21 March 2012

The Internet is Watching...

...and it's sometimes amusing at how wrong the profiling is.

My household buys diabetic supplies.  Once a month we buy a bottle of ReliOn Humulin N from Walmart, along with 100 syringes for injecting insulin.  We also buy Bayer Keto-Diastix and litmus strips.  We have been doing that for five years now.  If you were keeping track of our purchases you would believe that there is a diabetic in the house, and you would be right.

But who is nosy enough to track our purchases of diabetic supplies?  Well, we have bought insulin from several sources before we discovered the generic ReliOn brand at Walmart so several different pharmacies in the area have sold us insulin.  Likewise the insulin syringes and the other test equipment.  We even have a blood glucose test meter, which manufacturers will be happy to provide free.  It turns out that the meter is the cheap part of being diabetic,  It is the test strips that cost a lot, and you end up using a lot of test strips -- if you are a human diabetic.  Other than the pharmacies where we buy our supplies, there is the credit card issuer who knows where we make our purchases and, generally, what the purchases are.  There is also the syringe manufacturer.  Even though modern one-use insulin syringes are made to a pretty high standard, there are still manufacturing flaws that aren't caught until it comes time to actually use the syringe.  We have had instances of bent needles; needles that pierced the protective cap; needles with manufacturing residue on them; and needles without a point at the end.  Whenever we find something like that we contact the manufacturer and supply the lot number on the box.  In short order we get  special container to return the defective syringe and a coupon for another free box of syringes.

Aside from the pharmacies, our credit card issuer, the glucose meter manufacturer, and the syringe manufacturer, I am not aware of anyone else who would know about our purchases of diabetic supplies.  But someone does.  I have received unsolicited calls asking me if I check my blood glucose levels regularly.  There have been a few instances of adds for diabetic supplies appearing on the web pages I visit.  This morning I got an e-mail from PJ Media with a blaring advertisement for some cockamamie "new" diabetic spice treatment that is supposed to be superior to conventional treatment.

Ginger the diabetic dog
So.  Someone is watching and trying to attract my attention.  They think I am the diabetic in this household -- and they are spectacularly wrong. 

We have been buying diabetic supplies for the past five years in order to keep our Australian terrier alive.  Now, you don't treat a case of canine diabetes like you do a human case.  In humans you try to regulate the diabetic condition; with a dog you simply try control in a general way the blood glucose level to keep it from going too high or too low.  Getting a blood glucose reading from a dog is not for amateurs; we usually let the veterinarian do that, when necessary.  In fact, I have gotten only one successful blood glucose test from Ginger before I decided that the process was too stressful for the both of us.  Now I collect a urine sample twice a day and check that for glucose; I also check the urine pH value as part of Ginger's daily routine.  We try to keep good care of our diabetic doggie.

I have been aware for a while now that in spite of my efforts to be invisible on the world-wide web, that is not possible.  I do seem to have given the web watchers erroneous indications, however, and the watchers arrive at some amusing conclusions as a result.  I suppose that this post will cause them to update my profile again.

18 March 2012


I met Donald Rumsfeld today.  That is Donald H. Rumsfeld, former Secretary of Defense under George W. Bush.  I shook his hand, introduced myself and asked him a question that has been on my mind for about 40 years.

I met Rummy at the Offutt Air Force Base Exchange; he was there for a two-hour book signing gig promoting his book Known and Unknown:  A Memoir.  The book signing was originally scheduled for last summer, but the death of Betty Ford caused him to postpone his visit to Offutt until today.  The signing was scheduled to last from 1100 to 1300, and I got there at 1100.  There was already a line that stretched out the main exchange door, and down the mall.  Surprisingly there where a substantial number of younger adults there and even a few teenagers.  Some older men were dressed in suits, but maybe that was because they had gone to church earlier in the day.  Some people came prepared with family members or friends holding cameras to record the historic moment.  Some had multiple copies of the Rumsfeld book, probably for themselves as well as the folks back home.  I thought of none of that and was there by myself , book in hand.

It took an hour of standing in a very slow-moving line before I finally got up to the desk where Donald Rumsfeld was signing copies of his book.  He had an assistant standing at the edge of his table; the assistant opened each book to the title page and slid the book in front of Rumsfeld at the appropriate moment.  The base exchange had thoughtfully provided an upholstered office chair so that Rumsfeld could sit comfortably.  Each person shook Rumsfeld's hand and got to exchange a few words with him.  I was standing behind a youngish family of six:  Mom and Dad, plus four kids, two of whom were riding in a double stroller.  The kids were amazingly quiet.  Dad was carrying a bag with three copies of the book in it.

My turn with The Man came next.  Donald Rumsfeld is not a physically large man by any means, but he gives every impression of a high level of mental sharpness and a zest for life.  He leaned forward in his chair and extended his hand.  I shook his hand and told him my name and that I had 25 years of active duty service.  He congratulated me on that.  I told him I had a question for him, if he had a moment; of course, he did.  My question was this:  I recall Linebacker II and the bombing of Hanoi with B-52s in December 1972, and less that a year later we went to DEFCON 3 during the Arab-Israeli Yom Kippur War.  It has always seemed to me that Henry Kissinger's finger prints are all over those two events.  Am I wrong?  His answer was a finesse.  He reminded me that at that time he was US ambassador to NATO and living in Brussels, Belgium.  He said he didn't know the details of what was going on back in Washington and that going to DEFCON 3 had surprised him too.

So now my copy of Known and Unknown:  A Memoir has been signed by the author himself.  From his book I have learned that he and I share similar opinions about NATO.  I am going to finish reading it, and then I am going to give it to my daughter so that she and her daughters can learn a bit of what really happened in the Cold War and its aftermath.  Who knows.  Maybe someday book collectors will value a signed copy of a memoir by Donald H. Rumsfeld.

11 March 2012

Energy Policy -- Or What Passes For It

Last night, all the people in the USA whose lives are governed by a clock set all their clocks to read one hour later than it actually is (by the Sun, at least) and then went to bed.  This morning they pretended they forgot they had done that last night and got up an hour earlier than they ordinarily would have.  That is what passes for federal energy policy these days.

We are now in the Daylight Saving Time mode and will be until next November 4th.  This is part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which was signed into law by George W. Bush.  Now, there are many provisions to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, but mandating the switch to Daylight Saving Time at the times now called for in the law, and calling it an energy conservation measure, is willful ignorance.  It seems to assume that the citizenry of the USA is stupid.

I hear people say every summer that they are glad to have an extra hour of daylight.  Clearly, they are not thinking -- or they are not thinking clearly.  I used to volunteer as a docent at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska.  During the summer months we volunteers gave tours of the zoo grounds.  There is a large sundial there and it is on the tour route.  When we passed the sundial I would ask everyone on the tour to look at their watches and check what the sundial indicated.  It is a pretty accurate sundial, so it invariably showed the time to be an hour earlier than what everybody's watches indicated.  I would ask the tour group why there was an hour difference between their watches and the sundial.  Most could not even hazard a guess.

Daylight Saving Time is an illusion; it only works in the part of the year when there are more hours of daylight over the course of a day than there are hours of darkness.  That part of the year begins, more or less, at the Vernal Equinox and ends at the Autumnal Equinox.  From the first day of Autumn to the first day of Spring, there are more hours of darkness over the course of a day than there are hours of daylight, so Daylight Saving Time is pointless.  Daylight Saving Time appears to work because people -- at least those who live by the clock, and that is most people -- get up an hour earlier than they did the morning before DST went into effect.  It does not even appear to work now because we are still in Winter and there are more hours of darkness that daylight over the course of a day.  People who live by the clock should have noticed that their bedrooms were darker this morning when they got up than they were yesterday morning, but I doubt that anyone did.

The traditional rules for implementing Daylight Saving Time were to start on the first Sunday in April and end on the first Sunday in October.  There is a good reason why that was so:  there are more hours of daylight than darkness in that part of the year.

I would like to ask the true believers in Daylight Saving Time where that extra hour of daylight is right now and next Halloween.  The fact is, it isn't there.  I will also ask the members of the US Congress why they believe that implementing Daylight Saving Time at all saves energy.  I don't expect any rational answers there either.