If it's Tuesday, this must be…

I may wish it was Belgium, but it’s still SE Texas. I just heard a long rumble that I thought must be a plane flying over until I notice the color of the light and the darkness to the west. That caused me to pull up the radar loop (how did we live before instant access to weather radar?) and what it is showing is I am going to get very wet on the drive to work.
That’s me just to the left of Galveston Bay and to the right of the dark red rain clouds.

While I have been aware of, and disapproving of, the marketing of the drug companies, this story from the Washington Post today is extremely troubling. Tied to the stories floating around about the payments doctors are given for prescribing certain drugs, it paints a picture that I find inconsistent with our ideals here in America. It also explains the reason more of our per capita income goes to pay for, what turns out to be, second rate health care.

Many doctors object to drugmakers’ common practice of contracting with data-mining companies to track exactly which medicines physicians prescribe and in what quantities — information marketers and salespeople use to fine-tune their efforts. The industry defends the practice as a way of better educating physicians about new drugs.

This sounds like the same justification they use for the marketing prescription drugs, educating the public so they know what to question their physicians. If this is the case…Why do they never educate the public about the drugs that aren’t protected by patents? It would seem to me that the education excuse would only work if we weren’t being educated just about the most profitable drugs in their portfolios.

Since at least the early 1990s, drug companies have used the data to identify doctors who write the most prescriptions and go after them the way publishers court people who subscribe to lots of magazines. They zero in on physicians who prescribe a competitors’ drug and target them with campaigns touting their own products. Salespeople chart the changes in a doctor’s prescribing patterns to see whether their visits and offers of free meals and gifts are having the desired effect.

You would think, that with all of the data they are tracking, the law of averages would tend to trend in my favor so that every drug my multiple doctors prescribe would not be at the top of my insurance company’s drug co-pay list. Not…

Source: Doctors, Legislators Resist Drugmakers’ Prying Eyes – washingtonpost.com

Gotta run get wet…Have a great day.

Monday Muses

Seems like every year brings more good news for the folks out there who think the world is too cool. To my way of thinking, mind you I am no scientist and claim no special knowledge, but folks this seems to be a trend line. Now I am not claiming I know (or at this point care) what is causing this climate change, but climate change it is, and our actions are contributing to the outcome.

Global Highlights:

  • Based on preliminary data, globally averaged combined land and sea surface temperature was the warmest on record for January-April year-to-date period and third warmest for April.
  • Global land surface temperature was warmest on record in April. Temperatures were above average in Europe, Alaska, western U.S., eastern Brazil, northwestern Africa, and most of Asia. Cooler-than-average conditions occurred in the Middle East Region and the eastern half of the contiguous U.S.
  • Precipitation during April 2007 was above average in the Northeast region of the contiguous U.S. and most of South America. Drier than average conditions were observed in Japan, southeastern U.S., southeastern China and most of Europe.
  • ENSO conditions remained in a neutral phase during April.

Source: NCDC: Climate of 2007- April Global analysis

Sunday Morning on My Google Reader

I slept late this morning and once the coffee was done I started with my Google Reader feeds for a change. Some of what led me on to the full story are…

The Rural Life

The Scent of Lilacs

By VERLYN KLINKENBORG

Published: May 20, 2007

I am writing from a mile high in a small Wyoming town on the edge of the Wind River range. The snow on the nearby buttes — the gift of late April — has finally melted, and the creek bottoms and pastures and hayground are an unhoped-for green. The drift of cotton from the cottonwoods is almost over, but the lilacs are still in high bloom. The town is nearly damp with their scent.

Source: The Scent of Lilacs – New York Times

I come late to my appreciation of Verlyn Klikenborg. Now that I have discovered “Rural Life” I chase his writing to wherever I can find it.

Coming clean about mess of peas

By LEON HALE

Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle

On the way home from Winedale the other morning I stopped at a vegetable stand in Hempstead and bought a mess of purple hull peas.

These were peas still in the hull, so they had to be shelled. Took me about an hour to shell this particular mess. Purple hulls have the reputation of being easy to shell, and they do sit loose in the pod and come out easily once you get the ends snapped off.

Source: Hale: Coming clean about mess of peas | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle

Go see Leon’s recipe for cooking up that mess of peas. He’ll also explain how you can turn that mess of peas into a three course meal…

I guess I’ve killed enough time this morning, so I better start moving (though I did manage to fix breakfast and eat with Sherry already). If you have a moment swing over to Fragments From Floyd and check out Fred’s post today. He is pushing us all to be who we like to think we are…Go see what I mean.

So far the doors are open and the kittens are all over the floor…I expect to be shutting the house within the hour as the heat heads above 80 for another Texas spring day…You all enjoy.

Spring again this Saturday morning

It’s Saturday morning and the house is quiet. Not a soul is stirring right now, not even the kitten sleeping in on my left forearm. You try typing with just one hand sometime, boy does it slow down even an untutored typist like me. I am enjoying the fact that spring has decided to pay another short visit, the kitchen doors are wide open and the temperature outside is still in the mid 60’s at 8am…Heaven for this time of year.

About the kitten, we are living with 5 right now. They are already 5 weeks old and becoming quite a group of characters. Our half feral half domestic momma cat provided this collection to us and has been a very attentive mother so far. It appears we have an abundance of good homes already lined up for these little souls. Then momma dearest is scheduled for a visit to the vet. I would have posted pictures but these guys are too active to catch a good shot of unless they are sleeping and they tend to do that under something (except for the one that thinks he has to sleep on me). He particularly likes to climb up on my chest when I’m comfy on the couch with a movie in the dvd player.

The morning symphony has played itself out already. And it looks like the world is stirring…So it’s off and about for me.

You all have a great weekend…

ROAD READS – washingtonpost.com

Way to go Fred…You’ve made the big time now. Reviewed in the Washington Post…Somebody send me a hard copy. Gotta love it…

ROAD READS

ROAD READS

“Slow Road Home” (second edition), by Fred First

Sunday, May 20, 2007; Page P02

BOOK: “Slow Road Home” (second edition), by Fred First (Goose Creek Press, $15.95)

TARGET AUDIENCE: People who find wonder in the woods and joy in solitude.

Source: ROAD READS – washingtonpost.com

TGIF – Computer Blues

When I tried to put together this mornings post before I left home the laptop decided to lock up and laugh at me…So it was shutdown and hit the road with my post peculating in the back of my mind. The very first thing I heard on PBS as I was headed down the street I live on was about a major traffic backup two exits past the closest cross street to work. That told me right there not to hurry…so it was off through the country instead of down the freeway. Sadly, my back road trek still got me to within a couple of blocks of the office by 8am, and that’s where I spent 25 minutes trying to finish the trip. You really have to love Houston traffic…Or move.

The weather this morning was really what I consider springlike. It was 61 degrees when I hit the kitchen, so doors open and first cup of the morning while being serenaded by birdsong. The predominant player this morning, as on most here, was our state bird. When you get a half dozen Mockingbirds singing their hearts out to mark their territories, you really have a full chorus going.

I try not to let my political rants get out here very often, but this story in the Washington Post really got me .

The lawyers said any conversations Cheney and the officials had about Plame with one another or with reporters were part of their normal duties because they were discussing foreign policy and engaging in an appropriate “policy dispute.” Cheney’s attorney went further, arguing that Cheney is legally akin to the president because of his unique government role and has absolute immunity from any lawsuit.

U.S. District Judge John D. Bates asked: “So you’re arguing there is nothing — absolutely nothing — these officials could have said to reporters that would have been beyond the scope of their employment,” whether the statements were true or false?

“That’s true, Your Honor. Mr. Wilson was criticizing government policy,” said Jeffrey S. Bucholtz, deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department‘s civil division. “These officials were responding to that criticism.”

So there America, as far as your government is concerned, if you criticize this administration they have an inherent right to lie about you or break the law and you, dear citizen, have no recourse. Welcome to Mr. Bush’s Compassionate Conservative America, land of the rich and liars…

Source: Judge Told Leak Was Part of ‘Policy Dispute’ – washingtonpost.com

Here is a photo I took earlier in the week of a moth sitting on the outside of the window beside my seat at the computer…The photo was taken from the inside with the outside lighting showing through.

Have a great day…

Hurricane center chief says ad campaign wasteful

This reminds me of the good old days when the “Light Company” was a public utility and I used to wonder why the hell they advertised on every TV and Radio channel. Did you know that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was involved in predicting the weather?  Duh…Did these guys ever hear of the internet?

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is spending up to $4 million to publicize a 200th anniversary celebration, said Bill Proenza, who heads the hurricane center, part of the National Weather Service, which is a NOAA agency. At the same time, it has cut $700,000 from hurricane research, he said.

“No question about it, it is not justified. It is using appropriated funds for self promotion,” Proenza said in a phone interview while attending the Florida Governor’s Hurricane Conference in Fort Lauderdale.

NOAA spokesman Anson Franklin said the agency is only spending about $1.5 million on the campaign over two years. He said it is justified to publicize the agency’s mission to a public that is often unaware of its involvement in weather prediction and forecasting.

“It’s part of our responsibility to tell the American people what we do,” Franklin said. “It’s inaccurate and unfair to just characterize this as some sort of self-celebration.”

Source: Hurricane center chief says ad campaign wasteful | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle

Almost through the week morning muse…

I see that even though the Blue Ridge Mountains are having a couple of days of early spring weather again they are looking a bit dry. Checking out Ray’s Weather Page today he closes his forecast with a warning about the lack of moisture and the chance of fires…But with maybe a frost in the forecast, my how nice it must be…coffee on the deck anyone?

Drought conditions continue to worsen in Western North Carolina with no relief in sight. Winter was very dry, and while we have had a few rainy days, Spring has been exceptionally dry as well. We are in the neighborhood of 50% of normal rainfall this year. Going into early summer, dry ground conditions will tend to reduce our normal afternoon and evening shower/thunderstorm activity. Our only hope at this point for drought relief is tropical activity later this summer. Be extremely careful with fire! The forest fire in Linville Gorge a couple weeks ago may just be the precursor of things to come. For more details about drought conditions across the country, see www.drought.unl.edu/dm/monitor.html.

Source: Ray’s Weather Center – Valle Crucis – booneweather.com

Kate at Cider Press Hill commented on the fact that the bird population in her area was down and posted on the connection to West Nile. I stumbled across this article this morning at the Washington Post…

Experiments had predicted that certain birds might be especially vulnerable to West Nile infection, and earlier tests on birds found dead on the ground appeared to confirm that some species were suffering a significant toll. But the new analysis is the first to track populations directly, species by species and year after year at the same locations.

It shows that the post-1998 declines were greatest at times and places in which the virus was especially prevalent — as indicated by the number of human infections diagnosed. As expected, American crows were among the worst hit, suffering declines of as much as 45 percent in some regions and wipeouts of 100 percent in some smaller areas. Other species that suffered included the blue jay, the tufted titmouse, the American robin, the house wren, the chickadee and — unexpectedly — the American bluebird.

“These are not the rare, vulnerable populations we think of as being at risk due to introduced species. These are our everyday, backyard country birds,” said Shannon LaDeau, an ecologist at the bird center who led the study with Marra.

Looks like we are in for a rough ride for the next few decades no matter what form of disastrous outcomes floats your boat…Global warming, imported diseases, bugs and plants let loose in damaged ecological niches. They all cause unforeseen consequences we have to live with.

Source: Bird Species Plummeted After West Nile – washingtonpost.com

Here is another shot from Monday. I stopped under the bridge on 1462 over the Brazos River and took this shot. You can tell from the red color of the water that the rains have been falling quite a bit far upstream. The dirt down here isn’t that color. And from the fact that the water is as high as it is, a whole lot of rain must of fallen. Normal water level at this point is probably 20 feet or more lower than this with a lot of sand showing in the bed of the river.
Time to hit the road…Y’all have a great day…

From Monday Afternoon


I had a visit scheduled on Monday with the Doc, so naturally, I scheduled the whole day as a holiday…After the Doc and a slow meander home along the bay I had a quick lunch and took myself off to see if I could find something to photograph. I had been meaning to stop along the road here for a while since I pass it almost every day and just hadn’t done so. Monday I did. I hope you enjoy the shot…

Wednesday Coffee Muses

There is no better way to start a morning than with a column by Leon Hale. Go sit awhile on the porch of his old country house and hear a tale or two…

WINEDALE — On the front porch again at the old country house in Washington County, and here is my deep thought for the week:

One of humankind’s greatest inventions is the riding mower.

Maybe you’ll agree, if you’ve ever cut your lawn with a push mower.

Those words — push mower — put me in reverse, back to my first regular paying job, taking care of Mrs. Nichols’ yard once a week the summer of 1932. She had this mower with metal wheels and dull blades.

Cutting her grass ruined an entire day, and my pay was 35 cents, a glass of lemonade and a couple of tea cakes.

Even as I relate (somewhat) to his opening, it’s the mental images that come from his closing comments that really left me smiling…

After all the rain we’ve had this spring, grass and weeds are tall and lush, and there’s something about knocking over that thick growth that appeals to me.

Pour on the juice. Wade into a patch of briars and weeds and watch the dust fly. Hit a fire-ant mound and knock those little suckers 40 feet. Run over a dead limb fallen off an oak and whang, bam, blooey — busted sticks fly clean across the creek.

Do yourself a favor and go have a sit a spell on another porch and have a listen to a great local storyteller. If you haven’t followed my links in his direction before, take a little while to read a few from his archives, it’s worth the investment in time…Trust me.

Source: Hale: Mowing the lawn was never this fun | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle

It’s good to see the weather on the Blue Ridge appears to be moderating a bit. The weather prognosticators are promising us a respite from the heat…tomorrow. Seems to be the way it goes here on the Gulf Coast, always better weather tomorrow, though I am sure there are enumerable folks out there who would love the weather we are having. I know there must be a lot of folks who like their springs to be full of 9o’s, both temperature and humidity readings, unfortunately, I’ve never been one of them.

I remember the summer in the early years of our marriage when I decided to paint the old house we bought from my parents. That year turned out to be one of the hottest and driest we ever had. Since the house had last been painted in the early 50’s, I couldn’t take a chance that the paint didn’t have some lead in it so breathing the dust as I scraped and sanded down to a clean surface didn’t seem advisable.

Every day that month started above 80 and went over 105 by noon. Even dry our climate pumps out some humidity, so to say it was uncomfortable working conditions would be showing way too much constraint. I spent my days in cut off blue jean shorts, shirtless, barefoot, with only a headband around my head to catch the sweat…and a whopping big respirator to keep from breathing the dust. It took me most of the month to scrape and sand and prime and then finally paint that house. Boy was I proud when I finished (and sweated down to a trimness I have never again reached in this life). And totally flummoxed when a year or so later the paint on the west side of the house started flaking off of the cypress siding. Turns out not much will stick to good cypress lumber which is why they used to use it to build around the water…

It looks like it’s time to hit the road…