Holiday shopping is very exciting but, unfortunately always underestimated. Buying gifts for your family is a given, but what about relatives, friends, coworkers, bosses, teachers, neighbors, nurse, and the list goes on! So buying for everyone can cost a fortune.
On top of that, you don’t want your gift to blend in with the rest. Baskets, ornaments, and treats can, once graciously accepted, be thrown on the table with the rest of the goodies. So how do you get the biggest bang for your buck?
When choosing a gift, it must be creative, useful and have longevity. Let’s start by categorizing our gift recipients.
If your company does not participate in a Secret Santa gift exchange, you’re on the hook for a lot of gifts. Here’s some cool ideas:
Cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, nieces, nephews….how do you not go broke?
For the Chef – Grab a cookbook, some spices, and a tool and put it in a decorative bag or basket.
and the list goes on……
There are many people in our lives who we want to recognize during the holidays (Postal Worker, Sanitation team, Security Guard, etc) so here are some ideas that can accompany a warm Holiday message:
The holidays are a time of giving, and the joy it brings to both the recipient and you is priceless. Fortunately, creative and worthwhile gifts don’t have to be too costly.
Good luck shopping this year and have a wonderful holiday season!
"I Like your message, very articulate, well researched but… always very negative, all negative all the time, wears on an optimistic law abiding, God fearing citizen. Would be great to share a positive, uplifting message occasionally." –Anonymous
Mmm… Law abiding…? Mmm… God fearing…? Mmm… Negative…? Mmm… Would be great to share a positive, uplifting message occasionally (Romans 8:7)?
The quote above was an email sent to me from a radio show listener just this last week.
Before we begin, let me put this quote by Leonard Ravenhill in “contrast” to the email above to contrast the goodness of God with our rebellion.
“The early church was married to poverty, prisons, and persecutions. Today “The Church is married to prosperity, personality and popularity.”
Webster’s 1828 definition of "contrast:"
“To set in opposition two or more figures of a like kind, with a view to show the difference or dissimilitude, and to manifest the superior excellence of the one by the inferiority of the other, or to exhibit the excellence of the one and the defects of the other in a more striking view; as, to contrast two picture or statues.”
So here we have it, Christianity in contrast to a lack thereof – namely, enemies of the cross (1 Timothy 4:1; Philippians 3:18-19).
I know that a “soft answer turneth away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1) and that the “wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” So, I will do my best to answer the email above in this manner (James 1:20).
First off, I want to state that I am not offended in the least by what he wrote. Well maybe a little bit, and yes, I do understand what he is saying, but that of a carnal man (Romans 7:14). What do you mean, Bradlee? I mean there is always a different perspective when it comes to seeing through the eyes of a man, and seeing through the eyes of God, and the way to see through the eyes of God is looking to His Word, and that by the operations and inspiration of the Holy Ghost (John 21:18).
The “doers of the Word,” have an understanding, and not the “hearers only" because they are “deceiving themselves” (Psalm 119:100; James 1:22-25), There's a big difference between the two.
It has always amazed me as to how people view the battle that we are in today. It is not always a positive experience wondering if you are going to get shot at the next high school assembly program at which you are going to speak. It is surreal-dreamlike to them that are without the battle, but very real-tangible to those who are in the battle (Ephesians 6:12).
Today, most Americans want to act as if what is happening in America is not applicable to each and every one of us when it comes to our personal responsibility, as if to suggest that it is someone else’s responsibility. However, if it is our responsibility they assume that there is a certain way of niceties in the way the job needs to be done. Friends, we are not talking about a third world country here, and we must adhere to the Word of God and in yielding over to Him who has empowered us to get that job done regardless if one sees it as positive or negative (John 16:8).
As you well know, if the things that are taking place in our backyard were happening in a third world country, most people in this country would demand our government take military action in that third world country to set the record straight and at the end of the day, see it as a positive thing. However, when it comes to our own country (1 Corinthians 11:31), and how we need to correct ourselves, somehow, it becomes a negative (Matthew 13:15-17, 16:2-4).
The Lord has gone through the trouble to go through the thick and thin by reaching down to save me from my sins (Matthew 1:21), understand His process (Isaiah 66:2; Psalm 34:18, 51:17) and build me up in His Son (Colossians 2:7). Then, in response, I do the same, as an ambassador, on His behalf.
The message is “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2).
Offensive and negative to a fallen world though it may be yet, if men would look at it through spiritual eyes that God sent His Son (John 3:16) to die for our sins as the sacrifice and propitiation for them (1 John 2:2), they would see love in action (John 3:19) and purpose in driving men to the foot of the cross (Psalm 19:7; Mark 10:17-22).
Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. -Galatians 3:24
Using God's moral law, which “detects” sin (Romans 3:20), drives men to Christ to receive the grace (John 1:7) which “conquers.”
This is a positive, not a negative.
Read slowly and carefully Romans 7:12-13:
“Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.”
It may be negative, or not so good news, for a sick man to discover his disease. The knowledge of his disease drives him to the doctor, but after he is healed by the Great Physician (Jesus), he will then be glad that someone loved him enough to drive him to the doctor's feet whereby he may be healed.
The message of love drives him/her to the Great Physician or else he will die (John 8:24). Love does this as a spiritual positive, not hate as a carnal negative.
And Jesus answering said unto them, they that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. -Luke 5:31-32
Once a man or a woman is born again (John 3:3) through godly repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10), rest assured, they are then to take up their cross and do as Christ did, “As My Father sent Me, even so I send you” (John 20:21).
Understanding that 'These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Here enters the joy, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
Until we live in a world free from sin (1 John 3:4), murder, corruption, immorality etc., it is going to continue to be the same message to the same fallen world.
“Repent for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand." -Matthew 3:2
To stand back and suggest that somehow it is love to pull down the warning signs (Psalms 19:11) and allow the masses to go to Hell without warning is hate, and it clearly runs in direct contrast to plain Scriptural teachings.
“Knowing the terror of The Lord, we persuade men.” -2 Corinthians 5:11
Look at what John the Baptist said of the religious hypocrites of the day.
"Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" -Luke 3:7
To help put this into perspective, look to what Matthew Henry said of the Scripture reference:
"This was the purport of his preaching to all that came to him, and he did not alter it in compliment to the Pharisees and Sadducees, when they came, but dealt as plainly with them as with any other of his hearers. And as he did not flatter the great, so neither did he compliment the many, or make his court to them, but gave the same reproofs of sin and warnings of wrath to the multitude that he did to the Sadducees and Pharisees; for, if they had not the same faults, they had others as bad.
Now observe here, That the guilty corrupted race of mankind is become a generation of vipers; not only poisoned, but poisonous; hateful to God, hating one another."
Matthew Henry said they were hateful to God by disobeying His commands and hating one by withholding the Gospel message from them (Matthew 24:12).
Furthermore, Christians are called to be the repairers of the breach. In other words, this spells out work and the work of the ministry (2 Timothy 4:5) for those who are ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) for the Living God (Luke 20:38).
Often, the Christians that do the works are a reproof to the professors that do not the works (Titus 2:14) and are scorned by them. The works are a positive to mankind and a blessing to others, not a negative (Matthew 25:14-30).
“And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.” Isaiah 58:12
And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations. -Isaiah 61:4
Friends, you cannot build up until you first have been torn down. This is a positive, not a negative.
With that said, I suppose this does not look or sound positive when commanded to “tear down your father's altars” (Deuteronomy 32:39; 1 Samuel 2:6; Judges 6:25). Yet, it is to the Lord. After all, these are His commandments.
There is nothing on this side of Heaven that satisfies me (Matthew 5:6) more than constantly feeding (John 7:17) on the “Bread of Life” (John 6:35), and to suggest that we are to find a “positive” experience outside of Christ is not “Uplifting” to me whatsoever.
We need to identify what Christians are, and what they are not (Matthew 7:21-23), and what their duty is ( 2 Corinthians 2:17), and what it is not (2 Timothy 2:3-5), for we should all have the same objective (1 Corinthians 1:10) the souls of men (Luke 19:10).
Martin Luther King Jr. was right when he said: “If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century.”
Instead of criticizing or questioning those who are waking the church up (The preaching of the cross is as foreign to professed Christians in America today as the US Constitution is to corrupt politicians), the questions and criticisms should fall to those who are entertainingly putting the church back to sleep (Jeremiah 23:29) through the friendly seeker, anti-Christ, humanistic messages that have been taught from the pulpits over the last 60 years ,which runs counter to preaching what is commanded by God (Matthew 28:19-20).
“The Christian church is in a deep sleep; nothing but a loud shout can awaken them out of it.” -George Whitfield
Remember, it is the church's obligation to revenge all disobedience,
“And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.” -2 Corinthians 10:6
From what I read in this email that was sent to me, that just may not be a positive message for a rebellious country (Jeremiah 5:23), but then again, we are not asking for permission from the devil to obey our God now, are we?
For the very first time in 19 years, I’ve been on hiatus for a while, with only occasional update to this site. I’ve also been going through a painful period of financial instability, which has certainly put a damper on my creative process.
At the same time, the rush of news from Apple hasn’t been nearly as frequent or interesting as it used to be, and repeating the old tropes about tech pundits attacking the company for the usual bogus reasons has become boring.
In this week’s main column, below, I also wonder for the first time about Apple at last becoming a “normal” company, in which its new products may not seem so exciting and innovative as they used to be. But I’ll get to that and its ramifications shortly.
In the meantime, I am working on lots of new articles, including a review of the Beats Studio 3 Wireless headset that debuted last month. I have always been a reluctant headphone user, even going back to the days when I worked in a traditional radio station studio. With its emphasis on style and comfort, I have high hopes for the new Beats gear, and I was able to get a review sample from the manufacturer.
Is the new Beats bass-heavy, as older models were supposed to be? Is it worth its $349 purchase price, the same range as the equivalent Bose Quiet Comfort? I’ll let you know soon.
That takes us to this week’s episode of The Tech Night Owl LIVE, in which we presented a special holiday season segment, featuring security guru Scott Nusbaum, senior incident response at TrustedSec (a white hat hacking firm). Its main focus was a frightening new risk to online shoppers called “formgrabbing.” Nusbaum also explained what this means when you place an order, and how online criminals can gather your personal information, such as your address and credit card numbers and use them to steal your money. Are there ways to protect yourself from this threat? Nusbaum covered the whole gamut of online shopping dangers and how to navigate through the troubled waters.
In a special encore segment, you also heard from commentator/podcaster Peter Cohen, who focused on “Right to Repair” and the upsides and downsides. Peter offered his personal experiences as the employee of an authorized Apple dealer and how it influenced his opinion about whether Apple and other companies need to allow more repair freedom. There was also a brief discussion about the concept of states’ rights and how it affects customers where such laws vary from state to state. The discussion also covered the HomePod and its possible value as a smart speaker. Both Gene and Peter explained, at length, why a HomePod is still not on their shopping lists, and whether Apple could sell more copies if it loosened its dependence on Apple’s ecosystem when it comes to being able to listen to your stuff.
On this week’s episode of our other radio show, The Paracast: Gene and Randall present long-time UFO researcher and author Jerome Clark, who will discuss the third edition of his multivolume magnum opus, “The UFO Encyclopedia.” You’ll learn about the new material, the conclusions that were altered as the result of new research, particularly the Roswell UFO crash and how the case stands after all these years. Indeed, is any reported UFO crash credible? Randall and Jerry also debate the “experience anomaly,” and its impact on certain cases, such as abductions. Are all UFOs physical craft, or are other forces at work here? Jerry is also a songwriter whose music has been recorded or performed by musicians such as Emmylou Harris, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Tom T. Hall.
Has Apple become an old, boring company?
Our image of Apple, Inc. has long been that of a maverick company that defies the conventional wisdom and goes its own way. Here’s to the “crazy ones” indeed!
In the old days, the most famous example was the Macintosh personal computer. Where computers in the early days used an arcane text-based interface, paying lip service to color displays, Apple provided a graphic user interface designed to make it warm and fuzzy even to people who couldn’t adapt to the traditional PC.
Steve Jobs always envisioned the Mac as a computing appliance, and the original model actually offered no way for you to do any upgrades to memory and other components. In passing, the Apple of 2018 has mostly reverted to this concept, and what you buy is as upgradeable as your toaster oven. Period!
But Apple really attained prominence with the original iPhone that, in a few years, became the company’s best-selling product. Indeed, its success gave the more critical pundits ammunition to claim that, if iPhone sales declined — and nothing is forever — the company would be in deep trouble.
Each year, the iPhone received upgrades. Even when the new model seemed little different from its predecessor, at least externally, there were plenty of changes inside. Consider the iPhone 5s, which for all practical purposes wasn’t distinguishable from the iPhone 5. But in addition to faster performance and a better camera, it provided the first iteration of Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor.
If you examine the spec sheets year-over-year, lots of innovative engineering is present. Unlike all other smartphone makers, save for Samsung, Apple designs its own CPUs and, since last year, its own graphics hardware. The proof is in the pudding, as the latest “X” series iPhones tout performance that is in the range of the more powerful notebook computers. The latest iPad Pro promises graphics performance at the Xbox level.
At the same time, the annual double-digit growth of the iPhone is long ago and far away. Except for the poorest third-world countries, most anyone who wants or needs a smartphone has one. So most units sold are replacements, and Apple builds reliable gear and supports it with OS upgrades for several years, which slows the upgrade cycle.
Shorn of the new features, an iPhone 6, running iOS 12, can deliver credible performance that should satisfy most people except for those who require instant response, a better camera, and superior displays. Some features, such as 3D Touch, essentially went nowhere and isn’t even present on the iPhone XR.
Knowing that sales have flattened, Apple has devised other ways to boost revenue, beginning with the $999 iPhone X last year. For 2018, the iPhone XS Max begins at $1,099, and the price goes up fast if you choose larger storage options.
Even though Apple was criticized for ignoring the Mac in recent years, the very newest models are more expensive even as PC makers continue to rush towards the bottom in pricing their hardware. The presence of the controversial Touch Bar meant an increase of several hundred dollars for recent MacBook Pros.
After four years, Apple introduced a new, more powerful Mac mini, but the base price increased from $499 to $799. If you click Customize on Apple’s ordering page, you can increase the price to $4,199, and that’s before you acquire a keyboard, input device and display.
The professional grade iMac Pro starts at $4,999 and maxes out at $13,348 before you get to a VESA mounting kit. Heaven knows what the promised Mac Pro replacement will cost when optioned to the hilt.
This is not to say these prices are too high. When you compare the prices of Apple gear to direct PC competition, it is usually quite competitive. Apple just doesn’t play in the low end of the market.
The new iPad Pros are also more expensive too and so is the Apple Watch Series 4.
What this means is that the average sale price has gone up. So despite the complaints, it’s clear that millions of customers are happy to pay a higher price for a premium product. At the same time, Apple is offering services, such as Apple Music and iCloud, for which you pay monthly fees. The fastest growing segment of Apple’s business is, in fact, services.
Apple realizes that it can earn a lot more money from every satisfied customer.
But has it reached the point where these products have become so sophisticated that most users will never, ever use the new features? As I watched Apple’s Keynote slide shows listing the features of its newest gear at the iPad/Mac event in October, it started to become a blur. Dozens of amazing features, state-of-the-art performance, but how much did it mean for all but a tiny percentage of professionals?
It had a same old same old feel. A slick production, enticing videos to demonstrate the new capabilities and the amazing engineering, and boasting about what you can do with these machines.
This isn’t to say that smartphones, smartwatches, tablets and personal computers are good enough and there’s no need to improve them. As I said, the price of admission is no doubt worth it. By charging more money, and boosting services, Apple earns more revenue. Unit sales don’t matter so much, which is why it joined other companies in no longer revealing them in the quarterly financial reports.
Slick, professional, but is the excitement gone? Has a middle-aged Apple become just another boring multinational corporation? It’s a tricky question no doubt, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about of late.
I remember when I first got into ministry, I was approached and asked to attend a youth group to give my testimony, and of course, I obliged.
I also remember after giving my testimony that week that I began to hear over and over again by the youth pastor as to what they were going to do in reaching the up and coming generation. Yet, week after week it was the same thing, just sensationalized preaching with little to no action outside of the church building (1 John 3:18).
It then dragged month after month, at which point, I had enough. Here am I preparing (Colossians 2:7-18) to bring about the answers (Isaiah 6:8) to this world (John 4:35) and this guy is talk, talk, talk, and even more talk. I am not built to sit around in a church building and pacify and deceive myself by merely talking about what needs to be done (Proverbs 6:9; James 2:14-26).
How was I to sit around and merely talk about what Christ commanded us to do (Luke 19:10). Just think of it this way, I would not have been at the church in the first place if there had not been someone who reached out to me (2 Corinthians 5:20).
As a side note, after every church service, I was in the church library studying the likes of Charles Spurgeon, John Knox, Martin Luther, Charles Finney, John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, John Calvin, Smith Wigglesworth, John Alexander Dowie, William and Catherine Booth, etc. These were giants in the faith that obtained a good report and I wanted to know the God that they served (Hebrews 11:2). There is a definite difference between the church in America from the founding era to the present.
How was I going to spend the rest of my life reading about the history of the men that proved the God of Israel, and have been partakers of signs and wonders (Mark 16:20) and not do the same, especially knowing that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8)?
It was Jesus who said:
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” -John 14:12
And if He is not a respecter of persons, then I have the same access into the Holy of Holies (Hebrews 10:19-22) to commune with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as our forefathers did (Acts 10:34).
Friends, I cannot sit in a circle and pretend (Matthew 23:3), I will not preach without His witness (Acts 5:32), I will not have any part of playing church without the practice of what I preach, for this is the widespread problem that we are having in this country today.
Furthermore, my spirit hungers (Matthew 5:6) and strives for connection with the God of David (Romans 8:14-16), through Jesus Christ, to see Him do for my generation that which He did for David’s. Scripture is clear, you do not find the Lord by just talking about His promises. You must act.
“O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come. Thy righteousness also, O God, is very high, who hast done great things: O God, who is like unto thee!” -Psalm 71:18-19
Friends, is it enough to talk about what needs to be done? Is it enough to talk about great men of the past that proved the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? No, it is not! Talking alone does not get the job done. Faith that worketh by love does (Galatians 5:6). Action speaks much louder than words.
“For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.” -1 Thessalonians 1:5
Bringing it closer to the present time from that of the biblical patriarchs is our founding fathers, who sacrificed themselves in order that their posterity might have freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17). I'm speaking namely of the Black Robed Regiment.
I recently watched an A+ documentary-movie on the history of the Black Robed Regiment. These were the apostolic and prophetic preachers of their day (1 Corinthian 12:28) and the forerunners (Micah 2:13) who had the courage to act on our behalf over 242 years ago. They did not just preach out against the sins of the tyrants, they fought against him and his armies by resisting and throwing off his ungodly rule.
“Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.” -President Thomas Jefferson
Roger Sherman, Architect and Signer of The Declaration of Independence said:
“Sad will be the day when the American people forget their traditions and their history, and no longer remember that the country they love, the institutions they cherish, and the freedom they hope to preserve, were born from the throes of armed resistance to tyranny, and nursed in the rugged arms of fearless men.”
How do Roger Sherman’s words line up with what you are seeing in America today? Today, we have nothing but a bunch of effeminate and godless hirelings who are afraid of their own shadows (Revelation 21:8), sitting in another one of their board meetings like a bunch of clowns in a circus trying to figure out how they can entertain and introduce the sheep-goats to the wolves (Matthew 25:31-46; 1 John 2:15-17).
"A time will come when instead of shepherds feeding the sheep, the church will have clowns entertaining the goats!" –Charles H. Spurgeon
“But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.” -John 10:12
Think of this, a bunch of professors who claim to have the answers that the world needs and yet, they are unwilling to bring them answers in power so that they might be set free (John 8:36).
Again, Charles H. Spurgeon comes to my aid when he said,
"Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you're not saved yourself, be sure of that!"
After all, you cannot give what you do not have (Matthew 10:5-8; Jude 1:12)! But what of those who have brought the answers to this world?
Let’s light the candle and see how our forefathers led the way. Looking now to the example of the Black Robed Regiment and what was recorded on their behalf (Malachi 3:16), those who have gone before us in the faith (Hebrews 11), and see how they trusted in the living God (Proverbs 3:5), and how the Lord answered on their behalf.
“No class of men contributed more to carry forward the Revolution and to achieve our independence than did the ministers.” -B. F. Morris, historian, 1864
“The preachers of the Revolution did not hesitate to attack the great political and social evils of their day…” Frank Moore, historian, 1862
“To the pulpit we owe the moral force which was our independence. They prepared for the struggle, and went into battle, not as soldiers of fortune, but with The Word of God in their hearts and trusting in Him.”
“England sent her armies to compel submission and the colonists appealed to Heaven? -John Wingate Thorton, historian, 1860
“This righteous rebellion began in the churches before spilling out into the streets of Boston and the rural regions of the colonies. In 1776 mixing politics and religion was as common as drinking smuggled tea.”
“The colonial clergy created the religious climate that made it possible for the American Revolution to take place.” James L. Adams, author and journalist, 1989
“The poorly armed, ragtag American recruits set forth to do battle. …in the process they would turn the world upside down.” James Adams
“Since we are compelled to take up the sword, in the necessary defense of our liberties, let us gird on the harness with firm defiance and with fixed purpose, to part with our liberty only with our lives…” Moses Mather, pastor, 1775
“We are not fighting against the name of a king, but the tyranny; and if we sailor that tyranny under another name, we only change our master without getting rid of slavery.” William Gordon, 1777
“Expense is not to be regarded in a contest of such magnitude. What can possibly be a compensation for our liberties? It is better to be free among the dead, than slaves among the living.” Zabdiel Adams, pastor, 1782
“We know that our civil and religious rights are linked together in one indissoluble bond. Religion and liberty must flourish or fall together in America. We pray that both may be perpetual.” William Smith, pastor, 1775
Outside of the fact that this Black Robed Regiment documentary-movie was outstanding, what begs the question is where are the men in number to do the same things today? It is not God that has changed (Malachi 3:6)!
Below is a quote by D. H. Lawrence which serves as a warning to anyone that believes that inaction brings anything but slavery.
“Men fight for liberty and win it with hard knocks. Their children, brought up easy, let it slip away again, poor fools. And their grandchildren are once more slaves.”
This week, the CDC issued a general warning that Romaine lettuce is not safe to eat.
32 people from 11 states have become ill due to this recent outbreak of E. coli.
The Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 sickened 32 people between the dates October 8-31, 2018 and caused 13 hospitalizations, one of whom went into kidney failure.
No deaths have been reported.
On Tuesday they issued the following tweet:
Outbreak Alert: Do not eat any romaine lettuce, including whole heads and hearts, chopped, organic and salad mixes with romaine until we learn more. If you don’t know if it’s romaine or can’t confirm the source, don’t eat it. https://go.usa.gov/xPAy5
On their website, the CDC reports the following:
CDC is advising that U.S. consumers not eat any romaine lettuce, and retailers and restaurants not serve or sell any, until we learn more about the outbreak. This investigation is ongoing and the advice will be updated as more information is available.
Symptoms of E. coli poisoning can occur anywhere from 1-10 days after ingestion.
Diarrhea, may be bloody
And if progresses, can cause
Shortness of Breath
Exposure to E. coli may occur from exposure to contaminated foods (from human or animal waste) or undercooked meats.
Well, winter & those pesky cold months are upon us and, just like clockwork, old Mother Nature has decided its time for a nap. Now, if you live in a Northern state, like I do, or you're just concerned about cold weather, you may find yourself asking - is my car ready? Well, here is a short list of things you can (mostly) check yourself to see if you're good to go for a short drive or out for that long road trip to Thanksgiving dinner.
Just check these five things:
First: Check your oil level. Make sure you check the level with the engine both cold and warm. Look online or refer to your owner’s manual for additional assistance.
Second: Make sure your coolant (antifreeze) is the correct mixture, that the level is full and that the overflow area is filled to the line. You never want to open the filler cap when the engine is hot so make sure you check it when the engine is cold. Personally, I prefer to check with the engine running but you don't have to if you don't want to. If you do not have the correct tool to gauge the freezing or boiling point of your antifreeze, you can buy a tester for approx. $15 at any Walmart or an auto parts store. For convenience, most oil change shops or even a Tires Plus, offer this service.
Third: Make sure all four tires are filled with air to the correct point. Check to see that they all have good tread depth, that no cords (wires) are showing and that there are no bald spots. No one wants to blow a tire in the cold, worst of all change a tire on the side of the road in the cold. Good tread depth will help you keep control on cold surfaces in the rain, snow & slush.
Fourth: Make sure your battery is in good condition. This might mean the difference between a safe quick trip to your destination and standing alongside the road out in the cold, holding a pair of jumper cables.
Places like Batteries Plus can check your battery condition, free of charge.
Finally: Check your transmission fluid. Fill it up and make sure that the old fluid does not smell like a burnt pile of garbage. If it does, take it in for a flush and change. Remember that not all cars have a dipstick to check the transmission fluid so you may have to go to Jiffy Lube or Tires Plus. Keep in mind, some of these places charge for this service, so make sure to ask for a winter package or a group rate and you might get a discount.
And that's it! Five quick tips as the title promised. But, that means its time for me to sign off and get back to my day job.
Safe travels, and keep it on all four tires!
A recent analysis from Kaiser Family Foundation found the average younger American does not have a primary care provider (PCP).
Looking at survey answers from 1200 participants, 45% of 18 – 29 year-olds admitted to not having a PCP. 28% of those aged 30-49 and 18% of those aged 50-64 said the same. Those over age 65 were the largest group to have a primary care provider.
Those born between 1981-1996, known as the Millennials, may have different attitudes towards health care. Keep in mind, they just lived through nearly a decade of recession, computer hacks, Obamacare controversies, and societal distrust of pharmaceutical companies.
PCP’s however are the “quarterback” in one’s healthcare, keeping accurate and thorough records on one’s medical history, addressing immediate and chronic issues, and coordinating where their patient needs to go if a specialist is needed.
But Millennials, instead, are preferring urgent cares, retail clinics, emergency rooms, or using telemedicine for their medical needs.
However if one, unknowingly, suffers from a chronic condition and has various acute issues, they may be misdiagnosed because they are receiving piecemeal care without someone overseeing them and connecting the dots.
Diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, syphilis, AIDS, neurological disorders and autoimmune illnesses are just a few that may cause intermittent acute episodes before becoming deadly. Someone needs to take a step back, look at one’s medical history and properly diagnose, or simply put, see the forest from the trees.
Our healthcare system is changing and the needs of the younger generation appear to be better met by clinics that charge up front, address a single issue, and provide convenient hours. Therefore “primary care” providers will still be needed, however, the art of “primary care” may evolve into a whole new beast.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is Disney’s latest release, and not only are viewers anticipating a fairy tale story, dancing, melodious soundtrack and illuminating colors, but they are also expecting a parent to die or not be in the picture early on in the story.
It’s inescapable if you commit to emotionally investing in a Disney film. And if you look closely, it’s more often the mother.
Why? Well let’s first look at some of the classics.
1938 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – Snow’s biological mother died and is replaced by the Evil Queen, her stepmother.
1941 Dumbo – our favorite elephant is parent-less in the movie.
1942 Bambi – sadly, graphic content below….
1950 Cinderella – the most famous princess to ever live is motherless in the movie and haunted by her big-footed step family.
1951 Alice in Wonderland – its been postulated Alice was orphaned and taken care of by a governess.
1963 The Sword and the Stone – Arthur is a 12 year-old orphan boy.
1967 The Jungle Book – Mowgli is found parent-less.
1989 The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s mother, Queen Athena, was killed, leaving her father Triton to raise her and her sisters.
1992 – Aladdin – Princess Jasmine is motherless.
In Tarzan's, Lilo's and The Emperor's New Groove's Kuzko, all lost their parents.
In 1994 not a dry eye was in the house during the scene in which Simba loses Mufasa in The Lion King….
1995 – Pocahontas – it’s revealed her mother had passed a while back.
And the most colorful and comical of the Disney films, Finding Nemo, wasn’t exempt either, with Nemo’s Mom being eaten in the opening scene.
Multiple theories were brought forward by Disney producer, Don Hahn, in an interview to Glamour. The first was that Walt Disney tragically lost his mother when he was younger.
In 1938 the successful film producer, young Walt, purchased a home for his parents and when the gas furnace was faulty he sent his studio men over to fix it. Unfortunately the repair was not adequate and it eventually leaked, and his mother, Flora Call Disney, soon died of asphyxiation.
It’s believed the grieving son found the interweaving of this tragedy into his work as a means to deal with his guilt.
The second theory is that Disney films wanted to mix fairy tale with the reality many children face, adding a sense of “realism” to the stories.
And final theory is Walt Disney wanted children to feel like heroes, and a film in which a child battles evil without the help of Mommy and Daddy infused a sense of empowerment to his target audience.
So the idea of celebrating the triumph of the quest of a parent-less child is probably more pervasive in these movies than the purposeful injection of a gory parental death. Although this makes Disney movies more palatable, I’m still hoping Mufasa was only unconscious and recovered off the set when we weren’t looking.
The President has made illegal immigrants who have moved in to what are called “Sanctuary Cities” a major issue in recent months, even signing an executive order cutting off funds to municipalities that ignore federal law. The Crescent City is in the forefront of ignoring federal law and protecting those there illegally.
Can the City of New Orleans pick and choose which federal laws it will acknowledge and enforce? Most of us understand that if you violate a federal law, then there are consequences. You most likely will be prosecuted and punished. Federal laws on the books are supposed to apply to everyone. That is unless you are an illegal immigrant living in New Orleans.
Didn’t we fight a Civil War over the nullification of federal laws? A century and a half later, New Orleans has joined a host of other American cities in declaring that federal immigration laws are just right down bothersome. It is irrelevant to city leaders in the Crescent City that their actions in supporting widespread illegal immigration is a factor in causing crime rates to rise, and the cost of auto insurance for every Louisiana driver to go up.
No one seems to know how many illegal immigrants have gravitated to Louisiana. Guesstimates have varied from 75,000 to more than 150,000. But when an illegal is arrested for a crime committed in the state, federal law requires that local law enforcement authorities notify the U.S. Immigration and Customs office. New Orleans is not enforcing this requirement. As a New Orleans police department spokesman was quoted as saying: “In general, we’re not cooperating with the ICE.”
So immigrants who are in New Orleans illegally often create a false identity, use a fraudulent Social Security number, falsify federal forms, and, if arrested, are free to go once released by the New Orleans Police Department. We witnessed recently the tragic killing of a young woman in San Francisco, murdered by an illegal immigrant, who was a repeat felon and who had been deported five times.
Crime rates are on the upswing in New Orleans. A just released report by research firm 24/7 Wall Street concludes that New Orleans had the highest per capita firearm homicide rate in the nation—four times the national rate. No one knows how many illegal immigrants are committing crimes, because the city refuses to both monitor and release this information.
And just watch auto insurance rates, already the highest in the nation, go up even more as this policy from the New Orleans Police Department’s immigration manual is implemented. “Officers shall not enforce La. 14.100.13, which states that no alien students or non—resident alien shall operate a motor vehicle in the state without documentation that the person is lawfully present in the United States.” So ignore this state law, right New Orleans? You should just pick and choose what laws you like and the laws you don’t like. Is that what Louisiana has come to?
Traffic accident records show that illegal immigrants are a high risk of not carrying auto insurance. So a driver not at fault has to use their own insurance to pay the damage costs, and insurance rates continue to go up.
What happened that caused the deterioration of the laws on the books concerning illegal immigration? When you break into my home, you are committing a crime. But when you break into my country, it has become, to our leaders in Washington and New Orleans, merely an embarrassing inconvenience. Republicans are now throwing in the towel and giving up on seeing that current law is enforced. Has it become OK to set aside the law and ignore its violation for political purposes?
And what’s all this stuff about “undocumented workers?” The lead Republican in this effort to legalize those who have illegally entered the United States is Florida’s Senator Marco Rubio. He conveniently refers to these illegals as “individuals who are living in the United States without proper immigration documents.” That’s like saying that your local drug dealer is in possession of large amounts of cocaine, but just forgot to get a doctor’s prescription.
There should be major risks and consequences when laws are broken. But besides the President, both political parties are pandering to Hispanic voters who often are sympathetic to lax immigration enforcement. Will Donald Trump goad members of congress to take on Sanctuary cities like New Orleans, and lead a charge for strong enforcement of immigration laws? Let’s hope so.
“All the problems we face in the United States today can be traced to an unenlightened immigration policy on the part of the American Indian.”
Peace and Justice
As the death toll rises and thousands of acres burn between California’s Camp Fire and Woolsey Fire, those residents lucky enough to escape the flames worry what consequences could result in inhaling the smoke.
According to the EPA, smoke emanating from forest and community fires may include any of the following:
According to the EPA,
Smoke is composed primarily of carbon dioxide, water vapor, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, hydrocarbons and other organic chemicals, nitrogen oxides, trace minerals and several thousand other compounds. The actual composition of smoke depends on the fuel type, the temperature of the fire, and the wind conditions. Different types of wood and vegetation are composed of varying amounts of cellulose, lignin, tannins and other polyphenolics, oils, fats, resins, waxes and starches, which produce different compounds when burned.
Some may have no idea they are breathing in harmful compounds that could affect their lungs and heart. However, many may experience:
PM2.5 are particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter that are present in pollution and wildfire smoke that can penetrate deeply into the lung linings. Larger, coarse particles 10 micrometers in diameter are called PM10. Both impair lung function as they inflame the lungs and interfere with the work of alveoli that need to oxygenate the blood. Moreover the small particles can use this pathway to enter the bloodstream. Although the direct health impacts of the fine particulate matter is not clearly defined it is believed that increased PM2.5 levels increase the risk of lung and heart disease as discussed above.
Symptoms may begin at levels greater than 55 µg/m3 .
How can residents protect themselves?
Avoiding the area of wildfires is paramount. Additionally, the following may be considered:
Editor's note: As a companion read you might also be interested in a story we published in Sept. last year: 5 apps to help you recover from hurricanes and wildfires.