Monday, June 24, 2013

The people of West, Texas are outraged that FEMA declined to pay for repairing the damage to the town's infrastructure that was caused by the huge explosion that occurred a few months ago at the West Fertilizer Company's plant there.  What I want to know is, why isn't West Fertilizer Company responsible for paying?  Why should taxpayers be responsible?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Medicare Doesn’t Cover Dental Care

Medicare doesn’t cover dental care.  There have been countless debates and discussions about medical care; yet no one ever mentions dental care, as though that were not important to your overall health.  Last June an M. D. (dermatologist) did a biopsy of my skin at suspicious looking place on my right forearm, and   Medicare covered the procedure, whereas next week an oral surgeon (D.D.S. and M. D.) will do a biopsy of a suspicious looking place in the roof of my mouth, but Medicare will not cover the procedure.  Now, does that make any sense?

My initial visit with the oral surgeon cost me $85, not covered by Medicare, and the biopsy will cost me $406.  What if the biopsy shows the suspicious area is malignant and I have to have a laser procedure or whatever to get rid of it?  I don’t think Medicare will cover that either.  (As an aside, I don’t understand why the oral surgeon couldn’t have just gone ahead on the first visit and gotten rid of the whole suspicious area then and there, under the assumption that it was malignant, and thereby saved me some money). 
What is ironical is that yesterday while I was on hold on the telephone waiting to talk to a Medicare representative, I was informed by a recording that I am currently eligible for coverage under Medicare for cardiac screening, colon-and-rectal cancer screening, prostate cancer screening, diabetes screening, osteoporosis screening, a flu shot, and an annual examination by my primary care doctor.  BUT NOT FOR ORAL CANCER SCREENING!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Gay Marriage

Here is my prediction: The Supreme Court will overturn the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as being between one man and one woman.  The Court will uphold California’s Proposition 8, which defines marriage as being between one man and one woman. The decision on DOMA will be based on the 14th Amendment, whereas the decision on Prop 8 will be based on the 10th Amendment.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Beans Is Gonna Come Up.

This is a story my mom used to tell me when I was a child.  She told in her inimitable south Georgia dialect.
You know, I found that you can learn something most anytime.  One of the most important lessons I ever learned in my whole life I learned when I was six years old.

One morning I was a sittin’ at the table eating breakfast when Pa came in from the high field where he had already been plowin’ and he said, “Louise, how would you like to help me today?” And I looked up at him because I ain’t never helped Pa before. Why, I’d helped Ma around the house. But mostly it was things like dustin’ the chair legs or looking after the baby or sweeping the front steps-----I ain’t never helped Pa before. And I was ten feet tall. I said, “Yes, sir.”

Well, we started off after breakfast across the backyard over the fields to the high field.  I was havin’ to step pretty lively to keep up with him. We got over there and there was all these nice rows that Pa had already planted. And he said, “today I’m a gonna show you how to plant beans.” And then he took a bag that he’d been carrying on his back, and put it over on my shoulder. And it was full of beans. He said,” Now I want you to take five beans, and drop ‘em right there in that row, pat it down with your hands, and step on it.” I done that.

And he said,” move over about a foot and take five more beans and put them down in the hole and do the same thing.” So I took about five more beans out, down ‘em down in the hole, And I patted it down with my hands, and I stepped on it, and he said, “That’s good. Now do it again.” So I done the same thing again, and he said, “You got it just right. Now you just keep on until you plant all these beans.”
And then he turned around and started back toward the house. I looked at him and said, “You not gonna stay here with me?” and he said, “No, why I need to stay here with you for? You know how to do it.” He went right on back. Lord! I ain’t never been so proud in my life! Why whenever I helped Ma, she was right there with me all the time. And she’d say, “Now just look at that living room that I asked you to dust! You ain’t done nothing except wipe the tops of things. Squat down and look at the rungs of that chair and see all that dust!” Or she’d say, “ Louise, I told you to sweep the whole yard and all you’ve done is just sweep right there in the middle. Now go back out there and sweep in the corners so it looks like something.” Or she’d say, “Stop pinchin’ that baby! I know good and well you’re doing that just so you don’t have to look after him.”

But here was Pa a telling me that I knew how to do something just as good as he did. And I was on cloud nine.  Well, I went along like he told me---I took five beans, put ‘em in the hole,  patted ‘em down, and I stepped on it---and I moved over about a foot----took five more beans, put ‘em down in the hole, and I patted it down and I stepped on it---And then I took five more beans, put ‘em in a hole, patted ‘em down and then I stepped on it----And that went on for about a half a row.
And then the sun had begun to shine down and it was hot and I was a beginnin’ to sweat and that bag was a cuttin’ in to my shoulder where the dirt was a getting between the strap and my skin. And the dirt was getting on my face. And it was running down all to the sweat on to my clothes.  And that bag was getting heavier, heavier, and heavier.
And I started puttin’ six little beans in a hole, and pattin ‘em down, and a little farther down, I stared puttin’ seven and eight little beans in a hole and pattin’ them down. And by the end of that row I was puttin’ half a hand full of beans in a hole and pattin’ them down.  And by the time I got the end of that third row, I just took that whole bag full of beans and emptied them all in that row, And I patted ‘em down and I stomped on ‘em just like that and then I turned and went back to the house.

Well, Pa was a sittin’ on the porch smokin’ his pipe, and he took his pipe out of his mouth and he said, “You all done plantin’?” And I said, “Yes, sir” There was a sort of a hard lump down in the bottom of my stomach and I thought that he was a gonna ask me about it, But he didn’t say no more. That hard lump of guilt stayed there a few days—kind of bothered me, but then I began to forget all about it and it went away.

And I hadn’t thought no more about them beans until about three weeks later.  One day Pa came a stomppin’ up on the porch at lunchtime and I could tell by the way he hit that porch that he was mad at somebody. He come in and sat down, and when he started sayin the blessing I thought that he was a mad at the Lord. But when lunch was over, he said, “Come here, Louise” And I knowed it wasn’t the Lord he was mad at.

He said, “Come with me” And we started back over toward that high field so fast I was a havin’ to run.  When we got there, he just pointed.  Well, it was easy enough to see what he was talking about. Cause right there at the beginnin’ of the row, there was five of the nicest bean plants on every hill. And we went on a little bit farther down and it was six bean plants on a hill, a little farther down it was seven or eight beans on hill, and then it got to be a dozen or so beans in a hill, and when you got over to the end of that third row, there was a whole jungle of bean plants.
And all of a sudden, that guilt that I thought had already dissolved and gone away, begun to come back,  And it started growin’ and swellin’ and it got all mixed up with a little self pity and a little re-morse and a little bit of what else it found down there and all of a sudden it just come a bustin’ out of my eyes and you ain’t never heard so much squallin’ in all the days of your life.
Well, Pa he didn’t say anything, he just reached over and pulled me up against that big old farmer leg of his, and he let me squall it out till he could talk some sense to me, Then he said, “Louise, there’s just one thing I want you to learn from this. No matter where you go, or what you do, the beans will always come up.” And do you know I found out later that he got that from the greatest teacher who ever lived. Because it was Jesus Christ himself who said,” What you sow, you gonna reap” The beans is gonna come up.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Pledge of Allegiance

There have been three versions of the Pledge of Allegiance since it was first written.  The original version titled “Salute to the Flag” and written by Francis Bellamy in 1892, read “I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the republic for which it stands:  one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Version two, as established by the National Flag Conferences of 1923 and 1924 read:  “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands:  one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” 

Version three, which stands today, is “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands:  one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”  This version was signed into law by President Eisenhower in 1954.  At that time the “cold war” was raging between the U. S. and the Soviet Union, and the words were incorporated to emphasize that the Soviets were “Godless communists”.

In my opinion, the current version is the worst of the three and does a lot to support the maxim of Occam’s Razor; that is to say, the simplest solution is usually the best solution.  When the words, “under God” were added to the pledge in 1954, chaos (not to mention controversy) followed.  Some people said “one nation under God”, with no pause between “nation” and “under”, as the new version read, while other people said, “one nation, under God” with a pause at the comma.  Still other people said something in between.  Ever since the words “under God” were added to the pledge, every public recitation of it has been a hash.  As a result, a lot of people don’t know really what it says and don’t really give a you-know-what.

Moreover, the pledge as it now exists is an insult to Americans who are atheists.  I am not an atheist, but under the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution, Congress “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.

Friday, January 18, 2013

My Engineering Courses

Here are links to the three continuing education courses for Professional Engineers that I have written.  Actually, they are links to the course Overviews, but once in an Overview, you can download the course material for free.  If you have enjoyed any of my blog posts, I think you might enjoy reading these courses. You have to purchase a course only if you want to take the quiz and get credit from the State:

Introduction to Water Towers --

Case Studiees of Three Explosions and a Chemical Accident --

Anatomy of a Waste Water Tank Explosion --

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My Life As an Engineering Course Writer

I was kind of forced into retirement, fired you might say, on the last day of the month of my 65th birthday.  I continued to do some work for my former employer on a contract basis from time to time, but after awhile the work died out.  Following more than 18 months without any work, I decided to declare myself as an “Inactive” Professional Engineer (P. E.) to the Texas Board of Professional Engineers.  This meant that I could not legally practice as a P. E., but on the other hand I wouldn’t have to keep taking those infernal Continuing Education Program Professional Development Hour (PDH) courses for a cost of anywhere from about $300 a year to ten times that amount.

Then in March 2012, lo’ and behold, a job opportunity came along.  It involved a carbon-dioxide fatality at a McDonald’s restaurant.  I had already worked on several accidents involving carbon dioxide, in particular on a morbidly similar case involving double carbon-dioxide fatalities at another McDonald’s restaurant.  No one else in my former employer’s company knew much about carbon dioxide, and that’s why I caught the assignment.  When I told the attorney on the case that I was not an active P. E. and that, as such, I could not work for him until I got reactivated, he told me to get reactivated in a hurry.

I figured that the quickest way to get reactivated was by taking online courses, and I was right.  After some searching on the Internet, I found this website called, the pdh standing for Professional Development Hour.  I took several of their courses, and somewhere along the way, I decided, “I can write this kind of stuff.  I’ve been doing it for 40 years”.  Moreover, I thought, judging from the absence of any comments on my blog postings, apparently hardly anyone ever reads them, so why not write courses that some engineer might actually pay for?  After, if he (or she) is an engineer, then he (or she) will have to get their PDH’s somewhere, so I have somewhat of a semi-captive audience of potential clients.

Consequently, I applied to the website to be an author.  I qualified, naturally, and I wrote a little course worth one PDH titled “Introduction to Water Towers”.  This course is not about water cooling towers but rather about elevated tanks of potable water.  This was in May of 2012.  Next I wrote a course worth three PDH titled “Case Studies of Three Explosions and a Chemical Accident”.  Catchy title.  I wanted to call it “Boom, Boom, Boom, Splash!”, but the website editor wouldn’t approve of that title.  I am about to publish another course worth one PDH titled “Anatomy of a Waste Water Tank Explosion”.  I thought it would be pretty cool to say “anatomy” instead of “analysis” or “study” or something.  So far, I have sold five copies of the water tower course and six copies of the explosion &c course, and I have made $181.51 in royalties.

It is always a thrill when I open my email and see one from the website course Administrator with a message saying that someone (presumably an engineer, but not necessarily; it could be you) had purchased one of my courses.  This is all part of my get-rich-slow scheme.