Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Social Security Replenishment of Funds »

Social Security Replenishment of Funds »

Social Security Replenishment of Funds »

Posted: 02 Oct 2012 08:30 AM PDT

Should a tax increase or stimulus be utilized to place the Spocial Security funds back into the plan so it can be solvent once again?

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Georgian Elections: The Night and Day After

Posted: 02 Oct 2012 04:59 AM PDT

Last night, just after polls had closed, the many villagers in Geguti (Imereti Region of Georgia) were still hanging around the Culture House. They were discussing what had happened during the election, most of them happy and in good spirits. As the night went on, though, things became clearer. The exit polls showed the opposition Georgian Dream Coalition (#41), led by Bidzina Ivanishvili, leading Mikheil Saakashvili's United National Movement (#5). Slowly, phones started ringing, and people started heading for home. Finally the other ballot box from the village arrived, and the counting could begin. People seemed nervous. No one here wanted anything bad to happen

The next morning, everything in the village was quiet. People got up to do their normal workday routines. I went off to school as I always did, met by the same smiling faces of students and teachers alike. Teachers were calmly discussing the elections amongst themselves. All of them said they had voted, not many keen on saying for whom they voted, but no one was overly angry or upset about the outcome (which is still being officially counted nationwide at the time of this writing).

After I got done at school, I took a walk around the village. The police smiled at me as I walked by. No incidents to report. Turns out the election was considered free and fair, at least in our little village, just south of Kutaisi. People were gathered outside the local convenience store, but again, just discussing the outcome. Finally, I walked into what was the polling place. There were some leftover ballot envelopes, a few arrows on the wall showing people where to go, and some voter instruction sheets on a table, but other than that, no trace of the polling place it had been the night before. It was back to just being the community library. The school's music teacher was cleaning up, and cheerfully asked me how I was doing.

For now at least, things are quiet, calm, and normal. There are still some signs up around the village, but life has returned to normal.

Also, CNN just reported that President Mikheil Saakashvili has just conceded the election. Things are still calm and quiet here in Geguti. Daily life continues on.

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USA Plane smell Smoke lands Moncton International

Posted: 02 Oct 2012 01:12 AM PDT

Airport Firefighters, Dieppe & Moncton Fire, Ambulances and many Codiac R.C.M.P. responded to the Moncton International Airport in Dieppe around 3:15 A.M. to stand by for a USA Aircraft that had the smell of smoke inside. The plane landed and all the emergency responders followed it. There were a few medical emergencies on the plane, Paramedics and Firefighters boarded the plane. R.C.M.P. were at the terminal because it was a International flight. A Translator was asked to board the plane, around 4:30 A.M. The problem on the plane was due to an over heated oven. Ambulances are still on scene, along with Police and Firefighters at 4:50 AM.

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Panda on Mt. Rainier?

Posted: 01 Oct 2012 11:00 PM PDT

Do you see the Panda on Mt. Rainier?

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The Professor with Two Hearts

Posted: 01 Oct 2012 09:15 PM PDT

When you first meet Professor Tom Volk you might question his multicolored hair, tattoos, or earrings. Given his appearance, you may not consider him to be an internationally recognized Mycologist - someone who specializes in the study of mold, mushrooms, and fungi. Once you realize that, you may wonder about what his motivation to research those dark and murky worlds hidden in forests, underground, or in laboratories filled with alien-looking plants.


For Tom Volk, a professor who teaches at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, little did he realize the same fungi he lectured about to his students and researched in labs, would one day be used in the drug keeping him alive today. While living a relatively healthy life until 1997, Tom would undergo a series of life-changing health crises that ultimately transformed him into a "professor with two hearts." He now teaches his students and the world how fungi impact our world, and how a heart transplant transformed his life. This is his dramatic and captivating journey.


When asked about his unique style Tom will tell you, "I have been through a lot of things." He says when some students first meet him, they may not immediately relate, but once they do, they learn there's much more to this professor than mere multicolored hair. Tom says his appearance helps challenge students "not judge a person by what they look like, but rather what they do or what they have to offer."

Tom's long journey began in 1997 when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease - cancer of the lymph nodes. Fortunately through radiation treatment his cancer went into remission and did not return. However years later, because of radiation treatments, his heart was damaged and became enlarged. Soon his heart required a defibrillator to maintain a normal rhythm. To add to Tom's heart problems, he contracted a flesh eating bacteria that ravaged his feet and legs. When he lectures to anatomy classes he first warns the students he is going to show the grotesque images of his body to make the experience real. After pausing a few seconds, he displays them on a large projection screen in the lecture hall. Some of the students gasp in shock; others look down, unable to comprehend the graphic nature of the images.


As the months passed, Tom eventually survived the flesh eating bacteria called necrotizing fasciitis. Unfortunately his heart continued to weaken- the result of the increasing number of shocks to his heart from his defibrillator. Tom tells the students when the defibrillator shocks his heart, "It feels like you are getting kicked in the chest." It wasn't long before his doctors at the Mayo Clinic told him that his only option was a heart transplant. He was put on the donor list in January of 2006.


Tom's life would dramatically change with a late evening phone call on May 21, 2006. The person on the phone said, "This is the Mayo Clinic calling. We have a heart for you." Tom vividly recalls the call. He remembered, "I was immediately terrified" and that he didn't expect the call so soon. He really did not know what was going to happen next, and things began to happen fast.


Tom's students picked him up at his home and drove him to the Mayo Clinic, about 90 minutes away. He was prepped the surgery for early the next morning. At 6:30am, May 22nd he went into surgery, and in about 3 hours he had a new transplanted heart. The next morning he was asked to walk. Two weeks later he was discharged from the hospital with his brand new heart. For several months he stayed at the "Gift of Life Transplant House" in Rochester, Minnesota, to heal both physically and mentally with other transplant patients.

Tom recalled that he immediately felt better. His face began to have a pink color, and his blood pressure returned to normal. He remembers that at first it was hard to sleep, thinking that someone had died and he had received their heart. For a transplant patient, there are physical and psychology issues they go through. "I didn't know how to deal with it," Tom recalls. He remembered there was another woman next to him in the hospital that had received the lungs from the same person Tom received his heart from. "I felt grateful to that person…… and very grateful to their family who ultimately had to make the decision to donate these organs."


To commerate his difficult health journey, Tom decided to get three distinctive tattoos. On his right arm is a color tattoo depicting the underground portion of the morel fungus. It is inscribed with the word Mykos, the Greek word for fungus. On his left arm is a cross section of a mushroom's gill which shows spores and how they are attached to the mushroom's structure. Sometimes in class he uses his "tattooed arm" to demonstrate the structures of the mushroom to questioning students. As you continue up the same arm you will find a tattoo commemorating his heart transplant date May 22, 2006. He received this tattoo on the second anniversary of receiving his new heart. Each of the tattoos graphically illustrates the long difficult journey Tom has traveled.


Tom says there were a number of times he was near death, but was able to overcome the odds. He still takes a wide assortment of drugs to keep him alive. One drug he takes daily is Cyclosporine, a drug which is an immunosuppressant and prevents his body from rejecting his new heart. Ironically, this is one of the drugs that comes from fungi, and is discussed and researched in his classes. The drug comes from the fungi Cordyceps subsessilis which can be typically found on an underground beetle of the family Coleptera- a topic his students have actively researched.


As Tom lectures to various classes at the university, he shows students X-rays, animated EKG's, and photos of his transplant journey. His presentations are both captivating and intriguing. Tisha King-Heiden, an Assistant Professor of Biology frequently invites him to speak to her Human Anatomy and Physiology classes. Professor King-Heiden says, " What Tom does is make science real. What he shows the class is what actually happened to him, and it helps students connect the science to the person."


In the large lecture hall, at the end of the talk, Tom brings his story into sharp focus to the audience. He carries with him a soft, fiber "cozy" adorned with replicas of mushrooms and colored with the dyes of various fungi. Inside lays his old heart in a plastic bag suspended in liquid. As he brings it out of the bag, the eyes of the students are transfixed on Tom's old heart. As few gasps echo throughout the hall the audience. As Tom's new heart beats with a strong sustained rhythm, his old heart lies in his hands, making the story real and undeniable. As Tom says, "I can hear the gasps from the audience when I bring out my old heart. It really brings it all home- that I had a transplant and this is my heart."

"The first time I held my heart I cried because it was very emotional….thinking about the person who died, and whose heart is now in my body."


Tom's hope is to have other people consider the importance of donating their organs for others to receive their "gift of life." Not all transparent hopefuls are as lucky. Some never live long enough to find a transplant match, while other simply don't have sufficient health insurance. For Tom, his hope is to continue to make the science of our human anatomy real and personal by telling his story to the world. He also stresses the importance of signing up to be a transplant donor. Tom ends by saying, "I hope students and other people see my story and can relate to it. You can make it through my type of experience." Not only does this professor have two hearts, he has the heart to share his story.


Mediaman is currently finishing a mini-documentary about Tom Volk. To learn more about Tom, his fungi or health blog go to:

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Cierra Campaña Henrique Capriles en Caracas

Posted: 01 Oct 2012 09:09 PM PDT

Felicidad, alegría, bailes, motivación, palabras para definir el sentimiento de los venezolanos, apoyando al candidato Henrique Capriles Radonski, este 7 de octubre será la fiesta democrática!

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Cierre de campaña de Henrique Capriles Radonski

Posted: 01 Oct 2012 08:12 PM PDT

Personas emocionada celebrando el cierre de campaña del candidato opositor Henrique Capriles, el pasado 30 de octubre 2012

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Climate Change Question

Posted: 01 Oct 2012 03:32 PM PDT

It is disturbing to me that the candidates are not talking more about climate change, which was a huge story this summer with the devastating drought. I want each candidate to clearly spell out their position on climate change so voters can make an informed decision.

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Rush Hour ..

Posted: 01 Oct 2012 01:15 PM PDT

On the way home after a rather hectic day .. somewhere in Lexington, KY

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The Next Generation - 25th Anniversary

Posted: 01 Oct 2012 11:44 AM PDT

Trek Nation celebrates The Next Generation's 25th Anniversary at the San Diego Film Festival.

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Elections in Georgia

Posted: 01 Oct 2012 11:21 AM PDT

Elections in Georgia


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Cierre de Campaña Capriles. Valencia - Edo. Carabobo

Posted: 01 Oct 2012 09:51 AM PDT

Actividad desarrollada en el marco del cierre de campaña del candidato Capriles Radonski en el Estadium José Bernardo Pérez de Valencia, Estado Carabobo.

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Cierre de Campaña de Henrique Capriles en Caracas

Posted: 01 Oct 2012 09:50 AM PDT

La Avenida Bolívar de Caracas se quedo pequeña al recibir a miles de seguidores del candidato a la presidencia de Venezuela, Henrique Capriles Radonski.

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Capriles llegando a la Av. Bolivar en Caracas

Posted: 01 Oct 2012 09:17 AM PDT

Capriles llegando a cierre de campaña domingo 30 de septiembre en Caracas

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US elections-higher taxes

Posted: 01 Oct 2012 08:19 AM PDT

Romania is a country where everybody (companies and private persons alike), pays 16% flat rate income tax no matter the income level. Of course in case of private persons there is a deduction, and poor people in some cases pay nothing at all. I do not think that there is an automatic link between enjoying better public services and higher taxes. You can have higher taxes and reckless government spending and you can have lower taxes and wise spending. I think there is a lot to do first of all towards ensuring an efficient, transparent, intelligent and responsible government spending everywhere in the world before applying a tax increase that I believe should be a solution of last resort. Abnormally higher taxes towards the richer people backfire and do not work. Rich people will always find a way of lowering their taxes or fleeing the country with their profits. As I told you, Romania has 16% flat rate and US has a progressive rate. The flat-rate may seem cynical and unfair to you in the USA. Nevertheless I see that some very rich Americans, in spite of your sharp progressive rate, manage to pay even less than our flat rate, so something is both wrong and hypocritical in your system. Also, if America genuinely wants to build a better world, it should start a direct and decisive "war" (of course with non-violent means) against fiscal paradise countries and territories similar to the war on terrorism. Sometimes fiscal evasion, when depriving a person of basic medical services for example, kills the same way as a weapon of mass destruction. Elena Matetovici - public school teacher - Braila, ROMANIA

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Strange looking circle around moon

Posted: 01 Oct 2012 01:03 AM PDT

I couldn't sleep around 3am this morning so I got up and as I love to see the stars I looked outside and it is a full moon with a huge perfect circle around it. It reminded of something on Independence day.. It was almost like a hole was around it. I have never seen anything like this before. Perhaps it is normal but at 56 yrs of age this was my first time seeing a huge, perfect circle around the moon. It was very strange.

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Genetic testing for breast cancer saved my life at age 27

Posted: 30 Sep 2012 08:05 PM PDT

Growing up with 3 first-degree female relatives with breast cancer diagnosed before the age of 45, the idea that I was at very high risk for the disease was no foreign concept. However, never in my wildest dreams did I think that my own breast cancer diagnosis would come just days after my 27th birthday.


My family's story with breast cancer actually begins well before I was born. My maternal grandmother passed away from the disease when my mom was just 4 years old and my mom's younger sister was diagnosed when I was in my early teens. A few years after my aunt's diagnosis, my mom too found out she had breast cancer, which was thankfully caught early due to vigilant screening. Having seen the devastating effects of breast cancer on her family, my mom opted for aggressive treatment with a bilateral mastectomy to minimize her risk of reoccurrence. Immediately after surgery, my mom wanted to go for genetic testing. She wanted me to be aware of my potential genetic risks given our family history so that I could be proactive about my health. At the time, I was too young to appreciate the fact that genetic testing can provide lifesaving knowledge, as the age I perceived I would be at risk for breast cancer seemed so far away from my 16-year-old mind. I also read about feelings of guilt bared by parents who go for genetic testing and I didn't want my mom to feel any sense of responsibility about passing the gene to me if I were to come back positive. We put the genetic testing conversation on the back burner and went on with our busy lives.


Unfortunately, a few years later my aunt's cancer returned and after bravely opting for more chemotherapy and radiation, she passed away a year before I graduated with my master's degree as a nurse practitioner. Ironically, one of the biggest reasons I wanted to become a nurse practitioner was to work in primary care with a focus on preventative medicine to be able to help my patients use early detection to catch diseases such as breast cancer at the earliest stages.


Little did I know that this would be what saved my own life.


Right before taking an exciting opportunity to participate in a Family Nurse Practitioner residency program, I had to go for a physical for medical clearance for the job. When the Physician Assistant went through my family's medical history, she highly encouraged me to go for genetic testing. Between her advice, my mom's instinct and my own education, I knew it was time we pursued genetic testing.


About 14 months ago, I arranged an appointment at a genetic counseling center. As standard protocol, my mom was tested first and came back positive for the BRCA2 mutation. I went for testing a few weeks later recognizing that I had a 50% chance of having the gene. My test also came back positive. It was a scary result, but not something that was very surprising to us given what our family had been through. My family and I decided not to see this as something that was bad, but rather as something that could help us make informed decisions. One of the most interesting pieces of information I learned from genetic counseling to help these decisions is that the BRCA mutation does not mean I have a gene that will give me cancer, instead it means I am lacking a gene that provides protection from cancer. This meant I needed to be my own protection.


I was provided the name of a high-risk medical oncologist who I met with several months later. She ordered an MRI for baseline screening which surprisingly showed a suspicious area. I was told not to worry but that this area warranted further testing, including an ultra sound and eventually a core needle biopsy. I didn't tell a lot of people I needed to have the biopsy. After all, I was young and healthy. Statistically at my age, even with being BRCA2 positive, my chance of having cancer was so small I decided it wouldn't be worth making everyone nervous for what I thought would be a negative test. I figured there would be 15-20 years worth of false alarms because of suspicious areas before a concerning diagnosis, so I didn't want to cause my family undue distress. Right after my biopsy, my nurse's instinct told me something wasn't right. I asked the radiologist what she thought was going on and I will never forget her answer. She said, "its not always cancer when it looks like that" referring to the results of my previous tests. Every bit of her body language and tone in her voice made me realize she thought it was cancer. I felt completely shocked. Cancer was the last thing I thought it could be at my age, but this was the first time I heard that it could become my reality. Two days later, I found out the biopsy did show breast cancer. The oncologist told me we caught it early and from there things moved very quickly and decisions had to be made fast.


Since there was already an invasive component to my cancer and given my very high long-term risk of recurrence due to genetics, it became evident to me that bilateral mastectomy made the most sense for my treatment. I couldn't imagine going through this again or living through the fear and the dread associated with frequent testing if I did lumpectomy or a unilateral mastectomy. My family and I decided it would be best if I had my treatment in the same place as both my parents (my dad is cancer survivor too!) and we made an appointment with the same breast surgeon who operated on my mom. Strangely enough, the surgeon had the same visit with my mom 10 years and 5 days before mine.


I had a bilateral mastectomy August 3rd 2012 and have one more surgery in December to complete the reconstruction process. My pathology reports were much better than anticipated given the initial biopsy results and because of my aggressive surgical option, I did not have to undergo chemotherapy. Recently, I started a medication called Tamoxifen, which is chemoprevention, and if taken for 5 years can decrease my risk of recurrence by 50%.


There still are some occasional hard moments when I think about the appearance of the scars or the fact that I won't be able to breastfeed my future babies or when I feel some of the side effects from the Tamoxifen. However, when I start to think about those things I can't help but be humbled by an overwhelming sense of gratitude. In those difficult moments, I think about how different my life would be if the cancer had an additional 3 years to grow and spread before we caught it as screening often begins at 30 for those with family history. I am grateful we caught the cancer at an early enough stage that I did not need chemotherapy, which I saw my aunt saw undergo with such grace despite the difficult treatments. I am grateful the same disease that caused my family so much heartache and pain for generations now has a happy ending because it was caught before it could cause irreparable harm and I am back to full health.


I refuse to see this as anything but a blessing in my life, a mere speed bump in my path to an exciting future. Given all that has happened over the past 2.5 months, surprisingly, I wouldn't change a thing. I have seen incredible kindness from people, including my surgeons, strangers, co-workers, family and friends which. I especially wouldn't change that we went for genetic testing. My DNA is what it is and no one has the power to change genetic make up. However,I do have the power to decide what I will do with the information we acquired and my attitude as I make decisions related to my health since I do have to be concerned about other types of cancer, including ovarian cancer. Although some people may think finding out they have a genetic predisposition would be devastating, in my family, we view it as something positive. It gave us advanced warning of something that could cause our family harm and is how I caught my cancer early. We decided a positive attitude and lots of family support would get us through all of this and whatever comes our way... maybe that's also genetic!

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Venezuela presidential campaign

Posted: 30 Sep 2012 07:10 PM PDT

Sent from my iPhone

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Federalism and Marriage Equality

Posted: 30 Sep 2012 04:45 PM PDT

Debate question for Governor Romney about how he reconciles opposing ENDA on federalism grounds while simultaneously supporting DOMA and a federal marriage amendment.

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Continental Moon

Posted: 30 Sep 2012 04:02 PM PDT

This photo was taken in the early morning hours of September 30, 2012 while vacationing outside Denver, CO. The Moon setting over the Continental Divide was breathtaking and awe-inspiring.

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