Friday, May 28, 2004
Dark days ahead?
Between 1999-2003, health care premiums have gone up 15-17% annually here in Rochester, NY. Has your paycheck? My 0% pay rise over the same period puts me at a loss. In case you're feeling bad for the HMOs, their payouts for medical services delivered have only increased 8-9% annually.
On the bright side, free medical care is available to illegal immigrants, others on the dole, and incarcerated prisoners. Ironically, America's prison population grew 2.9% last year to 2.1 million inmates (1 in 75 American men live in jail). While the crime rate has dropped and many States are reducing sentences for low level offenders, it may be a case of some wanting jail for the health care (and the beds, meals, education, television, etc.)
BTW, Chris Dufresne of the Los Angeles Times notes the recent prison release of one-time boxing star Riddick Bowe: "Bowe reportedly lost almost 100 pounds behind bars and has never been in better shape, which raises the question: Was that a jail sentence or a fitness membership?"
Thursday, May 27, 2004
There I was, minding my own business...
enjoying a doubleheader when Mike and his son, Joe, show up. It was a pleasant, spontaneous surprise and they brought luck to the home team.
Monday, May 24, 2004
Happy Birthday, Mr. President
Baby Bro' Andy turns 45 today. If you see him, he might like a spanking. You could also offer him a job, but why would he take it with the Red Sox playing so well below his third base seats?
Thursday, May 20, 2004
I told you so (version 2.0), but someone else will get rich off the idea
For the last few weeks, I've posted about the death and health problems of executives at fast-food purveyor, McDonalds. Now, a 33 year old West Virginian, Morgan Spurlock, has produced a film about his eating at McDonalds for 30 consecutive days. He noted 5000 calories a day, you might have seen my chart detailing 5100 calories. He gained 25 pounds and early signs of a liver problem. I noted heart attack and colorectal cancer, tho I can't document if the McDonald's executives ate their corporate product.
The 98-minute documentary won a best directing prize at the Sundance Film Festival and opens nationwide Friday. The bad news: I'm still Plogging. The good news: I saved a bundle on my motorcycle insurance at Progressive ;^)
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
It's not very often...
that MLS (Major League Soccer) comes to Rochester, about as often as Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar comes to Chennai. Last night under 77°F skies, I had a great seat to see the A-League Rochester Rhinos play the MLS Chicago Fire in an exhibition match. Both teams sat some of their starters after the Fire tied the New Jersey MetroStars on Saturday night and the Rhinos lost their first game on Sunday in Toronto. I saw some great play and if you want details, get your ass out of the house and join me.
DC United comes here 23 June with 14 year old phenom Freddy Adu.
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
How well do you know your kids?
Fairport is a southeastern suburb of Rochester, NY. I've never lived there, but I know many who do and I visit there often. Fairport is an above average income community. The houses are nice and the schools are good.
This year, Fairport high school administrators joined forces with a county Health Department survey. About 1800 Fairport students were anonymously surveyed about alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, sex, suicide, diet and exercise. Independently, the school administrators worked with a Chemical Prevention Advisory Council to survey 1125 parents:
Category Student Parent
Subject.. Practice Belief
Marijuana. 38%..... 10%
Cigarettes 25%..... 1%
Active sex 35%..... 7%
Oral sex....49%..... not asked ;^)
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
A great night
The birds and bees were all about, but no, I didn't get lucky.
On my way home from work, I stopped to look at a newer, better mileage vehicle and noticed that the clear 81°F/27°C weather was the best in a week. I started hearing voices:
"hit the ball and he will come"
"cook the sausage and he will come"
"pour the beer and he will come"
I asked one of our Indian visitors if he'd like to see his first Rochester Red Wings AAA baseball game. He had something else to do. I called another friend who's retired from the Probation Department. Strike Two. It was getting close to game time and I had a 20 minute drive in front of me. I got there in the first inning and settled into a great seat over third base. It was a close game, tied 2-2 against the Durham Bulls thru the 7th inning Stretch. BTW, they've added something new to that Stretch: the Star Spangled Banner, the National Anthem sung by flag-waving spectators. After that, all hell broke loose and the visiting team started pounding the ball. Those last two innings resulted in a 5-2 Rochester loss.
Monday, May 10, 2004
Alarmed at what happens in US-controlled prisons in Iraq?
Alarmed enough to find out what happens in your local prisons?
Are there sodomy and rape in your US jails? Is there detention without charge in your Chinese cell? Are Indian prisons ripe with corruption? Are South African guards ever small minded and abusive with their powers? And how about the Japanese with every friggin' appliance containing a digicam? Think they've ever posed a pic?
I told you so
Last month, I posted about fast food McDonald's CEO dieing of a heart attack.
His replacement of less than a month, Charlie Bell (no relation to Taco), has now undergone surgery for colorectal cancer. This time, McDonald's shareholders responded with sympathy, but a 2% drop in stock value. Is it a case of "you are what you eat?"
Here's a sample breakfast, lunch, and dinner:
Sunday, May 09, 2004
Movie-mania (on a rainy Sunday)
At #2 on the charts, Denzil Washington is Man on Fire. He starts as a washed-up body guard, but turns into a relentless assassain when kidnappers snatch the young Mexican girl under his care. There is no shortage of scumbags, torturous weapons, incendiaries, and body parts. Hint: a pager-activated rectal bomb is part of the film's R-rating.
#7 is a much more enjoyable Kill Bill 2. Well maybe I'm conditioned after Kill Bill 1, but I thought there was a lot less violence and great use of irony. Sure, it's Uma Thurmond versus "Bill" (David Carradine) in the end, but there's lots of surprises.
Marijuana, ganja, 420, whatever
JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) reports that "abuse" or "dependence" increased from 1.2% to 1.5% of adults age 18 or older during 1991-2002 with the greatest increases attributed to young Blacks and Hispanics. Note: this is NOT "use" (which remained stable at 4% of age group). Rolled into the conclusions of Dr. Wilson Compton and the National Institute on Drug Abuse was partial blame on more potent pot.
Problem definitions are interesting. "Abuse" entails repeated inability to function at work, in school, in social situations, or legal problems. "Dependence" involves increased tolerance, compulsive use, and continuance despite physical or psychological problems. As Slurpee Slinger so appropriately asked: "Does this include the munchies?"
Saturday, May 08, 2004
Feast for a king
Actually, it was a healthy, vegetarian lunch. The King and I Thai restaurant has moved 100 meters north to 1475 E. Henrietta Rd. in what used to be the Muxworthy's Ski Loft. The eatery is considerably larger and there was no wait for a noontime table. I continue to be impressed with anything phat prigking (stir fried long beans, basil, and ginger). And who knew that the restaurant caters to the needs of celiacs?
Friday, May 07, 2004
New brewpub in Rochester, NY
Yesterday was the opening for Flour City Brewing, 869 E. Henrietta Rd. (across from Monroe Community College in the old Jack Astors restaurant). It's within 2km. of work and I somehow found myself there afterwards. There were six brews on tap and I sampled two India Pale Ales (my favorite for their hoppiness). While talking with brewmaster Greg Smith, I learned that one of the IPAs had a brew kettle malfunction and ended up with extra hops. I thought the ale was PERFECT and suggested trying to duplicate the mistake on a regular basis. The other IPA was named "British Attack" and didn't suit my palate. The brewpub decor was typical: kettles-without-walls, pint glasses, and a limited pub menu. Flour City Brewing will supposedly bottle some of their product, but it's not happening yet. BTW, I really enjoy coming back to the US and its smoke-free establishments ;^)
Thursday, May 06, 2004
Golden Snowball trophy
Now that Winter in upstate New York appears to be over (touch wood), the city of Syracuse has claimed the "snowiest" title for the second year in a row. Syracuse's 4.60 meters of snow tops Rochester's 3.19 meters. Outside of Alaska, the national record is claimed by Blue Canyon, California at 6.10 meters.
Both Syracuse and Rochester benefit (?) from "lake effect", snow accumulating from the Great Lakes. Syracuse and Rochester are on Lake Ontario, the eastern-most and smallest of the inter-connecting Great Lakes at 311 km in length, 244 m deep, and 18,960 sq km area.
Wednesday, May 05, 2004
US immigration cutting into native-born wages
Last June, Harvard University's George J. Borhas, recognized for his expert studies on immigration, published "The Labor Demand Curve Is Downward Sloping: Re-Examining The Impact Of Immigration On The Labor Market”. He has just updated his report to note an average US-born worker's loss of $1700 in annual wages by the year 2000. Several groups suffered most:
7.4% drop of annual wages for US-born high school dropouts
5.0% drop for US-born Hispanics
4.5% drop for US-born Blacks
3.6% drop for US-born college graduates
Borhas' report further indicates that current US Immigration proposals would continue to reduce wage growth for US workers at all levels of their education and job skill. Borhas notes that the wage reduction is independent of the immigrants being legal or not, permanent or temporary.
but paying considerably less taxes to support those benefits
Tuesday, May 04, 2004
You could always combine this effort with BookCrossing.com to track the books' travels.
Attn: foreign readers... US politics explained by Jack & Laura Q
A little boy goes to his dad and asks, "What is Politics?" Dad says, "Well son, let me try to explain it this way: I am the head of the family, so call me The President. Your mother is the administrator of the money, so we call her The Government. We are here to take care of your needs, so we will call you The People. The nanny, we will consider her The Working Class. And your baby brother, we will call him The Future."
The little boy goes off to bed thinking about what Dad has said. Later that night, he hears his baby brother crying, so he gets up to check on him. He finds that the baby has severely soiled his diaper. So the little boy goes to his parent's room and finds his mother sound asleep. Not wanting to wake her, he goes to the nanny's room. Finding the door locked, he peeks in the keyhole and sees his father in bed with the nanny. He gives up and goes back to bed.
The next morning, the little boy say's to his father, "Dad, I think I understand the concept of politics now." The father says, "Good, son, tell me in your own words what you think politics is all about". The little boy replies, "The President is screwing The Working Class while The Government is sound asleep. The People are being ignored and The Future is in deep shit."
**DISCLAIMER** any resemblence to current elections in India is purely coincidental ;^)
Monday, May 03, 2004
Rochester Rhinos won their A-league soccer opener against Toronto Lynx
Won? Hell, it was a 4-0 shutout by ex-Toronto keeper Theo Zagar. The other shining star was Chris Carrieri, #1 pick from the 2001 MLS (Major League Soccer) SuperDraft. Carrieri scored the opening goal and finished with 4 points.
The weather had been rainy earlier Saturday, so the attendence was a cautious 9700. The game remained dry, but the cool temps deterred my beer tasting. Hot chocolate sold well that night ;^)
Sunday, May 02, 2004
I've been living under a rock and science has passed me by
A $5-off coupon in the local newspaper clued me into the impressive list of "home testing kits". OK, I knew about a few:
heart rate (it looks like a watch)
illegal drugs (cocaine & marijuana)
But other kits available for use in the privacy of home are new to me:
urinary tract infection
allergies (tests 10 airborne & food allergens)
diabetes (having sugar is one thing, telling diabetes is another)
body fat (something more scientific than calipers?)
ovulation (what happened to the thermometer?)
breast exam (I never needed a kit or instruction).
Saturday, May 01, 2004
Baby Brother reminds me that I'm slow to Plog on America's Pastime...
baseball, specifically, the Rochester Red Wings. I'm a big fan: I've been a season (APR-SEP, 60 games) seat holder in the past and if I'm in Rochester, I attend 10-15 games a Summer. It's great, inexpensive entertainment. The Red Wings are a "farm club" for the Minnesota Twins. This means the Red Wings are in a league one level below Major League Baseball (MLB). The Red Wings are part of the training and career path for players being groomed by the top level Minnesota Twins. If a player makes it to MLB, that's known as "The Show". That's the ultimate goal and a chance for multi-million dollar contracts. The price of a seat in Minnesota can be as much as US$35/Rs1650, but in Rochester, it's a maximum of US$9.50/Rs450 and you're seeing the stars of tomorrow.
On 10 APR, I missed Opening Day of this season's Red Wings while I was in India. I have a group of friends who annually go to that first game and make a party out of the beer and great food sold at the ball park. With the season starting in early April, it's often chilly, if not snowing. Those early attendees are TRUE fans and the Red Wings got off to a great start winning their first nine games of the season. It was 40F/4C this past week, but by Wednesday night, it was 53F/12C so I went to my first game of this year. Most of my friends aren't dependable fans, but I have a good enough time alone: I had a great US$6/Rs280 seat, the players are fantastic athletes, there is entertainment between innings, and yes, I enjoyed a few beers with my Red Osier roast beef sandwich. The game was close with Rochester losing to the visiting Buffalo Bisons in the last inning. There will be more games as the Summer warms up and I particularly look forward to the fireworks (cracker) displays after many games.