Does the first cold weather snap mean the same thing for you as it does for me; runny nose, cough, maybe even laryngitis? I usually get a flu shot, so flu is not a big concern for me.
My wife has already been hit by some kind of bug that laid her low for more than a week. She never missed work and only began to get better after spending two days on the weekend resting.
Sedgwick County Health Director Claudia Blackburn tells me as of last week only six cases of influenza had been confirmed in the county. She advises that a flu shot takes two weeks to become effective, and this year's shot seems to be very effective on this year's bug.
Blackburn's very concerned about pertussis … whooping cough. You may want to consider immunization. I had whooping cough when I was 16 and I can tell you it's no picnic!
Our thought for today is from Jackie Mason:
"It's no longer a question of staying healthy. It's a question of finding a sickness you like.'"
Baseball's rules committee has approved a change in the rules … banning home plate collisions in Major League Baseball. It's long been part of baseball, but it occasionally results in some pretty serious injuries. Violating the rule would mean a fine or suspension for players who collide at home plate.
If a runner looks up and sees a catcher completely blocking the plate, what recourse does he have? As a youngster I slid into a catcher's shin guards. Believe me, that doesn't work well. A base runner wears a protective batting helmet. The catcher wears shin guards, a chest protector, and a mask. These devices are made of hard plastic and metal.
It's like a running back wearing shorts and a tee shirt ramming into a fully-equipped linebacker in football.
Still, tougher players will try to run over that catcher full speed.
It's considered part of the game … and it may soon be part of the game's past.
Our thought for today is from Leo Durocher:
"Baseball is like church. Many attend, few understand."
With mid-term elections on the way, two-thirds of Americans say they would like to see their House member replaced. The Associated Press/Gfk poll finds that elected officials in Washington are not benefitting from the public's slightly improved view of the economy and their own personal finances.
President Obama didn't do well in the survey, with 58% disapproving of his job performance and 42% approving.
Not much surprise in this poll. Americans don't like the uncertainty coming from Capitol Hill and the White House. There is an impression that our legislative branch is not legislating and our president is not leading. This is nothing new … it's been going on for months, if not several years.
Does the public's disenchantment with House members translate to disapproval of the citizens' own lawmakers at the polls? In some case it's possible. I can't see any big shake-up for the Kansas delegation, however.
Our thought for today is from Chester Bowles:
"Government is too big and too important to be left to politicians."
My doctor hasn't said a word … hasn't warned me … hasn't scolded me. I guess he didn't realize that I have a weight problem. I didn't know.
He asks me if I'm still working out and I say "Yes, every day … two miles and pushups" … and he says "Keep it up".
I recently went to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site and calculated my B-M-I … Body Mass Index. I entered my height and weight and got a B-M-I of 26.4. Their chart says 25.0 to 29.9 is overweight … 30 and above, obese.
So, I'm officially overweight.
The C-D-C says two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese. I'm in that group.
The C-D-C says my "normal weight range" would be 140 to 189 pounds.
I would like to weigh 180 pounds, but all this exercising makes me hungry. I'm on track to run close to 650 miles this year. Not bad for an officially "overweight" guy!
Our thought for today is from Stephanie Klein:
"When we die, no one remembers us for what we weighed. Our weight isn't etched into our headstones."
The U-S Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal of a 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision in favor of Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby stores. The owners – the Green family – objects to four of the 20 forms of contraception covered by the new federal health care law that have the potential to prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the womb.
The Obama administration argues that as a for-profit corporation, Hobby Lobby cannot claim religious protections available to "persons". The 10th circuit disagreed. Some argue that Hobby Lobby is trying to force its religious beliefs on its employees. But the 10th Circuit ruled that the real issue is whether the government can order Hobby Lobby to take actions that run counter to their religious beliefs.
As we've seen over the past four decades in our society, the role of government in the area of citizens' reproduction practices is controversial indeed.
I'm inclined to support Hobby Lobby in this case.
Our thought for today is from Patricia Sampson:
"Self-reliance is the only road to true freedom, and being one's own person is the ultimate reward."
The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press reports "Most Americans (69%) see obesity as a very serious public health problem, substantially more than the percentage viewing alcohol abuse, cigarette smoking, and AIDS in the same terms. In addition, a broad majority believes that obesity is not just a problem that affects individuals: 63% say obesity has consequences for society beyond the impact on individuals. Just 31% say it impacts the individuals who are obese but not society more broadly".
But what role – if any – does government have in fighting obesity?
Pew research indicates a majority (54%) does not want the government to play a significant role in reducing obesity, while 42% say the government should play a significant role.
It is an important public health issue that could be greatly reduced with more education and individual self-discipline.
Our thought for today is from Clint Eastwood:
"Respect your efforts, respect yourself. Self-respect leads to self-discipline. When you have both firmly under your belt, that's real power.'"
This is the time of year when Americans most keenly sense the problems of those in need. Do we take our cue from Dickens, Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchett, and Ebenezer Scrooge?
The question of how we treat our needy neighbors seems to become more complicated with each passing legislative session and election cycle. What role does government play in addressing poverty in this richest nation on earth? Is the problem simply too big for churches and charities to effectively handle by themselves?
What do we do about one in four Kansas kids growing up poor? Most of us have never experienced a day in poverty, but we can still empathize with those who've lost jobs, homes, and the dignity of self-sufficiency.
We will continue to look for answers because I think Americans are mostly good people with the best intentions.
During this sacred season, most of us don't mind making "some provision" for those in need.
Our thought for today is from Charles Dickens:
"No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another."
The Christmas season usually includes heart-warming stories about the spirit of giving, and I'd like to share one with you today.
For the past couple years, K-N-S-S and the other Entercom/Wichita radio stations have partnered with Taco Bell to randomly hand out cash gifts to Taco Bell customers at Christmas time. Last Tuesday I was at the Taco Bell in the 58-hundred block of east Central to offer a customer $133 in cash.
I leaned out the drive-through window and told Eileen I had some money for her. She was surprised and excited … but didn't even pause before telling me that the money would make a great Christmas gift for her cousin. Eileen told me her cousin was involved in a bad traffic accident in western Kansas, and is being treated at a Wichita hospital. After a month, her cousin had been taken out of intensive care that day!
I think that's a pretty nice story about the Christmas spirit of giving.
Our thought for today is from Mother Teresa:
"It is not how much we give, but how much love we put into it."
As a consultant explained the need to bring future conventions to Wichita, Wayne Bryant grew concerned that discussions about the future of Century Two didn't seem to include much about the arts. The director of Music Theater of Wichita raised his hand and said "time out".
After a delay, the city council this week approved the start of a study of Century Two's future that now includes consideration of the arts.
Bryant told the city council the arts are the largest employer of union stage hands and summer musicians, and the largest Century Two renter. They're responsible for several hundred jobs every year. He asked that the arts be considered in the planning and the council agreed.
Wichita competes with other cities and states to attract and retain jobs, and is constantly looking for ways to make the city more attractive to business. Thanks to Wayne Bryant for pointing out that a city is not only about working, but also about culture and the overall quality of life.
Our thought for today is from L. Ron Hubbard:
"A culture is only as great as its dreams, and its dreams are dreamed by artists."
Just a couple of years ago big oil companies rushed into southern Kansas, snapping up mineral leases from landowners for high prices and drilling horizontal wells to extract unknown riches from the Mississippi Lime formation. Now, most of the big producers have left.
Shell Oil halted Kansas exploration drilling in May and has since put up for sale 650,000 acres of leases it owns in the state. But exploration is ongoing … and growing more modestly. It's now driven by the Kansas producers who have drilled here for decades, and a few out-of-state die-hards like SandRidge Energy of Oklahoma City, which has stayed with scaled-down operations.
The process known as "fracking" has revitalized the oil industry across the U-S.
As I reported recently in this space, our country is very close to energy independence.
Wind and solar power take some of the pressure off our energy demand, but it's new oil and gas that has driven recent success in domestic energy production.
Our thought for today is from J. Paul Getty:
"The meek shall inherit the Earth, but not its mineral rights."
The bad news is the Wichita public school graduation rate for 2013 was 76.5 percent … below the state average of 86%. But there is good news to counter the bad.
That 76.5 percent is well above the U-S-D 259 graduation rate of 2009 … which was just 63.1 percent. Wichita teachers have been working on the grad rate and they've made progress across the board. But the largest increases were among the boys.
Over the past four years, the graduation rate for white males is up 25 percent . The graduation rate for black males increased 24 percent … and the rate for Hispanic males rose 30 percent.
The district has increased staff to concentrate on the problem, with extended school days and special programs to prepare at-risk students for college.
To see the Wichita graduation rate rise dramatically is encouraging, especially when we see those boys' figures improving.
Good job, U-S-D 259!
Our thought for today is from John Ruskin:
"Let us reform our schools, and we shall find little reform needed in our prisons."
Will New Jersey Governor Chris Christie run for president in 2016? A recent poll indicates 59% of the people in his home state believe Christie will make a run for the White House.
Christie has shown skill with the media, which is essential for any serious candidate. He has shown that he can work with others in solving problems, even those with opposing political views. That is attractive to Independents, who vote for the candidate and not strictly on political philosophy.
And there lies the rub. The right wing of the Republican Party is rigid on standing up for ideals, even if it means running candidates who are not electable. For many, it seems they would rather be right than lead the national government.
If Chris Christie shows up for the primaries, he'll be joined by other G-O-P hopefuls who will be forceful in demanding no compromise … the right wing way or the highway. Will it again be "the highway" in 2016?
Our thought for today is from Clarence Darrow:
"When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President. Now I'm beginning to believe it."