Come Monday, it will be alright

Ah, the lyrics from an early Jimmy Buffett hit. It has a down to earth line “I’ve got my Hush Puppies on, I guess I was never meant for glitter rock and roll.” I wish for people who are keeping up with the Jones, to realize that a pair of jeans, comfortable shirt and shoes are a far more preferable outfit.

A friend of mine said when he hit his fifties, he got to the point where he thought far less of what others thought of him. He actually was more colorful in how he defined this realization. So, you would not find him in a tie very often.

Another said when reaching that point, she decided that she would do her best not to suffer fools. So, she started declining offers to attend events or outings with certain insufferable people.

I mention these two examples as people spend far too much time worrying about things that they could avoid or don’t really matter. I am not a person that needs to have the latest and greatest thing. Trust me, you keep your sanity and save a lot more money. So, what if my I-phone is six years old. So, what if my car is eleven years old. They both work, even though they are not the shiniest of toys.

The second example sounds anti-social, but it is not intended to be. We each have high maintenance acquaintances and friends. They tend to require a lot of tolerance, as they are intolerant. Some can be downright overbearing.

Please know that I am far from perfect. My wife would say the same, but she is one of the better listeners I have encountered. As a result, she tends to collect a few friends who need an audience. It should be noted, she must take breaks from these folks as they truly wear her out.

Life is tough enough without trying to have every new thing or using precious time being talked at by someone who needs a listener.

So, let’s grab those Hush Puppies and worry less about the glitter. Glitter is overrated anyway.

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Don’t mess around with water problems

Many home owners have had an unfortunate history with water problems. Hopefully, the problems were confined or discovered and remedied before major catastrophe. In our extended family, we have had our share of both.

In the past few weeks, we discovered a pooling of water in my 3 1/2  foot crawl space (we have a humidity tarp down under). Was it rain seeping in or a pipe issue? We have remedied both issues in the past three years. In this case, the primary culprit was the degradation in the glued PVC pipes in the Jack-n-Jill bathroom at the front of the house, Two previous issues had been resolved during the past three years.

Yet, in this case, our plumber said the PVC pipes were twisting inside the bathroom, meaning a potential leak into the wood work and more. As he frankly put it, you may have this issue throughout the house as the same plumber did all of the work when the house was built. He said you may want to call your insurance company. It should be noted, he was not looking for revenue as he said a problem this big is beyond his resources.

So, we had the whole house replumbed. And, the plumbers did find two pipes (one from the washing machine) where the glue had disintegrated (but fortunately not leaked). It should be noted this was not a PVC issue that has led to class action lawsuits from homes built before 1990 -those PVC piped cracked and fell apart). The glue was either inferior or insufficiently applied. Now, the glue is primed first which is visible by a purple color left behind. It should be noted, the builder has long been out of business after its founder passed and the housing recession hit.

So, we avoided a catastrophe (knock on wood). We did have a major water issue in a previous house while we were out of the house, which is why we have a healthy respect for water problems. My mother lived in Florida in a house which sat on a concrete slab – the water has nowhere to go when it leaks. She had three separate water problems, the last one being concentrated in a closet causing mold, which is a dangerous exposure issue.

It should be noted insurance companies usually do not pay for plumbing. They pay for loss and restoration of furniture, walls, ceilings, framing, etc. So, the re-plumbing is on our nickel, but well worth it. The insurer  will pay for a certain portion of sheetrocking, respainting, and labor.

Yet, if a major problem occurred, we would have had water everywhere even coming through the ceiling from upstairs. Now, that would have been a huge expense for us and the insurance company.

Hopefully, this does the trick, again knock on wood. If you have a home, you likely have a water story. Feel free to share for newer home owner readers. As you don’t want to mess around with water problems.

What is this 314 Action?

You do not have to be an engineer to know that 314 with a decimal added after the three is Pi. So, it should not be a surprise to learn that 314 Action has something to do with math or science. What it represents is an attempt to get more scientists elected to office. Their mission statement is below.

“314 Action was founded by members of the STEM community, grassroots supporters and political activists who believe in science. We are committed to electing more STEM candidates to office, advocating for evidence-based policy solutions to issues like climate change, and fighting the Trump administration’s attacks on science.

Why ‘314 Action’? Because Pi is everywhere. It’s the most widely known mathematical ratio both inside and out of the scientific community. It is used in virtually everything we encounter in our daily lives — and like Pi, science is all around us. Too often, legislators choose to ignore science in favor of convenient beliefs or intuition. We are committed to electing more leaders who will use their training as STEM professionals to influence policy-making. Evidence-based reasoning should be the foundation of legislation related to issues like climate change, and gun violence.

314 Action is also devoted to aggressively advocating for a pro-science agenda in Washington, D.C. and in local and state legislatures. We will leverage our network of pro-science advocates to organize and effect change in areas where science is being maligned or disputed. As a unified STEM and pro-science community, we can combat the all-too-common attacks on basic scientific understanding.”

It greatly troubles me that our country is in desperate need of more STEM education and professionals. Yet, the current party in power denigrates scientists who are not supportive of their recommendations. That is more than a tad hypocritical. Under Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency has done a great deal to forget the word “Protection” in its name. Several judges have admonished Pruitt’s team efforts for the EPA’s lack of homework and data behind its recommendations. This will likely continue under his successor.

Science matters. Data matters. Scientists endeavor to get it right. They question themselves regarding the veracity of their research and find fault when shortcuts to research were taken. I was listening to NPR earlier this week about the efforts journalists go through to get it right. One said, when you read a source, look how they handle mistakes. Do the admit, correct and make visible the mistakes? If they don’t, find another source. Scientists are like that. I think we could use more than a few in our legislature and other offices.

Below, is a link to their endorsed scientist candidates. This is rather refreshing.

http://www.314action.org/endorsed-candidates-1/

Take an aspirin – but check with doctor first*

“Take an aspirin” used to be a derogatory phrase in response to someone complaining about anything. Today, I don’t hear it as often, as many folks are like me and take a baby aspirin (81 mg) each day under the guidance and awareness of their doctor.*

Taking a low dose aspirin (see below about checking with your doctor) aids with blood circulation to help counter coronary artery disease and could prevent a cardiac event or stroke. It should be noted, when I had a scare fifteen years ago, which turned out not to be a heart attack, the EMT handed me four baby aspirin to take. It is usually when a patient has a scare (or event), they are doctor-prescribed a daily low-dose aspirin regimen.

A 2006 Journal of American Medicine Association (JAMA) study revealed men and women react differently to a daily aspirin regimen. In men, it reduces heart attack risk by 32%, but does not alter stroke risk. In women, the opposite occurred, with no material difference in heart attack risk, but a 17% reduction in the risk of a stroke occurred.

A 2012 Lancet Oncology article revealed that a daily aspirin regimen reduced the risk of certain types of cancer. A recent Nurses’ study revealed taking aspirin offered a 10% reduction in the risk of Ovarian cancer for women.  And, once you get it, taking aspirin improves recovery by 30%.

If you are thinking about an aspirin regimen, please check with your doctor. This is especially true if you take other medications. There are risks such as bleeding risk (your blood does not coagulate as easily to stop bleeding) or gastrointestinal complications such as ulcers or other issues.

Let me emphasize a key point. I am NOT a doctor. I am a patient. Please do NOT take my word for it. This helps me (although it does take a few extra seconds to stop a wound from bleeding), but do your research and speak with your doctor, especially if you take other medicines. And, speaking with a doctor is even more critical if you are on blood thinners or other pain killers. Aspirin is not a panacea, but it might help under the right circumstances. A doctor can help you decide.* 

* Note: There are instances where taking aspirin is inappropriate. Again, please check with your doctor before any regimen is started or if you have an issue arise. I am always concerned with folks taking other medications or who have an accident. Please refer to Hugh’s comment below, as a good reason why you should speak with a doctor before taking any medicine. The purpose of this post is to create conversation with your doctor (if you feel this might benefit you), not substitute for such conversation, as I am not qualified at all, to offer medical advice.

When you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice

If you have followed this blog for any length of time, you will know that I love cleverly worded song lyrics. The above title comes from an unexpected source (if you don’t follow the band) – a song called “Free will” by the rock band “Rush.” I find this lyric, penned by drummer Neil Peart, compelling as it speaks to people who choose to do nothing in the face of obvious problems. Martin Luther King saved some of his criticism for the silent people who did not condemn Jim Crow actions.

People choose not to vote because they do not like the choices. But, “none of the above” is not an option and one candidate tends to be worse or represents worse. If you did not vote because you did not think Brexit or Trump would win, you water down your right to protest. And, I would add there are seven white supremacists running for office, empowered by a US President who won’t condemn racist actions and has made racist statements. So, your vote does matter.

If you witness a daily assault on civil rights, women’s rights, truth, media, science, allies and environment and don’t speak up, then you condone the actions as acceptable.

– It is not OK for leaders to lie multiple times a day.

– It is not OK to have governmental websites delete data that run afoul of unsubstantiated opinions by leaders.

– It is not OK to demean people because they dare criticize a leader’s point of view.

– It is not OK to demonize groups of people or exaggerate causes of problems, as it is hard enough to solve real problems with real data.

– It is not OK to ignore real problems or have faux efforts to address them. Gun deaths, poverty, health care access and costs, infrastructure deterioration, increasing debt, environmental degradation, climate change, etc. are real problems.

Please do not remain silent. Speak up. Call or email your representatives. Attend marches and protests. Share diplomatically your opinion, but listen to theirs. Find a way to get your opinion heard and heeded. Calling someone a name is not the way to be heard.

The other day as I was looking for a new battery for my cordless mower, a store clerk and I chatted about the need to move toward renewable energy. While he supported the eventual move, he said renewable energy is “seven times” the cost of fossil fuel energy. I responded and said that is a ten-year old argument. The costs are now more on par. In fact, there is a city in Texas who chose to be 100% renewable energy powered as its CPA mayor said financially it is a better deal. Did he hear me? I don’t know, but he would not have  if I had not listened to his argument and responded.

Do not follow the words of the song lyric. Choose to decide.

A new phone scam

One of the downsides about having a phone is getting phone scam calls. The latest scam is for the caller to leave a recorded message that does not include your name but says “You are a person of interest in a formal proceeding. We have tried to contact you several times, so please call this number to discuss this issue.”

This is a scam. I am certain someone at the number I am asked to call back would ask me to wire money to make it go away. If I was a person of interest, they would not be calling me.

This serves as a reminder of other scams. Top of mind, here are a few to watch out for:

– IRS Scam: Someone will call leaving a message that you owe back taxes and the IRS will seek legal action to collect. The IRS will send you a letter if there is an issue with your taxes.

– Grandparent scam: The caller will pretend to be a grandchild and wait for the person to give the caller a name of a grandchild. The caller then assumes that identity. Typically, the faux grandchild says they have been in an accident and need money wired.

– Microsoft scam: This scam uses a caller who says Microsoft has detected that you are having computer problems. They want access to your computer at which time they will glean important financial information and passwords.

This does not address aggressive marketing attempts where the caller appears to be your credit card company. They are not really, but just want to issue you another credit card. It also doesn’t address other unscrupulous schemes where callers pretend to be who they are not to sell another product. Nor does it address the email phishing attempts that will allow someone to commandeer your computer.

Be on the look out. People want your money. Too many will lie, cheat and steal. All it takes is one bite to get hooked on a bad deal for you. What are some of the other scams you have come across?

We bought a zoo – worth the watch

Our blogging friend Holly posted a poem about being courageous, which reminded me of a quote from the movie “We bought a zoo.” The quote is from the father, played by Matt Damon, when he passed on this piece of wisdom to his children, “All you need is twenty seconds of courage.”

But, I am getting ahead of myself. The movie also stars Scarlett Johansson, Elle Fanning, Thomas Haden Church, Colin Ford, Stephanie Szostak and a host of others. It is about the true story of a widowed father buying a run down, small zoo in a bold attempt to reconnect with his kids after they lost their mother.

It is a feel good movie about relationships between families, friends, colleagues and animals. It is peppered with poignant scenes, which I will forego to avoid spoiling it for others.

It is one of those movies I could watch again as there are multitude of interesting characters. The brother, played by Thomas Hayden Church, is the appointed steward of his brother’s wife’s money, as she knew of her husband impulsive behavior. Hayden Smith usually plays a comic foil, so it is a different kind of role for him as he is a conscience to Damon’s character.

Twenty seconds of courage plays a pivotal role in the movie. In essence, the key to making any kind of change is summoning up twenty seconds to act on it. If you can do that, the path forward will open or you will at least have an answer if it does not.

Give it a chance if you have not seen in it. If you have, let me know what you think. For those who have not, you may want to steer clear of the comments to avoid plot reveals.