Saturday, January 31, 2009

Who’s in charge here?

Since the beginning of the present salmonella outbreak, I’ve been bringing you news on it. I’ve provided you with links to information on the outbreak. I’ve provided you with lists of recalled products. I’ve done this for two reasons. One, it’s important. And two, I’m mad.

My anger has tripled this morning. Maybe even quadrupled. I’m pretty mad. If you were someone that saw me in person, you would probably turn around and move away from me as fast as possible once you saw the look on my face. I’m truly that angry today.

Reading my morning news stories I came across yet another story on the Peanut Corp. of America (PCA). Imagine that. The story said that federal health officials have now officially opened a criminal investigation of the plant. Yesterday. Well, it’s about time.

I’m not just mad at the PCA. I’m also mad at the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration). It has now been revealed that the FDA hasn’t been to the Blakely Georgia plant since 2001. Yes, I am aware that it’s presently 2009. Maybe now you see what my anger is based on.

To make matters worse, the FDA did not go into the plant because of the salmonella. They went because a shipment of peanuts that originated at the PCA plant were stopped and refused at the Canadian border because it contained metal shavings. That’s when they thought they might need to go into the plant. Don’t worry that it’s been 8 years since any federal inspectors were in the plant. The PCA had their own inspectors, they should be fine. No need to worry about them. Yeah, right.

Then when the FDA finally did go into the plant they didn’t check for anything except metal. No check for salmonella. Why would they worry about that? It’s not like there was JUST ANOTHER CASE OF PEANUT BUTTER SALMONELLA POISONING A COUPLE YEARS AGO. That doesn’t matter.

My main problem is why did the FDA allow a company that sold food products for the general public’s consumption to use their own inspectors? Why didn’t they insist on making regular inspections? I worked in restaurants for 25 years and I can’t tell you how many health inspectors I saw. They popped in unannounced and checked everything under the roof at least once every month. All those individual restaurants were feeding was whatever town I happened to be living in at the time. We weren’t shipping food out all over the country. But we had to meet certain standards and if we didn’t we were closed immediately and not allowed to reopen until the problem was fixed. How was this plant that now has over 430 products on the recall list allowed to continue producing those products and worse yet, shipping them out for us to eat? For us to feed to our children.

According to PCA company documents the original lab they hired to test their products found at least 12 cases of salmonella in the plant. PCA then turned around and hired another company that tested the products and found no salmonella so they shipped the products out. I’m sorry but that’s just crap. If the first test was positive, in my mind there is no need for a second test. And by using a different company to ensure a different result makes me think they were acting in a criminal manner.

In a PCA media statement they said “It is because of our commitment to our customers and consumers that PCA has taken extraordinary measures to identify and recall all products that have been identified as presenting a potential risk.”

I think the only thing PCA is committed to is making money. They haven’t taken any extraordinary measures. The only reason they are doing anything now is because people have died. They blatantly sent out products that they had been told were a danger to people. They chose to ignore basic food handling procedures. They didn’t even bother to clean their plant. When FDA inspectors recently visited the plant they found roaches, mold, a leaking roof and “numerous other sanitation problems.” Commitment to our customers. What a joke.

My hope is PCA will now go out of business. I want them to never again produce anything for us to eat. I also hope the people that worked at that plant are thoroughly educated in food safety and any of them that made the decisions as to whether or not sell those contaminated products should receive jail time. What they did was criminal; they should be treated as such.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Updates, updates, updates

I got to wondering about some of the stories I’ve talked about here and decided today was as good a day as any to check up on them. I’ll stick to 2009 although it’d be very easy for me to go back to the beginning of this blog…

January 2: Locked away all these years

The Type 57s Atalante is set to go to auction February 7 in Paris. They believe it will be the most expensive car ever sold at auction with the bids going as high as £6 million or $8,576,292 U.S. dollars. That’s not too bad for a car that sat in a dark garage for 48 years. It was untouched from 1960 until it’s discovery in 2007. I’ll let you know what the actual price is when February gets here.

January 3: What is wrong with this world

I’m still upset over the treatment of the Travolta family after 16 year old Jett’s death. This is probably the fourth time I’ve written something about it. First, people in general suck (you can read my rant again if you’d like; I’m just leaving it at in general people suck).

It was reported on that the document the lowlifes were using to try to extort $25 million dollars from John Travolta was a release form. Basically John Travolta was trying to figure out if it would be better to fly his son to America to be treated rather than taking the 45 minutes to drive him to the Bahaman hospital.

The document stated that the family wouldn’t hold the paramedics liable for anything that might occur if they drove Jett to the plane versus the hospital. Seems pretty standard to me. I assume ambulances are required to go to certain hospitals.

What isn’t standard is the people who were supposed to be trying to save a life using the opportunity to get some money. I believe previously I called them unscrupulous. I stand by that.

January 4: Dear soldier, thank you for my freedom

Dave and Fiona Fulton were arrested for sedition on Saturday, November 29, 2008 after writing emails about the Gambian government. They were sentenced to a year in prison with hard labor and fined £6250 or $8,933.63 U.S. dollars. They have plead with the government to allow them to return to their home in Britain but so far there has been no response. Their website, The Fultons in The Gambia states that you can help their case by writing a letter and gives instructions on how to do that if you are interested.

January 10: The dangerous seas

This is a never ending story for the ships that sail in the Gulf of Aden. Yesterday a German tanker was hijacked by pirates. The tanker has 13 crew members that are being held hostage. It was the 3rd ship seized by pirates in 2009 (I remind you January is not yet over) and more than 40 ships were taken over by pirates in 2008. Japan has now joined the fight to patrol the Gulf of Aden and along the coast of Somalia in the Indian Ocean.

January 13: Calling all beach bums!

Over 9000 people applied for the dream job in Australia and more than 2.3 million visited the website. The winner will be announced on May 6 and applications can still be submitted until February 22.

January 25: Have you seen this goat?

They still have the goat. It hasn’t changed back into a man yet. The government is conceding that it’s just a goat and are waiting for the owner to claim this now famous four legged car thief. I'm disappointed.

And finally...

January 27: This mornings headlines

The octuplets born to a California lady are all doing well. Seven of them are breathing on their own and one has an oxygen tube. The doctors are impressed with how well they are all doing. In a statement released by the family of the mother they said “The babies continue to grow strong everyday and make good progress.”

I’m happy to hear that. When I first learned of this story and the small size of the babies I was very concerned for their survival. Now I believe they will make it. They expect to keep the infants in the hospital for several more weeks. When they do go home they will have plenty of people to love them. The mother already has six children ages 7, 6, 5, 3 and 2 year old twins. 14 kids under the age of 10... I can’t even begin to imagine.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I.C.E. on your cell phone

I received an email a few minutes ago with that same title: I.C.E. on your cell phone. It doesn't have anything to do with the current weather outside though.

I.C.E. stands for In Case of Emergency. It is standard procedure for all paramedics to check your cell phone for an I.C.E. message in cases of accidents or emergencies. I was already aware of this but by the way the email was worded I realized some people were NOT aware of it.

I placed the 'Contact' in my phone over a year ago after I had a heart attack. If you are unable to respond to paramedics because of an auto accident or, as in my case, a physical emergency, the I.C.E. message let's them know all about you.

I have mine in my contacts as I said. I named it: ...IN CASE OF EMERGENCY. Notice the dots in front of it? That's so it's the FIRST contact on my list. No need to go searching for my I.C.E. message. It's right at the top. Luckily my heart attack was minor but it could have been worse; I could have been unresponsive. I have over 100 phone numbers in my phone and I just couldn't live with the idea of someone trying to figure out who to call if I was in trouble.

I have the phone number set as 911. Just in case again. Maybe a friend found me and was trying to figure out who to call to help me. Maybe they were too panicked to remember 911. It could happen. I've been that upset before.

My cell allows me to add notes to my contact details. I wrote the following:

Contact Tim Brakhage @ ***-***-**** (you didn't think I was going to publish his phone number here did you? Not a good idea.). I have a heart condition, allergic to penicillin and sulfa drugs and have Graves Disease.

There are actually many other things I could have added to that note, but I thought those were the most important things to convey in the event of an emergency.

Do you have an I.C.E. message on your cell phone? Did you know paramedics automatically checked cell phones for an I.C.E. message? I think it's a smart thing to do and I think it's smart of paramedics to implement it into their life saving job.

In the event that you don't have a cell phone (And just where have you been?), you should have some sort of I.C.E. message somewhere on your person (in your wallet, in a notebook, in your doesn't matter where; just somewhere). Even if you don't have any medical situations to report, allergies or special care needs I think it would be a good idea to have some important phone numbers noted somewhere. Who do you want them to call if something happens to you?

Better safe than sorry I always say.

(Thank you Vickie for forwarding the email to me.)

The list is still growing for recalled peanut products

The Peanut Corp. of America has been shut down. At least for the time being. As of today more than 500 people have become ill and it is believed that 8 people have died from salmonella poisoning originating in the Blakely Georgia plant.

The company announced that they are recalling all products produced in their plant as far back as January 1, 2007. Considering they provide peanut products (including peanut butter, peanut paste, peanut meal, granulated peanuts and whole roasted peanuts) for hundreds of products I’m pretty worried about it. The peanut products are included in ice creams, cakes, crackers, sauces and even dog treats.

To make matters worse, at least in my opinion, FDA inspectors previously found salmonella in the plant 12 times but the plant never stopped production. According to the story I read, the contaminated production lines that the salmonella was discovered on weren’t even cleaned. That’s just negligent.

Georgia’s agriculture commissioner wants a criminal investigation of the company. I totally agree with him. The FDA says it’s too early for that and they want to finish their investigation first. Whatever. It’s obvious to me that the plant ignored basic food safety and shipped out products that they knew weren’t safe.

From the FDA website:

FDA and CDC recommendations for consumers include:

* Do not eat products that have been recalled and throw them away in a manner that prevents others from eating them.
* To determine if commercially-prepared or manufactured peanut butter/peanut paste-containing products (such as cookies, crackers, cereal, candy and ice cream) are subject to recall, consumers are urged first to visit FDA’s website and check the searchable database of recalled products.
* For information on products containing peanut butter from companies not reporting recalls, consumers may wish to consult the company’s website or call the toll-free number listed on most packaging. Information consumers may receive from the companies has not been verified by the FDA.
* If consumers cannot determine if their peanut butter, peanut butter/peanut paste-containing products or institutionally-served peanut butter contains PCA peanut butter/peanut paste, FDA recommends that they do not consume those products.
* Persons who think they may have become ill from eating peanut butter are advised to consult their health care providers.

That cinches the deal for me. I’ve mentioned before my lack of trust in other people preparing my food. It’s totally gone now. I’ll be making everything myself. If things keep going the way they are these days, I’ll be growing my own food too. And now I’m worried about my mother’s dog. I wonder if the treats she has in a jar on her counter were made from products from that Blakely plant? I’m going to have to give her a call. I don’t want her one remaining baby becoming ill because my mother decided she was a good girl and deserved a biscuit. That would really suck.

On the web:

Peanut plant problem forces fresh recall

The FDA page on recalled products - main page

The FDA list of recalled products

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Billy Powell dead at 56

Billy Powell, keyboardist for the legendary Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd died this morning. He was one of the only two surviving members of the original band.

In 1977, a plane crash killed singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and backup vocalist Cassie Gaines. Founding guitarist Gary Rossington is now the sole survivor.

The Yahoo story said that Powell called 911 at five minutes before 1:00 a.m. He said he was having trouble breathing. By the time the paramedics arrived he was already dead.

I'm a big Lynyrd Skynyrd fan. This is a sad day. Lynyrd Skynyrd is almost no more. It's feels fitting to end this post with the lyrics from the song Billy Powell helped make famous.

If I leave here tomorrow
Would you still remember me?
For I must be traveling on, now,
cause there's too many places I've got to see.
But, if I stayed here with you, girl,
Things just couldn't be the same.
cause I'm as free as a bird now,
And this bird you can not change.
Lord knows, I can't change.

Bye, bye, it's been a sweet love.
Though this feeling I can't change.
But please don't take it badly,
cause Lord knows I'm to blame.
But, if I stayed here with you girl,
Things just couldn't be the same.
Cause I'm as free as a bird now,
And this bird you'll never change.
And this bird you can not change.
Lord knows, I can't change.
Lord help me, I can't change.

It HAS been a sweet love. Be free and fly. God speed.

Facebook: A reason to kill?

In the virtual world, Facebook is at the top of the list of social networking sites. Millions of people all over the world connect through Facebook every day. On the front page it tells you that "Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life". It also encourages you to participate by announcing "It's free and anyone can join".

I have a Facebook page. I think most people know that if it's available online, more than likely I have something there. I enjoy my time on Facebook. I play several of the games. Sometimes I write there, although most of my writing is here on Blogger. I keep up with several family members and friends that live far from me. It is a connection site for me.

And it is a connection site for many other people all around the world. I came across this story out of Britian last night about Facebook. A 41 year old man became enraged when his estranged 26 year old wife changed her status on Facebook to single.

Sarah Richardson moved back in with her parents back in April of 2008 because she had decided her marriage to Edward Richardson was over. She had stopped responding to his calls and texts and changed her Facebook status to single. Edward then went to her family home, broke the window in the front door and attacked and murdered her in her bedroom.

After stabbing her to death he attempted to take his own life but failed. On Friday Edward was convicted of the killing and sentenced to 18 years in prison.

The headline of the story from The Independent was 'Life for wife-killer enraged by Facebook change'. Well I'm sorry but 18 years is not LIFE. He'll be 59 when he gets out of prison. 59 doesn't seem old to me. It seems like he'll have a lot of life left to live after his "life" sentence is completed.

According to the Wikipedia free encyclopedia, life imprisonment time varies from country to country and ranges from a minimum of 7 years to the death of the prisoner. Some countries have banned life imprisonment saying that it violates human rights.

What I want to know is what about the human rights of the people that were murdered? Did they not have the right to live their lives until a natural death occurred? And why does the person that took someone's life have more rights than the person they killed? That's basically what I feel they are saying. We know you killed someone and violated their right to live in the most heinous way, but we don't want to violate your right to live your life. We'll just keep you here and feed you for a few years and then we'll let you go...if that's alright with you.

Why worry about what they deserve? They MURDERED another human being. That person has no rights anymore to me. They don't get to decide anything. They ended someone's life therefore I believe their life should be ended too. Not just 18 years worth either. Forever.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

John Updike

John Updike died today at the age of 76 from lung cancer.

He was an American novelist, a poet, a short story writer, an art critic, and a literary critic.

His most famous work is his Rabbit series (Rabbit, Run; Rabbit Redux; Rabbit Is Rich; Rabbit At Rest; and Rabbit Remembered), two of which received the Pulitzer Prize.

He also wrote The Witches of Eastwick in 1984 which was later made into a movie of the same name.

This mornings headlines

Reading the news this morning, I came across several things that caught my attention so today I thought I would basically summarize each one rather than write about one particular subject. And off we go...

Unreturned library book leads to woman’s arrest

This story is out of Iowa. She was arrested and had to post a $250 bond for a $13.95 book. What I don’t understand is why spend that money to use the police to arrest someone over less than $20. I just think that’s ridiculous. Give them back the book and pay them the $13.95 and move on. Next…

93-year-old froze to death, owed big utility bill

This story out of Michigan just broke my heart and it made me so angry at the same time. The man was 93. He should never have been living alone. I don’t believe the power company should be able to control how much power you receive either. I had no idea they did that. Oakland County’s deputy chief medical examiner said the 93 year old man died “a slow, painful death” after the power company restricted his electricity use because he was past due on his bill. Neighbors said there was ice on the inside of his windows when they discovered him dead in his home. The temperature inside the house was 32 degrees. That’s… I have no idea how to end that sentence. It’s just heartbreaking.

Paramedic Charged in John Travolta Extortion Plot

I was so upset when Jett Travolta died. And I was upset by some people’s reactions to his death and some of the things that were said. I just don’t understand people sometimes. A child died. That should be the end of it except for the mourning. But no, unscrupulous people are always looking for a way to make that money. The details are still pretty sketchy, but one of the paramedics from the ambulance Jett rode to the hospital in has been formally charged with attempting to extort and conspiracy to extort $25 million dollars from the Travolta family. All I can say to that is what goes around comes around and I'm glad the police are doing something about it.

And last but not least…

Woman gives birth to octuplets in SoCal hospital

Six boys and two girls weighing in from 1 pound, 8 ounces to 3 pounds, 4 ounces. Doctors only thought the mother was having seven babies and baby #8 surprised them. Three of the infants needed medical care but as of the story I read, they were all stable. This is only the second time in known history that octuplets have survived more than a few hours. I hope she’s resting at the hospital now; she’ll definitely need the energy once they all get home!

Th-th-th-that’s all folks!

Have a great day everybody!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Andrew Wyeth

I don't know how I missed that Andrew Wyeth had died. I usually pay attention to that kind of stuff. I even have a feed on my home page for Dead or Alive? and in general at least glance at it every day. But I did miss it. I finally saw it last night on another blog. I've now added that feed to this page since it appears I'm here more than anywhere else.

Andrew Wyeth was an artist. Below are two of his paintings. The first, Christina's World, is probably his most famous. The second, Soaring, is my personal favorite. His favorite subjects were the land and people around him. He passed away on January 16 at the age of 91.

Christina's World


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Have you seen this goat?

For several days now I’ve been following a story out of Nigeria. It seems there was an attempted armed robbery and they’ve nabbed one of the suspects. He’s around 3 feet tall and probably weighs 65 pounds and is covered in fur. Yes, he’s a goat.

Nigerian police are holding the black and white farm animal on suspicion of attempted armed robbery. There was no mention of bale. Er, uh, I mean bail.

A group of vigilantes that I guess were wandering the streets came upon two men attempting to break into a Mazda. The men took off running, the vigilantes chased them. One of the men got away. The other one turned into a goat.

Yes, I said turned into a goat. Witchcraft is widely believed in in Nigeria and the vigilantes insist that they cornered one of the suspects and he magically transformed himself into a goat in order to escape being caught as a man.

The police did say that they can’t base their case on magic. But they do have the goat in custody. I’m interested in seeing how this case will end. Will the goat turn back into a man? Or will he be tried as a goat? Either way I hope the cell he’s being kept in is escape proof. Goats are notorious for being able to escape from their pens.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

To catch a thief... in aisle 3?

You just finished shopping at your local Walmart. Your items are on the conveyor belt heading toward the cashier. Seven pairs of jeans, four pair of slacks, a pair of scrubs, a bra, a sweat suit, a picture frame, laundry detergent, diapers, pizza, coffee, four 12-packs of drinks, canned vegies, air freshener, nachos, noodles, some frozen stuff, chips, ground beef, and a baby crib…total? $5.25. What?!

Yep. A 20 year old Natchez Mississippi Walmart employee was arrested for attempting to sell her friend $547.50 worth of merchandise for five bucks. The story in the Mississippi newspaper doesn’t say HOW they were busted for rolling back prices on their own, just that the 22 year old woman never left the store with the products.

What were they thinking? Oh wait, I know, they were thinking they could get away with it. I bet that kind of thing happens all the time but no one notices. With all the beeping going on from other registers around them I imagine it’d be easy to do. And unless you are involved in security for the store, you more than likely wouldn’t be watching the screen to see what was being rung up. Plus those people that stand at the exit doors and check peoples receipts only do that if something is out of a bag. That’d be easy to prevent too.

I’m not trying to encourage people to steal by explaining how easy it would be. I’m actually very disgusted by these people that think it’s ok to steal. They try to argue that it’s a big store (Walmart) so they can afford the loss but I believe even if they could afford the loss, we’re the ones that pay for it in increased prices so they didn‘t hurt that big store. They hurt me.

Everyone I know has worked hard their whole lives and paid for everything they own. I have no patience for people that won’t earn their own keep. And even less patience for those that want to take out of my pocket.

So needless to say, I’m happy these women were caught and arrested. I hope they at least get a hefty fine. And as far as the cashier goes, I hope it’s noted on her work record so that she doesn’t get the opportunity to raise prices in another store that I shop at.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A once a day, huh?

I have the blah’s today. Or maybe it’s just a case of the lazies. I just don’t feel like getting off the couch. Yesterday I didn’t feel like getting dressed so I spent the whole day in my pj’s but I did actually get things accomplished. This morning however, well let’s just say it’s not going as well.

So I’ve dragged my pillow and blanket to the couch and have blasted my eyes with all the TV I can stand to watch. That’s going ok. Monk was on. Then Psych. Those are two of my favorite shows. Now my judge shows have begun. I like those too. But I have a complaint…

What is the deal with all the male enhancement ads? Seriously. They are really getting on my nerves. I don’t think there’s any shame in going to your doctor and getting some help with any issues you may have. But why do they feel the need to plaster it all over my TV? Every other commercial break they manage to slip one in (pun most definitely NOT intended).

When the Enzyte commercials first came out with smiling Bob, I let a little giggle slip out at them. Then the Viagra commercials started and, as I’m sure they intended, I found myself singing the song when it was on. I’d be washing dishes, minding my own business, not thinking about male enhancement AT ALL, and *poof* Viva Viaaaagra would come drifting out of my mouth. Ugh.

Now there are male enhancement commercials everywhere you look and I think they are just ridiculous. The Zencore Plus commercials are the worst in my opinion. I think they have really crossed a line.

Before you start judging me and thinking I’m some kind of prude let me tell you what I believe. I believe sex is good. I believe it should be kept privately between consenting adults in their homes and not on my TV. If I want to see it on my TV there are plenty of places that will rent me videos.

I especially don’t believe I should see these commercials on family channels or in between family movies. For example, the other night I was watching Willie Wonka. I adore that movie. I was enjoying my millionth viewing of it, commercial time, WHAT? You guessed it, Zencore Plus. I went from kids and chocolate and silly songs to a man ‘getting it on’ with first one woman in an elevator, then a second woman only minutes later.

What I thought about that was this:

1. How many kids are watching this specific showing of Willie Wonka and now seeing this commercial?
2. How many of those kids now think it’s cool to be with multiple partners?
3. How about multiple partners in the same day/hour/minutes?
4. Why don’t they show them LATE when kids will be in bed?
5. Why show them at all? Don’t people see their doctors for things like that?

What do you think? Do you think it’s ok to show these commercials? Do you think they promote sexual promiscuity? Or do you think they are a legitimate item that needs to be advertised? I’d love to hear all your opinions on this matter. I’d like to know if I‘m the only one that feels this way about these commercials. Maybe I’m just seeing them wrong…

Thursday, January 22, 2009

small town, BIG HONOR

Have you heard of the United States Achievement Academy (USAA)? This organization founded in 1978 by Dr. George A. Stevens recognizes and honors outstanding students around the United States. The best way to tell you about this awesome program is to show you the founder’s message. I have copied it exactly as it appears on the website:

I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank the hundreds of thousands of educators who have participated in the United States Achievement Academy's national recognition program for exceptional students.

The Academy has been honoring exceptional students through educators and the results of scholastic scores for three decades. The tradition of recognizing outstanding students has become a reality because of the over 900,000 dedicated teachers nationwide who have nominated students into the USAA program.

The Academy salutes the concerned, interested teachers who create pride and a feeling of accomplishment in the students they honor.

The exclusive members of the Academy have an average overall grade point average of a 3.8 on a 4.0 scale. The Academy membership represents the elite among today's students. Incredibly, many of our members have achieved perfect ACT and SAT scores, and excellent grade point averages. Among our athletic divisions, our members hold prestigious titles such as All-State, All-Region and All-Conference. Whether a teacher nominates a student for exceptional citizenship and leadership qualities or for outstanding academics, students truly benefit when being honored by their educator or coach.

Each year, the Academy receives letters of appreciation from educators and students nationwide who have been inspired by the Academy's program. We thank you for taking the time to write us and share your thoughts about the program.

It has been an honor working with such talented and exceptional students and educators through the USAA. I look forward to the next decade with great expectations and to serving the nation's next generation of exceptional students.


George Stevens

Sealy Junior High is an excellent school. There are, on average, 18 students per class and 30% of the teachers have been there 21 years or longer. My son attended Sealy Junior High and all I have is good memories of his time there.

Now the USAA has bestowed this honor on one of our own Sealy Texas students. Rebecca Presley is a junior high school student here. I personally don’t know Rebecca but in a town of only 6200 people, I’m sure I’ve seen her around.

I’m proud that a student from our town has received this honor. I’m proud FOR her and OF her. Great job Rebecca!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

It brings new meaning to Mad Cow

You’re casually riding your bike through a beautiful park in Colorado. You’re following the trail enjoying the scenery… Uh oh look out! There’s a killer cow!

It sounds crazy but it’s a true story. A lady was riding her bike through Boulder Open Space and Mountain Park when a cow crossed her path. She stopped, allowing the cow room to cross in front of her. The cow had other ideas. He knocked her off her bike and then stepped on her legs.

A park ranger found the woman injured on the path. She told him what had happened. The cow was searched for but had left the area by the time other rangers arrived. A warning to bikers and hikers was issued.

The open space of Marshall Mesa is leased by ranchers that use the land as a grazing area for their livestock. Witnesses that saw the attacking cow say it appeared to have an injured leg. The cows owner was notified.

Jason Vogel, vice president of the Boulder Mountain Bike Alliance, was quoted in a Daily Camera’s Boulder & county news story as saying this attack was “odd, rare and random” although there was another cow attack in the same area in 2003. In that attack a woman was rammed three times and her pelvis was fractured by a grazing momma cow that felt threatened by the cyclist that was too close to her calf for comfort (say that fast three times).

I adore cows. Seriously. If you have any doubt just look at my email address. That will show you how much of a cow lover I am. I’ve collected cow ‘things’ for years and have taken more than my share of pictures of them in fields and on farms.

I’ve never had one attack me though. No charging, angry cows tried to knock me over and then step on me. For a brief moment I thought “Well, maybe it was because of the baby…” but no, there have been plenty of calves present when I was around the cows I’ve come in contact with.

The lady in this bike attack just had a stroke of bad luck in my opinion. Call it cowincidence that this was the second cow attack in the area. Just an incidental ocowrence. Ok, ok. I’ll be good. I couldn’t help it. This story just mooved me.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What do you know about Joe?

Well, it’s inauguration day. I’m sure you know that, it’s all over the place. How could you miss it? And yes, history is being made as our nations first African American president is sworn in.

I believe people have done more research on our new president than they ever did on any president of the past. With the internet available 24/7, news channels devoted strictly to politics and the front page of every major newspaper covering every tiny detail, how could you not know who Barack Obama is?

I tend to believe that people are even aware of Obama’s family. If I said he has a wife named Michelle and two daughters, most people would nod their heads and say I was right. What I’m not sure of is if people know about our new VICE president.

Joe Biden has not received the same amount of publicity that Obama has, his life is not splattered all over the place. While he and his wife did appear on Oprah I was not aware of it until I saw a tiny little story way at the bottom of my news feed.

Biden is just a backup. He’s not the important one. He’s not the president. That’s the feeling I get when I see these very few and far between stories about our new vice president. People just don’t think he’s that important. I don’t agree with that line of thought. If something were to happen to Obama (you have to admit that’s completely possible. In this day and age people would not hesitate to do harm against our president), Biden will replace him.

So who is this man that will be running our country in the event of a tragedy? What do we know about him? Honestly, I knew very little about him. I decided some research was in order...

He was born November 20, 1942 in Scranton Pennsylvania. He comes from an Irish Catholic family and has two brothers and one sister.

He has a wife as I said. Her name is Jill. While I don’t believe physical appearance makes any difference in someone’s ability to be a contributing human being, I’ll tell you she’s beautiful. And it’s not just on the outside. She speaks from the heart and doesn’t hold back (as seen on the Oprah clip below). I feel like she would be incapable of hiding anything. They met in 1975 and they married in 1977. They have one daughter together. But Jill is his second wife.

His first wife’s name was Neilia. They met in 1964 and married in 1966. They had three children, two sons and a daughter. In 1972 she and his one year old daughter were killed when the station wagon they were traveling in was hit by a semi truck. His two sons were critically injured in the accident as well but thankfully recovered.

Biden began his career in the United States Senate at the minimum age to be eligible, 30. He has represented Delaware from that January 3, 1973 day until his resignation on January 15, 2009. He resigned only because of his being elected to the vice presidency.

He's the former chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. He opposed the Gulf War in 1991 and voted in favor of the Iraq War Resolution in 2002. He has also served as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. And he helped create the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act and the Violence Against Women Act. He unsuccessfully ran for president in 1988 and was originally running for president in this years election. He is the first Roman Catholic and the first Delawarean to be elected Vice President of the United States.

I have the faint feeling that I just struck gold. I’ve already expressed my support and approval of Obama. Now I have to say, I really like Joe Biden. I think he’s going to do our country good. I think the two of them together, Obama and Biden, may be able to make our country great again. I feel it. It’s on its way. I’m practically singing. Happy days are here again…

Joe & Jill Biden on the Oprah show

Monday, January 19, 2009

Everything has a purpose

Meet Molly. She's a grey speckled pony who was abandoned by her owners when Hurricane Katrina hit southern Louisiana. She spent weeks on her own before finally being rescued and taken to a farm where abandoned animals were stockpiled. While there, she was attacked by a pit bull terrier and almost died. Her gnawed right front leg became infected, and her vet went to LSU for help, but LSU was overwhelmed, and this pony was a welfare case.

You know how that goes. But after surgeon Rustin Moore met Molly, he changed his mind. He saw how the pony was careful to lie down on different sides so she didn't seem to get sores, and how she allowed people to handle her. She protected her injured leg. She constantly shifted her weight and didn't overload her good leg. She was a smart pony with a serious survival ethic.

Moore agreed to remove her leg below the knee, and a temporary artificial limb was built. Molly walked out of the clinic and her story really begins there.

'This was the right horse and the right owner,' Moore insists. Molly happened to be a one-in-a-million patient. She's tough as nails, but sweet, and she was willing to cope with pain. She made it obvious she understood that she was in trouble. The other important factor, according to Moore, is having a truly committed and compliant owner who is dedicated to providing the daily care required over the lifetime of the horse.

Molly's story turns into a parable for life in post-Katrina Louisiana . The little pony gained weight, and her mane finally felt a comb. A human prosthesis designer built her a leg.

The prosthetic has given Molly a whole new life, Allison Barca DVM, Molly's regular vet, reports.

And she asks for it. She will put her little limb out,and come to you and let you know that she wants you to put it on. Sometimes she wants you to take it off too. And sometimes, Molly gets away from Barca. 'It can be pretty bad when you can't catch a three-legged horse,' she laughs.

Most important of all, Molly has a job now. Kay,the rescue farm owner, started taking Molly to shelters, hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation centers. Anywhere she thought that people needed hope. Wherever Molly went, she showed people her pluck. She inspired people, and she had a good time doing it.

'It's obvious to me that Molly had a bigger role to play in life, Moore said. She survived the hurricane, she survived a horrible injury, and now she is giving hope to others.'

Barca concluded, 'She's not back to normal, but she's going to be better. To me, she could be a symbol for New Orleans itself.'

This is Molly's most recent prosthesis. The bottom photo shows the ground surface that she stands on, which has a smiley face embossed in it. Wherever Molly goes, she leaves a smiley hoof print behind.

I have a dream

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I’d find it hard to believe if someone told me they didn’t know who Martin Luther King Jr. was. Most people at least know him as a civil rights icon.

He was a Baptist minister that became a civil rights activist early in his career. He led the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957, serving as its first president.

He led the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. In 1964, he was the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

He worked to end racial segregation and discrimination through civil disobedience and other non-violent ways. He also opposed the Vietnam War and wanted to end poverty.

He was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was established as a U.S. holiday in 1986. Many parades and celebrations will occur today in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

If you’ve never heard the “I Have a Dream” speech you can watch below. It’s a very moving piece and I hope one day ALL people will have the same rights and freedoms.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Little Debbie snacks now added to list of recalled products

From the Little Debbie website:


January 18, 2009 — 7 p.m. EST


COLLEGEDALE, Tenn. – McKee Foods Corporation today announced a voluntary recall of two varieties of peanut butter sandwich crackers because the products have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. The two sandwich crackers are:

  • Little Debbie® Peanut Butter Toasty sandwich crackers — all sizes.

  • Little Debbie® Peanut Butter Cheese sandwich crackers — all sizes.

Products impacted by the recall were produced on or after July 1, 2008, and include all sizes, weights and packages.

The Little Debbie® Cheddar on Cheese sandwich cracker is not affected by this action. No other Little Debbie® products are involved in this recall.

McKee Foods does not purchase peanut paste or peanut butter from PCA (Peanut Corp. of America), and therefore, no other Little Debbie® products containing peanut butter are affected by this action.

Consumers who have purchased the recalled products are urged to discard the crackers but retain the freshness code and contact Consumer Affairs.

Little Debbie Consumer Services:



I received this picture of a Woolworth menu from the 1950's. Just thought I'd share this blast from the past. I wonder how many people that see this will think "What's Woolworth?" I bet there's several. By the way, you can click on the picture to make it bigger. Don't you wish we could go back to these prices? I sure do.

Tragedy at monster truck show

I’m an empathetic person. I feel things deeply that don’t really affect my life in any way except that I found out about whatever it was. I just can’t help it. This story out of Tacoma Washington is a perfect example. It touched me deeply. I cried for the child and his family. It truly broke my heart.

I’ve been to monster truck shows. I even took my kids to a monster truck show once. It was a really good time if you could get past how LOUD the trucks were and the awful smell of all that exhaust in one place.

And I did see those enormous trucks break apart occasionally. If they hit a big dip, boom!, a chunk of something would roll off in the mud. I saw one flip six times across the dirt floor of the Expo Center and things were flying off of it like crazy. I never imagined those pieces hitting anyone though.

I’m sure I knew somewhere deep in my mind that it was a possibility. I just never let it surface enough to grasp it as a coherent thought. Then this morning I read the story that made those fears a reality.

In a matter of seconds a six year old lost his life. A piece of metal flew off a truck that was doing doughnuts during a freestyle competition portion of the truck show. It flew into the stands striking the 6 year old in the head. Horrified witnesses said one second the boy and his family were watching the show, the next second the boy was in his mothers arms with blood everywhere.

In a heartbreaking twist, the monster truck show did NOT end. Some spectators were unaware that anything had even happened. Others that were aware of the situation either watched in shock or grabbed their own families and left.

I’m including a link to the news video of this story. I’d like to warn you that it contains graphic spoken details and may not be appropriate for all people to watch.

My heart goes out to the family of this child. Most stories interest me. Few stories touch me the way this one did. I’m so sorry for their loss.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Updated list of recalled Kellogg products

I've had several people contact me today worried about the products that are affected by the recent salmonella outbreak. Kellogg has voluntarily recalled the following products and are advising consumers to destroy them:

Austin® Quality Foods Cheese Crackers with Peanut Butter - all sizes

Austin® Quality Foods Cheese & Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers - all sizes

Austin® Quality Foods Mega Stuffed Cheese Crackers with Peanut Butter - all sizes

Austin® Quality Foods PB & J Cracker Sandwiches - all sizes

Austin® Quality Foods Super Snack Pack Sandwich Crackers

Austin® Quality Foods Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers - all sizes

Austin® Quality Foods Toasty Crackers with Peanut Butter - all sizes

Austin® Quality Foods Reduced Fat Cheese & Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers

Austin® Quality Foods Reduced Fat Toasty Crackers with Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers

Austin® Quality Foods Cookie/Cracker Pack

Austin® Quality Foods Variety Pack

Keebler® Cheese & Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers - all sizes

Keebler® Toast & PB'n J Flavored Sandwich Crackers - all sizes

Keebler® Toast & Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers - all sizes

Famous Amos® Peanut Butter Cookies (2- and 3-ounce)

Keebler® Soft Batch Homestyle Peanut Butter Cookies (2.5-ounce)

The Kellogg website states "The actions we are taking today are in keeping with our more than 100- year commitment to providing consumers with safe, high-quality products," said David Mackay, president and CEO, Kellogg Company. "We apologize for this unfortunate situation."

If you have any questions about Kellogg products or would like a refund you can call the Kellogg Consumer Response Center at 877-869-5633.

Not my cookies too?!?

I wrote about a week ago about the peanut butter salmonella outbreak that is causing illness all over the country. That has now been expanded to include all peanut products. Officials have tracked the salmonella back to a Georgia plant that provides peanuts to 85 food companies including Kellogg.

Keebler cookies have been pulled from shelves as a precaution and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it is no longer just a bulk peanut butter issue. They are now looking at all products that contain peanuts and peanut paste including baked goods containing peanuts.

The Blakely Georgia plant is owned by Peanut Corp. of America and provides peanuts to 85 different companies. Peanut Corp. has recalled 21 lots of peanut butter that they believe to be the culprit but some companies, such as Kellogg’s, have pulled all their products that contain peanuts from store shelves. Kellogg also pulled their Austin peanut butter sandwich crackers in addition to the Keebler cookies.

Officially there have been over 450 cases of salmonella illness and six deaths from this outbreak. An elderly North Carolina man died yesterday from the same strain of salmonella that has been found in the offending foods.

Four people have died in Minnesota and Virginia (two in each state) and one person has died in Idaho. Four of those five people were elderly. Food borne illnesses are generally worse in the elderly, young, pregnant and people who have reduced immune systems.

I personally am glad I haven’t had anything with peanuts in it for a while now. At the beginning of the outbreak, it was just coincidental that I hadn’t eaten peanut products but now that it’s been in the news, I’ve purposely avoided them. I suffer from Graves Disease which is an autoimmune disease. I just can’t take that chance.

While I don’t expect people to cut all peanut products out of their lives, I do think at this time it would be prudent to check all your packages for peanut products and specifically for who produced those peanuts and if it was the Peanut Corp. of America. 85 companies produce a lot of products. And many products either contain peanuts or were cooked in peanut oil and people are unaware of it unless they have a peanut allergy.

I have been known to enjoy a Keebler cookie on occasion however and knowing that Kellogg was worried enough to pull them from the shelves has me scared. The only upside that I can see from this outbreak is the companies will be more aware of the situation and hopefully do more to test their products BEFORE they are sent out to the public.

Friday, January 16, 2009

A time for goodbye

2918 days ago, George W. Bush became our President. Last night he addressed the nation to say goodbye. He delivered his farewell speech from the East Room of the White House, unlike President’s of the past Clinton, Reagan and Carter who spoke from the Oval Office.

I enjoyed the speech. In my opinion he showed his true character with his words. I had not thought of George W. Bush’s character before last night in much detail although I did believe strongly in his father George H.W. Bush.

He said it has been his honor to be our President for the last eight years. And he passed on his best wishes to Barack Obama who will be sworn in as our acting President in five days. He expressed his gratitude to Vice President Dick Chaney, his wife Laura Bush, his parents and the American people.

He spoke of September 11, 2001, the day our nation was changed forever by terrorists. He called the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 heroes. Terrorists planned to use that plane to further injure the American people. The passengers on that flight became aware of the situation and mounted an assault against the hijackers causing the plane to crash not where the terrorists had planned but in a field in Pennsylvania 150 miles west of the White House. All 44 people on board, including the hijackers, were killed.

He spoke of Arlene Howard, the mother of New York officer George Howard who left the safety of his home to aid the people trapped after the collapse of the World Trade Center only to be crushed under the building as it further crumbled. Arlene gave President Bush her sons badge in his honor. He still carries it with him today.

He also spoke of 60 year old Bill Krissoff. Bill’s son Lieutenant Nathan Krissoff was killed in Iraq. He wanted to honor his son’s sacrifice for our country so he attempted to join the Navy Medical Corps. He was over the age limit but never gave up and he was eventually enlisted. He is now in Iraq aiding the men and women that are injured while fighting for us.

President Bush ended his speech with God. I love that. These days people are so scared to allow God into anything government. Separation of church and state and all that. I just think it’s a bunch of malarkey. It even says ‘In God We Trust’ on our money. I for one am pleased that he chose to ignore 'political correctness'.

His final words were “God bless this House, the next President, You and our Country”. I say Amen.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Deep freeze can lead to serious issues

The bitter cold that is sweeping across the North and Mideast sections of the country can be very dangerous. Frostbite and hypothermia are real dangers that can be life threatening.

Frostbite can occur in 15 minutes or less. It causes a loss of feeling in your extremities (fingers, toes, ears, nose) and can lead to the loss of limbs. The affected area appears white or pale, sometimes even gray. When the temperature is at or below zero, your blood vessels that are closest to the skin constrict causing the blood flow to dramatically slow in these areas and the tissue freezes.

Hypothermia develops when your body temperature drops below 95 degrees. There are three stages to hypothermia. In the first stage your hands become numb, you experience mild to strong shivering and your breathing becomes quick and shallow. In the second stage, shivering becomes stronger, your muscles no longer cooperate with what you want them to do and your skin turns pale. And in the third and final stage, your body shuts down. Shivering usually stops, thinking is impaired and your muscle coordination is gone. You have noticeable trouble walking or performing simple tasks (such as picking up and holding a cup). Death will occur if medical help is not obtained.

If you or someone you love are experiencing any of the above signs, seek medical attention immediately. In these extreme temperatures that our country is experiencing numerous issues can develop quickly.

Helpful links:

National Weather Service's Warnings

The CDC's article Extreme Cold: A Prevention Guide to Promote Your Personal Health and Safety

Government agencies that can help

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

My dear guests! I am Mr. Roarke, your host. Welcome...

I saw tonight that we lost another of my childhood favorites. Ricardo Montalban was in my living room so many different times. What stands out most in my mind is Corinthian leather and the Chrysler Cordoba. And Star Trek (who could forget that chest?). And of course Fantasy Island. For awhile I believed he was Mr. Roarke and if I got to him he would make all my dreams come true.

He was born Ricardo Gonzalo Pedro Montalban Merino in Mexico City on November 25, 1920. He began acting in leading roles in 1949 (Border Incident) and continued through recent years eventually working from a wheelchair.

My personal favorite performances of his were:

Planet of the Apes (1968)
Fantasy Island (1978 - 1984)
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
The Naked Gun movies (1988 - 1994)

He married his wife in 1944 and remained married to her until her death 63 years later on November 13, 2007. He was of the Catholic faith and said that his religion was the "most important thing" in his life. He was 88. Rest in Peace Ricardo Montalban. You will be missed.

Fantasy Island TV Show Opening Theme Season One (1978)

Ear plugs may be necessary

My TV is fixing to be in for a workout. It’s that time a year that all my favorite shows start back up. It won’t be long before I’m screaming at Hell’s Kitchen, Big Brother 11 and Survivor again.

Last night was the beginning. American Idol premiered and I watched every second of it. I used to be a huge American Idol fan but over the last couple of years I’ve strayed a little.

I admit that in years past I was one of the people sending in the maximum number of texts allowed to vote. I was one of the people that spent hours on the phone hitting redial.

Last year all that changed. The show just didn’t hold my attention as much. The people weren’t as interesting or as talented as they had been in past shows. At least in my opinion.

Then a couple of days ago I saw an ad for this years American Idol. They have a new judge. A lady. Hmm, this might be interesting. She might be good…

She wasn’t. First of all they act like she’s someone famous but I’ve never heard of her. Her name is Kara DioGuardi and from what I could figure out, she’s a songwriter. I repeat: I’ve never heard of her. She actually felt the need to prove that she could sing better than one of the contestants and STOOD UP AND SANG. Well, I’m sorry. She sounded as bad as some of the wannabe stars.

The ‘improvements’ they’ve made aren’t that great to me either. They said they are going to show less of the Gong Show auditions for one thing. Well, again, I’m sorry, but the people making fools of themselves is one of the things I liked. It was an easy laugh. Remember William Hong? No? Well you can see him for yourself in the video I've included.

They also said they were going to show less Ryan Seacrest. I’m a little torn on that one. I like Ryan but I agree there is too much banter in the hallway taking away from why I’m watching. (In case you’ve forgotten that’s the people who think they can sing but just make me laugh.)

One girl (I can’t remember her name and have no desire to remember it) showed up in a bikini. Simon and Randy loved her of course. Paula and Kara acted like jealous teenagers. It was really quite boring. I could have done without it.

There was talent but they didn’t let us see much of it. There was Michael Sarver, the oilfield worker with a beautiful voice. And at the end they showed Scott McIntyre. I like him. He’s been almost completely blind since birth and he can sing.

All in all I was happy with the start of this years show and I’ll be tuning in tonight for another look. Maybe they’ll cooperate and show me what I want to see: fools and never-before-discovered superstars. We could get lucky.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Calling all beach bums!

What could be better than living on a beautiful beach, snorkeling along the reef and exploring an island anytime you got the urge? How about getting paid for it.

Sounds like a dream job to me. But it’s not a dream. It’s exactly what the Australian government is offering. $105,000 plus a rent free beach home to live on this beautiful island for six months. All that’s required to get this job is the ability to swim, be able to speak and write English and not be shy.

The person who gets the job will be expected to talk to the media, keep a blog and provide video and photo updates. Australia is trying to bring more tourism to the country, specifically to Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef.

I can imagine the scene all too easily which probably means I’d love this job. Just the wildlife alone would be worth it to me. Plus you get to live on an island! Now that feels too good to be true. I’m already very jealous of someone. I don’t know who will get the job, but whoever it is, I’m jealous!

If you’re interested in applying for this job you can click here, but I’m warning you A LOT of people are interested and therefore the site is so busy it’s very hard to get to it. I tried for over half an hour before it would finally go to the site.

If you do make it to the site there are links to all the relevant issues pertaining to this job. There is a full job description you can download and details on the responsibilities, criteria and benefits.

If I had nothing else to do I would definitely apply for this job. Six months would go by so fast. Especially on an island. I wonder if it’s a one time deal. Or if you can sign up for another six months after the first ones have past. I imagine that answer is in the FAQ section included on the site. I think I’ll go read them now and have a little daydream about living on the beach.

Note: Today's news revealed that because of the high volume of traffic to the application site it crashed. It took several hours to get the site back up and some portions are still unavailable.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Bad day on our highways

Everyday is a news day for me but today is a local news day. It seems like all the stories that caught my eye this morning were from in or around Houston. And most of them involved cars and speed.

A 22 year old man was reported to have been driving in excess of 100 mph when he crashed his Chevy Cobalt carrying himself and his 18 year old girlfriend into a van with five family members in it. All but the driver of the speeding Cobalt and a 59 year old female passenger in the van were killed in the accident. The driver that caused the accident is unaware that these deaths occurred yet. Killed in the accident were the 18 year old girlfriend, a 78 year old man who’s birthday is today, his brother and sister-in-law who were both 83 and his 60 year old nephew. The family members had traveled to celebrate the 78 year olds birthday.

In the second accident, a 17 year old stole a pickup truck and was spotted by police. He ran from the officers and subsequently crashed into a SUV in the intersection of South 79th and Elwood in Houston. The accident killed a 23 year old man that was driving the SUV. The 17 year old has no license and claimed to have ‘found’ the car.

A third accident occurred when a ladies vehicle was carjacked. Thankfully the carjacker allowed her to remove her children from the vehicle before he took off in it. The police chased him until he crashed into a gas meter. No one was hurt in this accident but a nearby restaurant had to be evacuated because of the leaking gas.

And finally, at a Low Rider car show one of the vehicles carrying a family involved in the celebration burst into flames. A three year old was in a car seat in the back of the car. The father managed to get his son out of the burning vehicle, but they both suffered burns and are being treated at the Medical Center.

I hate to drive. It’s a true story. I would rather be a passenger than a driver. Accidents like these make that feeling even stronger in me. Tim is an excellent driver and I would rather put my faith in him. Not that I’m a bad driver. I just get nervous and I know I shouldn’t be in control of a vehicle when I’m nervous.

I also know that accidents happen in a split second and sometimes even the most experienced and confident drivers are still involved in them. My heart goes out to the families of the victims in the accidents I’ve talked about this morning. I pray they find peace in whatever way they can. I know that’s easier said than done.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

And the winner is...

Some of my favorite news stories involve people that aren’t all together there. You know what I mean, they’re a few crackers short of a box, their elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top floor, they’re not the sharpest tool in the shed.

These criminals tickle me. Not that I like the fact that they are criminals. I don’t like criminals. But I do think the stories written about them are too funny and in most cases they get caught because of their less than genius actions.

I like to give them awards. They are ‘boobie awards’ in my mind. These people do things or say things that 99.9% of the general population believes to be unintelligent.

Usually I’m the only one that is aware this award was given. I don’t normally talk about them. They are silent awards. Just for me. I assume most people agree with me and that makes it unnecessary to announce them.

But this week I just couldn’t keep the winner to myself. I found this particular criminal SO unbelievably deserving of the award that I felt the need to announce it. So without further ado, the winner of this weeks ‘boobie award’ goes to…

Feliks decided to rob a bank. He prepared himself by donning a ski mask and grabbing his toy gun. He then went into the crowded bank and patiently waited in line amongst the other bank customers for his turn while wearing the mask. When he reached the teller she told him to remove the mask, he said no and showed her his toy gun. He took some money and left only to be caught a few minutes later thus securing his place as my ‘boobie award‘ recipient of the week.

As an added note, Feliks also wins my prize for the weirdest original spelling of their name. I think he even beat Meyghan.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The dangerous seas

When this site was at it’s former URL, I wrote a story about modern day pirates. That story went away with the website. I’m obviously still not happy about losing my site. But that’s beside the point. What is the point is pirates.

Pirates have been around since people have sailed the open seas. In 75 BC, Julius Caesar was kidnapped by pirates and held prisoner until a ransom of fifty talents (4700 pounds) of gold was paid.

During the early years of the AD centuries, pirates ravaged towns along coastlines around the world. By 1819, the Persian Gulf became known as the Pirate Coast.

The Gulf of Aden lies off the coast of Somalia and is known for it’s acts of piracy. The waters of the Gulf of Aden are considered dangerous to travel. There has been no active government in Somalia since 1991 and therefore the pirates pretty much do as they please.

Cruise ships, oil tankers and other vessels that pirates believe can be held for ransom are at risk. Many ships avoid the area completely because of pirate activity. And some ships have equipped themselves with weapons to fight back. They even have a horn that emits a sonic blast so loud that anyone in the area is forced to retreat.

An oil tanker called the Sirius Star and it’s 25 crew members have been held captive by pirates since November 15, 2008. Apparently a parachutist was dropped over the ship with a three million dollar ransom Friday. The pirates collected the money and released the ship.

During their trip back to shore from the tanker, one of the pirates boats capsized. Five of the eight pirates on board drowned and their portion of the three million dollars was lost to the sea.

I’m not going to say that it’s a good thing human beings lost their lives, but I will say what goes around comes around. If I ever doubted the existence of karma this shows me it does exist. These men spent the last two months treating people like collateral. They had evil intentions and even though they thought they were being rewarded for their actions, they paid for them with their lives.

While the Sirius Star and another ship were released on Friday, over a dozen ships are still being held by pirates off the coast of Somalia. My hope is those ships will be released also. With no loss of life.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Busy little bees

One of the blogs I follow is Linda’s Bees. I’ve always avoided bees. I’m highly allergic to them. But because of Linda and her wonderful bee blog, I’ve really become interested in them.

I’ve already learned a lot about these tiny creatures from Linda and the various links she provides. I went on a site yesterday that she had mentioned and I watched bee movies. They were really neat. I enjoy learning new things.

Then this morning I came across a bee story out of Fresno California. With my new found bee interest I decided to read it. It seems the citrus farmers and the beekeepers are having a battle.

The citrus farmers say that the new seedless variety of tangerines that they are growing do not require bees attention. As a matter of fact bees ruin these tangerines by pollinating them and causing seeds to grow when seeds are unwanted.

The beekeepers say they are losing a lot of bees right now due to the lack of nourishment during the winter months. There just isn’t enough food for all the bees and they have to compete for the food that is there. The tangerine groves provide that much needed food.

The story read to me a little like an elementary schoolyard fight. The beekeepers say if you don’t want the bees doing what comes naturally to them, net your trees. The citrus farmers say make your hives smaller. Less bees equals less competition. And if you don’t like that, move.

I’m leaning towards agreeing with the beekeepers but probably not for the reasons you think. First, the whole let’s mess with genetics and chemically manipulate a fruit that human beings are going to eat thing doesn’t sit well with me at all. Cloned sheep is another no-no to me. Or those people that clone their dogs. I just couldn’t do it. It’s not natural.

But I digress. The second reason I agree with the beekeepers is they’re right. You can’t blame beekeepers for bees pollinating your trees. Even if the beekeeper wasn’t there with their hive, bees would still have access to your grove. All a beekeeper in the area does is increase the amount of bees. I think trying to blame the ruination of your crops on a specific group of bees is like saying there’s a little water in the ocean. It just doesn’t work.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Please wash your hands

When I was 15 I got my first real job. I’d had babysitting jobs before that. And animal sitting jobs. Just never a job that someone wrote my name on a check. That job was at McDonald’s. It was a good first job. The people were nice and I enjoyed myself.

That’s where my food service career began. I spent the next twenty five years cooking in one restaurant or another. Most of the time I enjoyed it. There were occassions that I just thought I’d rather shovel manure than cook in another restaurant, but I always ended up back in the business. It’s what I do.

At the end of my career (I haven’t worked in almost a year now) I pretty much knew everything I needed to know about food handling and food safety. I spent the last almost decade working for the United States Beef Corporation also known as Arby’s. I was there for nine years.

Because I was in management, I was sent to ‘school’ often. I’d drive to Tulsa and attend classes given by a very entertaining man named Andrew. He was awesome. He made learning fun.

Once every two years I attended ServSafe classes. ServSafe classes are sponsored by the National Restaurant Association and teach the fundamentals of food safety. It’s an eight hour class with a no-time-limit test afterwards. If you passed the test you were certified and that was a plus to the health department. All the managers that worked for our company were required to take and pass the ServSafe class. If you didn’t pass it you had to come back. I never had that problem. As a matter of fact I was always the first person done and never scored lower than a 96. The last time I took it I scored a 99 and was done in a stunning 14 minutes. Andrew said it was a record.

The reason I’m telling you these things is because there is a food borne illness outbreak happening right now. I wasn’t aware of it until, like normal, I was reading the mornings headlines. I was scanning the page and the word salmonella jumped out at me. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta are investigating a salmonella outbreak that has caused illness in almost 400 people in 42 states.

Salmonella is a nasty food borne illness. It causes abdominal cramps, headaches, nausea, fever, diarrhea and sometimes vomiting. It can cause severe dehydration in infants and the elderly. The incubation period is 6 - 48 hours after you’ve been exposed. That means it can be two days after you eat the contaminated food before you show signs of illness.

The source of this disease can be from several places, including domestic and wild animals and humans. In people it’s source is the intestinal tract. That means someone didn’t wash their hands after using the restroom. Yuck. Please wash your hands…

Most people automatically think of chicken when they think of salmonella, and while it’s true chicken is a common source, there are other foods that are culprits. They include fish, shrimp, tofu, melons, tomatoes, raw sprouts and egg products like custard and pastry creams.

Those foods are by no means the only foods to be careful with. Salmonella can be present in many meats and different forms of produce. The best policy is to always follow safe food handling practices. The CDC does not know how this particular outbreak is spreading yet. Please don't forget about the tomatoes or the peanut butter. The peanut butter salmonella outbreak was in 2007 and was in a major name brand, Peter Pan, as well as the Walmart equal to that name brand.

Avoiding cross contamination, keeping foods at their proper temperatures and practicing good personal hygiene are the best ways to prevent a food borne illness in your house.

Don’t use the same knife on meat that you used on produce. Make sure you keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold and that you cook meats to at least 165 degrees for a minimum of fifteen seconds (this means when you insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, the temperature stays steady on 165 degrees for 15 seconds). Don’t allow foods to remain at room temperature for more than two hours. If it does, throw it away. The loss of the food is much better than the illness you’ll have to suffer through if you decide to take that risk.

And wash your hands often! Hand washing is the single most important factor in safe food handling. Most people either don’t wash their hands at all or they don’t wash them properly. Just a quick splash under the water will NOT remove the offending bacteria. You don’t have to use antibacterial soap. To me that’s just a waste of money. Regular soap can do exactly the same thing as antibacterial soap if you wash properly.

Make sure you use hot water and that you scrub all the surface of your hands including under your fingernails. Fingernails are a great holder of bacteria. Another thing most people don’t think about is their jewelry. Rings with a lot of tiny places can hold and transfer bacteria too.

And last but not least, make sure you wash for the proper amount of time. A good trick to help you accomplish this is to sing happy birthday while you’re washing. Sing it all the way through and you’ll have spent a good two minutes washing. Perfect!

I hope these things I’ve learned help people to stay healthy in their cooking habits. They are easy and I promise after doing them for awhile you don’t even think about it anymore.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

It could have been SO much worse

When my daughter was in her infant and toddler years, her father and I lived basically in the middle of nowhere. We were surrounded by woods and a wonky, practically straight down hill that had a twisting road cut through the middle of it. There was a lot of wildlife. You could watch whole groups of animals cross that road if you were quiet and sat in just the right spot. There were bears, wolves, even a panther that stayed on top of that hill and screamed like a murder victim in the middle of the night. I thought they were beautiful creatures but I’m no fool, they were dangerous too.

So we kept guns. I loathe guns. I grew up with military parents and was made to learn how to shoot. Our father would take us out to our Uncle Alfred’s ranch and set up targets and we’d all take a turn. If we didn’t do well, we’d take three or four turns. Perfection was a big thing in my family growing up. But I learned and I can handle a gun if it’s required of me.

There were many weeks that I sat alone in that log cabin with a young baby as my only company. I had to protect her as much as I had to protect myself. So the guns were there. Luckily I never had to shoot anything although one time I did fire it into the air because a brown bear was on the hill directly next to the house. I could see it out the kitchen window! And I really didn’t want it to get comfortable there.

I don’t consider myself anti-gun even though I hate them. I believe there are times that a gun is the only answer. And I don’t consider myself pro-gun either. I’d rather not have one in my house and do not have one now that I live somewhere that all the animals are either in peoples houses or behind cages in the zoo.

I saw in the news where a four year old in Ohio shot his 18 year old babysitter because he stepped on his foot. The fact that he shot someone out of anger at four years old is a whole different story but for him to be able to get to a gun and actually shoot someone is shocking. Why wasn’t it locked up? We always kept the guns in a gun cabinet behind bulletproof glass (yes, I know) and two locks with the keys being kept in different very out of reach places. I just can’t imagine leaving open access to a weapon that causes death to any child of any age but especially with a four year old in the house.

They said in the story that no charges were being filed against the four year old. Well duh is all I can think of to say. At least in the video they suggested that the parents may be charged with something. Negligence maybe? I would think so. I know I’m not perfect, far from it actually. But I also know not to leave a gun sitting around LOADED just waiting for the accident that’s sure to follow. I’m glad the babysitter is ok and I hope these parents have learned a valuable lesson.
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