Click It or Ticket

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Memorial Day 2016

 This is a repeat of a 2011 post that well bears repeating:

Memorial Day has traditionally been celebrated as the beginning of Summer. No, not the actual date summer begins, but the official day when the seasonal holidays start and the barbecues begin, beaches open, playgrounds are filled with children, parks, lakes and pools ring with the laughter and mirth of kids and adults alike. The sweet smoky smell of hot dogs, hamburgers and even marshmallows over a fire waft through the air, an odor that beckons each and every one of us to childhood memories no matter our age.

But wait, somehow, in all of the fun and frivolity, many seem to have forgotten the solemnity and sacred meaning of Memorial Day. What it should mean to every American. Memorial Day is a day set aside each year to remember the fallen warriors of our country; those who made the ultimate sacrifice to give each of us freedom, and the ability to reach out for the American Dream. No, they didn't give you the American Dream, you have to work for that yourself. But they gave their lives to assure you had the freedom to reach out for it, free from oppression, tyranny and grave injustice as is the case in so many other countries.

It doesn't matter whether you call it a war, police action, or what name you pin on combat. Or any other action that places our military men and women in harms way to defend freedom. Men and women gave all so that we might live free. They didn't do it for fame or glory, or a medal to pin on their uniform. Medals usually came too late to shine in a parade; many were laid on rows of caskets at ceremonies in such places as Arlington and Fort Rosecrans. The Soldier, Sailor, Marine, Coast Guardsman, Air Forceman or Merchant Marine never saw the glint of the Silver Star or Purple Heart or other medal in the sun as it laid upon his casket. But the family knew the bravery that he or she displayed many days or weeks or months before this day came to pass.

Most of our fallen warriors did come home, to be interred in their beloved country near family and loved ones. But many didn't and are buried on foreign shores in huge cemeteries, marked by simple crosses and markers, the only remnants of fierce battles, where Americans shed their blood to give freedom to others in a foreign land. They didn't know the people, but knew freedom was as important to them as it is to us. Freedom, the one thing that is perhaps as much important as life itself.

In my humble opinion, the three most important things are life, love and freedom. Without them life is just a bleak and somewhat hopeless experience. With perseverance and luck, many find love, but it takes a very special person willing to lay it all on the line to fight for your freedom. When you realize the warrior doesn't know you, or the individuals they are fighting for in most cases, it makes it even more impressive that they are willing to sacrifice all for others, to give them a chance at a better life.

On this Memorial Day, I will remember my brothers who have fallen in Vietnam, as well as all those who have fallen before, and after, in every war and conflict. I will remember those who have been ravaged by the remnants of war, and who have died as a result of service-connected injuries and illnesses, those who never appear in casualty rolls, but who are casualties just the same.

And some special prayers to several brothers who are very close in my heart today and always will be. Rest well my brothers; we'll all be crossing the bar to join you some day.

And, just in case anyone ever forgets:



FREEDOM ISN'T FREE!

Seat Belts Save Lives

I know many have heard the above phrase, and most people believe in the value of seat belts. But there are still many who believe that a seat belt will not save them in case of an accident. I can tell you from experience on the job, and personal experience they are DEAD WRONG!

First, let me tell you of my own experience. I was struck broadside by a loaded one ton truck moving at 55 miles per hour that ran a stop light. I had just pulled away from a stop light, and had looked left and right, but never saw her coming. It appeared the driver was distracted and had run the light before this one as well. The collision was so violent that it drove me across two lanes of an off ramp and into a light pole that sheared my vehicle almost in half. My vehicle did not have airbags, but my seat belt was securely fastened.

The impact was so great that it knocked my knees together with bone jarring force, crushed my left shoulder, my head struck the side pillar all with an almost knockout blow (air bags would have minimized that) while the vehicle continued across the road to strike the pole. My actual forward speed when the impact occurred was less than 5 miles per hour so all the force was created by the other vehicle. My vehicle, then a new Explorer, was totaled. The engine sheet metal and parts were wrapped around the top of the engine. The vehicle sustained massive damage.

 But what about me?  I survived and when the paramedics arrived they could not believe my injuries were minimal in light of the overall damage. I underwent surgery for a crushed left shoulder and other non-life threatening injuries, but in just a few weeks I was back on the job, albeit on limited duty for about six weeks.  Had I not had on a seat belt, there is absolutely no question I would have died. The seat belt kept me within the protective "cage" of the vehicle and prevented me from flying out.

Some people think that if they were to end up in the water, they would survive better with no seat belt on. Not true. In my experience with actual crashes, people with seat belts on were far more likely to be able to get out of a vehicle that landed in the water than those who were not. A specific case comes to mind where four young people were riding in a vehicle at high speed and went off into a river. Three of the four were not wearing seat belts and perished. The only one who survived was the one passenger wearing a seat belt. After the vehicle hit the water he was able to remove his seat belt and exit the car through a broken window. The other three had been thrown around the vehicle so violently, we believe they were probably all unconscious after the vehicle hit the water.

Fire? Some people have the notion that in case of a fire following a collision they will be better able to escape without a seat belt. No, doesn't work that way since the likely injuries from not wearing your seat belt, unless you were ejected and died on the pavement, would render you unable to exit the vehicle yourself.

There is no good excuse for not wearing your seat belt. Air bags will not preclude you from being ejected, nor will it stop a rear seat passenger from being thrown so violently forward that they break the neck of the driver or front seat passenger. Or at minimum injure them to the extent they can not exit the vehicle after a crash.

And for those who think a seat belt is too confining, sit in a wheelchair for a few days and think again! You could spend the rest of your life in a confining situation.

Accidents happen and now, with more people ignoring safe driving, texting, talking on the phone or other distracted driving issues, they seem to occur more frequently and with more deaths.

Getting a traffic ticket for not wearing your seat belt might be the best wake up call you ever received.  And the cheapest reminder to buckle up. After the accident and perhaps disabled for life is too late. The "Click It or Ticket" campaign is now in effect and law enforcement will be looking for violations. And, hopefully you will be buckled in and enjoying life as it was intended, accident free and long!

Stay Alive. Click it every time you drive.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Big Pharma and the Opioid Problem

Everyone knows we have a huge drug addiction problem in this country. Millions of pills daily misused, causing hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars in healthcare costs, most not borne by the abuser. And, that pales in comparison to the toll taken by the number of deaths and disabilities caused by overuse and misuse of prescription medications.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, from 1999 to 2014, 165,000 people died from overdoses of prescription opiods. In 2014 alone, over 14,000 deaths were attributed to opioid prescription overdose. Today, at least half of all U.S. opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid.

The most common drugs involved in prescription opioid overdose deaths include:
  • Methadone
  • Oxycodone (such as OxyContin®)
  • Hydrocodone (such as Vicodin®)3
 Some sobering facts:
 
Among those who died from prescription opioid overdose between 1999 and 2014:
  • Overdose rates were highest among people aged 25 to 54 years.
  • Overdose rates were higher among non-Hispanic whites and American Indian or Alaskan Natives, compared to non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics. 
  • Men were more likely to die from overdose, but the mortality gap between men and women is closing.

Overdose is not the only risk related to prescription opioids. Misuse, abuse, and opioid use disorder (addiction) are also potential dangers.
  • In 2014, almost 2 million Americans abused or were dependent on prescription opioids.
  • As many as 1 in 4 people who receive prescription opioids long term for non-cancer pain in primary care settings struggles with addiction.
  • Every day, over 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids.    
So what constructively is being done to stem the growing problem? Not that much, really. Some things have helped a bit, such as the CURES system that allows providers to cross check those who "doctor shop" to obtain additional prescriptions for opiods. But, that only works if the provider actually checks. Sure, the law says they must check, but do they really? I know some that do but would guess many do not.

Stricter enforcement of illicit sale and distribution of opiods has again been marginally successful. Taking one seller or dealer off the street usually means there is an open spot for yet another dealer. And by dealers, I include those who receive legitimate prescriptions and then sell their pills. Grandma and granddad are not exempt from the drug trade it appears.

Big pharmaceutical companies have manufactured and promoted pain medications, including several companies who have been  prosecuted for selling narcotics without approval for non-cancer pain. That promotion of off-label use has resulted in thousands of deaths, as a result of a new, and more dangerous drug coming on the market, increasing demand by and fueling the illegal usage by abusers. 

That said, people who are actually in constant pain, especially where the pain is going uncontrolled, can have the propensity toward addiction as a result of their continuous use of the drug, and increased dosage to control the pain, as prescribed by a respected medical doctor. Those people will be addicted but not abusers unless they take more than prescribed. In my opinion, there needs to be some logic by the government in separating "addicts" who through no fault of their own are addicted to prescription pain medications due to unrelenting pain, and the "abusers" who simply take medications to get high or do it through illicit channels. Lumping the person who has to live with chronic pain and becomes an "addict" with the abusers is patently unfair. Go after the abusers and those with no real physical need for drugs other than the need they self-created by taking medications illegally, or more than prescribed.  

I don't have an answer but I suppose tighter controls is what we all pay for a system that has allowed doctors to sell prescriptions for massive quantities of medications with virtual impunity. Nothing happens until someone screams foul. And it looks like the government, God forbid, is now calling foul for everyone, including all of the legitimate users, while the illicit drug trade will remain unabated.

Remember, one of the worst things you can ever hear is "We're the government and we're here to help."

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Congratulations Carlsbad, California

I have been following the Citizens Initiative and voting on Proposition A and want to congratulate the voters of that city for defeating that proposition.

A developer wanted to turn a parcel of land into an upscale shopping center while wowing the citizens with how much would be saved as agriculture and open space. The current owner/lessee of the strawberry fields was all for this new development and of course, I and so many others, believe it was all about money to him. His appearance on commercials for the developer were pitiful where he recalled his child in college and how this legacy would not be passed on if the citizens did not pass this indicative. WTF? If this kid was smart enough to finish college, and they were not going to an agricultural college, wouldn't you think they just might aspire to something other than to farm strawberries for the rest of their life. Nothing wrong with farming in any way, but there seemed to be too much cash incentive to think otherwise.

The city council and many people didn't care about the quality of life for so many Carlsbad citizens, only their own pocketbooks and the fat taxes this would bring in. In fact, one of the reasons this was fast-tracked, avoiding environmental review was because the city fathers saw about 650,000 dollars in tax revenue from allowing the project to start early. Traffic congestion and the people be damned, just let the developers have their way. Just as they have done for the thousands of new homes recently built or being built with a failing infrastructure to support them. One citizen stated they are being asked to cut back on electricity and water while new construction takes away what could be used for the rest of the current population. And what amount of water and electricity the proposed shopping center would have used is just outrageous in this time of energy and water crisis. As one person put it...the City of Carlsbad never saw a development or developer it didn't like.

So congratulations, Carlsbad voters for sending the developer back to Los Angeles licking his almost 11 million dollar campaign spending wound. And whatever he wasted on wooing the city to approve his project. Hope that next time whoever wants to develop your city does so openly and with voter approval.

Maybe it is time for an initiative to require citizen approval for new housing and industrial developments? After all, if you are being asked to suffer the shortages associated with unbridled development, shouldn't you have a say?

What do YOU want, America?

Here it is yet another election year and Americans have the ability to change the course of history. Not just for the next 4 years but likely forever.

I am not advocating one candidate over another but want to ask you whether you want another 4 years of "change" and put up with the same old establishment, captained by yet another non-thinker who will sell our country down the tubes. Are you happy with the free give-away mentality of the current administration?Are you happy with the erosion of your Constitutional Rights? Are you happy with the lack of respect by other nations? Do you agree with the butt kissing by the current administration in their foreign affairs?

Veterans, are you happy with the way the VA is run? Do you think the multiple assignments to head the VA have been beneficial to you? Do you think the people responsible for the deaths and mistreatment of veterans have been adequately punished? Is your life better with the current administration or worse? Do you think your health care is no better or worse than the lowest available under "Obamacare"? Do welfare recipients have better benefits overall than war veterans?

How about it, American workers...do yo think more of your pay is going to fund those who sit and refuse gainful employment than ever before? Do you think you have another family or two to support because of the administration's give away programs? Do you think the US government resembles California's government more and more, where give-away is king and politicians advocate more and more freebies for those who do not earn them? Do you think women who rely on welfare should be required to identify their "baby daddies" and the fathers held responsible for support. If the person is incarcerated should their work stipend be used to offset welfare? Do you think people in Section 8 housing should be required to work for some of those benefits? And that unannounced inspections are in order to catch multiple adult persons living in a single adult person household that you are supporting? And how many illegitimate welfare children should the taxpayers have to support while the parents contribute nothing? Shouldn't there be a limit somewhere?  Multiple generations of families on welfare with no incentive to work or get off, just excuses that they have another child. Maybe the answer is birth control or just close your damned legs??

Are you tired of the open borders and the estimated 13 million illegal aliens in our country while they are coddled by the administration. Tired of the "anchor baby" syndrome? Tired of the lack of enforcement by Immigration and the Border Patrol because they have no backing from Washington? Tired of politicians and their hacks making excuses for the failure of programs like 'Fast and Furious" while an American dies as a result? And thousands of weapons are sent to Mexico to help curb...weapons smuggling? Tired of having appointed idiots in charge of many governmental departments while those who try and do their best are sanctioned and fired.

Are you happy with our foreign policies where we buy "friendship" by sending your tax dollars to foreign countries that hate us? Are you tired of sending Americans off to war to fight battles that the administration and foreign leaders know we won't win because of their policies? And to countries that cannot deal with their own issues so we act as their police force. And Americans die for misdeeds of the administration like Benghazi?

It's time to wake up and make a decision, America. If you don't do it now you will be faced with 4 more years of "change" that seems to be leading us into a socialist society where your work, savings and gains by the sweat of your brow is divided among those who will not work and support themselves. It's not those who really need the support temporarily but the millions who game the system knowing they can get away with it.

There is no more time America. The decision is yours.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Carlsbad, CA - Idiocy, Taxes, and Caring Less for Homeowners Quality of Life

The City of Carlsbad, California has found a new way to fill their tax coffers, while helping to add to the misery of the homeowners of the "Village by the Sea" as it has come to be known. The new misery is known as Vacation Rentals.

It's not just vacation rentals, but unbounded vacation rentals, where any homeowner west of El Camino Real can now rent their home by the day, week or month any time of the year simply by obtaining a no-cost permit from the city. Unless your Homeowners Association CC and R's expressly prohibit such rentals, the rest of the neighborhood is...well...screwed. This was passed by the City with no notice to the homeowners; such activity was prohibited in the past. 

You will now be subject to all sorts of new people in and out at all times of the day, night and week, people that you don't know. In fact, people that the person who rented their home does not know! There is no vetting process; from what I have been able to determine, it's all done over the phone, not even a face to face meeting with the owner. Information is exchanged, credit card information taken, and the code to a lock box and, if required, an access code is provided for a gated community. Thus any semblance of security that the homeowners are paying for has now been destroyed as their gate code is in the hands of how many strangers?

And who are these people? Vacationers? Kids who have their parents rent the home for them? Party animals from some local or out of state college that will ruin your life for how long? Is the solution to call the police every night that they keep you up past midnight with loud partying when you have to go to work at 5 AM?  Who cares about the security deposit when it's YOU, not the homeowner who rented the place that has to put up with the problems. He's somewhere else enjoying his peace and solitude. And, if the "vacationers" do damage outside the confines of the rental property, who will pay for that? I can see lawsuits where you have to sue your former neighbor due to his "vacationers".

Many people on vacation are truly responsible and there are hotels and homes on the beach that have been rentals for eons just for that purpose. So why did the City of Carlsbad allow this to happen? Greed! Just to collect tax revenue! The city officials claim it's good to open the doors for more tourists and places for them to stay, but not at the cost to the residents who actually live here and must be subjected to this nonsense. I'd bet if a vacation rental opened up beside one of the city officials homes, they would be quick to figure out a way to shut it down. Plus, these homes do not have to pass city inspection like a hotel! What about insurance? Do the insurance companies know these are being used as rental homes for hotel type occupancy?  If there is a fire or liability loss, do these homeowners have adequate insurance coverage or, in the case of a Home Owners Association, will the HOA have to "pony up" because of insufficient coverage? 

Lots of questions and few answers. Unlike how things used to be, you no longer have any expectations on who might be in the home next to you tonight...or tomorrow...or the night after.

My suggestion to the good homeowners who are the true victims of this governmental snafu is to call the police department when they are disturbed by loud parties or problems with these vacation rentals. Enough complaints will put the city on notice that we are not happy with this transgression. And, enough complaints will also let the vacation home renters send a message to the owners that we might not be the most welcoming community they could wish for. After all, we do not have to like what the City has shoved down our throats! Bad reviews by renters will result in vacation rentals dropping fast! Like they used to say...welcome to Carlsbad..now go home! 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

California...the Drought and Electric Supply

As most people know, we have a severe to exceptional drought in California. Couple that with a shortage of electrical generating capacity and you have the makings of a catastrophic scenario that would result in not only financial but physical ruin to the people of this state.

However, in their lackadaisical and lackluster management style, the politicians and politicos of the entire state have somehow decided that it is okay to issue tens of thousands, or perhaps more, building permits, most for single family dwellings, that will severely deplete the existing water and electric supplies. Many are being built in areas that will require heavy use of air conditioning and with three and four bathrooms, thus severely increasing water usage, not even considering irrigation usage.

But the politicians don't want to talk about that. All they can think about is tax base. Growth is good for California is what they tell us. Put a house or some other building on every square foot of ground that you can, and leave only a tiny plot of green and call it a "preserve".  That "tax base" will not provide more water or electricity, and when we run out you won't be getting any water from it. Nor will the homes be helping the rotating blackouts and brownouts we will be seeing as a result of the excessive load on the electric grids.

San Diego Gas and Electric promised we would have more than adequate power once the Sunrise Power Link ws completed, regardless of the future of the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant. They lied. Once San Onofre went off-line, there started to be talk of shortages, and here we are again in the same quandary with power shortages and the power company whining about lack of generating capacity. Yet they now want to increase fees to a two tier system so the homes in the desert will pay less and those on the coast who use less electric will pay more. The power company says it is only fair as it equalizes costs for all. Sounds like an Obama plan to share the wealth, doesn't it? Take away from those who save, will tolerate 85 degrees at night in their homes when the Santa Ana winds blow and don't use air conditioning, and give it to those who keep their homes nice and cool.  What a crock of crap.

Again, about water, I own a small home with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. A postage stamp size personal yard and a few plants my spouse waters infrequently. We use an average of 7 units of water a month, sometimes as low as 5 or 6 units. But using 7 as a reasonable basis. A unit is 768 gallons so that equates to roughly 5,376 gallons or 179 gallons a day. We do a load of wash every day, sometimes two, (front loader ECO machine) drink city water through filters, shower (low flow heads), cook, flush toilets (low flow flush), water for our cats, and an occasional hot bath for a sore back. We take our cars to the $5.00 car wash occasionally so we don't wash them at home anymore. We find from the water company that our use is average for a home of our size in this development, where the community landscape is basically watered by a combination of reclaimed and city water.

If you double the size of the home, bathrooms, occupants, land space, etc, you effectively almost double the water usage. So even if you consider the water usage at 12 units instead of 14, you will be looking at  9,216 gallons per month for a new home that really watches their water usage. Multiply that by tens of thousands and then add in all the industrial and commercial spaces that are going up and we're in much worse shape than the politicians admit.

And, finally, know who will be so screwed by all this? The long time homeowners. Because we will be the first to lose water and electricity as we are on established grids. The new buildouts will simply slow down as we watch our economy and jobs go down the tubes. Our short sighted politicians will blame all this on someone else and run out the door like the rats they are deserting a sinking ship.

Sadly, this is not a prophesy. It's a fact that, unless there is a miracle, will come true. It's already a fact in the Central Valley where we have the New Dust Bowl as a result of decisions made solely by politicians. It's coming our way sooner than anyone thinks.