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April 21, 2009

Road Safety: Aggressive Driving Serious Concern

driving-too-fast1  

When I lived in New York City because I didn’t have to drive much I didn’t really give a hoot about drivers’ aggressive behavior. Now that I have to drive amongst some of the youngest least experienced drivers and some of the oldest inept drivers I pay A LOT of attention to road safety.

According to a survey and analysis research released today by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, they interviewed of 2,509 adults and found that most motorists in the USA — 78% — call aggressive driving a serious concern yet nearly half admit speeding on major highways in the past 30 days.  Drivers also confessed to recently speeding on residential streetswhich is a HUGE pet peeve of mine — speeding up to beat yellow lights, honking at other drivers and tailgating. 

The automobile club says this reflects the “do as I say, not as I do” attitude of American drivers.

Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of the foundation said that vehicular crashes kill someone every 13 minutes and that aggressive driving is a factor in 56% of all fatal crashes. 

Aggressive driving, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says, occurs when “an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.” These often include speeding, tailgating, improperly changing lanes, failing to yield the right of way, improper passing and running red lights.

Amanda Cooke, 21, a computer teacher in Running Springs, Calif., says she used to drive so aggressively that her boyfriend was afraid to ride with her. “I’d cut people off to get into the lane I wanted to get in,” she says. “I’d tailgate them if they were going too slow or blink my lights if it was night.” Cooke says she stopped driving that way after crashing into another driver. “I didn’t think it was as risky as it was,” she says.

avoid-texting-while-driving  Driving while speaking on cell phones and driving while texting is not mentioned in this report but I see folks swerving from lane to lane while talking or texting every minute I’m driving, which is very dangerous.

Folks, I bring this to your attention to remind you to be less aggressive and more focused on the road when driving.

texting-rip 

Drive safely!

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March 30, 2009

Tiger Wins At Bay Hill!

tiger-bay-hill-3-29-09 Magic – absolute magical, impressive and dramatic!!!

Tiger busted the weirdest celebration move ever in the picture above but I guess he didn’t know what to do with the sum of all his athletic parts as he sunk the 15 foot birdie at the 18th hole at Bay Hill as he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational by one shot over Sean O’Hair to match the largest comeback in his PGA Tour career. Did you see Stevie lift him off the ground?! 🙂

“It feels good to be back in contention, to feel the rush,” Woods said. “It’s been awhile, but God, it felt good. I hadn’t been in the mix since the U.S. Open, so it was neat to feel the heat again.”

Starting the final round five shots behind, Woods closed with a 3-under 67. It was the third time Tiger won at Bay Hill with a birdie putt on the 18th hole and his sixth win there.

This is phenomenal and a testament to Tiger’s ability, work ethics and focus.  This is just Tiger’s third start after reconstructive surgery on his left knee 8 months ago!

Magical!

Washington Bans Dishwashing Liquids

dishwashing-liquidIn an effort to improve water quality in Washington waters, the state is reducing one of the most common causes of pollution:  phosphorus in household products.

There are over 260 bodies of water polluted because of nutrients like phosphorus in Washington State.  Phosphorus is a common ingredient in household detergents and fertilizers, where it is often described as “phosphate.” It is used in many industrial processes. Phosphorus also occurs naturally in soil and human and animal wastes.

In water, phosphorus behaves as a fertilizer, accelerating plant and algae growth. When those plants and algae die in the water, bacteria consume oxygen that is dissolved in the water. When this happens, less oxygen is available for fish and aquatic life that need oxygen to survive. Excess phosphorus in drinking water is difficult to remove, and also can require an increase in treatment chemicals which adds cost.

Industry and wastewater treatment plants account for about fifty percent of the phosphorus contributed to Washington waters. The other half comes from a variety of “nonpoint” sources which are hard to trace such as such as storm-water runoff, septic tanks and agriculture.

When we reduce our use of phosphorus-based products we can considerably improve this pollution problem. The best way to protect our water sources is to avoid putting phosphorus into it to begin with.

There are alternatives to phosphorus-containing detergents that can be just as effective at food removal and spot reduction as phosphorus-containing soaps – Palmolive has a phosphorus free version.  Ask your supermarket(s) about phosphorus free products.

Even if your state isn’t regulating phosphorus in its water systems (as yet) we all need to start protecting our lakes and ground water. I believe that regulators should also ban phosphorus from our laundry detergents.

March 21, 2009

A Garden Grows At The White House

flotus-garden-2    First lady Michelle Obama broke ground on a new garden near the fountain on the South Lawn that will supply the White House kitchen with fresh herbs and vegetables for meals.

flotus-garden-3-students-bancroft She was joined by students from Bancroft Elementary School in the District of Columbia. The children will stay involved with the project including planting herbs, vegetables and fruits in the coming weeks and harvesting the crops later in the year.

flotus-garden-1  “We’re going to get a big one in our back yard, the South Lawn,” she promised the volunteers.

Such a White House garden has been a dream of noted California chef Alice Waters, considered a leader in the movement to encourage consumption of locally grown, organic food. She has been appealing for change through the taste buds since the 1960s.

She organized a series of fundraising dinners in Washington before President Barack Obama’s inauguration in January that served foods purchased from local producers at an area farmer’s market to show how it can be done.

Reached Thursday at her Berkeley, Calif., restaurant, Chez Panisse, Waters said she was thrilled by the news.

“It just tells you that this country cares about people’s good health and about the care of the land,” she said. To have this sort of ‘victory garden’, this message goes out that everyone can grow a garden and have free food.”

Victory gardens were vegetable gardens planted during the world wars with encouragement from the government to make sure there was enough food for civilians and the troops. Waters says her family had such a garden.

Waters has been lobbying for a vegetable garden at the White House since 1992. Recent White Houses have grown some herbs and have practiced limited container gardening on the mansion’s roof to supply it with tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables. The new garden will be the first on the White House grounds in many decades, Waters said.

She said Michelle Obama always has been receptive to the idea.

“She talks about food in connection with children, and it’s a beautiful thing,” Waters said.

Waters also has pushed the administration to adopt her Edible Schoolyard project in which children plant their own produce to eat in the school cafeteria. Most public schools are serving too much processed food that is contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic which can lead to chronic health issues, she argues.

Alice Waters on 60 Minutes:

 

 

Original post:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090319/ap_on_go_pr_wh/white_house_garden

 

daffodils

 Happy Spring!

March 19, 2009

Health: Marijuana — Legalize it!

Marijuana is a tricky subject in America.

Based on the way our current federal law is written marijuana seems to be the devil of all plants.  It is demonized and believed to be an immoral and destructive drug that should be censored at all costs and by any means necessary to save our nation from destruction!!!

Some of the methods used to control the use of marijuana are very expensive and quite irrational in my opinion.  We, the tax payers, have to pay for extra police officers and other law enforcement officers to monitor marijuana use.  We have to pay correction officers and maintain prisons to punish offenders who were caught with marijuana. We have the high cost of financially supporting citizens who are healthy and in the prime of their lives and should be working, paying taxes and contributing to their families and communities while they sit around in prisons because they were arrested, tried and committed for possessing a minuscule amount of the plant.

From my understanding, hemp, a natural fiber by product of the cannabis plant (marijuana) could be a very positive, practical and valuable fiber if used for industrial purposes.  The cannabis plant, like bamboo, is a very environmentally friendly plant and grows quickly and abundantly.   Hemp requires little or no pesticides or herbicides, controls erosion of topsoil and produces oxygen.  Hemp can also be used to replace harmful products like tree paper which is processed using chlorine bleach and creates a waste product that is carcinogenic (cancer causing).  The strongest chemical needed to whiten hemp so that it can be used as paper is hydrogen peroxide which is harmless.

Hemp can also be used to produce biodegradable plastics (save our land fills!), clothing textiles, rope, canvas, fuel and health food.

Marijuana can also be used for medicinal purposes. The active ingredient in marijuana (THC) and other compounds found in cannabis are legitimate holistic alternatives.

Marijuana and its by-products are suitable for patients suffering from various types of chronic pain, especially those unresponsive to traditional analgesics (pain killers). In addition, cannabis has less negative side-effects than opioids (synthetic/chemical narcotics used to treat pain) – which can be highly addictive – and NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), which can induce stomach ulcers, bleeding and kidney failure.

Just this past week, HB 648, a bill allowing severely ill patients to grow and use marijuana for medicinal purposes has won a 13-7 vote in the House Health and Human Services Committee in New Hampshire and heads for a full House vote next week.

The bill requires patients to be certified by a doctor before they can grow or possess up to six plants or two ounces of marijuana. They or a caregiver can grow the plants, and a patient is given the option of obtaining marijuana from another certified patient.

In addition to New Hampshire thirteen states have laws permitting medicinal use of marijuana. California is unique among them for the presence of dispensaries — businesses that sell marijuana and even advertise their services. These dispensaries are legal under California law even though they are still illegal under federal law.

In the past month, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said federal policy will shift, giving states more leeway to pass and enforce their own medical marijuana laws. The Federal government will no longer focus on raids of marijuana clinics but will target marijuana distributors only when they violate both federal and state laws.

That is a departure from the Bush administration, which targeted medical marijuana dispensaries in California even if they complied with that state’s law. California law permits the sale of marijuana for medical purposes even though it’s still is against federal law.

Medical marijuana advocates in California welcomed the news, but said they still worried about the pending cases of those already in court on drug charges.

“Given the limited resources that we have, our focus will be on people, organizations that are growing, cultivating substantial amounts of marijuana and doing so in a way that’s inconsistent with federal and state law,” Attorney General Holder said.

Kris Hermes, a spokesman for national medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, said he welcomed Holder’s perspective and that “It signals a new direction and a more reasonable and sensible direction on medical marijuana policy.”

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t heard of anyone dying from an overdose of marijuana.  Or anyone getting a disease because of marijuana but I have heard of people who got alcoholic poisoning and died; and people who were DWI and killed other people.  

So why not give marijuana the same laws and restrictions as alcohol?  Americans can legally brew beer and make wine up to a certain quantity for personal consumption. So why shouldn’t we be able to grow and possess marijuana up to a certain quantity for personal consumption?

Take it out of the hands of the dealers and let law enforcement concentrate on dangerous drugs.  In fact, we should legalize cannabis and encourage farmers to plant this very eco-friendly plant industrially as a source for paper and other by-products.  Why not?

Additional reading:

http://legalizepot.wordpress.com/2008/01/23/why-is-marijuana-illegal/

 

 

March 18, 2009

Chinese Made Dry Walls Making Houses Sick

My sister just called to tell me that she heard about this story on CNN.  This is another instance of how lack of regulation by the Bush administration has caused harm to the American public at large.  If these Chinese made dry-walls can decay and eat away air conditioning systems, what can they do to our lungs?  This is an outrage.  If your home is emitting any of these odors or you see any of these conditions in your home call one of these attorneys.  Read the story below:

Officials are looking into claims that Chinese-made drywall installed in some Florida homes is emitting smelly, corrosive gases and ruining household systems such as air conditioners, the Consumer Product Safety Commission says.

The Florida Health Department, which is investigating whether the drywall poses any health risks, said it has received more than 140 homeowner complaints. And class-action lawsuits allege defective drywall has caused problems in at least three states — Florida, Louisiana and Alabama — while some attorneys involved claim such drywall may have been used in tens of thousands of U.S. homes.

Homeowners’ lawsuits contend the drywall has caused them to suffer health problems such as headaches and sore throats and face huge repair expenses.

The drywall is alleged to have high levels of sulfur and, according to homeowners’ complaints, the sulfur-based gases smell like rotten eggs and corrode piping and wiring, causing electronics and appliances to fail.

“It’s economically devastating, and it’s emotionally devastating,” said Florida attorney Ervin A. Gonzalez, who filed one of the lawsuits. It would cost a third of an affected home’s value to fix the dwelling, Gonzalez said.

“The interior has to be gutted, the homeowners have to continue paying mortgages, and they have to pay for a [temporary] place to live,” Gonzalez said.

The CPSC has been investigating claims in Florida for more than a month, according to commission spokesman Joe Martyak. He would not confirm whether CPSC is checking other states or reveal how many cases it is probing.

The Florida complaints generally involve homes built or renovated in 2005 and 2006, when a building boom and post-hurricane reconstruction caused a U.S. drywall shortage that spurred builders to turn to imports, Martyak said.

The allegations come after a number of recent safety problems with other Chinese exports, ranging from toys to pet food.

Dick and Nancy Nelson, who say the Florida retirement home they bought new in 2006 has Chinese-manufactured drywall, contend all their appliances with copper are failing, according to CNN affiliate WFTS-TV.

“The washing machine, the dryer, the microwave, and a refrigerator — these are all brand new appliances, and they’re breaking down,” Nancy Nelson of Palmetto told the Tampa station. The Nelsons are among those who have complained to the state health department.

In a neighborhood in Homestead, Florida, owners of homes with Chinese-manufactured drywall say the dwellings smell like rotten eggs especially on humid days, according to CNN affiliate WPLG-TV.

Electronics and appliances with copper components stopped working in short order, and copper pipes and wiring turned black, homeowners told the Miami station.

“My dream has turned into a nightmare,” one of the homeowners, Felix Martinez, told WPLG-TV. He said he closed on the home in August 2006.

Michael Foreman, head of construction consulting firm Foreman & Associates in Sarasota, Florida, said he’s been investigating drywall complaints in that state since last year and is sharing information with at least one group of lawyers preparing lawsuits on the matter. Based on shipping records, Foreman estimates the United States in 2006 and the first two months of 2007 imported enough drywall from Chinese manufacturers named in lawsuits to produce at least 50,000 homes at a size of 2,000 square feet each.

Florida ports alone took in enough of that drywall during those 14 months to build 30,000 homes of that size, he estimated, citing records he obtained from the Port Import Export Reporting Service, a company that collects information on cargoes entering and leaving U.S. ports. Foreman said he has yet to see import records from 2004 and 2005, years covering what he said was a building boom with a high demand for drywall.

Two Florida attorneys involved in separate class-action lawsuits, Gonzalez and Jordan Chaikin, said they, too, believe shipping records indicate tens of thousands of residences in the United States, with a good chunk of them in Florida, may have drywall from the manufacturers.

“The breadth of this thing is a lot bigger than people think,” said Chaikin of the Parker Waichman Alonso law firm in Bonita Springs. Chaikin said the problem is perhaps more easily recognizable in Florida because humidity exacerbates it.

An Alabama-based homebuilder alleges that Chinese-manufactured drywall in 40 houses it built in 2005 and 2006 — 32 in Alabama and eight in Florida — caused corrosion or odor problems. The builder, Mitchell Co., has filed a class-action lawsuit in Florida against certain manufacturers, attorney Steve Nicholas said.

“We filed on behalf of builders because we believe … they’re going to be the ones with the initial loss” to fix the problems, said Nicholas, of Alabama law firm Cunningham Bounds.

The Miami suit seeks compensation and medical monitoring of the homeowners.

To read this story in full go to:

http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/03/18/chinese.drywall/index.html

 

Health: The Pope Is WRONG About Condoms!

Pope Benedict XVI, who is on a tour of Africa, said that handing out condoms only increased the problem of HIV/AIDS.  He as representative of the Roman Catholic Church says that 1) marital fidelity and 2) sexual abstinence are the best way to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.

No disrespect to the pontiff but the Catholic Church and any other church with this point of view MUST get their heads out of the clouds. 

This man of the high cloth is listened to and is emulated all over the world and this is the simpleton advice he has to offer about a disease that is killing millions and millions and millions of people?! 

Of course marital fidelity and sexual abstinence are the best way to prevent HIV/AIDS – any 7 year old can tell you that.  That is stating the obvious.

But the real problem is that many people across the world are not in monogamous relationships; most people married or not do not have a sexual relationship with only one partner.  The facts show that our even our young people ARE having sex!  Some of our young people are having sex at ten years or even younger so we HAVE to teach them about safe sex and how to use condoms whether we like it or not.  Whether it is offensive of not.  Whether it is an ugly fact or not.

The alternative is to say nothing and simply be unsophisticated buffoons with small minds and ignore the truth and wait for an epidemic of HIV/AIDS to destroy our children’s lives. If any of our children are infected the potential for many of our children becoming infected increases.  We live in a global society and our children are having sex with other children across economic and racial lines so if one socio-economic or racial group is infected all our children can become infected. 

Let’s talk to our children about safe sex — let’s keep all our children safe.

Let’s keep it real, these are facts. 

Even adults in short-term monogamous relationships may have had a different sexual partner days, weeks or months prior to their current monogamous relationship.  So even if someone isn’t cheating they may have been in relationship with someone prior that may have been exposed to HIV/AIDS or several STDs not so long ago. 

Do you know the status of the last ten people your current partner slept with? 

Did you go with your partner and both get tested and received a negative result and continue to get tested every 3 months to make sure you are STILL negative? 

If not, you better use a condom.

There are people walking around with HIV/AIDS who look healthy and act healthy and KNOW that they are infected who do not tell their partners that they are infected and they spread the disease.  Ugly but true.

There are people walking around that DO NOT know that they are infected and they have sexual relationships without condoms and spread the disease.  Ugly but true.

Many infected people know that if they are truthful about their status they probably would be rejected so they keep their mouth shut.  Ugly but true.

Most of us assume that if a person has HIV/AIDS they would simply be responsible and trustworthy and not have random sexual relationships or would a least tell a potential partner that they are infected and use a condom.  What a nice thought.

The Pope is simply wrong about the use of condoms and his statement is a threat to public health globally.  The Pope’s opposition to condoms tells me that religious doctrine is more important to him than the lives of human beings.  That behavior by the Pope is self-serving and absurd and un-Christian like.

God help us all!

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