Saturday, January 31, 2009

Six Wasn't Enough

The woman who gave birth to octuplets this week has six other children and never expected to have eight more when she took fertility treatment, her mother said. Angela Suleman said her daughter expects a big challenge raising 14 children. The good news, she said, is all the babies appear healthy.

Suleman’s daughter who gave birth to the octuplets Monday has requested that doctors keep her name confidential. Media knew little about the woman until a family acquaintance told CBS’ “The Early Show” on Thursday that the mother is “fairly young” and lives with her parents and her six children.

Within hours, media had camped out at the family’s home in Whittier, where the babies’ grandfather pulled up in a minivan in the evening and briefly spoke to The Associated Press. Beside him were two children—a 7-year-old and 6-year-old—who said they were excited to have eight new siblings. But the grandfather warned that media may have a tougher time finding the family after the babies are released from the hospital.

The mother also has two children, ages 5 and 3, and 2-year-old twins, neighbors told the Times.
Suleman said her daughter had embryos implanted last year, and after finding out she was pregnant with multiple babies was given the option by doctors of selectively reducing the number of embryos. The woman declined.

What do you suggest she should have done? She refused to have them killed,” Suleman told the Times.

I have so many questions about this. First of all, this mother is young? What does that mean? How young? She has six other children—do the math, it takes a few years to have that many, with only one multiple birth. And, why is she living at home with her parents? Also, where is the father? Was a father involved in the conception of the babies or did the embryos come from a donor? And, with six children already, why was she going through embryos being implanted? Knowing how expensive that is, who paid for that?

I don’t mean to sound judgmental and I realize I probably do. But, 14 children! Is 14 enough? Too many? Is she going to want more?

I pray that God will bless those precious little babies and all of the people who will provide care to them. Especially those who have to change that many diapers!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Say It Ain't So Starbucks

I’m not a huge Starbucks fan. Sorry about that Kevin. To me, their coffee is just too strong! I just don’t like the taste. And I really don't like what they charge for a cup of coffee! Now, I will admit, when I traveled to Seattle a few years ago, I did break down and drink a cup of Starbuck’s finest. When in Seattle, what else should you drink?

But now, Starbucks has gone one more step to keep me from drinking their coffee. See, to be perfectly honest, I’m not a really big coffee fan period. I love the smell of freshly brewed coffee. I love to go to coffee shops and just sit and smell. Well, I don’t like going to Starbucks for that—again remember, I don’t even like the smell of their coffee.

But now, Starbucks has made the business decision to stop brewing decaffeinated coffee after morning hours.

The Seattle coffee giant has instructed its United States’ baristas to stop regularly brewing batches of decaffeinated coffee after noon, according to a memo reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and confirmed by the company. Instead, baristas will brew decaffeinated drip coffee only when a customer orders it, a process the company says takes about four minutes.

Stores with higher demand for decaffeinated coffee in the afternoon and evening are being instructed to brew it more regularly if they believe there’s enough demand. “For many of our stores, the demand for decaf is greatly reduced in the afternoon and therefore yields high waste with the current standard,” the memo says.

Starbucks spokeswoman Deb Trevino said the change shouldn’t affect customers. “We’re not saying we’re not going to have decaf coffee,” she said. “We’re just saying brew it based on your store needs rather than a one-size-fits-all.”

Well, okay. If I am really desperate, I’ll head to Starbucks for a cup of coffee. And, I’ll stand in line waiting as you brew my decaf cup for me. Then, charge me, like what, $5 for a cup that I could have brewed at home (at a far better taste) for a few pennies.

Yes, there’s no doubt about it. Our economy is really hurting. $5 for a cup of coffee. I wonder what the people standing in the soup lines during the Great Depression would have thought about that. Don’t think we are quite to depression days yet. Still one too many Starbucks within five miles of my office!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Pucker Up, Won't You!

Earlier this week, I shared the story of a relationship gone terribly wrong as a girlfriend shot her boyfriend for not letting her sleep.

Well, here’s another story, with a far different outcome! Grab some tissues, you’ll need them!

Some might call Emma Ray a real-life “Sleeping Beauty.” The 34-year-old from the United Kingdom suffered a heart attack nearly two weeks after giving birth to her son and failed to regain consciousness. Her husband, Andrew, spent two weeks by her bedside waiting for her to wake up from a coma–but her condition did not improve until he leaned over and asked her for a kiss.

“What happened next was beyond my wildest dreams,” he told the newspaper. “She turned her head toward mine, puckered up her lips and gave me a little kiss. I couldn't believe it. My heart felt like it was going to leap from my chest—it suddenly felt like a huge weight had been lifted.”

Mrs. Ray collapsed while shopping with her husband 10 days after giving birth. She was taken to the hospital where doctors were able to restart her heart, but warned she could remain in a coma indefinitely.

Despite waking up after the kiss, Ray still had a long road ahead of her. The heart attack left her with short-term memory loss—and as a result she’s had to undergo extensive brain injury rehabilitation.

Now, nearly two years later, Ray is back at home where her family is grateful to have her. “She can walk quite well holding hands now, and at least our kids still have a mother and I still have a wife,” her husband said.

Doctors believe her heart attack may have been caused by a blood clot after her son was delivered by Caesarean section.

What a sweet, sweet story! A wife and mother rescued by a simple kiss.

At this point, I’d recommend you stop reading this blog and go find someone to kiss!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Someone Else's Fault

A Texas high school basketball coach has been fired after his team beat another team 100–0 on the same day that sent an email to a local newspaper saying he would not apologize “for a wide-margin victory when my girls played with honor and integrity.”

On its Web site last week, Covenant, a private Christian school, posted a statement regretting the outcome of its January 13 shutout win over Dallas Academy. “It is shameful and an embarrassment that this happened. This clearly does not reflect a Christlike and honorable approach to competition,” said the statement, signed by school officials.

The coach who has been criticized for letting the game get so far out of hand, made it clear in the email Sunday to the newspaper that he does not agree with his school’s assessment. “In response to the statement posted on The Covenant School Web site, I do not agree with the apology or the notion that the Covenant School girls basketball team should feel embarrassed or ashamed. We played the game as it was meant to be played. My values and my beliefs would not allow me to run up the score on any opponent, and it will not allow me to apologize for a wide-margin victory when my girls played with honor and integrity.”

A parent who attended the game said Covenant continued to make 3-pointers—even in the fourth quarter. She praised the Covenant players but said spectators and an assistant coach were cheering wildly as their team edged closer to 100 points. Covenant was up 59-0 at halftime.

Dallas Academy has eight girls on its varsity team and about 20 girls in its high school. It is winless over the last four seasons. The academy boasts of its small class sizes and specializes in teaching students struggling with “learning differences,” such as short attention spans or dyslexia.

Okay. I appreciate a school not wanting to run up the score on another team. Especially on a team that specializes in teaching students with “learning differences”—whatever that term is supposed to mean.

But wait a minute. What about teaching the girls another lesson—life is sometimes tough and stinks all the way to heaven! There are going to be blowouts in life. Blowouts happen! (I can see that on a bumper sticker now!) All of life isn't good and just because school administrators try to deny it or hide it or protect the girls from the truth, the truth is still the truth. Sounds like to me the girls handled the truth pretty well--it was the adults who couldn't handle the truth! What else is new! Kids have a great way of seeing life for it is. It's us old folks that struggle with make-believe!

What did the school think would happen? Only 20 girls in the entire school and only 8 girls on the team. Those 8 girls have “learning differences.” That team hasn’t won a game in 4 years! 4 years!

So, rather than teaching the girls the value of playing the game and accepting loss, the other team fires its head coach for not pulling back his girls. What lesson would pulling them back teach his team? Play hard sometimes? Play hard when the competition is tough? Play hard when you are told to play hard?

I know the score was very one-sided. I get that!

But, think about this. Maybe those girls were shooting three-point shots from way outside their normal range, just hoping to miss and every shot they made still found its way in the hoop! Did anyone think about that possibility? The winning team still had to shoot the basketball and even layups are not always going to go in--especially if someone attempts to guard you! Also, the winning team couldn’t score for the other team! Did you think about that?

I’m sorry if this post seems heartless, but I’ve played sports for many years of my life. I don’t ever remember any team, coach, or player “taking it easy” on us just because we were smaller, less experienced, or whatever excuse we could have come up with! We played to win. They played to win. And, most of the time, the best team comes out on top. Period. That's why we keep score, as Michael Jordan reminded us, even in practice. Because in sports, someone always wins or loses, except in soccer, but that's another rant for another day.

Friends, it’s not always someone else’s fault!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Someone Else's Fault

[Today is part one of a two part series that I have titled "Someone Else's Fault." Feel free to share your thoughts.]

Some scientists are now telling us that obesity can be “caught” as easily as a common cold. We can catch obesity” by coming in contact with other people’s coughs, sneezes, and dirty hands.

The condition has been linked to a highly-infectious virus which causes sniffles and sore throats.
Nikhil Dhurandhar, an associate professor at The Pennington Biomedical Research Center, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, said the virus, known as AD-36, infects the lungs then whisks around the body, forcing fat cells to multiply and also causing sore throats.

“When this virus goes to fat tissue it replicates, making more copies of itself and in the process increases the number of new fat cells, which may explain why the fat tissue expands and why people get fat when they are infected with this virus,” Dhurandhar said.

New research supports earlier theories from studies on weight gain; evidence in tests on mice and chickens shows the bug could cause overweight people to gain weight.

“People could be fat for reasons other than viral infections, so it’s pointless for fat people to try to avoid infection,” said Dhurandhar.

The study also reveals research claiming dieters always feel hungry because humans have a “natural body weight” and they will always suffer hunger pangs.

So, let me get this right. If someone sneezes on me, I could catch a virus that will lead to me getting fat? Did I read that correctly? Or, I could touch a doorknob or telephone or just about anything else and I could catch this virus and get fat? Seriously?

The research also show that when we diet, we feel hunger pangs? Really? When did that start? The times that I have dieted, I didn’t notice the pangs. LOL.

Come on people! Obesity (notice, I chose to use that word and not the word used repeatedly by the “scientist”) isn’t a person’s fault because someone else gave them a virus? They were feeding the cold brought about by someone else’s bad germs. So, being overwhelm isn’t really a person’ fault—no personal ownership of the situation—it is someone else’s fault.

I found my natural body weight a few years ago. It was about 25 pounds above where I am right now. However, I would disagree with this scientist because even at that weight, I still got hungry. Oh, wait a minute. Maybe I had not reached my “ideal” natural body weight! Maybe I still had a little more room to go—not in my clothes, but in reaching the natural weight I was supposed to be at.

I have no doubt this research was conducted using our tax dollars. Maybe Mr. Obama will help eliminate this type of waste in federal spending. If not, the next thing you know is that some scientist is telling us that walking on a bed of glass causes our feet to bleed!

Pardon me. I need to go wash my hands, using strong soap to kill all germs on my hands, so that I can eat my lunch to maintain my less than ideal natural body weight.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Keeping One Eye Open Might Be Good

A Louisiana woman allegedly shot her boyfriend because he would not let her sleep, according to The News Star.

Police found Roshonda Anding’s boyfriend in his car with a single shot to his hip, the newspaper reports. He was taken to LSU Medical Center.

The 21-year-old was charged with aggravated battery.

Anding told police that she shot her boyfriend, “because he was bothering her and wouldn’t let her sleep,” according to a police report.

Okay. Comments please. But, remember, if you comment, you do so at your own risk! Especially if your spouse might happen along and read this blog or your comment.

I can’t wait to read what you write.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dog Gone Crazy

Former French President Jacques Chirac was rushed to a hospital after being mauled by his pet dog who is being treated for depression, in a dramatic incident that rattled the ex-president’s wife.

The couple’s white Maltese poodle, called Sumo, has a history of frenzied fits and became increasingly prone to making “vicious, unprovoked attacks” despite receiving treatment with anti-depressants, Chirac’s wife Bernadette said.

“If you only knew! I had a dramatic day yesterday,” she told VSD magazine. “Sumo bit my husband!”

Mrs. Chirac, 74, did not reveal where the former president was bitten, but said, “the dog went for him for no apparent reason.”

“We were aware the animal was unpredictable and is being treated with pills for depression. My husband was bitten quite badly but he is certain to make a full recovery in weeks.”

Chirac was taken to a hospital in Paris where he was treated as an outpatient and later sent home.

I’ve only been bitten by a dog once, I was a child. It was a small, little, tiny dog. The dog came after me for no reason and bit me on the back of the leg as I tried to run away. Yes, I was running away!

Did I ever think the dog was depressed? Maybe that was it! The dog was depressed and was lashing out at me, because I was little and having a good time, enjoying life.

Does that sound stupid to you?

But, then again, we are talking about the French here! And, a poodle!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Pennies From Heaven

A Pennsylvania man says he considered it divine providence when a bank error put more than $175,000 in his and his wife’s account. Fifty-year-old Randy Pratt and 36-year-old Melissa Pratt face trial in Columbia County Court on felony theft and conspiracy charges. They waived a preliminary hearing Wednesday.

The trouble started when a $1,772.50 deposit to the Pratts’ FNB Bank account showed up as $177,250 last summer. Police say that instead of telling the bank, they withdrew the money, quit their jobs and moved to Florida.

Randy Pratt tells the Bloomsburg Press Enterprise he did attempt to ask the bank what happened, but was ignored. He said he considered the money “a gift from God.” He says the couple gave away thousands of dollars, including $25,000 to a Florida church shelter for the homeless.

Randy Pratt is in county prison. A judge denied a request to lower his $100,000 bail. Melissa Pratt, who told the court she is estranged from her husband, is free on unsecured bail.

What do you think? “A gift from God” or an easy excuse for his crime?

I don’t believe I’ve ever had a banking error. And, if it had been a $175,000 error, I think I would have noticed. And, I doubt the bank would have ignored me.

Sounds to me like the Pratts were just a little greedy!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Great Science at Work

A student who lost his left hand in an accident three years ago has been fitted with the world’s most sophisticated prosthetic limb. Evan Reynolds, 19, took only minutes to learn how to manipulate the i-LIMB, which is operated by tiny sensors resting against his arm muscles.

With his new hand he can now pick up a paper cup filled with water, peel a carrot, or walk down the street eating chips, all activities he could only dream about before.

The $15,000 i-LIMB was developed by the Scottish company Touch Bionics and Reynolds is only the second person in the U.K. to be fitted with one. Unlike previous prosthetics, the hand can tell how tightly it is gripping, allowing the user a large degree of control.

Reynolds, a sports biology student at University of the West of England, was in a friend’s car hanging his hand out of the window when it was taken off by a wooden gate post. His life was saved by his quick-thinking friends who applied a tourniquet and stopped him bleeding to death but the accident wrecked his dreams of joining the British Army.

The i-LIMB was introduced in 2007 and has won awards for its innovative technology. About 450 people, most in the United States, have been fitted with the prosthetic hand so far. Reynolds said it has given him a new lease on life. “The accident was very nasty. My hand was amputated in a second,” he said. “After the accident I’d resigned myself to never being able to use it again. But it truly has changed my life. It truly is incredible.”

Each finger of the i-LIMB is controlled by its own individual motors allowing a much more sensitive grip than previous prosthetics, which were limited to a claw-like action. It is fitted to the stump with a socket that contains the rechargeable battery and sensors that detect currents in the muscles which would have controlled the hand.

“'It’s so sensitive I can grip a bottle of water or a paper cup without crushing it and even swing a racket,” Reynolds said. “All I have to do is imagine picking something up or gripping it and the fingers and thumb move automatically.”

Isn’t it great what can be invented and used today to bringing “healing” to those who are injured? I can only hope that Evan Reynolds will use this new lease on life to make great accomplishments in our world! In reading his comments, I don’t think that will be a problem.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Welcome Mr. President!

Yesterday, Barack Hussein Obama became the 44th President of the United States of America.

I did not vote for President Obama. My reasons are my reasons. Chief among those reasons was his lack of experience in political life. Running for political office doesn't quality a person for the job.

While I didn't vote for Mr. Obama, he can know that he has my constant prayers during his term in office over the next four years. Over these next four years, I will pray:

1) For his safety.

2) For his sanity.

3) For support of the American people as he leads to the best of his ability.

4) For wisdom to lead our country in the right direction.

5) For his cabinet and those who surround him daily, that they will not be just "yes men" and "yes women" but will have the backbone to stand up for what is right and just.

6) For a peace of mind and heart that surpasses all understanding.

7) For his family and his balance of their needs to the country's needs.

8) For his walk with the Lord God and his personal knowledge of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

9) For the ability to know right from wrong and the way that is broad between the two.

Mr. Obama, if the national media is correct, the world is watching. I hope and pray that the promises you made genuinely reflect the desires of your heart for a better country and one that retains our freedoms. You have the eyes and ears of the world watching every step you take and listening to every word you utter. I doubt you will find the job as easy as you thought it to be and you'll probably come away with a greater respect for the man who preceded you in office.

You have my prayers Mr. President.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thank You Mr. President!

Today, President George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States of America, leaves office.

Thank you Mr. President for the faithful commitment and dedication you've shown over the last eight years.

I will always be appreciative of your presidency for the following reasons:

1) Your love for America.

2) Your desire to keep America safe from further terrorist attack.

3) Your unshamed wearing of the American flag on your lapel! Then again, you first wore the American flag on your uniform as you served our country's military. So, who's surprised.

4) Your ability to laugh as yourself and others.

5) Your pet names for the White House Press Corps. Maybe that is why they didn't like you! That's probably not the reason, but it was fun!

6) Your obvious love for your wife and daughters. And, your admiration and support of your parents.

7) Your love for baseball, the greatest game on earth.

8) Your faith in Jesus Christ. While you did not always follow the path Jesus charted for you, who does?

9) Your ability to admit past mistakes, and current ones as well.

10) Your ability to ensure a smooth transition with the Obama team! There have been no reports of vandalism like when you came to office and the "W's" were missing from the computer keyboards and towels were stolen from Air Force One. Mr. President, thanks for exiting the scene with class.

Mr. President, I hope you enjoy some time with family, friends, and resting. After the two terms you've had in the Oval Office, you deserve a little "down-time!" I hope you find it and enjoy it.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Do You Have A Dream?

On this day, as we remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., let me pose a question for you: What is your dream for America?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Blurry Eyes from Watching Too Much TV

Did you watch a college football bowl game over the holidays? If so, you weren’t alone. Here are the numbers for this past season. The list is long, but take a minute to notice the increase or decrease in ratings from last year.

Bowl TV Ratings(with increase/decrease from last year)
BCS Title Game, 15.8 (+10%)
Rose, 11.7 (+5%)
Fiesta, 10.4 (+35%)
Sugar, 7.8 (+11%)
Capital One, 6.4 (-30%)
Orange, 5.4 (-27%)
Champs Sports, 4.5 (+41%)
Cotton, 4.4 (+26%)
Gator, 4.1 (+58%)
Emerald, 4.0 (+29%)
Meineke Car Care, 3.9 (+22%)
Alamo, 3.9 (+70%)
Holiday, 3.9 (+5%)
Chick-fil-A, 3.4 (-23%)
Poinsettia, 3.2 (+88%)
Outback, 2.7 (-7%)
Hawaii, 2.6 (+100%)
Music City, 2.4 (-29%)
Liberty, 2.3 (-34%)
Sun, 2.2 (-4%)
New Mexico, 2.2 (+29%)
Las Vegas, 2.2 (+5%)
Motor City, 2.1 (-9%)
Humanitarian, 2.1 (+200%)
EagleBank, 1.9 (New Bowl)
International, 1.8 (+29%), 1.7 (-12%)
GMAC, 1.7 (+70%)
Armed Forces, 1.4 (-18%)
St. Petersburg, 1.1 (New Bowl)
Independence, 0.8 (-50%)
New Orleans, 0.7 (-50%)
Insight, 0.4 (0%)
Texas, 0.1 (-67%)

Average Bowl TV Rating By Conference
Big 12, 6.13 (7 games)
Big Ten, 5.70 (7 games)
SEC, 5.65 (8 games)
Pac-10, 4.80 (5 games)
Mountain West, 3.36 (5 games)
ACC, 3.34 (10 games)
Big East, 2.68 (6 games)
WAC, 2.18 (5 games)
Sun Belt, 1.40 (2 games)
MAC, 1.30 (5 games)
Conference USA, 1.22 (6 games)

So, how many did you watch? Which ones? Did you watch every second of the game?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Who Didn't Know This?

File this one away in the “Didn’t Everyone Already Know This File.”

Morris and Annelies Sheehan promised North Haven firefighters they wouldn’t use real candles on their Christmas trees anymore.

The Sheehan’s lit the candles for a guest from Germany and the tree went up in flames, along with a couch, bookcase, rug, and drapes. The family was able to keep the flames from spreading to the rest of their home by using buckets of water.

The family says it has been using real candles for 44 years with no previous problem, but normally does not have the tree up this long after Christmas.

The Sheehans say they will use electric candles next Christmas.

Smart. Even after 44 years of no problems, I just assumed everyone knew this! Candles and dead trees. Not a good combination!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Is Google Destroying the Earth?

Performing two Google searches from a desktop computer can generate about the same amount of carbon dioxide as boiling a kettle for a cup of tea, according to new research. Oh no! Will the world end because of Google? Sure seems some people believe so, or is that hopes so!

While millions of people tap into Google without considering the environment, a typical search generates about 7g of CO2. Boiling a kettle generates about 15g.

“Google operates huge data centers around the world that consume a great deal of power,” said Alex Wissner-Gross, a Harvard University physicist whose research on the environmental impact of computing is due out soon. “A Google search has a definite environmental impact.”

Google is secretive about its energy consumption and carbon footprint. It also refuses to divulge the locations of its data centers. However, with more than 200m internet searches estimated globally daily, the electricity consumption and greenhouse gas emissions caused by computers and the Internet is provoking concern, at least among a few folks. A recent report by Gartner, the industry analysts, said the global IT industry generated as much greenhouse gas as the world’s airlines—about 2% of global CO2 emissions.

“Data centers are among the most energy-intensive facilities imaginable,” said Evan Mills, a scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. Banks of servers storing billions of Web pages require power.

Though Google says it is in the forefront of green computing, its search engine generates high levels of CO2 because of the way it operates. When you type in a Google search for, say, “energy saving tips," your request doesn’t go to just one server. It goes to several competing against each other.

It may even be sent to servers thousands of miles apart. Google’s infrastructure sends you data from whichever produces the answer fastest. The system minimizes delays but raises energy consumption.

Okay, I’m not a scientists. I don’t play one on TV or even on my blog.

But, from my perspective, this is much ado about nothing! Come on Harvard University. Don’t you have other liberal matters to be teaching your students and move off the greenhouse gas effect? Obviously not.

Wonder who funded this study? Maybe Microsoft? Yahoo?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Off into the Wild Blue Garage

Is it a car? Is it a plane? Actually, it’s both. The first flying car, equally at home in the sky or on the road, is scheduled to take to the air next month.

If it survives its first test flight, the Terrafugia Transition, which can transform itself from a two-seater car to a plane in 15 seconds, is expected to land in showrooms in about 18 months’ time.
Its manufacturer says it is easy to keep and run since it uses normal unleaded fuel and will fit in a garage.

Carl Dietrich, who runs the Massachusetts-based Terrafugia, said: “This is the first really integrated design where the wings fold up automatically and all the parts are in one vehicle.”
The Transition, developed by former NASA engineers, is powered by the same 100 bhp engine on the ground and in the air.

Terrafugia claims it will be able to fly up to 500 miles on a single tank of gas at a cruising speed of 115 mph. Up to now, however, it has only been tested on roads at up to 90 mph.

What do you think? Would you be first in line to purchase one of these? That is, assuming money was no object.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Got Bugs?

Got bugs?

Got waffles, lipstick, yogurt, or strawberry milk? How about candy, shampoo and nail polish?

The FDA says scattered allergic reactions are the basis for the rule concerning dye derived from the crushed cochineal bug.

Unknown and unnoticed by most consumers, the juice of a tiny beetle first used by 16th century Spanish explorers is responsible for red, pink, orange, and purple coloring in hundreds of U.S. products.

Now, the Food and Drug Administration has decided to make food and cosmetic manufacturers identify the buggy source of carmine or cochineal extract, which may be identified only as “color added” in a product’s list of ingredients.

There is no way to tell how many products contain the dyes, said Mike Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington: “It can be anything red.”
Or other colors: Cochineal is bright orange, while its more purified form, known as carmine, is vivid red. They also may be found in purple or pink coloring.

Some manufacturers have begun voluntarily listing carmine as an ingredient on packaging. A check of supermarket shelves found both Dannon and Yoplait strawberry yogurts stating “colored with carmine” on their labels. And cosmetics manufacturer Aveda markets lipsticks free of “bright magenta red pigment extracted from the boiled, dried, or crushed shells, wings and eggs of the female beetle Coccus cacti.”

So, here’s the question for the day: Does the use of bug juices bother any of you?

Had you rather know or would you just rather eat away and not think about it?

Comment as you dare.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Do You Laugh or Do You Cry?

Back in 2004, Tonya and I bought a Kia Spectra. (The photo above looks almost identical to it, but ours is dark blue rather than the lighter color shown above.) We shopped online and on the lot at countless car dealerships. We did all the homework we could. We asked tons of questions of friends and family. We looked for the best gas mileage. We did all the right things.

When we finally decided upon the car, we took a test drive and the car drove like a charm. Seemed to be the perfect car, with the perfect price for us--the cheapest car in town at the time. The purchase process was easy and we were in and out of the dealership within a couple of hours.

The day after our purchase, we noticed that the cruise control wasn't working. So, I called the dealership and scheduled a time to bring the car in for repair. No big deal. I think it only took about 30 minutes for them to replace the cruise control switch and it was working great.

A day or so later we were out driving on the interstate and got up to highway speed. As we cruised along, with our cruise control set, we noticed a whistling sound coming from the front of the car. Whistling sounds shouldn't be coming from the front of the car, or the rear of the car, for that matter. But, at around 65-70 mph, the car whistled. It didn't whistle dixie or any other tune that we recognized. Just a steady, loud, and consistent whistle.

Another call to the dealership and back I took the car for repair. This time, they were stumped about the noise. So, they put me into a rental car for the day so they could work on it. Within a few hours, the problem was decided upon--there was a leak around the windshield. The simple answer was to remove the windshield and reseal it. Repair done.

Off I went on the way home, only to get to highway speed again, and the same whistle coming from the front of the car. Again, a phone call to the dealer, another appointment set, and another rental car. This time further examination was done. It took several days for them to determine the true problem. A problem had been reported by other Kia owners that a whistling sound was coming from the oil filter of the car. So, with less than a couple of hundred miles on the car, the oil and oil filter were changed. Fixed. Done. Off I went.

Guess what? Not fixed. Done. Or satisfied.

Back to the dealership. Another rental. This time for a week. They studied. They looked. They test drove. By this time, they had put more miles on the car test driving it than I had as the owner! I had owned the car several weeks and I had been in a rental for 15 days or so. This time, the problem was believed to be the small horn that beeps when you lock the doors, you know the one I am talking about? With keyless entry, when you lock the car or press the panic button, a small horn blows. They figured that small horn had a hole in it allowing air to pass through it causing a whistle.

By now, our frustration level was pretty high. You buy a new car and you want to drive the new car. You don't want to be in rentals. And you don't want to listen to the car whistle!

Once again, we were assured the problem was fixed. Their test drives proved it. The service department manager assured us everything was fine! Oh, what planet was he living on! The car still wasn't fixed.

The repair department was at the end of their wits. The service manager was at the end of his wits. Even the general manager had been brought into the situation by this time. He was close to losing his wits. And, so were we.

Their answer, at this point, was that there was nothing else they could do. Nothing. Just live with the whistle. I don't know about you, but that wasn't an acceptable answer! You don't buy a car to hear it whistle as you drive down the road. If anyone is going to whistle it should be you as the owner as you celebrate the purchase.

In total frustation, I contacted the Better Business Bureau in our town. Their response? They would keep my complaint on file, but they didn't take action in situations like this. The Kia dealership wasn't too impressed with that threat!

So, I filed a complaint with the Attorney General's office for the state of Alabama. Now, that got response! The dealership turned my case over to the corporate headquarters. We had several LONG discussions about the car and what had been done. I kept mentioning the lemon law in Alabama and that I would be requesting that the Attorney General help with that case against Kia.

Well, the next day, the dealership asked if I could bring the car in the next day. They were flying in an engineer from California to look at the car and to determine if there was anything they could do to resolve the issue. An engineer from California? YES! The corporation booked a plane ticket that day and he flew in the next day to Alabama.

In 5 minutes, he found the problem. The passenger door was out of line! That was the problem! A few nuts were tightened and the door was realigned and the whistling was gone forever!

Now, I've bored you with way too many details to get to the end of the story. But, the details had to be given so that you could appreciate the entire story. I've oftened wondered how much money Kia paid on rentals for us to use, parts they replaced, repair people's time, and flying an engineer in from California with no advanced notice. We are talking thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars. Wouldn't it have been cheaper and easier to just swap out the car? The car only had a few hundred miles on it, why not just exchange it?

Who knows.

Well, 5 years later, I still have the car and it runs great. Never had another problem with the car.

Lessons to be learned? I suppose persistence pays off. I suppose not quitting comes to mind as well. Maybe a more positive answer is that once you work out a problem, something good often comes in the end.

Either that or sometimes threats pay off.

You be the judge.

Thanks Rick for causing this flashback!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The World May Just End Sooner Than We Think

How many ways can the world end?

Do you have any thoughts?

Well, Fox News came up with at least five ways the world could end. I’ll share their list first and then I’ll add one additional possibility that all the smart minds at Fox didn’t come up with.

First, here’s their list of five things. First of all, a massive asteroid impact: Asteroids and comets crash into our planet all the time, with varying degrees of damage. The last big one was 100 years ago in Siberia, but in such a remote area that no one died. Much larger asteroids have been tied to mass die-offs in biological history—the end of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, and the even more devastating Permian-Triassic extinction event 251 million years ago in which some 80 percent of animal species vanished.

Secondly, a massive volcanic eruptions. This seems to be an alternate theory that says good evidence for how the dinosaurs on Earth were killed was not by an asteroid, but instead, or additionally, by enormous eruptions in what now is India.

Thirdly, nuclear war. Few people have uttered the phrase “nuclear winter” since the end of the Cold War, but it was a very real fear during the 1980s. The notion was that a full-scale nuclear war between the Soviet Union and United States would kick huge amounts of dust, smoke, and soot up into the atmosphere and blot out sunlight for months or even years, causing mass extinctions as most plants died and most animals starved.

Fourth, a black hole. Black holes are bottomless gravitational pits from which not even light can escape. This was first dreamed up in the 1960s. Since that time, they’ve been “spotted” throughout the universe. It’s now thought that every spiral galaxy, including our own, has a supermassive black hole at its center. Basically, the black hole would eat us alive or cause devastation on earth in countless ways.

Finally, from their perspective: The expanding sun: If all else fails, the Earth will almost certainly come to an end in about 5 billion years when it falls into the expanding sun. It’s perfectly natural—stars like ours simply turn into red giants near the end of their lifespans, and their inner planets become toast. Terrestrial inhabitants need not worry, since they’ll be boiled off much earlier by the sheer heat of the growing star.

Okay, those are the five ideas floated out there by Fox News and various scientists. I’m not a scientist and I don’t play one on TV.

But, here’s a sixth option: Just as the Bible predicts, Jesus appears in the eastern sky and calls His children home to heaven! I don’t want to get into a discussion about pre-this, post-this, or even a-this. That’s not the point of this post, and I’m certainly not smart enough to discuss all of those options with you anyway. So, if you want to have that discussion, go ahead. Just don’t expect me to join you in your fun!

My option is simple: God is in control. When He’s ready, He’s going to bring it all to an end. The way He wants. The way He’s planned along. Period. No discussion. I could have saved those scientists a lot of money—Just read the last couple of chapters of Matthew or the Book of Revelation. The answers are there in black and white (and maybe a little red—if you use a red-letter version!).

I think my option is the correct one!

What do you think?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Is This Really Change?

Do you recognize the picture above?

Be honest. Do you?

Don't be surprised if you don't. Most people won't. Only those who really follow politics will.

The man pictured above is the likely candidate to become the new director of the CIA--the Central Intelligence Agency. You know the group, the spies amongst us.

The man pictured above has no experience in the intelligence field. None. He's never been a spy. He's never worked for the CIA or even the FBI. Yet, he's bringing needed change to the agency.

He does have Washington, DC experience. He was the Chief of Staff for President Bill Clinton. Yes, you read that correctly. The Chief of Staff for the former president.

He was also a congressman from California for many years.

Now, he will become the director of the CIA. The chief spy himself.

Do you know him now?

He's none other than Mr. Leon Panetta.

Now, politics aside. Seriously. Didn't Mr. Obama run under the theme of "Change"? Didn't he promise change in America and the American government?

I'm confused. Especially since so many in his cabinet and other governmental appointees have ties to the Clinton administration.

I guess change simply meant away from Republican leadership to Democrat leadership.

To me, that's not much change, just more of the same old same old.

Same song. Different verse.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow!

Sometimes, when we ask for prayers, we forget to get give updates or “final” reports after the fact. Today, I have two reports to pass along to you.

Yesterday was a day for two good reports. First of all, I took Evan for his follow up exam after tubes (that’s what Evan--our son--got for Christmas, if you didn’t know). The ENT gave a glowing report on his ears! Never been so excited over the word "drainage." Plus, his hearing test was absolutely normal. We do not have to go back to the ENT for a year—unless there is a problem.

Then, yesterday afternoon, I went to my cardiologist for my follow up after my heart cath in mid-December. The doctor and I had a great discussion about where I am and how I am doing. We talked about a few issues/concerns that I had and how to address them. At the end of our discussion, the doctor released me until next January!

So, both Evan and I received about a good a report as you can get!

Thanks for your prayers.

Thanks for your "friendship."

She's Up to Her Old Self Again

Oprah is up to her old self.

When I typed that, I really didn't mean it to be a pun, but I quickly realized that it was. I started to delete it, but then I thought, no, I'd leave it. Because the statement is true. Oprah, by her own admission, has gained 50-60 pounds over the last year or so and is now back over 200 pounds.

So, what's the world's richest woman to do about it?

Simple. Cover the entire story in her monthly magazine, dedicate countless shows to the subject, and host a webinar next week to discuss why she and so many others are overweight.

If you love Oprah, then this blog post isn't for you. You might as well close it out now and go read another blog. You see, I'm not a huge Oprah fan. The reason? Oh, far too many to count in the space I will give to this post. Let's just say that I think Oprah is searching in all the wrong places for happiness in her life.

I did catch a couple of minutes of her show when I got home from work on Monday. When her personal trainer asked her why she had gained weight over the last year or so, her answer was simple: she has lost her balance--she has allowed life to get out of control. It seems that she is dedicating too much of herself to everyone else and not to herself. [I almost screamed at the TV--"If this is about balance and not letting other people be in control, then why are you writing about it, doing interviews about it, hosting webinars about it, and talking on and on and on about it?"]

When Oprah was asked why she was being so honest about her life and her weight gain, she said, and this is almost a direct quote, "It's all about me."

Sorry Oprah, but everything isn't about you. It really isn't. Life has more to it than to be limited only to your needs and problems.

Why not dedicate your incredible power and talent [and financial resources] to the real needs in the world? Why not focus on the hunger in Haiti, the people forced into child labor around the world, the children sold into prostitution in Europe, or the United States economy that your man Barak is about to inherit. Wouldn't those issues/concerns/needs be far more important than you?

I guess not. Not to you. And apparently, not to your vast following.

Thankfully, I have more important things to do than to watch Oprah. And, I have no doubt that I'll go out of my way in 2009 to do those things instead of tuning in to your latest discovery about your needs, life, feelings, weight loss/gain, etc.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Turning Evil into Good

Did you see the interesting story out of Miami, Florida, last weekend? It seems someone decided to drop hundreds, maybe thousands, of pairs of shoes on the freeway. I’m not sure why someone would do that or even where all the shoes came from.

The Florida Highway Patrol said thousands of work boots, bath slippers, tennis sneakers, beach sandals, even pairs of inline skates, inexplicably materialized Friday morning on the busy roadway. Traffic was disrupted for hours. A private contractor was hired to pick up the sea of soles and deposit them in an empty field. The investigation into who discarded the shoes continues.

Out of the “devilish” act that was done, something great is coming out of it. A charity group has stepped forward to collect the thousands of shoes mysteriously dumped on a Miami-area highway and will send them to the impoverished Caribbean nation of Haiti.

Soles4Souls, a Nashville, Tennessee-based charity, is sending representatives to Miami to collect the shoes. The group will distribute them to people in Haiti.

I’m sure the people of Haiti will be blessed by this donation (well, other than for the inline skates, not sure there will be a demand for those).

Sure gives a new meaning to the Bible verse that reminds us that what men mean for harm, God can turn into good.

I wonder how many souls will be saved because soles were dumped on a Florida highway? Thousands, I pray.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The End of an Era

Saturday night, I watched a show on the National Geographic Channel. I know, I guess it shows my age, but there are some really interesting shows on there from time-to-time. I like to watch shows where I actually learn something.

This particular show was on the demolition of the historic Orange Bowl in Miami. The city of Miami decided to tear down the historic stadium to make way for a baseball field. The stadium had withstood decades, over 80 to be exact, of fans, games, storms, and renovations. Unfortunately, the staduim had gotten to the point where it was more expensive to renovate it than it was to build a new stadium.

As I watched the show, several lessons came out.

1. Nothing built by man lasts for forever. Here was a stadium that was built in the 1930s, I believe. The stadium was built with concrete and steel. Yet, in less than 4 months, the entire building was demolished and hauled away. 95% of the stadium was actually recycled, but still, the stadium itself is gone, torn down, demolished, only a faint memory. The same is true in life. Nothing you and I build will last forevever. Nothing.

2. What has value in one era probably will not have value in another. The stadium started out small and was added to over the years. As the University of Miami grew, the stadium grew. As the Orange Bowl game became more popular, so did the stadium. Yet, in the end, the stadium that held over 80,000 people, died a quick death. You see, in the day of skyboxes and luxury suites, the stadium didn't meet the needs of the fans and corporations buying tickets. Our jobs are like that. Our possessions are like that. Our homes are like that. What may mean the world to us today will have little value to those who come behind us! Those valued possesions may well wind up on the trash heap, thrown out by our own children.

3. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The Orange Bowl stadium was once quite the stadium! It was the showpiece for professional football and the University of Miami. However, over the years, the stadium began to show its age. It had cracks, the paint was peeled, and the signs rusted. When compared to other stadiums, it was no longer a spectacle. I wonder, how many "mature" workers have been forced out of their companies because they had a few cracks and rust?

4. Even in demolition, humor can be found. One of the demolition company managers was asked if it was sad to see the old stadium come down. He said, "Not really. I'm an Oklahoma Sooner fan! Being a part of the demolition helps me to get even for all the times the Hurricanes beat us in the 1980s!" Hey, in life, you either cry or laugh. I think it is better to laugh.

5. Whatever is built in place of this stadium will also be replaced one day. This year, Yankee Stadium and Mets Stadium will be replaced by newer stadiums. The Atlanta Braves tore down their baseball stadium around the Atlanta Olympic games. Today, where their old stadium stood is now part of their massive parking lot. I have no doubt that the baseball stadium in Miami will one day become outdated and and eyesore. Most manmade things become just that.

6. While the Orange Bowl hosted countless Super Bowls and National Championship Games, even that couldn't keep it open. Fame doesn't equal eternity. Glory doesn't ensure success or future.

What lessons can be learned here? Well, those are six that I learned from watching the show. I'm sure there are dozens of others that can be written. Please feel free to share your ideas as you have time. Just remember, those words, while important to all of us today, won't last forever. One day, this blog will be closed, or blogs will go away, or the latest and greatest new communication tool will come along. My words and yours will disappear.

The only certainty we have in life is that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Which Will Come First, Death or A Tax Increase?

Just when you think it can’t get worse, the federal government seems to find ways to make it worse for all of us!

A federal commission (appointed by Congress) is recommending a 50% increase in gasoline and diesel fuel taxes to finance highway construction and repair until the government devises another way for motorists to pay for using public roads.

The National Commission on Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing, a 15-member panel created by Congress, is the second group in a year to call for higher fuel taxes.

Want to know why they are recommending this? Simple. You and I are responsible for it!

You see, we are driving less and buying less fuel these days! Correct me if I am wrong, but wasn’t that the solution that was offered to us to reduce our fuel consumption costs just a few months ago, when gas prices were $4+ a gallon?

But, with motorists driving less and buying less fuel, the current 18.4 cents a gallon gas tax and 24.4 cents a gallon diesel tax fail to raise enough to keep pace with the cost of road, bridge, and transit programs.

In a report expected in late January, members of the infrastructure financing commission say they will urge Congress to raise the gas tax by 10 cents a gallon and the diesel fuel tax by 12 to 15 cents a gallon. At the same time, the commission will recommend tying the fuel tax rates to inflation. The commission will also recommend that states raise their fuel taxes and make greater use of toll roads and fees for rush-hour driving.

“I’m not excited about a gas tax increase, but the reality is our current gas tax doesn’t pay for upkeep of the system we have now,” said Adrian Moore, vice president of the Reason Foundation, a libertarian think tank in Los Angeles, and a member of the highway revenue commission. “We can either let the roads go to hell or we can pay more.”

The dilemma for Congress is that highway and transit programs are dependent for revenue on fuel taxes that are not sustainable. Many Americans are driving less and switching to more fuel-efficient cars and trucks, and a shift to new fuels and technologies like plug-in hybrid electric cars will further erode gasoline sales.

Folks, I’m all for having good roads and when I go across a bridge, I want it to hold up under the weight of my car. But, give me a break! You and I already work from January–early May each year to pay all of the federal, state, local, and other taxes that we pay. Nearly five months of my annual salary goes to pay taxes. Five months! Count them, nearly five months.

Do you realize that the reason the American Revolution started was because the British government wanted to raise taxes on the colonists? They wanted citizens to pay taxes that would take from January 1 to about mid-January to cover! Did you get that? About 15 days—Not five months!

When will of the craziness stop? When will we as American citizens say “Enough is enough!” How much more can we take? With the economy like it is today and with projections that it will only get worse during 2009, can we tolerate another tax increase or surcharge like this?

I don’t know about you, but I’ll be communicating my thoughts to my Congressman.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Trumpet of Jesus

There is no doubt that the Imperials are one of my favorite groups of all time. They've had their issues, that's for sure, but their music still resonates with me.

Turn up the volume and enjoy.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Guess Who Is In Charge

A jail in northern Texas has been closed and its nearly 60 inmates transferred as authorities investigate what they call dangerous conditions for jailers and those behind bars—including cells that locked from the inside or contained recliners.

Yes, jail cells that locked from the inside and includes recliners. Now, that may just be the most inhumane punishment you’ll hear about in prison, don’t you think?

The district attorney said some surveillance cameras’ cords had been disconnected; recliners were in cells; some bathrooms and cells could be locked from the inside; and inmates had made partitions out of paper towels to block jailers’ views inside their cells. One alarming discovery was a type of rack made of nails, he said. Some inmates had apparently used extension cords to lock deputies out, and unidentified pills were strewn about other jail cells.

This story seems to give new meaning to the inmates running the asylum!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Up, Up, and Away!

There were 124 passengers on Northwest Airlines Flight 59 when it left the Netherlands. There were 125 when it landed in Boston.

A woman went into labor and gave birth to an apparently healthy baby girl over the Atlantic Ocean during the eight-hour flight Wednesday from Amsterdam, said Phil Orlandella, a spokesman for Logan International Airport.

The plane landed without incident in Boston about 10:30 AM, and the mother and baby were immediately taken to Massachusetts General Hospital.

Orlandella said for customs’ purposes, the baby was considered a Canadian citizen because she was born in Canada’s airspace. He could not confirm media reports that the mother was a Ugandan national.

When my wife was pregnant and nearing time for Evan to be born, the doctor wouldn’t even let us travel out of state to see family. This woman was permitted to fly from Uganda to the United States? I don’t get it. Did they not assume that she was getting close to delivery? Did she not realize she was putting herself and her baby in danger?

Can any one think of a rational reason for this woman to be flying?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2009!

I wonder how long it will take me to get used to writing or typing that. Probably a few checks will be discarded before January is over.

The new year began at midnight. A large and expensive ball dropped in an orchestrated manner precisely at midnight in New York City. Millions witnessed it in Times Square. Countless others watched the ball drop from the comfort of their homes.

We did not watch the ball drop. We did not stay awake to witness the clock strike twelve. We didn't stay up to turn the calendar or watch the number 12:01 appear on the microwave or DVD player or computer.

With a soon-to-be 11-month old child, you take advantage of every opportunity to sleep that you can. When he goes to bed, you're tempted to go to bed yourself. Whether that time comes at 5:00 PM or 9:00 PM. Why waste good hours of sleep? You just never know when he might wake up!

So, if you are reading this shortly after midnight, I'm very impressed! Happy New Year to you! Now, got to bed! It'll still be the new year when you wake up!

If you are reading this at any other time, and you didn't stay awake to see the new year arrive, I fully understand and appreciate where you find yourself!

I wish you the same well wishes for the new year. Happy New Year!

I look forward to seeing where God might lead all of us over the days, weeks, month, and year ahead.