Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tis The Season

Things have been pretty busy as of late. so, I haven't had much time to put together a post for a few weeks. The start of the Holiday Shopping Season has prompted a few observations that I have decided to pass along.

I found that Black Friday was a bit different this year. It was uncertain as to how well businesses would do but, I did notice a few things that seemed different than years past.
First, there weren't nearly as many real "door buster" deals as I expected. In our area (Omaha, Ne) and most of the chains I checked online had a couple of true door busters. However, a number of the advertised Black Friday sale items were less than 20% off and many were less than 15% off. In fact, some of the items were advertised at a price that was actually more than they were on sale for a week or two before. I am not going to mention any specifics but, I feel that a number of merchants tried to dupe the public and succeeded in many cases. They played well on the Black Friday hype.

Second, in talking with shoppers, family and friends I have found that most of them used Friday and Saturday to finish their shopping for Christmas. At most, there were a few that needed to pickup stocking stuffers and werer going to wait until Christmas was a little closer. Some of them decided to finish their gift lists since the crowds weren't too bad.

That brings me to my third observation. The merchants seemed to have a much better plan for crowd control this year. I didn't hear about anyone being trampled and the news seemed to be quiet on that point as well. Also, the shoppers I encountered were much friendlier, patient and helpful than I have encountered in past years. This has been reported to be the rule rather than the exception by co-workers and other contacts. Well done America!

Last, and far from least, there is the reason for the season. It doesn't matter what you call the Holiday that is approaching. It has been Christmas for centuries. Whether the celebration of the birth of Christ was moved to coincide with pagan holidays due to persecution in years past, December 25th has become associated with that event world wide. It is a shame that we can be inclusive of Kwanzaa, Pasch (Passover), and others but the Christian is all but excluded.

I believe that it is the fault of Christians, throughout the Western world, that they have been relegated to the status they have. Far too long Christians have remained silent about their faith. Aside from a relative few, there has been little outcry when Christians are represented in the media as fools or "wolves in sheep's clothing." Somewhere along the way, Christians have been taught to be "meek" since the "meek shall inherit the earth" (Psalm 37:11 and Matthew 5:5). However, the term meek has been misrepresented to mean quiet, mild mannered and so on. In truth, the term meek represents being humble before God. Humble means being cognizant that God, not us, is in power. That does not mean sitting on the side lines. If, as Christians, we are to emulate Jesus the Christ, then we need to be firm in voicing the call for repentance and a change of ways. Jesus was not a "milk-toast" in his message. The clearing of the Temple well exemplifies this point. The Apostles and early disciples (not the same thing as many think) did not just sit around bemoaning the condition of their world. Instead, they prayed to their heavenly father, God, for the wisdom and strength to speak out and stand up in the face of oppression.

Edmund Burke is attributed as saying, "It is necessary only for the good man to do nothing for evil to triumph." Though not found in his writings and, often misquoted, the statement bears consideration as we go through life. Why does it seem that the world is falling more deeply into chaos and anarchy? Because the "good man" does nothing. All good things come from God. - bkc

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New Google Channel Author at BrightHub.

This is just a quick note to let all of you folks know about an excellent web resource, called BrightHub and to announce that I am now one of their authors.

Okay, so I'm bragging on myself a little but, the site has a lot of interesting articles in a variety of channels. So what are you waiting for? Click on over there.

By the way, if you are looking at implementing Google tools on your web site check out http://www.brighthub.com/internet/google/articles/52945.aspx.

Later all - bkc

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Are We Truly on an Economic Upturn?

Oct 15, 2009: There has been a lot of talk in the news about how the economic climate of the U.S. is improving. One of the key indicators used is the unemployment rate. Though the rate has crept up a little in the last few weeks, pundits still claim they are lower than a few months ago. The problem with this indicator is that, often, the statistic used to back it is the number of unemployment claims filed for the period.

What the indicator doesn't consider, by and large, is the hundreds or thousands of unemployed who no longer can file due to the length of time they have been out of work. In other words, their benefit has run out. So, where are these men and women now? Many are selling off possessions,  some are begging on the streets and some are resorting to criminal activities to get by.

Relief agencies and churches have seen an increase in demand for help while giving has remained fairly constant. There are some groups that have seen an increase in giving but, this is offset by those who have seen a decrease. The only advice we can rely on is to watch our spending as individuals, give where you can and, if you are able, help your neighbor find a job. Next week he could be returning the favor. -bkc

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Healthcare Insurance Industry Out of Control

The Baby and the Giant - Urgent Response Needed!

There has been a lot of talk about healthcare reform as of late. After discovering and researching the following material about a four month old named Jaeli, I believe we need a watchdog put into place as a minimum. I cannot help but wonder what would be the current status of Baby Jaeli under the currently proposed changes coming out of Washington. I'll leave that speculation for another time. The thing that I want to get across here is that there is a tiny life in need and the health insurance involved seems to be making matters worse instead of better.


(See http://angengland.com/jaeli for more information and a way to help.)

Jaeli is a four month old (at the time of this writing) in Vermont. The little girl was born with a number of health issues; 2 holes in her heart which are almost healed, she has a rare (only four known cases) chromosome disorder that has caused a number of health problems including internal organs that are located in the wrong places, and she cannot consume formula, cow's millk or soy products. Breast milk is the only known option for Jaeli.

Jaeli's mother, Brandy, is doing all she can to take care of the baby, who is being treated at Dartmouth Hospital. Enter, now, the health insurance company. From the information I have at this time, the cost of breast milk is very expensive and the insurance company wants the baby switched to formula. Herein lies the problem, every formula that has been tried has resulted in Jaeli coughing up blood. Apparently, the insurance company does not believe this is the case. The hospital won't order fresh supplies without cash in hand because the insurance company will not support the breast milk regimen. The family is trying to raise funds to provide the needed breast milk and there is an urgent need for a large outpouring in the next few days along with a critical need for long term support - perhaps a corporate sponsor. You can help by going to http://angengland.com/jaeli and clicking the PayPal button in the sidebar.

Lactose Intolerance and Milk Allergy - Confused

I am including this information to help others who may have a child with milk allergies though I pray you do not have to face the challenge Jaeli and Brandy are facing. It is very common to confuse lactose intolerance with milk allergies. Quoting from FoodAllergySolutions.com, "Lactose intolerance is your intestine's reaction to milk sugar. A milk allergy is a systemic immune reaction against milk proteins." (http://www.foodallergysolutions.com/lactose-intolerance.html Oct 7, 2009) There are more than 50 million lactose intolerant Americans while approximately 66% of the global population have difficulty digesting lactose. (ibid.) Lactose intolerance is rare in infants but, a milk allergy is more common in an infant than in someone older. Most of the time a milk allergy will go away around the age to 3 to 5 years old.

I am not a medical expert but I have done some basic research and discovered that there are three parts of milk that can cause a reaction.These are milk sugar (lactose), milk protein and whey protein. The symptoms of milk allergies in infants very closely resemble those for lactose intolerance. The symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, reflux, refusal to eat, diarrhea and blood in stools. If these symptoms are accompanied by sniffles, constant congestion, wheezing, and/or rashes it is more likely to be an allergy rather than intolerance. There are numerous resources on the Internet for more information. If you suspect your child has any type of allergy consult your doctor.



Monday, October 5, 2009

Welcome to my nightmare

You just never know where life will take you. Sunday evening (10/4/09) my wife and I were eating at a nearby Village Inn when we heard a loud bang. We really weren't sure what the sound was until we were paying for our meal.

The manager was on the phone with the police describing a man who had just fired a gun in the men's room. From her description I recalled seeing the guy running outside the window. We finished paying for the meal and left.

On our way home we saw the man walking quickly north along near the buildings along the roadway. I called 911 and reported where he was. I kept watching him until he went into a supermarket. I told the police where he was, parked my truck to watch the entrances and identified him as he came out of the store. The police took him down and told me that I may have prevented a much more serious event from taking place. Channel Six News from Omaha covered the story.

Just goes to show, you never know where a gunman might be, in the local diner or next to you in line at the supermarked. Keep your eyes open but, keep at a distance. Be safe. - bkc