Monday Nukuler Oven Open Comments

1. Buy microwave. A cheap one. It might not last long.

2. Gather several fruits, vegetables, other foodstuffs, and small household objects.

3. set up high-speed video camera to record the impending doom and carnage.

4. Irradiate one of the items until something interesting happens.

5. If oven is destroyed or otherwise ceases working, get another one.

6. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Weekend Rewards Open Comments

I finally reached one of my personal goals. I promised to reward myself, so I’m planning on arranging for a massage at a local massage school.

I remember writing a commendation letter for a guy who worked with the city for going above and beyond in helping me with a problem. I found out later that he was given recognition in the city employees’ newsletter, along with a $500 bonus. It made his day, getting recognition from all of his friends and seeing his name in the newsletter. (He soon after received a promotion, too.) The guy who originally took my call and refused to help me sat there and sulked. Tough nuts.

Little kids in school get gold stars. My second grade teacher handed out “vitamins” (pieces of candy) for good behavior or good effort. I toss candy to my kids in class to encourage participation.

I taught our dog to roll over using pieces of sausage, and when those ran out, watermelon. I found out that she LOVED watermelon! (It took me about a half hour to get her to roll over, by the way.) Other behavior (not running out of the door, not snapping at food, etc.) was reinforced with lots of love and positive reinforcement. I loved that dog!

My children were given near continuous positive reinforcement when they exhibited good behaviors, like playing together and sharing. I believed in reinforcing positive behaviors rather than paying attention to bad behavior, so I was always on my toes to catch them “doing good”. They got a lot of reinforcing comments. I actually loved them more than the dog. 😉

I guess our lives are defined by the positive and negative reinforcements that we get. From our parents to our government to our friends to our pets, our morals and our behaviors are formed by the environments in which we grow.

Thursday Worse than Politics Open Comments

I was waiting for this, but it sends chills up and down my spine.

…we could lose a century of progress and find ourselves dying in the millions from tuberculosis, just like our 19th-century ancestors.

I was exposed to TB as a child, and had to have lung x-rays every year until I went to college. It was active for a short time, and I have some lesions that show up on x-rays, but my body managed to fight it off before I even knew I was sick. Maybe I’ll be one of the lucky ones; I might have some immunity.

According to the original report, published Dec. 21 in Clinical Infectious Diseases, a hospital in Mumbai, India had identified 12 TB patients whose disease resisted all antibiotics. Nothing worked with them. All the patients appeared to have strains of TB known as multi-drug resistant (MDR-TB) and extremely drug resistant (XDR-TB).

Ever since the advent of sulfa drugs and penicillin, we have been locked in an arms race with bacteria. Antibiotics originally had wonderfully lethal effects on many infections. But in some cases a few bacteria had genetic resistance to a given drug, or the treatment wasn’t long or intense enough. Either way, the survivors learned to best such drugs. We came up with new drugs, and again they worked — until a few bacteria survived and multiplied.

What have we wrought? We now have a society of people whose immunity has not been tested, especially against a strain of superbugs. I remember when Handsome Son had a string of ear infections. We went from antibiotic to antibiotic, ending up with one that cost $3.10 per teaspoon. I swore that if he knocked it on the floor, he was going to lick it up from wherever it landed. Fortunately, he was a calm child, and we never had to test my determination in the matter. It was alarming that the regular antibiotics had already become so ineffective in such a short period of time. I was diligent in giving him all of his medications, never shorting the dosages.

Will we end up like the aliens in “War of the Worlds,” who were killed not by the humans they hunted, but by the smallest residents of the planet they wanted to dominate. What will be ironic is that we will have created our own demise.

So the prospect of untreatable TB is a disturbing one. WHO notes that in the Americas, only 2.1 persons per 100,000 die of TB. With a totally drug-resistant strain, that rate could easily exceed Africa’s current rate of 50 deaths per 100,000.

I have hopes that our collective intellect will find a way of protecting humanity from succumbing to ourselves.

Wednesday Solar Flare Open Comments

Well, the solar flare has erupted, and we are both cursed and blessed by the event:

Airlines have rerouted flights, NASA had some safety calculations to do, and satellite owners/operators chewed a few nails. But it’s scenes like this that make me wish I had a ticket to the northern climes.

Here’s a video of a similar event, from space.

I tried to include video from the International Space Station, but for some reason it wouldn’t let me embed the code or even copy the link. So you’ll have to search for it on your own. The astronaut narrating their feed had some interesting information regarding the colors and structure of the aurora, but that’s life, I suppose.

Enjoy the video.

Tuesday “Hangover” Open Comments

Nope, I don’t drink, I just work ungodly hours. I’ve been pushing into the wee hours now for several weeks, and the strain has caught up with me. I have a meeting I attend every Monday night, and I had the hardest time staying awake. Driving tends to perk me up, but when I got home I could barely stand. Walking upstairs was a challenge, as was getting to the bathroom and back. I think it took all of five seconds (maybe) for me to fall asleep when my head hit the pillow. I didn’t even hear Hubby’s alarm clock, nor did I wake up when he turned on lights and went through his morning routine. I could probably use another five hours of sleep.

I woke up late this morning, and I feel hung over. My head still isn’t right, and my eyes are having a hard time focusing. But the first thing I did after my morning ablutions was to look and see if the Couch was open.

Egads! My friends left out in the cold! So I stumble to the door, unlock it, and welcome you all in. Please pardon me while I get my breakfast and inject some caffeine. Another day begins.

Monday Technology Open Comments

We take a divergent path from the politics of the day to discuss…technology.

We take so much of what we do and use each day for granted, yet someone, somewhere, had to develop, devise, and distribute all of those things that we take for granted each day.

When I was young, we were shoved out of the door and were not really expected until dinnertime. Mom never knew for sure where we were, and sometimes she was better off not knowing. Or maybe she just acted like she didn’t know. With twelve kids, I think she might have been hoping one or two of us would get knocked off somewhere on the path to adulthood. Anyway, I look back on my childhood and wonder why I get nervous if I leave the house without my cell phone, or if my son does. It seems that the odd child without a cell phone is, well, odd.

And think about ATM machines. What would we do without such convenient access to cash? Not that we need as much currency anymore, but it occasionally comes in handy. But gee whiz, what did we do before ATM machines? Plan ahead or make do or something?

And before the Internet was developed, I remember learning how to open these things at the library — they had pieces of paper with black markings all over them, and they were bound together with stiff covers. Books, I think they were. There were big ones that came in a set, and those were called encyclopedias, and they had to be replaced every now and then. The fiction books could be kept on the shelves indefinitely. Nowadays, you can get encyclopedias on plastic circles, or just grab information right off the internet. I remember becoming part of the “Look It Up Club” in the second grade. Everyone joined, and we all got certificates with our names on them, right under the motto “We Never Guess – We Look It Up!” We learned how the Dewey decimal system worked, and how to use a card catalog. While the digital versions of our reference materials and other books may be easier to carry, there is something wonderfully nostalgic about lazily turning pages under a tree, traveling to foreign lands or finding oneself in the middle of some intrigue.

And our cars! Rolling technological wonders they are! And technological wizards it takes to keep them running! My husband has a 1970’s era Volkswagen. It’s his pride and joy. He maintains it himself. No plugging it into some computer to tell him the timing is off. No specialist dependent upon a machine to read that the spark plugs need replacing. He uses his ears and his common sense to keep that baby of his running. And he’s much happier. (He doesn’t know how to scroll on a web page, click on an icon, or even turn on a computer. He certainly doesn’t want to be dependent upon one in his car!)

Overall, I suppose that technology has made our lives easier and safer. Just think of all the medicines and treatments we have for our very human condition. I’d hate to do my bookkeeping manually, though I’m not sure that computerizing everything helps me get my work done faster – I just think that more is expected of me, instead. Perhaps that’s why I enjoy my rather mundane efforts to move that massive pile of dirt in my backyard. There’s something so absolutely sublime in the low-tech shovel-meets-dirt moment. Nothing between me and the feel of the shovel cutting off another small piece of the mountain. Right now it’s me, the dirt, the weeds, the squirrels, and the birds. As the weather warms up and the mosquitoes return, I’ll have to cut back or relinquish my efforts, but for now, it’s a blessed break from the constant barrage of technology. Hubby has told me multiple times that he could do the work much more efficiently and quickly with the backhoe, but I keep pointing out the this mysterious backhoe has yet to make an appearance. So much for the husband helping out. So I keep on using my labor and my hand tools to move and smooth the low spots in my yard.

And if someone comes up with a computerized shovel, I’ll refuse to use it.

Weekend Equality Open Comments

From the Ludwig von Mises Institute: The Obsession with Equality

I’ve never understood the academic obsession with achieving social and economic equality.

Yeah, me neither. Our forefathers wanted equality of opportunity, not equality of outcomes.

Isn’t society better off when half the population is well off and half is less poor than if absolutely everyone is poor? Isn’t all the talk about inequality really just an urge to see the poor increase their living standards? And if that is true, shouldn’t the whole idea of equality be thrown out in favor of a hope for everyone in society to benefit on the margin from economic growth?

Normally, I like TED talks, but this guy I’m not buying.

As the blog says:

There are probably a hundred other problems in this perspective that I hadn’t thought of. You might enjoy watching and poking holes in the analysis.