Saturday, July 28, 2007

Go for Barack?

I'm not paying too much attention to the presidential wannabees just yet, and I'm certainly not about to pick on one party and not the other, but I sure am getting a kick out of the Hillary Clinton/Barack Obama squabble. As long as I started listening to election time politicians, and that was quite some time ago, I've always noticed, or so it's seemed to me, that Democrats pick on each other more than Republicans do. The Democrats try to outdo each other in the liberal department while the Republicans do the same thing on the conservative end. Boy, we've got a long way to go before November, 2008.

Personally, I think Obama is a pretty good guy. I'm not talking political views at all. I'm saying he's the kind of guy you probably wouldn't mind having as a neighbor, a good family man who keeps his yard well manicured, someone who would throw a nice, clean party. As a professional, if he was in the medical field, I'd have no problem having him as my doctor. He seems intelligent enough, in other words, and certainly honest and straightforward. But, does intellect translate into common sense? I don't know if he's quite presidential timbre yet as a first term senator and I don't want my president sitting down with a nut who says the Holocaust never took place and Israel must be destroyed. Clearly, the man is a little green in the world of international politics and diplomacy. Granted, they all go in that way, but should a statement about meeting the renegade leaders of the world in your first year as president have been made so prematurely? Sure, you're president from day one, and you've got the first 100 days honeymoon myth on your side, but it takes a while to get all your players in place, such as diplomats and appointees that must have Congressional approval. One year's time is much too short to understand the workings of a complex world and to have it all done your way. His challenge to his opponents to do the same thing was wisely declined by Sen. Clinton.

When he made the statement that he would be willing to meet, without conditions, in the first year of his presidency, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, it lowered his stature to their level. Yes, I'm all for keeping lines of communication open, but for him to meet face to face with maniacs? It makes those nut cases heroes at home, strong leaders on the world stage and powers to be reckoned with and respected. I'd like to know where he plans to hold these slumber parties, too, these love feasts. Would he throw them a state dinner?

Here's the scary part. What would he do for an encore? The Obama/Osama Summit in '10? Oh my.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


On Monday, I went to see my doctor. I had some back door work done a little while ago and was diagnosed with diverticulosis. No polyps though, and that's a good thing for a guy who's soon to be 55. I've got to go on a higher fiber diet. That's the good news.

The nurse took a blood glucose test and my sugar came in at 208. That didn't make me, the nurse, nor the doctor happy at all. What happened? Here, I was boasting about my proud numbers in my last diabetes post. My A1c had dropped from 8.0 to 5.5. I have no idea what it would be today and I'm not scheduled for more blood work until the beginning of October. I had been crowing about the supplements I truly felt were working in my favor. Today, I'm not too sure. This afternoon, the magic number was 227. I'm certainly not going to stop taking what I do because he had told me on my last visit that everything was safe, that none of the supplements would harm me. Now, if I run out of something, I won't be so quick to jump in my car to replenish supplies. Besides, everything adds up in cost. I read a lot and listen to plenty of advice from people who have all sorts of natural cures. As a matter of fact, one commenter addressed gymnema sylvestre as an herbal alternative to the prescription drug I take now. It looks promising, but it doesn't come cheap. It's about the same price and until I do further research, I'll stick to my present plan. When I went to pick up some prescriptions recently, I bragged to my pharmacist about my A1c number and how the supplements might have helped. She told me to keep in mind that when I was diagnosed, I stopped eating sugar and that probably had a lot more to do with that number than what I was taking on my own. If I can get my number down to 4.0, then she'll start listening. By the way, she has faith in supplements.

The doctor instructed me to double up on the Glucotrol (Glipizide) XL if my numbers are high. He wrote out a prescription for 60 pills instead of the usual 30. Unfortunately, that also doubled the price. When I tested my sugar last night, I checked in at a much more comfortable 110. The double dose seems to be doing the trick. I took one in the morning and one in the mid-afternoon.

The same person who mentioned gymnema sylvestre also told me about taking niacin to reduce cholesterol. From what I have learned, it does help. Unfortunately, one of the drawbacks is that it has a tendency to raise blood sugar. One of the things of much concern to my doctor was that my good cholesterol (HDL) was very low. Overall, all my choesterol and triglycerides have gone way down from the Lovastain I've been taking, but it seemed to have lowered the good stuff, too. Initially, I was taking 40mg daily, but he reduced it to 20mg. Because of the low HDL number, he decided to take me off straight Lovastatin immediately and put me on Advicor, a combination of 500mg niacin and 20mg Lovastatin. He says this will raise my good cholesterol. Unfortunately, it doesn't come without side effects, some of which can be pretty nasty. It's the niacin. They include feeling flush, itching, tingling, dizziness, rapid or pronounced heartbeat, shortness of breath, sweating, chills, swelling, rashes, abdominal pain, back pain, diarrhea, indigestion, nausea and vomiting. Oh, I did mention high blood sugar, didn't I? About 45 minutes before popping one of these pills, I took a couple of Tylenol to help minimize some of the side effects. Then, I took it, ate a pear and went to bed. I quickly fell asleep and woke up this morning with no ill effects. Maybe, I was a little groggier than normal, a little more light headed, but that was all.

I don't take issue with natural remedies. In many cases, they can be quite effective and beneficial in treating different ailments, but I question their reliability. The FDA does not clinically test supplements for safety, effectiveness and problems if taken in conjunction with other supplements. For example, you shouldn't mix ginkgo biloba with St. John's wort. Sure, the Chinese have been dispensing this root and that herb for thousands of years, but can we say for sure they work better than prescribed medications that have been tested? Without the knowledge of someone well trained, such as a medical doctor, can we be our own physician? If you get a bad toothache, are you going to make tea out of a powdered root or go to a dentist? In many cases, there is no real alternative to traditional treatment. Certainly, in the case of diabetes, every person with the disease has their own fingerprint. Watermelon spikes my sugar. My mother, on the other hand, can eat it and it doesn't bother her the same way. She has been diabetic for 26 years and has been taking prescribed medicines a long time. To think that doctors and pharmaceutical companies have been conspiring with the FDA in order to fool the public is just pure bunk to me. Of course, crooks exist in every profession, but a vast conspiracy? Come on, now. When billions of dollars are pumped into research and development of drugs that are quite effective in the end, what is wrong with taking them? In my case, every prescribed medication has a generic alternative. How is the doctor getting rich off me or the millions of other diabetics taking the same things? It is my decision to ask the pharmacist to give me the generic version and I don't think a doctor would tell a patient you can't do that.

I will continue to explore other treatments and maintain a very open mind, but in the meantime, I will stick with the tried and true. I really don't think I am as qualified as those who have spent thousands of dollars and many years studying to become the doctors and specialists they are. Most pharmaceutical companies offer free medicines to people below a certain income level. Advances in today's medicines are absolutely amazing and I am not going to jeopardize my life because of conspiracy theories. Besides, I think some of the complainers are ones without health insurance. If they had it, they wouldn't have to pay much for their drugs, so they might not be as compelled to seek out alternatives. Think about that next time you bite into your fresh baked cookie made with refined sugar and bleached, enriched flour, something I can't and won't eat anymore.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Cross Posted On My Other Blog

Gay Muscle Penis and Akismet Spam

One of the nice features of WordPress is the ability to catch spam comments and put them in a sort of limbo state for my approval or deletion. Very rarely are any of these comments allowed through to the legitimate comment section. A while back, I activated comment moderation, in which every comment written about one of my topics will never go directly to a post. I must approve it first. This way, nothing pornographic or meaningless gets through.

In my capacity as administrator of this blog I can add words to be blacklisted and I can limit the amount of hyperlinks allowed for all incoming comments. This is a great method of screening out the rot. Many of these comments have a dozen or so links to all sorts of back alley websites. Unfortunately, sometimes a good, legitimate comment gets stuck there, too. Even worse for me, is that I have to scroll through each and every one of those comments to weed out the good from the bad. Every once in a while, I find a good one. Sometimes I miss, for which I apologize.

I can understand a correlation between most of these spam comments and some of my posts. A good example of this is my category on diabetes. Because of medical terminology and descriptions of assorted prescription drugs and supplements, I get thousands of spam content for Viagra, Propecia, Oxycontin, Crestor and a slew of other drugs. I can understand how spam spiders find me through words I have written and somehow expect me to publish the garbage they have sent in from the dark corners of the globe. Trust me, I can get upwards of a thousand a day and if I don't have time to search through all of them, that's where the good guy gets lost. I delete them all.

What puzzles me the most, though, is where do the porn ones fit in? What links them to me? I have never written anything pornographic on this blog. I know, once they latch on to you, they will sink every decayed tooth into you and that may explain it somehow. I remember, a while back, I wrote a piece about a silly watch purchase I made many, many years ago. A Hamilton watch, or what I thought was one, turned out to be a "Harmilton." OK, that helps explain why I still get those persnickety "Counterfeit Rolex" spams, but why porn? Even if I was gay, why would I be interested in "Gay Muscle Penis" which further insults by including tons of links to "porn babes" and "naked and nude underage nymphets?" Let's not forget those "tender, puffy nipples," gay guys, as if that would interest you.

Before I retired for the night, I threw out over a hundred spams. This morning, I woke up, powered up the laptop, went to my site and found over 200 comments caught in Akismet. What is the logic behind these comments? They are never going to be published. Maybe, these entities assume all WordPress users are stupid, but I seriously doubt it. I think they solely do it to aggravate the living crap out of us.

Monday, July 09, 2007

1977 New York Yankees

I read something of interest in the sports section this morning. Starting tonight, ESPN is running an 8 part, 1 hour miniseries about the 1977 New York Yankees, titled, "The Bronx is Burning". It premieres tonight at 10pm and will run on subsequent Tuesdays in the same time slot. It brings back mostly fond memories for me, back when my close friend, Frank, and I were in the Jaycees together, playing softball against the PBA, Rotary and other organizations and I was dating Dale Ungaretta, from Plainfield, NJ. She was a hotty. I was living in Sergeantsville, NJ at the time and managing the Weiner King in Warminster, PA. That was back when Frank's wife's best friend, Jim Deckett (sp?), used to convince our wives and girlfriends to go dancing at gay disco bars and one night Frank, was beating me at pool until I convinced that one guy he was my squeeze, that he had a really big stick. From that point on, Frank lost. Boom ba boom ba boom. Fly Robin Fly. Frank and I hated disco and we never went out on the dance floor. Well, unless it was a slow dance. It was a time when Son of Sam walked the streets of New York, and terror struck the night air. For a long time, when we wanted to hit the big city, it was Philadelphia instead.

I wonder who will play the role of my favorite baseball player, ever, good old number 15?

Friday, July 06, 2007

A Very Heated Debate

When former vice president Al Gore appeared on NBC's Today show recently, he said he remembered when global warming wasn't a bipartisan issue like it is today. I agree. I've said for some time now that political attachments to Big Oil have turned this issue into the beast it has become, twisting it, full steam ahead, into not just partisan politics, pitting conservatives and liberals against each other in hotly contested debates, scientist against scientist and the common sense of "us" against the common sense of "them." In the meantime, the temperature rises. The outer fringes talk nothing but politics, even when many are not even registered to vote. One side knows for a fact that humans have nothing to do with global warming, that everything going on is due to natural causes. The other side says Bush is responsible for global warming because he refused to sign the Kyoto Treaty. Somewhere in between, millions of open minds exist, although I sometimes think the far right is incapable of being open to anything other than their own fiery brand of self induced righteousness.

Surely, global warming, fossil fuel consumption and the use of alternative sources like wind, solar, water, hydrogen and nuclear, will produce opinions from all sides, but each answer, whether right or wrong, will mostly be political in nature. Politicians from each state are free enact their own laws that go above and beyond what Washington does. California is a perfect example. Individually, we might choose to switch from incandescent to fluorescent lighting in our homes and, yes, as such, we can all do our small part to ultimately build it into something of significance, something to feel proud of. We can help save the planet and stop fueling al Qaeda and other militant groups at the same time by cutting our dependence on oil. Motor vehicles play an extremely large role in what impacts the planet.

Presidents take stands and that makes a nation move in one direction or another. Starting with Richard M. Nixon, when, during his administration, the first Earth Day was held, a lot of folks didn't like what the president was saying, let alone what he chose not to do, yet his administration was responsible for lowering the speed limit to 55 mph nationwide. Was this from how he felt about global warming? Of course not, but he was well aware of how many billions of gallons of fuel we would save by driving 10-20 mph less, and that meant billions of dollars of less revenue in the pockets of middle eastern oil sheiks, too. You see, Tricky Dick wasn't as much in bed with Big Oil as some of today's leaders. How odd that thirty-some years later extremists from the far right would consider what Nixon did back then as downright liberal. Nixon a liberal? Give me a break. He was never an environmental visionary, but as self centered as he was, he took the nation's best interests to heart when he lowered the speed limit, under protest from Big Oil and the politicians whose coffers they filled. How well I remember the days of the 1973-74 oil embargo, when we had to ration fuel by taking turns at the gas pumps, alternating odd and even license plate numbers with days of the week. If you had an odd number, you could not buy gas on a designated even day. That was back when fuel was leaded. Something needed to be done to cut fuel consumption and for all his faults, Nixon did just that.

Under Gerald Ford's tutelage, according to the NHTSA website (, "The 'Energy Policy Conservation Act,' enacted into law by Congress in 1975, added Title V, 'Improving Automotive Efficiency,' to the Motor Vehicle Information and Cost Savings Act and established CAFE standards for passenger cars and light trucks. The Act was passed in response to the 1973-74 Arab oil embargo. The near-term goal was to double new car fuel economy by model year 1985." CAFE stands for Corporate Average Fuel Economy and since 1983, manufacturers have paid more than $500 million in civil penalties. Most European manufacturers regularly pay CAFE civil penalties ranging from less than $1 million to more than $20 million annually. Asian and domestic manufacturers have never paid a civil penalty.

Next came Jimmy Carter. He certainly took environmental issues to a higher level, but he knew more about "nucular" fuel from his old Navy days. He was not attracted to Big Oil at all. Peanut oil, yes. He didn't hang in there long enough to impact the world, let alone the United States.

Ronald Reagan brought the oil giants back into the fold and raised the speed limit to 70 mph under the auspices of freedom. Freedom to roam, like the settlers of yore. I remember a political cartoon that ran during the Christmas season, sometime while James Watt was Secretary of the Interior from 1981-1983. It depicted the Watt family decorating their tree which was a miniature oil rig. He will never be remembered as a friend of the environment because of his open hostilities and his strong support of the development and use of federal lands by foresting, ranching and other commercial interests. During a 1991 speech to the Green River Cattlemen's Association in Wyoming, Watts said, "If the troubles from environmentalists cannot be solved in the jury box or at the ballot box, perhaps the cartridge box should be used."

George H. W. Bush knew a thing or two about big oil, but under his presidency the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 forced the oil companies to eliminate lead from all U.S. motor fuels by January 1, 1996. Why? According to the EPA, lead is extremely toxic. Studies have shown that exposure to high concentrations of lead, especially in young children, can result in damage to the central nervous system and may be associated with high blood pressure in adults. Exposure to lead typically occurs from air inhalation and ingestion of lead in food, soil, water and dust. Back then, clean air was as much of a political issue as it is today, but something was done. If you don't believe the EPA was correct to whittle away at your God-given, all-American rights, by all means, feel free to go out and munch on some old paint chips. It's funny how attitudes change over time, but never at the present. Only years later. How dare the government tell me I can't paint asbestos and chew on it while I inhale some good old fashioned polyfluorocarbons and chlorofluorocarbons. If you disagree with me, you're a goddam liberal.

Next, we had Bill Clinton, a friendly sort of fellow. Well aware of global warming, he pretty much stayed in the middle of the road on issues of the environment, although he did lean a little more to the left of conservative thinking and he did have the father of modern day environmentalists as his vice president. Like all politicians, he had plenty of cronies back in Arkansas. According to the state website (

"By the end of 1993, oil recovery from over 200 active fields was in excess of 29,000 barrels of oil and approximately 105 million cubic feet of gas per day. Oil and condensate reserves as of January 1, 1994 were calculated to be in excess of 205 million barrels while the gas reserves associated with the oil and condensate were calculated at over 466 billion cubic feet."

Are George W. Bush and Dick Cheney in bed with Big Oil? I don't think there's a person alive, Democrat, Republican, conservative or liberal, who would touch that one with a 10 gallon gas can, lest they be branded a fool and an idiot.

Tom and Ray Maggliozzi, of Click & Clack and Car Talk fame, printed a letter in their syndicated column from a guy who increased his mileage from 34 to 44 mph by driving 60 mph instead of 75 mph. He wondered why, and at $3.00 per gallon now, is that a way to kick our oil habit? The boys answered in their normal, humorous manner, but when all kidding was set aside, they explained how wind resistance plays a major role in fuel consumption. You may wonder, they went on, how much more wind resistance there is at 75 mph compared with 55 mph. A lot, apparently. Here's what they had to say:

"Wind resistance increases by the square of your speed. If you square 55 (55 x 55), you get 3,025. If you square 75 (75 x 75), you get 5,625. So, the wind resistance at 75 mph is nearly DOUBLE what it is at 55 mph. Wind resistance is a HUGE drag on your mileage. And it's even worse if you drive some some unaerodynamic rolling hatbox, such as an SUV."

Liberal thinking? Not if you follow scientists who believe in the laws of physics and what the Maggliozzi boys explained was based on solid fact. Ask Isaac Newton. He was quite the liberal in his day.

This all leads me back to square one, I mean Al Gore. When Al Gore, Jr. was recently arrested for possession of marijuana and an assortment of prescription drugs, he was clocked driving on the San Diego Freeway at about 100 mph in his hybrid Toyota Prius. Such is the sad state of understanding from both sides. Here is a fine example of conflicting dynamics at work. On one hand, we go out and purchase cars and other goods to save the planet from destruction and turn right around and ignore it all by racing down roads at 100 mph. Doesn't that give license to buy a giant SUV and drive the speed limit? Of course, I use these examples as exaggerations, but what will come of those who are always in the right, never willing to bend and work with the other side? While the earth becomes more fragile, our egos do not. They are tempered by the heat we create amongst ourselves. One day, someone or something is going to break and suffer a meltdown unless we work together to resolve the global warming issue. Is it all from the hands of humans? No. Is it all by the forces of nature? No. Yet, that seems to be the all consuming argument, the 'you're either with us or against us' approach from both sides, and that's not fair. If Newton was alive today, I wonder what he'd say? I wonder what type of vehicle he'd be motoring around in? I wonder what Al Gore drives.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Mensa Humor

Genius Is Mysterious

All members of Mensa have I.Q.s of at least 140.

At a recent Mensa convention, several members went to a nearby cafe and noticed the shaker with an "S" on top, for salt, contained pepper and their pepper shaker, with a "P" on top, was full of salt. How could they swap the contents of the bottles without spilling anything and using only the implements at hand? Clearly, here was a perfect Mensa challenge!

They presented ideas, debated them, and finally came up with what they felt was a brilliant solution involving a napkin, a straw, and an empty saucer.

They called the (short of brilliant) waitress over to dazzle her with their solution.

"Ma'am," they said, "we couldn't help but notice that the pepper shaker contains salt and the salt shaker contains..."

"Oh, sorry!" interrupted the waitress. "Here," and she unscrewed the caps of both bottles and switched them.