Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"How I Met Your Mother" Ending

For those who didn't see the Finale to the show "How I Met Your Mother" I'll sum it up.

1. Ted and Robin get back together after the mother, Tracy (the mother) dies of an illness 6 years before Ted tells his kids this story. This explains why she didn't rush in to rescue the kids earlier in the story.

2. Barney and Robin divorce after 3 years and he goes back to womanizing until he achieves a "perfect month" similar to his "perfect week". He gets "#31" pregnant and she has a daughter, Elle. This finally gets him to respect women and Elle is the light of his light

3. Marshal and Lily have a third kid. After Italy Marshal works in Corporate Law again for a while until a judge in queens retires. That's when he becomes a Judge.

But there are a lot of fans angry about the writers "killing the mother off" after 9 years. To me this made sense. Throughout the series fans have talked about hoping "Robin is the mother" even after they refer to her as "Aunt Robin" in the first episode of the series. This is the only way to give the fans what they want.

I liked the ending. Part of that is because I believe it's possible to have two soul mates. Ted and Tracy were together for many years and he didn't date after she died. This story takes place six years after her death and he only asks Robin out because his kids encourage it. Robin never wanted a family. She always wanted a successful career. She would never be the right person for Ted until she has had career success for a long period of time and was ready for a family.

Ted really wanted a family. He would never have been happy without kids. It took 8 years for him to become the person he needed to be when he met Tracy. Tracy needed to have her own experiences before being ready to be the right person for Ted. They were soul mates.

When Ted and Robin finally got together she had that career and was ready for the family. He had the family and was ready for Robin. They were soul mates too. There are many people who were married to their soul mate who died then later meet a second soul mate. Having two soul mates is a real possibility for some people. It boils down to where they are in their lives. Only God knows how many soul mates we are meant to have and when we are supposed to meet them.

I believe Robin and Barney were soul mates too. When they announced the divorce they still called it a successful marriage. This isn't true with all divorces but I honestly think this was true for them. Marrying Barney is when Robin realized that Ted is "the man I'm supposed to be with". They divorce because she travels a lot on business and they never got to see each other even when traveling together. Ted was really a back-up plan for her until her marriage to Barney ended.

During the series a lot of fans would say "I hope Barney gets a one-night-stand pregnant and it's a girl!" The only way for that to happen is for Barney and Robin to divorce. But during that marriage Barney learns about what real commitment is. By the time he actually did get a one-night-stand pregnant with a daughter, he was ready to be the father Elle needed. He would never be able to commit to a woman like that forever but he can for his daughter. It was the perfect ending for Barney.

There wasn't any surprises with Lily and Marshal. But it's nice to see his journey from Law School student to State Supreme Court Judge. Lily need the Italy experience but she LOVES being a Mom. This was the right ending for them. He supported her dream as she went to Italy and she supported his dream of becoming a Judge. She wasn't going to fully be ready to do that if she didn't reach her dream first. There would have been too many questions for her about "what if?"

The ending asks the viewers to believe in the journey to become who you need to be before meeting your soul mate and to rethink your ideas of soul mate. Most people think of soul mate as being "the one". I think there are some people without a soul mate, some with only one, and some with more then one. God has a plan for all of us. Life is a journey. We don't know his plan until it happens. But even the bad things that happen to us have a purpose. We can only work with what we're given and try to find a way to be positive.

So if there is a possibility to have more then one soul mate, how do you know you have met your soul mate for that point in your life? That's an impossible question to answer. The real answer is "you just know" but there are a lot of people who think they know and are wrong. Sometimes that might be the case of a multiple soul mate but I think in a lot of cases you just really WANT that person to be your soul mate so you convince yourself they are.

I always say "when I met Josh I had a feeling he would be someone important to me I just didn't know what yet". That thought was immediately followed by "I'm only a Sophomore in High School so 'future husband' is out". Periodically I remember this and laugh to myself. There is not a single doubt in my mind he is my soul mate.

It's almost 16 years together. When friends ask "how did you know?" It's easy and hard to answer. You honestly just know. It hits you; uncensored, out-of-the-blue, and sudden. If you are asking "how do you know?" they aren't your soul mate. If it's your soul mate, there are no questions.

Even if you are angry at the ending of "How I Met Your Mother" you can take with it the lesson that there is such a thing as multiple soul mates. God has a plan. Just know you are where you are supposed to be at that time. It makes you think of life's journey and how we change in time. Once the DVD is out we can see the entire series together. The entire story all at once. The ending will make more sense then. Maybe some people who hate the ending will accept it once they see the whole story unfold together.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Pansies Are Safe

Pansies can survive as cold as 20 degrees. It's one of the reasons they are one of the first flowers in Nurseries. They were safe.

 Last week we had a couple of nights below freezing and most people I talked to were concerned. I knew they would look limp and sad but I also knew they were still growing and would perk up. I knew my bulb flowers would survive too. They are created to.

My real concern was the Forsythia. It only bloomed the day before the first of the two nights of frost hit. But sure enough, those flowers are still healthy and beautiful.

I will save my real Spring gardening blog post for early May. That's when the Marigolds should be ready and my garden full. But I heard some version of "what a shame, after so many people planted all these flowers" frequently.

I meant to do this post BEFORE the frost but got busy. By now most of you probably have seen that the Pansies are just fine. The only plants that wouldn't be are those that typically aren't available in nurseries until the "all season" plants are available.

By "all season" I mean most Perennials like Black - Eyed - Susans and Annuals Marigolds, begonias, Impatiens, ect...... It means the plants that love the heat of Summer and die with the first frost in October and November. These are the plants around for most of the gardening season.

Like my Pansies, Zach is safe, healthy, and well cared for. I take care of them both carefully and lovingly. When the frost was over, I went into the garden to do what I needed to so they can grow strong. I cut off the dead parts so they can use their energy to grow healthy blooms. It's a peaceful thing that results in plants being full, beautiful, and healthy.

A month ago I did a post on losing patience and feeling powerless. The odd part is that one of my favorite things about gardening is how patient you have to be. I watch my garden carefully and it might seem like a long time but I know what beauty will arise with my patience. I have looked closely at these Pansies. Most of them haven't bloomed yet but they are slowly getting there. The buds are there. You just have to look closely to see them.

I have slowly been watching them get bigger. It's not as obvious as watching bulbs sprout but it's there.  If I am patient in the next week or two, they will open. Even when it seems like there hasn't been a change, there has been. In time, the beauty is there. The Pansies are safe. I see progress. I'll happily be patient. The Patience will pay off in the end.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Basics Of Immigration Reform

Whenever there is an article about the Mexican Drug Cartel the comment section is full of comments that resemble the following:

"And we want to make these people legal"

"Just earning a decent living" (sarcastically)

"We don't need more people like this in this country"

One thing seems to be clear. A lot of people don't understand one basic about Immigration reform. Most undocumented immigrants in this country really are hard - working and law - abiding. These are the immigrants that WANT to be legal but it takes a long time for their paperwork to process. Sometimes years or even decades.

That particular problem can be solved easily. Once in the country, an immigrant should be able to obtained a temporary legal document from the town they now live in if they can provide proof that they have filed for legal status such as for a Green Card or a Visa. That document would mean that they are in the country legally and can legally work and pay taxes.

Determining how "temporary" this temporary document should be is tricky. I know it can take at least 6 months in cases of a family member being a naturalized citizen. Naturalized citizens are children and spouses of the immigrant. But I also know that it can take years in some cases. If this "temporary legal document" was offered, it should be able to be renewed annually with continued proof you are waiting for a Visa or Green Card. Perhaps capping the renewability at a decade.

Temporary Green Cards are currently available called "Conditional Green Cards". They expire at the second anniversary. It's conditional because you have to prove you didn't just get married to get a permanent Green Card. Temporary Visas are available for work and school. Whether a visa is permanent or temporary. But that means you have to be marrying a US citizen for love or have a job waiting for you already. Not every undocumented immigrant has a job or a fiancée when entering the country. Some are just looking to start a better life. Those are the people that need the kind of temporary option I mentioned above.

Conditional Green Cards:

http://kb.immigrationdirect.com/Knowledgebase/What-is-a-Conditional-Green-Card?gclid=CIC09cDy1r0CFRFnOgod3QQAtA

Temporary Visas:

http://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/temporary-nonimmigrant-workers

Permanent Visas:

http://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/permanent-workers

There is one thing people forget. If an immigrant commits a crime, they get punished. Just like natural born citizens. A Mexican immigrant caught selling Cocaine will get the same jail sentence as a natural born citizen selling the same amount of Cocaine. The comments I read sound like some people think immigrants would be able to get away with crimes. That's not the case.

The laws being debated in the Senate are about finding an easier way to be in the country legally. Once in the country, you have to abide by the same laws as natural born citizens. Most undocumented immigrants do that anyway. Why is it so hard to understand that giving undocumented immigrants an easier way to be here legally doesn't mean they can do whatever they want without facing consequences? Most of those here illegally don't want to be illegal and don't break other laws.

Below is the website to what President Obama proposes for Immigration reform. It has four parts. If you want to learn more, go to the website.

1. Continue to strengthen border security.
2. Streamline Legal Immigration
3. Make it easier to Earn Citizenship
4. Cracking down on Employers who hire undocumented immigrants.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/immigration

Making it easier to be here legally will lessen identity theft. The reason stolen identities are popular profit makers is because there are people who want to be here but can't get the documentation they need to be here legally. Identities will still get stolen but there would be less of a market for them so less people's identities would be at risk to get stolen.

The Immigration and Naturalization Act only allows 675,000 new permanent immigrants a year from across the world. The priorities go to

1. Spouses of natural citizens
2. Parents of natural citizens
3. Child if the parent is 21 or old and the parent is a natural citizen

This information and the tables are from the below website.

http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/just-facts/how-united-states-immigration-system-works-fact-sheet

Family-Based Immigration System 
Category
U.S. Sponsor
Relationship
Numerical Limit
 
Immediate Relatives (IRs)
 
U.S. Citizen adults
Spouses, unmarried minor children, and parents
 
Unlimited
Preference allocation
1
U.S. citizen
Unmarried adult children
23,400*
2A
LPR
Spouses and minor children
87,900
2B
LPR
Unmarried adult children
26,300
3
U.S. citizen
Married adult children
23,400**
4
U.S. citizen
Brothers and Sisters
65,000***
* Plus any unused visas from the 4th preference.
** Plus any unused visas from 1st and 2nd preference.
***Plus any unused visas from the all other family-based preferences.
Worldwide level of family preference allocation: 480,000 minus visas issued to IRs and parolees, plus unused employment-visas from previous fiscal year. Floor for preference categories: 226,000.


What about Employee immigrants?

Usually, these visas are sponsored by an Employer and are for highly skilled Employees and are for a specific job. There are only 140,000 permanent visas granted each year for employment purposes.

Permanent Employment-Based Preference System 
Preference Category
Eligibility
Yearly Numerical Limit
1
“Persons of extraordinary ability” in the arts, science, education, business, or athletics; outstanding professors and researchers, some multinational executives.
 
40,000*
2
Members of the professions holding advanced degrees, or persons of exceptional abilities in the arts, science, or business.
 
40,000**
3
Skilled workers with at least two years of training or experience, professionals with college degrees, or “other” workers for unskilled labor that is not temporary or seasonal.
 
40,000***
 
“Other” unskilled laborers restricted to 5,000
4
Certain “special immigrants” including religious workers, employees of U.S. foreign service posts, former U.S. government employees and other classes of aliens.
 
10,000
5
Persons who will invest $500,000 to $1 million in a job-creating enterprise that employs at least 10 full time U.S. workers.
 
10,000
*Plus any unused visas from the 4th and 5th preferences.
**Plus any unused visas from the 1st preference.
***Plus any unused visas the 1st and 2nd preference.
Worldwide level of employment-based immigrants: 140,000 for principal applicants and their dependents.

Currently, there is a 7% cap on immigrants from a specific category no matter what their reason is for coming to America.

 There are other ways to be in this country legally including Asylum and Refugees.

Green Cards:

A Green Card holder (permanent resident) is someone who has been granted authorization to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. As proof of that status, a person is granted a permanent resident card, commonly called a "Green Card." You can become a permanent resident several different ways. Most individuals are sponsored by a family member or employer in the United States. Other individuals may become permanent residents through refugee or asylee status or other humanitarian programs. In some cases, you may be eligible to file for yourself.

http://www.uscis.gov/greencard

Visas:

The United States welcomes thousands of foreign workers in multiple occupations or employment categories every year. These include artists, researchers, cultural exchange participants, information technology specialists, religious workers, investors, scientists, athletes, nurses, agricultural workers and others. All foreign workers must obtain permission to work legally in the United States. Each employment category for admission has different requirements, conditions and authorized periods of stay. It is important that you adhere to the terms of your application or petition for admission and visa. Any violation can result in removal or denial of re-entry into the United States.

http://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/working-us

Citizenship:

To apply for naturalization, you will need to file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. Be sure that you meet all eligibility requirements before you apply. Certain exceptions and modifications are available to those who qualify. Below you will find a general description of the application process. Items such as a naturalization eligibility worksheet and document checklist are available to help you prepare.

Naturalization Eligibility:

http://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Resources/Citizenship%20&%20Naturalization%20Based%20Resources/A%20Guide%20to%20Naturalization/PDFs/M-480.pdf

http://www.uscis.gov/citizenship/learners/apply-citizenship

More on Immigrants

http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/just-facts/why-don%E2%80%99t-they-just-get-line

US Citizenship and Immigration Services Official Site:

http://www.uscis.gov/citizenship


I like what President Obama proposes. When it takes years to get a Green Card or a Visa, the system is broken. On the USCIS website they say they process in the order the requests are received. There are 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country. There needs to be an easier way for them to be able to achieve legal status. But by strengthening border patrol it's harder for drug cartels to bring drugs into the country. The goal of Obama's proposal is to make it easier for the hard-working and law-abiding immigrants to achieve legal status while making it harder for the criminals to get in.

https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/processTimesDisplayInit.do

Friday, April 04, 2014

Diabetes...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick

Diabetes runs in my family. I don't have it yet but my Mom, Grandma, and Great Grandpa had it. I had Gestational Diabetes. It really just feels like a matter of time. It gets easier with each generation. My Grandma didn't want to have to take an insulin shot. She remembers her father crying when he received his each morning. He was a big and strong Italian dude who was Joe DiMaggio's Taylor. But those needles have been improved and don't hurt as much.

My Dad worked for BD. It's a company that makes needles. On one Take-Your-Daughter-To-Work Day I learned about needles. Apparently, they are made sharper and pointier now and that makes them less painful. Grandma still wasn't interested and died in the recovery room after Gall Bladder surgery. It was deteriorating from the insulin issues. She died in March of 2002.

My Mom needs medication but not insulin yet. She's careful about her diet, exercises, and keeps a good eye on her blood sugar. The finger prick needles for the blood test are getting softer and easier to use. When I had Gestational Diabetes I had to do that four times a day. My Mom only needs to check twice a day. There are a lot of people who have Diabetes or a family member with Diabetes. With that in mind, I decided it's time to learn more about Diabetes.

There are three types of Diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, and Gestational. My personal experience with Gestational Diabetes started typically. When I was around 24 weeks pregnant I was sent to LabCorp for a test. They take blood then bring you to a room where you drink a glucose drink that usually tastes nasty. They wait an hour and take more blood. I saw a Nutritionist and worked out a strong eating and finger prick testing plan. I had been concerned about the quantities that they called a serving but when I went to measure my food at home I realized I already was eating the recommended serving amount or less. All the finger pricking started to bother me but the diet was manageable once I found some combinations that I liked. That was the Glucose Tolerance test and it's common to test for Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes too.

Gestational Diabetes:

1. It's effects about 18% of pregnancies developing around 24 weeks gestation and goes back to normal when the baby is born.

2. The Placenta supports the baby as it grows. But it's hormones can block insulin to the mother. Gestational Diabetes starts when your body can't make enough insulin to support the pregnancy.

3.  If you don't treat the Gestational Diabetes your baby may have higher glucose levels too. The mother's body sends extra glucose to the baby. It might cause Macrosomia. That's another word for a "fat" baby and can cause other health problems related to obesity.

4. They also might be born Hypoglacemic.

5. Diagnosed with the Glucose Tolerance Test (mentioned above)

Symptoms

1. Increased Thirst
2. Increased Urination
3. Increased Hunger
4. Blurred Vision

Treatment

Diet Modification and Finger Prick testing

 Zach didn't have Macrosomia. They did a heal prick test for Hypoglacemia but he didn't have that either. I got that information from the below link from the American Diabetes Association and WebMD.

http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/gestational/what-is-gestational-diabetes.html?loc=db-slabnav

http://www.webmd.com/baby/tc/gestational-diabetes-topic-overview


Type 1:

1. Only 5% of people with Diabetes have Type 1 Diabetes. It is usually diagnosed in kids and young adults but you can develop it at any age.

2. The body doesn't produce insulin which is necessary for the body to convert sugar, starches, and other food into energy


Symptoms

1. Being Very Thirsty
2. Urinating a lot
3. Losing Weight Without Trying
4. Sometimes Being Hungrier Then Usual
5. Blurry Eyesight

Treatment

1. If you wait too long you can develop Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA). It's a life-threatening electrolyte imbalance that results when the blood cells don't get the glucose it needs to produce energy. As a result, the body breaks down fat instead and releases keytones into the blood stream.

Symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis include:
  • Flushed, hot, dry skin.
  • A strong, fruity breath odor.
  • Restlessness, drowsiness, or difficulty waking up. Young children may lack interest in their normal activities.
  • Rapid, deep breathing.
  • Loss of appetite, abdominal pain, and vomiting.
  • Confusion.
Severe diabetic ketoacidosis can cause difficulty breathing, brain swelling (cerebral edema), coma, or death. Treatment involves giving insulin and fluids through a vein and closely monitoring and replacing electrolytes.

2. Treatment for Type 1 Diabetes usually includes insulin shots.

http://www.webmd.com/hw-popup/diabetic-ketoacidosis-dka

http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/tc/type-1-diabetes-topic-overview

http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/type-1/?loc=db-slabnav


Type 2:

1. The most common type of Diabetes. The difference between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes is that in Type 1 the body isn't producing any insulin but in Type 2 it does.

2. Either the body doesn't produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin. Insulin is necessary for the body to produce energy

  • Damage to the body. Over time, the high glucose levels in the blood can damage the nerves and small blood vessels of the eyes, kidneys, and heart and lead to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries that can cause heart attack and stroke.

  • Dehydration. The buildup of sugar in the blood can cause an increase in urination, causing dehydration.

  • Diabetic coma (hyperosmolar nonketotic diabetic coma). When a person with type 2 diabetes becomes very ill or severely dehydrated and is not able to drink enough fluids to make up for the fluid losses, they may develop this life-threatening complication

  • Who Gets Type 2 Diabetes?

    Anyone can get type 2 diabetes. But those at highest risk for the disease are those who:
    • Are over 45
    • Are obese or overweight
    • Have had gestational diabetes 
    • Have family members who have type 2 diabetes
    • Have prediabetes
    • Don't exercise
    • Have low HDL cholesterol or high triglycerides
    • Have high blood pressure
    • Are members of certain racial or ethnic groups
    http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/guide/type-2-diabetes

    http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/type-2/?loc=db-slabnav


    Diet For All Types:

    1. You have to change your diet but sometimes you need either pill medication or insulin shots.

    2. The diet changes for everyone so I can't post a specific diet to follow but everyone with diabetes has to watch their sugar and carbohydrate intake. That's why it's important to build a meal plan with a Nutritionist based on your individual needs. You also have to exercise.

    http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/making-healthy-food-choices/?loc=ff-slabnav

    Amputation And Foot Issues:

    1. Neuropathy is nerve damage.

    2, Diabetes can also cause skin changes such as very dry and cracked skin

    3. Calluses are more common too

    4. Foot Ulcers form at the ball of the foot or the bottom of the big toe. Ignoring ulcers can result in infection that can result in a loss of a limb. The doctor will take x-rays and encourage you to stay off your feet.

    5. Poor Circulation also can result in amputation. Diabetes causes blood vessels in your foot and heal to harden and narrow.

    6. Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) is more common with Diabetes. It reduces blood flow to the feet. The reduced blood flow combined with the Neuropathy can lead to ulcers and amputation.

    Amputations are preventable with proper foot care and proper footwear. A lot of Diabetics that need amputations are smokers.

    http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/foot-complications/


    If you are at risk for Diabetes of have these symptoms it's best to ask your doctor about it. Diabetic Ketoacidosis is serious and possibly fatal. My doctor knows about my family history and has that in mind while monitoring my health. The best we can to do possibly avoid developing Diabetes is to eat healthy and exercise.

    Thursday, March 27, 2014

    Out Of The Blaze

    In the past Month there have been three major fires and two buildings collapsing.

    Manhattan, NY on March 12th (buildings collapsing)

    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/03/14/harl-m14.html

    Brooklyn, NY on March 16th (Apartment Fire)

    http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2014/03/16/brooklyn-fire-leaves-3-children-with-serious-critical-injuries/

    Houston, TX on March 25th (Fire)

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/houston-firefighters-battle-large-apartment-fire-23054207

    Boston, MA on March 26th (Fire)

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/5-firefighters-injured-boston-fire-department-battles-9-alarm-fire-article-1.1735674

    Fires happen every day. They start for different reasons. All of them lead to unnecessary loss. The Brooklyn fire's source wasn't identified and everyone is still alive but among the injured are a child and a baby in critical condition.

    The Manhattan building collapsing probably could have been prevented. The gas pipes are 127 years old. But after the explosion a lot of people said they had smelt gas but never called about it. If they had, the Gas companies probably would have been working on pipe repairs before anything happened. "If you see something, say something" is about more then just abandoned bags on trains. Saying something might save lives.

    Houston Firefighters had to deal with heavy winds at a construction sight but everyone is okay. The entire apartment building was leveled. It took 200 people 2 1/2 hours to get that blaze under control. It was a long battle but a job well done. It had 396 units. Imagine if people were living there are the time? This would have been devastating!!!

    The last thing Boston needed almost a year after the Marathon Bombings was a blaze like what they got yesterday. Two brave Firefighters are dead and 18 Firefighters and Police Officers were hospitalized in a 9 alarm blaze. They also had to deal with 45 mph wind. That CAN'T be easy! That fire started in the basement. Residents were pulled safely from the building.

    It's a heroic image, a Firefighter leaving a burning building and carrying someone to safety. It's an image that should be a lot rarer then it is. We are almost six months away from October, fire safety month. A month when we are reminded about fire safety. Small kids climb on fire trucks after hearing about smoke alarms and what starts fires. Older Elementary school kids come home after a Firefighter's visit ready to plan an escape route, just to be safe.

    We watch on TV as Firemen walk out of these blazes. We need to be reminded about what we can do to be safe. We can be careful about all flames being out when we leave the home or go to bed.

    Is the stove off?
    Is the oven off?
    Are all candles blown out?
    If there was a fire in the fireplace, is it out?
    Is the toaster off and preferably unplugged? That saves money on the electric bill anyway.
    Are all heated hair care things unplugged?
    Are all things that get smoked safely put out? (cigarette, cigar, ect.....)

    Luckily, it's a quick list to check. We should make sure everything is thoroughly turned off or put out when you are done with them. These help prevent most fires but not all of them can be prevented. We have no control over what lightning does.

    Will the people coming out of the blaze be healthy or need medical attention? When the blaze is out, what will be left in the building in good condition? Will everyone come out of the blaze? Or, will some people be found in the broken aftermath. In one article on the Boston fire I read yesterday they talked about doing a headcount every once in a while. With 150 firefighters, that sounded like a good idea to me. Because out of the blaze comes someone who is loved. We want everyone to come out of the blaze.

    The victims of the blaze afterwards seek to salvage their belongs. They worry about how to rebuild a life they worked hard to build in the first place. Insurance covers some things but it don't cover all. And you can't replace the irreplaceable like baby pictures.

    On a walk one afternoon Zach and I came across the town's fire chief. He was working in the yard at his house. I asked him if we get a lot of fires in our small town or not that many. He said a lot. Almost every day. Most are very small and have minimal if any loss but others are life changing.

    My heart goes out to fire victims and those who battle the blazes. They all get different things out of the blaze. It was lucky that the gas explosion in Manhattan didn't become a fire. It might not have been a blaze but there was significant loss and the aftermath was life-changing. All we can do is try our best to not start a fire and call when something doesn't look, smell, or sound right. It's better to call when it's nothing then to not call and have devastating consequences.

    Sunday, March 23, 2014

    Patient And Powerless

    When someone we truly love is sick, it makes us feel bad. We want to make them better but there are limits to what we can do. We feel powerless. There are little things we can do to help them feel a little bit better but we won't really be able to relax and be happy until everyone is healthy.

    We have had a draining week. Last weekend Zach had a fever. He went to the Doctor but it was just a cold. He was healthy all week but Josh was sick all week. I took care of both of them. After a week of caring for others, I had a cold mixed with allergies this weekend. This past Friday Zach and I both started having allergy issues so I gave him some Claritin. Children's Claritin is supposed to be 1 tsp for 24 hours. I soften it by doing 1/2 a tsp every 12 hours. Zach developed a fever again but Pedia Care took care of that.

    My allergies were trickier. With my blood pressure medicine I have to be careful about any other medicine I take. I left a message in the morning at my Doctor's Prescription phone line but it took almost all day to hear back. A day full of misery followed by "you can take your Claritin D 12 hour like usual". I suffered patiently and powerlessly while waiting to hear what medication will help me feel better without causing a heart attack. I find that allergy medicine takes about two days to really make you feel better. That meant three days of suffering. We are expected to handle the times we are powerless with patience.

    We feel powerless when we are sick and it feels like we'll never be healthy again
    We feel powerless when a loved one is sick and we can't make them healthy
    We feel powerless when Winter is stubborn and the patience for Spring has worn out
    We feel powerless when there is something we need but can't get it without help

    Patience has it's limits. Patience is a positive thing but it can't be maintained forever. Eventually, we become impatient and feel powerless when we can't get what we have been so patient about. Spring. We have been so very patient about the coming of Spring. We sat through near record cold and near record levels of snow all without a break. Then Spring weather started to come and it became officially Spring.

    But we still have to wait. Winter is returning for four days and bringing more snow with it.  We are getting more of that snow that was piled so high some of it from a month ago STILL hasn't melted. It's been four months of coats. Our patience for the cold has worn out.

    We still have to wait for nurseries to get in their soil and Pansies. They delayed ordering them to let the snow melt. I have been saving the big soil purchases I need to make for two small - business nurseries I often shop at. When Home Depot got their Pansies in on Friday I was only able to buy them because of soil left over from last year.

    We say "support small businesses" but in this case that's becoming a stressor for me. The large chain of Home Depot has the soil I need..........NOW. No more patience necessary. It would be so much easier to just go get what I need. But I will continue to wait. Wait past the snow on Tuesday and a Doctor's appointment on Wednesday in hopes I can finally buy my soil, and more Pansies, on Thursday.


    I no longer have patience for the cold and the snow. I can't wait anymore to have flowers in my garden. I can't wait anymore for it to be warm enough for me to be able to sit outside for a while. Fresh air is the key to happiness but the few nice days we have had have also been windy. It shouldn't be asking too much to want to read a magazine outside. Even at 58 degrees yesterday it was too windy to do even that.

    But I am powerless. I can't warm the temperatures up. I can't bring the soil and Pansies to my local nurseries. I can't change the coming snow into rain. I also can't be calm and patient about Spring not being here yet. I'm tired of bundling up. I feel like I am being robbed of precious warm days that don't require more then a long sleeve shirt and a denim jacket. The longer it takes to warm up, the shorter the warm season will be. I used to remind myself that it won't always be like this. I don't believe that anymore. Perhaps they should name it something different then Global "WARMING".

    Other then the need to feel better and the frustrating inability to garden there are other things that I am powerless about. We all have things that make us feel powerless and after a long time patience does run out. What happens when patience runs out but you don't have to power to end the wait? That answer is different for all of us. The usual suggestions are "meditate", "go for a walk", "distract yourself", "pamper yourself", and "do something you DO have power over". I have tried all of those things. Most of them I have tried a lot this week. None have worked. Now what?

    Sunday, March 16, 2014

    Lo-So Pasta Vinaigrette Recipe

    Unrelated news: Zach lost his first tooth today!!! He pulled it out right before bed. It was pretty loose though. Maybe he'll actually eat tomorrow. We haven't been able to get him to eat much the last couple of days. He did eat this pasta salad and loved it!

    In December, I had high blood pressure at the Doctor's office. In January, it was higher and he put me on medication. Since then, I have been working with my old Nutritionist to mold my diet to my health needs. In December, he did blood work. I had a slightly Hypoactive Thyroid. It wasn't high enough for medication but we will check again in June. Last week, my weight hadn't changed but my blood pressure was back to a good range. The Doctor even double checked if he could do the blood work for the Thyroid again but it's too soon. He suspects it will still be high.

    With these new dietary needs I needed a new source for new recipes. I haven't found that many recipes from Good Housekeeping in recent months but I knew the company that publishes my Fine Gardening Magazine also makes a Fine Cooking magazine. I picked an issue up at the grocery store and have since subscribed. I organized binders for recipe collection and started a spreadsheet to keep track of the nutrition information on all the recipes I get from magazines. Good Housekeeping and Fine Cooking both provide this information.

    Good Housekeeping:

    http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/


    Fine Cooking:

    http://www.finecooking.com/

    I don't cook with salt and pepper and when I use garlic it's always garlic powder instead of garlic salt. I have been doing that for years. It's funny, I spent the last two Novembers looking for hobbies for the gardening dormant season and this Winter stumbled into two I have been doing all along, drawing and cooking. Cooking becomes a hobby when you aren't just looking for the quick and easy stuff. It's not just about making dinner because you have it. I make the quick and easy stuff during gardening season. I don't have the energy then for something more. But in the dormant season I have the energy for something that requires more work and time and have re-discovered favorite recipes.

    This recipe is a quick recipe. It's great for gardening season and makes great left overs. It's a low sodium recipe if you use garlic powder instead of garlic salt. When you have high blood pressure you cherish the tasty low - sodium recipes. As Spring sprouts it's nice to turn to foods that are easier and more picnic - friendly. This goes great with meat from the grill.

    I created it myself, inspired by my Fine Cooking magazine (and the back issues I ordered). I experimented with three different recipes and put them in a row. Josh and I went down the line, trying one bowl at a time. In the end we took the favorite first recipe but added the basil from the third version. Josh loved doing a taste test and I imagine a similar process is used at magazines when creating recipes to publish. We'll do something similar again since it was fun. Everyone, including Zach, who has tried it has said "this is really good". I called it Lo - So for Low Sodium. I can't think of a better name.


    Lo-So Pasta Vinaigrette

    2 C. Small Shell Pasta

    8 C. Water

    ½ C. Shredded Carrots

    2 Stalks of Celery

    1/3 C. Canola Oil

    1 tbsp. Vinegar like Tarragon Vinegar by Heinz (estimated: sprinkled on)

    1 tbsp. Spicy Brown Mustard

    2 tsp. Oregano (estimated: sprinkled on)

    2 tsp Garlic POWDER (estimated: sprinkled on)

    2 tsp. Basil (estimated: sprinkle on)

     

    Note: To keep Low Sodium MUST use Garlic POWDER

     

                                   

                    Boil the water

                    While boiling, clean and dice the celery stalks.

    ·         First cut in half, cut each half in half then cut into small pieces

    Once boiled, add the Shell pasta and stir periodically until done.

    Drain the pasta and add to serving bowl.

    Add:

    ·         Celery

    ·         Carrots

    ·         Oil

    ·         Vinegar

    ·         Mustard

    ·         Oregano

    ·         Garlic Powder

    ·         Basil

    Stir then cover with plastic

    Chill in the fridge for 3 hours. Stir before serving

     

    Note: If it’s dry, add a tsp more oil and stir before serving. This might happen once it’s been in the fridge over night

    Friday, March 14, 2014

    Malaysian Airplane Hide And Seek

    Like a lot of people I am captivated by the story of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 a Boeing 777. There is just so much not known yet. It started off heading to Beijing but then there are possible indications that is switched course. if so, why? There were two Passengers with fake passports, how did they get by? Are they Terrorists? They are suspected of seeking asylum. But they are from Iran, the direction the plan probably turned in. Why would they want to go back?

    Less then an hour into the flight, communication stopped and there hasn't been a single trace of what happened yet. The most likely cause is the detection manually being shut off. One pilot has a history of letting people see the cockpit. I have gathered all this from reading the same articles a lot of people have read. While it hasn't been confirmed that the plane changed course, there is enough evidence from Chinese Navy radar that it's a real possibilities. The exact direction isn't clear but I am working under the assumption that it did change course. Technical monitoring systems tracked it as possibly flying for 5 hours after the lost contact.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/13/mh370-engine-data_n_4958050.html?utm_hp_ref=world&icid=maing-grid7%7Cmain5%7Cdl1%7Csec3_lnk3%26pLid%3D453742

    Based on the facts, here are my theories:

    1. The plan was hijacked but I doubt it was from those two with fake passports. One wanted to go to Germany and the other wanted to go to Denmark. If it was hijacked and pointed towards the Strait of Malacca, they weren't heading where the asylum seekers wanted to go. But it is towards Iran. It's possible another Passenger knew they were seeking asylum and wanted to return them home but there wasn't enough gas for the plane to make it.

    It might not even be someone on the plane. In an episode on Hawaii 5 - 0 in November (CBS Fridays 9pm Season 4 Episode 8: Akanahe) they featured a super hacker (played by Nick Jonas) who at one point had taken control of an airplane's GPS from a laptop and can change it's course without the pilot knowing about it. His character, Ian, says that when the military made GPS available to civilians it didn't bother to secure it the same way they secure their own GPS systems. That means plane GPS can be hacked from computers on the ground. 

    http://www.aol.com/article/2014/03/11/malaysian-military-missing-jet-changed-course-allegations-abou/20847836/

    2. One of the pilots had a psychological issue and changed course.

    3. There was an issue and the plane landed in either the ocean or the jungle.

    My guess is option 1 but we don't have any solid clues about anything. It's possible that a hacker copied that Hawaii 5 - 0 episode and no one knows that yet. It actually sounds like a real option given the facts we do know. Chinese radar can pick up a signal about an aircraft being there but not pin-point exactly which aircraft. It could be a private plane for all they really know. It's possible they didn't change course. But I suspect they did and are in the Ocean but further out then searches are being conducted so far.

    With all this technology these things aren't supposed to happen. I can't stop thinking about these people and their families! The uncertainty must be maddening!!! I know there are plenty of highly trained people working hard to find out what happened. It didn't just vanish. But it's discouraging that they can't even find debris. The plane disappeared a week ago. It's clearly not still in the air. It is somewhere.

    This tragedy is going to change airplane monitoring. Measures will be taken and new technology invented to prevent this from happening. Perhaps it's time to secure civilian GPS the same way military GPS is secured. We all hope everyone is okay and pray that it doesn't take much longer to find out what happened.

    Sunday, March 09, 2014

    A Better Economy

    At this point all or most of us in America have heard the following:

    1. Raising the minimum wage creates jobs by putting more money in more people's pockets creating the need for more Employees.
    2. Raising the minimum wage is a job killer.

    I suspect both sides are right. In the past, raising the minimum wage has led to more spending which led to higher Employment. Back then, Executives were more generous with their profits and wouldn't necessarily rush to raise prices to compensate for the higher cost of labor. But it's different now. I do think that in order to pay for the added cost of labor, businesses will start by laying people off and raising prices. They will overcompensate out of panic. But not all businesses will take that approach. There are still some businesses run by people who value their Employees and will not lay people off unless they genuinely can't afford it. Those are the companies that will invest more into their products and services.

    The key is going to be how much prices go up. Corporations are hoarding profits like crazy. They are sitting on $1.25 Trillion!!! They never used to hold on to that much money. They used to put more of that money back into improving their companies especially Research and Development. This is what that translates to for us consumers: products will cost more but won't be as good because of a lack of investment in product improvement. That means less money will be spent on non-essential goods and services. While more people will HAVE more money, they won't necessarily be spending it like they would have in the past. I understand why companies are holding onto some money. Because they don't know how laws will change. But they don't need to hold on to that much. Especially, since some are doing it just to make their stock look good.

    The original point of the stock market was a place for companies to get people to own a small part of their company and to use that money to make better products. Customers were more likely to buy products made by companies they owned stock in. There isn't a point in buying stock in a company that isn't using that money to improve their products. All you are really doing when owning stocks in these companies is giving them more money to hold on to. The system that worked for generations is broken and that all started with the Financial crisis created back when George W Bush was President.

    What Companies Are Sitting On:

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/markets/2014/02/02/if-companies-shared-cash-with-employees/4496341/

    How do countries with a high minimum wage fair?

    1
    Luxembourg t
    $10.66
    2
    $10.60
    3
    $10.21
    4
    $9.97
    5
    $9.48 (8th Best Economy)
    6
    $9.01
    7
    $8.62
    8
    $7.88 (10th Best Economy)
    9
    $7.85
    10
    $7.11 (5th Best Economy)
                
     
    Minimum Wage:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/visual-data/best-and-worst/highest-minimum-wage-countries


    Economic Ranking:
    http://247wallst.com/special-report/2013/09/10/the-best-economies-in-the-world/2/

    Japan: 11th Highest Minimum Wage $6.61 9th Best Economy
    Hong Kong: 7th Best Economy
    Sweden: 6th Best Economy
    Germany: 4th Best Economy
    Finland: 3rd Best Economy
    Singapore: 2nd Best Economy
    Switzerland: Best Economy!

    So, What about countries with the smallest wage gaps?

    Minimum Wage Closest to Median Wage Countries:

    1
    0.725
     
     
    2
    0.674
     
     
    3
    0.615
     
     
    4
    0.599
     
     
    5
    0.595
     
     
    6
    0.577
     
     
    7
    0.574
     
     
    8
    0.539
     
     
    9
    0.527
     
     
    10
    0.509
     

    So, Let's look at Switzerland, the BEST Economy. If you read that link you will see they invest strongly in innovation. They invest in Research and Development and because of that they have a strong Economy. Like I said before, investing profits back into the company, especially Research and Development, leads to Economic growth.

    Bottom line, We DO need a higher minimum wage but that will only work for economic growth if businesses invest more into their businesses through better Employee pay and improving their products and services. They used to invest more into their Employees. Both my parents spent their Entire careers at the companies they started in. Jobs acquired not long after graduating. They each went through training programs and had opportunities to climb up the corporate ladder. They had the kind of careers most Americans want and work hard for today.

    That hard work USED to lead to better jobs but it doesn't usually work that way. Recently, it DID for Josh. He has new responsibilities and a nice raise. That's not as common as it should be and not as common as it used to be. His company does invest in improving their products and it's working.

    I find it ironic that Switzerland is a top 10 Tax Haven for the same ultra-rich Executives who can but refuse to copy it's blueprint for economic success by investing in Research and Development. Switzerland doesn't have a minimum wage yet. They vote on May 18th of this year. If they vote yes, it will be for $24.73 an hour. That would be the highest by far. But there is resistance. The theory is that a minimum wage would hold workers back. Employers wouldn't pay more when they could and should because they don't have to. I don't think they NEED a minimum wage. Employers already invest in business and pay their Employees well. We don't get that same cooperation and respect from Employers here in America. Because of that, we NEED a high minimum wage. It's one of two crucial steps to a better economy.

    Switzerland Minimum Wage:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/25/us-swiss-minimum-wage-idUSBREA1O1AI20140225


    Tax Havens

    http://www.forbes.com/2010/07/06/tax-havens-delaware-bermuda-markets-singapore-belgium_slide_4.html