Friday, March 6, 2015

Gardenzilla - Rampaging Kaiju Garden Gnome |

Gardenzilla - Rampaging Kaiju Garden Gnome |



Dude I Want That > Outdoors > Garden Posted: Sunday, June 01, 2014

By: Erin Carstens

Gardenzilla - Rampaging Kaiju Garden Gnome



Praying mantises and ladybugs are heralded for their ability to rid gardens of many common pests, but in my experience they're utterly useless when it comes to eradicating the front yard of smug, chubby, razor-phobic gnomes. I've tried these organic solutions. And I've also tried pesticides. I've tried tossing the gnomes out, I've tried drop-kicking them down the street, I've even tried playing a game of Gnome Whack-a-Mole with a sledgehammer. Somehow, they always come back, bellies and smirks bigger than ever. Until. Now.

The Rampaging Kaiju, or as any proud owner will come to know him, Gardenzilla, has arrived to wreak ha

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Help Tom.

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This man's name is Tom Mathieu. He is the father of a friend of mine. And a badly-trained San Antonio PD cop almost ended his life in January for being in a diabetic state on the side of the road. Help him.

Diabetic man badly beaten by SAPD

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Study Reveals Drinking More Coffee Reduces Diabetes Risk

Study Reveals Drinking More Coffee Reduces Diabetes Risk:

There is nothing happier than a coffee drinker with his first cup in the morning. But coffee has a historic reputation of being blamed for many ills, from stunting growth to causing heart disease and cancer. 

Over the last 20 years, medical research debunked any connection between coffee and an increased risk of cancer or heart disease. Most studies found coffee consumption was associated with increased life expectancy. New research from Harvard University Department of Nutrition published in Diabetologia, Journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, reveals coffee may be curative. Increasing coffee consumption by one and half cups per day, 12 fluid ounces, over a four year period actually reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes by 11%.

Dr. Frank Hu and Dr. Shilpa Bhupathiraju of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard University examined the associations between four-year changes in coffee and tea consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes in the subsequent four years. The researchers used observational data from three large prospective, US-based studies in their analysis: the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) that followed female nurses aged 30-55 years between 1986-2006, the NHS II that followed younger female nurses aged 25-42 years between 1991-2007, and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study that followed male healthcare professionals 40-75 years between 1986-2006. Each of these studies detailed information on diet, lifestyle, medical conditions, and other chronic diseases was collected every two to four years for over twenty years.

The availability of these repeated measures and the long duration of followup allowed the authors to evaluate four-year changes in coffee and tea intake in relation to risk of type 2 diabetes in each of the following four year segments. Researchers examined whether the association with diabetes incidence differed between changes in caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee. Diet was assessed every four years using a food frequency questionnaire. Self-reported incident type 2 diabetes cases were validated by supplementary questionnaires. The final analysis included over 95,000 women and almost 28,000 men.

The authors documented 7,269 incident type 2 diabetes cases. They found that participants who increased their coffee consumption by more than one cup/day, median change = 1.69 cups/day, over a four-year period, had a 11% lower risk of type 2 diabetes in the subsequent four years compared to those who made no changes in consumption. Participants who decreased their coffee intake by one cup a day or more, median change = -2 cups/day, had a 17% higher risk for type 2 diabetes.

Those with highest coffee consumption and who maintained that consumption -- referred to as “high-stable consumers” since they consumed three cups or more per day -- had the lowest risk of type 2 diabetes, 37% lower than the “low-stable consumers” who consumed one cup or less per day.

While baseline decaffeinated coffee consumption was associated with a lower type 2 diabetes risk, the changes in decaffeinated coffee consumption did not change this risk.

The researchers determined: “In these three large prospective cohorts with more than 1.6 million person-years of followup, we observed that increasing coffee, but not tea, intake over a four-year period was associated with a lower type 2 diabetes risk in the next four years. Decreasing coffee intake was associated with a higher type 2 diabetes risk. These changes in risk were observed for caffeinated, but not decaffeinated coffee, and were independent of initial coffee consumption and four-year changes in other dietary and lifestyle factors.”

They add: “Changes in coffee consumption habits appear to affect diabetes risk in a relatively short amount of time. Our findings confirm that higher coffee consumption is associated with a lower type 2 diabetes risks and provides novel evidence that changes in coffee consumption habits are related to diabetes risk.”

So the next time you want to hold that personal fireplace in your hand and smell the aroma of a good cup of Joe, get a bigger cup to increase your happiness and health!


The author welcomes feedback and will respond to comments by readers.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Yes, I'm still here!

I've mainly switched to Facebook and Twitter, but I do maintain this place in the event I need to post very long pieces.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Penn State, the NCAA and the future of collegiate sports

NCAA boss won't rule out death penalty for Penn St - Houston Chronicle:" In a PBS interview Monday night, NCAA President Mark Emmert said he doesn't want to "take anything off the table" if the NCAA determines penalties against Penn State are warranted."


That this is even being voiced by the NCAA is a signal that, behind the scenes, some serious players are deeply unhappy with what Penn State has done for college football. And with good reason. Raise your hand if you think that Jerry Sandusky was the only pedophile ever involved in college athletics. I thought so. There are Forces Beyond Reckoning that see the potential disaster for all collegiate sports if something isn't done. JoePa's death did not close the book on the situation; the latest revelations have made sure of that. Otherwise, supporters could with a straight face say, "Who are you kidding?! These charges drove JoePa to his grave, isn't that enough!?"

Forces Beyond Reckoning see millions of dollars at stake. Forces Beyond Reckoning are willing to sacrifice a college and a conference to save the entire eco-system. Yes, it would kill Penn State's program as surely as it killed SMU's, and yes, it would probably put a serious dent in the Big Whatever --at least until they bit the bullet and gave Notre Dame what it wants in terms of revenue sharing. But to do nothing would to be invite worse things later on. More scandals. Lawsuits. The legislature! Falling ratings!!!

The NCAA is going to crucify Penn State. They have no choice: if they don't consider this a "lack of institutional control" then they lose all legitimacy. And there is the vicious rub. Because the NCAA is about as far from a legitimate body as you can get. Never mind all that money that somehow built Cam Newton's daddy's church, and never mind how long they knew about Reggie Bush's family's perks before doing something about it, nothing truly bad happened to Auburn or to USC. And we can go back further without any real stretching.

And the truly sad thing is that this could have been the opportunity for a big-time school to say, "Screw you, NCAA! We're withdrawing and forming a new league and taking the big boys with us and now we won't have to play Twister-on-Acid to abide by the rules!" But under these circumstances, that cannot happen. To the contrary, by going for the death penalty here, the NCAA will make itself look stronger and even more legitimate in the eyes of the public.

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Well I'll be…what?

Once in a blue moon, a spirit of dangerous curiosity overtakes me. I have a few sleeping dogs in my past, and once in a blue moon, I do like to ease very quietly up to the fence and peek over to make sure they are still motionless underneath the spreading oaks of my memory. Sometimes they're lazing in the sun, right where I can see them and, so reassured, I slip quietly away. Sometimes they're hiding in the shadows and I'm not quite sure if they're there or if they've gone through the hole in the fence on the other side and are quietly moving in position to bite me…

Today I found one of the dogs, hiding in the shadows underneath the tree, far out of my usual line of sight. But it's still sleeping. And then a part of me whispered that I should grab a stick and nudge the dog to see if it's a friendly dog or a bad dog. This is the same part that, as a boy, urged me to poke fire ant mounds to see how many would come out. Nudging a sleeping dog is rarely a good idea. So I will let it sleep.

And I silently resolve to avoid that part of Virginia...

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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Fare The Well, 2011 (worth an entire read and play)

2011 is slipping away, and I bid it farewell. The last twelve months and eleven days have been about partings in my family: first Dad, and then Mom. My brother and I are the adults in the room. Ours it is now to preserve the bits and pieces of multiple lifetimes for our own families. The winnowing will proceed for months. It is a long road.

But we do not travel it alone. Our families are close, and my own grew this year by a son. And that seems a good place to start.

I do not mourn overly. I have never been one for maudlin displays --and as a point of theology (which I will not expound upon here and now) I think it is counterproductive. My Uncle Albert buried his wife of fifty years and within a year was remarried to his soon-to-be-bride-of-twenty-five-more-years. Life moves on. Bad things happened to lots of people this year. The world has not made significant progress: springs have taken a fall, and change is what you find on the street. What occupies our attention fades and is replaced.

But move on. Unless the whole world moves backwards, you cannot advance by standing still.

I'm going out to buy fireworks now, and there will be loud noise and revelry tonight. Most of you know that this is actually my favorite holiday of the year, tied with July 4th.

And now, some lovely marching music to lead us into the New Year.

FYI: Joe and I were at this performance, as were Father and Mother.

Pro├čit Neu Jahr 2012!

Friday, December 23, 2011

In Hoc Anno Domini - (REPOST)

In Hoc Anno Domini - "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."

Written in 1949. Still good today.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Tale of Two Students (and the perverse incentive to cheat)

Consider two students, both of whom are enrolled in a college class.

Both students fall woefully behind in their course work, to the point where their ability to pass is in Serious Jeopardy. And the day is the date of Last Drop and they both need to turn in a major paper, which they've had no time to complete.

Student A makes the painful decision to W the class rather than take the GPA hit. The next semester, Student A must retake the course but does so completely out-of-pocket. For Student A's financial aid is cut because Student A is no longer considered a full-time student.

Student B, believing the professor to be a short-sighted incompetent boob, copies a paper off the Internet and turns it in. But alas for Student B! The plagiarism is caught, and is so blatant and egregious (after multiple litanies to the class about the very thing) that the instructor has no choice but to record a course grade of F and deny the student access to the course for the rest of the semester. The next semester, Student B will retake the course as well, but will be given financial aid to do so. For Student B maintains a full-time load and is considered a full-time student.

What's wrong with this picture? Student A is penalized for doing right, and Student B is being incentivized to cheat. Most student grants specify completion hours, and a grade of F indicates a completed course, regardless of circumstance. Some colleges (my own included do have a grade of FX, indicating a student who quit attending after the date of withdrawal and who will be denied financial aid in the future (obviously the student was trying to game the system...) But they are not the majority. And colleges have no incentive beyond their reputations to challenge the system, as government funding is based on completion rates.

If you incentivize a behavior, expect more of it. My students don't even bother to try to deny cheating any more, they just try to give justifications and then beg to be allowed to stay in class: I can't afford to drop the course. Sadly, I think I hurt them more by saving their GPA with a Withdrawn than by giving the used-to-be-shameful grade of F.

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