It’s Sunday Morning – June 10, 20 O’Seven

I hope Charles Osgood doesn’t get upset with me for borrowing his date format. I have liked the way it sounds ever since he started using in, I think it was Twenty O’One…Sorry for the sparsity of posts. I have been playing with WordPress for a few days now, first on WordPress.Com and then with setting up a hosted site.

Just as a test blog I set up Coffee Muses on WordPress.Com with a play on the way so many of my posts here are titled. I liked the way the interface worked and the program seemed quite robust so I was posting mirror posts from North Carolina Mountain Dreams to try out WP. In the process I got to thinking about all of the posts I was doing at NCMD that had absolutely nothing to do with the NC mountains and everything to do with world news and Texas in general. It kinda made me think this might be a good time to rethink my blogs directions. I already had a hosting contract with GoDaddy from when I bought the name for NCMD, so I started thinking about setting up a WP blog on the hosted account. Which led me to running a search on the coffeemuses.com domain name. Since nobody was setting on it I decided to buy it and setup shop under that name for my daily “Coffee Muses” and go back to posting just “Mountain Dreams” at NCMD.

Needless to say, Saturday was taken up with installs and tweaks and more tweaks and edits till my wife was wondering what the hell I was doing here. She doesn’t understand the hold computers have on some people, especially me even though I have been buying and working and playing on them since the early 80’s. As a mater of fact, her biggest threat around here is to pull the plug on the internet ’cause she doesn’t see any benefit from using it. Anywho, I think I have the new site up and going well enough to start using it. I will be rolling over to it for my morning posts this next week. I’ll probably mirror both sites for a week or so till my brain can handle the new work process. NC Mountain Dreams will continue to be used, just more focused, and I’ll try to get in the habit of posting here (there) in the evenings. So if you have stuck with me this far, hang around through the transition, I hope to make it better…

On another note, my health is going to be intruding on my life more in the short term…Last week I had a lesion cut out and biopsied off my vocal cords. Turned out it was cancerous…It looks like we caught it early ( just not early enough for the person in my life that kept telling me for the past few months to go to the Dr.). I will be starting radiation treatments this coming week. Every weekday for six or seven weeks I’ll get to trek across town and put on a (looks kinda like a hockey) mask while they strap me down and zap my throat with atomic rays…The SciFi fan in me just had to say that…At some point there may come some days where I wont feel like putting my thoughts out here, and when I end up on leave, I may be posting a lot, so there could be days you want to tell me to shut up…Feel free. Everyone is very optimistic at this time that this will come out well, so I’m just going to continue to muddle through my life in the same fashion I have been and pray for the best…

Needless to say, our two weeks in the mountains above Valle Crucis just got canceled. I will miss the summer trek to the high altitudes and the cool nights. If you are looking for a great place to stay, we just released our cabin reservation. Go talk to the folks at Valle Crucis Log Cabin Rentals, they have been taking good care of us each year and I’m gonna miss ’em. If everything works out well this summer…We plan on trying to get out that way this fall. Neither Sherry nor I have ever really seen fall color. You just don’t get that down here in SE Texas…

Later all.

Monday Morning Thunder

Weather Report: Loud

As I was in the shower this morning I started to hear the distant rumble. By the time my morning routine had carried me to the kitchen for the first cup, the thunder-boomers were almost constant. The light show outside the kitchen window is quite impressive.
Welcome to Spring Break all you little darlings…Judging by the weather forecast I looked at last night, most of this week will be stormy…Comfortably mild, but wet.

Oh well, let’s see what the email gremlins brought in the night before this little summer storm out of season decides to kill the power…

Health Note – Why is America Fat

As someone who has battled weight problems ever since I was hospitalized with paricarditis in 1997. This article from the Washington Post this morning touches on something that has been peculating through my thoughts for a while, environmental causes of obesity. I have been following the arguments about the fattening of America for the last decade with a personal interest. My weight problems started with high dose steroids and have progressed over the last ten years. living on salads and walking for a couple of hours an evening did nothing to stem the rise in pounds. Following the American Heart Associations diet of low fat high carb menus was the absolute wrong thing to do. Adkins worked for a while but never to the point I was trying to reach, and it really didn’t “seem” healthy to me. Moderation seem to manage to keep the weight from going higher but doesn’t seem to stop the rise.

To find out that the chemicals “we” are putting into everything we use are changing the hormonal balances within the body and changing the very nature of our fat cells themselves is troubling to say the least. I was beginning to suspect the growth hormones given to our beef cattle. They probably are a contributing factor. But add the chemicals in your water bottle and your food storage dish…

Too many calories and too little exercise are undeniably the major factors contributing to the obesity epidemic, but several recent animal studies suggest that environmental exposure to widely used chemicals may also help make people fat.

The evidence is preliminary, but a number of researchers are pursuing indications that the chemicals, which have been shown to cause abnormal changes in animals’ sexual development, can also trigger fat-cell activity — a process scientists call adipogenesis.

Go read the rest of the article. Maybe we can stop this before we kill ourselves…

Source: Chemicals May Play Role in Rise in Obesity – washingtonpost.com

Well it’s late and raining and I’ve got a ways to go to get to work…

Sunday Morning – Sprung Forward

Springing Forward Into Daylight Saving : All of the clocks were set before bed last night with the exception of the weather clock. That thing is going to be a problem. I can not update the software so it will have to be set forward, I doubt it will take. It will just reset itself every time it communicates with the “atomic clock” until it’s software tells it that daylight savings time starts in 3 weeks.

Weather report : Doors and windows are wide so we are listening to the morning chorus outside. The fog is thicker than yesterday morning, but clearing. The temperature is in the upper 50’s outdoors; upper 60’s inside. From my way of thinking, that is the perfect temperature to start the day. Cool enough to feel but warm enough to be comfortable when dressed. The prognosticators are calling for rain in the next couple of days, that’s sure to play havoc with the Spring Break around here.

Vitamins and Death :
Last week I posted on the report about vitamins causing your death. I said then I wanted to see who paid for the study. After reading the health column in this weeks US News and World Reports, I find that interest in the funder of the report even higher. Dr. Healy’s explanation of how the report was arrived at leaves more questions of why this report made such a splash in the news and who was pushing the studies findings to the press.

Vitamin studies always seem to stir controversy, but certainly not visions of death. On that score, last week’s report on antioxidant vitamins, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, was a doozy. The researchers concluded that people taking the antioxidants vitamins A, its precursor beta carotene, and vitamin E, for whatever reason, at whatever dose, and for however long, may be putting their lives in jeopardy. But before you toss out your vitamin pills, let’s examine this alarmist study a little bit closer.

Researchers from Copenhagen University Hospital set out to determine whether the antioxidant supplements lengthen one’s life. That’s difficult to answer, since most people taking vitamins are healthy. So the researchers identified antioxidant clinical trials large and small, as long as they reported at least one death. Any death counted, whether from heart disease or cancer, kidney failure or hip fractures, murders or suicides. Out of 747 antioxidant trials reviewed, 68 met the bill. Then, in what is called a meta-analysis, the 68 trials were combined into what is effectively one study.

It’s a hell of a way to come to a conclusion, throw away the results that don’t agree with your proposal. Have these guys been taking lessons from the Bush Administration and their backers in the Oil Industry? Anywho, I guess that for myself, I’ll continue to take my vitamins (when I remember) and worry about them killing me, not.

Source: USNews.com: Bernadine Healy, M.D.: A Closer Look at the Vitamin Study

History Lesson for Today : From Garrison this morning we get a history lesson, that touches the news stories from the past year or so. The more you read about the recent discoveries being made in the study of the 1918 influenza pandemic, the scarier this whole pandemic thing becomes. National Geographic had a good article a couple of months ago, Tracking the Next Killer Flu. After reading the CDC’s recommendations on what

It was on this day in 1918 that the first cases of what would become the influenza pandemic were reported in the U.S. when 107 soldiers got sick at Fort Riley, Kansas.It was the worst pandemic in world history. The flu that year killed only 2.5 percent of its victims, but more than a fifth of the world’s entire population caught it, and so it’s estimated that between 50 million and 100 million people died in just a few months.

Historians believe at least 500,000 people died in the United States alone. That’s more than the number of Americans killed in combat in all the wars of the 20th century combined. Usually, the flu would have been most likely to kill babies and the elderly, but the flu of 1918 somehow targeted healthy people in their 20s and 30s. And it was an extremely virulent strain. In the worst cases, victims’ skin would turn dark red, and their feet would turn black.

Source: The Writer’s Almanac from American Public Media

Yesterday’s Drive in the Country

The youngest and I went for an afternoon drive so she could practice. I took along the camera. We stopped at an old windmill to take some photo’s. As I was headed back to the car I glanced across the road I spotted a bright yellow spot on top of a bush in the pasture next to the road. When I put the camera to it I saw it was a bird. Now I am going to show how much of a neophyte I am when I say I did not recognize what I was seeing. Once I downloaded the pictures this morning and started going through the Peterson’s I found what I was amazed to discover that what I had seen was a meadowlark. I find it hard to believe that in all of these years here on the coastal prairie I have never seen a meadowlark. Now I am not even going to take a shot at trying to differentiate whether it is eastern or western, that I leave up to the more experienced birders out there…Anyway, here are a few shots through the handheld long zoom from further away than I would have liked cropped as close as I dared…


And just for good measure, here’s the first Bluebonnet Bloom of the year in my yard. After spotting this one I notice there were quite a few on the roadside coming home…Thanks TexDoT, your planting work is appreciated.



A Quote for Today

Life consists in what a man is thinking of all day.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Source: Thought for the Day

Address to the Southern Appalachian Youth on Food conference – By Tom Philpott

I stumbled on Tom Philpott a long while back in connection to my interest in the Boone, NC area. He led me to Grist, where I’ve followed his articles weekly. I found this weeks column covering a talk he gave a good recap of his past articles. If you don’t know Tom click on over and check out what he has to say about “the eco-politics behind your food”.

Tucked into the rolling hills of North Carolina’s Swannanoa Valley, Warren Wilson College is essentially surrounded by a farm. The school’s 800 students not only tend the 275-acre farm — which includes pastured livestock and vegetables — they also provide the labor to run the campus. They do everything from accounting to plumbing to cooking in the cafeteria. I’ve had the privilege of hosting several Warren Wilson kids at Maverick Farms, and I’ve been amazed at how well those kids know how to work, and have plenty of fun while doing it.

Since my last two trips to NC have carried me past Maverick Farms front door, and I’ll be going that way again this summer, I really need to stop by and say thanks for the informative words each week.

Source: My address to the Southern Appalachian Youth on Food conference | By Tom Philpott | Grist | Victual Reality | 08 Mar 2007

Flu causing some Texas schools to close | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle

It’s not the bird flue but it’s already causing havoc…Is this what we have to look forward to in the near future? That appears to be what the CDC was telling us when they published their recent “Guidelines“.

DALLAS — With flu widespread in Texas now, a handful of schools are reporting enough absences due to flu and other illnesses that they’ve decided to close.

Flu season in Texas generally runs from October to March, with February usually being the height of the season, said Emily Palmer, a spokeswoman with the Texas Department of State Health Services. She said that flu has been considered widespread in Texas since the week ending Jan. 27.

Source: Flu causing some Texas schools to close | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle

Obesity: Maybe We Share Some of the Blame – washingtonpost.com

Being weight challenged these days this article caught my eye since it says something I tend to think is probably true in a number of ways. 

The idea that we’re too fat because we eat too much and exercise too little is based largely on “circumstantial evidence,” according to a recent report in the International Journal of Obesity. Investigators from the University of Alabama point to at least 10 other possible reasons we are getting too big for our britches. Here are the top three:

  • We don’t get enough sleep.

This could be a vicious cycle. What with sleep apnia being a bigger problem among those with excess weight.

  • We have more air conditioning.

I wouldn’t count on this one going away anytime soon. If the past few summers are any indication, air conditioning will become even more prevalent right up until nobody can afford the energy cost.

  • Our hormones have been disrupted.

How well I can relate. Back in ’97 I had a bout of Pericarditis that hung on for months. It took very high dose steroids to finally kick the problem but in the process my body changed and I haven’t been able to get back to that point since. Each year it gets harder just to maintain.

This study sounds like it is headed in the right direction. Our concentration on just one cause of obesity is probably leaving many people wondering why cutting calories and exercising is not working for them. I know for me eating salads everyday and walking for an hour or better every evening and still not seeing a difference made it hard to maintain the practice (and I like salads). 

Source: Obesity: Maybe We Share Some of the Blame – washingtonpost.com

Obesity: Maybe We Share Some of the Blame – washingtonpost.com

Being weight challenged these days this article caught my eye since it says something I tend to think is probably true in a number of ways. 

The idea that we’re too fat because we eat too much and exercise too little is based largely on “circumstantial evidence,” according to a recent report in the International Journal of Obesity. Investigators from the University of Alabama point to at least 10 other possible reasons we are getting too big for our britches. Here are the top three:

  • We don’t get enough sleep.

This could be a vicious cycle. What with sleep apnia being a bigger problem among those with excess weight.

  • We have more air conditioning.

I wouldn’t count on this one going away anytime soon. If the past few summers are any indication, air conditioning will become even more prevalent right up until nobody can afford the energy cost.

  • Our hormones have been disrupted.

How well I can relate. Back in ’97 I had a bout of Pericarditis that hung on for months. It took very high dose steroids to finally kick the problem but in the process my body changed and I haven’t been able to get back to that point since. Each year it gets harder just to maintain.

This study sounds like it is headed in the right direction. Our concentration on just one cause of obesity is probably leaving many people wondering why cutting calories and exercising is not working for them. I know for me eating salads everyday and walking for an hour or better every evening and still not seeing a difference made it hard to maintain the practice (and I like salads). 

Source: Obesity: Maybe We Share Some of the Blame – washingtonpost.com

Study: Red wine cuts high-fat diet dangers in mice | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle

So maybe Marie Antoinette had it right when she said “let them eat cake”. Pour me a glass with that cupcake please…
Study: Red wine cuts high-fat diet dangers in mice | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle: “Huge amounts of a red wine extract seemed to help obese mice eat a high-fat diet and still live a long and healthy life, suggests a new study that some experts are calling ‘landmark’ research.

The big question is, can it work the same magic in humans?

Scientists say it’s far too early to start swilling barrels of red wine. But some are calling the latest research promising and even ‘spectacular.'”

Mediterranean Diet

More good news about the Mediterranean Diet…

Mediterranean Diet May Keep Alzheimer’s at Bay – washingtonpost.com: “Scientists have produced more evidence for the health benefits of eating a ‘Mediterranean diet’: It apparently can help protect your brain.

The diet consists of lots of fruits, vegetables, legumes, cereals, olive oil and fish, and small amounts of red meat and dairy products. Previous studies have found that such a diet appears to reduce the risk of a variety of diseases, including cancer, heart disease and diabetes, and raised the possibility that it might also reduce the odds of getting Alzheimer’s disease.”

I notice they don’t mention the wine that goes with every meal in the area…