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It Was Gouda While It Lasted

A few months ago I was walking through the Schnucks grocery store in Clayton, Missouri traveling past the fruit and produce and headed towards the deli. Between the two is an island of refrigerated display cases filled with a large selection of cheeses. I’ve passed it a thousand times. But today, the cheese lady was actually working on her display case and I thought I’d ask her about a special cheese I had a few years ago in Red Deer, Canada. It was an apple smoked gouda purchased on a whim. The flavor was excellent and it beat the hell out of anything with a Kraft label on it. I asked the woman if she had anything like that particular cheese of my dreams a long time ago.

The woman frowned for just a sec and said that she didn’t have an apple smoked gouda but she did have an apple smoked cheddar. But she did have a smoked gouda from a company named Charmwood. The cheddar was going for about eight dollars a pound while the gouda sold for twenty. I asked why such a difference. She replied without any sarcasm that one was cheddar and one was gouda. Cheddar had its characteristics and gouda had its characteristics. I must’ve frowned from her answer because she asked if I would like to do a taste comparison between the two. My curiosity was piqued and I jumped at the opportunity. She unwrapped the gouda and then sliced a thin sliver off and gave it to me on tissue paper. This was a cheese like no other. Its flavor was powerful. It had a sharpness no cheddar would ever come close to matching. Each taste bud in my mouth swooned as if the cheese was an old lover long lost but recently found. My eyes rolled back into my head like I had just taken a hit of some illegal substance that went straight to my brain. It was beautiful.

The woman behind the counter brought me back down to earth with a concerned, Sir? I opened my eyes and she had the cheddar ready for me to try. She had a small piece of melba toast for me to neutralize the flavor of the gouda and clear my mouth for the next sample. After a couple of seconds, I took the cheddar ready to enjoy a similar experience. It was nice, if you’re into cardboard. After the gouda the flavor of the cheddar seemed weak and waxy. I asked the woman what kind of cheese was that behind her. When she turned, I spat the cheddar out as if it was gelled caster oil. When she turned back around I had the expelled wad of cheddar wrapped in the tissue paper, ready to pitch in the garbage. Before the woman could say anything I asked her for a half pound of the gouda. And thus, my downfall started.

Shortly thereafter I found some chicken sausage links with smoked gouda in the local Costco store. I bought a couple of packages to try. And damn if that stuff don’t make anything from Oscar Meyer look like doggie bones or some Beggin’ Strips or something else that might pass for dog food. I started making special trips to Costco just to keep the deep freezer filled with sausages. Whenever I got down to my last pack of twenty or so links, I grabbed the car keys and made the Costco trek. They were quick, they were easy, and they made the best chili dogs.

So imagine my surprise when I went to the health fare at work and saw my overall cholesterol numbers spike thirty points over the past year or so. All year I had been doing my best to lose weight. I’ve been going to the gym. I’ve been avoiding red meat. I haven’t met my goals just yet. But I have been able to see a few subtle changes in my body shape that led me to believe I was heading in the right direction.

“Was” is the key word. After all the gouda and chicken sausages and right after the obligatory Thanksgiving Day dinner with the family consisting of all kinds of foods better left off a healthy diet, I went and had my cholesterol checked. And did I add the fact that just this past weekend we had barbecued pork steaks? One of my sisters from out of town stayed an extra week and decided she wanted barbecue on her last night home and we did the her right. Even though there was some chicken grilled as well, barbecue pork steaks are like manna from heaven. It is one of my few kryptonite like substances. It cuts through all my defenses like a hot phaser through butter. The barbecue sauce had caramelized on the pork steaks with perfection making the steaks totally impossible to resist. I simply dropped any consideration that I was going to have my cholesterol checked in just a few days. And after last year’s slightly high numbers, I made myself a promise that I would have better results this year.

Even though my current cholesterol numbers are high I know I have what it takes to get them back down to humanly acceptable levels. No more gouda and no more sausage and no more pork steaks. It’s time for diet mode ALPHA! In six months, I will drop my cholesterol numbers by no less than thirty points. This will happen before the end of June and it will happen without medication. No more excuses. It will happen. It won’t be easy because that gouda was really damn good!

Sunday, December 13, 2009 Posted by | Health, Life, Thoughts | 4 Comments

Pushing Healthcare Down Selective Throats

Forced Chemo

Now let me make sure I get this straight.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Colleen Hauser of after she failed to appear in Brown County Court in Minnesota for a hearing regarding her son Danny’s medical treatment.  Judge John Rodenberg ordered that Danny Hauser be placed in protective custody once he is found so that he can receive proper medical treatment for his Hodgkins Lymphoma, a potentially fatal form of cancer that can be treated with a relatively high level of success in children.

A court order was issued for Danny Hauser to undergo chemotherapy treatments for his cancer despite the family’s insistence that being ordered to submit to medical treatment violated their personal freedom of religious expression.  The Hauser family are members of the Missouri based religious group Nemenhah Band that believes in natural healing.  Thirteen year old Danny was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma earlier this year.  After he underwent the first of a recommended six phase chemotherapy treatment, the family decided to seek alternative methods to treat Danny.

Judge Rodenberg ordered the parents to present the boy to a doctor for an examination to determine the extent of the cancer and to choose an oncologist for the standard medical treatment.  But in a prior hearing Danny testified that he believed that the chemo therapy was doing more harm than good to him and he would resist if he was forced to undergo treatment.  The Hauser family attorney said the family would comply with the order but equated forcing chemotherapy with assault and extended treatment against Danny’s will as torture.

Danny complained of pain at the site in his chest where a device was inserted in order to administer the chemotherapy drugs.  The boy had rated the pain as a ten on a scale of one to ten with ten being the most painful.  The pain was attributed to the fact that the cancer tumor in Danny’s chest had increased in size and was pushing the device out of the place of insertion.

These people are doing their best to refuse healthcare for their son and the government is doing its best to force healthcare upon their son.  They have defied recommendations by medical personnel and court orders.  The mother became a fugitive for kidnapping her own son.  Contempt of court charges were considered against the father, Tony Hauser, for refusing or being unable to tell the court the whereabouts of his son.  Mr. Hauser was intentionally kept ignorant of Ms. Hauser’s plans.

Is this not a first class example of how bureaucrats and authorized government personnel going over the line practicing medicine?  It seems to happen whether we have universal healthcare or not.

And if the family doesn’t want healthcare for their son, couldn’t the government better serve the public by finding some parents who really do want healthcare for their child?  I mean, aren’t there parents out here waiting for somebody to take an interest in their children’s health?  Isn’t there a list of children waiting to be added to somebody’s medical insurance program?

Instead of moving on to the next child in line waiting for some medical attention we need to waste time and money on a boy whose parents are doing their best to refuse care.  The boy himself said he didn’t want it.  He was convinced that the pain of treatment was too much.  He’s willing to take his chances with alternatives.  But instead, we are wasting the court’s time, the sheriff has been involved, Interpol and the FBI even got into this dog and pony show.

Is that the jest of what we’re hearing on this case?

I find it amazing the way we can waste such limited valuable resources on forcing one person to take what others may be dying to get.  If I was running that medical program, I would simply apologize to the family, wish them good luck, turn back to all the other people waiting in line for help, and simply say “Next”.  I’m pretty sure that some times doing the right thing means respecting somebody’s wishes to be left alone, or for their child to be left alone.  There are way too many people waiting for help with arms outreached to spend time forcing help down one person’s throat.

Monday, May 25, 2009 Posted by | Health, Life, Thoughts, Universal Healthcare | 3 Comments

No AIDS In The White Community

“[The] Black AIDS Institute reported that if African-Americans with HIV/AIDS were their own country, they would make up more HIV/AIDS cases than seven of the countries currently receiving emergency funding for… AIDS. Think about that. There are almost 600,000 African-Americans living with HIV, and there are still 30,000 newly infected cases every year. As things stand now, AIDS remains the leading cause of death among African-American women between the ages of 25 and 34, and the second-leading cause of death among African-American men between 35 and 44 years of age.”

“As Jesse Milan, board chair of the institute, said, ‘When the world wasn’t looking, the AIDS epidemic refused to go away.’ AIDS has always been a disparate African-American problem. Even at the beginning of this epidemic in the United States, when there were only a few thousand cases, more than a quarter of them were among African-Americans.”

“Today, 47% of the HIV cases in the United States are in African Americans, even though African Americans make up only 13% of the population. If you peer deeper into certain cities, you find of all the HIV cases in Washington DC, 80 percent are among African Americans. In Jackson, Mississippi – 84%.”Doctor Sanjay Gupta

Mr. Gupta went on to say that the AIDS rates in the Latino community is also on the rise. Although Hispanics make up about fourteen percent of the population, they account for about twenty two percent of new diagnoses tallied as reported by federal officials in 2006. Mr. Gupta never mentioned what rates or numbers were for the white community or how much of a problem it truly is. It appears that this disease isn’t an issue for the country until it becomes a problem for the non white communities. So I decided to go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for myself to get the information I wanted.

According to the table I found (click here), at the end of 2006 there were 439,693 cases of HIV/AIDS in the United States. Of this total 154,495 cases are in the white community and 191,590 cases are in the black community. That’s a breakdown of 35% for the white community and 44% for the black community.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find a state by state breakdown for 2006 (click here for access to all the 2004 tables). I had to go back to the 2004 tables to find a breakdown across the states, District of Columbia, and other United States territories such as Guam and Puerto Rico. While it is true that areas like Washington, D.C. and the state of Maryland can have black infection rates of about eighty percent of all cases, I discovered that states like Montana, Maine, Idaho, and Oregon will have white infection rates that can go as high as ninety percent. Would Mr. Gupta be willing to go public and say that there are areas where white infection rates are so high that they mimic what is happening in some of the worse places in Africa? Would the good doctor be willing to say that the number of HIV/AIDS cases in the white community appears to be just behind the numbers for the black community? Is anybody making the claim that if white people were their own country they would out number six of the countries currently receiving funding for HIV/AIDS?

I went through the numbers and added them all up in a spreadsheet. In between 2001 and 2004, over a four year time span, there were 365,444 new infection cases of HIV/AIDS in the white community and 360,860 cases in the black community, a virtual tie. And yet, at the end of 2006, there are only 154,495 white people living with HIV/AIDS and 191,590 black people with the disease were still alive at the same time. Although the black cases are high, higher than the numbers in the white community, it is far less than the six hundred thousand reported by Mr. Gupta. Nevertheless, it could be assumed that even with more access to better healthcare, more white people appear to be dying from the disease than black people.

But Mr. Gupta was not talking about numbers, he was talking about rates. Black people are only thirteen percent of the population but make up forty four percent of cases. Therefore, black rates are many times that of white people who only make up thirty five percent of cases and about seventy percent of the population. Rates are the only things that matter.

And if Mr. Gupta was truly a man of medicine, which implies he’s a man of science, he might have put some context on these numbers. Poverty plays a large role in the proliferation of this disease. A lack of education and a lack of opportunities play significant roles in the spread of HIV/AIDS. A lack of healthcare and a lack of family planning are huge factors. And all of these contributing factors runneth over in the black community.

But what’s the objective of Mr. Gupta’s story? Is he actually trying to help the black community or is his objective is to reinforce the stereotypical negative sentiment most people associate with black people and our behavior? Where was Mr. Gupta when HIV/AIDS was more prevalent in the white community? Did Mr. Gupta ever do a program where he talked about how the white community is so ravaged? Why is the black community his sole focus for this disease? Are we to believe that white people do not suffer from HIV/AIDS?

And why the focus only on HIV/AIDS? According to the Florida coroner that examined the body of Martin Lee Anderson, latent sickle cell traits are killing fourteen year old black males in boot camps. Why isn’t Mr. Gupta advocating something being done about all of these so-called dangerous latent sickle cell traits? Or how about a little help bringing attention to the black community’s susceptibility to hypertension or diabetes? Better yet, why doesn’t Doctor Gupta do something to help the black community obtain something that resembles racial equality in America instead of contributing to the negative stereotypes that makes the black community the subject of everything bad?

HIV/AIDS is a problem for the entire country. No one should be focusing on any single segment of the population. Any modern man of science who tries to give solace by saying only black people are a problem is a fraud and a quack. Mr. Gupta needs to hang his head in shame.

Monday, August 4, 2008 Posted by | African Americans, Black Community, Black Culture, Black in America, Black Men, Black People, Black Women, CNN, Health, Life, Philosophy, Racism, Thoughts | 9 Comments

The Constitutionality of Universal Healthcare

Consitutional Convention

I read a comment this morning that said constitutionally speaking it would be illegal for the federal government to do anything to make universal healthcare the law of the land. It has been years since I read the United States Constitution and I have to confess that I’m in no mood to read it now. With the rights of the people being trampled by all three branches of the federal government I wonder why people even bother with the constitutionality of things. The Supreme Court says things like torture is okay as long as it’s for gathering information and not as a means of punishment and the best way to combat racism is to stop looking at people’s race. The executive branch signs laws into existence and then signs a signing statement that says that the President isn’t bound to any stinking law, and the Congress refuses to do anything to prevent a rogue President from taking the country further into global isolation with illegal wars, unilateral actions, and declarations of you are either with us or against us.

But one thing I do remember about the United States Constitution is that the authors of this document intended for it to be dynamic and adjustable and flexible with the times. The Constitution has already been adjusted with a number of amendments. It is people who are rigid and inflexible and refuse to adapt to the times. The Constitution has been changed to recognize black people as equals and many components of the American public are still working hard to resist coming to terms with this issue. The Constitution was amended for prohibition. When prohibition went into practice and so many people started breaking the law, the law makers realized that this modification wasn’t what the people wanted and the Constitution was flexible enough to rectify the problem. In essence, the Constitution is self correcting.

Some people are working hard to make an amendment to the United States Constitutional to protect the sanctity of marriage. This law is supposed to make it clear that when it comes to the United States and its territories, marriage is a joining between a man and a woman. Marriage is not an option for same sex couples. No state or municipality in the American union would be able to pass any law that would give homosexuals the opportunity to express their love and appreciation for each other as a marriage. I believe the law would make civil unions an option for same sex couples. But it should be clear that what we have hear is a twenty first century example of people working to establish a separate but equal arrangement to prevent homosexuals from having the same opportunities for marriage as heterosexuals.

Now personally, I fail to see how homosexuals coming together in holy matrimony are a threat to the man and woman who would like to do the same. I have heard people say that two men getting married or two women getting married would cheapen marriage in the eyes of god. I seriously doubt if god would be so petty as to have difficulty telling the difference between the two. This must be one of those instances of god working in mysterious ways because it really is difficult to understand how two people who are trying to express love for each other would be something evil, sinister, and ethically immoral.

People will also say that if we allow homosexuals to marry the next thing you know people will start marrying their dogs. The idiocy of such an unreasonable leap from the circumstance of homosexual marriage to marriage between a human and an animal is truly large and wide. Marriage is a legal contract between two people. I have yet to hear of any state allowing animals to enter into legal contracts. As far as I know homosexuals are still people. I have to admit that it is difficult to see the logic of the suggestion. But nevertheless, somebody feels the idiocy of people trying to marry Fido justifies the necessity to make a constitutional amendment to protect marriage.

But, if people truly wanted to protect marriage they would make a constitutional amendment making adultery and divorce crimes against the public. Unfortunately for the people who swear that the sanctity of holy matrimony is their primary concern, it is a seriously fat chance of such a constitutional amendment getting passed. Politicians from the local parents teachers association to the local alderman to the Mayor to the Governor to the congressman to the President have made their infidelity the business of the public. Even some spiritual leaders have difficulty keeping their vows to god when the alter boy bends over to pick up a dropped ethic or two. It is hard to resist when those gowns start to sway so seductively. A snowball would have a better chance surviving in hell.

When we have the will to make a change to our Constitution, we do it no matter how valid it may or may not be. If we feel that we want universal healthcare the fact that it isn’t allowed in the Constitution doesn’t mean that it cannot be allowed constitutionally. The Constitution isn’t so rigid that universal healthcare is impossible to implement. If universal healthcare is truly an unconstitutional concept, and I seriously doubt that validity of this argument, the next amendment to this flexible document that was designed to change and grow and meet the needs of the entire population can be the one clearing the way for its existence. If only people were as flexible.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008 Posted by | Health, Life, Thoughts, Universal Healthcare | 2 Comments

The Deafinition Of Sound

Deafinition of Sound

I was sound asleep last night when I awoke to a deep thumping noise outside the apartment building. It sounded as if it was far, far away initially. But it steadily got closer. It shook the windows. The furniture started to shake with each thump. It started off as a little shake initially. But then it turned into a steady vibration. If I didn’t know better I would’ve sworn it was the footsteps of some kind of Godzilla or Cloverleaf or some other mega monster phenomenon coming to attack the city. But it was just somebody in an old Suburban or Impala giving his car stereo a workout in the middle of the night. The thumps turned into a rhythmic explosion of pure base. The stereo was so powerful that it not only triggered every car with an alarm two blocks over. The noise from this car could trigger house alarms as well. And the car was still a half a block away.

As the car came closer to the house the windows shook and the curtains billowed. The baby started to stir in his crib. The bed started to vibrate its way across the bedroom’s hardwood floor. It was as if the Earth itself had developed a heartbeat. The steady explosions of sound had reached its crescendo as the car passed in front of the building. And then, after what seemed like forever, the volume finally started to subside. But, the Doppler Effect from the car moving away from the apartment made the base sound even deeper. The baby’s mother had picked him up and that kept him from waking up completely. No thanks to the inconsiderate bastard with the uranium 235 powered car stereo. We took solace in the fact that whoever it was doing their best to wake the dead was doing so much damage to his or her hearing that not even the hearing aids of the future powered by dilithium crystals are going to help.

If somebody had some cash to invest in a future business I strongly suggest buying stock in a hearing aid manufacturer or in the construction of more schools for the deaf. With so many of our young people doing their best to bring attention to themselves and their automobile with annoying levels of volume playing the latest music fad it’s bound to be a sure thing. No one with average hearing could enjoy the song being played because of the solid wall of sound bombarding all the senses. Sound so loud you can actually see it as pulses of light. Now, I know that it’s nothing more than the body reacting to these loud noises with symptoms of a migraine. But nevertheless, it should give you an idea of how unnecessarily thunderous this racket can be.

And it’s not just a hip hop phenomenon. Last night it probably was the latest release from Dick Dickey Dick or Foolio or The Grand Pooh Bah. However, not too long ago, back when I was living in a predominantly white area, you would hear a lot of the gangsta crap. But every now and then I would be startled awake in the middle of the night from some song that would have been an appropriate replacement for the dueling banjos tune from the movie Deliverance featuring Burt Reynolds and Ned Beatty among others. It’s as if all of our young adults, and some old idiots as well, are hell bent on some form of self mutilation. Having that ear splitting smack reverberating down one’s ear canal is like looking at the sun through binoculars on a cloudless day at noon. The bright lights might be pretty but it wouldn’t take long before the vision is irreparably damage. Or maybe it would be like sticking one’s tongue on a popsicle of sulfuric acid with little shards of glass imbedded to enhance the flavor. It might be the ultimate in tangy. But rest assured you can kiss your taste buds goodbye.

We have gotten to a point that many of us are taking our health for granted. But as we continue to age our bodies are susceptible to all kinds of failures and weakening abilities all on its own. Most people’s vision will blur to the point that glasses or some other vision correction aid become inevitable. The tongue’s ability to sense flavors weakens to a point where everything tastes like pooh. Bones weaken and become brittle forcing many of us to get some form of joint replacement in an effort to increase mobility or just to ease pain. The acuity of hearing is one of those things that dissipate over time as well. To do anything to accelerate these processes is truly foolish, counterintuitive, and counterproductive.

Today, some of us are spending vast sums of money to purchase stereophonic equipment capable of volumes measured in kilo ohms. Football stadiums would be lucky to be able to generate such levels of sound. But tomorrow, many of these same people will be spending vast amounts of money on hearing devices and hearing treatments just so they can hear a conversation or a baby at play or some of the softest sound that are a normal part of living. A lot of people will be in the future wishing they had taken better care of their hearing. That’s only natural. However, way too many people will be in the future wondering why they spent so much of their hard earned money on a stereo actively destroying their ability to hear and regretting having done such a great job.

Thursday, March 6, 2008 Posted by | African Americans, Black Community, Health, Life, Thoughts | 2 Comments

Slim Slow

Slim Slow

This morning the gym was pretty much back to the level of members working out prior to January 1st. A lot of the new people who were significantly overweight have gone on with their lives. The gym opens at five in the morning and we all line up at the door to get in and get the best machine in front of the television or whatever. But that line has been steadily dwindling. It’s cold out there and they may have decided to just come to the gym later on in the day. But I suspect that they’ve probably decided that it’s just a bit too difficult. Regardless, my heart goes out to them.

By no means am I some kind of Adonis. According to the standard body mass index tables developed by the dominant culture I am obese. At a tad over five foot six and a body weight of nearly two hundred pounds I am practically a walking time bomb waiting to have a heart attack, or in modern health nomenclature for people with issues of insurance, a heart misunderstanding. I’ve been going back to the gym for the past four or five weeks now. I’ve gotten past that phase where people who start working out actually add more weight before they start losing weight. Since I’ve started I’ve lost about three pounds. Not much but it is going down. I haven’t missed a day. Even with the holidays where the gym was closed I’d adjust my workout schedule so that I would be impacted as little as possible. I’d go in on a Saturday or a Sunday to makeup for not being able to go throughout the week.

But that’s okay because losing weight should be seen as a deliberate and committed process instead of a race. Slim fast if you like but unless some serious commitment is made to life long changes in behavior that would lead to a more healthy body size/weight life style, the weight will come back as soon as one goes back to the usual ways.

I actually learned this lesson a number of years ago. I was born fat, grew up fat, and knew nothing but fat for the vast majority of my life. I avoided working out and I had the most notorious eating habits. I ate and drank what ever I wanted and as much as I wanted. Alcohol consumption was my middle name. I knew I was unhealthy and I wanted to change. I purchased a three month membership with a gym and I never took advantage of it. I wanted to change but I never made the choice to change.

One day I wanted to save some money so I decided to cut alcohol from my budget for an entire month. I don’t remember how much money I had saved. But I can tell you that at the end of that month I had actually lost ten pounds. My clothes fit a little loose and I actually had to cinch up my belt a notch. I went back to drinking and the weight came right back the next month. So I cut out alcohol again and the weight came off again. I was drinking a lot of alcohol.

After the weight came off the second time, for the following month, I cut down my refined sugar. I wasn’t able to cut it out completely. But cakes, donuts, candy, and my absolute favorite, the cookies were kicked to the proverbial curb. I managed to lose another ten pounds that month. The following month I cut out fried foods and lost another ten pounds. Just by adjusting my diet I was able to lose thirty pounds. And losing that weight gave me the incentive to actually join a gym and go. Through it all I lost a total of sixty five pounds. No books. No prepared foods. No videos. No charts. That was fifteen years ago. Since then I’ve managed to put about thirty five pounds back on. But like I said three of those pounds are already gone. My goal is to drop at least twenty eight more.

I think of some of the people who have already dropped out of the gym and wonder if I could have made a difference if I had taken the time to talk to them. I know where they are and I know where they want to go. I know it is difficult. But the gym may not be the first and best answer for them achieving their weight loss goals, at least not right now. They don’t have to take this huge step at healthier living in a single fell swoop. They might want to make their changes in stages and give their body time to adjust before bombarding it with exercise at five in the morning. There is plenty of time for them to reach their goals. It isn’t reasonable to expect your body to adapt to the shock of losing weight overnight. Slim fast sounds good. It might sound really attractive. But seriously, slim slow is better for long term success.

Friday, February 15, 2008 Posted by | African Americans, Black Community, Black People, Health, Life | 4 Comments