that again, he says and I know it is true. He found a job that doesn't require Him to have his driver's license and He is still peripherally in his field. He continues to work towards regaining his license and various trade certifications. My grandson has reached a new level of maturity. I am proud of him and his brother.

The fifth miracle isn't really a miracle. It is merely tasks accomplished that I can cross off the "to do" list. My mother's probate is finished. ....long story....I will save that one for later.

Also finished: the repairs to the garage roof, garage wall and floor, driveway, replacement sidewalk and repaired lawn. Yesterday I went to Windowrama to look at patio doors. The next project is to replace all three patio doors at my house. I will pay for them for what I got out of my mother's estate. It seems I am always repairing or replacing parts of my houses. Perhaps I will be doing this the rest of my life. It gives me something to do as long as I don't run out of money to do these projects and a feeling of accomplishment. However, I do want this list to be done and then be free to do other things.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

My grandson is 32, divorced and wants to start a family. Chris wants to remarry and settle down. The love of his life lives in Raleigh, where Chris once lived and where He met Tara. Chris is doing very well at his job in Connecticut. The only thing is the job isn't in North Carolina. He makes a big decision. Chris gives notice that he is leaving the job and moving to North Carolina....without a new job lined up and in a national recession. He has a recruiter looking for a job for him. The one He wants is with Red Hat and a computer system called lynix...I may have misspelled the system's name.
He gives a month's notice to his boss....very professional of him. They don't want him to leave. He is firm. OK. They start to look for his replacement. Chris gets to interview his replacement...This will look good on his resume. He gets to train an intern. This will also look good on his resume. The boss praises Chris in front of the staff. This is also very very good for my grandson. He states to me that He has made good changes for this company and they appreciate it. They still don't want him to go. Finally they make an offer He can't refuse: until the new job comes in, will He stay on as a consultant? With a computer and a phone line, He can still work for them from Raleigh and collect a salary. Chris says yes.
It is time to pack. He packs his car to the roof . He packs my truck also to the roof. There is no space for anything more....but everything my grandson owns is there and about to be moved. We turn on our cells phones and off We go. I have Captain Jack as my copilot. Jack and I stop for breakfast, but Chris goes on ahead. Chris is about an hour ahead of me. The weekend traffic is awful. The heat and humidity is awful. Chris calls me on my cell. There is a 2 hour wait to get over the George Washington bridge. It is all volume traffic. By the time We get to Virginia, I am tiring. I call him and say that I am stopping in Richmond. Will He stop too? No. Chris wants to drive straight through. I stop at Motel 6 in Richmond because they allow dogs in the room.
Captain Jack loves the ride. The motion of the car puts him to sleep. I have a sleeping four year old puppy next to me the entire ride.
Next day I arrive at Holly Springs...our destination. My hostess and her little girl could not be nicer. We find that We have much in common. Chris has told me about Tara and I feel I know her before We met. She feels the same way. The little girl gives Captain Jack a bath. He stands perfectly still in the bath, so He remembers other baths. Holiday is delighted to have a puppy to play with. Captain Jack likes her too.
The afternoon is spent in the community pool. It is lovely. I love this pool and can stay in it all day. It is a salt water pool...the first time I've been in a salt water pool. By using salt, they don't have to use as much chlorine....which is a poison. This is one healthy pool.
Dinner is as the Gypsy Shiny Diner. I love diners and this seems to be the only one in the entire state of North Carolina. Holiday is falling asleep at the table. Time to go home.
It is bedtime. I have the couch which is fine with me. Holiday is put to bed. I am moved to hear Tara ask Holiday what is she grateful for? I had never asked my children that. Holiday gets to answer that question every night. One thing that Holiday is grateful for is playing with Jack.
It is time to turn out the lights and go to bed. Captain Jack won't sleep on my bed as He usually does. He insists on sleeping with Holiday. Good dog.


This winter, the city tree at the curb fell. It landed on my truck, on the garage, and also on my neighbor Butch's house. It took down Butch's antenna, bent the mast, punched holes in the roof of my garage, gouged the side of the garage and roughed up my lawn.
A month earlier, a huge branch had fallen. The city came, cut it up and took it away. A year earlier, I had written the city about another branch that was hanging over the electrical supply line to my house. If that branch falls, it will disconnect my electric . I ask the city to prune this tree. They did not. Instead, they say that I can cut the branch myself. How can I do that? By good luck, my across the street neighbor has an arborist doing work for him. He sends the man to my house to cut the threatening branch. So, that is three instances with this tree.
When it finally had to be removed, the city tree crew came and did the work. They picked up all the branches that were dug into my lawn. By accident, they also pulled out a newly planted pear tree. It was winter. The tree looked just like any other branch stuck in the lawn. The crew used a bucket truck to get the branches off the roof of the garage. By doing so, they also pulled off my weather vane and broke it so it could not be reinstalled.
Now my neighbor and I have to repair the damage to our houses. I have holes in the roof of the garage. It rains inside the garage. This condition can't be ignored.
Butch hires someone to remove the bent mast that held his antennae. If that pole hadn't been there, the entire side of his house would have been damaged. I bet He would have had windows smashed. It was a really big maple tree at the end of its life...rotten inside.
I hire someone to replace just the damaged half of the garage roof, replace siding, repaint the damaged side. A landscaper comes to fill in the holes and spread grass seed. The total bill is around $2,000. The bill is submitted to the city for repayment. They refuse to pay, stating they have no responsibility to inspect their trees.
I have filed in small claims court. The city hires an attorney who tries to get the case out of small claims court into another court where he will have an advantage. He fails...the case isn't scheduled yet.
Meanwhile, there is a big space in the sidewalk where the tree was. Someone will fall in the hole and break an ankle. The maintenance of the sidewalk is the home owner's responsibility. I have to have a new sidewalk put in because the hole is a liability exposure.
My tenant has 2 squares of sidewalk that need replacement. Might as well have that done, long as the mason is here. and....While He is here, I might as well have the garage floor and driveway done. They are cracked. Grass grows in the cracks. There are several sunken spots in the garage as if someone dropped something very heavy there. All this needs to be replaced. Might just as well do it all.
I call in my favorite masons. They did a wonderful job putting down the stone paver walkways. They also did a wonderful job installing glass blocks in the basement windows. I know they will do a good job on the sidewalk.
Yes. They did that. They also power washed the old sidewalk between my new sidewalk and the tenant's new sidewalk...and they edged it, too. The whole place looks pretty good.
The cost for all that concrete work was expensive, but it had to be done. I don't mind paying for this work, as I know I will never have to do it again. However, I feel strongly that the city should pay for the damage the tree did. The case doesn't have a date in court as yet.


Lily died some times ago. I still miss her. When I look at her picture, I still feel sadness. This house needs a dog around. "I will just look"...I tell myself. It is a nice day for a ride to the SPCA. I see that dogs are outside in kennels under the trees for shade. They all look good.
A volunteer has me sign in . She asks what am I looking for. She asks the usual care questions....can I take care of a dog? Are there young children in the house? Will I walk the dog? Backyard fenced in? Yes. My backyard is fenced in.
No one is allowed to walk around by themselves and I understand why. Dogs can be stressed, living at the SPCA...and strangers are an unknown factor. We walk around. Several dogs meet my requirements. This volunteer is anxious to get a dog adopted. She puts a fuzzy puppy dog in my arms and lets me play with him. First of all, I do not want a puppy. This isn't a puppy. it is a four year old male dog. I don't adopt males, either.
I can see that this dog isn't traumatized. He seems happy . I tell the director that I don't love this dog and am unsure about adopting him. The director tells me that I will learn to love this dog. The papers are put before me and I sign....and write a check. How did that happen? The staff must be good at selling....
I am going home with a Bichon Freise......a dog that will forever be a baby. This isn't a dog for me. What am I doing with this dog?
The dog bonds immediately with me. He knows that my hand is attached to the can opener. I show the dog to my does a "cute" act: rolls over for a tummy rub. cocks his head sideways and smiles. What a goofy dog.
I am not sure about this dog, but apparently he is mine now. I want him to cut out the cute stuff....He does the cocked head and smile thing routine again. I will give him a strong man's name.....none of this cutesy stuff. I call him Jack. My grandson, Chris, adds "Captain".
So Captain Jack becomes part of the family. I notice that He has a tendency to get nickname' lamb chop, fuzzy bear...yuck. This dog is TOO cute.