Where are we going Mr Trump?

Its going to get rough

It is easy to understand the resentment that the American electorate has towards politicians and government, but one must remember that our elected officials are nothing more than a reflection of our votes. What really frightens me about this recent election is that we have put into office a man of very questionable temperament and ability to lead the democracy and largest military in the world.  I can only wonder what path we as a country will take over the next four years.  I have been assured by a good friend who works for the military that our system of government is capable of surviving an extremely limited president; let’s hope he is right.  He also says that the nuclear arsenal is not totally controlled by the president, but is limited by a system of checks and balances which will click in before this country engages in a nuclear confrontation; this gives me some comfort!

Based on what Trump has spouted over the last 18 months, I believe he will focus his attention on health care, immigration and trade treaties.  He has promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act, build a wall on the Mexican border, block TPP and renegotiate NAFTA.  Let’s look at these one at a time.

The Affordable Care Act:

According to reports, there are almost 20 million Americans using the ACA to secure health insurance. Several of the major points of the act are to require insurance companies to insure people who are already sick or injured, that is, pre-existing conditions.  In the past, insurance companies could refuse to insure people who were seriously ill or suffered from long-term illnesses.  That makes sense if you are an insurance company trying to increase your profit but makes little sense if you are a sick person needing insurance.  Another feature of this program is to help insure folks in lower-income brackets with subsidies, which is one of the main purposes of the ACA in the first place. One of the problems is that middle America is paying BIG bucks for their insurance. Many are paying well over $1000/month with very high deductibles.  These are all-important points, but they fail to address the main reality of the insurance crisis: the insurance, the medical instrument and the pharmaceutical companies are making more money than most of us can even imagine!  That is why medical costs are up around 18% of GDP and growing in America but only around 8% in Canada and most countries that offer FREE (tax supported) medical care to their ENTIRE population!  If you talk to most people in these countries, they will tell you they have great medical services .  WAKE UP, America!  We are being fleeced by these mega-companies who have so much money and power that there is little political will to challenge them.  The bottom line is that our country cannot continue to pay these companies these exorbitant amounts of money.  We do not have to worry about the effect that Russians or climate change will have on our society, our country will collapse under the economic pressure of the medical system.  Politicians say that the solution to this problem is to not insure or reduce insurance for a major portion of our population, but that should be unacceptable to any rational human being!  If you think about it, it is almost like the alligator eating its own tail, In the end the alligator will die!  The bottom line is this: as long as corporate America has its hands in the medical till, we are going to continue down the same doomsday path that our country is headed-to economic collapse.  To repeat, it is the greed of corporate America that is taking us down this road while not providing health care to all Americans!

Immigration:

First and most important, we are a nation of immigrants!  Almost every one of us is a mixture of several different ethnicities and nationalities.  I am part German, French and American Indian, and those are just the ones I know about.  Many people believe that this is one of our nation’s strengths!  Yes, there is a problem with people crossing our border illegally in large numbers, but one must remember that they are very often fleeing a country that is so poor it cannot provide for its people.  They are mostly coming to America, the land of opportunity, just like our ancestors did before us, to find a better life.  I think the reason our government refuses to adequately address this issue is that many Americans capitalize on these people’s plight and employ them at substandard wages which takes away some jobs from our own citizens.  This is the same thing that happened to many immigrants who came to America in the past. They worked jobs for a low wage that no one else wanted.  In many ways we have become a global corporate giant on the backs of early immigrants!

NAFTA:  This is an equally difficult problem for us to face as a country.  We cannot isolate ourselves from the economic world nor can we allow the world to exploit our sometimes good nature.  Somehow we need to make our industrial climate a place where companies choose to stay.  This is a hard problem to solve.  If a company can get something manufactured in China for considerably less than in our own country, how do we attract them to use American workers that tend to be much more expensive?  If you talk to entrepreneurs, they will tell you that they can make money by having their products built-in a foreign country and will be unable to compete if they are built-in America.  Many foreign workers work in deplorable conditions for very little compensation.  Environmental regulations are almost nonexistent, and employee rights are not even discussed.  So, we Americans send our manufacturing to third-world countries to be done and then sent back to us at the expense of our jobs and the loss of human dignity.  Of course, people in third-world countries welcome these jobs since they have marginal employment.  Here lies the rub: in order for us to remain an economic power, we must offer some service or product that we create and that the world will buy.  If we continue to support third world countries and decrease our place as a producer of goods or services, the end is inevitable, and the USA will move away from its position of leadership.

So, Mr Trump, how do you plan to navigate through this difficult situation and bring us to a better place?  Maybe you can.  Maybe industry will come back to America. Maybe you have the right stuff to bring our crumbling education system, infrastructure, communication system and aging power grid, to name a few, back up to speed. I sure hope so, my kids and grand-kids are depending on it. So President Trump, let’s see if you can make America great again!

Genetic predisposition for fear

 

Has it struck anyone else that most elections are generally decided by a vote that is almost always close to one half the electorate?  This type of divide has occurred in almost every election for the last 100 years with only a few exceptions:

2016-Trump with 46% of the vote; Clinton 47%

2012-Obama with 51% of the vote

2008-Obama with 53% of the vote

2004-Bush II with 51% of the vote

2000-Bush II with 48% of the vote

1996-Clinton with 49% of the vote

1992-Clinton with 43% of the vote (this was a serious three party election)

1988-GW Bush with 53% of the vote

1984-Reagan with 59% of the vote

1980-Reagan with 51% of the vote

1976-Carter with 50% of the vote

Except for the Reagan 1994 election, one can see that every election was within a few percentage points of 50%.  This fact strikes me as curious.  Why would the population tend to divide at 50% on almost every election?  If this was a math problem and I was flipping a coin, I would expect to come out near 50% every time regardless of how many times the coin was flipped.  This is not a coin-flipping problem.  This is about people making conscious decisions about social issues and their continued well-being.  So why are almost all recent elections so statistically close?  I think there is another factor that is more difficult to identify because it is possibly ingrained in human behavior.  The concept that I would like to talk about is GENETIC PREDISPOSITION.  This idea has been tossed about in the behavioral science community for a long time.  Can we accept that each of us has tendencies based on our genetic makeup?  We see this in canines all the time.  Some species are aggressive; some are gentle; some chase rabbits while other breeds are extremely hyperactive. One controversial aspect of this that has been posited by some behavioral scientist is that some humans may carry a gene combination that tends to make them xenophobic, which causes them to have an intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other cultures.  The extreme outcome of this kind of behavior could be genocide. One of the most infamous examples of this is the Nazi regime which convinced most Germans that the Jewish people were the reason their lives were so miserable.  This resulted in the slaughter of millions of innocent Jews. A large portion of the German population (maybe 50%) bought into this idea and did everything they could to make the Jews’ lives nightmarish.

You must understand that all my observations are made through my eyes, with innate biases in place, but with a reasonable effort to look at all issues from a theoretical as well as analytical point of view.  So, with genetic predisposition in mind, here is where I want to attempt to go with this concept: perhaps fear is what determines a person’s political point of view in our current political reality.  Perhaps some of our contemporary politicians are presently somehow exploiting this basic human attribute-fear!

Here is how I see the two political parties and their appeal to voters.

Democrats:  The Democratic party tends to focus on people of less means in this country, as well on a strong centralized government.  Most social programs have been fostered by the Democratic party which would certainly include the latest social program, THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT.  In the past, and supposedly the present, the Dems were generally in favor of sharing the wealth and seeing to it that the money makes its way down from the wealthy, rather than going to a relatively small number of super affluent individuals.  My own observations have led me to believe that most Dems are generally trusting individuals.

Republicans:  This party has always been centered on states’ rights and the limiting of the power of a centralized government.  Over the last few decades they have included causes such as abortion, gun ownership and anti-gay rights as possible state’s rights issues.  I feel that in contrast to the Dems, the Republicans arrive at many of their decisions lacking sufficient trust in basic human good and thus are instinctually influenced disproportionately by fear.

There is little doubt that everyday life requires a good mix of trust and cautiousness in our dealings with fellow humans, and so it MUST be balanced!  Basing one’s life totally on one of these principles to the exclusion of the other will not serve anyone well. But this discussion may be meaningless if we are rigidly genetically predisposed to behave a certain way.

It seems to me that, based on known human behavior, there would be a natural drifting from the current 50% voting towards a more biased 40-60 or even 30-70 margin based on the issues of the time.  Yet, in recent history there seems to be a propensity towards the middle number of 50%.  What are the consequences if political parties have successfully tapped into the genetic profile of the electorate?  Maybe the Republican party has exploited what I call the FEAR GENE.  What if 50% of the population base most of their daily decisions on fear and mistrust?  For example, when I go to our local post office, which is quite small so that one never loses sight of his car while retrieving mail, I invariably see some people locking their cars.  This may seem like a small thing, but let’s look more carefully at this behavior.  My assertion is that 50% of the people who have more difficulty trusting their fellow-man tend to lock their cars, and people with a more trusting nature tend to leave their cars unlocked. What I have noticed is that my Republican friends, seem to arrive at their beliefs out of fear: fear of other races, fear of big government, fear of supreme court decisions, fear of losing their guns,  fear of alternative sexual lifestyle and others that I probably cannot even consider.  Decisions based solely on fear and emotion are hardly ever great choices in the end; decisions based on trust, logic and carefully arrived at conclusions are.  If what I propose has a basis in reality, where do we go from here to create a peaceful world?  Are there any paths that civilization can follow towards a more peaceful future?  Just me let know what you think about this.

 

A history of Trump and Russia. What we know so far.

I found this article in the Washington Post so I decided to pass on the essence of the article to my 3 readers:

  1. Trump’s claims that he did not know Vladimir Putin, but he also got to “know him very well.”
  2. Putin sent Trump a present and spoke with him but he claims he doesn’t know him.
  3. Trump has “nothing to do with Russia” but his son said, “Russia makes up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets” and “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”
  4. Russia definitely hacked the Democratic National Committee.
  5. US intelligence agencies alleged that Putin/Russia meddled in the election.
  6. There was “no communication”  between Trump’s team and the Kermlin during the campaign …except for his future national security adviser, his future attorney general and his son-in-law.
  7. Attorney General Jeff Sessions “did not have communications with the Russians,” except for the meetings with Russian Ambassador Kislyak, which he lied to congress about under oath.
  8. Sessions claimed he had “no idea what this allegation is about but claimed “It is false.”
  9. Sessions recused himself from this countries investigation of Russia. Sessions cannot confirm that the investigation exists even though he recused himself from meddeling in it.
  10. Sessions believes that PERJURY is one of the constitutional “high crimes and misdemeanors” and “goes to the heart of the judicial system”, except that he himself lied to congress under oath.
  11. Carter Page, who had extensive ties to Russia, had “no role” in the Trump campaign, except he was listed publicly as an adviser.
  12. Reports that the Trump team had ties to Russia are “fake news,” yet those who leaked the information need to be “found and punished.”
  13. Trump ousted Michael  Flynn, his national security adviser, who Trump said did nothing wrong.
  14. Flynn, who spoke several times with Kislyak on the day President Obama placed sanctions on Russia, told the FBI and Vice President Pence said that the discussion they heard about in regarding was in fact not about sanctions at all. Hard to believe!
  15. Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort had, “absolutely nothing to do with and never has with the Russians”, except for his extensive work for Russian oligarchs and pro-Russian forces in Ukraine.
  16. Now, President Trump claims, without visible evidence or support from the director of the FBI, that President Obama wire-tapped Trump Tower during the election.

Like you, I have heard or read much of this information over the last several months but thought DANA MILBANK of the Washington Post did a great job of presenting them in an understandable format, so I used his article as a template for my own piece.  Please note the quote marks within, which are the actual statements these people made.

That sad little boy in the White House

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Every body remembers the kid they grew up with, who was maybe rich and a little spoiled.  That poor little boy, he often was the brunt of everyone’s jokes. Everybody knew he cried at night from the mean things the kids did and said to him.  Some day he would get back at them.  In his mind, someday people would cheer for him and most important, like him.  He was in a private school, mom and dad were far away and little help.  He forged on and made it through school and with his daddy’s help, he started a small company he could call his own, so he could grow up and be just like his dad, successful.  As he grew older he learned that he could use his money and influence to bully and harass people to get things he wanted.  He also learned that women were objects to be collected like cars and people in general were easily manipulated with his money and power.  Does this sound like someone you might know?

As he grew older he became richer and richer, money and power acquisition were becoming a little boring so he decided to run for public office. Everybody laughed at him at first and said he had no chance to win the presidency.  He used his knowledge of the media to sway the public into thinking he was the man of their dreams and would fix the many problems that faced our nation.  He spoke in broad generalities with little substance other than “trust me” or “a beautiful plan” or ” it will be fantastic”.  To his surprise, and the world, he won.  Most of his staff had already written off the election and were heading home, but the American people, hungry for change, elected this man to office.

So here we are with a new president who knows next to nothing about the state of the world other than what goes on in his casinos, hotels and reality show.  He also suffers from a severe feeling of inadequacy and shows us this every time he talks about how he won the election.  To date he has done little to change anything other than write executive orders which have little legal clout.  His own party is losing faith in his ability to lead the country.  Senator John McCain, along with others, has blasted him several times on some of his antics.

Most important is the impending doom that is approaching President Trump as the CIA, NSA and the FBI are all investigating his possible connection with Russia.  There is apparently information that members of the Trump team were in constant contact with Russian agents during the campaign.  Apparently there are recordings of all these calls and they are being investigated right now by several government agencies.  If this turns out to be true, President Trump will become the second president to be forced to resign or the first to be successfully impeached.

I fear that the resulting turmoil that will ensue, if this chain of events does occur, could be enough to rock the foundation of our democracy.  Trump supporters, incited by the Fox Network (the other news media have been called liars) will take to the street and opposition groups will equal their numbers.  Weapons will be prevalent and there is a chance gunfights may occur.   There is little doubt the Trump supporters will out-gun the opposition.

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So get ready America, we are heading into uncharted waters.

The best money can buy. Trump’s $14 billion dollar cabinet.

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Gary McCoy / Cagle Cartoons
Gary McCoy / Cagle Cartoons

The following information was collected from the sites below.  One wonders how a president who claimed to be the people’s president can pick so many extremely wealthy people to advise him.

I found this information at :

Donald Trump’s Cabinet Net Worth: How Much Each Member is Worth

And

http://www.forbes.com/sites/chasewithorn/2016/12/22/heres-how-much-trumps-cabinet-is-really-worth/#25668d636f02

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos: $5.2 Billion. Forbes says $1.25 million.

Betsy DeVos is Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education. She is a member of Richard DeVos’ family, which Forbes estimates is worth $5.2 billion. DeVos is married to Dick DeVos, Richard DeVos’ son. Richard DeVos made his fortune as the founder of Amway.

I do not believe this women has worked a day in her life. I know she did not sell AMWAY.

Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin: $40 Million. Forbes says $300 million.

Mnuchin made his wealth as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs for 17 years before working for hedge funds. In 2009, he led a group that bought IndyMac, a California-based house lender that he renamed OneWest. Bloomberg reported in 2012 that Mnuchin was accused of being overly aggressive with foreclosures on mortgages  during his tenure as OneWest CEO.

Goldman Sachs , a key player in the financial collapse of 2005. Forbes says he is worth 300 Million.

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross: $2.9 Billion. Forbes says $300 million.

Wilbur Ross, who earned the nickname “King of Bankruptcy” by leading Rothschild Inc.’s bankruptcy-restructuring advisory practice, was nominated to be Secretary of Commerce. Forbes estimates that he has a net worth of $2.5 billion. That puts him at #232 on the Forbes 400 list.

“King of bankruptcy”,  now that makes me feel good.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson: $150 Million. Forbes says $325 million.

Rex Tillerson is the current CEO of ExxonMobil and was expected to retire in March. NBC News reports that Tillerson has an estimated net worth of $150 million. He made $24.3 million in 2016, according to the New York Times.

Tillerson has been at Exxon Mobil since 1975 and has never held a position in government. He has built a cozy relationship with Vladimir Putin and Russia in recent years, even receiving the Order of Friendship medal.

Lets run our government like an oil company.  That should serve us well.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions: $7.52 Million. Forbes says $6 million.

 

Jeff Sessions, the longtime Alabama senator, was nominated to be attorney general. Before his career in the Senate, Sessions was Attorney General of Alabama and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama. He also had a private practice before working in government.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Sessions’ average net worth is $7.52 million. That’s 2.6 times more than the average senator’s net worth. It’s also 5.3 times more than the average net worth of the other representatives of Alabama in Congress.

How does a senator make that much money…One wonders.

 

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson: $30 Million. Forbes says 29 million.

Although Ben Carson is a retired neurosurgeon with no government experience, Trump nominated his former rival for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Celebrity Net Worth estimates that the Detroit native’s net worth is an estimated $30 million.

Again one wonders, how does a doctor become worth 30 million dollars?

Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price: $13.6 Million. Forbes says $10 millon.

This man has a masters degree and he somehow became worth 13.6 million dollars?  How is that?

Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao: At Least $22.8 Million. Forbes says $24 million.

Elaine Chao, who served as the Secretary of Labor for all eight years of the George W. Bush Administration, is Trump’s nominee for the Secretary of Transportation. Chao is married to Kentucky Senator and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Washington Post reported in 2014 that McConnell’s net worth jumped from $7.8 million to $22.8 million.

So Mitch McConnells wife needed a job,  go figure…

Administrator of the Small Business Administration Linda McMahon: $500 Million.

 

Linda McMahon is the wife of Vince McMahon, the founder of the WWE. Forbes estimates Vince McMahon’s net worth at $1.14 billion. Linda McMahon’s net worth is estimated to be $500 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. McMahon worked in the WWE until 2009 when she began to pursue a political career. Both of her campaigns to represent Connecticut in the U.S. Senate failed, so the only political experience she has is as a member of the Connecticut Board of Education from January 2009 to April 2010.

Who could argue with that, bring somebody with experience in WWF wrestling to run the Small Business Administration.

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry: $3 Million. Forbes says $2 million.

Rick Perry, who was once a Trump critic, was chosen to be Secretary of Energy, The New York Times reported on December 13. It’s ironic, since the former Texas Governor said in a 2011 presidential debate that the Department of Energy was one of the three departments he would eliminate if he was president. Over 60 percent of that department’s budget is devoted to the National Nuclear Security Administration.

If this was not so sad, it would be funny. One of the poorer people in the group.  He probably serves the others coffee when they meet.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke: $675,502. Forbes says $800,000.

On December 13, Trump nominated Ryan Zinke to be Interior Secretary. He is Montana’s sole Representative in the House and was a Navy SEAL from 1986 to 2008. The 55-year-old is on the House Natural Resources Committee and Armed Services Committee. Zinke was first elected during the 2014 mid-term election.

He may be the most normal guy there.

Secretary of Labor Andrew Puzder: $4 Million Salary. Forbes says $45 million. Quite a wide range.

Andrew Puzder is Trump’s choice for Secretary of Labor. According to the New York Times, a 2012 filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission shows that Puzder’s salary for 2012 was just over $4 million, although that was down from $10 million in 2012.

Puzder is best known as the CEO of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of the fast food chains Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. He’s been in the role since September 2000. He has been a harsh critic of President Barack Obama and does not advocate for raising the minimum wage.

WHOOPS!  Puzder is gone and now we have  Alexander Acosta being nominated and not much information on him.

Now there is a surprise, a man who worked in the fast food industry is against a minimum wage. He will Help Rick Perry serve the drinks.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin: $170,000 Annual Salary.

During his press conference on January 11, Donald Trump finally announced his pick for one of the key roles he had yet to fill. Dr. David J. Shulkin will be his nominee for Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. If confirmed, Shulkin will be the only member of the Obama Administration to be carried over into the Trump Administration, as he has served as Undersecretary to Obama’s last VA Secretary, Robert MacDonald.

Donald slipped up, he hired a poor Obama man.  Rick will tell you what to do…:)

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue: $6 Million.

George Ervin ‘Sonny’ Perdue III was Governor of Georgia from 2003 to 2011, as the first Republican governor of the state since Reconstruction. Before becoming governor, he ran a successful grain and fertilizer business, notes the New York Times, and he returned to agribusiness after leaving office. He also made money by owning property in Houston County, Georgia.

Donald is going to need somebody with experience in the manure field.

Vice President Mike Pence: $211,510. Forbes says $800,000.

Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, lived a modest lifestyle compared to the other nominees before Trump was elected. His average net worth is $211,510, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Mike may need a few tips on getting rich and not paying taxes from his boss.

 

On another note, National security advisor Micheal Flynn resigned because of not informing the president of his phone calls to the Russians.

Trump says he did nothing wrong so why did he fire him?

More to come.

Boll weevil story or maybe the Donald Trump story

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Complacency has brought down more nations over time than any other force.  Our country is no different from any other.  We are getting fat, lazy and entitled and the walls of our beautiful cities are tumbling down around us.  This seems to be the natural evolution of anything devised by man.  There is a good chance that we are experiencing this downward spiral now. Maybe Mr. Trump is the medicine we need to help us get by this bump in the road.  Maybe Mr. Trump is the Boll Weevil.  You may ask, why do I compare Trump to a boll weevil?  Allow me to elaborate.

Back in the days when cotton was king, all the fields were fluffy white with cotton and the farmers were making lots of money. Along came a little weevil.  The farmers had all their apples in one proverbial barrel with little concern for the future and gave little thought of any on-coming disaster.  That disaster showed itself with a vengeance, as the boll weevil devoured most of their cotton crops in short order.  The farmers had to adjust to the infestation and plant different crops that the boll did not care for.  The weevil caused the farmers to diversify, thus securing their future in the agriculture business and avoiding the inevitable depleting of the soil they relied on for their livelihood.  In a twisted way the weevil helped them, it forced the farmers to look to an alternate sustainable future.  Maybe this is similar to the situation we find ourselves in today.  The election of Trump with all his regressive ideas about humanity and government may force us to reevaluate our future.  I think we might need a push in the wrong direction to force us to realize what is important to the future of civilization.  That push is Trump!  He is like the weevil showing up in the cotton fields.  This is similar to the way Trump showed up in a world that may have become complacent in its quest for the betterment of the human condition.  Hopefully we as a nation/world will hear the narrow, recessive thinking we are being exposed to and realize we are one nation in a world of nations tasked with the responsibility of preserving our delicate environment and society.

It is my nature to try to find some good in all things around me and I have to admit, the election of Donald has been a hard one to figure out.  Sometimes society needs a push in the right direction and occasionally that comes from the opposite direction that one might expect.  Trump has threatened human rights and challenged the word of law in numerous ways and he has only been in office several weeks.  Over three million women marched in small and large cities around the world to show their discontent with a scary and haphazard president.  Other marches were held to show dissatisfaction over the new immigration rules which are being tested in the courts as we speak and hopefully justice will prevail.

There is little doubt that we as a nation are divided but one must remember the old saying, ” United we stand, divided we fall.” We as a world are faced with many challenges in the near future.  If we work together we can endure.  If we continue to be at each others throat, we will fail.

NEWS FLASH!  The federal court system has overruled Trump’s attempt at limiting vetted immigrants from entering the country!  One small step for sanity.

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I have found my own little paradise, Roatan, Honduras

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I hate the cold of winter.  I was born in warm, sunny Torrence, California and have never quite adapted to the seasonal weather of the east coast. Since I am retired, I have the flexibility to avoid some of the winter blues.  This is what I have been doing for several years now with trips to Florida, and last year, a trip to warm, sunny Jamaica.  This year I ventured with my friend to the tropical island of Roatan, off the coast of Honduras.  This is well within the tropical belt at about 16 degrees latitude.  Roatan is a very economically poor island but the people are friendly and hospitable.  The roads are atrocious and winding but the cabbies navigate them like star-fighters in a Star Wars movie.  We stayed at a wonderful place called The Puerto Azul, (Blue Door), in Sandy Bay.

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Our hostess was a young lady by the name of Talia, who gave up her teaching career, moved from New York city and created this little paradise in Sandy Bay.  Her cohort in crime is a natural-born Roatanian, Darci, who knows the island and the waters that surround it like the back of his hand. Together they make a great team and worked hard to make our visit enjoyable.

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Our bungalow was right on the ocean and we could hear and feel the ocean all the time.  The temperature stays around 80+ degrees almost all the time. One day the wind picked up keeping us from our  daily snorkeling.  Another evening we ventured to the city of West Bay, where all the action is, with our two new friends Ray and Mike.  After a day of snorkeling, and dinner at the Bananarama, we put our money on a couple of hermit crabs in a race,  the proceeds of which were going to the prevention of AIDS in newborns.  This activity, which has been ongoing for almost a decade, has been used to purchase baby-formula, thus reducing the occurrence of mother-to-baby transmission of HIV in newborns to ZERO in the last few years!  We also found this place that sells chocolate which is made right on the island (so they say) and it could have been the best chocolate we ever had.

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On a lazy afternoon we walked down the road to check out a new area and possibly get lunch at a local restaurant. Believe me when I say, it is not a typical place we Americans think of eating. Here is a picture of where we ate lunch. Nothing fancy, but the food was great and the price was very reasonable!

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This is the lady that made us lunch.

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I only knew a few words on this menu but I found burrito and I learned that pollo means chicken.

After lunch Darci took us out in his boat to see what he says is the best snorkeling on the island. It was an exciting experience! Despite the wavy ocean, we saw thousands of beautiful fish!  My daughter Betsy told us to take an underwater video camera and we wish we had listened to her advice.

 

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Our last full day on the island, we traveled by cab over to Coxen Hole, the main city on the island to see what mischief we could get into.  We got hustled by a cabbie who took us in a big circle to where we had been picked up, to see a monkey farm we could have walked to in a couple of minutes. As our new friend Mike says, “it’s all good.”  There were several varieties of monkey, young and old who seemed to enjoy being held as long as you had an ample supply of peanuts, as well as the colorful macaws, one of which sat on my head. Total cost of this little excursion was $5 for the cab, $20 to see the monkeys and $2 tip for our guide, adding up to $27.  Like P. T. Barnum said, “there is a sucker born every minute” It’s all good….Point of interest on the cabbies: cabs make up a sizeable portion of the economic base in many of these tropical islands.  On Roatan they have a fleet of ‘Collectivo’ cabs and buses that move people around for set fees.  We were only beginning to understand what a set fee was and sometimes it seemed to be negotiable.  I am convinced that on Roatan the cabbies are the wealthier guys on the island.

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Our last day on the island we went on another snorkeling adventure at the reef right in front of our bungalow. It’s called SPOOKY CHANNEL and believe me it is named well.  In parts of the channel that pass through the coral reef you could not see the bottom and the channel was very narrow!  Upon returning to the kayaks, as I was attempting to get back in mine, it flipped, tossing me out and my mask to the bottom of the ocean, about 20 feet down. I located the mask using Dorothy’s mask and began my descent to get it.  I was convinced my head was going to be crushed from the water pressure but I retrieved my mask and made it back to the boat.  My ears ached for almost an hour.

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This is where they do the dolphin show in Anthony’s Key.

Roatan is an incredibly beautiful island and The Puerto Azul made it even better.  Every morning Talia and Darci got up to make us a wonderful breakfast; we did not miss one!  If you decide you want to stay at the Puerta Azul, let me know and I will tell you how to make contact with Talia and Darci.

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On Thursday we headed to the airport and made the laborious trip home.  In case you have not flown lately, many of the airlines have decided that people are becoming smaller and thus placing the seats even closer together, making the trip even more painful than in the past.  On the trip down I was convinced my knees were going to become attached to my shoulders.  That’s a little bit of an exaggeration but you get the point.

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OK, so you still have some time to escape the cold of winter, but you better hurry, time is running out! I will finish with one of my favorite pictures.

By the way that is Venus in the background.

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MRSA, HERPES and LYME DISEASE, what you need to know about bio-films.

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The biofilm life cycle in three steps: attachment,

growth of colonies (development), and periodic

detachment of planktonic cells.

The biofilm life cycle in three steps: attachment,
growth of colonies (development), and periodic
detachment of planktonic cells.

There is little doubt that we live in a complex environment with more things to think about then we care to list.  Due to my recent bout with Lyme disease and an earlier run-in with MRSA I was forced to become informed about some new topics.  I am going to be the proverbial Boll Weevil and throw one more issue into your life you need to be aware of: BIO-FILMS.

Lyme disease                  Herpes
MRSA Staph                    Hepatitis
Fibromyalgia                   HIV and Aids
Chronic Fatigue               Shingles
Allergies

Above is a list of the bacteria that are considered to be in a class of human disease that is able to protect itself from antibiotics by enveloping itself in an impermeable layer, ie: bio-film.  I am sure you have heard of many of them.  The standard treatment for many of these ailments is large doses of antibiotics for long periods of time.  The problem with this treatment is that this class of diseases are able to hide behind a wall of fibrin and debris and simply uncloaks to do their damage when the drug regimen has ended. The prescribing of antibiotics may be repeated numerous times thus destroying the body’s natural flora which makes the body more vulnerable each time the drugs are used.  A simple analogy is your backyard garden.  If you are foolish enough to spray your garden with a herbicide, take notice of the first things that grows back: weeds!  Your gut is very similar, when you kill all the good natural bacteria in your stomach by taking antibiotics, guess what grows back first, the bad bacteria!  This is why it is important to take a probiotic in conjunction with antibiotics.  I could go on and on about this topic but a simple click on the link below will get you started in a possible cure for some of these diseases.

The link below is only one viewpoint on this problem but it seems to reflect a general consensus of the new thinking on these old problems.  If you call this company and ask to speak to Allen, he is a wealth of information on this subject. This is one of many articles I have written on health as I am learning slowly about the life skills of eating and caring for the body.  It is up to you to learn and understand the health issues you face through life and although the medical community is often times the answer to your problem, in the new world there is a plethora of information available to you.  If you have questions on this topic, please respond to the blog.  If you do not wish your information to be published, I will honor your request. If you do not wish to use this site you can send an email to streisel@frontiernet.net.

Live long and prosper!

http://www.ppt-health.com

The shortest day of the year!

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On December 21 at 10:44 UTC ( 3:44 a.m. EST),  we experience the shortest period of daylight of the year, which we call Winter Solstice.  That means that the northern hemisphere of the earth is more tilted (23 degrees) away from the sun than any other time of the year.  Many people believe that the earth is farther away from the sun on December 21st, but this is not true.  The distance from the sun is not related to the seasons, since the distance changes over millions of years of time  At this particular moment in time, the sun is closer during the winter in the northern hemisphere.  If you were living in Australia, the sun would also be closer at this time, but the tilt of the earth in the Southern Hemisphere makes it summer there now.

Although Christians celebrate December 25 as the birthday of Jesus Christ, few claim any knowledge of the exact day he was born.  So maybe I have come up with the reason we celebrate Christmas close to the longest, coldest, most depressing night of the year: to help us through the long cold winter! Just think, what is Christmas?  This is the time when the days are short and the wind is cold, so why not brighten up the world with Christmas lights and joy?  What a great idea!  Since people are depressed about the weather and lack of daylight, they may be more prone to buy lots of gifts in an attempt to improve their mood.  This will also help the economy by employing lots of people, as shoppers try to cure their Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) by spending money.

Throw into this mix the celebration of the New Year seven days later and you have a long length of time to celebrate in all kinds of ways.  We surround ourselves with lots of Christmas lights and seasonal joy to help us through this deary time of the year.

So I, in the wake of all this depressing stuff, along with a short earth science lesson,  would like to wish everybody a merry Christmas and a happy new year!  Oh, yeah, the most important thing is that the days are getting longer now!

My Christmas story

A Christmas story told again and again and….

 

This is one of my favorite stories and it helps me remember what Christmas is really about. If you read it last year or the year before, read it again and if you are new to my blog, I hope you enjoy this touching story. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! You can find Naotaka Maehara on Facebook. Maybe someday parents will sit around the fire and read this to there children…or maybe not…

Naotaka Maehara arriving in Augusta

The other day my friend Steve Bailes called me up to ask if I would be interested in housing a young man from Japan for the evening. He is riding his bike across America, having left from Vancouver 70 days ago. He was coming from Clarksburg and would arrive on Saturday if things worked out. I agreed, and contacted Nao (pronounced NOW which is short for Naotaka Maehara) by email to invited him to stay with us for the evening. He replied that he would like to stay with us Saturday evening. The next two days were interesting as I stayed in contact as much as possible via e-mail. If you remember, this past Wednesday and Thursday we experienced our first major snow fall of the season so Nao was right in the middle of it with the continental divide directly in front of him. To make a long, involved story shorter, he made it across the mountains to our home by 4pm on Saturday. I quickly suggested he take a bath to get warm. He agreed and headed for the bathroom. About an hour later he emerged, hungry, relaxed and anxious to get to know us. Steve had asked if he could come over and meet Nao so I suggested that we do dinner ; at about 6pm Steve and Terry arrived. It was one of those magical evenings that happen so rarely. We talked, exchanged stories and ate until we were ready to pop. Nao turned out to be charming, pleasant and a very gracious guest. I will remember the evening for a long time. With my fading memory that could be months from now. After dinner, us guys went down stairs to give Nao’s bike some tender loving care, which it needed badly. We reattached the front racks, cleaned and oiled the chain, pumped up the tires, and gave it a quick inspection. Later Nao and I went upstairs to spend almost two hours planning his route to New York City. He was ready for his journey to continue in the morning. After I went to bed, Sue stayed up until midnight talking with Nao about who knows what.

Resting after dinner

Relaxing after dinner

The morning came; Nao had several bowls of cereal and began to ready himself and his bike for his journey to New York City where he was scheduled to arrive on December 23. We created a Skype connection so that he could contact us with his computer, if needed. Shortly thereafter, Nao headed down the driveway.

After Nao had left, we found a note in his bedroom. In the note was a twenty-dollar bill. At first I considered getting in the car and catching him to give back the money but after reading the note I decided not to. This is written in Nao’s own words. He has only been learning English for three years. I’m impressed!

“I met woman in that time. (this is before he met us) She listened my serious talking and gave this $20 to me. She gave money and I received money. And also I received her kindness. She said, “I can’t help you now, but use this money and stay in hotel.

I want you guys (me) receive this $20. I mean it is not a staying fee, it means a woman’s kindness.”

I will keep this twenty and pass it forward when the time comes. Experiences like this one only intensify my belief that life is about the people you meet and the memories you take from those meeting. My only hope is that someday I will get to see Nao again!