Monday, 21 June 2010

The Truth About Town Government

As if I wasn't convinced that local government is corrupt and all about the money or the power (or both)... Maybe Val Kilmer is an idiot for publicly airing some unkind comments, but apparently freedom of speech is no longer a right. And it gets your permit denied... Read on.

"Bygones are not always bygone amid the limestone cliffs and pinon groves of northern New Mexico.

When actor Val Kilmer recently applied for permits to turn his 6,000-acre ranch outside Santa Fe into an upscale bed-and-breakfast, several of his neighbors protested.

They weren't worried about traffic or noise or the prospect of intruding tourists. They were incensed about comments attributed to Mr. Kilmer in magazine articles dating to 2003 and 2005. And they didn't want him to get his way on the ranch unless he apologized.

"That's all he has to do, come and apologize," said Jose Garcia, who runs horses on a 50-acre ranch next to Mr. Kilmer's. "We're not intimidated by him."

Mr. Kilmer, who starred in "Tombstone," "The Doors," "Batman Forever" and, more recently, "MacGruber," was quoted -- misquoted, he says -- describing his rugged corner of New Mexico as "the homicide capital of the Southwest."

He went on to avow that "80% of the people in my county are drunk," requiring him to carry a gun for protection. That was in a 2003 interview with Rolling Stone.

In Esquire two years later, Mr. Kilmer was quoted -- again, misquoted, he says -- opining that he understands Vietnam better than its veterans, because most of them were "borderline criminal or poor … wretched kids" who landed in the military because they "got beat up by their dads" or "couldn't finagle a scholarship."

At a hearing last month on Mr. Kilmer's application, a half-dozen locals and veterans demanded the star apologize before being allowed to welcome paying guests onto his Pecos River Ranch. The county attorney, Jesus Lopez, backed them up. Mr. Kilmer's quotes were "incendiary" and, dated as they may be, created a "clear and present danger threatening public safety," he said.

Taken aback by the outrage, the San Miguel County Commission opted to postpone debate on the permits. The next day, Alex Tafoya, the planning and zoning director, wrote Mr. Kilmer's ranch manager to explain that "your application will remain tabled until Mr. Kilmer appears personally before the Board of County Commissioners" to answer questions about his alleged remarks.

Commissioners later clarified they weren't demanding the star appear in person. That is beyond their legal powers. But they suggested it would help his cause if he'd stop by.

"It's a situation that's pretty volatile," said David Salazar, the commission chair. "The opportunity is there for him to come and set the record straight."

The flap attracted the New Mexico ACLU, which offered to represent Mr. Kilmer, arguing that whether or not he had actually talked trash about his county, he had every right to do so without fear that his permits would be held hostage.

Since the ACLU's entrance in the case several weeks ago, most key players have clammed up. Mr. Kilmer's ranch manager wouldn't comment; the county attorney said he stood by his remarks but wouldn't elaborate; and the ACLU didn't return calls and emails.

The commission has called a June 23 hearing. Officials say they expect Mr. Kilmer to be there.

Mr. Kilmer, who flirted last year with a run for governor, has lived in New Mexico for decades. Last year, he put his ranch up for sale for $33 million, but it failed to sell.

Pecos River Ranch websites dated 2005 and 2008 offer descriptions of the lodging, daily rates and advice for tourists (bring sunscreen and bug repellent; "kindly refrain" from taking Mr. Kilmer's photo should you spot the star). That suggests Mr. Kilmer has opened his lodge to paying guests in the past. But county officials say the ranch has never had the permits for it.

Mr. Salazar, the commission chair, acknowledges that, apology or not, the county is bound by law to consider the permit application on its merits. Still, he said, "you never know what might happen."

And some protesters vow to keep up the pressure, even if Mr. Kilmer does show up this week, ten-gallon hat in hand.

"An apology isn't good enough. He's insulted and hurt too many people," said Abran Tapia, a veteran and local resident. "People here want him out of New Mexico.""

Thursday, 17 June 2010

So Many Thoughts, So Little Time...

I was driving home from work, passed through a work zone that has been a work zone for a couple of years, where I never see any workmen... and I thought, "this must be a union job."

Too much time is spent on the road. It's not me, really. I don't have a crazy commute. I go from one county to another. I drive though... let's see... Parsippany, Whippany, Florham Park, Summit and Springfield. It's an 18-mile trip on highways. The only local driving is about a mile and a half through Springfield, and the five minutes getting out of Parsippany and the 15 minutes getting in. Amazing what the time of day can do.

I also don't take 287 North home, as I am adverse to sitting in traffic. I take exit 2 off Route 24, hop on Whippany Road, to Parsippany Road to Reynolds Avenue to South Beverwyck, which once across Route 46 becomes North Beverwyck and then after the light turn onto the little road and I'm home. Awesome.

But how many people go into New York? Drive to a park-and-ride, sit on a bus for an hour, take the train into the city, then be tortured on the subway system. I used to think all subway systems were gross - urine and feces and rat infested. Once I traveled to London, Washington, D.C., Boston and other cities with an underground, it seems only the New York subway is disgusting. Oh, the irony.

Yesterday I drove to Beacon Hill for a seminar. It was a good trip, about an hour and five minutes south. I was just a mile or so from the ocean. A pity I did not make time to go dip my toes in it, but I'd no idea where Beacon Hill is and I left too late to do it.

It was a fun but uncomfortable evening. While we were sitting in the early part of the seminar, my nose begins to run and my eyes start to water. I'm sitting there suddenly SOOOOO self-conscious that I look like someone turned a faucet on my face. Ummm... where can I go? What do I do? I sat there. And at some point the eyes finally cleared up. (The nose ran the whole time... yikes.) At some point, I realised that no one is noticing, no one is staring, no one knows. I'm just another person sitting there in a room with 25 of us. What a revelation.

The presentation ended at 1830, and I was shaking. I'm used to eating every four hours and I was two and a half hours past that. I was also freezing my butt off (my doctor said that losing a lot of weight has that effect - a lot of the insulation is gone). And of course, the uncomfortable thing... a neurological disease that is noticeable now. I wanna be normal. But my muscles will start to spasm everywhere after too much time and not being able to take my medicine.

I can't take it on an empty stomach.

I'll be more prepared the next time. I'll know what to bring and when to eat and how to more effectively schedule my eating to take the medicine in time to avoid looking weird - or just thinking I look weird. It's so hard to tell. How much of our appearance is what we think and what we perceive others thinking.

Once I ate, I felt a lot better. And I spoke to wonderful people and had a lot of fun. But it was hard, too. I don't want to worry and wonder what others see me as - or to be seen as disabled. I tell myself that it's okay and so many people have conditions, disabilities, whatever, but I don't know it's okay for me to be that way. Or at least I'm not used to it. I suppose this is all part of the learning process.

I did leave when I realised I've got almost two hours of driving ahead of me and I'm tired. I was in my office at 06:45 and it's now so late that I'm normally in bed. Or heading to it. Ye gods!

On my way to the car, I was talking to one of the other attendees, and my nose began to run all over again and my eyes began to water again. I was miles away when I realised it's my allergies. Allergies! I had not thought of it. It's been a long time since I had an allergy attack. In the spring and autumn I take Allegra-D, so nothing happens. In the summer and winter, I have regular allergies to dust and mold but unless I encounter horses or stick my face in a long-haired rabbits (don't ask), I rarely have a severe allergy attack.

I could not tell you what set the allergies off, but something did. If I had a cold, I would not have felt perfectly fine other than a runny nose and itchy, tearing eyes. And the gentleman I was talking to was mystified. So was I until I realised what was going on. He was really nice, though - told me not to drive until I could see.

It was 20:45 when I was sitting in my car wondering why I'm so tired. Yes, I know. It's June. The days are loooooong. I know what time the sun sets. But I was completely shocked at the time. On the other hand, do you know how nice it is to talk to others who do what you do? Who understand the weirdness, the frustrations and successes, the hours, the wondering... and in this industry, unlike pharmaceuticals and high-end technology, we all talk to each other, share information - it's really great! None of this you-can't-talk-to-anyone-else-because-this-is-all-top-secret-espionage mentality. I so don't miss that.

So it is getting dark as I'm driving in a strange area that I don't know. This is not my comfort zone. I can drive in the dark and I do all the time in the ambulance but this is my town and I know more of the roads here than anywhere else. Down by the ocean I know nothing. I managed to get on Route 35 - which really isn't a "route", it's just a local road with a number assigned to it - and then onto the Garden State Parkway. This is really not my comfort zone.

And did you think that would be my only problem? Oh, nooooo. I'm on the Parkway, and the navigator, clearly programmed in California (it tells me to get on the freeway... no one in New Jersey calls large, many-laned roads "freeways" - and the Garden State Parkway isn't free! It's a toll road!), has some funny ideas about getting to Parsippany. I'm driving when I start to get that twinge... that little reminder from my bladder that going through two bottles and several glasses of water and eating a little too much sugar - is not going to last without emptying things. And my bladder was not the only thing jumping into that act.

I was looking at the navigator, thinking about the amount of miles - 45 - and minutes - 54 to get home. I know I can't make it. I'm hoping I can, but I know I can't.

Fifteen or twenty minutes later, I see a sign that reads Westfield. Hmmmm. Here to exiting Garden State Parkway going to Parsippany... 13 miles. Here to exiting Garden State Parkway going to Springfield... 5 miles. I changed the route.

By the time I turned onto the last road, I was BOUNCING in the seat. You can't imagine how much I loved the sight of that building. It's amazing what physical need can do. Who knew that simplest physical act could feel so good! What relief.

I was hurting all over - neck, back, empty stomach - but none of that mattered after dumping the excess water and baggage and feeling twenty pounds lighter. I felt wonderful! Sometimes one needs that slap in the face of realising the little things (ha, ha) in life are really the BIG things.

I got home at 22:15. I've never been so tired.

And as I drove home, I was singing to the music and as usual, thinking. Always thinking. I never stop thinking. It's a little annoying really - I can't see straight sometimes with all the stuff racing through my brain. I can't sleep without help because of that and the muscle stuff (a double whammy). Always racing!

What did I think about? I wish I knew. The fun part is the brain like a sieve. It drives Luis crazy. It drives me more crazy. He's frustrated? I have to live with this brain all the time! All the time. This is my life all the time. Luis needs to realise how much more this sucks for me than for him. He's mostly normal, other than being fat as a cello (instead of fit as a fiddle). I have all sorts of shit going on. Ignore the muscular dystrophy; I have tinnitus about 90% of the time. I have a tight neck all the time. I have no memory. Long term, yes; short term, none. I can't sleep at all without medicine. I can't have any quality of life without medication.

At least with SOMEthing I can have quality of life. I like to look on the positive side. It's usually easy to be positive, but lately it's been more and more of an effort. I have to wonder how much I'm damaging my liver or shortening my life. However, I never used any pharmaceuticals until I had my accident in 2001 and then nothing again until around 2005. And I have never, ever been a drinker and still aren't. I know too many alcoholics who live to ripe old ages. My liver owes me at this point. So I worry less.

Ten minutes and counting until I can take medication to sleep. Welcome to my world.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

A Fun Morning of Drill!

I love men!

OK, people who do good deeds are driven to do them, and usually for personal reasons - and in some way, all self-serving. Donating to a group to assuage guilt for the death of a loved one, adrenalin junkies, being surrounded by men/women, whatever. People are human, and we are driven for reasons, not just pure, unadulterated generosity. Mostly I'm driven by adrenalin, but I'm not one to pass up the company of men!

And EMS is full of men.

We love EMS. We love what we do. We love telling war stories. We confide in each other. When I joined the squad I went from being an only child to having a unique set of brothers and sisters and friends. There are always some points of friction... there are some people we may not like, but we all get passed most of it to do the job. And we all help each other through the weird stuff.

And then there are the men.

Today we went with Parsippany's Rescue & Recovery to do a diving drill. There were six divers and four of them were hot! Hot, hot, hot, hot, hot! And what's better than a hot man? A hot man in a WET SUIT!

YOWZA!

I know, I'm a dog.

Say Hello to the Spanish!

We received Planet 51 in the mail from NetFlix. It was cute.

I didn't know much about it until the credits rolled... and at least 85% of the names are Hispanic! Look at that! Turns out it was filmed in Spain. I was thrilled. I would have been more thrilled if it was filmed in Latin or South America, but Spain is a start. If you're wondering why I'm thinking that, see the post from 28 May, "The Anti-People Society".

That was the point of that post. And while the anti-people sentiment is by no means aimed completely at Latin and South Americans, in this part of the country, at least, that is the majority of it. I hate that sentiment. I never want to hear complaints about the Hispanic community when Americans don't want so many jobs because they are "beneath them".

Well, here is the proof. The film is good, good vibes, great animation, excellent music and almost all Spanish staff. So there. Take that! The film's only problem was that it was released just around the time of Avatar, the only good point of which was the technology. Funny how the technology was enough to make a bad movie this huge multi-billion dollar juggernaut... a movie that would have gotten one star in any other format.

Still, how cool is that! Bueno!

A Weekend of E-bay

That makes it sound like I sat in a dark room, glued to the computer, eyes wide open and affixed to e-bay. In fact, other than Friday's countdown to sharking that incredible crystal point, I hardly looked at e-bay.

Most of what I bought fell into the $10 - $15 range. I needed anklets now that I'm wearing skirts so I found a lot of nice, inexpensive anklets that went from $0.99 to $14.99. One was $44.10 but the whole thing is sterling silver and I have a bracelet that matches; I like sets when it comes to jewelry. (I should search for footprint earrings and necklace, too, come to think of it.) I bought seven candles (including the grapefruit rosemary pillar for the uncontested amount of $17.50) and one, the Beanpod Green Tea candle, arrived yesterday and is filling the sun room with its delicious aroma.

I won that lovely quartz point, which will come to a great home, along with another rainbow obsidian sphere stand. I can never have too many stands. In fact I need to get more, as once again the collection is beyond the scope of the myriad stands that I have.

There are three more anklets I'm bidding on, all $0.99 and they'll come to fruition tomorrow night at 23:23, long after I've gone to bed. I'm not feeling super competitive, and if I don't win I won't miss it - the seller apparently makes them or knows someone who makes them, so there will be more. And once the Renaissance Faires begin, that will be my main market for almost all of these items (except candles) so I can go look at the wares directly.

Still, that was a lot of shopping. And it will mean a lot of boxes showing up in front of my door this week. I love coming home to boxes!

Friday, 11 June 2010

I Have to Have This!

You cannot believe this staggeringly beautiful crystal!

I haven't been on e-bay in some time. There's a reason for this: it is dangerous. I love what can be found on e-bay - it's all there. Movies, bank notes, candles (I'm bidding on what has to be the last Grapefruit Rosemary pillar candle from Illuminations in the world), pens, CDs jewelry (yes!) and of course, crystal balls. This one is not a ball, but it is still amazing.

One of my favourites, Crystal Art World, has an amazing quartz crystal point up for bid. I made the mistake of bidding a couple of days ago when it was a mere $14. It is now a mere $66.99 with 30 minutes to go. There have been 19 bids and it will be a miracle if I can shark this sucker out from under the other bidders. There are 8 bidders at this point, and gods know how many are watching. Most of the time I remain a watcher especially when it is a hot ticket item. Malachite is usually a problem - everyone wants it. There happens to be a lovely malachite ball (55mm - good size) that is now up to $61 and the bidding ends in 2 days. It will likely be over $150 when bidding ends.

I got a malachite ball from the same seller and it is great. The first one I bid on and lost - by something horrendous like $1. I was crushed. But she put one up for sale, so I just bought it outright. This crystal point that is up for bid and ending now in 23 minutes doesn't look something that will be found again. I know my crystals.

This one is 129mm or over five inches long. It is very clear on the top, down at least midway. The clarity is incredible. And I snagged one of the images of it (at least it will be immortalised on my blog if I don't get it).

The last twenty minutes are killing me...

I won't go on Facebook until the bidding ends. With my luck, someone would want to instant message me while I'm busily attempting to shark this baby out from under the other 7 bidders and who knows how many other sharks. We all have figured out at some point that sharking has to be done for the really hot items. I learned that very early on.

E-bay must be a California-based business - all the times are listed in PDT (well, right now they are PDT; in November it will go back to PST.

I WON!! $76! I put in $99.99 with 3 minutes and 52 seconds and no one else bid! One of my theories was always that most people have more social lives than mine and go out on Friday and Saturday nights. So items that end on Friday and Saturday nights are more likely to have less competition. Now, you can bid with your cell phone, but I know that this is not as easy as using my laptop or desktop. And I was really surprised that there were no other bidders. At 4 minutes to go there was enough time for others to get in on the action and drive the price up.

Siobhan got in on the act of distraction by getting up onto the fireplace mantle to knock things off, to get fed, then after to sharpen her claws on the telly. Stupid cat! I finally put a throw on the end to keep her off. She'll knock off the spheres that decorate the mantle.

I WON!

Wednesday, 9 June 2010


Eat This, Not That
Recent Posts

There is a potion that magically strips away pounds from your body, improves your overall health, lengthens your life, makes you more attractive to the opposite sex, and keeps you lean forever. Even better, you can have as much of this magic weight-loss potion as you want, for free, and start stripping away pounds—perhaps even several dozen pounds this year alone—without exercise, without dieting, without visiting the set of Nip/Tuck.


What is this magical elixir? It’s water.

Really? Really. You don't even need to mix in that fancy fat-burning stuff from the vitamin store. In fact, the less you supplement your food and beverage intake, the more weight you’ll lose (and the more money you’ll save). Keep reading this five-point plan from the new book Drink This, Not That! and begin your no diet weight-loss goals today. You'll sip your way to a flat belly in record time--and keep it well beyond summer.


Step 1: Swear Off the Soda and Iced Tea

(Annual Weight Loss: 18 Pounds!)

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey measured where most of our calories come from. Researchers broke up America’s food intake into 143 different categories and discovered, to their horror, that the category making up the largest percentage of our calorie intake—7.1 percent, to be exact—was not a food at all. It was soda. (Vegetables, on the other hand, accounted for only 6.5 percent of our intake. Chicken and fish together only added up to 5.7 percent.) To put that into perspective, if you ate an average of 2,500 calories a day, and you cut 7 percent of your calories, you’d automatically drop down to 2,325, a difference that would save you 1.5 pounds per month. You could be 9 pounds lighter in 6 months by going cold-turkey today! Another thing to remember: You're far better off eating your vitamins than drinking them. Here are 40 foods with scientifically proven superpowers.


Step 2: Drink 8 Cups of Water Every Day
(Annual Weight Loss: 26 Pounds!)

Yes, the magic elixir really does have amazing powers. In one study, a group of 173 overweight women were put through diet and nutrition training using mainstream diet programs. Researchers then followed them for 10 months, with dietary and body composition being recorded up to 12 months after the classes. All women in the program lost weight, but those drinking more water lost more weight. Drinking more than 1 liter of water per day (nearly 4½ cups) was associated with an extra 5.07 pounds lost in 12 months.

And researchers from the University of Utah found that people who drink the most water have higher metabolisms. In a study, subjects drank 4, 8, or 12 cups of water each day. Those who drank at least 8 cups reported better concentration and higher energy levels, and tests showed that they were burning more calories than the 4-cups-a-day group.

Of course, if you're looking to lose weight, diet is only half the equation. For the other half, check out our list of the 100 best fitness tips ever written. Your best beach body awaits!

Step 3: Enjoy One, Two, or Even Three Yogurt-Based Smoothies a Day
(Annual Weight Loss: 10 Pounds!)

I love the sound of a cranking blender. But a combination of ice, dairy, and fruit does more than just make a teeth-rattling cacophony in your kitchen. It also helps strip pounds from your body.

There are three simple reasons why: Smoothies take little time to make (so you can quash your hunger pangs quickly), they’re packed with nutrition (especially if you start with Greek yogurt and add berries, whey protein, and some flax), and their thickness takes up a lot of space in your stomach, crowding out the Doritos. In fact, researchers at Purdue University found that people stayed fuller longer when they drank thick drinks than when they drank thin ones, and a study at Penn State found that people who drank yogurt shakes that had been blended until they doubled in volume ate 96 fewer calories a day than those consuming thinner drinks.

And speaking of deceptively unhealthy foods, check our must-know roundup of 30 “Health” Foods That Aren’t. You'll be shocked to learn how smoothies, salads and veggie wraps--among other seemingly healthful fare--might be sabotaging your weight-loss goals thanks to deceptive marketing practices.

Step 4: Avoid Juice Drinks

(Annual Weight Loss: 19 Pounds!)

Imagine a world in which we called products what they really were: Hungry Man Dinners would be called Lonely Man Dinners. ESPN would be called the Fat Nerds Yap about Jocks Channel. And SunnyD would be called Obesi-D because there’s nothing sunny about a drink marketed to kids that looks and tastes like juice, but is 95 percent water and corn syrup.

While even 100 percent juice has its problems, juice drinks and their ilk are the worse offenders. One 16-ounce bottle of SunnyD Smooth packs a whopping 180 straight-up empty calories and 40 grams of sugar. If you drink one a day, cut it out. You’ll lose 19 pounds in a year!

And SunnyD is just the beginning. See the worst beverages in the supermarket for a complete list of jaw-dropping drinks--and their healthier alternatives.


Step 5: Drink Coffee, Not Coffee Drinks

(Annual Weight Loss: 18 Pounds!)

Researchers studied coffee habits in New York and found that two-thirds of Starbucks’ customers opted for blended coffee drinks over regular brewed coffee or tea. The average caloric impact of the blended drinks was 239 calories. The regular coffee or tea, by comparison, was only 63 calories after factoring in added cream and sugar. So even if you like your coffee sweet and light, you can strip away 176 calories every day, just by making this one swap.
Now, budding mathematicians among you may notice that all this adds up to a whopping 91 pounds lost in a single year. This is not good news if you weigh 125. (However, travel just got a lot cheaper because now you can mail yourself all over the world.) Fact is, unless you're currently engaging in all of the bad habits above, you probably don't have 91 pounds to lose.

But this five-point plan illustrates how extraordinarily easy it is to shed extra weight—a lot of weight—just by watching what we drink. And that, my friends, is something worth raising a glass to.

And while I'm on the subject, here are 10 more simple weight loss secrets. Read them now and start melting pounds by tonight.

Cook This, Not That! Get the new book!
For Kids! Supermarket Guide

Sunday, 6 June 2010

A Tornado Watch?!

This is not Oklahoma!

If you believe that the only states to get the joy of twisters are in Tornado Alley, you are so mistaken. Tornadoes occur in every state, but some states average more than others per year. New Jersey averages three per year; Texas averages 124. I realise Texas is considerably bigger, however, I prefer the odds here. New Jersey is small but you can't fit 124 New Jerseys into Texas. I'll take my chances here.

And what are the odds that I will encounter another tornado in my lifetime? I already had one roar down the road less than 200 yards from our first house. That was in May 1999, in Parsippany. I still live in Parsippany, across town from our first house, but really, what are the odds? Slim. I hope...

That was scary as hell.

And it wasn't the typical tornado. Most tornadoes occur between 1500 and 1900, with 1700 as the peak point. Most of them boil across flat land (hence the popularity of Tornado Alley). But tornadoes can kill at time, any moment. They can be little concentrated wispy things or wide, destructive half-mile across forces of nature.

This one roared through Lake Parsippany like a freight train at 0330. It ripped up and redeposited trees, destroyed a couple of homes and rearranged some cars.

Two hours later, we've gone through the very small storms and came out unscathed. It's sunny and bright, although there are still bits of ominously dark clouds. Maybe a real storm will still roll through later.

I Have One Teeny Bubble of Poison Ivy

Yuck!

Where did I find this? I didn't think that a. there was any in my backyard and 2. I wasn't anywhere that I'd be in contact with it. (Yes, you don't want me to index your files.) I moved my hammock on the already manicured lawn. I wasn't in the back lines where the weeds grow. I never see it at work and since it isn't creeping around the office (wouldn't that be weird!) or inside the house, where did I find it yesterday?

I thought at first it was another evil bug bite but today it has a little bubble on top. The hallmark sign of poison ivy. Ugly! It won't spread unless I scratch it and burst the bubble. Then the liquid inside will spread it. I'm not worried about it - I know when to cover it and it's on my left hand, so I can't spread it so easily. And I have stuff to put on it from the last time I had it (maybe I should check the expiration date on it). So I'm all set.

But still... eeeiiiiuuwwww.

Again, I say, yuck.

Flip-Flops - The Worst Kind of Cheap Footwear

I hate flip-flops. I didn't wear them when I was a kid and I don't wear them now. I do wear sandals and open-toe footwear, but never, ever, will you find the evil and heinous flip-flops on my feet.

We'll shelve the "cheap, crappy footwear will never be on my feet" argument, since it's long since been established that I am a snob. I'm not a Wal-Mart shopper, I don't price shop at the grocery store. I get what I want and hang the cost. It's a foregone conclusion that I would not consider putting cheap plastic on my feet!

There may be sandals out there that look like flip-flops that are acceptable footwear - but they won't cost $2.99 at the local whatever crap-shop.

How about there is no support? How about kids running in them who trip, fall and break their arms (yes, waaaaaay more than one emergency call for that)? How about these are not real footwear? Just another bad fad with a low price tag.

And here is the supporting argument:

"At last, the breezy days of summer are upon us. Instead of repeatedly checking the daily weather forecast to deliberate if we need a scarf or sweater for layering, we can enjoyably slip on some comfy shorts or an effortless sundress. For many of us, flip-flops become the go-to footwear to accompany such an ensemble, but as we’ve often been warned, these flimsy slip-ons do not always provide ideal foot support.

USA Today reports that Justin Shroyer, an assistant professor of kinesiology at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, studied over 100 flip-flop wearers to uncover patterns in their feet and leg movements. While presenting his findings at the American College of Sports Medicine's annual meeting in Baltimore this week, Shroyer explained some of the key problems with these shoes. Namely, he discovered that by trying to grip and hold flip-flops in place, people work the muscles in their shins much harder than when they’re barefoot. He said that shortened strides while wearing flip-flops can also strain the lower legs.

"The more the shoe conforms to your foot, the better off your foot and leg will be," Shroyer told USA Today. "If it's loose, your foot has to work harder to keep your flip-flop on." He said that more structured flip-flops with deepened heel cups and defined arches can remove some of the stress from your feet and legs, but that a sneaker is still preferred when doing extensive walking or activity.

Orthaheel  Wave Sandal, $54.99, orthaheelusa.com

Orthaheel Wave Sandal, $54.99, orthaheelusa.com

Dr. Rock Positano, director of the Non-surgical Foot and Ankle Service at the Hospital for Special Surgery, confirms Shroyer's findings. "With no real solid support underneath the foot, it loses its shock-absorbing capabilities. The lower leg, shin, knee, hip, and back are overworking." Dr. Jacqueline Sutera, doctor of podiatric medicine and surgery for the American Podiatric Medical Association, agrees with Shroyer as well. "Wearing flip-flops will shorten your stride, so your leg and foot muscles have to work harder," she says. "This causes the need for compensation--sometimes from your knees, hips, and back. This could be bad news for people with previous injury in these sensitive areas." In addition, Dr. Positano says certain pathological foot types (like high and flat arches) predispose people to foot and ankle issues, and that soft flip-flops with no support accentuate these mechanical deficiencies. Some short-term issues related to flip-flop use would be heel and arch pain, tendinitis, shin splints, sprains, splinters, cuts, and toe injuries. Long-term problems might be stress fractures, bunions, hammertoes, and neuromas.

Sole Platinum Sandal Sport Flips, $69.95, yoursole.com

Sole Platinum Sandal Sport Flips, $69.95, yoursole.com

As Shroyer suggested, "not all flip-flops are created equal," says Dr. Sutera. "The wider the straps, the better. Also, try to get a sandal with a back strap. Back straps take some of the stress off your toes and decrease the demand for them to work so hard." She agrees that a more contoured flip-flop is preferable. "If you have arch support and can cup the heel, then the foot may not pronate as much." (Pronation is when the arch flattens out when we place weight on the foot.) "There is a certain amount of pronation that is normal, but over-pronation causes many, many foot problems. I call it "the root of all evil."

When it comes to brands, some are better than others. Those ultra-affordable Old Navy flip-flops may be appealing and available in every color, but your feet will pay the price if you’re doing much more activity than sitting around at a barbeque. Dr. Sutera lists Crocs, Clarks, Born, Teva, and Birkenstock as acceptable brands for light to moderate use. For a higher end option, Dr. Positano is impressed with the offerings from Tory Burch, Chanel, Prada, and Bally. Here's a complete list of flip-flops given the APMA Seal of Acceptance.

Even with a comfortable flip-flop, you should limit your use to no more than a few hours of wear. "If you’re hanging around the pool or going to the beach it’s fine. They’re not going to kill you," says Dr. Positano. "Where people get into trouble is when they use them all day, walking around, and standing for a long period of time." The worst scenario, perhaps, is what Dr. Positano refers to as the "Disney World fracture." "You have a person who’s already walking more than they’re accustomed to. Pair that with foot gear with no support, and you have the quickest way to arrive at the vacation from hell. Trips are ruined because people develop stress fractures, knee problems, and hip and back problems."

When in doubt, Dr. Positano offers up some simple but important advice: "The bottom line is wearing flip-flops is no different than wearing three-inch high heels. Be sensible. Know how to wear something and when to wear it.""

How embarrassing... I fixed a typo in this article. But the arguments presented within are valid. Flip-flops are bad news.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

A Kid Leading a Life of Crime

Some kid in the Pacific Northwest is on a crime spree and - for reasons passing understanding - are idolising this loser. He's a hit on Facebook and has a cult following complete with tee shirts. This is not the best looking kid in the world and I'm offended that anyone wants to make him an idol.

Colton Harris-Moore is loose and stealing airplanes and crash-landing them (a pity none of them have killed him), hot-wiring boats, breaking into homes and stealing. The police have been unable to apprehend this stupid kid. I feel for the police. They have a million things to worry about and now they have this kid creating more headaches than they need.

I get the feeling from what there was printed on this that the mother, Pam Kohler, is rooting for her son. Yikes... what a responsible parent. (I'm not sure what is up with the kid's name, but that is the least of anyone's problems...) She seems to be less than interested in seeing him apprehended. But crash-landing planes sounds like someone who wants to be dead, and is too passive to do it. An odd thing, when considering how not passive stealing large items and breaking into homes would be.

Maybe he is looking for death by cop. That happens more often than I care to admit. I'm not sure why people want to die that way, it seems so callous. However, this is one kid that needs to be found and locked up fast, before he escalates and starts killing people. I'm rooting for the constabulary: go get this loser!

Fat Women and Bathing Suits

Once again, the horror of Snooki has shown up in People Magazine. I don't get it.

She's wearing the tackiest bathing suit and it shows much more of her than I'd ever want to see. It's technically a one-piece bathing suit but that is only due to a very small patch of leopard print (ye gods) fabric covering not enough of her belly.

It would be one thing if she just stuck out a little from this but entirely too much of her sticks out from all angles. You might ask who am I to criticise, not having the perfect body myself, but I will tell you that I wouldn't consider putting on that nightmare suit with this body. Even with the weight I lost it is not worthy of showing that much - and those parts - off. Unless I'm posing for "Fat is Beautiful".

I partially admire people who are that comfortable with being overweight. Only partially, however. One should feel beautiful no matter what, assuming the "what" won't shorten your life or kill you. Being clinically obese doesn't fall into that category. Smoking doesn't make one beautiful, either. Having a mole, or a discolouration or something like that isn't going to hurt anyone (unless the mole is changing). Being obese will absolutely shorten your life.

On the other hand, this character Snooki is destined for mediocrity and a valueless life, so maybe in her case she should be proud of the body. It's the only thing that is making her famous.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

It's Almost Time....

...for bed.

Is this my age showing? I hate getting up late, I really hate being up late. It's 2349. Eleven minutes and counting.

I normally go to bed around 2130. I don't want to see midnight. I don't want to know about ante-meridian unless it is waking time - around 0500. I certainly don't want to see a.m. unless there has been eight hours of sleep in between prime meridian and ante-meridian. Thank you, good night.

But every Thursday night I see midnight and later show up, and I so don't want to see it (unless there is a Moon to look upon - then I might forgive it). I don't have a problem seeing the Moon setting - that is in the morning when I have had some sleep.

It;s our good fortune that the call we had happened at 1820. I like that hour. I love daylight. Gimme all the calls in daylight. (That's not going to happen, but wouldn't it be nice.) So in the daylight we tromped up to St. Barnabus. If you are going to have a problem, get sick, whatever, you may want to avoid this.

The service was not with a smile - far from it. The room assigned was a horror - far from it. And then... we went into the EMS room... and there was a huge machine! No more linens on shelves. It was a vending machine for linens! This crazy place spent $2 million to save $100,000 in linens. And did we get what we needed? Two sheets, no blanket. Way to go.

What the hell is a vending machine for linens doing in the EMS room? Do you think we are going to steal those crappy linens? Really?

That's it. It's midnight. Time to turn into a pumpkin.

Pepper Spray Comes in Pink

We came back to the squad house from a call and on the table was the latest Galls catalog. I started leafing through it while we were chatting. And there on page 53 in the lower corner is Sabre Red Civilian Defense key chains... in black and pink. Seriously? Pink pepper spray? What for?

I'm sorry - my pepper spray has to match my outfit. I guess I'll have to go for the black one, since I don't own anything in pink.

It gets worse.

As I leaf through more pages, I find the plastic disposable handcuffs. Those come in black, blue, orange, pink, red, yellow and grey. When I think about arresting people, I want to be able to offer them options. "What colour would you like to have your handcuffs?" Never say I'm not all about what people want.

One can also purchase items that quite frankly I doubt anyone needs to have - such as leg irons. Why does the public need to have the ability to purchase this? Who needs to buy ballistic protection? Does the police department not supply their staff with this? Does the local constabulary not get their supplies from the department? And pink pepper spray... why?

I'm never thinking about what colour my personal protection comes in. There is something wrong with society that needs to purchase their damaging sprays or plastic handcuffs in colours!

Say Hello to Hell's Kitchen

Again.

Luis started watching this show a couple of seasons ago. I vowed never to watch it, but eventually got sucked in. I don't usually care for Chef Ramsey, but this show wears you down. This season's contestants are an interesting mix.

One woman wore high heels in the kitchen and fell on her face. I'm not a chef and I know not to wear anything but comfortable flat shoes that will not slide in any kitchen. One woman has dreadlocks and said that people have the impression that she's the gross unwashed girl. (Note: dreadlocks come from unwashed hair. So that is the right impression.) One guy likes to slaughter animals. He wants to get to walk-in freezers. One guy has a tattoo of Hell's Kitchen on his midsection.

Yikes.

I'm always shocked and horrified when people show up with piercings, blue hair, dreadlocks, high heels... stuff that is not something you want to see. On anyone. (I personally find the eyebrow piercings, lip piercings really disturbing.) I'm used to clean cut people. I prefer clean cut people. Tattoos don't bother me at all. That's decoration in the true sense, not weird visible mutilation. (I know, I have pierced ears, so who am I to criticise? But I don't have holes in my face.)

One guy has his hair waxed. (That's also the one with the Hell's Kitchen tattooed on his midsection... that had to hurt.)

They are all kicked out - the women, the men, they are just getting the boot all over. These were full teams and now there are just nine total left. Now the nine are really sailing through and getting the dinner out.

It was Stacey who got the boot first. Luis and I thought that Fran should have gotten her ticket punched - she didn't know the difference between crab and lobster. She kept saying she had 30 years experience and put the wrong food into the risotto. But she got to stay and Stacey was told to go.

A disappointing start.

7-Day Forecast for Latitude 40.68°N and Longitude 74.31°W

7-Day Forecast for Latitude 40.68°N and Longitude 74.31°W

OK. This is what I get for telling NOAA.org to just pop something in there. It should look like this: (and not just a link)

NWS New York, NY
Point Forecast: Springfield NJ
40.68°N 74.31°W Mobile Weather Information | En Español
Last Update: 3:54 am EDT Jun 3, 2010
Forecast Valid: 7am EDT Jun 3, 2010-6pm EDT Jun 9, 2010

Forecast at a Glance

Today
Heavy Rain Chance for Measurable Precipitation 50%
Hi 87 °F

Tonight
Heavy Rain Chance for Measurable Precipitation 60%
Lo 69 °F

Friday
Chance Thunderstorms Chance for Measurable Precipitation 30%
Hi 89 °F

Friday Night
Slight Chance Thunderstorms Chance for Measurable Precipitation 20%
Lo 71 °F

Saturday
Chance Thunderstorms Chance for Measurable Precipitation 50%
Hi 86 °F

Saturday Night
Chance Thunderstorms Chance for Measurable Precipitation 50%
Lo 62 °F

Sunday
Chance Showers Chance for Measurable Precipitation 40%
Chance
Showers
Hi 76 °F

Sunday Night
Chance Showers Chance for Measurable Precipitation 30%
Lo 58 °F

Detailed text forecast
Hazardous weather condition(s):

Hazardous Weather Outlook

Today: A chance of showers and thunderstorms after noon. Some of the storms could produce small hail, gusty winds, and heavy rain. Areas of fog before 8am. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, with a high near 87. West southwest wind between 5 and 11 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

Tonight: Showers and thunderstorms likely, mainly before 10pm. Some of the storms could produce small hail, gusty winds, and heavy rain. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 69. West wind between 5 and 8 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.

Friday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly after noon. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 89. West northwest wind between 5 and 7 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

Friday Night: A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 71. South southeast wind around 6 mph becoming calm. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Saturday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 86. Southwest wind between 5 and 11 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

Saturday Night: A chance of showers and thunderstorms before midnight, then a slight chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 62. Chance of precipitation is 50%. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

Sunday: A chance of showers after noon. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 76. Chance of precipitation is 40%.

Sunday Night: A chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 58. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

Monday: Partly sunny, with a high near 77.

Monday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 57.

Tuesday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 78.

Tuesday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 57.

Wednesday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 78.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

OOPS - Peruvian Child Becomes Symbol of U.S. Undocumented

By CARLA SALAZAR, Associated Press Writer Carla Salazar, Associated Press Writer – Mon May 31, 3:09 pm ET

LIMA, Peru – Seven-year-old Daisy Cuevas, thrilled to see herself on television with U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, didn't quite understand the predicament in which she had innocently placed her undocumented Peruvian parents.

"She laughed, she jumped up and down. She was excited," after the encounter at Daisy's suburban Washington, D.C., elementary school, the girl's maternal grandfather, Genaro Juica, told The Associated Press.

The TV appearance made the pigtailed second grader a voice of the estimated 12 million immigrants living in the United States illegally — and a source of pride for Peru's president, who visits Washington on Tuesday. "My mom says that Barack Obama is taking away everybody that doesn't have papers," Daisy told the U.S. first lady on May 19 at the New Hampshire Estates Elementary School in Silver Spring, Maryland.

"Well, that's something that we have to work on, right, to make sure that people can be here with the right kind of papers," Michelle Obama replied.

"But my mom doesn't have papers," said Daisy, a U.S. citizen by virtue of her birth.

The color immediately drained from her mother's face. She ran crying to call her parents in Lima, then went into hiding, fearful of being deported. These are tense times for people like Daisy's mother, a maid who arrived in the United States with her carpenter husband when she was two months pregnant with Daisy.

Daisy's parents are fearful of U.S. anti-immigrant sentiment, which for many Latin Americans is epitomized by an Arizona law taking effect in July that gives police the right to demand ID papers of anyone suspected of being in the country illegally.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has said it is not pursuing Daisy's parents. Immigration investigations, it said in a statement, "are based on making sure the law is followed and not on a question-and-answer discussion in a classroom."

Nonetheless, Daisy's mother asked the AP after the May 19 incident not to name her or her husband. And Juica, heeding an attorney's advice, asked the news agency not to take photographs of him or other relatives in Peru. Daisy, meanwhile, has become a celebrity in Peru.

"I'm really proud that a young girl of Peruvian origin is highlighting the enormous problem with Latin American immigration in the United States," President Alan Garcia told reporters last week. He said it would be scandalous if her parents were deported.

"Do you know how much President Obama and Mrs. Michelle Obama would stand to lose?" he said. Garcia called the Arizona law a "completely irrational response" to the illegal-immigration question, and said he would express his thoughts on the matter to President Obama during his visit to Washington.

An estimated 1.5 million Peruvians currently live in the U.S. Of those, three in five are either undocumented or in the process of legalizing their status, said Peru's consul-general in Washington, Cesar Augusto Jordan.

Peruvian Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Belaunde said in a Radioprogramas radio interview that he considers Daisy a "successful ambassador" for compatriots in similar predicaments. While Daisy has automatic U.S. citizenship and lives full time with her parents, her 9-year-old sister, July, has not been so lucky. July was left behind with her grandparents when her parents moved to the United States to escape poverty.

The two sisters met for the first time last year when Daisy spent a month visiting her grandparents in the working-class San Juan de Lurigancho district of Lima. But July misses her parents, who are unlikely to visit Peru because of their illegal status in the U.S. July has only seen them in photographs and in video chats with a webcam.

"She cries," Juica said.