Monday, July 6, 2020

I brought home over $100 worth of fresh vegetables today from Safeway. I bought these because Glenda has decided she wants to follow a vegetarian diet. I thought I had enough veggies to last us a week. I came out of a meeting today at abut 2:30 to find that Glenda has chopped and is frying all of the new fresh veggies.

SMDH.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Cannot anything be EZ?

TLDR: See my rule of thumb at the end of this post.

I absolutely hate that meteorologists have now decided that the amount of moisture in the air should be reported in dewpoint rather than in relative humidity. Prior to the 1990s, the dewpoint was considered an arcane and generally useless data point for public reporting. Relative humidity was widely used and reported and the general public had an instinctive understanding of the impact of any given relative humidity number reported. For some reason, which I’ve not yet been able to fathom, the ‘experts’ determined during the last decade of the last century that reporting the dewpoint would be more helpful than reporting relative humidity. Why and how?

Warm air can hold more water vapor than can cold air. Thus the relative humidity (RH) in a given environment can change with temperature with no change in the amount of water vapor being held in the air in that environment—RH is a relative measure, not an absolute measure—as indicated by the naming convention used. So, if an RH of 50% is reported at 70 degrees Fahrenheit (F), the RH will be lower if the temperature increases to 80 F with no change in the amount of water vapor in the air. Regardless of that, if the RH is 50%, we know that the air is holding half of the water vapor that can physically by held by the air at that given temperature regardless of what that temperature is. Given an RH measurement and a temperature, we could calculate the RH for any other given temperature assuming the physical amount of water vapor remains constant. Most people are comfortable at 30% to 50% RH. Above those values, and certainly at and above 70% RH, most people note that the air feels ‘clammy’ or ‘sticky.’ This human perception of moisture in the air is irrespective of temperature. An RH value is easy to understand. Humans generally like that 30% to 50% RH—and here’s the key point—REGARDLESS OF ACTUAL TEMPERATURE. 80 F and 30% RH is comfortable. 80 F and 80% RH will feel sauna-like. On the other end of the scale, 80 F with 3% RH will feel like you are in an oven.  30 F and 30 % RH may not be comfortable (because it’s cold) but 30 F and 80% RH is going to feel even worse.

The dewpoint (dP — not to be confused with DP) is the temperature at which the air has been sufficiently cooled such that the RH at that cooled temperature would be 100% assuming no change in the amount of water vapor physically in the air. Remember that warm air can hold more water vapor, thus, by inference, cool air must hold less water vapor. As the temperature drops to and below the dP, there will be condensation of moisture out of the air resulting in dew, or frost, depending on the air temperature.

So, the TV weatherman, probably a Certified Broadcast Meteorologist—a credential governed by the American Meteorological Society, reports the conditions with a dew point of 40 F. Or 65 F. Or 30 F. So what? What does that even mean? What I want to know is, how wet, how sticky is the air. Reporting the dP sort of tells me. A higher dP means more water in the air and thus more stickiness. But, how much is how much? How do we interpret a dP reading into practicable and actionable knowledge?

In reading information from the American Meteorological Society, they explain that a higher dP will generally be less comfortable. OK. Higher than what and less comfortable than what? If the air temperature is 80 F and the dewpoint is 50, will that be comfortable? Does anybody know? Can the dP be too low for comfort? What if it’s the same 80 F and the dP is 12 F? Is that going to be comfortable? How the hell do I know? Is there a chart somewhere that tells me what dPs provide human comfort at a range of temperatures? If there is I’ve not found it.  Here is what I did find courtesy of Wikipedia. EZ? I think not!


Chart by Easchiff - Own work
CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3334334

So, after spending some time with the chart above and doing some calculations in Excel, here's my rule of thumb: If the dP is more than about 20 degrees cooler than the current temperature, the RH is probably within the comfort range.

Friday, June 12, 2020

EZ Time.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Glenda and I are vacationing at a cabin in the White Mountains of Northern Arizona about 20 miles east of Payson. As a retiree without employment, I’m learning a lesson that I think I needed: How to take a break from doing nothing.



I noticed this morning that time seems different here and now. It has less meaning. I arose at first light and watched the eastern horizon become bright with a new day’s sun. I had a light and easy breakfast and prepared Glenda’s protein shake. I did my 20-minute yoga routine. I took a shower and dressed. And through it all I didn’t care what time it was. I not only don’t need to be anywhere else, I have absolutely no plans to go anywhere else. Other than the small necessities of living (preparing food, cleaning up afterward) there is NOTHING I must do. Nothing that needs done. Nothing that calls for my attention. The cares of the world could be light-years away. And that truly does make time feel different.

I haven’t had any deep thoughts nor epiphanies nor do I feel like I need any.

The word ‘vacation’ has an etymology and a heritage: Empty time; a time to be unoccupied. I’ve taken many ‘vacations.’ Today seems to be the first time I’ve ever truly experienced what empty time feels like.

It feels good—really, really good—to just BE and to breathe. For this I am thankful.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

We are complicit


The article began, “White people of America, take a moment to reflect on the reality that many of you have and continue to witness black people brutalized and killed for the better part of the last decade. #YouAreComplicit” (You Are Complicit, @Shaft, Medium.com, May 28, 2020)
@Shaft is surely right. He quotes David Crossman as saying, “When you turn a blind eye to atrocities, you are complicit in them.”

How can anyone believe themselves to be human while ignoring so many major and minor abuses of our brethren regardless of their skin color? How can one believe themselves to be caring while not speaking up?

I know I have biases, both explicit and implicit, both conscious and unconscious. I try to be aware so that those biases do not unfairly impact my behaviors and responses—I sometimes fail. I am that worst-of-all character: A white aging balding Christian male. My upbringing was rather insular. I have things to work on. I know I have lived and still live in a privileged position. I was born into a financially-poor family, and I’ve worked hard for my position in life, but I know that my skin color has not impeded my success—and that gives me privilege.

But am I wrong to think that ‘white people’ are not alone in possessing biases? I hear, “You wouldn’t understand.”

One incident remains in my mind. About five or six years ago I was driving out of my close-in suburban neighborhood in San Antonio to run an essential errand. Backing out of my driveway that clear and cool morning, I could hear the brassy sounds of the marching band at their Saturday morning practice over at St. Mary’s Hall, the exclusive and expensive private school a few blocks West of my home. Bronzed by the South Texas sun and toned by exercise in backyard pools or home tennis courts of the mansions that surrounded the school, these high-school band members would hardly be breaking a sweat in the mild weather today. Resting my arm on the driver’s door at the open window of my 10-year-old GMC pickup, I slowly drove away from my home. Down the block, I waved a greeting to my neighbor, Dr. Anna Karlsdotter, as she unlocked her Mercedes sedan. Noticing that she was dressed in a conservative light-blue pants-suit, I imagined she was headed for work at Northeast Baptist Hospital near the I-410 highway near the southern-most entry to our neighborhood. I thought about Dr. Karlsdotter and her family and hoped they would stay in their current home, but had my doubts. The homes on my street were a little old and a little small for an up-and-coming OB surgeon.

Several families were already outside working on their suburban yards. Taking a left on Barrington Drive I noted a line of cars already along the curb by the Episcopal Church of the Reconciliation. A few church ladies in colorful hats were lugging bags and boxes toward the church’s cultural hall for a spring-time event. As I rolled slowly past, their priest, Bishop Washington, purple scarf hanging from his neck, greeted me with a fist-wave. At the far end of the oak-lined paved parking lot, a group of young men, mostly a mix of Hispanic and black, were playing basketball under the outdoor hoops and I could hear their trash-talk. It’s a good bet that most of these youngsters were residents of one of the many apartment complexes between the church and the nearby freeway and that they didn’t attend St. Mary’s Hall. Bishop Washington and his congregation provided a lot of good services for those young men and their families, including breakfast and lunch for the youngsters that they probably wouldn’t otherwise get when school was not in session. Further along, the suburban homes turned to townhomes in tight rows with contracted landscape men at work. Serna Elementary School, ranked one of the most diverse public elementary schools in Texas, wasn’t in session, so the schoolyard and playgrounds were empty. I took another left at the Rahman Mosque and pulled up to the stoplight at the corner by the Lighthouse Baptist Church.

So there I was, a stereotypical white guy driving a stereotypical white pickup truck in Texas, windows cranked down on a balmy spring morning. I had been listening to some Fleetwood Mac. As I pulled to and waited at the stoplight to turn right where my neighborhood street exited onto the feeder road, I noted several people at the covered bus stop waiting for trusty Via Metropolitan #14. My wife often rode that bus to and from her gymnasium and had reported a generally congenial mix of riders. As I watched, a big guy finished his 32oz Circle K drink and tossed the paper cup, plastic lid, and straw to the sloppily trimmed lawn area behind the bus stop. Allow me to emphasize this: HE WAS STANDING NEXT TO A CITY-PROVIDED TRASH CAN. I was appalled. How can we keep our neighborhoods and streets nice under the insult of such behavior? I hate littering. I had just read that local peer pressure is more impactful against littering than rules and signs. I quickly escalated from appalled to incensed.

Window down, I shouted, “Hey, you, soda drinker! Pick up that damn cup. Trash can’s right there. Don’t trash our neighborhood!”

The light turned green and I drove away. Within seconds it hit me. “Oh, no! Damn.” The guy, the litterer, was black. He will think my verbal admonition was motivated by race.” I felt bad, and I still do, about this. I did not yell at him because he was black. I yelled because I hate slothful littering and trash. Anywhere, but especially near my home.

I know I have biases—but here I assume that he was biased too in thinking my rant was race-based. I have no way of knowing what he actually thought, but my imagination hears him responding in kind but with a racial component that probably had something to do with honky or cracker. What did he think of my use of “our neighborhood?” I meant OUR neighborhood – his and mine – but I fear he thought I meant MY neighborhood. “What are you doing here, ‘boy,’ anyway?” may have been, to him, implied in my words. Did I commit a microaggression? I felt bad then, and still do, that he may have felt attacked for his skin color. Would it still have been a microaggression if I had been black? Or if he had yelled at me? Or can only white people commit microagressions?

What should I have done? Nothing? Accept that some people just don’t care about litter? Should I just give up any and all attempts to shape the world around me in what seems to me to be a positive way for fear that I might offend someone? Should I just shut up and color if I perceive a wrong in the hands of someone of a different ethnicity or culture? Our taxes pay for picking up litter and we have to live with the garbage until it is picked up—I often pick up litter from others.
I struggle to understand: There was a trash can right there! This was a ship-in-the-night incident. I never saw him at the bus stop or in our neighborhood after this. I have had no chance to apologize or to discuss the event.
What should I do now in the time of George Floyd? I simply don’t know. I try not to discriminate in business and in my personal life.  I’m very willing to discuss this and try to learn. “You wouldn’t understand” does not help. I am trying to understand and to know how to help. From what platform should I speak? I have no broad audience.

I only ask that you bring to our discussions the possibility of considering that it is not only white people who have biases and that it is not only people of color that are harmed by them. I strongly agree that people of color have for much too long carried a much heavier, unbearably heavy, load in this regard—but the distrust, the fear weakens and harms us all. We can talk and maybe work together if we don’t simply condemn one another out of hand due to our skin color.

I can go birding (#ChristianCooper)
I can go jogging (#AhmaudArbery)
I can relax in the comfort of my own home (#BothemSean and #AtatianaJefferson)
I can ask for help after being in a car crash (#JonathanFerrell and #RenishaMcBride)
I can have a cellphone (#StephonClark)
I can leave a party to get to safety (#JordanEdwards)
I can play loud music (#JordanDavis)
I can sell CDs (#AltonSterling)
I can sleep (#AiyanaJones)
I can walk from the corner store (#MikeBrown)
I can play cops and robbers (#TamirRice)
I can go to church (#Charleston9)
I can walk home with Skittles (#TrayvonMartin)
I can hold a hairbrush while leaving my own bachelor party (#SeanBell)
I can party on New Years (#OscarGrant)
I can get a normal traffic ticket (#SandraBland)
I can lawfully carry a weapon (#PhilandoCastile)
I can break down on a public road with car problems (#CoreyJones)
I can shop at Walmart (#JohnCrawford)
I can have a disabled vehicle (#TerrenceCrutcher)
I can read a book in my own car (#KeithScott)
I can be a 10yr old walking with our grandfather (#CliffordGlover)
I can decorate for a party (#ClaudeReese)
I can ask a cop a question (#RandyEvans)
I can cash a check in peace (#YvonneSmallwood)
I can take out my wallet (#AmadouDiallo)
I can run (#WalterScott)
I can breathe (#EricGarner)
I can live (#FreddieGray)
I CAN BE ARRESTED WITHOUT THE FEAR OF BEING MURDERED (#GeorgeFloyd)
#BlackLivesMatter

Monday, June 1, 2020

The Twenty-First Century is not turning out to be EZ.

June 1, 2020

As the world burns around us with rage boiling over and the coronavirus lurks, I cannot help but be reminded of the ancient curse: "May you live in interesting times." I didn't want to live in interesting times. In fact, this is NOT the twenty-first-century that I was expecting. No one expects what we are getting this year. I only hope and pray for good health, peace, and justice for all.

Please, may we learn from the despicable dumbness of Ms. Cooper vs. Mr. Cooper in Central Park. May we reform our policing to honor the life and needless deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. May we show compassion and kindness to one another. May we honor the noble words of our Constitution and allow, nay help, all enjoy the liberties enshrined therein.

If. If we can, then we can work on fighting disease, deprivation, and disaster. We can protect our fragile Earth. We can distribute our bounty more equitably. Conquest, war, famine, and plague need not destroy us. We can look each other in the eye and say, "Brother; Sister."

Why else are we here, folks?

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Beating the Odds - Never EZ!


A sleeve gastrectomy removes about 80% of the stomach, reducing the capacity for food in one sitting to about four ounces. Intended benefits of a gastrectomy include weight loss and remittance of diabetes. Short-term complications can include bleeding, pain, and blood clots while long-term complications may include failure to lose weight, the eventual regaining of weight initially lost, intolerance to certain foods, dyspepsia, addictions (believed to be transfer reaction from overeating), GERD, abscesses or ulcers, gallstones, diarrhea, and, believe it or not, divorce. Some studies have shown that over 80% of marriages end in divorce after gastrectomy surgery.

Nearly 68% of gastrectomy patients have regained all or nearly all weight lost by five years post-surgery.

My wife had laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy surgery performed in the summer of 2014 by Dr. Lisa D. Brostrom, Chief, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.

Pre-surgery, her weight was 234 pounds and she was a diagnosed type 2 diabetic. Her body mass index (BMI) was over 36. Six-months post-surgery, she weighed 145 pounds. Her fasting blood sugar levels and A1C (average blood sugar levels over three months) were normal. By the middle of May 2020, six years post-surgery, her weight remains 145 pounds with a BMI of less than 23 and there is no sign of the return of diabetes. She has had no gastric distress or problems of any kind, with the possible exception of a small but noticeable increase in stomach gas, which has not caused her any distress. To this non-medic, the operation seems to have been successful and well worth the cost and healing required.

During the pre-discharge briefing, Dr. Brostrom stressed that with her decreased stomach size, it was essential that we modify her diet to ensure that she got sufficient protein. After discharge, she was to be restricted to a liquid diet for a few weeks. After that she was to eat six to eight very small meals per day, and also ensure adequate water for hydration.

Considering her need for protein and her newly-limited stomach size, we determined that a protein supplement may be helpful. As she was on a liquid diet, at least short-term, we decided that making her a morning protein shake would be a wise thing to do. After some thought and research, I decided that just dumping a package or scoop of protein powder into some water or plant-based-milk would not provide the optimum solution (no pun intended). Accordingly, I developed the following recipe.

1 package* Carnation Instant Breakfast Light Start™ (Sugar-Free)
¼ cup raw rolled oatmeal
1 20-gram scoop of no sugar added whey protein powder*
1 medium not over-ripe banana
3-4 ounces unsweetened plain yogurt
3-4 ounces in-season fresh berries
6 ounces of unflavored, unsweetened soy or almond milk
I place the dry ingredients into a blender, add fruit, yogurt, and plant-based milk then blend until smooth and creamy. This makes about 22 ounces of creamy shake which she enjoys through a straw for breakfast, mid-morning snack, and (most days) lunch. She generally snacks on fruit and/or whole-wheat toast in the afternoon and we enjoy a normal dinner with a protein entrĂ©e (which may be fish, poultry, meat, or vegetable protein such as lentils or beans), a vegetable side or salad. An evening snack often consists of about 2 ounces of ice cream or some buttered popcorn. I have observed that she normally drinks about 48 ounces of water per day. She does not drink coffee, beer, liquor, or caffeinated tea. A sugared soda is a rare treat – her preference is ice-cold root beer.

Here is something that is probably key to her success: she has stayed active. She normally gets about 40 or more minutes per day of light exercise, either in the community pool or walking. Her balance and vision no longer allow bicycling, but we have added some 1- and 3-pound weights and some stretchy bands to her routine for arm and wrist resistance work and a large body ball for balance.
Making the shake is quick and simple, but it does require some time and effort and some planning for shopping to ensure ingredients are always on hand. To me, it would be inconvenient to try to carry the ingredients and a blender for travel, so we rely on products like Boost™ or Ensure™ for times of travel or if I were to be unable to prepare her concoction.

The table below presents the estimated representative nutritional values for the morning shake. In compiling this table, I noted that the amount of total sugars is higher than I expected, and exceeds the recommended daily allowance for sugars. We are using no-sugar-added and unsweetened products where possible; the largest contributor to the sugars is the banana. In defense, those sugars are ‘natural’ and mostly in the form of fructose. Less-ripe bananas have lower sugar content.


Values are approximations
(a) 0.8g per Kg body weight

Oh, and did I mention: We are still married. We will celebrate our 52nd wedding anniversary on August 16, 2020.

For more information on sleeve gastrectomy surgery, see the World Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery, April 27, 2017, National Institutes of Health, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5406732/ .

DISCLAIMER: I am not a physician and this article is not providing medical advice. I am simply relating our success story with my wife’s gastrectomy. Always seek competent medical advice from a licensed professional before selecting any course of action regarding your health.

*She prefers chocolate

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Stay-at-Home makes it EZ to rant!


In the United States, our current politics stink. There is much rotten in Washington. The politicians there have forgotten who sent them there and what we sent them there for.

Photo credit - Rats! by ricardo on Flickr. Used per Creative Commons License.
They are supposed to be our representatives. They work for us and are to serve our ‘common welfare’ yet they call themselves our ‘leaders’ and expect us to kowtow to them while they ensure their nests are feathered with pay, benefits, travel, a fat retirement, and health care while we the people slave for them. Many of them have never worked in the private sector or even served in the military. The United States has become a feudal society supporting a few oligarchs. Some of the oligarchs are powerful businessmen or women. More are in our Congress. Many of them have become wealthy while serving in Congress while complaining that they can't live on their Federal pay and benefits.

We badly need to fix our system.

1. Term limits for Congress. I recommend six years for Representatives and eight for Senators. No exceptions. Members of Congress need to know they will have to live with the laws they create.
2. Establish fair, transparent, enforceable standards for obtaining ballot access. You want to start a party and back a candidate? Sure. Here are the rules for getting your candidate certified and listed on the ballot. The same rules apply to all. This may be the weakest link in my reform proposal – It will be especially essential that money must be prevented from ruling supreme here – I’m not sure how to accomplish that. Party primaries will have to be considered and solutions found.
3. Limit public campaigning for any federal position to 120 days prior to the election date (180 days within states where a primary is required). Incumbents are NOT allowed to hold rallies or partisan events of any kind prior. No campaign funds may be expended prior to 240 days before the election date (this allows for travel, communications for planning, and to meet requirements to get a candidate on the ballot). Money spent in the party selection process during the period between 240 and 180 days before election day must be accounted for and meet federal rules for campaign funds and donations. All other political donations are made to the Federal fund to be spent equally by the candidates. There will be NO private-source money spent to support any candidate or any party after the campaign process begins in any way for any purpose, including in-kind contributions with the exception of labor donated by campaign volunteers. Money remaining after a candidate is certified and the campaign process begins must be returned pro-rata to the donors or donated to the Federal fund for elections.
4. Repeal Citizens United – it will be mostly moot anyway, if items 2 and 3, above, are enacted.
5. Eliminate lifetime stipends and benefits for representatives. Provide a 2 – 4-year post-service period where pay and benefits continue at a reduced rate to aid in transition back to civilian life, but end payments and benefits completely after that period. All elected officials participate fully in the Social Security (and any socialized medicine program) exactly the same as civilians.
6. Once campaigning starts, fund all campaigns for all certified candidates for all federal offices with public funds. All certified candidates get the same amount (which amount may vary based on position—House vs Senate vs Executive). No other money may be spent from any source at any time for any reason. Political donations are made to the federal fund to be spent equally by the candidates.
7. Re-enact some form of the “Fairness Doctrine.” This is an area that needs thoughtful action. Media can be too unbalanced with no checks in place.
8. Enact legislation limiting each action of either house of Congress to ONE ITEM per bill and per vote. Disaster Relief Bill? Take out those non-related items tacked on or added as riders. One bill, one topic. No funding of the arts in a transportation bill, etc. Limit the page count for bills. No 800-page bill will ever by thoughtfully considered by our representatives anyway.
9. Enact legislation to make it a felony for any representative to vote on any legislation that they have not personally read. In its entirety. No more of this, “We have to pass it to learn what’s in it.”
10. Voting fairness. One person, one vote. Make registration and voting easy, safe, and secure for every person 18 and over. Require some form of personal identification but ensure that all who are eligible to vote can quickly and easily obtain such. If they can do it in Afhanistan and in Ghana, we can do it in the U.S.
11. Reform the electoral college – eliminate the possibility of “faithless” electors.
12. Mandatory retirement from the Supreme Court bench after 20 years of service.
13. Enact sunset legislation for all federal rules and regulations (note: Not laws – just the rules and regulations that are implemented and enforced by non-elective agencies – laws remain in effect until revoked or replaced). Perhaps 12 years would be a reasonable sunset limitation? Rules and regulations die at their sunset date unless renewed – there must be a reasonable public comment period prior to the renewal effective date.
14. Make the Post Office profitable. Home delivery reduced to three days a week – geographic routes get Monday, Wednesday, Friday OR Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday pickup and delivery. Allow PO personnel strength to diminish to right-sized counts as people retire or die. Raise rates as necessary – make the service competitive and worth any increased cost.
15. Improve medical care in the U.S. by fixing Obamacare, one step at a time. Consider allowing states to implement their own rules so long as they provide at least the minimum benefit as the federal plan. Remove federal restrictions, but not standards, so health insurance can work across state lines.
16. Remove the ‘cap’ on Social Security contributions. Keep long-term capital gains taxes low, but include all income, to include ‘non-earned’ income in the Social Security program taxation (dividends, rents, stock profits, etc.) Every dollar of net income or salary is subject to the SS tax. Remove gender-based discrimination from SS. If a man dies, his widow can choose the greater of his (before death) or her benefits. If a woman dies, her widower has no such option.
17. Make the heads of all Federal agencies subject to Civil Service rules.
18. Public Service unions, by definition, are a huge conflict of interest. Find some transparent way to ensure fairness and representation for Federal employees without the COI of a union. Ensure that employment rules do not unwisely protect marginal or worse employees but do provide fairness for all.
19. Repel or fix the Patriot Act and FISA. Ensure the Bill of Rights is respected and enabled.
20.  Outlaw (or severely restrict) paid lobbying.

"If a law is unjust, a man [or a woman] is not only right to disobey it, he [or she] is obligated to do so." Thomas Jefferson: Papers of Thomas Jefferson as presented by the Jefferson Monticello project at monitcello.org.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness… it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” The Declaration of Independence, 1776. From the works of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 2, as presented by the Online Library of Liberty at oll.liberty.org