Does a Large Percentage of Male Refugees Mean They Are Terrorists?

I am not overtly political, but I do have my political preferences. I cross party lines without cringing, and will always vote for who I think is the best person for the job. But sometimes I have a hard time believing that some candidates truly believe the views that spill out of their mouths.

One of the statements that made me pause recently was when Donald Trump expressed that most Syrian refugees are members of ISIS. His reasoning was that this is the case because so many of them are young males.

My first thought was that his conclusion was bad on the surface. This was probably just a gut reaction because I don’t believe that most Syrian refugees are terrorists. So, I decided to consider his reasoning. I found that it just as faulty as the conclusion.

My perception of history is that many times the first waves of immigrants from any location is young males. This seems to be because they are the bread winners of many young families, and need to get to a new location and then do what it takes to get their wives and children to the new country. This includes things like earning the money to bring them over, establishing a relatively safe and comfortable home for the family, and dozens of other tasks.

I haven’t looked at local history in depth, but I suspect that the immigration in my area at various times was largely young men coming to work the coal mines, later sending for their families once they were settled. After all, what benefit would there be to dragging a family from town to town while they looked for a mine that was hiring?

Faulty reasoning adds no value to political or other discussions, so I suggest to you the reader, and to myself… Don’t just use your feelings to determine if a statement is correct, think about the assumptions that have to be made to come to that conclusion. Don’t assume that a person making a statement has any logical reason for their position, when they may well be looking for evidence, valid or not, to support their position instead of forming their opinion based on evidence.

Vote once, and vote responsibly.

Pondering Time

For most of us, this blog post will result in virtually no answers, and only lead to more questions, but that is the way that I sometimes like it.  :)

Among the books I plan to read is “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking.

Why?  Well, the answer is simple, I consider myself a bit of a science buff.  Some things I like to dig in to, and others I like to know at least something.  Some things in my brain from decades ago when I attended junior high school, and high school just won’t go away.  Things like the distance from the earth to the sun is about 93 million miles, that the speed of light is about 186,000 miles per second, and that the speed of sound is about 1,100 feet per second, and that gravity on earth accelerates at about 32 feet per second per second.  I can also quickly recite all the planets in the solar system in order from the Mercury to Pluto.

In the past several years I have taken some science courses at the college level, including Chemistry, Biology and Anatomy & Physiology, but I have never taken a college level course in Physics.

Which brings me to time… about all I know about time from a scientific perspective is based on high school science back in the 70’s, and I recall that as a person (or object) moves faster, time for that person or object moves slower.  I even recall a movie that showed a dot bouncing between two lines, and as the display scrolled faster the dot took longer to cycle from side to side because it had to travel the distance between the lines, plus the distance that the person/object traveled.  It would be easier to show it in a video than to explain it, but for my purposes here, it simply demonstrated that time moves slower with more motion.

When I consider this possibility, I am drawn to try to understand more.  One question that comes to mind is, “Since rate of time is dependent on motion, how fast are we moving?”

Well, this seems simple, if driving in a car the speedometer will tell us, but this is related to the surface of the Earth (or whatever other object you are driving on). The surface of the Earth is rotating, so it is constantly moving, at a rate faster than any car.  If we drive toward the West, we are moving slower than when we drive Eastward…

Because the Earth is rotating, moving us in a big circle every day, does time move faster at some times than others?  Twelve hours from now, when we are basically moving in the opposite direction does it impact the passage of time?

Then we need to add other factors… The Earth itself is traveling around the Sun at an incredible speed, as it completes its annual pilgrimage around the Sun.  And the Sun travels around the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, and galaxies are moving too.

So where is the point in the universe where speed is zero?  And how fast does time pass there?

So, is that enough new questions for one post?  There are other questions I have related to time, the speed of light etc, but I could ramble for days on that subject.

Now, to point out that it doesn’t matter, other than as an intellectual pursuit.  In the movie I saw in school long ago, it showed that a person leaving the Earth and traveling at speeds approaching the speed of light, if they returned home, they would still be young, but the people/planet that they left behind would be older.  This is the basis of some movies, like “”Planet of the Apes” that show the passage of time.  The impact on real people today, with the reality that we don’t have the ability to approach the speed of light, we will never notice a time shift.  Plus, the only things we see are traveling at speeds roughly equal to our own, so we will never notice the time differences.

But, none of this explains why when we are at our slowest, when we are relaxing with family and friends, such as on weekends or vacations, time moves so much more quickly than it does when we are rushing around doing things the rest of the time… or why time passes more quickly as we age, but I’ll leave that for your personal exploration, or maybe a future blog.

The Speed Limit

The speed limit is a rule that impacts me in various ways, and the interpretation and enforcement of the rule are both illogical to me.

First, what does a speed limit mean legally?  I haven’t done extensive research, but it is my understanding that it means that drivers are not allowed to legally go any faster than the posted speed limit.  This seems very clear.  Just as we are not allowed to drive unless we follow other rules of the road.  You must also follow other rules in traffic and in life.  Depending on the state, you must do things like wear your seatbelt, refrain from texting while driving, or display inspection stickers on your vehicle.

How is the speed limit interpretted?  From my observation, if the speed limit comes up in a conversation, it has always been on the context of things like, “that idiot should be driving at least the speed limit,” or “people should stay out of the fast lane unless they are doing at least 10 miles per hour over the speed limit.”  As a cyclist, I have had to address complaints about bicycles not belonging on the road because they can’t do the speeed limit… it is easy enough to win this argument because I just point out that a cyclist traveling 20 miles per hour below the limit is obeying the law, while a driver that exceeds the speed limit by 1 mile per hour is not.  Making this point usually ends the conversation because even though someone may be outraged at the statement, there is no logical way to refute it.  The argument is not won, nobody changes their mind, the argument just stops.

Do I drive the speed limit?  No, I don’t.  I strike what I think is a compromise (albeit an illegal one) and drive abougt 5 miles per hour over the limit on the freeway.  I do usually stick a little closer to the limit on city streets, but still if I am not slowed by traffic, I do not obey the law.  I find that for me this creates a moral dilemma, because to make a decision to drive 5 miles per hour over the limit seems the same as deciding that I will only slap the idiot that irritates me once, instead of multiple times like he deserves.  Seriously, the only real difference between the two is that the police will not allow us the latitude in the case of smacking someone that they do when we are speeding.

From a diffferent angle, I believe that the way the speed limit is enforced, it rewards the breaking of the rules.  Because of the way the rules are enforced, a person that chooses to follow the rules is ostracized and penalized.  They are seen as driving like an “old lady” (please don’t take offense at my example, I know old ladies that drive much better than I do) and they also end up spending more time on the road.  It is true that they also save money on gasoline, but I am going to ignore that for now.

I have actually heard people complain that people that drive the speed limit cause accidents by forcing faster drivers to whip around them… Huh???  Let me clear this up quickly…  If one is impeded by a slower vehicle, and one decides to pass, it is their responbility to do so in a safe manner.  A slow vehicle does not force you to be unsafe, your impatience does.

On a road that passes behind my house with a 35 mile per hour limit I have driven through at up to 10 miles per hour over the limit, and almost always have someone right on my tail wanting to go faster.  This is a “targeted enforcement” area which seems to mean nothing since I have never seen a traffic stop on this stretch of road, but I have to wonder how fast people would drive without the warning sign.

I know it will never happen, but this is my blog and I can ramble however I want, and I think I have a solution.

Enforce the law, but change the signage.  As an example, if the speed limit is 35, then post 30 as the recommended speed in large numerals in the middle of the sign.  Above the recommended speed, in smaller numerals post the limit, and in smaller numerals below it post the minimum speed.  This way, if people want to feel like they are pushing the envelope, they can go up to the limit… but others can drive the recommended speed.

In addition, the recommendations and limits on roads should be reconsidered.  If the intent of a certain road with a 35 mph limit is to keep people under 40 mph for safety, then post it as 35 recommended, and 40 as the upper limit.

Along with the signage, modify the law to increase the penalty.  I suggest something like $100 for the first 2mph over the limit, doubling with each additional 2 mph.  So, the following would work well:

1-2mph over – $100

3-4 mph over $200

5-6 mph over $400

7-8 mph over $800

I think that people would quickly learn to obey the stricter limits.

Also, require strict enforcement by the proper authorities.  Failure to enforce the law would place the person/organiozation at risk for losing their authority and/or jobs.  No more turning a blind eye to scoff laws like me.  :-)

Again, I know this will never happen, but in my dream world, the laws would reflect reality and be enforced.  Unless and until that happens, I hope I have the patience to pass those that drive the speed limit in a safe manner.

Lesson from the Chess Board

Whether or not you know how to play chess, there is a lesson I hope to be able to teach you today from the game.

As background, I haven’t played chess very much in a few decades, but I did used to play a little.  In fact, I played briefly on my junior high chess team.  I wasn’t a good player, but I did get to play in a couple of tournaments since each team needed 7 players, and there were 7 of us on the team.  I don’t even recall when or why I quit, or if the club just faded away, but as I recall I only played in 2 tournaments. 

For the second game of the first tournament I played, I thought, “What the heck?” and decided to try to perform a 4 move mate that many chess players learn early on, just in case the opponent didn’t notice.  Well, it worked.  The guy I was playing was surprised that someone could lose so quickly, so I walked him through that method along with showing him the 2 move mate, which is only possible if the opponent makes the right (or is that wrong) moves to set themselves up.  But, that is not the reason for today’s rambling.  Although, if you can share something to help someone else, you should do it.

In chess, each piece has specific ways it can move, which provides it with certain strengths and/or weaknesses.  Some pieces (like the pawn and knight) have very short range possibilities.  They can only take action to something close to them.  These pieces are not indispensible, but they do serve a purpose.  Other pieces can strike from quite a distance (rooks, bishops and the queen) but they can only attack in a certain direction, and can be blocked by other pieces.  A piece doing the blocking can be captured, but if the opponent is smart, the queen could then be captured  This leads to one of the goals to help make a game go your way… get more than you give up.  But again, that is not really relevent to this lesson.  But, you should remember that even though some pieces have more value than others by some measures (let’s say they are richer) we all have our own value… don’t get hung up on measuring your worth.

If a queen takes a pawn, but is then captured, it is a lopsided “trade” and usually leads to a disadvantage to the prospect of winning the game.  But, there is an exception called a gambit.  A gambit is a move that lures the opponent into taking a piece of great value, but the piece is actually being sacrificed in order to gain strength on the field of play by getting an advantageous position.  This sounds a lot like marketing and other business practices used to manipulate people, but other than realizing that it happens, and being aware of the possibility is helpful as we make choices, this is not the heart of today’s lesson either.

Before getting to the meat of the lesson, I need to let you know that I have had a bad week.  I won’t go into details, but trust me, I hope I don’t have too many weeks like this in my life.  And, I have a friend who has had a rough few weeks too.  As I was pondering these, I remembered a chess move.  If you hang out with chess people, you learn that certain combinations of moves have names, most of which I can’t remember right now, but the one I do remember is the Dodd Gambit, and it came to mind this morning.

The Dodd Gambit is a move of last resort, when things look bleak.  It is different than most other gambits which are covert and you don’t want the opponent to notice.  This one is blatant and intended to be noticed.  It is executed by picking up the edge of the board, flipping it and the pieces into the air and yelling “DODD GAMBIT”  (I’ll wait a second for that to sink in)


For the challenged readers, swap the initial letters in the Dodd Gambit and yell it out.



OK, I trust that you have probably figured out the pun by now, and you realize that it isn’t a chess move you will find in any “learn to play chess” book or web site, but there is still a lesson in the Dodd Gambit.  That lesson is that with something small like a chess game, it is alright to give up.  After all, it is just a game.  In fact, there are many things in life that we would probably be well served to give up.  Don’t let the small things bother you.  But the important things in life… well, sometimes we just have to give up on them as well.  Sometimes there is just nothing we can do anyway, so why hold on to what can not be changed.  Go ahead and give up on that element of your life.  Grieve it, and it won’t be easy, but move on.  But, remember the tournament of life is not just a few items, it is ok to give up on things in life, but don’t give up on life.  Perform the Dodd Gambit if you have to, but then pick up the pieces and face the next challenge in this tournament called life.

A line from a movie just came to mind, and seems like a good one to ponder to close out this entry.

“Do you want to play a game?”

  – War Games

Giving Blood

I would like to take this opportunity to encourage everyone who is eligible to give blood regularly.  I gave blood yesterday (which happened to be Veterans Day) and it brought to mind there is good that people can do for others they don’t even know.  Those serving the country do it, and so do blood donors.  I think there are probably many other ways for that to happen, but giving blood is today’s example.  Sure, you can open your wallet and help the charity of your choice, but there is something unique about giving blood.  There is no complete substitute for blood when it is needed.

I have given over 3 gallons of blood, one pint at a time, and I think I may be approaching 4 gallons by now.  With all of the donations combined, there has not been enough pain or inconvenience to on my part equal the emotional and physical issues that could arise  if someone needs blood, and there isn’t any.  This is part of why I contribute blood through the Red Cross.

There are a couple of ways to ensure that the Red Cross really “loves” you.  First, is to have a rare blood type, and the second is to be a universal donor (O-).  I happen to be a universal donor.  WHen the machine is available, I sometimes do a double red cell donation.  It takes a little longer, but it means that I can wait twice as long before I am again eligible to donate, so it is a time saver over all.

I see being a universal donor as a blessing and a curse.  The blessing is that my blood is the type that is given in the most critical cases, for example when they don’t have time to find an accident victim’s blood type.  This makes me feel especially beneficial to society when I am donating.  The curse, which is minor, is that I can only accept O- blood… So, there will be no options for me if I need blood other than to have O- available.  Thankfully, most people will never need a blood transfusion.

It only takes about an hour, and over half of that time is the reading of the educational literature, and other preliminaries.  I can almost recite the literature at this point, but there is occassionally something new added as their requirements are tweaked.  As part of the preliminaries there will be a finger prick to check hemoglobin, and a free blood pressure check.  A series of questions, and then if everything checks out ok, you get to donate.  :)

Check out their web site to see if you are eligible to donate, and then make an appointment at a local blood drive.  They will appreciate the dontion, and you can know that you did at least one selfless act on that day.  By the way, the process of donating is no more painful than a blood test at the doctor’s office, it just takes a little longer.

Go visit the Red Cross site now, see if you are eligible, and if you are, schedule a donation.


Hug Me, I Voted

I voted a little while ago, and so some aspects of voting have come to the forefront of my mind, causing my cynical side to wonder just what in the heck it is that I just did.

Honestly, there were only a couple of items I intended to cast a vote for, but I ended up voting for a few additional people.  But, before I get into my voting in my area, I would like to reflect on voting in general.

First, I am not a proponent of the oft espoused objective that everyone should vote.  Frankly, my opinion is a little more narrow.  While, I would never disallow a citizen from voting, I would prefer a policy that stressed, “Educate yourself on the candidates and issues, and then vote.  If you can’t bother researching the candidates and issues, please stay home.”  I don’t think it is the best use of the democratic process to have an electorate that is not adequately informed, especially in this age of information availability.

I think that all qualified people should be free to vote, but I also think that some should be discouraged on this principle.  And honestly, there are times (like I will discuss shortly) when I fall into that category.  If a person can’t logically justify a specific selection to themselves, then they shouldn’t vote on that issue.  One thing I used to struggle with is that we don’t have to vote on every item on the ballot.  If you don’t have a well thought out position on who should be the prothonotary, then you should go ahead and skip that section of the ballot.  Vote for every item you have a well thought out position on, but no more.

A person should not vote based on being told as they were growing up that they were a Republican or a Democrat.  They should vote for the right person for each specific position.  Which brings me to a specific gripe… Why in the world should the election officials make it easy for people that blindly vote straight tickets to do so?  The first option I faced on the ballot was whether to vote a straight ticket.  I think that if someone has gone through each position, and made decisions that lead them to voting a straight ticket, that taking the extra 2 minutes to select each position individually would not be an issue.  And if someone didn’t, and they are too lazy to go through the whole ballot, then they don’t take their responsibility as a citizen very seriously.  I don’t like the fact that I have to bypass this unnecessary first choice.

But let’s say you do vote a straight ticket (regardless of whether it was a single click, or multiple clicks).  On today’s ballot was something else that irritated me.  I even forget which office it was for, but it was one where multiple choices could be made.  I noticed that the majority of candidates were listed as both Democrat and Republican… REALLY??  People in office get in shouting matches with people from the opposing party, who refuse to work together even when it makes sense to do so, but here we have people that are both.  It must be noisy inside their heads if the halls of congress are any indication of how the parties coexist.  Then the question occurred to me… If someone clicks to vote a straight ticket, are these people guaranteed a vote regardless of whether the person selects Democrat or Republican?  I know they went through the primary process and got selected by voters from both parties, but that aspect has irritated me as well. In Pennsylvania, candidates can run for both parties, but a registered independent can’t vote in primaries at all.  This seems to me to put the whims of the candidate above the rights of the voter.

And thus we come to a point where I broke my own rule.  I had no opinion about any of the candidates in the race for this specific position, and therefore I should have bypassed that item and moved on… Instead I decided I would vote for the few candidates who ran for only one party, regardless of which party it was.  My only consolation is that my reasoning was no less faulty than the person who always votes a straight party because their parents told them to 30 years ago…  If I hurt the candidates who were best qualified for the job, I apologize.

As a slightly related personal observation… when I vote for a position where I am allowed multiple votes, I only vote for those that I know that I want in the position.  I minimize the number of votes I make in these categories.  The reason is mathematical.  If I cast my vote for the 1 or 2 people I really want, and then for 2 or 3 others simply because I can vote for more and/or I am willing to settle for them… I have actually given the non-optimal (in my opinion) candidate(s) a vote, that could help to defeat the candidate(s) that I feel were best qualified.

I hope that with each election, my readers educate themselves on the candidates and issues, and then exercise their right and responsibility in the democratic process…

And feel free to hug someone who voted, but not in a creepy way.  :-)

I Just Saw an Ad

While I am not a bicycle expert, I know a bit about bikes, and it amazes me how many people stretch the truth in ads, whether online, or in the local classified ads. The ad I saw today is a bit different than what I usually find funny. Some things that usually amuse me are claims that are obviously used to increase the perceived value… taking clues from the professional marketers.  Here are a few of the bicycle terms with the “translation” based on what I see in the pictures:

antique = Really ratty

rare = There are only 2 on my block and/or everyone else has thrown theirs away

vintage = I haven’t seen it in the stores recently

light weight = Doesn’t require a fork lift to move

racing bike = has those curly drop bars

Then there are people that don’t even take the time to read the name from the product they are selling.  It is too common that the person advertising can’t even read the name on the bike or components that is clearly visible in the pictures (if you are lucky enough to get any), and strangely the same mistakes come up a lot.  I can’t begin to guess how many times I have seen Shamamo instead of Shimano, and Fugi instead of Fuji.

I also chuckle when I see bikes advertised as being from a certain country based on one component.  Such as being British because they have a Brooks saddle made in England.  Or Japanese because it has Shimano components, or Italian because it has Campagnolo.

Another common claim is that the Schwinn that a person bought at a big box store 2 years ago is made in the USA. For those that don’t know, Schwinns, as with some other established brands, are made by companies that purchased the naming rights from the original companies as they were closing and/or going bankrupt.  I don’t think any Schwinns have been made in the USA since 2001 when the company was bought at a bankruptcy sale. Even before that many Schwinns from the late 70’s onward were foreign built, usually in Japan or Taiwan.

Then there are the really useful ads, like “Red bike for sale.”  Is it really worth my time as a consumer to call/email and get the answers to questions like… What brand? Children’s or adult? Road bike?  Mountain bike? Comfort bike?  How much are you asking?  Where are you located?  I think I won’t bother.  :)

Another fun one is the person who sells something that isn’t working, and tells you the product will be worth significantly more if you spend the $4.95 to get the replacement part.  In bicycles this is usually either flat tires, chains or cables.  If it will really be worth so much more, then why doesn’t the seller increase the “curb appeal” and get it fixed to make more money?

But, what caught my attention today?  It was an ad that stated (in part):

   Super super fast 18 speed, weighs less than 5lbs., red color, gel seat. Used 2 months like brand new. $600 original cost.

Before I get into my rant, the seller told me what he paid for the bike, and nowhere in the ad did he say how much he wanted to sell it for.  It also didn’t mention a brand, or size.  But at least I know it is an insanely light and fast bike that is red in color.

I think the seller was trying to be honest…  $600 for an 18 speed bicycle is reasonable.  It would probably have an aluminum frame, a steel fork and Shimano Sora (or similar) drivetrain.  However, while a $600 road bike would be light compared to a department store mountain bike, or an old style middle weight Schwinn, or even a Schwinn “light weight” from the 1970’s, it will probably be closer to 25 pounds than 5 pounds.

I was never obsessed with bike weight like some people, but I know that some people make significant efforts, and expend serious money to lower the weight of their bicycles.  To see the extent that some people will go to for lower weight, just look online.  One site that is fun to look at is:  On their site you can see comparisons of the weights of major components, frames, even cables and screws.  To a true weight weenie, saving a gram or two is a big deal.  These people have an objective of riding the lightest possible bicycle.  Many have constructed bicycles so light that they would have to add weight to them before they were legal to ride in a professional race.  However, the question came to mind, have any of them managed to make a bike that weighed under 5 pounds?

I did a quick search, and the Guinness World Records site has an answer.  The official world record lightest bike (as of the time of my reading the site) is 8 lb 9.2 oz

So, the claim in the ad is that someone bought an off the shelf bike for $600 that is more than 3.5 pounds lighter than the bike that holds the record for being the lightest.  I think the weight estimate was off by about 20 pounds.

As I write this, I remember one bicycle for sale that I saw several years ago.  Virtually all the seller wrote to prove their bike should be purchased was to say that they could lift the bike with one finger… I forget specifically what I asked the seller in an email, but the response was pretty much the same claim of lifting with one finger, with some addded emphasis.  So, I decided to try an experiment, and tried lifting a 1950’s middleweight Schwinn with one finger.  It was hard, but I could do it.  So, I decided that the seller was really saying, “my bike weighs less than 40 pounds,” and left it at that.

So, have you seen any unintentionally humerous ads lately?


On television recently was a story about Disneyland.  They have a special program for handicapped patrons that gets them to the front of the line.  Part of the process apparently includes guides to help handicapped people find the special entrances to bypass the lines. If things followed the official guidelines, it would have probably been fine, and would have never made it onto television.

However, they showed a couple of the guides who worked “under the table” ushering perfectly capable people through these entrances in exchange for bribes, and they were charging in one case $100 per hour, and in the other a rate of $200…  In addition there are some sort of coupons that enable “legitimate” use of this service, and the coupons are good for a month…  A MONTH!!!  People are selling them on Craigslist.  I assume the source is people with actual disabilities that decide to make a profit on the 3 or 4 weeks of special access they still have available after their own use is complete by selling to anyone with the money they are seeking.
Disney’s response to this abuse?  They will cut the coupon term down to a week.   They will also set up a program where those with the special pass go to a kiosk and get a reservation for a specific time on a ride, and then go there at that time… then once that ride is complete, go back to the kiosk to reserve their next ride.

Before I get into my rant, let me be clear.  I may not be as sympathetic as I could be, but, I do fully support equal access for all people regardless of race, creed, religion, sexual orientation, eye color, physical ability or whatever classification is used for people… other than criminals, they should not have all of the advantages, at least not until they have paid their debt to society…  then I support their rights as well.

Well, I have to ask a very big WHY does Disney do this???  If someone is unable to stand in line, they have these things called wheelchairs.  If someone can’t wait in line in a wheelchair, then do they really need to be at an amusement park?  I am sure there may be reasons, but frankly if a person can’t stand or sit in line, it is probably more out of vanity.  They simply don’t want to be in a wheel chair.  But, I think the real reason for offering these services is the thought process that handicapped people have enough problems, so we should give them special treatment… I disagree at some level.  I feel the standard in general should be equal access, not preferential access.  If the typical visitor has to spend 45 minutes waiting in line instead of wandering around the shops, then someone who needs special access should spend their time waiting in line as well.  If for whatever reason they can’t spend 45 minutes in line, then they should be required to wait in a special area for their turn.  I see waiting as part of the cost of going on a popular ride.  If I don’t want to wait in line, I can go to Mr Toad’s Adventure or other such rides, and avoid the longest lines, these options are available to all people regardless of physical condition. 
By the way, in exposing the unscrupulous guides, they showed footage from hidden cameras of the guides helping the people find the secret entrances.  In one case, they showed the healthy family being ushered through and it included the need to climb a flight of stairs.  Really???  A handicapped path to bypass the line that requires climbing stairs?  WHY???  I do not have special access (nor do I want it), but when I go somewhere, I sometimes have to decide whether or not to bypass an event because of the impact of stairs on my arthritic knees.  If indeed the people needing special access at a Disney park need to climb stairs, then Disney needs to remedy that situation.

I challenge my readers, regardless of physical condition, to avoid taking special privileges (whether legitimate or bootleg).  If you have special needs, I will stand beside you to ensure that buildings have ramps, and doorways wide enough for you.  I even support McDonalds having braille menus at the drive up window.  But I would really appreciate it if you stand (or sit) beside me in line the next time I find myself somewhere with lines that are far too long.

See you in line! 


Cold Urticaria

I am a quiet person that people don’t usually know well, but when they do get to know me soon realize that I am sometimes a little weird.

Because of that, I seem like the ideal person to suddenly develop a strange medical condition, and so of course I have.  I have cold urticaria.  Your first thought is probably to ask, “What in the heck is cold urticaria?”

Cold urticaria is a condition that causes some people to have an allergic reaction to cold temperature.  It typically can lead to hives (mine hasn’t yet) and can lead to anaphylactic shock just like any other allergy… for example if one was to jump into cold water.  For my whole life, I have had the typical reaction to extreme cold, numbness, and sometimes a little pain, but until this summer, I had never experienced itching.  My former response to mild cold, like a crisp autumn day is that I loved it…

But now, any thing that exposes me to cold can cause a reaction, and without knowing the thresholds, I am being very cautious.  Some things I have discovered like carrying a jug of milk for example, or even when my fingers get cold sitting in an air conditioned office.  The last couple of times I ate ice cream, my lips got swollen.  I have even had my throat constrict after being exposed to a cold beverage (this led to a quick search for an urgent care clinic), and I also get a strange feeling in my stomach if I eat/drink too much cold (or cool) food/drink.

The condition has no known cause or cure, and is pretty rare, but there are a couple of research projects underway to look at the condition.  It is strange to have a condition that most people haven’t even heard of, let alone known anyone who has had it.

I have had a few observations since I first discovered I had the condition,  the first was when I stumbled and hit my finger on a piece of furniture.  It started to swell up, so a few minutes later I thought, “I need to ice this thing,” then just as suddenly I thought, “I can’t.”  Which led me to the thought that I should have a medical alert tag to alert emergency responders to my condition.  However, with as rare as the condition is, I have to wonder whether a tag saying “Cold Urticaria” or “Cold Allergy” would be enough to tell an EMT that they shouldn’t apply ice or a cold pack to any injuries.  I will be getting a tag to wear as soon as I figure out what it should say.

Over the past few weeks I had been considering the possible impact on my Meetup group that I formed in January.  Based on input from a friend, I started the group to get people off their couches (including me) even in cold weather.  Last winter, I had weekly walks regardless of temperature, sometimes it was just me and one other person (who has become a good friend), but we walked in up to 6 inches of fresh snow, and in temperatures down to about 18 degrees.  I was concerned that this may no longer be possible because of my new condition.  I hope to come up with alternatives, maybe mall walks…

I discovered how real this concern was yesterday when I went for a bike ride.  The temperature was about 62 degrees and I decided to go for a bike ride, figuring that it could be my last ride of the year.  I made sure to dress warmer than I usually would, just to keep myself safe.  I normally, even in cool weather, wear a short sleeve shirt, but yesterday I wore a long sleeve shirt, and a jacket. On the way out, I did get warm, but still stayed with 2 layers (2 long sleeve shirts) and I also wore long pants and full finger gloves for the whole ride.  When I had ridden out about 5 miles, it started to sprinkle, so, to stay on the safe side, I decided to start my ride back.  On the rail trail I ride, I usually ride the slightly up hill direction first to make the return trip easier.  This is one of those times, so I was riding a bit faster on the way back than I had on the outbound trip.  About half way back to my car, I had an asthma attack.  It was fairly mild, but it was the worst attack I have had since I was a kid, several decades ago.

So, now I know I must be extremely careful during the winter, especially since a very mild 60 degree day seems to have caused an asthma attack.

Since I moved to Pennsylvania several years ago, I had always been pretty much restricted to my house and work during the winter because I wasn’t used to cold weather after a few decades in California.  Then a sudden irony…  I finally started doing things outside, and within a few months develop a condition that will keep me from getting outside this year, and into the future as well.

What does one do to treat cold urticaria?  The information I have found says to avoid the cold, and take antihistamines.  On the advice of my physician I am taking Allegra, and will be seeing an allergist.  The emphasis on treatment though is to avoid cold temperatures, to the point that I read one suggestion to move somewhere warmer.

So, in closing, I would just like to let the reader(s) know that if anyone ever refuses an invitation to a winter event by saying that they are allergic to cold, they may not be joking or exaggerating.


There is Always Room for Jello

Recently I was driving along a mountain road and I saw a sign at a “gentleman’s club”… and I had about 20 minutes of driving to think about it, and it went something like this.
The sign said, “Jello Wrestling” and it gave a night and time…  I may still remember the night and time, if the idea was at all appealing to me.  And even though I wouldn’t attend the event, it stuck in my mind for a while.
Initially I thought that Jello wrestling seems slightly more interesting than mud wrestling.  Not enough to make me want to see it, but at least it doesn’t seem quite as disgusting… or does it?  I have never seen either, and don’t expect to… but alas, my mind didn’t stop there.
What flavor, or more relevant, color, of Jello would one use for Jello wrestling…  Red seems colorful, but would it induce thoughts of blood, either from injuries or other sources?  Yellow?  Well, that seems rather urine like.  So, I thought, maybe Blue.  Yeah, blue would be interesting color if one has to wrestle in Jello.  But, regardless of color, wouldn’t the food coloring in Jello stain the skin?  I had visions of seeing a young lady some day that looks like a blue lady from Star Trek, and knowing what she did the night before…  It was about this time that I figured I would need to share these thoughts with someone, so now I have…   But my mind didn’t stop there.
Any color would potentially stain the wrestlers, but perhaps they have come up with a solution… one can only hope.  So, assuming that the Jello doesn’t stain, or those marked with it don’t care, there are still more angles to consider.
What other issues you ask?  Will let me tell you about a few of them.

It occurrred to me that a choice would also have to be made concerning whether to use regular or sugar free Jello.  The proprietor may not like to see the ladies gain weight, so sugar free might be the way to go.  But, then, who knows what the long term risks are for wallowing around in sugar substitutes.  As with the color question, I thought it was a decision that had to be made, but I didn’t give it quite enough thought to come down on either side of this question.
Then there is the issue of where to chill what I must assume is a large children’s pool full of Jello on a regular basis… Would it be a solid hunk of Jello, or a pool full of jello cubes? I lean towar dthe cubes, but I could be wrong.   To do the whole pool would probably require a walk-in refrigerator with a wide door… but it could be done.  Even the wrestling itself may be better with cubes, as the immersion would be more easily accomplished.  But, why stop at cubes?  There are small molds in various shapes suitable for Jello… perhaps scantily clad persons wrestling in Jello molded in the shapes of popular cartoon characters would bring in larger crowds.
And, with such a large amount of Jello needed on a weekly basis, I wondered if the owner was using real Jello, or a cheap substitute?  Would the owner of a fine establishment like that simply ignore the trademark restrictions and call it Jello wrestling, knowing full well that there was no Jello involved?  Or maybe he could add a little Jello just to ease his conscience about using the name without using so much of the product, and still keep his costs down.  Then my mind wandered to the bottom line…  What is the profit margin for Jello wrestling?

As I thought briefly about the financial aspect, I realized I could be thinking too narrowly…  A thought struck me, the proprietor could seek out sponsorship.  How about a promotional deal?  Could he actually be successful in getting sponsorship from Jello?  This brought visions of Bill Cosby… would he possibly consent to advertising for pudding wrestling?  I know pudding wrestling is probably regulated by a different governing body than Jello wrestling, but the thought came to me anyway.

My mind also wandered to other unrelated thoughts as I drove back, but they weren’t relevant to this post.