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Posts by MD Expat in PA

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  • Exclusive: Donald Trump's companies have sought visas to import at least 1,100 workers

    08/03/2015 7:51:36 AM PDT · 41 of 45
    MD Expat in PA to Dallas59
    If they are legal...does it matter?

    IMO – “yes” and “no”.

    Let me explain why I think there are several issues – both pro and con on this issue for Trump.

    1 - What Trump has said is that he is against ILLEGALS coming across our borders and being in the US ILLEAGALLY and wants them deported. He’s also made some positive statements about “legal” immigration and even some indications that he would support allowing those that had been deported to apply to come back in legally, not exactly amnesty but not necessarily barring anyone who had once been here illegally from coming back in legally or putting them at the very end of the line, unless they’d committed crimes while in the US. On this, I do not completely disagree with Trump.

    “In a speech on July 11, Trump distinguished between those working legally and illegally in the United States, saying thousands of "legal" Mexicans - "incredible people" - have worked for him over the years.”

    In other words, Trump is all for immigration, even temporary work visas and HB1 and other special visas as long as it is “legal”.

    2- When Trump said, “I will be the greatest jobs president that God every created," he said in announcing his candidacy on June 16. "I will bring back our jobs from China, Mexico and other places. I will bring back jobs and our money.", he was talking about US jobs being lost to other countries, US manufacturers closing US plants and moving their operations to other countries because it costs them less and what he says is unfair trade competition by China, Mexico, Japan, etc., that puts US companies at an unfair advantage. On this again, I don’t completely disagree with Trump either.

    So far with 1 & 2, I do not find this completely inconsistent in what Trump has said with what he does in his business practices, but with some exceptions. (*)

    I do think he over simplifies the bigger economic issues at hand and doesn’t really understand the nexus between low cost consumer goods and at what price point US consumers are willing to pay for a pair of jeans or a tee shirt, a dress shirt or a tie – or maybe he does and that’s why he has his clothing line manufactured outside of the US.

    And in his own business practices such as having his clothing line manufactured in China, Mexico and Bangladesh because it costs less and therefore makes it more competitive and presumably more profitable for him to do so, is IMO somewhat inconsistent with his claims of wanting to “bring back our jobs”. (*)

    If he really wanted to find them, there are still many American, US based clothing manufactures, many not even unionized that would love to get a contract to manufacture Trump’s clothing line right here in the US. But it would however be a bit more expensive as a seamstresses in China, Mexico or Bangladesh (Vietnam and many other 3rd world countries) are willing to work for dollars or even pennies a day as opposed to a US equivalent dollars at mandated minimum wage per hour and with mandated benefits and those in the 3rd world are often willing to work under very unsafe and dangerous conditions – 12+ hours per day, 7 days a week with no overtime and no benefits.

    FWIW, when I go to the Trump website and search for his branded “merchandise” it now rather than to Macy’s, it now points to and to various 3rd party sellers and with many different price points.

    Here is a Donald Trump branded silk tie sold for $ $34.99 and “Made in China”.

    Here is a very similar silk Brooks Brothers tie, one manufactured in the US (although it does say that the cloth was woven in England). It sells for $ 79.50.,default,pd.html?dwvar_MA01956_Color=DKRD&contentpos=10&cgid=0210

    A lot of people like to give lip service to the “I will only buy American, I will not buy goods made in China, etc. but when push comes to shove, most consumers look for the best bargain.

    3- Legal foreign workers on a temporary work visa are at least coming into the country legally and hopefully paying US taxes and the employer paying employment taxes on those workers wages. However there is a very big problem with these foreign workers over staying their legal visas, not leaving once their temporary visas have expired and going into the underground economy and hence becoming illegals. Trump hasn’t to my knowledge really addressed this issue. Also a big truth about those on legal temporary work visas is that they live as cheaply as they can while working and living in the US and send a big chunk of their paychecks back home to their home country. Aside from the fruits of their cheap labor, they often are not contributing much if anything back into the US economy.


    4- “The temporary work visa program through which Trump's companies have sought the greatest numbers of workers, H-2B, brings in mostly workers from Mexico. Mexicans made up more than 80 percent of the 104,993 admissions to the United States on H-2B visas in 2013. The Trump companies have sought at least 850 H-2B visa workers.” “The H-2B program, which receives little government oversight, is used by companies in sectors ranging from hospitality to forestry to hire foreign workers for temporary jobs. Companies must prove that the jobs are seasonal - and that they tried and failed to hire Americans.”

    I could make the case that the types of jobs Trump’s companies in the golf and hospitality industry are mostly low paying jobs; cooks, maids, wait staff, grounds keepers, etc. and that he has to, is “forced” to hire foreign workers, mostly from Mexico to fill those positions if he is not able to find enough US citizen workers to fill them. But it sounds and smells a bit like the “it’s the jobs that Americans refuse to do”.

    As to the jobs at his Palm Beach, Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, I have a hard time imagining that all these jobs are “seasonal”. Isn’t Palm Beach pretty much “seasonal” all year round? Then again perhaps their “season” is during the winter when the “snow birds” come south.

    And I could make the case that part-time seasonal US citizen workers are perhaps hard to find. At least up here in the “north” a lot of college students work as waiters and in other jobs in the resort industries, and in landscaping and construction and in retail, etc. during the summer while they are off from school. Around here, Hershey Park and Hershey’s resort, hotel and golf courses hire a lot of college kids during the summer months, their peak season, but have a hard time once college classes start back up in late August keeping those jobs filled while their “season” isn’t really over yet. I understand that some companies like Hershey and even in FL at Disney, they will increase their hourly rate or pay a bonus to those part time college students willing to stay on with a flexible schedule that works around their class schedule and for a minimum number of hours.

    However, “The candidate's foreign talent hunt included applications for an assistant golf-course superintendent, an assistant hotel manager and a banquet manager.” Really? No US citizens could be found to fill those higher level jobs? Just how hard did they try to recruit US citizens for those jobs before bringing them in from a foreign county, most likely from Mexico on an H-2B visa?

    Before anyone accuses me of being a “Trump Basher”, I think he has brought forward to the conversation and debate, some very important issues on immigration and trade imbalances that need to be talked about. But I also think that at the end of the day, Trump is all about Trump and his bottom line financially. As a business man, I don’t fault him for that but as someone who is preaching from a bully pulpit on how other US business should be conducting their business, and someone applying to the job of America’s CEO, I expect a more consistent and clearer position with more details on what policies he would oversee to be legislated enacted and enforced.

  • Spoiler Alert: People With No Firearms Training Get Killed In Self-Defense Simulator

    08/02/2015 2:37:38 PM PDT · 57 of 94
    MD Expat in PA to Kaslin; Pearls Before Swine
    The first thing that came to my mind, re: a shooting simulator was this scene from MIB. : )

    LOL – “Why did little Tiffany deserve to die?”

    But a simulator is also a video game, with a learning curve that may mimic real life to a greater or lesser degree. My kids were great at driving games, much better than me, but scared the crap out of me for a few days when I first taught them to drive in a real car.

    I remember taking Driver’s Ed in HS, back in the late ‘70’s (and yes it was an elective course and all you needed to pay for yourself was the cost of getting your learner’s permit and being able to come to school on weekends for “live” on the road training with an instructor for an additional small fee, IIRC - $10 -$15).

    We had to log in so many hours of classroom time, watch those scary crash scene and anti-speeding and anti-drunk driving movies and also pass a test on a “driving simulator” before we were allowed to go out on the road in an actual car with an instructor. But I found that sitting at the simulator was nothing at all like driving a real car in real life situations.

    The driving simulator, this being the 1970’s, was pretty primitive. It could detect if you were over or under steering, going too fast or too slow or breaking not enough or too hard but that was about it and it was sort of synced to a screen that showed a road course you were supposed to follow, but it was not very interactive as me and some of the guys in our class learned by purposely trying to crash or drag race each other. LOL! I did “OK” on the driving simulator but the classroom instructor just barely passed me. And that’s a whole other story.

    I and two other gals were paired up for on the road instruction and much to my surprise on our very first time behind the wheel of a real car, and the road instructor for some reason choose me to go first, and after driving around the school parking lot for only about 15 minutes, he had me go out on the road and then onto a busy highway. And I did great on the road. The only thing I did “wrong” was going just a bit too fast on the highway, but then I pointed out to the instructor that I was only keeping up with the speed and flow of traffic and he said, “yes, that’s what you should do but then “technically”, even if you go even one mile over the posted speed limit, you are technically going too fast for purposes of passing this course – “wink - wink.””

    I am really bad at those driving/racing video games but then again I have a nearly perfect driving record over the last 35+ years – only one speeding ticket in nearly 40 years of driving and no accidents that were my fault and the only two that I was in; one was a man who rear ended me at a red light and just two years ago, a very elderly woman who ran a stop sign and broad sided me. I am a pretty defensive driver, I am always aware of and monitoring the cars in front of me, behind me and along side of me and as my father told me when I was learning to drive: “assume that every driver on the road with you is not paying attention and is totally oblivious to the road conditions and you, or is a blathering idiot or is a drunk or any combination of the former, and more often than not, you will be right”. And that advice and defensive driving techniques has kept me from getting into more than a few accidents, accidents that I avoided by anticipating the stupid actions of other drivers around me.

    I had a then 8 year old nephew who a few years ago really kicked my butt on several of those popular driving/racing video games – on X-Box and Wii, but I wasn’t about to give him the keys to my car. He was also very good at first person shooting games of all types but I wasn’t about to hand over my handgun to him either.

    And a simulator is only as good as the simulator. Shooting a simulated gun in a simulated situation (i.e. playing a video game) is not necessarily a good indicator of actual skill and of reaction and judgment in a RL situation.

    I remember when video games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero were all the rage. South Park even did a funny episode on it. A lot of folks who played these games and racked up points and advanced levels, thought that they were actually “musicians” because of their success in playing these games.

    But skill in playing a simulation “game” is not necessarily the same nor equates to that skill in RL

    Rush Plays Rock Band - Tom Sawyer

  • Ted Nugent Expresses Support for Man Who Killed Lion

    08/01/2015 3:42:44 AM PDT · 25 of 47
    MD Expat in PA to waterhill; GraceG
    Eagles eat carrion, they are not predators, hawks however, are. Eagles are just pretty buzzards.

    Eagles will eat carrion and scavenge when it is available, but they are also very skilled predators. FWIW, all predators if given the opportunity will scavenge or eat carrion. Yes, even lions and tigers and bears, oh my. :),

    The Bald Eagle is a diverse feeder, being part predator, part scavenger & part carrion-eater. Their preferred prey is fish, which is taken both alive & dead, but they will also take birds (mainly waterfowl & seabirds), mammals, reptiles & invertebrates. They will also feed on carrion & Bald Eagles are regularly seen scavenging for food items in human waste areas.

    Compilation of Eagles Most Spectacular Hunting Attacks

  • Cecil the lion's cubs are being protected by his BROTHER

    08/01/2015 2:27:17 AM PDT · 10 of 89
    MD Expat in PA to MinorityRepublican; RginTN

    I heard Jack Hanna on TV last night talking about this. What he said was it was possible that at least some of the cubs that Cecil’s “brother” is protecting could have been fathered by him and not Cecil or that even if the paternity is in question, even those cubs having been fathered by Cecil, that Cecil’s brother would recognize the cubs as being more closely genetically related to him (I’m guessing by scent or appearance?) than to the other male lions in the pride who want to take it over and hence have a biological instinct to protect the bloodline. I thought that was interesting.

  • A CEO raised his company's minimum wage to $70,000 a year, and some employees quit because of it

    07/31/2015 4:32:31 PM PDT · 39 of 81
    MD Expat in PA to Oldeconomybuyer
    Brother sues Dan Price, Gravity Payments CEO, after $70,000 minimum wage policy

    Lucas Price accused his brother of paying himself excessively and depriving Lucas of his shareholder rights, according to the Times. Lucas Price reportedly wants Gravity Payments to repurchase his shares and provide financial documents and records.

    The lawsuit pits two brothers, the cofounders of Gravity Payments, against one another.

    When Dan Price announced the new minimum wage at Gravity Payments, he also pledged to cut his own pay to $70,000 a year from about $1 million to help spread the wealth among his employees. The CEO also said the new wage plan would likely eat into up to 80% of the company’s forecasted $2.2 million profit this year.

    Sounds like plan to screw his brother out of his minority shares, rendering them worthless, forcing him to sell, then going back to business as usual. JMO.

  • Need HR lawyer recommendation

    07/29/2015 3:22:53 AM PDT · 70 of 72
    MD Expat in PA to Lizavetta
    I and the HR manager decided to have the formal “you were given your last chance” meeting and give her final written reprimand as this wasn’t her first time being written up and being “counseled”.

    ”I take it she had to sign something acknowledging she's read it and been counseled. What is your recourse if the counseled person refuses to sign?”

    If it is an incremental and not a final written warning resulting in a termination, of course we ask the employee to sign the doc and we also provide them with ample space where they write their own comment, even if it is in disagreement with the warning or a negative comment. But they have to do it then and there, not take the doc home with them and stew over it for days and weeks. They are also told they can have further conversations with their HR rep if they do not feel comfortable discussing with their direct manager or their next line manager, and if they feel they’ve been treated unfairly and not comfortable discussing with anyone at the local plant, in the case of my present company, there is an independently monitored hot line they can call with referrals sent to corporate HR. It is the same hotline employees can call under our “whistle blowers” policy.

    At my company and several others I’ve worked for over the years, we give them some opportunity to voice their concerns and voice their disagreement with the warning or disciplinary action or enforcement of policy(s) both verbally and in writing and in some cases I’ve seen employees comment that they are not in disagreement and are motivated to correct the problem or behavior. But when it comes to the point of a face to face meeting with a last chance written warning, you really want to keep it factual and only pertaining to the last and most recent issue(s) at hand and not a long “bitch fest” from either side of the table that degrades into personal arguments and or insults unrelated to work and the work issues or things that happened years ago. And a “good” and competent and fair HR person will keep things under control and not allow the conversation to drift off and off topic by either the manger or the employee.

    And we provide them with a copy of the warning document. If they refuse to sign (or refuse to take a copy), they refuse to sign and that alone will not result in termination, but then the HR person will note such and the manager or 3rd person/witness like a higher level manager in attendance at the meeting, depending on the severity, will sign as a witnesses that the employee refused to sign and or was offered a copy of the warning and that the employee refused to take it. FWIW - a refusal to sign rather than making a comment in their defense, is usually a sign that this employee will be back for another meeting very soon and not in a good way – probably for a final one.

    A simple verbal one on one meeting between a manager or supervisor and an employee doesn’t require a signed doc, but we ask the manager to complete a “memo of conversation”. That would be something along the lines of documenting what was said: “X called out at the last minute for the 3rd time this month (or was more than 15 minutes late – didn’t follow a SOP or WI resulting in a QA line stoppage or product loss, etc) and I advised X that he/she was at 4 attendance points (or whatever the issue was) and advised X that further (whatever) would next result in a written warning and up to or including a final written warning resulting in termination” with the date and time of the conversation and the manger’s signature and if relevant, what the employee said in response and hopefully, the manager documents the conversation accurately. We in HR also like to see the manager provide the employee with a copy of the policy or SOP or WI to the employee and if it is sincerely a case of the employee really trying to do a good job in the case of a QA or WI issue, we will often provide them with some additional training, if warranted.

    However, when it’s a final meeting that is resulting in the employee’s termination (and I really hate those), we try to keep it rather short and sweet. Just the facts of what last transpired and why (and if given previous warnings) it was resulting in their termination. The last thing you want to do is engage them in a long drawn out conversation that could escalate into a bad or volatile or even violent situation or make them sign any document right then and there. We give them a letter signed by their manager and by HR as to their termination and a package for their benefits continuation (COBRA) and even in some cases, if it is performance related and not flagrant policy violation(s) and if they’ve been with the company for more than a year, we will give them a severance package commensurate with the number of years they’ve been with the company and that helps to some degree “soften the blow”.

    Severance agreements are not required to be signed at the termination meeting and we actually don’t want the terminated employee to sign on the spot as typically, and depending on the state, they actually have 7-14 days to sign and return with along with a clause that advises the employee to seek the advice of legal counsel before signing as many severance agreements have a “hold harmless clause” and then often a 7 day revocation period after signing. Unless the termination is for “willful” and or “egregious misconduct” the termination letter and severance agreement will also advise them of their “rights” to file for unemployment but not necessarily guarantee that they will qualify for benefits.

  • Need HR lawyer recommendation

    07/28/2015 4:01:31 PM PDT · 68 of 72
    MD Expat in PA to Lizavetta
    I also make it a personal policy, never, ever to have any current co-workers as FB friends. If I get a request, I politely decline.

    ”How do you phrase it and how do they respond?”

    Since I work in my company's HR department and manage payroll and compensation, I have a handy out. Even though it’s not against company policy, I typically say something like, “Thanks for the invitation and I really appreciate it, but given the sensitive nature of my job here at *, it is not really a “best practice” or good idea for either of us professionally.” And I’ve never gotten a negative reaction taking this route.

    I’ve “freinded” or been “freinded” by some former-co-workers and depending on our past working relationship or if they are someone who I might want to contact if I’m networking for a new job or visa versa, sometimes I will accept. But I really try to keep the number of people on FB to a minimum.

  • Need HR lawyer recommendation

    07/28/2015 6:33:02 AM PDT · 63 of 72
    MD Expat in PA to tbw2; LuvFreeRepublic; utahagen; ozarkgirl
    Aside from the good advice already given by others about not engaging in giving personal advice on personal issues at work, even if solicited, I’m still trying to wrap my head around a company that allows employees to directly post content of any kind to the company intranet site, live alone posts for advice on personal matters. What are they running – A Dear Abby column? That sounds absolutely crazy to me to begin with!

    Is this done anonymously? Obviously your responses were not. Even so, why would any company allow this, or (sorry, not ragging on you as I thing your morals and heart were in the right place) why would anyone with common sense choose to participate?

    At every company I’ve ever worked for where they’ve had a company intranet or even something like a SharePoint site, content is strictly controlled and limited and moderated and only for things pertaining to company business - company announcements, or internal information such as links to IT docs such as “how to program your office phone for out of office messages”, “how to order business cards”, etc., HR information like various HR forms, HR policies, internal job postings or links to benefit providers / insurance carriers; in the case of SharePoint or Box - shared documents for project teams and restricted only to those on that project team only project related docs.

    Where I currently work, we don’t even allow employees to post flyers on the cafeteria bulletin board; things like posts for personal items they want to sell, solicitations for charitable causes, “walk-a-thons”, Girl Scout Cookies sign-up sheets, unless it has a literal stamp of approval from HR. And we deny just as much as we approve - it can’t be for or to promote a for-profit business (Tupperware, Avon, Longerburger Baskets, jewelry book sales, etc.) or of a “dubious” charitable cause or purpose, or to promote your Church, Mosque, Hindu Temple….or for any political candidates or causes. We do sometimes allow flyers for church sponsored fundraisers but for only something along the lines of raising funds for a kid with cancer, but the kid must be from our local community and the employee must have some sort of personal relationship with family and the flyer has to state that 100% of any contributions goes to the family or a registered charity for that purpose only and can’t have overtly religious undertones. i.e. - proselytizing.

    And just so everyone knows, not long ago, we denied a flyer that one of our employees who is Hindu wanted to post about a speech and book signing at his Hindu temple by some Hindu author. Part of the proceeds from the book sale was allegedly going to some charity, but that didn’t pass our policy as most of % of the book sales were for the author’s own profit and it was promoting Hinduism, the small % allegedly being donated to a charity was only secondary.

    ”the instant message conversation”

    Again, why are employees engaging in personal conversations and soliciting advice on personal matters on company time using company resources? Why is this company allowing it all? In all companies where I’ve ever worked, using IM’s and using company email or computers and internet access for personal matters was strictly forbidden and against our Electronic Communications and Internet Usage policies.

    I totally get your frustrations in that your opinions and advice are being singled out by your company’s PC Police while other PC POV’s are not and even that your company is promoting certain PC causes and stifling opposing views. I get that. I really do. It is unfair. But IMO, from someone with over 30 years in HR, that is the result of a very bad and poorly enforced company policy to begin with. You might have a case for a labor attorney, but it’s probably not worth the additional grief and $ it will cost you. My advice is don’t participate, don’t engage in the personal advice seeking, keep your views to yourself while on company time, in the meantime, do the very best job you can possibly do and starting looking for another job with a company more competently managed and do it ASAP.

    I will also echo what ozarkgirl said; “co-workers are not "friends", they are co-workers.” Don’t fall into the trap that just because you have a good work relationship with a co-worker, that they are your friend. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve worked with over the years who pretended to be my BBF at work, who would also stab in the back in a NY minute given the chance, or once I left the company for another job, never wanted anything to do with me again. Not all, but many. I am on FB, mostly to keep touch with “real life” friends and relatives, many now living out of state. But I have my FB preferences set up so that only my friends or those I select can see my posts. I also make it a personal policy, never, ever to have any current co-workers as FB friends. If I get a request, I politely decline.

    I will also relate a story about a woman who at a previous job, which was not in an HR dept, was my direct report. She had a lot of performance issues, i.e. really not performing her job up to standards but also very erratic in how she performed her job – one day doing an OK job, then the next making inexplicable mistakes as if it was her first day on the job along with attendance issues. And she also had issues with other employees, sometimes saying odd and rather disjointed and disturbing things to them and acting in other rather bizarre manners with other co-workers, suddenly shouting at them for no apparent reason one minute and then inviting them to come to dinner at her house the next, including one time just after a company meeting, “sexually harassing” the owner of the company by grinding up against him in a very suggestive way and calling him a “sexy beast”. People who saw it were shocked and dumbfounded and offended, live alone the owner of the company. He was livid.

    He was about to fire her on the spot but I and the HR manager decided to have the formal “you were given your last chance” meeting and give her final written reprimand as this wasn’t her first time being written up and being “counseled”. We wanted to make sure we had sufficient documentation and cause to fire her, which we were anticipating doing at that meeting since we also anticipated that she would not react well, even to the point we had one of young guys in our office stand outside the meeting room in case she became violent.

    During the meeting in which our HR manager also was present for, we kept things very professional and factual and provided her with her prior and signed warnings including her last chance written warning and the specifics of her most recent issues, the performance and attendance issues and her most recent actions – “molesting the boss” and explained exactly how and why they violated what company policy and let her know why this was resulting in her termination.

    She then started talking and rambling on about how she was “bi-polar” and “sometimes” was on meds, how she was a victim of incest – her father had molested her and how her husband was an alcoholic, her one son had come “out” and her daughter had become a Wiccan or a Goth or just dressed weird – it was hard to tell what she was really talking about.

    The HR manager and I stopped her from continuing this line of conversation. First of all, while we both felt sorry and sympathized with her messed up life, we didn’t want to hear about her personal issues, especially her claim of being bi-polar as we were concerned that she might use it in a wrongful termination suit – she was probably “crazy” but not necessarily stupid. But secondly we also pointed out to her that the company had a free and strictly confidential EAP program and if she was having at home personal issues that impacted her job performance, that was the proper place to address it, and that in a prior meeting, we had even asked her to get a referral for counseling with the EAP and that she had never followed through.

    At the end of the day, talking about sensitive personal issues with your co-workers or your boss at work or giving counseling to them, is a very, very bad idea all around.

  • Bush, Walker Paul in, Trump out of Voters First forum [Union Leader "mocked" him]

    07/27/2015 10:16:24 AM PDT · 114 of 125
    MD Expat in PA to odawg
    What about the other 12 or so candidates? Did they also duck and run?

    “The Union Leader, one of the sponsors for the forum, said the candidates who have committed to attend include Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich and Chris Christie.”

    “Also on the list are Rick Perry, George Pataki, Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum and Ben Carson.”

    I count 14 in total out of a field of 16. The only ones missing are Trump who bowed out on his own accord and Mike Huckabee – I would guess he was invited as all were but perhaps had a scheduling conflict or just didn’t think it was worth participating in.

  • Bush, Walker Paul in, Trump out of Voters First forum [Union Leader "mocked" him]

    07/27/2015 4:27:44 AM PDT · 60 of 125
    MD Expat in PA to Cincinatus' Wife; Sir Napsalot
    But if the organizers want people to pay attention to their ‘show’, they have to include Trump.

    Trump was invited but he bowed out of the debate because he got his tightie whities in a wad over an editorial in the New Hampshire Union Leader that criticized him on his statement that McCain was not a war hero. Whether one agrees with that or not is another matter but I was more offended by the “I like people who don’t get captured – OK?” statement.

    FWIW, the New Hampshire Union Leader isn’t the only sponsor of the debate.

    What are they supposed to do, force him to attend? Or maybe they could roll out a special red carpet and give Trump a gold plated podium and have a former bikini clad Miss USA contestant moderate, just to entice and make Trump feel more welcomed to attend. : ) ,

  • At Least 1 Injured in Raging Fire at The Cosmopolitan Hotel of Las Vegas

  • Weekly Cooking (and related issues) Thread

    07/25/2015 7:01:29 AM PDT · 80 of 134
    MD Expat in PA to Liz

    That looks and sounds very good. I’m going to give that recipe a try. My mom used to make a shredded carrot salad with only freshly grated carrots and raisins and mayo, but IMO, she used too much mayo, it made it too heavy. I improvised on hers - I make mine with shredded carrots, finely diced/chopped apples, raisins or "crasins", a bit of orange juice and honey and olive oil for a dressing, with just a smitch of mayo or Miracle Whip for body, and a dash red pepper flakes and freshly ground black pepper for some heat and top it off with some chopped toasted pecans.

  • I have a question.....

    07/24/2015 4:59:39 PM PDT · 50 of 60
    MD Expat in PA to HarleyLady27

    A Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” With no hesitation whatsoever, Franklin responded, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

  • Frigid offices, freezing women, oblivious men: An air-conditioning investigation

    07/23/2015 11:05:10 AM PDT · 52 of 87
    MD Expat in PA to Huntress
    There’s no need to turn this into a drama about sexism. Just deal with it.

    I agree.

    Although I will say that I used to work in an office were the thermostat was kept so low during the summer that not only did I have to wear a sweater but also resorted to wearing knit gloves with the finger tips cut off. And I was not wearing flimsy outfits but mostly business casual – polo shirts or quarter sleeve length blouses and slacks, some days even jeans.

    The last place I worked, and it was a relatively new building, it seemed that the HVAC contractor was there every other week. One part of the office would be sweltering and the other would be frigid, they never could figure out how to get it “balanced”. There another problem was that there was a vent right over my cubicle and cold air would blow right down my neck and I started wearing cotton scarves to keep my neck from getting stiff.

    But I will add that running a space heater while the AC is running, doesn’t sound like a good idea and the last two places I worked they were not allowed even in winter.

  • Philadelphia Freedom - Elton John [Sodomite Coming Out Song]

    07/22/2015 4:16:28 PM PDT · 97 of 98
    MD Expat in PA to rikkir
    I owe you an apology.

    No apology needed.

    Ann Wilson is the voice that most people associate with Heart as she was the lead singer on most of Heart’s best known songs, and what a great voice she had. But Nancy Wilson is very talented in her own right – a very talented acoustic guitarist and has a nice voice too.

    Heart crazy on you

    During the 1980’s, the era of the big hair, the huge shoulder pads, smoke machines and bad MTV imagery videos and when Ann’s weight gain made her not so marketable as a video vixen, Nancy sung the lead on “These Dreams” which, BTW Bernie Taupin wrote the music and lyrics for that song. As an interesting side note, the song was first offered to Stevie Nicks, who expressed no interest in recording it. But it’s not a bad song though per se.

    The original video for These Dreams was horrible IMO. But this stripped down version is much better.

    Heart - These Dreams Live (High Definition)

    Speaking of Ann Wilson, did you know she is the only performer who has gotten the “thumbs up” from Robert Plant, and Jimmy Page for a covered version of “Stairway to Heaven”?

    Ann & Nancy Wilson (Heart) - Stairway To Heaven - Kennedy Center Honors Led Zeppelin

  • Philadelphia Freedom - Elton John [Sodomite Coming Out Song]

    07/22/2015 1:51:14 PM PDT · 94 of 98
    MD Expat in PA to dfwgator

    Well, that and his penchant for the leather outfits....

  • Philadelphia Freedom - Elton John [Sodomite Coming Out Song]

    07/22/2015 1:47:35 PM PDT · 92 of 98
    MD Expat in PA to Jan_Sobieski; rikkir
    If you read many of Elton’s lyrics, they clearly are homosexual love songs...Nikita, Your Song, and others...

    I think you are reading way too much into the lyrics, even misquoting them in the case of Philadelphia Freedom and interpreting them based on Elton being a homosexual. “Knee high to a man” is not a phrase the Elton John or Bernie Taupin invented, I’d heard it said long before the song Philadelphia Freedom was recorded, and it is only about a homosexual sex act in your dirty mind.

    Many songs are written from a female or a male POV or even some from a “gay” POV and some are obvious, although not the songs you mention, but many more song lyrics are rather ambiguous, meaning they could easily be performed or interpreted by being from a man’s or a woman’s POV, straight or homosexual. What you “hear” in the lyrics is what you want to “hear” in them or what the imagery the lyrics invokes for you and you alone, or a memory of a certain person or a place in time. And that is the great thing about most music; at least the great songs and I consider “Your Song” a great pop song of that era.

    When I hear the Elton John song “Your Song” I don’t hear a “gay” anthem and even back then, long before Elton officially “came out” there were the rumors about him being “light in the loafers”, it wasn’t exactly a “secret” just like most people were not shocked about Freddy Mercury although Rob Halford of Judas Priest was a bit more of a shock to me.

    But I do think back to the mid ‘70’s when Your Song was popular and as a 14 year girl, I had my first big crush on a 16 year old boy, Adam who lived up the street from me and who was our paperboy. I used to get up very early every Saturday morning, put on what make up I was allowed to wear, do my hair and dress up in my best outfit, just so I could be sure to be the one to open the door and give Adam our weekly paper bill money. When “Your Song” came on the AM radio, I imagined myself singing this song to Adam and him instantly falling in love with me forever and asking me to marry him and us living happily ever after.

    But my love was in vein because Adam never seemed to notice me then or ever. He broke my heart and probably never even knew it. Oh, well, his loss : ),

    “Your Song” is not even necessarily a romantic or a sexual song; it can be interpreted to be about for love of family and friends as some have done and the lyrics fit that interpretation too.

    She dedicated this cover of Your Song to her family and friends, nothing sexual about it.

    Christina Grimmie (Your Song by Elton John)

    She dedicated this cover of the song to her little brother.

    Rion Paige Sings "Your Song" - THE X FACTOR USA 2013

    The lyrics to Your Song and Nikita were written by Bernie Taupin, a straight man currently married to his 4th wife, Heather Lynn Hodgins Kidd with whom he has two daughters, Charley Indiana and Georgey Devon. I guess he likes giving girls “boys” names but then again one of my best friends growing up was a girl named Michael, her nick name was Mickey and FWIW, there was nothing “butch” about her.

    Nikita is a male name in Russian but it is also often used as a girl’s name in some countries, especially in France. There was a movie called, La Femme Nikita. Nikita is a popular name for girls in India FWIW.

    Whether Taupin wrote the song Nikita about a male or female Russian soldier or whether when Elton sung it, what ran through his mind as to the imagery of the song, what it meant to him, the “official” video for the song is about a guy longing for a girl, a female Russian soldier across the Iron Curtain. I assume that the name Nikita sounded more Russian and more mysterious and was easier to rhyme than Ludmila or Svetlana. LOL!

    Elton John - Nikita (Album Version) HD 16:9

    One of my favorite songs by Elton John (and yes, I am a fan of his music especially his older stuff) is “Mona Lisas & Mad Hatters”. I like this cover by Heart which being sung by a woman, gives it a slightly different perspective.

    Heart - Mona Lisas & Mad Hatters (live in Seattle, 2002)

    I guess we could next have a thread dissecting the overtly “gay” lyrics of the homosexual song writer, Cole Porter?

    Let's Do It (Let's Fall In Love) by Ella Fitzgerald

    Cole Porter´s Day and Night by Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers (from the movie The GAY Divorcee)

  • Aldi and Lidl Are Ready To Invade the U.S. Beware Walmart and Target!

    07/22/2015 5:59:56 AM PDT · 50 of 59
    MD Expat in PA to Berlin_Freeper
    I like Aldi’s and I sometimes shop there, although not weekly.

    I like stocking up on items like canned beans and canned tomatoes (especially for making chili), pasta and pasta sauce, cereals, and other staples (flour & sugar, etc., at Christmas when I’m baking) all of which I find to be just as good as name or grocery store brands. I will also stock up on their ground turkey, chicken breasts and chicken tenders that I find are all very good and I divide the large packs up into smaller ones at home and freeze. I also buy their Fit & Active brand yogurt and their Fit & Active frozen entrée’s which are very much like Lean Cuisine - I take them to work for lunch. The only downside is that there aren’t that many varieties.

    The only problem for me with some of their produce and fruits buys, are that the best bargains are in the big “family” packs and being single and living alone, it’s typically just too much for me.

    The only item I’ve bought at Aldi’s that really disappointed me was dishwashing liquid. It was sort of thin and didn’t soap up very well, it ended up not being much of a bargain because I had to use twice as much. I went back to buying Ajax brand at the regular grocery store. There are some other items that I have a strong name brand loyalty to are deodorant (Secret) and laundry detergent (Arm & Hammer). I’ve tried other brands, or store brands or off label brands but for some items, I keep going back to those name brands.

  • Surprise! That Urgent Care Center May Send You a Big Bill (Just Like the ER)

    07/21/2015 11:47:16 AM PDT · 43 of 46
    MD Expat in PA to markomalley; dware; Yo-Yo; C. Edmund Wright
    They balance billed her. While in network providers are bound by contract to accept a certain rate from Insurance and NOT bill the patient over that amount, out of network providers are not

    You don’t ask the doctor if they accept insurance, you ask insurance if they accept the doctor.

    Yes. There is a very big difference in whether your medical provider says that they “accept your insurance”, in that they will submit a claim to your insurance company for some % of reimbursement and then balance bill you for the difference - or whether they are actually part of your insurance company’s network of providers and will only bill you for the in-network co-pays or co-insurance, and assuming that you have met your annual deductible. Going out of network is often more expensive in terms of out of pocket costs because while those providers may bill your insurance company for services, they will not be reimbursed at the same level as an in-network provider and you are on the hook for the difference.

    In my experience working in HR and in benefits administration, some people wrongly assume that just because the provider says they will “accept” their insurance that this means they are an “in-network” provider. One has to ask the right questions and do some due diligence first. And FWIW – this has nothing to do with “Obamacare” as this has been the case long before the Affordable Health Care Act - ACA.

    FWIW - I am able to search my employer’s insurance company’s website to look for in-network providers and hospitals and including many in-network “urgent care” providers. I can also research in-network providers for their specialties, where they did their internships and residency’s, and their overall consumer satisfaction ratings.

    A month ago I was having severe back pain and muscle spasms and I went to an in-network orthopedic only urgent care facility associated with an in-network hospital and everything was covered, subject of course to my deductible. As I have a high deductible health plan with HSA that includes a rather generous employer contribution, all my out of pocket costs/deductibles were automatically paid for out of my HSA account. My wait time was about 20 minutes, much shorter than I would expect from an ER and I didn’t have to wait in a waiting room with people who were there for other issues including those that were sick, i.e. communicable or triaged with more urgent problems like chest pains. This orthopedic urgent care facility is also open 7 days a week 8 AM to 8 PM and does x-rays on site. I was very happy with the doc I saw and treatment I received.

    Another thing to consider is what it covered 100% under ACA. Some preventative tests and screenings are covered 100% with no co-pays, co-insurance and are not subject to the deductible provided you get them from an in-network provider. My employer’s health plan also covers 100% an annual “wellness” visit, i.e., a basic yearly physical and in fact it is one of several things required if you want to receive a premium “wellness” credit.

    However it is important to make sure the doctor or whoever does the insurance billing codes the visit and screenings as “preventative” and not “diagnostic”. For example, a mammogram starting at age 40 for women or colorectal screening starting at age 50, high blood pressure and cholesterol screenings are covered at 100% as preventative. However if you go to the doctor’s because of a complaint/symptoms or say a woman finds a lump in her breast or a man or woman is having rectal bleeding or other symptoms, that doctor’s visit and the tests are not “preventative” but diagnostic and if diagnostic, they are subject to co-pays, co-insurance and deductibles.

  • Philadelphia Freedom - Elton John [Sodomite Coming Out Song]

    07/21/2015 4:56:38 AM PDT · 72 of 98
    MD Expat in PA to Zionist Conspirator; mumblypeg
    Hold me closer, Tony Danza

    I left my brains down in Africa

    There’s a bathroom on the right

    See that girl, watch her scream, kicking the dancing queen

    I'll never leave your pizza burning

    Blinded by the light, wrapped up like a douche, another rubber in the night

    Top 10 Misheard Lyrics

  • 5th Holistic Doctor (Age 33) Died In Florida Making 5 Dead And 5 More Missing

    07/17/2015 11:49:17 AM PDT · 57 of 58
    MD Expat in PA to SampleMan
    I don’t hold chiropractors in low esteem. I consider them qualified physical therapists and perhaps on par with someone who has a doctorate in physical therapy. I just don’t elevate them to the level of someone trained and competent in complete medical care.

    In 2003 I was putting some clothes away in a bottom dresser drawer and was probably in a bad or awkward position and was already feeling some back strain from doing house and yard work, so when I went to sand back up, I twisted my back. The pain was excruciating. I couldn’t stand up straight and then started having severe back muscle spasms. If you’ve ever had a really bad “Charlie horse” in your calf, just imagine what it is like to have one all across your entire lower back that happens every time you try to stand up, sit down, get out of bed, move, etc. and will just not stop or go away no matter what you do.

    After several days of this and forcing myself to go to work but having much trouble walking around the office, getting up out of my office chair or getting into or out of my car without nearly screaming in pain and now also experiencing numbness and tingling in my legs and arms, my boss told me “you need to see a doctor and you need to go now”.

    So I made an appointment to see an orthopedic and was seen two days later based on the amount of pain and distress I was in. Fortunately the insurance plan I had at the time, a PPO (and FWIW – I was working for one of those “evil” pharmaceutical companies at the time as a payroll manager) was excellent and allowed me to self refer to a specialist without having to go through gate keeper first such as with an HMO plan.

    The orthopedic I saw belonged to a large and highly rated and well known practice that FWIW was the orthopedic practice that had a large “sports medicine” department that was the “go to” practice for orthopedic problems and injuries for the Baltimore Orioles and many other local sports teams at the time.

    The orthopedic doctor I saw had x-rays taken of my back and performed a very extensive physical exam including range of motion and reflex tests and asked me a lot of questions about my life style in terms of my daily activities, what sports if any sports that I did (I was an avid golfer at the time and went to a gym at least twice a week) and the ergonomics of my office chair and desk. The exam and the consultation with him was nearly an hour long.

    At the end, he told me that although the x-rays showed a slight compression of the L5 and L6 vertebras – some early signs of arthritis, there was no indication of a herniated disk or a bulged disk which was very good news. But that there was definitely inflammation, and that my problem was more a muscular strain rather than a spinal problem – the muscle strain caused inflammation which put pressure on the back nerves, especially on the L5 and L6 vertebras where there was compression, and that caused nerve pain which when the pain was triggered, then cause more muscle tightness and spasms which caused even more pressure on the back nerves, and more nerve pain that triggered more spasms and muscle tightness, and so on and so on in an endless cycle.

    He gave me an Rx for some Percocet for the severe pain, only an Rx for a few days worth to get me through the worst of the pain, and a muscle relaxer to alleviate the muscle spasms which was a real “God Send” at the time, and a Rx for an anti-inflammatory drug, along with instructions on using alternating heat and cold compresses, but then told me that the most important thing that he was prescribing for me was that he was sending me to “Back School”. And “Back School” was a referral to a licensed physical therapist.

    And the physical therapist/practice that I was referred to was also great.

    She did her own very extensive physical exam and range of motion tests and interview and reviewed my x-rays and found that my pelvis was severely tilted both up and sideways (but more of a muscular problem and not a real curvature of the spine – the muscles on my right side were much more tense and tight than they were on the left side) and she came up with a treatment plan that included deep tissue massage and heat and ultrasound therapy to alleviate the pain (along with the drugs) and inflammation and relax the muscles in the short term.

    But even more importantly, she and the other physical therapists gave me lessons on daily stretching routines (and FWIW a lot of low back problems actually stem from having very tight calf and ham string muscles which I definitely had) and lessons on core stability and strengthening exercises that I could do at home; advice how to properly use equipment at the gym - what exercises were good and what exercises and what gym equipment to avoid; how to properly warm up and stretch before playing golf, along with lessons on how to best set up my work and home office in an ergonomic friendly way and even how to properly lift and bend and get into and out of a my car without causing muscle and back strain and how to relieve and prevent and deal with muscular stress resulting from good old workplace stress in the neck and upper back which I also tend to have. It really was, as the doc said - “Back School” and very “holistic” actually as they were not just treating the symptoms of my back pain but teaching me methods for .

    After about 10 weeks of physical therapy, going at first 3 times a week but then 2 and then 1 time a week and then following though with the stretches and exercises, my back never felt better.

    Several years later I had a relapse and FWIW it was completely my fault, I had stopped doing my stretches and core stability exercises and had gained some weight : ( and again was having severe back pain and the muscle spasms. I was working at another company by then and we didn’t have very good insurance but the owner of the company was all into alternative medicine so the benefits of going to a chiropractor or ah homeopath, etc. was actually better than going to a traditional doctor or physical therapist in some cases.

    And my boss at the time swore by her chiropractor and recommended that I go see him, told me how much he had helped her so, why not give it a try.

    He didn’t do much of any sort of physical exam or conduct much of an interview or get my prior medical history or have request my old or have any new x-rays taken. What he did do was to perform several spinal adjustments that were basically “cracking my head and neck” which was scary and very painful and in reality gave me very little relief, very temporary at best, and then he used some sort of thing that was what I called “the thumper” - a tool that hit areas of my back and neck sort of like a hand held mini jack hammer - sort of like this:

    This was really painful and didn’t seem to do much of anything other than cause me even more pain and inflammation and left me with bruises and big red welts on my back.

    He also recommended that I come to see him 2 times a day for these spinal adjustments and a go over with “the thumper” over the next several months and also recommended that I buy his regime of special proprietary dietary supplements and “colon cleanses”, health food shakes and the videos and books he sold on the benefits of meditation and healing crystals, aromatherapy, past life regression, veganism, organic foods, homeopathy and all other such nonsense. When he found out I was on high blood pressure medication, he suggested that he could “cure” me of this – exactly how, we never got into.

    Why? Because after the 3rd visit, I stopped going and went back to doing the stretches and core stability exercises the physical therapist had given me some years earlier which actually helped and put me back on track to better back health – all without healing crystals, meditation, past life regression therapy and a “colon blow”.

    That’s not to say that all chiropractors are quacks, some are very much like and do many of the same things that a licensed physical therapist will do (but then why not just go to a licensed physical therapist?) But there are those chiropractors like the one I went to, who are into a lot of quackery.

    But holistic is sold as being alternative medicine which is often just quackery. E.g. there is no reason to presume that spinal alignment causes diabetes, and the efficacy of most herbal treatments is on par with magnet bracelets and healing crystals.

    Homeopathic ER (or as the Brits say A&E - Accidents and Emergencies)

    His chakra's are fading, he's going to need some crystals


  • Gang or club?: For Bandidos, the distinction matters after Waco biker shooting

    07/12/2015 11:12:22 AM PDT · 36 of 71
    MD Expat in PA to Sherman Logan
    Many of the members of these clubs doubtless are not actually violent and dangerous criminals, but it’s obvious they get a charge out of others seeing them as such. Which is exactly why they dress and act as they do. Until of course the image turns around and bites them big time. Then they complain about being stereotyped by an image they carefully created.

    I find it somewhat analogous to the Mafia. It is true that not every person with some sort of dealings or any associations with the Mafia (or with the OMC’s like the Banditos) are themselves violent and dangerous criminals, nor are they all directly involved with criminal activity. But they have to be blind or naïve or sometimes desperate, not to know that if you lay down with dogs; that you’re going to end up waking up with fleas.

    FWIW, my dad who was a carpenter was out of work and could not find steady work in PA and he and my mother along with my older brother were at the brink financially and so they moved in with my mother’s great uncle Joe who lived in Northern NJ and he took them in because he was so fond of my mother. This was in the mid 1950’s.

    My mother’s uncle Joe was retired by then but was pretty “well heeled” for a working class “Joe”. Back in the 1920’s through the 1930’s - the prohibition era (and I have the photographs to prove it) Uncle Joe lived in the Florida Keys and owned and operated several “charter fishing boats”. But we are pretty sure he was doing a bit more than just “fishing”.

    My father applied for many jobs but couldn’t get any work as he wasn’t a member of the carpenters union. And when he tried to join the union, he was turned down – turned away. He came home very dejected and told Uncle Joe how he was turned down at the carpenters union.

    So Uncle Joe picked up the phone and made a call to someone. From what my father related, Uncle Joe called a man who he called by his first name – “Vito”. The conversation when something like: “Hello Vito, this is Joe “X”. Yes it has been a very long time. How are you? You and your family are all well I hope.” They exchanged some other small talk and talked about the “good old days”. And then Uncle Joe told his friend Vito about my father’s difficulty getting work and how he was turned down at the union. He gave him my father’s name and Uncle Joe wrote down some information and thanked Vito for returning the favor and for his friendship. Uncle Joe told my father to go back to the union office the next morning and give the union boss his name, saying, “All is good now, you’ll get to work tomorrow”.

    When my father got there, not only did the union official fall all over himself and apologized, saying something like “why didn’t you tell me about your family and knowing “him”, and my father was put to work right away, but not just on any construction job, but as the union official told him, “We’ve got some nice warm inside finish carpentry work at a local school project – we don’t want you to work outside in the cold. And we are even going to waive your union dues for now.”

    My father took the job without asking questions but that night asked Uncle Joe who “Vito” was. Uncle Joe didn’t want to say exactly but said, “Many years ago, during Prohibition while living in the Keys, I did some favors for some people - ran some rum from Cuba and some other “stuff”. I got to know some interesting folks who owe me a few favors.” My father wasn’t stupid but understood and later learned that Uncle Joe’s “friend Vito” was the mafia Don - Vito Genovese.

    My dad was making really good money, good enough that he and my mother were soon able to move into their own house. My dad was legitimately working and not himself doing anything illegal, not in terms of his work, not performing shoddy work and didn’t witness any shoddy materials being installed, etc. He did say that every payday Friday at lunch time a truck would pull up to the job site and several “Good Fellows” would get out and open the back of the truck.

    The truck was full of cartons of cigarettes and bottles of booze, all without tax stamps and sometimes other “merchandise” like jewelry and clothing and small appliances, all being sold at a deep discount. My father along with all the other construction workers knew that these items had been heisted. The “Good Fellows” also sold numbers, i.e. lottery tickets and took bets on baseball and football games.

    My dad said it wasn’t “required” to purchase anything but it was, well sort of “expected” that you should buy something, so my dad started out only buying a carton of cigarettes each week, telling himself it was only the government getting cheated out of the taxes. But after a time and since everyone else was, he started buying other stuff and would sometimes buy a lottery ticket, convincing himself it was just a “fringe benefit” of the job and being in the union.

    Then one night he had to go to a mandatory union meeting. At that meeting a union official handed out leaflets indicating which politicians; local and state and for Congress that everyone was “expected” (i.e. required) to vote for that upcoming Election Day.

    My dad drew the line at this and stood up in the meeting and said that no one was going to tell him who to vote for, that this was un-American and that he and many others here didn’t recently come back from fighting WWII to have some thug tell him who to vote for. A few other guys stood up and agreed. But then a guy in the back of the room stood up and said, “We are your “friends” and you will vote for our friends and just like we tell you. And then pointed to my dad and said, “You better keep your mouth shut and do like you’re told if you know what’s good for you”.

    The next day my dad got a phone call telling him not to come to the job site as there wasn’t any work for him that day or the next. Then my mother found a note stuffed in their mail box – the note said: “We know where your son Michael goes to school. It’s a long walk. It would be a shame if anything happened to him.” And then each day and for several weeks, a big black Cadillac was parked across the street from their house right around the time my brother would be coming home from school.

    Now out of work again, my dad moved the family back to PA and vowed never to join a union again or ever again accept favors from people associated in any way with the Mafia, even if their intentions for him were initially “good”. “Eventually”, he said, “those dues and favors will be called in and often the price is way too high if you want to keep your dignity and your freedom”.

  • Gang or club?: For Bandidos, the distinction matters after Waco biker shooting

    07/12/2015 6:09:30 AM PDT · 18 of 71
    MD Expat in PA to don-o

    Long before the Bandidos motorcycle gang became an international headline for taking part in a fierce turf war at a Waco restaurant, authorities had been able to link the outlaw motorcycle gang with the violent Mexican cartel known as Los Zetas.

    The Bandidos are involved in transporting and distributing cocaine and marijuana. The gang is also tied to the manufacture and distribution of methamphetamine, information revealed by the U.S. Department of Justice revealed.

    Because of their transnational scope, these OMGs (outlaw motorcycle gangs) are able to coordinate drug smuggling operations in partnership with major international drug-trafficking organizations (word used by federal agencies to describe Mexican Cartels), the DOJ information revealed.


  • Gang or club?: For Bandidos, the distinction matters after Waco biker shooting

    07/12/2015 6:02:11 AM PDT · 15 of 71
    MD Expat in PA to sportutegrl
    Didn’t there used to be something in the Bill of Rights about the right to assemble?

    Amendment I

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    FWIW – note the word “peaceably”.

  • Favorite Crime Songs,songs with a crime in it.Tell us your favorites.Freeper Canteen 7~10~15

    07/09/2015 7:49:49 PM PDT · 264 of 472
    MD Expat in PA to namvolunteer
    Let It Bleed – great Stones album - Midnight Rambler – Monkey Man - You Can't Always Get What You Want and of course Gimme Shelter – among my top ten favorite rock songs of all time.

    While I love the original, this is one of my favorite acoustic covers of Gimme Shelter is by a little known Brit singer Natalie Duncan – what gifted musician an amazing voice.

    Gimme Shelter (Live from Real World Studios, December 2011)

    Natalie Duncan - Devil In Me (Live from Universal Studios)

    Natalie Duncan - Sky Is Falling

  • Favorite Crime Songs,songs with a crime in it.Tell us your favorites.Freeper Canteen 7~10~15

    07/09/2015 7:09:39 PM PDT · 217 of 472
    MD Expat in PA to 21twelve
    By the way - Rush is finishing up it’s tour in the Western US this month. Probably their last tour. :(

    I would love to see them in concert one more time.

    One of many of my favorite Rush songs…

    Rush - The Trees

  • Favorite Crime Songs,songs with a crime in it.Tell us your favorites.Freeper Canteen 7~10~15

  • Favorite Crime Songs,songs with a crime in it.Tell us your favorites.Freeper Canteen 7~10~15

    07/09/2015 6:09:27 PM PDT · 78 of 472
    MD Expat in PA to Michael.SF.
  • Trumpus Interruptus -- Will Trump Pullout of Presidential Run, Again?

    07/08/2015 2:44:29 AM PDT · 36 of 38
    MD Expat in PA to 21twelve
    That’s nuts! And by the time you get to those forms I suppose you have already given them the job. I wonder if those forms could be part of the application process, so if they look fishy you dump the application in the garbage along with all the ones that don’t meet your qualifications?

    The way it works is that the employer must have the newly hired employee complete the I9 and the employer is to view those original documents in person within 3 days of their DOH. E–Verify also has to be completed within the first 3 days after the DOH but not before the DOH. It is actually illegal to ask an applicant or someone you have made a job offer to, to provide the I9 documents prior to their first day of work and you cannot ask for them as part of the job application.

  • The New World Order Message In Terminator Genisys Movie Reveals Global Plan

    07/07/2015 9:37:52 AM PDT · 35 of 61
    MD Expat in PA to dmz

    I don’t know about Facebook’s drones but if I could order groceries and everything else I need from my Amazon Prime account with free shipping and have it delivered in an hour or less via a drone, I might never leave the house ; )

  • The New World Order Message In Terminator Genisys Movie Reveals Global Plan

    07/07/2015 9:23:09 AM PDT · 34 of 61
    MD Expat in PA to Ultima
    “The Cabin in the Woods”: A Movie Celebrating the Elite’s Ritual Sacrifices,

    Sure……I heard that Donald Trump is taking a bit of time off from campaigning so he, all members of the Bush family, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, the Koch brothers and Carlos Slim – all members of the Stonecutters FWIW, can lure some teenagers into a cabin so that they can be ritually sacrificed to the Dark Lord Cthulhu, that is of course not unless Coon & Friends, excepting of course Cartman, can stop them.

  • The New World Order Message In Terminator Genisys Movie Reveals Global Plan

    07/07/2015 8:14:21 AM PDT · 25 of 61
    MD Expat in PA to RetiredArmy

    Why is this posted in News/Activism instead of Religion or Bloggers were it belongs?

  • Trumpus Interruptus -- Will Trump Pullout of Presidential Run, Again?

    07/07/2015 5:12:46 AM PDT · 23 of 38
    MD Expat in PA to 21twelve
    Go after the employers of the illegals and the “land of opportunity” will go away.

    If you are talking about employers who knowingly hire illegals, those who help them get fake documents or pay them under the table – absolutely!

    However there are employers who follow the rules of completing I-9 and use the E-Verify system that still get stung by unknowingly hiring an illegal with fake documents.

    With the I9 all the new hire has to do is present either one document from list A or two documents one from list B and one from list C. As the employer I have to accept those documents “as long as they appear reasonably genuine on their face and relate to the employee”. In other words, I’m not a forensic document specialist. As long as the document “reasonably appears” to be genuine, I have to accept it and cannot legally ask for additional forms of identification even if I suspect the person is here illegally. In fact there are all sorts of penalties if I do, the employer could also be sued by the Government for discrimination. And with E-Verify, if it comes back with a “tentative non-confirmation”, i.e. that the person’s name and the document(s) presented on their I9 do not match in the DHS and INS databases, I have to keep them employed while they contest, if they choose to do so.

  • Outrage as Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner says Funny Women usually aren't Beautiful

    07/05/2015 7:28:41 AM PDT · 47 of 84
    MD Expat in PA to Cecily
    Funny men usually aren't handsome either.

    I wouldn’t necessarily say that. I think Cary Grant was an incredibly handsome man – I still do. Watching his old movies still makes my heart go all pitter patter ; ).

    Gunga Din, Suspicion, North By Northwest, Notorious, To Catch A Thief, An Affair to Remember - he could play very serious roles or the dashing romantic leading man roles or sometimes even a rake, but he was also a comedic genius – Bringing Up Baby, Operation Petticoat, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, I Was a Male War Bride, The Philadelphia Story.

  • Vanity - Need recommendations for a good coffee maker

    07/05/2015 6:43:51 AM PDT · 161 of 164
    MD Expat in PA to Perdogg
    I’ve known many people who swear by the French Press or an old fashioned percolator and I’ve had coffee made in them both. I still remember the sounds and smells of my mother’s Corning Ware stove top percolator especially on those very early Sunday mornings when my dad and I were going fishing – and FWIW, I started drinking coffee at about 12 years old and come from a long line of coffee drinkers - we Norwegians love our coffee.

    I am not however a big fan of either a French Press or a percolator – while I prefer a very strong cup of coffee – I like my coffee strong and smooth - strong but not bitter or boiled, burnt tasting or cloudy or “chewy”.

    Coffee that is cloudy and has tiny bits of coffee grounds floating in it are IMO the problems with the French Press. Some coffee aficionados say a French Press makes the best and richest coffee because the oils are not filtered out as with a drip maker and paper filter, but I can’t get past the chunky coffee thing. I’ve read that this can be avoided by grinding your own coffee beans to a much courser grind and never using pre-ground coffee. But that IMO takes a lot of practice and if you are not a coffee drinker yourself, that could be a problem. You also have to heat the water in a kettle just to but not boiling (boiling water and coffee or tea = not good) to get the best results and drink the coffee right away as the longer it sits in the press, the more bitter it becomes and it also gets cold very quickly if you make more than one cup at a time unless you transfer it right away to a carafe.

    With percolators especially the stove top ones, the problem is that it breaks a cardinal rule of good coffee making in that coffee should never ever be boiled! In a percolator the coffee is re-boiled as it goes around and coffee is sent back through the grounds more than once. Electric percolators have the same issue although it is not quite as easy to burn the coffee as with a stove top one but it still requires the water passing through the grounds to be boiling and the now boiling coffee is reticulating through the grounds repeatedly. In either case, this can and will lead to coffee that is bitter and burnt tasting. Most coffee purists say that a percolator is the worst method for brewing a good Cup ‘O Joe. The only time to use an old fashioned non-electric percolator is if you are a cowboy (or camper) out on the open range or a soldier in the battle field and all you have is a fire. ; )

    And I’m sorry but unless your lady friend(s) is in her late 70’s or 80’s or unless she’s really into “retro kitsch” she’s probably going to think you are a cheapskate if you bring out an old “vintage” stove top or electric percolator you bought off of e-Bay. Just saying : ),

    I love and have to have my coffee and so I actually have two coffee machines.

    One is a Kurerig that I use on weekday mornings when I have time for only one cup or in the evening when I only want one cup. I am single and live alone and while the K-Cups are more expensive, I’ve found them to be more economical in the long run for making one cup at a time rather than in trying to make just a few cups in a drip machine and ending up throwing half of it down the drain. I find it is nearly impossible to make just one cup in a drip maker without it coming out too weak or way to strong. I sometimes buy the variety packs of K-Cups on Amazon. I also have one of those refillable K-Cups so I can use any coffee I want but keep in mind that the newer Kurerigs won’t work with them although I understand there are already some “hacks” for this. As for the Kurerig’s making weak coffee, some have settings for strength and if you get a “bold” or dark roast coffee like Sumatra it will probably be plenty strong enough. I will also say however that I am a bit of anomaly among most women I know as most women I know don’t like a really strong or bold coffee like I do.

    My other coffee maker is a Cuisinart drip coffee maker that is about 12 years old and survived 2 moves and still works great. It uses a cone filter and I like to use the unbleached (brown) filters and filtered water (Britta filter). After I make a half or full pot on a Saturday or Sunday morning, I put the coffee in an insulated carafe that I’ve pre-heated with very hot water for a while and this keeps the coffee fresh, hot and very drinkable for many hours if not well into the evening.

    I also like to buy whole bean coffee and grind them myself in my Braun grinder (which BTW is also great for grinding whole spices, but I digress). But just as if not more important as the machine, is the quality of the coffee. Personally for grocery store bought coffees I like Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks and Green Mountain and Gevalia and Peets are also good. Stay away from Folgers or Maxwell House and McDonald’s and 8’O Clock– awful coffee IMO.

    When I lived in Baltimore I used to buy my coffee at the Baltimore Coffee and Tea Company. They imported their beans raw from many sources and roasted them on site (and what a heavenly aroma) and they stocked a wide variety of beans, some very, really expensive like REAL authentic Jamaican Blue Mountain or Kona and many interesting and unusual flavored coffees like ones I really got to like especially for summer – Valencia Orange or Coconut (much better than they sound) but what I really liked about them was I could buy coffee, try out a lot of different coffees, either whole beans or ground, but in quantities as small as quarter pound bags or even two cup sample packs, plus their staff was very knowledgeable and helpful and I liked patronizing a local small business. If you are really interested in trying high end coffees, see if there is anything like that in your area.

    Of course if you yourself are not a coffee drinker, you don’t want or need two coffee makers. And as someone else mentioned if counter or storage space is an issue, you don’t want some big bulky coffeemaker taking up a lot of space so in that case, although I’m not a fan, a small French Press or probably more a Chemex may be a good option, but invest in a very good one and take the time to learn how to use it and test it out with your sisters first before attempting to make coffee for your date.

    And unless you are entertaining your coffee drinking lady “friends” on a regular basis, you also have to be careful to not buy too much coffee in advance. Coffee doesn’t go “bad” but it will lose flavor over time. Some people will put coffee beans in the refrigerator or freezer but that is not really a good idea. Coffee, ground or whole beans are best stored in an air tight container in a cool dark place.

    With all that being said, I would recommend getting a small Kurerig type machine. You don’t have to buy an expensive Kurerig machine as Mr. Coffee, Hamilton Beach and others now make small single serve coffee makers that use K-Cups for about the same price or less than you’d pay for a decent drip coffee maker. You’ll get IMO a good and consistent and fool proof cup of coffee every time and will have a lot of choices if you get the variety packs of K-Cups. If you really want to experiment with high end coffees, a good drip coffee maker is probably your best bet. Another nice thing to offer your guests with their coffee no matter how you make it is with some whipped cream and some heated caramel or chocolate sauce lightly drizzled on top or a sprinkle of freshly ground cinnamon or nutmeg.

    One thing I will also say about a Kurerig is that if you are not using it on a regular basis; make sure you completely drain all the water out of the reservoir in between uses. Water can get stagnant and slimy (bacteria - biofilms – salmonella = bad stuff) and the machine could develop mold if not properly cleaned on a regular basis, although the same goes for any drip coffee makers too. Running a strong solution of white vinegar and water followed by several rinses of only fresh water through any coffee maker on a regular basis will not only de-scale water mineral build ups but will keep bacteria and mold from forming – wipe all the parts as dry as you can with a soft clean cloth and turn the machine upside down after cleaning to get let it drain and get as dry inside as possible.

    or even brew Raffles Tea from Singapore

    As for tea – No! No my dear. Never make tea in a coffee maker, or even in a Kurerig with tea K-Cups. Neither will making tea from tea bags IMO, not if you really want to impress her.

    A high quality loose leaf tea, a kettle of fresh water, heated just to the point of but not boiling (and fresh water is very important), a china tea pot that has been first heated (proofed) with hot water that is swished around in the tea pot and poured out before adding the tea leaves, then pour in the very hot water, let the tea steep in the pot for a few minutes and then pour the tea through a tea strainer into a nice china tea cup – adding milk or sugar or lemon before or after or if at all, that is all up to you and your guest, but that is IMO the way to serve “real” tea.

    Once you’ve had tea brewed in this way, even if you are not a tea drinker or a Brit, you will never want it any other way.

  • New York Times Debunked: Scott Walker’s ‘I’m Not Going Nativist’ Conversation Never Happened

    07/04/2015 6:46:13 AM PDT · 28 of 32
    MD Expat in PA to generally
  • Robot kills a VW plant worker

    07/03/2015 9:20:50 AM PDT · 38 of 39
    MD Expat in PA to mrsmith
    From my factory tech years I can tell you there are great rewards for breaking safety rules... if you get away with it. Horrible penalties if you don’t.

    Sadly that is probably all true in all too many factories. And even in those that put safety as a priority - it only takes one stupid mistake. : (

    Fortunately my present employer; a manufacturer making OEM parts in PA and with a plant in NC, we as a company and our parent company headquartered in the UK are all about safety – perhaps to the point of it being “overkill” IMO sometimes, but then OTOH, not really a waste of time either. Of course we do it in part to maintain our ISO certification and to keep our workers comp claims down and thus our overhead costs and insurance rates down and our profitability up and also to reduce personal injury (STD and LTD) claims resulting from non-work related lost time accidents and health insurance claims.

    Every newly hired employee including administrative (office) employees, outside sales reps, even our executives and also all our agency temps and contractors – all of them without exception have to attend a full day of safety training within their first week of hire and everyone without exception has to attend at least one monthly safety training and we are actually increasing the number of hours per quarter of safety training required for all employees and tracking attendance. Our quarterly bonuses even depend in part on monthly safety training attendance/participation of no less than 97%. Less than 97% participation during any quarter means we don’t get 50% of our quarterly bonus (the other 50% is based on quality /customer satisfaction / returns for defective products.) Our annual bonus is based on meeting operating profit goals but also has a tie in to the safety and quality indexes as well.

    Those monthly safety trainings vary to the extent of what is covered but not necessarily the topic. For instance, while employees who work on the plant floor may be given more intensive training on lock out / tag out procedures or fork lift safety, HAZMAT training, how to read material safety data sheets (MSDS), emergency response and emergency first aid, etc., - all employees, even those not working on the plant floor get at least some training on those topics.

    As an administrative person (I am the company’s payroll and HRIS manager), for instance, a few months ago I had to take a forklift safety training; that training not being focused as for someone operating a forklift or working around them on a daily basis, but as a “pedestrian” as I and others do have to sometimes walk through the plant where forklifts operate – I sometimes have to recalibrate or clean time clocks in manufacturing areas or go to meetings in offices of the plant managers and supervisors and walk through production areas to get there. We also get training on proper PPE – even as I am not a manufacturing employee, when I walk through certain areas of the plant I have to wear safety glasses and or steel toed safety shoes (company issued and or paid for) and have to obey the posted signs that warn that certain areas are completely off limit to all personnel except those with authorized access.

    Other recent monthly safety topics covered topics like severe weather events (tornado warnings for instance and where to shelter – and we had one just this week), winter weather hazards, HAZMAT situations, fire evacuations, including a mandatory yearly “hands on” fire extinguisher training for all employees, ergonomics and proper lifting techniques, basic first aid with a focus on procedures – what to do, who to call and even what not to do and other safety topics, not only for at work but also for safety at home - topics like the dangers of texting while driving, the proper use of ladders and step ladders, basic electrical safety, safe storage and handling of household chemicals, how to avoid heat stroke and what to do if someone has it, etc. Sometimes the safety training requires us to watch one of those cheesy “Safety Videos” - some of them very graphic or very “dry” and some of them even unintentionally funny because they are so “cheesy”. But some of them are very good and thought provoking.

    One of the more light hearted but yet effective was what us office/admin folks got last December for our monthly safety training. The training involved watching selected clips from the movie “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” and after watching, we were asked to list all the “unsafe” things we saw Clark Griwswald doing in the clips. While it was very funny, the training did make some good points on things like electrical and ladder safety, and how not to carve a turkey - LOL!

    Our VP of Operations and our Plant Managers and supervisors sometimes purposely walk through the plant in areas that require the use of safety glasses and not wearing them to see if anyone calls them out on it, and anyone who does, they give them a $50 gift card and they get recognition on the company’s safety bulletin boards. The same goes for any employee who identifies a safety hazard or a worker working in an unsafe manner.

    And I got one of those gift cards and recognition a couple of months ago when I was walking through the plant on my way to a meeting and saw several areas of oil/grease on the walkway area near the loading dock left by some rigging contractors who were bringing in and installing some new equipment, probably grease leaking from one of their forklifts/hoists. I got several of those “caution” slippery floor tent signs from the nearest safety station and placed them over the greasy areas and called the Safety Manager to alert him to the condition, for him to get it properly cleaned up – and I stayed there until he got there to take over to make sure people did not walk on, slip and fall on the grease. I also had to file on our safety database, a “near miss” report, detailing the hazard I identified and then the Safety Department commented on what steps needed to be put in place to prevent the same potential hazard from occurring in the future – in this case - inspecting a contractor’s forklifts or other equipment for oil or grease leaks before allowing them into our plant – the same sort of daily inspection we require for our own equipment : )

    We also have a policy that any employee is allowed to identify a potential unsafe or hazardous condition, even to the point of shutting down a production line without any fear of retribution even if they end up being wrong about the hazard. Workers who violate safety instructions or fail to follow SOP’s can be written up and can and will be terminated for repeated violations.

    While we typically will work to “re-train” a worker who violates a safety or SOP, we did terminate someone in the last year who had been written up on several occasions for repeatedly not following SOP’s and for violating safety procedures and suffered an injury as a result. That employee FWIW was also required to undergo a mandatory post accident drug and alcohol test and failed – tested positive for both alcohol and marijuana. He was suspended without pay and sent to our EAP for counseling and weekly drug testing with the caveat that if he complied and stayed “clean” over the next 30 days, he would be reinstated but subject to monthly testing for the next year, but since he failed to comply – didn’t go to counseling and failed follow up testing, he was terminated and FWIW, when he filed an unemployment claim, PA upheld that it was a rightful termination for cause on our part and denied him unemployment benefits. And his worker’s comp claim was also denied because we proved he had violated SOP’s.

    And we are pretty strict with the lock out /tag out procedures to the point of that the tag has to have the photo ID of the person responsible for placing and removing it. I know this because they have to come to the HR office to get the photo ID printed out from our ID card system to be placed on the tag.

    FWIW - earlier this year we had a long time employee (over 20 years), a maintenance mechanic turn in his notice as he had found a job with another manufacturer that was much closer to his home and IIRC for slightly more money. We hated to lose him as he was a very good and dependable worker and very well liked and we even made him a counter offer, but he declined because while we offered to match his offer in terms of hourly rate of pay, we couldn’t give him the 1st shift hours and less time being on the on-call rotation and less mandatory OT and more flexibly in hours that he wanted.

    But after working for his new employer for only three weeks, he quit, leaving without notice and called our plant manger asking if he could come back. He quit – walked off that new job because of what he saw as a complete disregard for safety by the management and his fellow workers and very unsafe conditions including not using proper tag out / lock out procedures when working on high voltage equipment. He felt the conditions at that plant were so unsafe that it wasn’t worth risking his injury or death no matter the pay and better hours and shorter commute. And not long after he left, that manufacture had a near fatal electrocution injury and I’m sure OSHA and their Worker’s Comp insurance carrier is all over them like “white on rice”- something we try to avoid by doing everything we can to not have work place injuries or deaths in the first place.

    Unfortunately we couldn’t give him his old job back as it had already been filled but he was offered a job as a 3rd shift lathe operator at an hourly rate just slightly below what he had been making, but he took it and seems happy to be back. We reinstated him so as to let him keep his seniority based on his original hire date and therefore he doesn’t have to wait a year before applying for another position in the company.

  • Revamped Bubble Wrap Loses Its Pop

    07/03/2015 8:28:24 AM PDT · 14 of 32
    MD Expat in PA to JoeProBono; glennaro
    styrofoam "peanuts"…have you ever tried to get rid of those things? If you accidently spill them it's like herding feral cats to collect them all!

    Yep. I had a opened box with those “peanuts” sitting on the back seat of my car that fell over when I had to brake hard and those damned peanuts went everywhere. And to make matters worse, I had my car windows open so it was like a mini tornado of Styrofoam and they also got statically charged, I guess from flying around and they stuck to everything - me and the windshield of my car included. I went to the carwash to vacuum them out, but the static charge made most of them jump away before the force of the vacuum could suck them up. Even after cleaning up as many as I could, for almost a year, every couple of days I’d get into my car to find a lone peanut on my seat or on the dashboard or steering wheel - staring at me with their tiny Styrofoam eyes, taunting me, daring me to catch them : ),

    I purchase quite a few things from Amazon and notice they do not use bubble wrap or Styrofoam "peanuts” but what I would call air filled pillows:

    And surprisingly – no matter how hard you try, they do not “pop”. It takes way to much force to break them and when you finally do, all you get is a very unsatisfying "whoosh".

  • Robot kills a VW plant worker

    07/02/2015 2:10:51 PM PDT · 29 of 39
    MD Expat in PA to mrsmith
    I’ve worked with industrial robots. As with ALL machines- even the simplest- you have to follow the rules or they will damage you.

    It seems to have happened as technicians were assembling the machine. "When the robot started up, it grabbed the man and thrust him against a metal slab,"… “The 21-year-old man, who was working within the metal safety cage confining the robot, later died from the accident.

    I would note this was not a “robot” as in a free roaming or free “thinking” robot out of a sci-fi movie. From what I understand it was basically a machine designed to work, grab and move parts inside of a caged area, i.e. an area not intended for humans to be inside of while the “robot” was working.

    Sounds to me a perhaps the contractor and or the plant managers were not following standard “lock out / tag out” procedures. There is no way that they should have energized the equipment while a worker was still inside the caged area.

  • 'Top Gun' Sequel to Put Maverick In The Pilot's Seat Again

    06/30/2015 1:37:55 PM PDT · 55 of 80
    MD Expat in PA to drewh
  • Six arrested at Houston's Lakewood Church after heckling senior pastor Joel Osteen

    06/30/2015 7:03:20 AM PDT · 33 of 104
    MD Expat in PA to metmom
    So much for all the love Osteen preaches about. ….While their behavior could be called into question, it’s not criminal trespass to go where the public is invited in.

    It is not criminal trespass to go where the public is invited in, but it would be criminal trespass if they are there just to, only disrupt and when they actually do nothing but disrupt.

    I would guess that your church welcomes any and all people who are not members, but are perhaps interested in becoming one or wanting to learn about your church’s teachings. But inviting them in doesn’t give them free reign to disrupt the services. If they have questions or even disagreements about your church’s teachings, standing up and yelling and protesting during the actual church services, is not the way to go about it. Would you not agree?

  • Jersey City man with 86 prior arrests facing new shoplifting charge

    06/30/2015 6:00:18 AM PDT · 26 of 30
    MD Expat in PA to Sooth2222; ETL; SMGFan
    I’m pretty sure he wasn’t stealing them for his own use.

    Shoplifted items like that along with items like disposable razors and razor refills, makeup, paper products, laundry products, even baby food and formula and believe it or not, even expensive meats, are often sold at “seedy” flea markets and swap meets, sometimes across state lines from where they were stolen. Some items also end up for sale on eBay or Craigslist.

    The seller often employs “boosters”, i.e. “professional” shoplifters, many of whom are drug addicts, to steal the items for them. Sometimes store employees are recruited. The “boosters” steal the items and then sell them to the seller for pennies on the dollar for quick cash to feed their drug habits. The seller in turn “re-sells” the items cheap, well below the retail price, but still at a large profit since they paid very little for the stolen items, for much less than they could even buy them at wholesale.

    And OK – yes I do think the SWAT team footage was a bit of an overkill but then again…..

    You would be surprised how often this happens.

    Back in the late ‘80’s I was an assistant manager for a grocery store chain. I was working the night shift one night right before Christmas and about a ½ before closing one of the stock clerks alerted me to some suspicious activity. We had been alerted by the local police and the local retailers assoc. of a ring of shoplifters who had been stealing meats and health and beauty items – their MO was to line their grocery cart with large boxes or packs of paper towels to make a “hidden well” in the middle and they would then go to the meat counter and place all sorts of very expensive cuts of meat in the middle - steaks, roasts, etc. or to the H&B aisle and load their cart with H&B items.

    They would then either try to get the grocery cart into the back room of the grocery store or try to get to the restroom, where they would stuff the meat or other items inside their pants or under heavy coats or they would try to wheel the grocery cart past the checkout lanes without being noticed and make a quick dash out the front door to a waiting and running car.

    I got several stock clerks together - I and one other clerk followed them and not stealthy - I wanted them to know they were being followed and watched - I stationed one at each exit and at each door to the backroom. I also instructed all the cashiers to be on the lookout if they tried to get past their lane. I also told them if push came to shove, not to try to physically restrain them but just to make their presence and the fact we were on to them known.

    When these shoplifters figured out they couldn’t easily get out of the store with stolen merchandise they went through the checkout lane and tried to pay for the merchandise with an out of state personal (and rather suspicious looking )check and of course with no ID, which of course was denied. So they left the cart and everything in it at the checkout and quickly walked/ran out to a running car that was waiting for them in the pickup lane. I followed them and managed to write down the plate number (out of state tags BTW) and gave it and their description and the make and model of the car to the police who had already been called but hadn’t arrived before they sped off. Of course the cops couldn’t do much of anything since we’d prevented them from stealing anything, but they thanked us for the information as it matched similar reports from other stores.

    And FWIW, this was a white couple, probably in their mid to late 30’s and they had 3 kids with them ranging in age in my guess from 10 to 5 years old. And they were not abnormal looking or disheveled looking and probably would have gone unnoticed if not for a very bright and observant employee. And while it was December, it was not a particularly cold night but the couple and their kids were wearing very bulky coats and clothing.

    The cop told me this “family” was part of a ring that had recently come into the area and that they used the kids to help them steal, placing items under their coats. And he told me that they were very unlikely to be stealing the meat because they were poor and hungry but were either druggies and would sell what they shoplifted for quick cash to buy drugs with and or they were “Travellers”, i.e. “gypsies”. Sad -sad for the kids that is. The cop also told me that some local flea markets had recently been raided for stolen merchandise including one vendor who was selling meat out of a cooler with the store labels removed.

  • Charlie Daniels on the Confederate Flag, Restraint and Common Sense

    06/28/2015 3:15:03 PM PDT · 58 of 88
    MD Expat in PA to real saxophonist
    Several members of my family, including my ex-husband, my brother and a nephew in law, marched with the Yankee Rebels Drum & Bugle Corps in the 1970’s and early 80’s.

    I seem to recall they stopped using the Confederate flag sometime in the early ‘80’s due to PC pressure.

  • Kagan, Sotomayer Not Legitimate Members of Supreme Court

    06/27/2015 2:53:14 PM PDT · 91 of 336
    MD Expat in PA to Uncle Sham; IronJack; C. Edmund Wright; napscoordinator; Nero Germanicus
    I can prove that Obama is illegal just using the Twentieth Amendment, Section Three and have made this case many times on this forum.

    OK. Prove it! And by that I mean actually PROVE IT and not just by repeating the speculations and sadly, the way too often easily debunked and often wild conspiracy theories based on the musings and postings of yourself and people on the worldwideinterwebs and or some half baked real estate agent / dentist / part time correspondence school attorney (yes, by that I do mean Orly Taitz /s ).

    Do I have doubts as to whether Obama’s Hawaiian BC is legitimate? Sure, well maybe I do. But truthfully a lot of it and at least some of the people pushing the idea seem to far too often also seem to fall into and be in the very same groups as the 9-11 Truthers and Sandy Hook Hoaxers and the Moon Landing Was Fake brigades – in other words – often lacking a lot of credibility IMO and some stemming from professional cranks with their own credibility issues.

    The reality, whether we like it or not, there is no real solid proof of Obama’s ineligibility to serve as POTUS nor has any legitimate legal challenge to his eligibility has ever been presented and more importantly, no challenge has ever been taken up by or affirmed by any court – state, local or federal.

    Officials of the state of Hawaii has certified that his BC is legitimate and therefore his citizenship and eligibility, (whether or not you or I agree or interpret who is a “natural born citizen” is a different matter), but even more importantly, Congress has confirmed many if not most of his nominees including Kagen and Sotomayer to the Supreme Court, and did so without ever questioning his eligibility to do so in the first place, to nominate them or any other appointee - so in other words, the point is now way past moot.

    If Obama’s nominees were illegal because he was not legally eligible to serve as POTUS in the first place, Congress should have, would have, could have, might have acted then, but they didn’t.

    And I’m not even sure you fully understand the intent of the 20th Amendment or particularly the 3rd clause. The main purpose of the 20th was to move the term of POTUS, the inauguration date up from March 4th (or actually in actual effect from April) to January 20th and thus effectively shortening the prior much longer and unproductive “lame duck sessions” that hampered the Government for several months every 4 years and were no longer as necessary as they had been prior to modern modes of transportation, back in the days “when any newly elected official might require several months to put his affairs in order and then undertake an arduous journey from his home to the national capital, but it eventually had the effect of impeding the functioning of government in the modern age.”

    It also addressed the issue of what would happen if the President and or the Vice President elect died before being to officially take office, or if by January 20th, there was still a question or dispute as to the outcome of the election as in the result of the Electoral College, i.e. that “eligibility” question, not per se the question of whether the POTUS elect was a “natural born citizen” or meeting the age and residency requirements in the first place – the eligibility criteria set forth in the Constitution, but as to the question of Electoral College outcome, whereas by if by January 20th what would happen if there was no clear winner who had been certified. At least that is my read of it. YMMV.

    If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.

    The bottom line is that Congress did not enact its powers under the 20th A and the 3rd clause in either 2008 or in 2012 to question Obama’s eligibility because Obama had already been deemed to be qualified to serve by both his party and in every state in which he was on the ballot. And FWIW, as far as I understand, it would be up to the individual state election laws to determine who was or wasn’t eligible to be on the ballot, although Congress in certifying the votes and results from the Electoral College, would have the last say if a legitimate question as to eligibility arose, but Congress didn’t act so again, the point is now moot and Obama’s SCOTUS picks, having been confirmed by congress, whether we like it or their decisions or not are not “illegitimate” just because you deem Obama to be a usuper in your non-legal and non-binding opinion.

    Liberals think that Roberts and Alito are not legitimate because President Bush was appointed not elected.....both sides have issues with the justices in one way or the other. Yes did this stink? Yes. But liberals thought Citizen’s United stunk so we get some and we lose some.

    Yep, people seem to forget that. I would also add that if McCain had won the election in 2008, that the liberals would have suddenly have become “birthers” and would have claimed that all his nominees were invalid because he was not a “natural born citizen”. I also seem to recall some speculation both from the right and left that Romney really wasn’t a “natural born citizen” as well. I would hazard to guess that if Carly Fiorina were to somehow get the GOP nomination, that some on the left would call for the immediate repeal of the 19th Amendment – LOL!

  • Supreme Court Rubber Stamps Same-sex “Marriage” — Time for Nullification

    06/27/2015 2:25:53 PM PDT · 74 of 80
    MD Expat in PA to kvanbrunt2
    great! the feds broke it, they own it. At the state level grandfather the marriages past into the new legislation.

    I am looking at it, and I will admit, rather selfishly and shamelessly so from the prospective of being an HR and Payroll manager, working for a US manufacturer who has plants in more than one state and employees working, mostly in sales positions coast to coast, all across the country.

    Prior to yesterday’s SCOTUS ruling and since my company had chosen years ago to offer benefits to both married couples based on the prevailing worked in state’s law (including same sex couples) and also to both same and opposite domestic partners, if a same sex couple was “married” in and still living and working in a state that already recognized same sex marriage, then for both federal and state tax treatment, especially for Section 125 – pre-tax benefit deductions and 401k and life insurance beneficiary elections and survivor benefits, they would be treated for PR and tax and benefit purposes just like a heterosexual married couple.

    But if a same sex couple was “married” and was “legally” married in a state that recognized it but later moved to and was working in a state that didn’t, I would have to treat the employee’s tax deductions for Section 125 deductions as a pre-tax benefit for Federal taxation, but as a post tax deduction for that state and in fact I would also have to impute the employer’s share of the premium attributable to the “same sex spouse” as imputed income, taxable income for those state’s taxes. The opposite goes for states that recognize civil domestic partnerships, same or opposite sex, as the Fed’s do not recognize them at all for federal tax purposes, but some states do and even down to some local jurisdictions within some states.

    Trust me - this sort of thing a real problem and nightmare for us PR and benefits folks to keep track of and stay on top of as the “rules” are they are constantly changing from day to day, and sometimes even retroactively. Not to mention the countless hours I and our benefits manager spend, not to mention all the legal and consulting fees we incur just trying to keep up with ACA (i.e. Obamacare) requirements and reporting.

    My point is that if states “started another word for man-wife marriage” but also refused to issue marriage licenses to anyone, not to mention the question of “grandfathering those already married”, then from a legal and PR prospective these employees would or might in many of these states have even less legal rights than would an employee in registered domestic partner relationship in states that recognize them for tax purposes. And if the state by “starting another word for man-wife marriage” enacted legislation to give them the same tax treatment as far as benefits and taxation under state law, but was still not calling them “married” on the state level, the feds might not treat them as being “married” for federal purposes. So in that case, I’d have to treat them as “married” or as in a “domestic partnership” for state and or local taxes and benefits but no so for on the federal level.

    Not to mention that say a gay couple got “married” in a state that didn’t previously allow “gay marriage”- as of yesterday, I am now legally required to, have to treat them as “married” for both federal and state taxation and benefits and perhaps even retroactively, but there is no guarantee that when I file my company’s monthly or quarterly payroll tax returns, that any of those states who still dispute the SCOTUS ruling, will have to accept them, i.e. treating the Section 125 deductions as “pre-tax”.

    Like I said, from where I sit, how this all affects my job and my responsibility to my employer to stay in compliance – it is, and continues to be a huge and very complicated mess.

  • Drug overdoses surpass car accident deaths in Pennsylvania

    06/27/2015 9:05:37 AM PDT · 14 of 16
    MD Expat in PA to knarf

    To clarify, I am not a doctor. The MD stands for Maryland as in I’m originally from Maryland now living in Pennsylvania : )

  • Supreme Court Rubber Stamps Same-sex “Marriage” — Time for Nullification

    06/27/2015 8:53:13 AM PDT · 36 of 80
    MD Expat in PA to kvanbrunt2
    The states could refuse to issue marriage licenses now that the feds have taken it over. Start another word for man-wife marriage.

    True but from a legal perspective and pertaining to things like spousal benefits, insurance, taxes and such; what a mess that would be, even more of a mess than now.

  • Drug overdoses surpass car accident deaths in Pennsylvania

    06/27/2015 5:38:10 AM PDT · 10 of 16
    MD Expat in PA to knarf; RC one
    It's also a bit suspicious that, seemingly overnight, those (we) bible thumpin' clingin' rednecks start to act like down and out bums in an inner city slum ... and fail…..All these years and Pennsylvanians, dressed in nice clothes driving SUV's OD on smack…..Sorry .... I don't but buy? it.

    I don’t know where in PA you live, but here in Central PA; York, Lancaster and Lebanon counties, not to mention Dauphin Co. and of course Harrisburg or as I like to call it - “Detroit on the Susquehanna”, heroin and OxyContin abuse along with Meth to some extent, is a very real problem around here and I’m not just talking about in the “cities” of York, Lancaster and Lebanon where the problem is more evident among the Blacks and Hispanics although not solely restricted to those groups, but also in the rural areas and the small (and mostly white) towns.

    My former boss who retired last year and has two nieces who graduated from HS in the Manheim area of northern Lancaster Co. within the last couple of years, told me that her nieces told her that heroin and OxyContin and other opiates were very easy and not all that expensive to get if one wanted to, even to buy right in the HS’s – everyone knew who was selling and who was buying. And these were not only the “down and out bums in an inner city slum” types, but a lot of middle and upper middle class white kids. And it isn’t just the “kids” as in the “High” school kids. A lot of adults are using these drugs too.

    That’s because, like prescription pain medications, heroin is an opioid... When a physician stops prescribing opioids or those drugs become too expensive, a patient may switch to heroin, which is relatively cheap and easy to obtain.

    Here is my concern and I will point out that there are legitimate uses for Rx opiod pain killers which are a God send for those people who are in severe pain, post op, etc. or have chronic very painful conditions. But now many doctors just will not proscribe them anymore even when indicated. I’ve even read stories about late stage terminal cancer patients not being able to get Rx pain killers anymore out of the concerns over their addictive properties. Like the last thing a terminal cancer patient in severe pain or society at large has to worry about is them becoming “addicted” to an opiod pain killer if they only have weeks or months to live.

    And when they are legitimately proscribed, both the doctor and the patient are made to feel like criminals or reported to, put under suspicion, are now tracked by the DEA.

    Yes, without question there are some people who are at first legitimately proscribed pain killers who end up addicted to them (Rush Limbaugh is one such an example that first comes to mind) and there are some doctors who proscribe these very dangerous drugs like candy, but IMO, the vast majority do not, but all now suffer for the bad actions of the few. And now those people who need them can’t get pain relievers and are told to take an OTC pain reliever like Tylenol or Motrin that while not “addictive” have their own set of problems and potential complications and don’t work nearly as well.

    Back in the mid 90’s I had a severe back injury and was proscribed Percocet and a muscle relaxer, both Rx’s were not “refillable” and I only took them for a few days to get me over the worst of the pain and the severe muscle spasms and “flushed” the pills I did not take once I no longer was in pain. But just last month when I suffered another similar back injury, all I got was a referral for physical therapy (and that is not a bad thing) but nothing for the debilitating pain, I was just told to take an OTC. When I asked the Dr. about an Rx for muscle relaxers, she at first gave me the “stink eye” and then gave in after I told her I had been proscribed them by my former Dr. and assured her that that not only did I not take them regularly but that my last Rx for them, that the bottle was still half full and expired when I had flushed them, but not before giving me a long lecture about only taking them before bed, not driving, operating machinery, etc.

    The last time I got a pain killer Rx of an opiod was when I had a severely abscessed molar. I had to have the molar removed and the dentist wrote me an Rx for an antibiotic and for hydrocodone - only for 10 pills but thank God he did as the otherwise the severe pain would have driven me to madness. But having taken both Percocet and hydrocodone for very short periods of time, I can understand why they are or can be addictive to some. I deducted while taking those drugs, is that they really do dull the pain but they don’t really make the pain go completely away, but they do make you more oblivious to it and just about everything else – you still feel some pain but you don’t care about it as much about it nor anything else.

    On a related side note, my older brother who lives near several big “retirement communities” near the Jersey Shore told me that one day he went to a local liquor store to buy a bottle of wine for him and his wife for their wedding anniversary dinner. He’d been to this liquor store a few times before but he noticed that the liquor store was very crowded on that day, filled with a lot of very “elderly” folks, a lot of them using canes and walkers, some on oxygen and they were buying several bottles of cheap brandy or whiskey at a time and they didn’t look like your typical “boozers”. i.e. alcoholic types, very nicely dressed, diving nice cars, etc.

    Curious, my brother asked the liquor store owner why on that day there were so many “old folks” and the owner said, “Look at the calendar – it’s the first week of the month when they get their SS payments so they are stocking up.” “Stocking up?” my brother asked. “Yes, they are stocking up on their “pain relievers”” the liquor store owner told him, “A lot of these folks have severe arthritis or other very painful conditions but their doctors will no longer proscribe them any pain relievers so they come here to get some liquor to help them with the pain instead.”

  • Former Major Leaguer Darryl Hamilton killed in apparent murder-suicide

    06/22/2015 3:46:28 PM PDT · 8 of 32
    MD Expat in PA to Pearls Before Swine

    More unusual but not completely unheard of. The murder of Phil Hartman by his wife comes to mind.

  • Maryland governor announces 'aggressive' cancer

    06/22/2015 2:26:03 PM PDT · 11 of 58
    MD Expat in PA to iowamark

    Damn. I was even semi-seriously considering moving back to Murland from Pennsyltucky. Very sad to hear.