Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Damn We are a Bunch of Stupid People

I'm getting ready to fly to Washington, DC for a few days. So checking on what is and is not allowed to be taken aboard an airliner seems to be reasonable. Go to tsa.gov (here) to see what is and what is not permitted. Hmmmm, better check the sharp objects section.....no knives, ice axes, meat cleavers, box cutters (the infamous box cutter!), razor blades, swords....seems reasonable. Oh, but sharp pointed scissors are allowed as long as they are under 4 inches in length. Oh, yeah, kniting needles too, they couldn't be used as a weapon. Screw drivers are ok (<7 in), cigar cutters and cork screws ok, as well as nail clippers and nail files.

The liquids policy is a hoot and a laugh. We actually pay people to come up with this stuff. No bottles of water. That's ok with me. I really don't understand why people have to walk around with bottles of water. I guess people dehydrate more easily these days.

Who decides these things? Do they throw darts at a board? Are we really that dumb? Can we at least ask for some consistency?

Farm Bill Passed - Gillibrand a YES

H.R. 2419 was passed in the House of Representatives on July 27. From what I've read the "Farm Bill" in the USA is a completely dysfunctional program that makes very little sense to the average American. A quick overview and specifics of the heavily amended Farm Bill can be found here.

Here is what WashingtonWatch has to say:
American farmers want current farm policy to be the foundation for the 2007 Farm Bill. This policy has helped provide the safest, most affordable, and most abundant food supply in the world, while accounting for less than one-half of one percent of the total federal budget. The current farm safety net should be the floor, not the ceiling, of the commodity title in the next farm bill.
The bill only costs $2590 per average family.

Foodfirst.org has a different take on the Farm Bill and they prefer to call it the Welfare for Corporate Agribusiness Bill. There is even a good argument that the Farm Bill results in obesity in Americans.
This resolutely unglamorous and head-hurtingly complicated piece of legislation, which comes around roughly every five years and is about to do so again, sets the rules for the American food system — indeed, to a considerable extent, for the world’s food system. Among other things, it determines which crops will be subsidized and which will not, and in the case of the carrot and the Twinkie, the farm bill as currently written offers a lot more support to the cake than to the root.

As far as I can tell the so-called "Farm Bill" does very little for the small farmer at a huge cost. Remember this is the program that paid out $1.1 billion to dead people. Not that this was illegal believe it or not. Yes it covers necessary food stamp and nutrition programs but why can't those programs be covered elsewhere? The Farm Bill determines, to a large extent, what we eat in the USA.

I like the Food and Farm Bill of Rights proposed by Rep. Earl Blumenauer.

  1. Americans have a right to a policy free of special interest giveaways
  2. American taxpayers have a right to a fiscally responsible policy
  3. Americans have a right to a policy that serves all farmers
  4. Americans have a right to a safe and healthful food supply
  5. American children have a right to good nutrition
  6. Americans have a right to local supplies of fresh food
  7. Americans have a right to a policy that promotes energy independence
  8. Americans have a right to a policy that protects the environment
  9. Americans have a right to preserve farmland from sprawl
  10. Americans have a right to a policy that fosters sustainable farming practices

That seems to be a policy that progressives could and should support but I have no idea how many of these items were incorporated into the Farm Bill of 2007. Rep. Blumenauer was one of a handful of courageous Democrats that voted against the Bill.

Monday, July 30, 2007

How Far is It from Your Home?

Here is an interesting google maps website. Type in your address (or any address) and it tells you how far different types of stores, parks, businesses etc are from your front door. It also gives a "walkability" score of where you live. The walkability score from my house is 0 out of 100....not surprising.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Homes on My Road

Prostate Biopsy

Read "Tales from a prostate biopsy".
There is no delicate way to describe what is about to happen to me. Wearing only two thin hospital gowns and lying in a modified fetal position in a cramped room in downtown Seattle, I’m waiting for a doctor to grease up an ultrasound probe and stick it where the sun don’t shine. But wait, it gets better: One at a time, a dozen needles will be inserted alongside the probe and through the wall of my rectum to snatch bits of tissue from my troublesome man gland.
That pretty much describes the procedure. In fact, it describes it exactly.
But for me, “doesn’t hurt much” and “not so bad” are stunning failures at describing the awful cocktail of fear, anxiety and misery in which I find myself drowning on the day of my procedure.
Fear, anxiety and misery....right on.

But let me say this....it really isn't that bad. There is zero pain involve other than the mental pain of "stick it where the sun don't shine". Lidocaine....not necessary and almost never covered by health insurance. The ultrasound probe about the diameter of a roll of nickels is pretty accurate but maybe a bit larger. No matter it seems very large. The actually biopsy....well there must be a script. The doctor does say "you're going to feel a little pinch" same as they do when they draw blood from a vein. The pinch really is a very little pinch. Then the spring loaded snapping sound....there goes an 18g piece of your "man gland". This is done 12 times and it's over. About 15-20 minutes tops. Next day....it's like nothing ever happened. It's all about fear of the unknown.