Lunaya Pravda

28 April 2006

Tonight's menu


6 chicken breast halves, boned and skinned
salt and pepper
1 cube butter
2 Tbsp. dry sherry
2 Tbsp. grated lemon peel
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Cup heavy cream
2 tsp. cornstarch
grated Parmesan cheese

Lightly salt and pepper chicken breasts. Melt butter in skillet and sauté chicken until cooked through, turning to cook on all sides. Place chicken in oven-proof serving dish.

Add sherry, lemon peel and lemon juice to butter in skillet. Stir cornstarch into cream and then slowly add it to skillet mixture, stirring constantly. Pour over chicken. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and broil until golden brown.

Doubleplusgood when served over pasta.


27 April 2006

Here's to your health

Shortages of drug for asthma cause concern

The Food and Drug Administration ruled that inhalers containing chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) had to be gone by Dec. 31, 2008. CFCs, commonly used as refrigerants and propellants, have been banned in the United States for most purposes since 1996 because they deplete the ozone layer. But drug companies have been slow to respond.

Bomgaars said that until production of inhalers fueled by hydrofluoroalkane (HFA) -- a propellant that doesn't affect the ozone layer -- is ramped up, availability will continue to be a problem.

Sooooo, we're banning CFCs to protect the ozone, fucking over a bunch of asthmatics in the process. I'm sure each person struggling to find albuterol or pay for the substantially more expensive substitutes appreciates all that's being done to help protect their health. After all the lip-service from the beltway regarding environmental policy and the supposed public health benefits, I'm speechless at the irony of this move.

New formulations hitting the market cost about twice as much as albuterol with CFCs. At Bartell Drugs, for example, generic versions of albuterol products were in the low $20s. A comparable prescription with the new HFA is in the low $40s.

Dr. Jonathan Becker, an asthma/allergy board certified specialist at Northwest Asthma and Allergy Center, acknowledged that the eco-friendly products are quite a bit more expensive, but said the HFA products also "have the potential to better deliver medications."...

Bomgaars suggested that those taking albuterol should check with their physicians to see if they should be on it -- if it's still the appropriate drug for them. "Short term, as much as we hate to have people shop around, it may be necessary for them to call around and see if the product is available."

And how is it we can still be pondering the mystery of expensive health care?

I'd be curious to know just how much, by weight and by volume, the CFCs from inhalers contribute to overall CFC emissions. I'm betting it's not a significant percentage of either. Instead, this measure reeks of concern over public perception - that we must be "doing something" to save the environment and stop global warming.

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24 April 2006

Must... move... gingerly

Though every muscle in my body is now screaming at me, I'm proud that I made good on my threat to attack the yard work once the weather cooperated. I weeded everything that I intended to weed, mowed the back yard, and pulled out a ton of morning glory on the north side of the house. Morning glory is beautiful, but like blackberry brambles, it gets into everything if left untouched. Unfortunately, it's coming from the neighbor's yard, so I wasn't able to remove it all.

I didn't get my starter plants from lewlew into their permanent homes, but that's because I decided that the soil is going to need some nurturing before it's really acceptable for planting. In the meantime, I'm going to get a couple of planters and some potting soil tonight, which will give them time to get really healthy while I work on fertilizing the soil and getting rid of the mossy patches.

I did something incredibly stupid, too. My lawnmower is a corded electric one - not my choice, but it was a gift, and it's decent. While I've been very attentive to the location of the cord while mowing the back yard, I completely forgot about it when moving to the front. The first thing I did was run over the cord and slice it almost in two, triping the circuit breaker for the garage. Sheesh. Live and learn, eh?

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21 April 2006

Local businesses I love

Kirsten over at Enjoy Every Sandwich occasionally gives a nod to local businesses she frequents and enjoys, and in doing so, has inspired me to do the same. For those of us adverse to the impersonal, over-commercialized corporate chains, knowing and recommending good local businesses helps keep them afloat, giving us all the opportunity to avoid those cookie-cutter dens of imperfection and visit our favorite local holes-in-the-wall.

I'd just like to mention what I think is the best sushi restaurant I've found so far on the West Coast. Gari of Sushi, 1209 S. 38th St., Tacoma, has some of the most innovative rolls I've yet seen in a sushi bar. The service is excellent, the prices are reasonable, and the atmosphere is quiet. Of course, they always have the small television tuned into some weird Japanese take on American Gladiators, but it's just one more quaint aspect of the place that charms me.

Definitely worth a visit if you're in the area.


Long trek to work 'answer to balanced life'?

Americans commute longer, farther than ever

Dave Givens drives 370 miles to work and back every day and considers his seven-hour commute the best answer to balancing his work with his personal life.

The winner of a nationwide contest to find the commuter with the longest trek, Givens is one of millions of people who are commuting longer and farther than ever before.

Studies show Americans spend more time than ever commuting and for a growing number, getting to work takes more than an hour. In the most recent Census Bureau study, 2.8 million people have so-called extreme commutes, topping 90 minutes.

I suppose if this guy is content, then that's all that matters, but I'll be damned if I'd commute 7 hours each day. What's the point of living in the country if you're actually living in your car?

I remember seeing something on TV about a woman who actually FLEW to and from her office each day. She lived in San Marino, I think - one of those LA 'burbs - and caught flights to and from San Jose each day. She got up at 3AM and didn't get home until 10 or 11PM each night. She, too, said it was "balance".

They can keep their ideas of balance. To me, that's just a sick juggling act.



I jumped the gun a little. Turns out the woman we wanted to hire had salary requirements that were way outside what my employer was willing to negotiate, so it doesn't look good.

But, I'm still on track to move up, I'm going to training in one of my former stomping grounds, and things are still looking up. I'll just be busier a little longer than expected, which I suppose isn't bad when one factors in overtime pay.

And the weather is supposed to be excellent this weekend - 70 degrees on Sunday - garden, here I come! Weeds, you better run for cover!

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Red Wings SUCK

I've been getting into the blog of "freeman, libertarian critter", but I have to take exception to his spring post. Detroit has been and always will be my most despised hockey team, and I'm wishing them a quick elimination.


20 April 2006

An excellent post over at Montag about the freedom mindset.

Another theme I try to emphasize is be optimistic and, in the sense that most days the police aren't going to break down your door and seize your person and property, it doesn't hurt to be optimistic and unafraid. But somewhere today, police are breaking down someone's door and seizing persons and property, often to enforce bad laws. And outside Waco that day, the lawbreakers were the law enforcers. So while it doesn't hurt to be optimistic and unafraid and to expect the best, it also doesn't hurt to anticipate the worst, so that while most of the time you'll be pleasantly surprised, you also will be prepared should the worst happen.

I couldn't possibly add more to what he said so eloquently.

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As I mentioned before, work has been extremely demanding, but the recent demands on my time, attention, and energy seem to be ebbing a bit. We are near to hiring someone to help me who I think is extremely competent and will be easy to work with, and will take much of the burden off me once she's up to speed. And she has a degree in geology, which makes her that much cooler (and I have absolutely no bias in this department whatsoever).

The ironic thing is that I was worried I wouldn't be able to be impartial when interviewing this woman. Some of my coworkers tried twice to do an end around me and hire her without any workload to back it up (and for those of you who've not done consulting work, billable workload is everything), and because of that a small part of me wanted to stick it to them by turning her away. But she won me over in her interview in spite of myself. She brought relevant examples of her previous work. She didn't lie about or exaggerate desired skills and experience she didn't posess. She was relaxed and friendly.

So in the end, this whole thing serves as a lesson to me not to let office politics get in the way, not only of hiring a potentially awesome employee, but of anything else. It's draining, unproductive, and causes much unnecessary stress, and I've been incredibly silly for letting it dominate the past couple of weeks of my life. And I'd have been screwing myself not to give her a fair shake. Shame on me.

And another good thing has come out of all this. Previously hesitant about making waves or voicing a potentially controversial opinion, I've suddenly found the inner strength to speak up for myself. I took the time to speak to my boss about certain concerns I had - wisely, I think, failing to mention that I felt threatened by my coworkers' previous efforts to bring this woman in - and the upshot is that I'm getting a bit of a promotion, some more responsibility, and some training out of it.

It's been a good week.

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14 April 2006

Spring has sprung

I apologize for the lack of commentary lately. Between a generally demanding workload that pays well in terms of overtime and some recent work drama related to workload and hiring, I've had little time or energy to devote to reading the two dozen or so blogs and news sources I normally scan. Sometimes income has to be a priority, and if I could make a decent living at blogging for fewer than 10 regular readers - hmmm, it might be generous to suggest my readership is plural - it would be higher up on my To Do list.

Last weekend, Yak Attack's lewlew was kind enough to give me some of the abundant flora from her garden. Unfortunately, the Pacific Northwest weather cooperates only when I'm at work, so I haven't yet had time to put anything in permanent homes. Mint, lavender, candytuft, succulents galore - it's quite the vegetative spread, and I look forward to the sights and smells once they're established.

I did manage to tackle the high grass in my back yard. I hadn't mowed since shortly after I moved in 7 months ago, and it was getting so tall that any passing Vietnam vet might be trapped by unpleasant flashbacks. My fabulous neighbor, a retired man with what I suspect is more time than he knows how to fill, occasionally mows my front yard and parking strip when he's feeling up to it, and for that I'm grateful. But the randy dandelions have been frolicking and seed-spreading like teenagers whose parents are out of town, and my back yard was a lumpy mess of pathetic-looking grass and golden knee-high weeds. At some point I'll just till the entire thing over and bring in fresh sod, but for now, I'll settle for a shorter lumpy mess.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to a dry weekend when I can get dirty planting and weeding and trimming. But until that day, I'll try to give my blog the attention my yard isn't getting.

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12 April 2006

Where am I? The Pit of Despair

Texas Judge Orders Medication for Inmate

FORT WORTH, Texas — A judge who halted an execution because the inmate was mentally ill has agreed to force the man to take anti-psychotic medication so he can be put to death....

"The whole idea of holding somebody down and injecting them so that we can then say, with a straight face, this person is now competent so we can kill them, I think that smacks of an Orwellian-Soviet-style approach to criminal justice," Jack Strickland told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

"The Prince and the Count always insist on everyone being healthy before they're broken."

Sorry, I just completed the abridged version of The Princess Bride by S. Morgenstern a few days ago. But when I found this little tidbit, that line from the movie adaptation immediately sprung to mind.

When the Surpreme Court ruled against executing those who don't understand the consequences of their actions, I don't believe they meant "unless you can force them to understand."


11 April 2006

And it just keeps coming

Lawyer: Response to Boy's 911 Call Not Isolated Case

In a series of calls in January 2005, a 911 operator questioned the sanity of a Detroit woman who reported she had been shot in the head. An emergency crew didn't arrive until after the woman called her son and got him to call for help, attorney Geoffrey Fieger said....

In her first call, Lorraine Hayes calmly asked for an ambulance, gave her address and said she had been shot in the head. The operator asked if she was male or female and Hayes stumbled, first saying she was male and then correcting herself.

After some more questions, the operator asked: "Are you a mental patient?"

"My body is numb. I'm getting ready to die," Hayes said at one point.

The operator said she did not believe Hayes would be able to call if she was shot in the head and told her she would get in trouble if she was making a false report.

I'm speechless.

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08 April 2006

What was that about 911 reliability?

911 Operater Tells Boy Not to Play With Phone as His Mother Dies

The Detroit Police Department promised a thorough investigation Friday after coming under intense scrutiny both locally and across the nation for an incident in which a woman died after her 5-year-old son's calls to 911 were dismissed as a prank.

Robert Turner, now 6, called 911 twice after his mother collapsed Feb. 20 in her bedroom on Detroit's west side. A recording of the calls, which family members gave the Free Press on Friday, revealed that the boy's pleas for help weren't taken seriously.

Having listened to the calls, once the kid said "my mom passed out" that should have been enough to take the calls seriously. Instead, the operator(s) were almost immediately confrontational, demanding to talk to either an adult or the kid's mom, and then threatening to report him to the police for making prank calls.

I realize 911 operators handle plenty of time-wasting calls, but had either operator (and it may have been the same operator on both calls) attempted to elicit more information from the boy, perhaps he would have provided a more coherent plea for help.

Teaching her son to call 911 wasn't wrong - in fact, it's much more problem-solving than some parents teach - but this just reinforces my beliefs on the importance of knowing your neighbors, and making sure your kids know at least one trusted neighbor or family member they can call upon in an emergency. It certainly appears that this boy didn't what else to do when 911 failed him, that he thought after he dialed 911, everything else would fall into place. And none of that is his fault.

Keep emergency numbers written near the phone. Make sure your children know their full names, address, and phone number for use in an emergency, and be sure to discuss with them the times it's appropriate to share that information with a stranger. The simplicity in remembering "911" isn't sufficient; kids can be taught more than that.

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07 April 2006

Asset forfeiture gone mad

Feds tried to seize gold caps from defendants' teeth

TACOMA, Wash. — Talk about taking a bite out of crime — government lawyers tried to remove and confiscate the gold-capped teeth known as "grills" or "grillz" from the mouths of two men facing drug charges....

According to documents and lawyers involved in the case in U.S. District Court, Flenard T. Neal Jr. and Donald Jamar Lewis, charged with several drug and weapon violations, were taken on Tuesday from the Federal Detention Center to the U.S. marshal’s office, where they were told the government had a warrant to seize the grills.

Before being put into a vehicle to be taken to a dentist in Seattle, they called their lawyers, who were able to halt the seizure, said Miriam Schwartz, Neal’s public defender. A permanent stay of the seizure order was signed Tuesday by U.S. Magistrate J. Kelley Arnold, court documents show.

Okay, the comparison to Nazi Germany is a smidge overdramatic. But no asset forfeiture should involve doctors, dentists, or any other member of the medical establishment. I mean really - if drug money paid for a pacemaker implant or artificial limb, would they steal that, too? They can be auctioned off, you know.

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05 April 2006

Wendy McElroy's latest

Wendy McElroy's latest column is spot-on.

On Nov. 28, 2002, 2-year-old Abigail Rae died by drowning in a village pond in England. Her death is currently stirring debate because the ongoing inquest revealed an explosive fact. A man passing by was afraid to guide the lost child to safety because he feared being labeled "a pervert."

In the article "Day of the dad: paedophilia hysteria leaves men afraid to help," The Telegraph raises a question that applies equally to North America. Have high profile cases of pedophilia created such public hysteria that the average decent human being, especially a man, is now reluctant to approach a child in need?

Consider what happened to Abby. The toddler wandered from her nursery school, Ready Teddy Go, through a door left open. A bricklayer named Clive Peachey drove past her in his truck. At the inquest, he stated, "I kept thinking I should go back. The reason I didn't was because I thought people might think I was trying to abduct her."

What a "rock and a hard place" dilemma. Stop and help, and risk being labeled a pedophile, or continue on while worrying, knowing something else might happen to the child. Given today's child protection fanatacism, I don't blame the guy one bit for his choice.

In my college years, I was a lifeguard. During training, it was always heavily stressed that we assess risks to ourselves first - before intervening. While at the time, that training referred to personal safety, in today's litigious, police-filled society, it's appropriate that legal consequences be included in assessing risk. And with that training now in mind, there is no fault in this guy's logic.

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04 April 2006

More on Doctor Doom

"We're ... breeding our brains out," prof says

The Gazette-Enterprise quoted Pianka as saying disease "will control the scourge of humanity. We're looking forward to a huge collapse."

It said he weighed the killing power of various diseases such as bird flu and HIV but decided neither would yield the needed results.

"HIV is too slow. It's no good," he said.

(emphasis mine) What a guy.

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Doctor Doom saves the world

Meeting Doctor Doom

Forrest M. Mims III describes his experience in a recent presentation by Dr. Eric R. Pianka, University of Texas evolutionary ecologist and lizard expert:

Professor Pianka said the Earth as we know it will not survive without drastic measures. Then, and without presenting any data to justify this number, he asserted that the only feasible solution to saving the Earth is to reduce the population to 10 percent of the present number.

He then showed solutions for reducing the world's population in the form of a slide depicting the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. War and famine would not do, he explained. Instead, disease offered the most efficient and fastest way to kill the billions that must soon die if the population crisis is to be solved....

After praising the Ebola virus for its efficiency at killing, Pianka paused, leaned over the lectern, looked at us and carefully said, “We've got airborne 90 percent mortality in humans. Killing humans. Think about that.”

It's a little too convenient that the cameraman was instructed not to record when Pianka got up to speak, and a little too frightening that Doctor Doom received a standing ovation from the scientific community for proposing the murder of 5.4 billion people. To me, this demonstrates that the proportion of mindless sheep in the scientific community is likely equal to that of the general population.

Funny that when the zero (or in this case, negative) population growth crowd speaks up, they're never the ones volunteering for their own proposals. If any one of them truly believed in their cause, they'd be the first ones to drink the Kool-Aid. It's a known fact that the best environmentalist is a rotting, festering corpse; pushing up daisies would do more for the environment than all their current efforts combined. But instead, their smug self-satistfaction suggests they intend to be first in line to rule when the rest of us nature-killers are out of the way. I wonder how Pianka intends to side-step the indiscriminate targeting of a virus and assume the survivor throne.

If we need to start an ebola outbreak, Dr. Pianka is an excellent candidate to become the next Typhoid Mary. It's time he put his money life where his mouth is. Then he and Dr. Mengele's ghost can trade notes.

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01 April 2006

Goodbye, Log Cabin Inn

Historic Log Cabin Inn burns to ground

I haven't had the pleasure of eating there for over a decade. Many drives up and down the McKenzie for fishing and visits to central Oregon provided me with sights of this historic inn. And I'm saddened to know on my next journey along that scenic jewel, the Log Cabin Inn won't wave at me as I pass.


Hurray for all things natural!

Implants may be risky on shuttle flights

Of the 157 people who have paid Virgin Galactic $200,000 for a brief space flight in 2008, those with breast implants may find themselves flat out of luck.

"We've discovered there may well be issues with breast augmentation," he said. "We're not sure whether they could stand the trip -- they could well explode."

Now, I'm skeptical of anything published around this time of year, but should this be true, I wonder if it applies to butt, calf, and bicep implants as well. My guess is that implants aren't a risk unless the cabin depressurizes, and if that happens, they've got more to worry about than exploding boobs.

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Fear of freedom

Crispin Sartwell writes:

We want the government to guarantee our health, deflect hurricanes, educate our children and license us to drive; we want to be told what to eat, what to smoke and whom to marry. We are justly proud of the fact that no enduring society has ever incarcerated more of its people. Noting that the policeman has a pistol, a club, a stun gun, a can of pepper spray and a database that includes us, we feel happy and secure.

Our submission is absolute: We want to be operated like puppets and provided for like pets.

The terrorists hate our freedom. But we should be comfortable with that. We hate our freedom, too.

(Hat tip to Radley Balko for the find.)

This is precisely the same thought that's been nagging at me for months now. We as a society AREN'T comfortable with freedom, and for two main reasons.

The first is that with freedom comes responsibility - self-determination is a scary, daunting proposition, especially to those who've never known the definition of "self-supporting". It gives us the ability to soar to great heights, and to plummet with a resounding thud and no safety net. It also provides us no scapegoat for our fears and failures. When we make mistakes, be they as big as choosing the wrong mate or as small as leaving a red sock in the washer with the whites, no one is around to shoulder the blame and whisk away the consequences.

The second is that we aren't comforable with what others will do with their freedom. They might *gasp* light up a cigarette at the bar stool next to you. They might leave rusting car bodies on their front lawns. They might gamble their money away at the local casino. And, horror of horrors, we just can't have that.

Sometimes it makes me wonder if it's worth trying to convince anyone that living free is the only acceptable choice. All too frequently, the recipient of my suggestions nods in agreement until they remember just one thing they wouldn't like their neighbors to be able to do. And each one of them justifies their intrusion with "it's just one little law - what's the harm?", not even acknowledging the cumulative effect of each of those little laws.

I can't say that I'm always comfortable with the things my neighbors do with the freedoms we still have. For example, the newest family on the block has taken to parking their oil-leaking disastermobile in front of my house on occasion, and yes, it grates on my nerves when I see the greasy slick on the pavement. But if I'm going to walk the walk, I need to just let that go for the bigger picture. They're a quiet couple with kids, and other than the car, they've given me no grief.

What a sad little battalion of busybodies America has become. And I'll still struggle to keep my annoyance in check, because I don't want to enlist.

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