Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving


Mmmmmmmmm turkey! First time we ever tried brining a turkey. Try it, you will never go back. It is so moist.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Saranac Lake Mountains


Looking across Lake Flower (it's really a dammed up part of the Saranac River)to the left is Mt. Baker, a wonderful little mountain that has beautiful views of the village and lakes from the top. Mt. Baker is in my back yard and I can easily see the hikers at the top. In the middle of the photo is McKenzie Mt., also known as 'Saddleback' by locals. The 'Jackrabbit' cross country ski trail runs over this mountain to Lake Placid. All the way to the right is Haystack Mt. For some reason, no one ever talks about Haystack.

Darwin Exhibit

The Darwin Exhibit opened last Saturday at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC. Too bad American corporations are afraid to fund the exhibit. If you want to learn more about what MOST Americans believe, go here.

Echinococcus (Hydatid Disease)

So what brings this topic up? I was watching 'House' last night. I really like the main character because he is a curmudgeon but really smart. In any case, a couple of people ended up diagnosed with Echinococcus infection, one of my favorite cestode helminths. House COMPLETELY mispronounced the name of the parasite which of course made me laugh. I'm pretty sure the medical advisor to that show probably didn't know how to pronounce it either (E KINE OH COCK US) not (ECHO NO COCK US) or something like that.

There are two major species of Echinococcus that infect man. The two individuals last night were infected with Echinococcus granulosus, which can at least be treated surgically by removing the cysts. But I'm really not sure that E. granulosis is commonly found in the USA, even in the Northwest sheep raising country. However, E. multilocularis has been reported in Canada and Alaska I believe. In any case, if these cestode infections are found in the USA, it is more likely in a feral rather than domestic cycle. So hunters beware. There is no treatment for E. multilocularis as far as I'm aware. You just die.

Why is that?


Hydatid cysts cause by infection with E. granulosus look like those above. They are individual cysts and the brood capsules grow off an INTERNAL germinal layer. One problem with these cysts is that they are filled with fluid that causes severe anaphylactic shock if they are broken open. This happened to the guy last night after House hit him with his cane. Luckly it happened in the hospital. By the way, the guy (father) had been diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver and the son with a tumor of the heart and lungs. Hydatid disease often presents with signs resembling cancer.


Infection with E. multilocularis is very different and very scary. In this infection the germinal tissue of the cyst is located on the OUTSIDE resulting in malignant spread of the cyst. The cyst is not defined or contained as with infection with E. granulosis and thus cannot be easily removed.

So how do you prevent yourself from being infected with these dreaded cestodes? Very simple. Don't eat infected dog, fox, wolf, dingo or coyote shit.

Sometime when you are bored, ask me about infection with the dreaded Baylisascaris worm (brain worm).

Community Comments on Wal-Mart

I got these comments from the Adirondack Daily Enterprise website. They are somewhat typical of the for and against Walmart factions in Saranac Lake.

"Looks like we have a real class war starting here! The ironic thing is that the morons who are for Walmart are the ones who will be hurt the most. When Walmart moves in we'll lose our downtown and we'll have an ugly eyesore right at the entrance to the village. Then vacationers, tourists, and sucessful transplants won't want to be in Saranac Lake anymore. We come to Saranac Lake to GET AWAY FROM WALMART and because Saranac Lake is a beautiful and special place. When that changes, we'll leave. I'm sure you'll say "good riddance", but watch what happens to the town when all the rich and educated people move away. All that will be left are the welfare losers who wanted Walmart in the first place, but now without any tax base or jobs. Why ARE you here? To get OUR jobs we nasty "elitists" had to go away to school, work eighteen hours a day, fit in with strangers, move several times for jobs, rent one apartment after another, all the while longing for a neighborhood to fit into. I CAME from farm country, and I could have stayed. I gave up a lot. I didn't get a car passed down to me or Uncle Bob fixing my plumbing for me, or the chance to inherit Ol' Gramma's house mortgage free. Why does everyone assume that people who make money now got it easy?? Look, we worked, and we work. Do you know what this elitist does? Volunteers on two town groups that don't give anything back to me, donates to the library which all of your kids can use, volunteers at the school just because I like your kids and would like for them to all have jobs when they grow up, I promise, and pays about three times the taxes you do. Do I live in one of the big new houses? No. I don't believe in living that way. I believe in being part of the town. I believe in being able to talk to everyone. Do I shop at the so-called "elitist" stores? Yes, when they have $1 toys for birthday grab bags, or give free books to the school programs, or offer me the broken belt for the Cub Scout project because we'd rather not pay for the new one. Keep in mind that it's the wealthy and educated people who make Saranac Lake what it is -- one of the most livable small towns in the country. We're the ones who pay the huge taxes, who support the library, the carnival, and a million other charities and who volunteer at the schools while the losers sit around and gripe about not being able to buy cheap cigarettes. If you want a Walmart so much, and care so little about the town, why don't you pack up and move to Plattsburgh? You won't be missed..."

"It seems that the interests of this community are controlled by a small, but vocal group of elitists who look down their noses at the members of this community who are hard working families or retired individuals who cannot afford to shop at the main street boutiques to fulfill their retail needs. I guess that they believe that the dollar stores are sufficient to meet our needs. I know that Mark Kurtz stated a few years back at a meeting at the Adult Center that "Anyone can find anything they need with the existing businesses here in Saranac Lake". I challenge him to find kids shoes, clothing, soxs, underware, etc… which are of reasonable quality and prices not Dollar Store irregulars!. Working families and retirees in this community sometimes do not have the time or resources to travel back and forth to Plattsburgh to do basic shopping. This village needs to wake up to the fact that there is a large population of dissatisfied customers and taxpayers in this community who want more of a retail choice. The elitist contingent can continue to patronize their downtown boutiques to keep them in business because after all they are not being patronized by the vast majority of us who are travelling to Plattsburgh or elsewhere. As far as Wal-Mart scaring off the tourists, this is a joke as most tourists will still enjoy the beauty of our Lakes, Rivers, Mountains, Campsites, Resort Hotels, etc… Also, our community could possibly work with Wal-Mart or other retailer on an Adirondack Architectural theme - Maybe our Resident Elitist Mark Kurtz could come up with some sketches!"

Like most issues in this community, it seems like sentiment concerning Walmart is about 50/50, if you believe the data presented in the unscientific web poll of the ADE.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

JFK Died 42 Years Ago Today

No one seems to notice that today is a date of importance to some. I was 11 when JFK was elected President. The nuns told us we had to campaign for him so we did. We went to the campaign office and got all kinds of buttons, stickers etc and platered them everywhere. Beside, the nuns also told us if Nixon were elected, ice cream would be outlawed. Seem reasonable to us.

It's Ok to Leave Iraq Now

Anyone remember Bush administration official saying we would leave Iraq if the Iraqis asked us too? Anyone? Anyone? Well they have asked us to leave. Anyone think we will keep our word?

Cheap Malaria Control

Sara is raising money for malaria control through the World Swim for Malaria. Go there and donate. You can save a life for $5.

It's sad that all the tools for malaria control are and have been available for decades, yet millions of people die each year from malaria (mostly children). Millions could be saved from death due to malaria using three means: (1) pyrethrin impregnated bednets, (2) spraying low concentrations of DDT on the inside walls of homes in malaria infested areas, (3) drug treatment, especially of infected, pregnant mothers (to protect the baby). None of this is overly expensive.

What burns me is the fact that common use of DDT, to control insect vectors, has been discontinued in many parts of the world. We have Rachel Carson and her book Silent Spring to thank for that. Use of DDT has pretty much been banned since 1972 by the stroke of the pen of William Ruckelshaus, head of the EPA at that time. He did this even in the face of much scientific evidence that DDT was not harmful to humans or the environment as used in malaria control. DDT, as used in agriculture, did have effects on the environment. But it was used in vast quantities probably because farmers thought 'more was better'. For malaria control, DDT is sprayed onto the inside walls of homes in malaria endemic regions. The major vector of malaria, Anopheles gambiense bites primarily indoors. After taking a blood meal the mosquito rests on an inside wall. Walls coated with a low concentration of DDT result in the death of the mosquito. Many developing countries governments have been pressured by environmentalist to stop the use of DDT. This has resulted in the re-emergence of malaria. For example, South Africa stopped the use of DDT in 1996 with a resulting 1000% increase in cases of malaria.

For much more in depth info go here.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Mike Scanlon Pleads Guilty

This is going to be bigger than Treasongate. I've read that it may become the biggest government scandel in over 100 yrs. Micheal Scanlon, ex-aide to Tom Delay has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to bribe government officials. Scanlon worked for Jack Abramoff, the guy who among other thing scammed indians over casinos. This involves Republican and Democrat congressmen but mostly Republicans because they are the ones that hold all the power right now. Scanlon is now going to cooperate with the investigation. Tom Delay is in even more trouble now. Couldnt happen to a nicer bug exterminator.

Stephen Hadley - Treasongate

I pointed out on Oct 26 that we should keep our eye on Stephen Hadley and the outing of Plame. It's now looking almost certain that he was Woodwards source. Now I'm going to predict that Condi Rice is going to be pulled into this dispicable affair.

White Phosphorus Revisited

I posted about the use of white phosphorus on November 11th asking when a story would appear in the MSM. An article appeared yesterday in the NYT. Looks like white phosphorus was used as an anti-personnel weapon. The army even admits it. I guess if torture is ok, white phosphorus should be ok too.

Wal-mart in Saranac Lake - Again?

Rumors are rampant about Wal-mart looking to locate in Saranac Lake. They were thwarted a few years ago when someone bought a parcel of property out from under the company. Although we only have rumors, I'm sure someone in the Village government could shed some light on the situation, but they are keeping mum. I guess they are following the G. W. Bush school of governing.

What are some of the effects of Wal-mart locating in a small rural community? That question was addressed over 15 years ago by Dr. Kenneth Stone, a Professor of Economics and Extension Economist at Iowa State University. Some conclusions about the economic effects:

Positive Effects
General mechandising stores
Eating and drinking establishments
Home furnishing stores
Total sales

Negative Effects
Grocery stores
Building materials
Specialty stores (hardware, toy, books, music, etc.)
Apparel stores
Services (not understood why)

Effect on outlying towns
"On average, small towns surrounding Wal-Mart towns (20 mile radius) suffered greater losses of retail sales than similar size towns elsewhere in the state. The average first year per capita loss of sales for the nearby towns was 6.3% when compared with 2.0% for all other towns of a similar size population".

Morality of Wal-mart as a company
Wal-mart knows its customers though. That's why they need to have prices cut to the bone in order to keep sales high. Wal-mart caters to the poor. Primarily women struggling to make ends meet. An economist at the U. of Conn., Andrew Franklin, has shown that Wal-mart operates primarily in poor and working class communities. To keep sales high, Wal-mart has got to keep labor costs low period. Some Wal-marts provide employees with instructions and forms on how to apply for food stamps and healthcare because they know their employees cannot live on what they are being paid. At any one time Wal-mart has 8000+ ongoing lawsuits (mostly from their employees) and currently is involved in 33 class action suits. Maybe someone can explain why a company that employs 1 out of every 100 Americans, has sales of over 285 billion dollars and a gross profit margin of almost 24% cannot provide for its employees.

Hidden costs of doing business with Wal-mart in California
Reliance by Wal-mart workers on public assistance costs $86 million annually.
Families of Wal-mart workers utilize ~40% more in taxpayer-funded health care than the average for families of all large retail employees. If other large retailers adopted Wal-mart's wage and benefits standards it would cost CA taxpayers $410 million in public assistance annually. (From Dr. A. Dube and Ken Jacobs, UC Berkeley, 2004).

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Mt. Pisgah Community Ski Area

Mt. Pisgah

This is our little 'in town' skiing area. Mt. Pisgah . I grew up skiing here. I spent most every evening and weekend skiing here. It was open every night til 10 PM except Sunday. Thursday was reserved for adult night skiing. When I was a kid, a season pass was $5. Eventually went up to $15. Notice the beautiful new ski lodge built a few years ago with labor and money donated by the community.