Saturday, March 10, 2007

Should Dave Be Sued?

Dave of the11thhour links to a post of Iggyz in which Iggy attempts to answer the question - Should Dave of the11thour take credit for causing Brian Pierce, and Kelly Michaels to lose their jobs at WNNS?

Iggy mentions a night out at The Barrel Head (local restaurant in Jerome, Illinois) in which some type of discussion took place confirming that Dave and Brian's heated blog exchange as the reason for Brian and Kelly's dismissal from WNNS.

Iggy even mentions a lawsuit?

Dave in his most recent post admits it was his fault!

Should Dave be sued? Not quite certain, but certainly he should be investigated.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Father Westhoff Wore A Gold Pulsar Watch


A Pulsar LED Digital Wrist Watch - One of the First Digital Watches Available
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A Random Childhood Memory
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Father Westhoff of Blessed Sacrament Church in Springfield, Illinois wore a gold Pulsar Red LED Wrist Watch.

It was the first, and only (to that point) Digital watch I had ever seen, and it would be many years until such watches would be common place.

Father Westhoff told us that it was given to him as a gift.

Father Westhoff would come out on the playground as he walked to the rectory where he lived, and children would rush over to him, and ask him to show them his incredible LED watch. It was quite a thrill.
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The First Digital Watch I Ever Saw Was A Pulsar
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As I recall to set the watch involved the use of small magnets.

All the children wanted to touch the watch, but he was very careful with it, saying that it was very expensive.

I knew that when I grew up I wanted such a watch, as it had something to do with the future, and with space, although I wasn't quite sure how, or why.
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Father Westhoff Wore A Gold Pulsar Watch
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Here's an excellent snippet from BBC on the history of the LED Watch:

Pulsar and the LED Display

In 1972, Hamilton produced the first watch with a digital display. They had hinted that they had a new breakthrough as early as 1970 but had two years of teething problems before its 18-carat gold Pulsar hit the world at a price of $2,100. By pressing a button on the side, the time was displayed on a red numeric display, caused by a light emitting diode (LED) display. Hamilton had provided a brief glimpse into the future in Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey when the company provided the futuristic digital clock that featured in the film. John Bergey who was head of Hamilton's Pulsar division said that this had inspired his team with the vision for their new timepiece which was then in development.

The LED is created by passing a electric charge through inorganic materials. Seven electronic switches went into making each of the numerals on the display. The original red light was generated by using aluminium gallium arsenide (AlGaAs), however Pulsar later produced a green LED using gallium nitride (GaN).

Many in the industry began to believe that the new quartz analogue watches would even be doomed to extinction so soon after their arrival that it wasn't worth buying into the trend, something which was reflected in the writings of Douglas Adams and other contemporary writers at the end of the 1970s and start of the 1980s.

Before the watch companies could 'do away with' the analogue watch though, they first had to bring down the price of the digital successor. Competition in the digital field increased and by 1975 there were over 80 varieties available. This competition helped to bring prices down but the product was still out of the range of the average consumer.

The Plastic Case

Texas Instruments brought the digital watch to the masses much as Henry Ford had brought the car. In 1975 they produced the first LED watch with a retail price of only $20; the following year this was halved. This level of competition saw Pulsar lose $6 million and find itself sold to competitors twice in the space of a year, eventually becoming a subsidiary of Seiko and reverting to making analogue quartz watches.

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Wow Father Westhoff wore a watch that cost enough to buy a car back then!

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Recollections On Father Westhoff

Some might see that as a conflict - that somehow a Priest shouldn't be wearing a watch that was such a luxury, but it was a gift. Also Father Westhoff was such an activist for the poor and elderly that he was arrested several times while demonstrating at nursing homes if he found the conditions there unacceptable.

Father Westhoff was quite the radical back then in the late sixties, and early seventies. Eventually because of his advocacy for the poor, and elderly he was shipped out of Springfield (the state capital), and exiled to Decatur, Illinois.

Father Westhoff was the first priest I had the opportunity to admire for commitment to social issues, and Springfield, Illinois being a bastion of conservative politics forced his brand of social advocacy out. I'm sure the Bishop was worried about contributions more than he was whether elderly people were laying in their own excrement at the local nursing home.

Dave of the11thhour may want to share "The Slap Story", but despite this one incident Father Westhoff didn't seem to be anything but what a priest should be, which is increasingly rare in this jaded age.

I've read a New York Times article that detailed the reinvigoration of the Catholic Church. Millions of Hispanic immigrants are flocking not only to the United States, but also reversing the decline in attendance in parishes throughout the nation. In some cities there aren't enough Catholic churches.

It appears that the Church is once again grappling with the issue of how to approach social justice. In Latin America the Church has played a significant role as advocate for the impoverished masses, while in the United States priest, and Bishops have been expected to keep quite. This may change, and once again we may see the likes of a Father Westhoff here in our very own hamlet of conservativism. What a day that will be.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Li'l Elvis Left The Building - A Costly Penis!

Trouble With Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

Not one, not two, but three expensive (totaling $3400) bouts with FLUTD in the last four months has forced my family to decide to have one of our cat's undergo surgery to remove his penis.

What?

A penis must be amputated!

Just one more time - I can't hear you!

A penis must be chopped clean off!

Shudder!
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FLUTD Will Kill Your Male Cat in 24 Hours!

If you suspect that your male cat has a problem urinating get your cat and your credit card and go immediately to the veterinarian. Do NOT wait to see if it goes away by itself, because your cat will die if you wait.
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If you know much about a cat's penis, and not many of us do, you'll know that they are very very very small. Now that sounds like it might not be a problem for anyone other than cats, but it turns out that cats can get a disorder called FLUTD (i.e., Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease) which is most often caused by bladder crystals. These crystals, and sometimes clumps of protein can obstruct a cats urinary tract.

In the case of female cats there's not much to worry about. FLUTD is just a nuisance for female cats. A bit of a strain at the litter box, or perhaps a spell of urinating in unusual places - which is rare for cats. You'll still want to check with your vet if you notice such problems with your female cat.

However with male cats FLUTD is fatal. If left untreated within twenty four to thirty six hours a male cat's kidneys begin to shut down, and death quickly follows. Since cat owners may not notice their cat's urination problem the first day by the time they do respond their cat may die even if they rush their male cat in for treatment. It's that big of an emergency, yet many cat owners have never heard of FLUTD.

In Male cats with FLUTD the cat's penis becomes clogged with crystals or protein clumps which prevents the cat from urinating. Urine builds up in the bladder, and this begins to prevent their kidneys from excreting urea. Urea is a poison which must be eliminated from the blood, and so within a very short period of time a healthy cat can die simply because it can't urinate.

This type of blockage happens in other animals too, but is found most often in cats. The penis of a cat is approximately the size of the tip of an ink pen.

Cats urinate far less frequently than human beings do, and their urine is much more concentrated. Mineral content is much higher in cat urine, and that is why crystals form in a cat's bladder more often, and more quickly than in a human being's bladder.
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Diet, Stress, and Dehydration

Two of the biggest factors which contribute to cat's being stricken with FLUTD is stress, and eating food with high levels of magnesium, and phosphorus.

Stress plays a major role as it tends to interrupt when and how often a cat urinates. A cat's urine becomes more acidic when it is under stress. In fact in many countries FLUTD is treated by prescribing anti-depressants (for the cat).

Within the last fifteen years most popular brands of cat food have been reformulated so as to reduce levels of phosphorus, and magnesium. This change resulted in a significant drop in the incidence of FLUTD. Despite the reformulations many critics have argued that most popular brands of cat food still contain too much phosphorus, and magnesium.

There are special cat foods which have reduced levels of phosphorus, and magnesium. These formulations are usually twice as expensive as regular dry cat food, but the cost is easily justified when one takes into consideration the veterinary bills related to even one bout with FLUTD.

Dehydration also plays a role in the incidence of FLUTD.

FLUTD tends to spike when the weather becomes cold and dry. Some veterinarians suggest that cats not be fed dry cat food at all, but instead be provided with wet cat food as it provides cats with an added source of water. Some veterinarians suggest that cats be provided with distilled water to reduce the amount of minerals they drink in their water.

For many cats FLUTD is a recurring threat.
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What Happens When You Rush Your Cat To The Vet?

When a cat is rushed to the veterinarian the vet will try to unclog the penis manually, but if that fails a small hollow tube called a catheter is inserted into the urethra. The bladder is then drained, and refilled with saline solution and then drained again. XRays are taken of the bladder to check for bladder stones. Usually a sedatives, antibiotics, pain killers, and antispasmodics are administered to help the cat to urinate while catheterized.

Some cats are so ill by the time they reach the veterinarian that they need to stay several days while they are given intravenous fluids to help them rehydrate. Several Urine test are used to check the urine for crystals.

Most cats if treated in time recover without any damage to their bladders, or kidneys.

I recommend leaving your cat at the veterinarian's office for observation after initial treatment. We brought our cat home early, and ended up rushing him back to the clinic and spending twice as much money - simply because we thought we'd save money by bringing him home early.

Still even leaving the cat for observation before bringing him home doesn't insure that your cat won't relapse - our cat did.

Many cats are repeaters. Even when stress levels are reduced, and diets are changed cats can still fall prey to FLUTD. When that happens amputation of the cat's penis is often the treatment of choice. Amputating the penis opens up a larger urethral opening, and eliminates the danger of the cat dying from FLUTD. Amputating a cat's penis is costly, and entails the possibility of post operative infection, but it saved our cat's life.

The biggest concern related to the treatment of FLUTD is getting the male cat into the veterinarian before it's too late.
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Cost Add Up Quickly

It can cost big time money to get a tiny tiny tiny tube inserted into a cat's tiny tiny tiny penis, because the cat must be placed under anesthesia first. Cats just don't like having tubes inserted into their penises.

Next comes the Xray for bladder stones, various medicines, and urinalysis, and blood test.

Then of course comes nights of observation, rehydration, saline flushes, and the amputation of the penis if necessary.
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The Horror, The Horror!

To have a cat's PENIS CHOPPED OFF cost far more than you'd ever believe.

In the last four months we have spent $3400 on saving one cat's life due to FLUTD! The cost of buying a used automobile to save a little cat's life.

Essentially you have three choices (1) catheterize your cat with no assurance that you won't end up needing to catheterize again or even have your cat's penis removed, (2) euthanasias your cat, or (3) take your cat home to die an agonizing death. If you love your cat, and you have the money prepare to spend as much as it takes to make your cat well.

If you don't have the money or the credit your cat dies. If you have the money veterinarians can pretty much charge whatever they want. If you stop paying at any point treatment ends, and your cat dies - it's that simple. Didn't anyone ever tell you about this before you adopted, and fell in love with your cat? No? Well you know now.
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Bills Bills Bills

Here's a list of links to the bills I'm still paying on - read it and weep:

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Billing Pages For Same FLUTD Incidence

$ 675.10 ..... Page One
$ 133.25 ..... Page Two
$ 136.70 ..... Page Three
$ 779.23 ..... Page Four
$ 135.25 ..... Page Five
$1859.53 ..... Grand Total (Does Not Include $1500 For Same Cat 11/2006)
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Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disorder is a real money maker for Veterinarians. It's a life or death condition for male cats. Companies which produce popular brands of cat food still include too much phosphorus, and magnesium in their formulas.
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Despite switching to a prescription only cat food our cat's urethra was so badly scarred from being catheterized twice in November of 2006 that he still ended up being blocked again by March of 2007, and needed surgery to prevent further episodes of FLUTD by having his penis amputated.

UPDATE: Koshi Kat is doing just fine. It's been nearly six months since the surgery, and no sign of FLUTD. We still buy the special cat food for all of our cats too.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Air Force Airborne Laser Project

Found this rather interesting site - from which I'm reposting some of these photos of the Lockheed Martin Laser Turret which is employed on the United States Air Force's Airborne Laser System.


Lockheed Martin Laser Turret


Lockheed Martin Laser Turret


Lockheed Martin Laser Turret


Lockheed Martin Laser Turret

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