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Posts by MD Expat in PA

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  • I will soon be ripped by the IRS and I need serious tax advice.

    04/19/2014 8:00:37 AM PDT · 117 of 130
    MD Expat in PA to elahtap
    You need to file all those returns, both federal and state, ASAP! Yes, you WILL be hit with failure to file penalties and failure to pay and interest on any back taxes owed, if any. But not filing and not communicating with the taxing agencies is far worse. They will eventually catch up with you so addressing it before they do may mitigate some of the failure to file penalties which are retroactive to the filing due date and cumulative and compounded from that point forward. But if you file and don’t owe any taxes or are due a refund, you might not owe anything in failure to file penalties.

    The IRS and the state will eventually figure out that you haven’t filed personal and or business returns and they will send you a notice. If you don’t respond they will keep notifying you by mail and eventually via certified mail. Once you do file, you will need to set up a payment plan as soon as possible in order to avoid a levy against your wages and or bank account and tangible assets like your home. You need to do everything you can to avoid that. You may not want your employer to know your wages are being levied and levies against your home and other tangible assets are I believe are a matter of public record.

    You don’t say what type of business this is, the structure of the business, if it is an LLC, Sole Proprietorship,‎ S Corporation, Incorporated, etc. or whether you had sales subject to sales tax, or if you had any employees (it doesn’t sound like you did, I hope not as that is another problem, but if you did and didn’t file 941’s and W-2’s the IRS would have caught up with you before now) but if you did, you will need to clean those up as well. The legal structure of the business will determine if the profits and losses are filed on your personal tax returns or on a separate business tax return.

    I know it is overwhelming especially since it sounds like your wife didn’t keep good records, but you need to get what you have and get it organized. Start with the business checkbook. If you didn’t use any accounting software, something like QuickBooks, put all the receipts (business income) and expenses into a simple spreadsheet by year. You may be able to find Excel spreadsheet templates on line for free.

    Also go through your personal checkbook and credit card statements and identify any legitimate business expenses paid via those. Start by just putting whatever receipts and records you have in piles by year, then organizing them by categories of expenses as best you can. Also make sure you include your IRA early withdrawals, you should have received a statement from them and will be able to determine if they withheld taxes and an early withdrawal penalty from the net payment. Some expense will be deductible, some will not or some only partially but you need to identify them all and take whatever deductions you are legitimately entitled to take. If the business had legitimate losses, then that may mean you won’t have tax liabilities but you will still be subject to failure to file penalties. But also keep in mind that the IRS expects the business to be an actual business and not a “hobby” business. You may need to prove that there was an attempt to operate the business as a business and not an enterprise to fund a personal hobby, not operated in order to incur a loss on purpose in order to create deductions. In this case, your wife’s bi-polar condition may be a mitigating circumstance that might help in negotiating a payment plan.

    Once you have done that, having organized everything to the best of your ability, unless you are comfortable completing and filing those returns, find a CPA to complete and file your returns. Yes it will cost you money but it will cost you more if you just take a shopping bag full of papers and let him or her sort it all out for you. If you belong to a professional org, a civic org, a church, or a local small business org. etc. consider looking there for a CPA who might be willing to give you a break on their fees. IMO, you don’t need a tax attorney at this point; that is overkill and IMO not necessary unless you’ve been charged with criminal tax evasion, you just need help getting those taxes filed. That is the first step. Get those returns completed properly and completely and get them filed as soon as possible even if you can’t pay any taxes and penalties owed at this time.

    Once you file the back returns, if you are not able to pay the taxes and penalties and interest owed in full when you file, the IRS and the state will notify you for failure to pay. It is at this point that you will need to negotiate a payment plan or an offer in compromise. If you are not comfortable doing that yourself and want the CPA to do it for you, you will need to sign a limited power of attorney, else the IRS and state taxing agencies will not speak with him or her on your behalf. But word to the wise, you don’t want to hire just any CPA, you don’t want to hire an inexperienced or part time guy who prepares tax returns as a hobby. Even if you hire a CPA, you will still have to sign the returns you are still responsible for the accuracy of the return so make sure you understand what the CPA is doing and filing on your behalf. And stay away from those firms that advertize on radio and TV that promise to help you with your back taxes. What they are in effect are loan companies, they will pay your taxes but then will charge you exorbitant interest fees, much more than what the IRS will charge. Also be aware that paying your taxes via a credit card, assuming that you have enough of a credit line may also end up costing you more in interest.

    I got into a bad situation a few years back. In the last quarter of 2008 and ending the first quarter of 2009 I had taken a position with a company where my former boss was working but I was hired as a 1099 consultant. At the time I was making very good money and had put aside money for the taxes, planned on filing and paying estimated quarterly taxes. But then the contract was suddenly terminated and I had zero income coming in, and being a 1099 contractor, was not eligible for unemployment. Over the course of the next year while looking for a job but not finding anyone to hire me, I used all that I had saved up to make my mortgage and utility payments, car payment and insurance and basic groceries (mostly mac and cheese and ramen noodles). But I made the mistake of not filing my 2008 and 2009 tax returns until late in 2010 because I knew I didn’t have the money to pay the self employment taxes and when I did finally file, I didn’t have the money to pay the taxes in full. I was also going through a deep depression exasperated by being hounded daily by creditors and jeopardy of having my house foreclosed on.

    Once I did file in late 2010, I got a notice from the IRS threatening to levy my wages as I was by that time back to work. I took my tax return and proof of my current income at the time, which wasn’t near as much as I had been making, my current expenses like rent, proof of my bankruptcy which I had just recently filed, and I went to the local IRS office in person. I was BTW able to pay the state the taxes and penalties due when I filed so I avoided that hassle.

    Much to my surprise the IRS agent who worked with me was very nice and very understanding. She worked with me to come up with a payment plan that I could afford; $130 per month. And I continue making those payments faithfully and on time every month and often now pay more than the minimum due. Even with interest still accumulating I am at the point where I have reduced the original balance of $6k to less than $1k and plan to have that paid off in full by the Fall. I am looking into negotiating paying off the principal balance early and asking the IRS to wave the remaining penalties since I’ve had such a good repayment record.

    Good luck with it and keep us updated with your progress.

  • Fragile Feminists Frightened by Actress Kirsten Dunst Praising Strong Men

    04/18/2014 4:21:50 PM PDT · 12 of 13
    MD Expat in PA to Graewoulf
    I think you are overlooking looking a few things – your analogy is way too simplistic.

    Say for instance you have a company and you have 10 identical positions for electrical engineers, they are all Engineer I positions, meaning they are at the lowest level of electrical engineers (what might be considered entry level) based on their degree, what school they graduated from, their certifications and years of experience and with all other factors such as performance all being equal. But let’s say 5 of these engineers are men and 5 are women and they are all equally qualified and at the same level of job performance. Let’s also suppose you pay the 5 men 10% more than the women.

    There might be several factors why this might happen.

    First of all you might be a jerk who thinks that men just deserve to make more because they are men. (And let’s hope your company doesn’t have federal contracts or is otherwise subject to EEOC rules.) But most of all you might be in jeopardy of losing some very good workers.

    But for another thing, as to why women sometimes tend to be paid less than their male counterparts, women tend not to be as good as men when it comes to negotiating salary and benefits. Men are more assertive when it comes to negotiating. That’s not to say all women aren’t, I’ve certainly seen some who are very tough negotiators, but there is that tendency. I’ve seen it in myself.

    I was hired as a payroll/HRIS manager on the very same day another woman, a benefits manager. Even though both our positions were in the same salary grade, and I actually had more experience in my position, she started out making slightly more than me and she also negotiated an additional week of vacation were as I didn’t negotiate at all and took the first offer the company made. Then again, I was very happy with the offer as it was for a job I really wanted and for a lot more money than I was making at the time in a job I hated but took three years earlier in desperation after having been out of work for over a year. My co-worker is also married and her husband makes a very good salary where as I am single and didn’t have a “fall back”. If I don’t work - I don’t have a place to live or food to eat. But when I found out she negotiated the additional vacation time, I thought to myself, “Damn! Why didn’t I ask for that?” and I probably would have gotten it too. Lesson learned.

    But another reason for the wage disparity between men and women is child bearing and child care. Were I work, our controller had two babies in three years. Women certainly have job protection in larger companies, they are able to take their maternity leave and come back to work as our controller did. But then she is a high performer, very qualified and experienced and very driven, so our company was happy to have her back. (She even worked at lot from home while on leave, even though under out STD plan and company policies, she wasn’t supposed to). But that is not always the case. Often when women have children, in addition to the maternity leave, they tend to take more time off due to child illness or child care issues, school closures, etc. They also tend to want more flexibility in work hours or the ability to work from home if that is an option. But the time missed and this flexibility often comes with trade off in salary and tends to stifle their opportunities for advancement.

    Add to that that women in general are more likely to have gaps in their employment history because some of these women tend to leave the workforce after giving birth and re-enter the workforce after the kids are in school full time. But depending on the type of position, career path (and I’m talking here about professionals), a 5-6 year gap in employment could mean a gap in keeping up with the latest advancements or a failure to maintain certifications.

    But getting back to your comment; “If a man is to be paid the same as a woman, And a woman is to be paid the same as a man, Then what incentive is there to work better and smarter?”

    If the man and the woman are both truly interested in advancement, they are both going to work hard to earn it. The only difference might be the amount of the salary increase that comes with that advancement/promotion, presuming that the man and woman are equally qualified and equal as far as performance. But if the woman is starting out making less than the man, she will still want to make more than she is currently making and ditto for the man.

    I would add that salary information is supposed to be confidential but I will admit that employees sometimes talk about how much they are making to other employees, which whether that is on the high or low scale, is always a very bad idea. Don’t do it. EVAR!

    However, especially for professional positions, it is not difficult, especially with the internet or if one belongs to a professional org. to do a little research and find out what the market salary for any given position is worth in the job market.

    If I find that in my position, I am way underpaid based on the market for my job descriptions and level of experience, I’m either going to negotiate for a bigger increase or apply internally for another position or a promotion and if I don’t get it, I’m probably going to hunt for a new job. Whether I am male or female, if I am a valued employee, a high performer, if a company isn’t paying me what I am worth regardless of my gender (or race, etc.) and they lose me and my skills to a competitor, they, the company is losing. That’s a big part of why I changed jobs. A new company valued my skills and experience more that my previous company did and in addition to a much higher salary and a job more suited to my skills, they also offered better benefits and better working conditions and more opportunities for advancement.

    My last company had a ridiculous turnover rate that was pretty equally spread between men and women. And one of their problems was IMO that they promoted based not on skills or performance but on whom you were related to; a large percentage of the people working there, both male and female were blood related or related through marriage to either the owners or one of the higher ups in the company. I saw a lot of promotions that made no sense, workers who were complete dregs who kept their jobs or got promotions, while good workers like me and others were treated like crap because we weren’t related or weren’t BFF’s with the right people. I would add FWIW, that this was a husband and wife owned company. But shortly after I left they were bleeding money and on the verge of shutting their doors. Where I currently work, we have several women in top positions but they earned it from working hard, often from the bottom up, and we promote and pay based on skill and performance and based on job grade and the market salary grade for our industry and not based on gender and yet we are highly profitable and expanding our manufacturing operations.

    A company is stupid for not compensating their workers based on their actual performance and what they are worth in the market. And any man who thinks he doesn’t have to work as hard or try for that promotion because of some real or perceived gender wage equality, is probably not worth keeping.

    If Joe is making the same as Jeff or if Joe is making the exact same salary as Jane, “then what incentive is there to work better and smarter”. Hum…say wanting to advance? If Joe doesn’t think he has to work as hard as either Jane or Jeff just because Jane and Jeff are currently making as much as his is for the same exact job, then Joe is a fool and if Jane works much harder and proves herself to be more competent and driven than both Joe and Jeff, she will end up being their boss. And that is how it should be. OTOH, if Jane is a marginal performer and not nearly as qualified or experienced as either Joe or Jeff and she is promoted based solely on the company’s desire to promote women and minorities to fill quotas, she will eventually fail and the company will either fail with her or will replace her with someone more qualified regardless of gender or minority status. And if Joe and Jeff don’t give up and keep working hard, they may still yet get their shot.

  • Vice Principal Saved From Korea Ferry Found Hanged

    04/18/2014 5:45:09 AM PDT · 14 of 21
    MD Expat in PA to yldstrk; RegulatorCountry; Mountain Bike Vomit Carnage; House Atreides
    I don’t understand why it sank? Overloaded? Terrorism? North Korea hit?

    According to what I’ve read, it sounds like human error compounded by further bad judgment. Allegedly the captain was not at the helm at the time but rather a rather inexperienced third mate, that the ship had been delayed due to fog and was trying to make up for lost time, that the ship started listing just after it made a rather sharp turn, possibly at too high a rate of speed, and that caused the ship’s load of cars and truck and freight to shift, causing the ship to go over on its side. And the death toll is likely as high as it is because the captain delayed evacuating for up to 30 minutes and instructions were given to passengers to put on their life vests but to stay put and await rescue (shelter in place?). By the time they realized the ship was going down, the captain and some of the crew had allegedly abandoned the ship, leaving the passengers on their own and or with confusing and chaotic instructions, but by that time many of them were now hopelessly trapped below deck.

    Arrest warrants have just been issued for the captain and several crew members.

    As to the high school vice principal’s apparent suicide; he was among one of the first passengers to be rescued. Not that he did anything wrong given the chaos of the situation or that he could have done anything more, but he evidently felt extremely guilty for having survived when so many of his students under his charge have perished.

    Asian culture including that of Korea which shares some similarities to Japan, has a long history of so called “honorable suicide”. If a person thinks their actions have brought shame or dishonor to themselves and their family, they feel obligated to kill themselves.

  • Easter is a tasty time in Port Richmond's Polish diaspora

    04/17/2014 6:13:41 PM PDT · 10 of 19
    MD Expat in PA to pbmaltzman
    Where I am, one supermarket has commercial kielbasa, but I’m sure the stuff mentioned in this article is much better.

    This isn’t something totally unique to Philly. I pretty much grew up in Baltimore and lived a good part of my formative years in a neighborhood with a lot of ethnically Polish folk. My best friends during high school where twin sisters - “The Golembeski Twins” and you don’t get much more Polish than that. :), IIRC, their dad was a 2nd generation American and their mom was 3nd generation. And they were good, honest, hard working people.

    At Easter every year their dad and his many brothers would go together to buy fresh pork shoulder and veal, pig casings and all the necessary spices in bulk to make homemade, honest to goodness old world kielbasa using traditional family recipes passed on from generation to generation in their family kitchen for their family and their friends.

    What they made BTW wasn’t the smoked type of kielbasa but more like a fresh “German” sausage, i.e. a biała kiełbasa (a white sausage) often served with cabbage or sauerkraut along with homemade pierogi which is nothing like the pierogi you find in the frozen foods section of your local grocery store.

    FWIW, my mom was from and grew up in central PA and thus knew how to make fastnachts for Shrove Tuesday which she made and introduced to our Polish neighbors along with her famous and delicious homemade chicken pot pie. Then one of our neighbors who was Jewish, introduced us to homemade chicken matzo ball soup, something I still make this time of year. I am all for the “melting pot” when it comes to food. : )

    What you get in the supermarket labeled as kielbasa is really nothing like the “real” thing. It is sort of analogous to going to Taco Bell and thinking that is “real” Mexican food.

  • Seven Weird but Good Food Combinations

    04/12/2014 3:06:30 PM PDT · 153 of 181
    MD Expat in PA to Cboldt

    I found a chocolate balsamic vinegar that is heavenly with strawberries and pineapple.

    One of my favorite treats is melted brie with apple slices.

  • Watching God's Heavens—What is He Saying through Blood Moon Tetrads and Solar Eclipses?

    04/12/2014 2:52:22 PM PDT · 37 of 41
    MD Expat in PA to kindred; VanDeKoik; cuban leaf
    So there really is “a bad moon on the rise” (or is it “a bathroom on the right”?). I can’t seem to keep them straight. : ),

    Now, tetrads aren't necessarily that rare—there was one in 2003—but the fact that each blood moon in this tetrad coincides with major Jewish feast days is rare.

    Not really. The Jewish calendar is a lunar based calendar and several holidays as the blogger points out, Passover and Sukkot fall in the 15 day of the Jewish lunar calendar, i.e. on a full moon. But since full lunar eclipse only happen when the moon is full, it would not be all that surprising that eclipses even sometimes tetrads, coincide with Jewish holidays.

    The Jewish calendar counts from the traditional date assigned to the creation of the world. It is a lunar calendar that is adjusted to remain in relationship to the seasons of the solar year. As such the monthly calendar more or less lines up with the phases of the moon, with those Jewish holidays falling on or about the 15th of a Jewish month taking place when there is a full moon, and the beginning of a new month corresponding to the appearance of a new moon (Ex. 12:1-2).


    Interesting celestial events already began this week, with the "opposition of Mars"—it's perfect alignment with the sun, and also with Earth.

    Oppositions between Earth and Mars happen about every 26 months because the planets are relatively close to one another so it is not exactly a rare event.

    Tuesday's blood moon happens on Passover; October's on Sukkot; next April's on Passover again, and the final blood moon of the tetrad falls on Sukkot once again. That last one is the only one that will be visible by Israel.

    So? The others were just “practice”?


    Dickinson also notes that tetrads aren’t actually that unusual. They occur when there are four successive total lunar eclipses separated by six month periods when the Earth is directly between the Moon and the Sun, first refracting the sunlight through the atmosphere onto the Moon (making it ‘red’) and then blocking all direct illumination (the eclipse).

    This isn’t even the first tetrad of this century (that was in 2003-2004) and including this one there will be seven more before the year 2100. And although it is certainly rarer for all four eclipses to coincide with Passover and Sukkot (this has happen eight times since 162 CE) this is still frequently enough to make any concurrent events of historical significance nothing more than coincidence.

    Throw a dart at a calendar and you’ll find something of ‘historical significance’ happening on that day. It’s just what history is like.

    And I think the bolded part makes a good point. At any point in time, nearly on any given day, there is some sort of visible celestial event, planetary alignments, comets, meteor showers, “super moons”, so called “blood” moons, total lunar or solar eclipses, or a natural disaster like an earthquake, a volcanic eruption, big hurricanes and cyclones, tornado outbreak, floods, droughts, rock slides, etc., etc., etc. And history keeps happening too. There are political upheavals; the beginnings of wars, invasions, assassinations, etc., etc., etc. So at any point in time, yes one can associate a naturally occurring event happening near to some significant historical event but are they “signs” or just a coincidence? I’m going with coincidence as I also don’t believe in palm or tea leave reading or in horoscopes.

    I for one am looking forward to getting up early on April 15th to stand and watch in awe the beauty of it.

  • Organic food: Pricey, not particularly healthy, won't save you from cancer

    04/05/2014 6:25:34 AM PDT · 76 of 184
    MD Expat in PA to nikos1121
    ?????? I drink organic skim milk. I’m waiting for someone to tell me why it lasts ten times longer than non-organic milk? Plain and simple question.

    It is due to UHT processing, i.e. ultra high temperature pasturization.

  • California Lottery official: Sole winner of $425M February Powerball jackpot comes forward

    04/01/2014 6:30:54 PM PDT · 37 of 47
    MD Expat in PA to Fledermaus
    What an idiot. I’d have been in the car to the local office to collect my money the next day.

    While I’m sure that would be most people’s first instinct, most of us, me included couldn’t wait to get our hands on the dough, that’s actually a very bad idea. Impulse is not the lottery winner’s friend.

    The smart and savvy things to do before coming forward and shortly after are:

    Find a really good attorney(s), preferably a large firm, one with experience in this area, one dealing with many very wealthy clients and knowledgeable and experienced in tax law and in estate planning. This is where you don’t want to hire your best friend’s best friend’s hair dressers cousin named Vinney who just got out of law school.

    Similarly find a really good reputable accounting firm for preparing and filing your tax returns.

    Line up a certified fee only investment advisor, interview several, and come up with a solid long term investment strategy. You don’t need to invest aggressively but you need to invest - wisely and with diversity. And as good as your advisor and tax accountant are, you still need to educate yourself. You don’t want to just sign off on the tax returns without understanding them - you don’t want to put your investment statements in a shoe box without ever looking at them or understanding what they say. That’s not to say you should ignore or dismiss good and sound advice but with that much money you need to know the difference.

    Note that the above three should all come from different firms with no close association or ties with each other and have them all be watch dogs over the others, i.e. have the tax attorney review the tax returns, have the accounting firm review the investment strategy and so on – not that you want confusing and conflicting advice but you don’t want one firm or most importantly one person handling your financial affairs. Many people think they can manage this on their own and most of them end up bankrupted or with IRS tax liens within a few years later.

    Move to temporary digs with a forwarding address to a PO Box, get an unlisted phone number, change your email address, disconnect from all social media (i.e. Facebook, etc.) and otherwise, lie low, act like everything is normal, don’t suddenly quit your job and don’t tell ANYONE save for “maybe” your spouse! Take time to let it all sink in and line up your strategy. You have time to collect the jackpot. Rushing to collect it without a plan is a recipe for disaster.

    Before claiming or collecting the money, write up your wish list of stuff you want to spend the money on. Take the first list and shred it and start over, rinse and repeat several more times, each time paring it down to what you really want, what is really important to you and not just the stuff you can suddenly buy because you can. In fact it’s best to spend as little money as possible the first year. It takes time for everything to shake it all out tax and investment wise. It also takes some time to grasp just how much money you really have, after taxes, after the fees and expenses you never had before, after you’ve had time to adjust. While 400 million even after taxes is a lot of money it’s not a limitless well. Dip into that well recklessly and impulsively and it will run dry very soon, sooner than you think.

    Once you come up with your list that might include a new 6 bedroom 6 bath house with a pool, some acreage, a new car, a horse, a boat, some travel, etc. create a monthly budget. Keep in mind that you may be able to outright buy, with cash that big house of your dreams, and your dream car(s), a new pickup truck, maybe even a Bugatti (and wouldn’t I just love to drive that around town) and that a big boat, that horse, understand that all those have high maintenance costs, probably higher than you even imagine; there is property tax, utilities, furniture, insurance, dock fees, gas, vet bills, and if you think your wife (or husband) is going to clean six bathrooms and mow and keep up with all that landscaping, you are dreaming. You need to come up with a monthly budget that captures all those new recurring expenses and stick with the budget. That’s not to say you shouldn’t have some fun and treat yourself but you don’t have to cram it all in during the first year. A good sound budget is an invaluable tool to have whether you make minimum wage or have 140 million but a budget is only as good as how realistic it is and how disciplined you are to stick with it.

    Perhaps most importantly you will have to learn that NO is a complete sentence, it is one of the most beautiful words in the English language and one requires no further explanation. People; long lost friends and relatives you haven’t spoken to or seen for years and co-workers and complete strangers will come out of the woodwork to hit you up for money, sometimes even seemly for good causes – don’t do it. If you have really close family members or friends you want to help out (because they have been there for you when you didn’t have a pot to pi$$ in or a window to throw it out of), offer to do things like paying off their mortgage or their car payment or student loan debt, things that will make their life a bit easier but not change them or your relationship dramatically. Do not give anyone big cash gifts and make this a one-time, emphatically a “don’t come back to me asking for more” gift. If you have kids or grandkids, set up trust funds for their education or a reasonable amount of money once they hit a certain age, probably 30 or so, just enough to buy a reasonably priced starter home and don’t be afraid to put some contingencies on it, like they have to have graduated from college with a meaningful and use full degree or finish a trade school program and be gainfully employed and have no criminal record at the time they collect.

    I recall the story of a big lottery winner some years ago; I think he was from WV. He loved his granddaughter and denied her nothing she asked for. He bought her many expensive cars and gave her unlimited amounts of cash. She fell into a bad crowd who became her “friend” only because she had this money and within a few short years, she was a drug addict and died from a drug overdose. He said that winning the lottery was worse thing that ever happened to him. It wasn’t really, it could have been a completely different outcome but he had no self control himself and didn’t realize how giving an impressionable teenager cars and cash with no limits might turn out badly.

    And while your BIL might be a really great guy and a very talented auto mechanic, carpenter, short order cook, whatever, don’t go into business with him. A lot of lottery winners have lost tons of money by investing in a family member’s new or currently failing business venture or decide to start their own “dream” business without having a clue of what’s really involved and sink money into it as they think they can even as most investors would have pulled and taken the loss long before. Investments should be made without any personal emotion.

    If you want to give to worthy charities, do your homework and don’t fall for every sob story that comes your way (and may will) and look into setting a charitable trust as they, if properly set up can have tax advantages so this is where a good tax attorney comes in. And speaking of attorneys, you may have led a squeaky clean, honest life but it’s almost guaranteed that if your name get’s out, somebody is going to try to sue you.

    If you bought your ticket in a state that allows you to remain anonymous, remain anonymous. Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into giving media interviews, if you have to publicly claim your prize, have to have your picture taken, give a public statement, think about hiring a public relations expert and a security expert. If you bought your ticket in a state that will release your name, protect yourself and your family, give as few personal details as the state laws allow. If you can set up a trust to collect the money look into it but be very careful. Trusts are often a matter of public record so if someone really wants to find out who you are and what family members you name in the trust, they often can and if you don’t set up the trust properly you could lose control of your money to an unscrupulous lawyer.

    As you can see, I have “plan” but then again I rarely buy a lottery ticket, maybe one or two a year when the jackpot is big and I have a $ to spare and I’ve yet to win and I don’t count on doing so. But if I ever do win a big jackpot, I can guarantee you that I won’t be telling anyone here :), There will be no vanity post - “I just won the lottery so I’m donating a $ million to FR” : ),

  • These Are America’s 10 Most Dangerous Small Cities

    03/31/2014 7:06:27 AM PDT · 35 of 97
    MD Expat in PA to Red Badger

    I see that Lancaster PA made the list. Not surprising. And FWIW, it’s not the Amish Mafia that is the problem there.

    It’s mostly the same here in York PA. Some days, when I’m watching the local news and hear about the latest shooting or stabbing, carjacking, home invasion, I feel like I’m back home in Baltimore. The only time I venture into York City is when I absolutely have to like back in October when I had to go to the court house to get my expedited passport for an upcoming business trip. It was like going to a 3rd world country. And downtown York doesn’t have much to offer in terms of restaurants or museums or attractions so the only reason I have to go there is when I have to.

    Mind you, the surrounding areas, rural York and Lancaster counties are beautiful and there are many good and conservative people in these parts but to be fair and honest it isn’t just the minorities; there are a lot of white welfare scum, mothers with multiple kids from different baby daddies, meth heads and heroin addicts who commit a good number of crimes outside of Lancaster and York Cities. I work in Manheim which is a quaint little town in the heart of Amish country but I understand that there is a very big heroin problem there.

  • Under My Thumb lyrics as sung by Mick Jagger

    03/30/2014 3:10:51 PM PDT · 164 of 183
    MD Expat in PA to Albion Wilde
    Since the song Under My Thumb was written in 1966, Mick may very well have no mental or emotional association with that song to his late girlfriend L'Wren Scott or to anyone in particular at this point in time anymore. If the Stones were to have removed the song from their concert playlist, it might make more sense (although not much more IMO) to remove it because that was the song they were playing when Meredith Hunter was stabbed to death by the Hells Angels at Altamont.

    Yes his late girlfriend was a fashion designer but the lyrics in question say:

    “It's down to me
    The difference in the clothes she wears
    Down to me, the change has come,
    She's under my thumb

    I take that as being the girl in question wears the clothes he tells her to wear because “she’s under his thumb”. If the lyrics said the “the difference in the clothes she designs” you might have more of a point.

    Jagger once said, "It's a bit of a jokey number, really. It's not really an anti-feminist song any more than any of the others... Yes, it's a caricature, and it's in reply to a girl who was a very pushy woman".

    I always heard the lyrics to that song as a guy who is more fantasizing about getting a girl under his thumb than actually having one under his thumb, and in a rather sad and pathetic way BTW.

    That is the thing about songs and song lyrics, we often put into them our own point of view and view and hear them in terms of our own life experiences which sometimes are vastly different from that of the song writer.

  • Theater calls cops on diabetic man for bringing in strawberries

    03/30/2014 6:07:24 AM PDT · 78 of 99
    MD Expat in PA to Texicanus
    Thank you. And a couple more things to consider.

    The strawberry-stashing father of three tried to explain his disease, but “they didn’t seem to care,” he said, so he asked a manager to refund his $12 ticket. When the manager refused, he stuffed his snack back in the bag and took a seat in the theater, he said.

    Yes, IMO the theater manager probably should have given the guy a refund. OTOH, it is pretty common knowledge that movie theaters do not allow you to bring in food from the outside. This is nothing new or unusual. Theaters don’t make all that much off the movie ticket, they make most of their profits from the concessions, yes the way over priced concessions so that is why I have something to eat before the movie or go out to eat afterward or at most might share a bag of popcorn with my friends.

    But then for whatever reason the manager had for not refunding the ticket (who knows why; company policy, the movie was too close to starting or had by then started to issue a refund, the movie customer was already acting belligerent?), the guy instead of giving up the strawberries, stashed them in his bag and took his seat anyway and that is where the customer was also wrong. Of course I think calling the cops was over the top but then we also only have this guy’s word for what transpired before that happened.

    And why should they, the movie theater “care about his disease”? How are they to know if the guy really is diabetic or just scamming them because he just prefers to bring in food from home? I guess anyone could claim some type of special food need in that case. I could claim I have to eat Kosher, I have to stick with my paleo diet plan or I only eat free range organic tomatoes..….I have a popcorn allergy (and in which case, should I be able to insist that no popcorn be allowed in the theater I’m in?)

    What does this guy do if he goes to a restaurant that doesn’t serve fresh fruit to his liking? Does he bring in his own? Do you think a restaurant also has the right to say, “no you can’t do that”?

    FWIW, my dad was an insulin dependent diabetic and he often carried a few small hard candies in his pocket in case his insulin level dropped too low. However I don’t recall him ever having to use them. Why? Because he understood how to manage his disease. He planned ahead and ate at regular intervals and if he was going to have to go without food for more than a few hours, he’d adjust his insulin or take it a bit earlier or later than normal, eat a bit more, etc.

    From what I know about diabetes, if this guy couldn’t sit through a two hour movie without having to eat fruit, it sounds to me like he’s not learned how to manage his diabetes very well, or doesn’t care to, but insists that others bend the rules to accommodate him.

  • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to a Ham Sandwich

    03/29/2014 5:29:28 AM PDT · 34 of 35
    MD Expat in PA to miss marmelstein
    Unfortunately, most of it is mass-produced and so is not really very good. You have to go to a Kosher deli (we have them where I live) to really see the beautiful items produced.

    Agreed. That is one of the things I miss about living in Baltimore. If I wanted really good Kosher deli, I could drive over to Pikesville. There was also a good Jewish Kosher grocery store over there, closed of course from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday but open all day on Sunday. I had on a few occasions gone to a restaurant over there, the Suburban House. Great place for breakfast. The original place burned down a few years ago but I see they’ve reopened.

    As you can see from the menu, it isn’t strictly kosher as you can get bacon and ham and even crab cakes (it is Baltimore after all Hon). IIRC though they have separate kitchens for kosher and non-kosher.

    And I used to go to an authentic Italian deli/grocery not too far from where I lived and if I had a hankering for Greek, there were those too as well as Indian and Asian and “Hispanic” stores of many varieties.

    Around here in central PA, there is a lot of PA “Dutch” food….most of it pretty bland….blagh.

  • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to a Ham Sandwich

    03/29/2014 5:00:26 AM PDT · 32 of 35
    MD Expat in PA to Kaslin; BenLurkin; miss marmelstein
    Well that was one of the stupidest commentaries I’ve read in a while. Both of the grocery stores nearest to me have a “Hispanic” food section including a small section in the dairy aisle. They also have a fairly large Kosher section and coming up on Passover, will stock even more as in addition to a good many hispanics around here, there is a fairly large Jewish community and synagogue just up the street. One of the stores also has a pretty big (half aisle or so) section for Asian and Indian foods. I don’t think Todd get’s out very much. Wegman’s also carries an int’l aisle with French, English, Scottish and German products.

    Wegman’s is one of the few places I can find authentic Gjetost, a Norwegian cheese : ),

    Hispanic cheese does sound stupid, though. Mexican cheese, not so.

    That’s probably because Mexican cheese would be classified as a “Hispanic” food but not all Hispanic foods are Mexican.

  • Autism Diagnoses Surge by 30 Percent in Kids, CDC Reports

    03/29/2014 4:25:56 AM PDT · 149 of 185
    MD Expat in PA to Black Agnes
    I’m sure my Cherokee ancestors would have been surprised to know that their diet, which they’d eaten for thousands of years, was unhealthy.

    Would these be these same; your very same Cherokee ancestors who at the time of the arrival of those “stupid” grain eating Europeans, were living a semi-Paleolithic existence compared to their European contemporaries? The Cherokee’s and other native Indian tribes who had not even yet discovered the wheel by the time the first European arrived, live alone a written language, etc.?

    And their; the Cherokee pre-Columbian diet was heavy with corn (maize). While meat was the preferred food source, maize, i.e. corn was a very important staple in most Native American diets along with other wild growing grains and carbohydrate heavy root vegetables during times when the hunting was not so good.

    And it (a maize rich diet) wasn’t so “healthy”.

    Health conditions before Columbus: paleopathology of native North Americans

    Iron deficiency anemia appears to have been widespread and ubiquitous in most ancient populations in the New World. The general distribution of the lesion corresponds with increasing reliance on agricultural products such as maize, which are low in bioavailable iron. For example, Lallo and co-workers evaluated changes in rates of porotic hyperostosis for ancient Mississippians in Illinois living in the 12th century and found that its prevalence increased dramatically in the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture. They suggested that this was due to an overreliance on maize in the diet and that the lesions were most pronounced in younger children because of diarrheal disease during weaning, combined with poor diet.



  • Jimmy Fallon Makes Fun of Mitch McConnell Campaign Flub with Ridiculous Parody (hilarious video!)

    03/29/2014 4:09:48 AM PDT · 29 of 29
    MD Expat in PA to andyk
    OK. Got it : )

    I thought you were referring to Fallon.

    Jimmy Fallon's Monologue: iPhone Breathalyzer App

  • Westboro Baptist Church to picket Oklahoma liquor store over sign mocking Fred Phelps' death

    03/28/2014 1:16:07 PM PDT · 62 of 79
    MD Expat in PA to dfwgator
    Notice they never picket Gay Pride Parades.

    That is not exactly true; they have and still continue to do that. And FWIW the first time the WBC came to the national spot light was over their picketing of the funeral of Matthew Sheppard.

    But by protesting or even threatening to protest and then not showing up at soldier’s funerals or the funerals of others like the kids who died at Sandy Hook, the Nickel Mines Amish school shooting victims or at the funerals of the children who died in the Oklahoma tornado outbreak last year, that get’s them the max amount of outrage and therefore of the press they seek.

  • Autism Diagnoses Surge by 30 Percent in Kids, CDC Reports

    03/28/2014 1:01:48 PM PDT · 130 of 185
    MD Expat in PA to Mase; goodnesswins
    Unless one has celiac disease or has an actually diagnosed allergy to wheat, there is absolutly no reason to avoid wheat gluten or for that matter wheat or wheat products at all.

    And there is no scientific evidence what so ever; zero, nill, zip, zultch, that a gluten free diet has any effect on Autism.

    And in fact a gluten free diet, i.e. falling for the latest fad food packaging craze, might be even less healthy.

    I believe I have posted on 2 threads....stop stalking or the mods may visit..No more responses to you

    Oh. I get it. You will probably report me to the mods too. You are one of those posters I come across here occasionally who believe that FR is their personal echo chamber; a place where they can say whatever they want and to whomever they want, but if someone comes along and challenges them with actual facts, then that’s “stalking”.

  • Jimmy Fallon Makes Fun of Mitch McConnell Campaign Flub with Ridiculous Parody (hilarious video!)

    03/28/2014 11:52:58 AM PDT · 12 of 29
    MD Expat in PA to andyk
    He’s too busy making fun of kids needing breathalyzers.

    Are you sure you meant "breathalyzers"? As in kids who are too drunk to drive?

  • School Science Project Reveals High Levels Of Fukushima Nuclear Radiation in Grocery Store Seafood

  • Check Your Debit, Credit Card Statements For “BLS WebLearn” Scam Transactions

    03/28/2014 5:05:19 AM PDT · 24 of 25
    MD Expat in PA to driftdiver; Gaffer

    I log on to my bank account and reconcile my balance that I keep on a spreadsheet every day. As for my credit card, I set up an alert that sends me an email message every time a there is any purchase activity and every time a transaction is posted. I set it up so that it does this even if the transaction is only for $1.

  • Check Your Debit, Credit Card Statements For “BLS WebLearn” Scam Transactions

    03/28/2014 4:56:24 AM PDT · 23 of 25
    MD Expat in PA to TurboZamboni; Fresh Wind
    NEVER use a debit card for anything that could be billed monthly and/or recurring. Once they’ve got you, they’ve got you forever.

    That's absolutely true. I canceled my Comcrap account (which was being paid this way), and asked the bank if they could block that charge, in case Comcrap decided to keep charging me (they didn't). But the bank told me the only way would be to close the entire account and open a new one.

    Actually I would think it would be more of a problem to set up a recurring payment using your checking account and bank routing number. I never do this and I pay all my bills on line. The only automatic payments I have however are for my car insurance and a gym membership but that is set up using my bank’s VISA debit card number and the transaction is put through as if it was a credit card and I do all my bill payments that way.

    I had used my debit card at Target during the breach period and simply went to my bank and got a new debit card with a new number and 3 digit security code, got it issued on the spot. I had to go on line and update the account number for my insurance and gym membership auto payments but I didn’t have to close my bank account.

  • No surgery for former Bills QB Kelly for cancer

    03/28/2014 3:18:56 AM PDT · 9 of 14
    MD Expat in PA to dr_lew; fatnotlazy

    Exposure to asbestos and other chemicals are causes of lung cancer as is radon. While many assume that alcohol abuse is always the cause of cirrhosis of the liver, obesity, diabetes and hepatitis are also common causes as are some diseases like cystic fibrosis.

    My mother died from sudden acute pancreatitis, the cause of which is usually heavy alcohol use/abuse or gall stones. But my mother was pretty much a teetotaler, (she might have one glass of wine at Christmas if that) and no gall stones or other known causes were found so it was deemed idiopathic.

    Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer, one of the causes believed to be chronic exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation found in sunlight but there are others.

  • Glenn Beck Poisoned?

    03/21/2014 6:53:13 PM PDT · 18 of 47
    MD Expat in PA to politisite
    From this website you posted:


    The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images and information, contained on or available through this web site is for general information purposes only, and such information is subject to change without notice. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay medical treatment because of something you have read on this or any other website. When in doubt, please seek medical attention. Kathryn Milliron and does not give medical advice or engage in the practice of medicine.

    Kathryn Milliron is not a licensed psychologist, psychiatrist or therapist. She is a holistic health coach, certified master hypnotist and stress management coach who specializes in personal development.

    If that doesn't convince me, nothing will /sarcasm.

  • Charla Nash, victim of Travis the chimp, pleads for right to sue Connecticut

    03/21/2014 5:23:03 PM PDT · 27 of 31
    MD Expat in PA to Amberdawn
    Nash, for whom I have great sympathy, says that the State knew the chimpanzee was dangerous, but nevertheless visited it’s owner on a regular basis. If she was so afraid of what this animal might do, why did she keep going there? Why didn’t she turn her friend in to the authorities?

    Stop making sense. : )

  • 'Disgusting' ads turning off York County voters

    03/17/2014 5:56:29 AM PDT · 18 of 36
    MD Expat in PA to lightman
    His voting record isn’t as pure as some would like. In PA you have to be able to work with the Philly and metro Pittsburgh folk in order to accomplish anything. That means sometimes sending money their way in order to get some back in your own district.

    In other words Ron Miller is an establishment, go along to get along type?

    Hum, he’s for gun control, rather wishy washy on abortion, seems to support things like Common Core, against charter schools, for physician assisted suicide but against medical marijuana….

  • A Pilot on Hijacking of MH370

    03/17/2014 5:33:38 AM PDT · 10 of 54
    MD Expat in PA to Atlas Sneezed
    How often is the imagery in Google Earth updated?

    Google Earth displays the best available imagery, most of which is one to three years old. The information in Google Earth is collected over time and is not in real time. It is not possible to see live changes in images. You can read more about Understanding Google Earth imagery within the Help center.

  • 'Disgusting' ads turning off York County voters

    03/17/2014 5:13:11 AM PDT · 8 of 36
    MD Expat in PA to lightman

    Thanks. That’s what I’ve heard and some of the ads mention this re: Wagner going after Platts and “buying” an election to serve his own “special interests”. I’m not originally from around here, only moved here in 2010 so I’m not all that familiar yet with the local political scene. I do know that Platts seems like a good guy.

    So what of the GOP backed candidate Rep. Ron Miller?

  • 'Disgusting' ads turning off York County voters

    03/17/2014 4:37:31 AM PDT · 1 of 36
    MD Expat in PA
    They keep referring to Wagner as the “millionaire trash man” and the one with the old lady seems to be a complete misrepresentation of what actually happened.

    It would seem to me that the local GOP is going after Wagner because he has supported independent and Tea Party candidates and is a political outsider.

    So is anyone here, perhaps someone from south central PA more familiar than I with this campaign? If so, what is your opinion of Wagner and of these ads running against him?

  • Fred Phelps, Westboro Pastor, Ex-communicated, "at death's door" (NOT SATIRE)

    03/16/2014 12:42:36 PM PDT · 65 of 71
    MD Expat in PA to Girlene; KC Burke
    Exactly. I never heard that they protested actual gay people’s funerals. They chose the military to dump their hatred on. Gay people can forgive him all they’s the military families whose funerals were disrupted.

    That is not exactly true. Keep in mind that they came to the national spotlight in 1998 for picketing at the funeral of Matthew Shepard and I believe there were others. They also protested at Michael Jackson’s funeral and they have protested at gay “pride” parades and other venues like concerts (Lady Ga Ga, the Foo Fighters) and plays (they protested at a various performances of the Laramie Project) and at sporting events that they think promote gays. They recently showed up at the University of Missouri to protest the presence Michael Sam at an NCAA basketball game. They most recently protested at the Golden Globe awards.

    They have also protested a various high schools over gay-straight alliance “clubs” and such.

    Not that I’m advocating gay pride parades or promoting gay-straight alliances in public schools an such, but it is not true that the never protest at anything but military funerals. I think they protest or more recently just threaten to protest at military funerals and the funerals of celebrities and those who died in tornados or school shootings, etc. because that will create the most outrage and get them the most amount of national press coverage. They often now threaten but don’t show up or show up in such small numbers that they are blocked by counter protesters and folks like those from the Patriot Guard. But what they are hoping for is either a physical confrontation or being prevented from protesting all together so they can file lawsuits.

    Another Al Gore campaign leader bites the dust.

    Support for Al Gore:

    Phelps supported Al Gore in the 1988 Democratic Party presidential primary election.;[46] in his 1984 Senate race, Gore had opposed a "gay bill of rights" and stated that homosexuality was not something that "society should affirm"), a position he had changed by 2000 when he had the support of homosexual advocacy groups for his presidential campaign. Phelps has stated that he supported Gore because of these earlier comments.[47] According to Phelps, members of the Westboro Baptist Church helped run Gore's 1988 campaign in Kansas.

    Opposition to Al Gore, Bill Clinton, and Hillary Rodham Clinton:

    During the 1992 presidential campaign, Phelps criticized Hillary Rodham Clinton during a speech he gave endorsing Bill Clinton's presidential campaign at the University of Kansas on October 14, 1992. In 1996 Phelps and the Westboro church opposed Clinton's re-election because of the administration's support for gay rights. The entire Westboro congregation picketed a 1997 inaugural ball,[48] denouncing Vice President Al Gore as a "famous fag pimp" (Gore had changed his positions on gay rights since 1984). In 1998, Westboro picketed the funeral of Gore's father, screaming vulgarities at Gore and telling him, "your dad's in Hell".

    It doesn’t sound like their support for Gore lasted all that long.

  • CDC Urged To Investigate Mystery Polio-Like Illness Affecting California Kids

    03/15/2014 7:35:30 AM PDT · 33 of 36
    MD Expat in PA to Yaelle; bert
    Many of them were for sure vaxed, and the other ones are not known by us. They might all be vaxed. The three that have come forward appear to be Caucasian families and we don’t know anything about the other.

    I believe this has been ruled out as being poliomyelitis (Polio) but is another newly identified strain of enterovirus. If that is the case, then the polio vaccination probably wouldn’t give immunity to this newly identified or possibly mutated strain. It is interesting to note that strains of enterovirus are also responsible for Hand Foot and Mouth disease and Acute Hemorrhagic Conjunctivitis – something I had in 2004 – not fun!


    As far as taking supplements, “like good quality vitamins c and d, at therapeutic doses” I don’t think there is much medical evidence to support this, that taking them will prevent viral infections. It might not help but then again it probably wouldn’t be harmful, doesn’t hurt except if overdone. But excessive doses of vitamin D and C can be harmful - too much of anything can be. Most of us, unless we have some sort of illness that causes vitamin deficiencies, get plenty of the vitamins and minerals necessary for maintaining good health through eating a well balanced diet and most of the excess taken via supplements are excreted through the urine (i.e. you are literally pissing your money away).

    Getting Too Much of Vitamins And Minerals

    unvaccinated illegal Mexican children are the vector

    That so far doesn’t appear to be the case. FWIW, Mexico actually has a higher rate of childhood vaccinations than the US.

    Mexico more effective than U.S. at immunizing children

    WHO vaccine-preventable diseases: monitoring system. 2013 global summary - Mexico

    WHO vaccine-preventable diseases: monitoring system. 2013 global summary - US

    There have been no reported cases of Polio in Mexico in many, many years. That is not the case however with Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, Nigeria and several African countries.

    Polio Cases Worldwide

  • How do I know if this is a valid request or a phishing attempt?

    03/14/2014 4:19:08 PM PDT · 57 of 91
    MD Expat in PA to Eva

    Oh Eva! It is a most definitely a phising scam. But don’t beat yourself up over it, a lot of people fall for them otherwise the scammers would stop doing them. But take action now!

    No credit card company will ever send you an email with an attachment to download or ask you via email to verify your personal information or account information. NEVER! But since you opened the email and clicked on the link and started filling out the form, run an anti-virus and anti-spyware scan on your computer - stat! If you don’t have any, let me know, I can point you toward some free scanners like AVG and Malwarebites.

    Also contact Amex right now and I mean right now! Tell them you received a phishing email and started to respond to it before realizing what it was. Ask them to cancel your account number, put a hold on all transactions and reissue you a new card number – stat! Seriously. Do it now! Right now! Also ask the customer service rep to put you in touch with their fraud department. The fraud department may want you to forward the email to them but as soon as you do, delete it.

    After running a good anti-virus and anti-spyware scan on your computer, change all your online account passwords. I would also contact my bank and ask for a new debit card with a new PIN number just to be safe.

    Here is some good info on phishing scams and how to avoid them:

    Keep in mind that if there was suspected fraudulent transactions on your Amex card, they would have called you personally to verify them and not via an email. But they would never ask you to provide your password or PIN, security question answers or any other personal information save for perhaps your billing zip code and the last 4 digits of your account number or SSN for verification that they reached the correct person. But just to be safe, if you do get a call from someone saying that they are from your cc company or bank, it is better to tell the caller that you will call back then call the phone number on the back of your card or credit card statement.

    My credit card company called me about a year ago to ask if a suspicious transaction was valid, it wasn’t. It was for some online sporting goods store in CA for $1 (credit card thieves will often try to put through a small $ amount to test before charging big $ items). My cc company didn’t need to ask me for my personal information as they already had it. But just to be safe, I asked for a reference number and immediately called them back on the phone on the back of my cc.

    I also made some purchases at Target during the breach period. My cc company did send me an email alert with some general information about what I needed to do but it also instructed me to directly log on to my account for further instructions (and they also mailed me a letter), the email did not have a link to log on to; never click a link in an email, instead use your trusted book marked link.

    I do all my banking and bill payments on line and I do get bill payment notifications via email but I never click on any links in those emails just to be safe.

    Good luck and let us know how this turns out.

  • 81-Year-Old Great-Grandmother Jailed For 2 Days For Pet Violation

    03/14/2014 3:35:13 PM PDT · 39 of 50
    MD Expat in PA to rednesss; cloudmountain; Morgana; Responsibility2nd
    What dog owner has not had Fido or Rover get loose once or twice?

    I agree that the fines and her being jailed for missing her court appearance seems excessive and this judge sounds like an a$$ but this evidently wasn’t a once or twice occurrence. Another article mentions that a local company donated their services to fix her fence so that rather negates the “someone left the gate open one time and my dogs got out this one time when I wasn’t looking” defense.

    ”Back in May, Root says her pets “somehow” got loose from her yard several times.”


    “I’m struggling to pay my house taxes. I couldn’t pay it. It’s a different thing when you leave your dogs out and you don’t care. But I do care,” Root said….But when the cancer survivor failed to show up at court on her doctor’s orders, a judge had Root arrested."

    But according to this article she had 7 dogs, including 4 that belong to her to her daughter who sounds like she might currently be “homeless”.,0,2723700,full.story

    It also says she’s taken in strays ….evidently both of the animal and “human” variety.

    Although Root said she is close to her animals and her daughter said previously her mother has taken in strays, another member of the family pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges four years ago.

    Root's great-granddaughter, Megan Dawn Wagoner, who is now 22, pleaded guilty to one count of mutilating an animal in 2010. Wagoner was living at Root's home at the time and was accused of killing a stray cat, then skinning it.

    Wagoner spent two months in jail in 2011.She is currently on supervised probation and has a 17-month-old son.

    Gifford said Wagoner, who is her adopted daughter and is the biological daughter of Root's grandson, did not kill the cat, but did skin it, and pleaded guilty on the recommendation of her public defender to get less jail time.

    Gifford said her adopted daughter had been told by the person who killed to cat to skin it.

    "She didn't think that she was going to do anything wrong, and she's trying to come forward with that," Gifford said.

    While I feel a bit sorry for the poor old woman, she also does not seem to have her priorities straight; she’s struggling to pay her property taxes yet has money to care for 7 dogs? And there seems to be a lot of “blame everyone else” and some other weird goings on in that family. Not sure they sound like model neighbors. JM2C.

    I think the fine was failure to appear in court. Not for the loose dogs.

    She was fined $75 for each dog running loose and some fines for not having dog licenses for 4 of the dogs (I’m guessing the 4 belonging to her daughter) and in another separate and unrelated case, fined for having a dog at large, but she was jailed for failing to show up for her court appearance. I’m sorry but the “my doctor told me not to appear in court” doesn’t pass the smell test. If she was really that ill, her doctor could have called or written a letter to the judge explaining why she was too frail and sickly to appear.

    And some are quick to declare her neighbor as being a jerk for reporting her, but then again we don’t know how many times the neighbor had found her dogs running amok all over his property or what other nuisances he might have put up with before he reported her.

    FWIW, when my husband and I bought our first house, our next door neighbors had 5 (maybe 6 or 7, it was hard to keep count) big hound dogs. Their yard wasn’t fenced and they used to tie up the dogs with clothes line which often broke. More than once and more than just a few times I had the “Bumpus Hounds” running through my back yard, once running through our back yard cookout, knocking over the kids, jumping up on the picnic table and absconding with hamburgers and hot dogs. One time I had several nearly knock me over as I was bringing groceries from the car to the back door. Reminded me of this:

    The first time it happened, when I found the neighbors dogs in my yard, I assumed they had gotten loose by accident and being a good neighbor and an animal lover and fearing that they might run into the street and get hit by a car, I got a hold of them and walked them back to my neighbor’s house, introducing myself. And did I get a “Thank you” or even “I’m sorry”? No, the two nasty lesbian “biotches” who lived there and who owned these dogs glared at me as if I had done something wrong and without saying a word or even making eye contact with me, took their dogs back into their house.

    Thankfully a year later they sold the house to a nice young couple who later after we became friends, told me how deplorable the condition of the house was, how it smelled of dog urine and how there was dog feces all over the house, how none of the female dogs were fixed and that there was blood stains on the walls and on the raggy carpet, how the lesbians (who refused to speak to the husband during the settlement) were also hoarders and how much work they had to put in to renovate the house before they could make it livable enough to even move in (but then they did get a very good price for it and it was a 200 year old house, that they restored and made absolutely beautiful).

    My point is that this article makes the woman out to be a poor victim of a nasty neighbor and an unfeeling judge, but I think, just perhaps that we may not be getting the entire story.

  • Genesis Science Is Practical, Not Just Academic

    03/14/2014 1:47:25 PM PDT · 11 of 11
    MD Expat in PA to fishtank
    The delay in studying soft tissue (such as blood, collagen, and DNA fragments) in dinosaur fossils is due to the evolutionary assumption that dinosaurs went extinct so many millions of years ago that their bones could not possibly contain soft tissue today.

    That is a complete misrepresentation of what Mary Schweitzer and her team found.

    The same is true for the so-called “vestigial organs” like tonsils and appendices that evolution-trusting surgeons removed as evolutionary leftovers from patients who could have benefited from their immune system-enhancing services.2 Having a healthy immune system is practical, not just academic.

    Healthy tonsils and appendices have only a limited effect on the overall immune system but I do agree they shouldn’t be removed without good reason. I had my tonsils taken out when I was 18 but that was after years of chronic tonsillitis and chronic infections. It got so bad right before I had them removed, after I was finally taken to an ENT specialist that he said they were full of holes, looked like Swiss cheese and it was a wonder I hadn’t gone septic. Also appendicitis will kill ya.

    Referring to “evolution-trusting surgeons” and suggesting that these surgeons remove tonsils and appendices merely because they are “evolutionary leftovers” is one of the more stupid things I’ve read coming from ICR and that’s saying a lot.

  • Obama to order expansion of overtime pay for millions of workers

    03/14/2014 6:40:17 AM PDT · 79 of 81
    MD Expat in PA to driftdiver

    A couple of points I’d like to make (and yes, I am in HR and am a payroll/HRIS manager).

    First of all there are DOL/FLSA rules defining who can be exempt from overtime and they are pretty clear.

    It has nothing to do with a job title. For instance you can’t rename a Secretary to “Executive Administrative Assistant” or a Janitor to “Refuse Disposal Engineering Manager” and suddenly not pay them overtime. In order to be properly classified as salaried overtime exempt the position, to name a few of the tests based on the position (not the job title), they must have management as their primary duty, typically although not always, they directly supervise the work of others and have input on personnel issues, hiring, firing, performance reviews and wage increase recommendations, and exercise independent judgment and discretion about matters of significance, i.e. have some authority on decision making of importance to the business.

    Sure, there are some businesses that misclassify workers as being exempt when they aren’t in order not to have to pay overtime, but if they do, they open themselves up to DOL investigations if there is a complaint and face not only back pay for overtime but also substantial fines.

    While it is nice to get time and a half for working over 40 hours in a week (or in some states also over 8 hours in a day like in CA) hourly workers do not have to be given paid vacation, PTO, sick time or paid holidays or paid for breaks or lunch periods of 20 minutes or more or if the business closes due to weather, etc. And if they do get paid time off, those hours do not have to count toward overtime although my company does currently count them. But under FLSA an hourly worker does not have to be paid for hours not actually worked nor does paid time off, non-worked hour have to be counted toward overtime.

    On the plus side of being in a salaried exempt position, if you work any part of the work week you must be paid your full salary. The employer may legally require you to cover missed work time with PTO, but they can’t dock your pay for full or partial days even if you have exhausted your leave bank as long as you worked any part of the week (although excessive missed time could be a disciplinary and performance issue that might lead to termination). And a salaried exempt person is going to be paid their full salary for the week when the company is closed such as for holidays and weather closures. Salaried exempt workers, at least in most companies have some leeway with respect to minimal lost time, i.e. if I am 15 minutes late for work because of traffic or bad weather or have to leave a half hour early to go to the doctors, where I work, unlike our hourly non-exempt workers, I don’t have to cover it with PTO or am I docked for it, although my the Director of HR that I report to might expect me to make up the time if I need to in order to get the job done, she also knows that I work a good number of hours over 40 so I have some flexibility in my position, including the ability to occasionally work from home.

    And if you are properly classified as a salaried exempt employee, because you have some amount of independent judgment, if you need to work late or over a weekend to finish a project, you can without requesting permission to work the “overtime”. As a salaried exempt employee, I can go the extra mile and prove myself to be a responsible and dedicated worker who gets things done and that has lead to many salary increases and promotions over the years.

    The previous job I had however I was classified as being a non-exempt hourly position (customer service for a 3rd party benefits administrator) but permission to work overtime was rarely granted but the work load was ridiculous so I most others in my department were overworked and overstressed because we were always trying to catch up but weren’t allowed to work the overtime that IMO was necessary to do a good job.

    I would also mention that the $455 minimum salary per week for exempt employees is the minimum but keep in mind that also includes salaried workers who work a part time schedule, do not work anywhere near 40 hours a week. We have a few of those where I work, one is a professional engineer who retired but came back working part time, only 16 hours a week. Because he still holds the same position that is salaried exempt, he has to be paid the $455 minimum even if he only works 1 or 2 hours in any week.

    And FWIW there is nothing against current FLSA rules that says a company can’t pay an overtime premium to salaried exempt workers or pay them a bonus, or even pay them an hourly rate over and above their salary for working extra hours, a few companies I know of do this. OTOH, if you pay a bonus to an non-exempt worker and that bonus or commission is “non-discretionary”, i.e. guaranteed and part of a written plan and based on some sort of performance criteria, then that bonus or commission must be spread out over each and every week in which the bonus was earned and any overtime worked and paid over those work weeks must be recalculated to include the bonus in the regular rate of pay and the additional overtime must be paid. So my take is that this will screw a lot of formerly salaried exempt workers right out of many bonus and commission plans.

    And those newly classified as non-exempt will have to start either punch a time clock or keeping detailed time records in order to ensure they are paid overtime. While that might not sound like a big deal, in reality that means a lot more work for managers, who now are responsible for substantiation and approving those time records and additional work for payroll departments. Paying salaried workers is typically less time consuming as they are typically set to “Auto Pay” and only exceptions have to be dealt with, than dealing with the complexities of dealing with time records as the employer/payroll department is responsible to ensure that even if the employee misses punching in or out for the day or in or out for lunch they legally must be paid for time worked even if the hourly employee misses filling out their time card properly. At my company my payroll specialist and I already spend a lot of our time chasing down time card and time clock errors and omissions.

    My take as a payroll and HR professional with nearly 30 years of experience is that these proposed changes will not mean an increase in pay overall, that companies will reduce their increased potential overtime exposure by several means including but not limited to; limiting wage increases for everyone across the board from middle management on down; eliminating non-exempt positions where they can or hiring more part time workers (with the added bonus of if they work less than 30 hours, not having to offer them health insurance); not counting non-worked hours toward overtime if not required as my company currently does; putting more limits on paid leave time; putting caps on the amount of paid leave time an employee can accrue (and we did this late last year, capping it a 220 hours from the old max of 350 hours regardless of seniority and stopping payouts for unused PTO) and or putting in place a “use it or lose it” cap were allowable by state law; eliminating many company paid holidays; and utilizing more temporary workers through temp agencies to cover periods when overtime might be a possibility.

    Thanks Obama!

  • Conspiracy theories spiral around MH370’s disappearance

    03/09/2014 6:14:56 AM PDT · 49 of 53
    MD Expat in PA to Spartan302
    Until actual wreckage is found I think it was hijacked, flown at wave top level, possibly left a false fuel dump trail and is hidden somewhere and they are asking for ransom. Probably the ROP.

    And after a fuel dump, how far could they have flown and where would that plane have landed without being noticed? You can’t exactly land a 777 on just any air strip. Not to mention that flying a 777 at “wave top level” for any great distance, would be an amazing if not impossible feat of flying.

  • Rush is the awesomest band ever!

    03/09/2014 6:08:17 AM PDT · 186 of 191
    MD Expat in PA to bakeneko
    I saw Rush with my nieces at the Nissan Center outside of DC in 2002. Their brother, my nephew, who is a drummer and a huge Rush and Peart fan was there also but not sitting with us.

    While I’ve liked Rush since the late 70’s after hearing The Trees for the first time on an FM rock station, I have to say that it was one of the best concerts to which I’ve ever been and I became a much bigger fan after seeing them live.

    One of the things I noticed was the diversity of the people at that show: young, middle aged and older, obvious heavy metal types, hipsters, frat boys, a few Naval Academy Midshipmen and quite a number of people who look like they manage your 401k funds : ) . There were two black guys sitting next to us and they knew all the words to all the songs, and after talking to them on the way out after the concert was over, I learned they were both Julliard trained musicians and huge Rush fans; the one guy was a bassist in a jazz band and the other was a studio musician and a drummer in a rock band.

    And speaking of bassists, while Neal Peart is considered one of the best rock drummers, Geddy Lee is an amazing bassist and is consistently listed in the top 10 among the best rock bassists of all time. And Alex Lifeson is no slouch on the guitar either.

    La Villa Strangiato (Rush in Rio)

    RUSH - The Trees - Snakes and Arrows Live

  • Atheists Force Woman to Remove Cross Honoring Dead Son

    03/08/2014 2:00:56 PM PST · 88 of 99
    MD Expat in PA to Vaquero; Oliviaforever; LaRueLaDue; latina4dubya; Atlas Sneezed
    These memorials ar all over the public roads around here. They are taken down after a while by the hwy department because they are eyesores and I personally find them in disgustingly poor taste. Cross/star of David / whatever. I find them in questionable taste as I do the etched glass or decal memorials on the rear windows of cars. Memorials should be in your heart, not the mean streets nor the back windows of cars that will rust and be crushed. If the memorial was on their property I wish them well. If it was just on the side of a public road, I say no.

    I somewhat agree with you (ducking for cover). Although I’ve seen a few Crosses and memorials that are; most of them are hastily put up and usually never maintained afterwards. They often include plastic flowers and teddy bears, even balloons that after a few months in the weather and being subjected to road grime, look both sad and simply awful. They tend to get picked up after a while by the highway crews or the mowing crews or get plowed away after the first big snow storm around here.

    On a side note, I would add that every time I see one of the those “In Memory of (fill in the blank) 19xx to 20xx” window etchings or decals, I notice it is nearly always on a rather late model and expensive vehicle; the model year of the vehicle is nearly always same or one or two years later than the person’s death.

    So every time I see one, I don’t think, “Wow, that person really misses their loved one”, rather I think, “I’m sorry you died but I bought this really nice car or truck with the insurance money I got – Thanks! (I know that sounds cynical but that’s what I think when I see them). Of course those are on privately owned vehicles so it really doesn’t matter what I think about them and the vehicle owner is perfectly free to put on their vehicle whatever they want as long as it doesn’t conflict with common decency, i.e. convey an obscenity or convey a false identity (Here I am thinking of states that have refused to issue vanity plates that say something like “FBI” or “FedGov” or “DEA” or “IMACOP” for reasons that should be obvious).

    Personally I would never think to or go out of my way to complain about one of those roadside or sidewalk memorials or insist they be taken down but then again, I’m not opposed to them being removed when they become an eyesore or impede the mowing crews or become a nuisance to traffic as some of them do. I find it somewhat interesting that I’ve seen traffic on a busy highway slow down to gawk at a newly erected “memorial” where a person died in some sort of traffic accident where as the distraction of erecting such, could in and of itself be the cause of yet another.

    OTOH, driving by a Cross placed along the side of the road, even as being a “non-believer” myself (I hate the word Atheist as I hate the Atheist a-holes as much as I do the PC and Liberal crowd); it in no way offends me. If others find faith and comfort in it, I’m certainly not against it.

    But FWIW I also used to live in Baltimore City and would see these “memorials” along sidewalks where some punk gang banger popped a cap in the “you know what” of some other punk gang banger (excuse me while I look for my hanky /s).

    I also wonder about some of these road side memorials and whether the person who died at that particular spot of the road was the victim of a drunk, speeding, texting or reckless driver or whether the person who died there WAS the drunk, speeding, texting or reckless driver. While most of us assume that the roadside memorial commemorates the death of some sort of innocent victim, it would be wrong to always assume such, as much as it would be wrong to assume that the dead gang banger was “just a good kid”.

    Sorry, but the First Amendment trumps what you believe to be in “disgustingly poor taste.” These memorials are not on private property against the will of the land owner, but are on public land. Sometimes they may be at the corner of an intersection or on the side or the road or just off the sidewalk near a home or hospital where someone died or even sometimes near an abortion mill where thousands have been murdered. Again, it is a First Amendment Right.

    No it isn’t. The 1st Amendment says nothing of the kind.

    “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.”

    Note the word “Congress” – as that word has meaning and is very important. It was intended to prohibit the Federal government from establishing an official national religion or hindering the free exercise of any religion at the national level or in suppressing both an individual’s or that of any state assembly’s political speech, of a free press even when they report things not complimentary to the Federal government. The 1st Amendment says nothing about anyone’s right to put up a roadside or sidewalk side memorials to a dead loved one on public lands or along Federal highways and it says nothing about whether States or local municipalities have to allow them under the 1st Amendment.

    Oliviaforever: I would ask you that if you are such a staunch supporter of the 1st Amendment and think that it carries such a broad interpretation as you seemingly think it does, then I guess you would not be opposed to the Atheist family of an Atheist family member putting up a “roadside memorial” that says, “Heaven and God is a Myth” or a roadside memorial that displays Buddhist or Hindu or Rastafarian symbols or a Shrine to the Virgin Mary. Or are you one of those folks who think that the 1st Amendment only applies to and covers what you believe?

  • Vietnam media: Navy confirms flight MH370 crashed into the sea [disputed account]

    03/08/2014 5:47:11 AM PST · 110 of 282
    MD Expat in PA to matt04
    Good point. Either shot down or terrorism seen to be the most likely. It it not often planes break apart over the ocean on their own

    While most airline crashes happen during or shortly after takeoff or during a landing or because of bad weather, it is not impossible or out of the question to suffer a sudden and catastrophic failure of some kind at altitude and or combined with pilot error (see Air France Flight 447).

    Aside from a sudden failure of the electrical systems, I’m also thinking of some sort of a rapid depressurization due to a failure of the integrity of the plane, i.e. metal fatigue.

    While it is way too early to rule out any cause including terrorism, I’m not about to jump on “a plane crashed ; it must be an act of terrorism” bandwagon.

  • Doctors concerned about painkiller said to be 10 times stronger than Vicodin

    03/08/2014 5:42:30 AM PST · 36 of 39
    MD Expat in PA to AppyPappy; Doc Savage
    They chase it down with liquor and that’s what kills their liver.

    In some cases yes; but then there are some people who take Rx pain pills that they don’t realize contain acetaminophen and also take an OTC containing acetaminophen (Tylenol) on top of it without realizing that they are getting way too much acetaminophen. The same can be said of OTC multi-symptom cold drugs that contain acetaminophen when the personal also takes Tylenol at the same time.

    Acetaminophen in high enough doses can cause liver damage without any alcohol use.

  • OBAMA JUST NOW On CNN: "Putin Will Realize He Is On The Wrong Side Of History!"

    03/03/2014 2:32:13 PM PST · 130 of 146
    MD Expat in PA to SevenofNine
    I saw Ray Charles at forum at once mid 1980s he was good

    I dreamed about Ray Charles last night…and he could see just fine.

    Spider Web, with lyrics (by Joan Osborne)

  • I Have an Interesting Situation and need advice

    03/03/2014 2:22:24 PM PST · 86 of 96
    MD Expat in PA to lafroste
    I am going to assume for a moment, unlike some of our more cynical members that you are as you said, are not naïve and that this lady is not trying to scam you out of money but got herself into a horrible situation for which she needs some help getting out of.

    First of all with all that being said, do not under any circumstances give her any money and limit your personal contact with her going forward and be very careful what personal information you divulge about yourself, your family or your personal finances. Sob stories are a dime a dozen and a lot of good people, even some very well educated and quite intelligent but well intentioned people occasionally fall victims to scams. And word to the wise; on-line "friendships" with foreign born women via social media sites; Facebook and dating sites are almost always: 99.999999% of the time, are a scam. Better to be safe rather than sorry.

    But” if” her story is true, whether she is here legally or not, whether her work visa is expired or not is not really the question IMO. No one should be forced to forgo the wages they are legally entitled to or be kept in servitude against their will. No one should be forced to give up their passport to a private party or to an employer. Unfortunately it does happen and even here in the US and more often than we’d like to think, although it is usually Middle Eastern and Indian folks living here thinking that their caste systems and slavery practices come over with them. So with that being said, I wouldn’t necessarily pass this off as being impossible.

    If you think that she is in any immediate physical danger, I would contact the Baltimore police. But I doubt that is the case.

    The DOL can get involved in a wage dispute, i.e. if she is entitled to OT or a complaint about not receiving her wages, having them withheld from her, but I don’t think you can do that on her behalf, she’d have to file a complaint herself. You could give her the information on how to file a complaint with the DOL herself. But that is a long legal process and does not necessarily address her immediate concerns if there are any. Filing such a complaint could result in retribution or even in her sudden disappearance “if” that is really her situation. But if she’s just pissed that she’s not being paid according to law and not being kept as a slave, the DOL would be her best recourse.

    There are also some good resources to be found here that addresses this type of situation you describe if true, that you could pass along to her but let her, in fact be very firm to tell her that she must follow through on her own, that you can’t and won’t do it for her:

    If she is really in a situation of being a victim of human trafficking, you “might” make a call to the Justice Department’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit and ask them some question as to what you can do or what you shouldn’t do in this situation. Or even better yet, pass this information on to her and as above, tell her that she has to follow through herself, that you will not do it for her.

    But if you do contact them yourself, tell them what you know or suspect; and honestly tell them under what circumstances you came to know her and including if she ever asked you for money, what she told you but also be very clear to tell them that you don’t know her all that well, that you have a very limited passing knowledge of her and of her situation and that you have no direct proof other than what she has told you, that you are not even sure whether it is true or not and let them investigate.

    She could also contact the Embassy of the Philippines in Washington DC. From Baltimore to DC that is only a short train ride away. I wouldn’t give her cash but if you really wanted to, although I wouldn’t recommend it, you could purchase her a train ticket to go there and let her do the rest. If she really wants out of this situation she will, if she doesn’t, then it’s likely that she’s probably scamming you.

    I absolutely get those who are cautioning you and advising you to just walk away. But on the other hand, while I am a very cynical person and highly suspect of most people’s motives, I am also not sure that I could sleep at night if I turned a blind eye to someone who was legitimately in need of help. But at the end of the day you have to look inside yourself absent any emotions, and following your first and gut instincts; if that little voice inside your head tells you this doesn’t smell right; then listen to it.

    But helping someone in this situation doesn’t mean you should get in any more deeply involved than you already are or set yourself up. Do what you can, but also don’t take this on as your sole personal responsibility.

  • Rural Alabama town selected for national AT&T technology trial on ending landline phone service

    03/03/2014 12:42:21 PM PST · 75 of 77
    MD Expat in PA to TexasGator; chessplayer
    ”Landlines still work in power outages in case of emergencies. Cell phones don’t.“

    My cell phone still works when I have a power outage.

    My cell phone works just fine during power outages also. I worked fine during the last big ice storm we had here in central PA even during my 18+ hour power outage but I had no internet as my cable modem doesn’t work without power.

    The problem with cell phones (and land lines as well during a major disaster even if the power is still on) is that the systems quickly become overloaded.

    I lived and worked in Baltimore on 9/11 and even though there were no power outages, it was very difficult to get a dial tone and or make any calls on anywhere on the East Coast. It was also very difficult to connect cell phone calls or once connected, calls would drop. I also experienced internet slowdowns and intermittent outages that day too. I remember it well as I was finalizing my company’s payroll that Tuesday and had to work with ADP to re-route our normal wire transfer to another bank as the bank we normally dealt with was in lower Manhattan.

    I was also living in Baltimore during the blizzard of ‘83¸which had not been forecasted and caught pretty much everyone by surprise. I kept picking up the phone, attempting to call my main office to get permission to close my store early and all I got was either no dial tone or that dial tone that indicated that all circuits were busy.

  • Rural Alabama town selected for national AT&T technology trial on ending landline phone service

    03/03/2014 12:23:44 PM PST · 73 of 77
    MD Expat in PA to ken5050
    Will we ever have the technology that lets you have a cell hone and land line with the SAME number? I'd love that. I've been told ( not sure if it's true) that they could do it today..the technology's there, but the problem is the 911 system....if you had the same # the 911 systems can't as yet identify where you're calling from..and it would cost local governments a lot to upgrade.

    I don’t think that is an option presently - having a land line and a cell phone with the same phone number. You might be able to forward your calls from your cell to your land line and perhaps depending on your landline service – visa versa. You can in theory have two cell phones with the same phone number but that requires physically transferring the SIM card (assuming you are using phones that still use SIM cards) from one phone to the other and shutting off the phone not in use and they would also have to be both be with the same carrier. I don’t think it is possible to have a land line and a cell phone with the same number operating simultaneously.

    I do know that were I work, a manufacturing plant, we just started weekly rotations of being on call for our maintenance staff. And we got a new cell phone and new number especially for that purpose – that way if there was an plant emergency or a machine breakdown, there would only be one number to call rather than having to look up to see who was on call that week.

    The problem with that is that this requires a physical hand off of that phone to the next person on call which depending on what normal shift and building they are assigned to and where they live, could mean passing it off at midnight on a Sunday or Saturday, not exactly practical especially since we have 3 plants, one several miles away from the other two. Our IT department was asked to find out if we could have a second cell phone with the same phone number and the answer from our provider was no – that’s not possible and I don’t think it had anything to do with 9-11 service. Last I heard the game plan was to have a primary cell phone and number to call and a secondary phone to which the prior person on call person would be responsible to set up to automatically forward their calls to the other phone and phone number once their rotation ended and that next person transferring calls back to the first phone once their rotation ended.

    As far as dialing 9-11 from a cell phone, you can do that now, you just need to be sure first off to tell the operator you are calling from a cell phone and give your current location. Of course that might not help in a medical emergency or other type of emergency where you are able to dial 9-11 but not necessarily able to speak, but truthfully, how often does that happen?

    There are improvements being made however to locate 9-11 calls from cell phones.

    To be honest, I ditched my land line 10 years ago and I’ve had no problems or regrets over doing so. All I ever seemed to get on my land line were telemarketing calls (even being on the Do Not Call list, although it did cut it down) and wrong numbers. The only time in those 10 years that I dialed 9-11 was when I was on the road, rural road and witnessed a serious car accident and called from my cell phone.

    And when I had a conventional land line cordless phone, when the power went off, so did my phone. And now when my power goes out, I lose my cable and my internet but my cell phone still works. Worse comes to worse, I can charge my phone in my car and even can charge from my laptop via a USB cable as long as my laptop still has battery life.

  • Most State College bars to go dry on State Patty's Day

    03/03/2014 6:44:14 AM PST · 46 of 65
    MD Expat in PA to Vaquero
    I would think Penn State needs all the spare cash to pay the lawsuits from the Jerry Sandusky bone smuggling ring.

    “Pennsylvania State University's board of trustees has authorized payment of roughly $60 million to settle about two dozen personal-injury claims by men who say they were sexually abused by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, according to people familiar with the matter.”

    I guess that 300k is a mere drop in the bucket compared to 60 million. But IMO the 300k to pay taverns to stay closed is a complete waste of money that could be better spent on more important things.

    I’m not advocating for massive public drunkenness by college kids on St. Patrick’ Day or at any other time of the year (Cinco de Mayo, New Years Eve, the week after final exams, the week leading up to graduation, pledge week, homecoming, celebrating a football or basketball champion ship, etc.), considering all the problems it causes, but in reality paying establishments to close on this one day a year isn’t going to do anything to cure the problem of alcohol abuse among some college students. If they want to get drunk out of their minds, this isn’t going to stop them. And I think it sends absolutely the wrong message to the young adults, those who are 21 years old and over who might just want to responsibly go out and have a beer or two with some friends - it tells them that they aren’t really responsible for their own actions, rather it is the legal establishments who are at fault if they get out of hand.

    FWIW, back in the late ‘80’s I went to a Penn State football game with my husband and his good friend from work who was a Penn State graduate who got us tickets for a Penn State – Notre Dame game. I was amazed by the tailgating and partying by the adult Penn State alumni, a lot of them big time donors and boosters and many of them the parents of students. My husband’s friend took us around the parking lot and not only were we treated to some really great food, we were also given all sorts of alcohol at every stop; mimosas, bloody Mary’s, hot toddies, spiked cider, mulled wine, beer, shots; if I had even partaken in a ¼ of what I was offered that morning, at 10:00 AM, I would have been too drunk to walk from the parking lot to our seats at the stadium. Of course my husband and I didn’t imbibe to that sort of extreme but we did see more than our share of very drunken adults. If Penn State wants to really take a stand about public drunkenness, they might want to do something about the tailgating at football games. But of course, they won’t. There is too much of an income stream coming in to do that.

  • Most State College bars to go dry on State Patty's Day

    03/03/2014 5:46:17 AM PST · 33 of 65
    MD Expat in PA to Red in Blue PA; Vaquero; stanne
    Damon Sims, Penn State's vice president for student affairs, said 33 of 35 downtown State College establishments, including all taverns and bottle shops, have agreed to accept monetary compensation offered by the university for a moratorium of the sale of alcohol Saturday.

    What is a “bottle shop”? I live in central PA and have never heard that term before. Here in PA, the sale of liquor and wine are exclusively through the Commonwealth of PA owned Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores. Beer for the most part is only sold by “distributors” and can only be sold by the case.

    ETA; a quick Google search indicates that “Bottle Shops” are places that are either beer distributors or establishments that can sell six packs, mostly carry out restaurants and a few grocery stores like Wegmans and wine sold by shops owned by wineries.

    FWIW however, there are 4 Fine Wine & Good Spirits stores listed in State College. Are they going to be closed on that Saturday also?

    No. The Fine Wine and Good Spirits stores across PA and in State College will be open that Saturday and on St. Patrick’s Day on Monday. They are mostly closed on Sundays, a few are open on Sunday with limited hours but they are all closed on Federal Holidays because of their union contract and designation as Commonwealth employees. And if you have had the displeasure of patronizing a Fine Wine and Good Spirits store, imagine a all the charm and dedication to customer service that you get from Penn Dot when getting your license or plates renewed along with a store that is both overpriced, under stocked and understaffed, especially before a holiday.

    That means the university will have paid as much as $343,000 in the last two years to dissuade downtown tavern and restaurant owners from serving alcohol during the student-created holiday.

    First of all, spending that amount of money to pay tavern and restaurant owners to close on that one day a year is ridiculous. I bet that there are many academic departments at Penn State that would love to share in part of those funds, say for new lab equipment, scholarships for deserving students, funding for some alcohol free alternative events, etc.

    And the “student created holiday”? If by student created they mean going out and partying on Saturday March 15th for St. Patrick’s Day instead of on Monday March 17th, I don’t think that is exclusive to Penn State or to college students in general.

    Or drive far and wide to get there booze and drive back drunk

    Exactly. So rather than partying on Saturday or driving out of Happy Valley, they will instead go out on Monday, on the 17th and then skip classes on Tuesday.

    Knowing st Patrick’s life story, having grown up in a school named for him, i can assure anyone he would not want any group of kids getting drunk at all, never mind all day, in his name or any other. The bar owners have taken advantage of these stupid kids and st Patrick long enough, I’m sure

    Yep, we should absolutely spend state tax money to pay and dissuade business owners from selling a completely legal product to those who are of a legal age to buy it all because you don’t think a 5th-century Romano-British Christian missionary would approve. /s

    BTW from what I understand, one of the biggest party nights for college students is the night before Thanksgiving. They go home and hook up with friends and party on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. Of course Thanksgiving is not a drinking holiday per se, but a lot of college kids will do what college kids are prone to do, with or without the Nanny State trying to dissuade them and spending out tax dollars to do so.

  • In California, Thousands Exposed to Measles

    02/28/2014 9:14:04 PM PST · 118 of 118
    MD Expat in PA to exDemMom; Talisker
    And why do they need to do this to everybody, if their vaccines work? You see, you don’t even understand medicine. These are special vaccines, just like they are special poisons. These vaccines don’t just “work.” They are collective vaccines. They only work if everyone has them, and that way, no one can be a carrier of a disease that might threaten everyone who has a vaccination. But, you say, if people are vaccinated, then what does it matter if they are exposed? And again, you don’t understand. Vaccines don’t actually stop disease - oh no. Vaccines are a way you can get rid of carriers for disease, by vaccinating them. You see? Then everyone is vaccinated, and no one is a carrier. And then - there will be no more disease on planet Earth, because no one will be a carrier.

    Why bless your heart.

    Here’s your sign

    In all seriousness, there are tons of articles both scholarly and for the layman that I could post that would explain to you how and why vaccines work but it would be a waste of time since it’s evident that you won’t read them. FWIW, I don’t think you are stupid in general. But I think you are stupid when it comes to understanding modern medicine and it and how science works. You’ve chosen to wear blinders and instead choose to believe in pseudo science, the very same type of pseudo science you rail against when it comes to politically based global warming and population control, etc. But the science of vaccinations well pre-dates all of that and contrary to your alarmist and wild conspiracy theories and unfounded claims, it has no political agenda and is well founded and supported by actual evidence.

    But perhaps some images will make the point:

    Before the polio vaccine:

    When was the last time you knew of a kid who was confined to a wheel chair or in an iron lung because of Polio?

    Measles deaths before and after vaccinations:

    Here's some more reading material for our viewers. (Oh, lemme guess - it's quackery, right? What a surprise! LOLOL!)

    Yes, that website is complete quackery. They are hawking their coconut oil and their books promoting it as a cure for Alzheimer’s and just about everything else that ails you including heart disease, viruses, bacteria, diabetes, hair loss and HIV/AIDS. They might as well be selling snake oil. Are you also so dense that you answer those Nigerian email scams too?

    Marianita Jader Shilhavy, CND (Certified Nutritionist/Dietician in the Philippines) earned her bachelor of science degree in nutrition at Centro Escolar University in Manila. Understanding the nutrition of Filipino foods, Marianita worked for over eight years as a hospital dietician and nutritional counselor in the Philippines, using her knowledge of Asian foods to help people recover from illness.

    Brian W. Shilhavy, BA, MA

    Brian earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Bible/Greek from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, and his Master of Arts degree in linguistics from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. He is currently the CEO of Tropical Traditions, Inc.

    In 1998 Marianita and Brian returned to the Philippines with their three children and renovated the old family farmhouse. By this time the coconut industry was severely depressed due to the negative U.S. campaigns against tropical oils in the 1980s and 1990s. Coconut farmers could no longer support their families on the income generated from harvesting coconuts. They are the authors of the Tropical Traditions best-selling book, Virgin Coconut Oil: How it has changed people's lives, and how it can change yours!, with over 80,000 copies in print.

    Sure, they have only your best interests at heart and your health in mind. It has absolute nothing at all to do with the severely depressed coconut farming industry in the Philippines after they made the poor decision to buy a farm there and found that hawking books making false health claims was actually more profitable than farming. And FWIW, registered dieticians are some of the weirdest and the least scientific minded people I’ve ever met. And a person with a BA in Bible/Greek and an MA in linguistics is not exactly someone I would go to for medical advice. I’m not even sure what I would go a person with BA in Bible/Greek and an MA in linguistics for except to perhaps translate some ancient Greek texts for me.

    Institutional Corruption of Pharmaceuticals and the Myth of Safe and Effective Drugs - Harvard University Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics Vol. 14, No. 3 (2013)

    That link directed me to the website of a rock band; The Refusers – “The Refusers are a high-energy rock band that performs rousing protest songs tinged with humor, satire and biting lyrics. Their music is powered by growling guitar, pounding drums, slapping bass and catchy hooks that blend elements of rock, funk and reggae into a sound that is hard-driving, accessible, informative, and addictive.”

    Well that sure was convincing. I always formulate my opinions on science and medicine based on “growling guitar, pounding drums, slapping bass and catchy hooks” / s.

    Not to mention that their music really sucks big time. I’d be more persuaded by U2 if they came out with an anti-vaccination song because at least they still make some good music. ; ),

    OK, it’s not exactly U2 but it makes a much better point and is more factual than any of the songs by The Refusers and is much more musical to boot!

    The Vaccine Song

  • Top 10 Greatest Airplane Movies

    02/28/2014 6:56:50 PM PST · 168 of 183
    MD Expat in PA to EveningStar; Tax-chick
    While The Right Stuff was a movie about the early days of the space program, the Mercury program, nearly the first half of the movie was about the Air Force test pilots during the early days of jet aircraft, especially focusing on Chuck Yeager and his breaking of the sound barrier.

    Top Gun #1? Pish!

    The Right Stuff deserves to be on that list, if not very high up on that list.

    I is among my favorite movies of all time; in my top ten favorite movies. Although I will say that Airplane! is one of my favorite comedy movies, right up there with Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Monty Python And The Holy Grail and Bringing Up Baby.

  • In California, Thousands Exposed to Measles

    02/23/2014 9:33:24 AM PST · 106 of 118
    MD Expat in PA to Talisker; exDemMom
    First of all thimerosal as a preservative was removed from all childhood vaccines except for seasonal flu vaccines beginning in the late 1990’s, early 2000’s and was only before that used in multi-dose vials and was never used for in live virus vaccines such as MMR or chickenpox vaccines. Thimerosal is still used in the vaccine production process of some vaccines so there can be trace amounts left, but these are in miniscule amounts and do not pose any danger despite the fear mongering of the anti-vaccine folks. There is a greater danger in not using it in vaccine production and its other medical uses such as in contact lens solutions and some nasal sprays.

    A good example of this is the outbreak of fungal meningitis traced to the New England Compounding Center and their production of “preservative-free” steroid injections. Of course many issues were found there; poor practices, equipment and HVAC systems not properly maintained but the main point is that funguses and mold and bacteria kill and make many people seriously ill and this is very well documented were as vaccines, even those containing thimerosal do not.

    FWIW, here is a table showing thimerosal concentrations in vaccines updated as of December 2013:*_

    You might also be interested to read this: And this:

    Thimerosal is highly effective in preventing bacterial and fungal growth (those being much more harmful to human health and has a much greater risk of fatally as I noted) and thimerosal was and is safe, was never proven to be toxic to humans or animals in the amounts contained in vaccines and in fact many recent studies have concluded that its removal from vaccines was unnecessary and many comparisons can be drawn to the Alar – Apple scare i.e. the removal of a very safe and effective product because of unscientific fear mongering from the likes of a scientific expert - Meryl Streep.

    The reason thimerosal was removed from many vaccines was out of an abundance of caution regarding the possible cumulative effects of overall mercury exposure, i.e. bioaccumulation that FWIW also includes all natural occurring sources such as volcanic eruptions, the weathering of rocks, waste incineration and interestingly, coal fired power plants. So if you are really that concerned about mercury, you should also be all for ending coal as a fuel source. You should also not eat many types of shellfish and fish including Tuna, Orange Roughy, Bluefish and Mackerel as you would be exposed to much more of the much more dangerous form of mercury – methylmercury than you ever would even if you took every possible vaccine currently available. You should also be for outlawing cigarettes as cigarette smoke contains mercury at 5 – 7 ng/cigarette and even second hand smoke contains mercury vapors. *

    And you also might choose to educate yourself to learn that all mercury isn't the same: methylmercury vs. ethylmercury:

    Mercury is a naturally occurring element found in the earth's crust, air, soil and water. Since the earth's formation, volcanic eruptions, weathering of rocks and burning of coal have caused mercury to be released into the environment. Once released, certain types of bacteria in the environment can change mercury to methylmercury. Methylmercury makes its way through the food chain in fish, animals and humans. At high levels, it can be toxic to people.

    Thimerosal contains a different form of mercury called ethylmercury. Studies comparing ethylmercury and methylmercury suggest that they are processed differently in the human body. Ethylmercury is broken down and excreted much more rapidly than methylmercury. Therefore, ethylmercury (the type of mercury in the influenza vaccine) is much less likely than methylmercury (the type of mercury in the environment) to accumulate in the body and cause harm.

    "Although the names may sound the same, methylmercury and ethylmercury are very different. An analogy is the difference between methyl alcohol and ethyl alcohol: Methyl alcohol is antifreeze, and ethyl alcohol is a Bud light." - Dr. Ari Brown, pediatrician and author of popular books for parents about infant and child health and development.

    Next when you talk of the many deaths and injuries from vaccinations, it is not unreasonable to ask you for a source for that claim. And when I and exDemMom and others ask you for a source, we don’t mean Mercola, Gia Health, and Natural News or that notable leading medical researcher and self proclaimed Autism “expert” and often naked and drunken party girl actress and former shack up of another great brain trust, Jim Carrey, Jenny McCarthy / s. * Oh and ETA, Jenny McCarthy can be seen on TV hawking e-cigarettes. While there is still a lot that is unknown about the safety of e-cigarettes, “a 2009 FDA analysis of e-cigarettes from two leading brands found that the samples contained carcinogens and other hazardous chemicals, including diethylene glycol, which is found in antifreeze.” And if one can conclude that Jenny was and or is still a cigarette smoker, she has exposed herself and her supposedly autistic son who allegedly became autistic because of the mercury in vaccines, to more mercury than anyone would be exposed to via any and all vaccines combined. Put that in your pipe and smoke it Jenny!

    Then you might want to look at the morbidity and mortality rates for children and young adults who contracted measles, mump, rubella and polio, etc. pre and post the vaccination era. You might also want to look into the 1917-18 flu pandemic that killed many times more people worldwide than were killed during WWI and according to some estimates, rivaled the death toll of great plagues of the Middle Ages.

    Of course back in the “good ole days” of the Middle Ages, long before the evil Pharmas and modern medicine took over, back when “natural herbal remedies” and cures like bloodletting were pretty much all to be had and the scientists of the day believed that diseases were the result of “bad vapors”, a bad alignment of the stars or comets, or a person’s “sinful” nature, back when people believed that smelling fragrant herbs would protect them from diseases that were very much not well understood as to their real cause, like cholera and anthrax, bubonic plague, small pox (small pox which BTW has been completely eradicated because of vaccination programs much like Polio although there are still outbreaks in 3rd world and mostly Islamic countries), etc., back before antibiotics and vaccines, back when 30 to 50% of all children born died and up to 1/3 of all children died before the age of 5 never madding it to adulthood; yes by all means, let’s go back to that! Take a look at the average life expectancy here in the US from 1900 on:

    And if you ever have a few hours to spend, take some time to walk through some old grave yards. Personally I find it very fascinating. It is very poignant to note the number of children who died in infancy and how many died before the age of five and the number of women who died during their childbearing years, sometimes their newborn infants buried next to their mothers.

    As to mercury:

    The EPA classifies any substance having greater than 200ppb (parts per billion) of mercury as toxic waste, that must be disposed of through the appropriate channels (i.e. HAZMAT protocol).

    That pertains to the cleanup of liquid mercury, a spill of 1 pound or more (i.e., if it Looks like Two Tablespoons or More) per the EPA. And I could find no reference anywhere referencing the 200ppb except on anti-vaccine websites that interestingly used your same verbiage almost verbatim.

    And what makes the spills of liquid mercury particularly dangerous is its properties as a liquid heavy metal that evaporates to an airborne vapor therefore posing an inhalation risk and that it is also a very vicious liquid, one that readily seeps into porous surfaces while it continues to evaporate.

    But small amounts of liquid mercury such as if a liquid mercury thermometer or thermostat breaks or the mercury in a florescent light bulb or CFL is exposed due to breakage, it can be dealt with and safely cleaned up at home by following a few common sense procedures and without having to call in a HAZMAT team.

    Per OSHA FWIW:

    Has the federal government made recommendations to protect human health?

    The EPA has set a limit of 2 parts of mercury per billion parts of drinking water (2 ppb)*.

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has set a maximum permissible level of 1 part of methylmercury in a million parts of seafood (1 ppm).

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set limits of 0.1 milligram of organic mercury per cubic meter of workplace air (0.1 mg/m3) and 0.05 mg/m3 of metallic mercury vapor for 8-hour shifts and 40-hour work weeks.

    *Again these guidelines are for liquid and methylmercury and not ethylmercury.

    Thank God for that. Thank God for the researchers who have been working for hundreds of years to develop safe vaccines that have saved the lives of countless millions of children. Thank God we no longer have to have ten or more children in the hope of seeing just one survive to adulthood. Thank God that infectious disease is no longer the #1 killer, but is now down to about the #8 cause of death, all because of vaccine. And curse all of those who promote pseudoscience that causes real children to die of completely preventable infectious disease.

    Thanks exDemMom, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

    As I posted here before, my older brother in 1961 at 12 years old contracted the Mumps and seemed to be getting better but then developed meningitis and encephalitis, a rare but not completely uncommon complication of that disease and other seemingly “harmless” childhood diseases like the Measles. He nearly died and spent over a month in the hospital recovering, confined to a wheel chair for a time for a lot of that time while he had to re-learn how to walk and speak and feed himself, do the things that most normal 12 year olds take for granted.

    I also remember my mother telling me about Polio outbreaks when she was a child in the early 1930’s and how scary it was, how she was kept home from school, how she was kept indoors and away from her friends during an outbreak. She had a cousin who contracted Polio and ended up in an iron lung and died a few short years later, and that one of her class mates contracted it and never walked again. Thank God for Jonas Salk and thank God for his vaccine and for God giving him the brains and intelligence to come up with it, and thank God that by the time I was born in 1961, Polio was no longer a threat.

  • Oldest fortified settlement ever found in North America? Location of Fort Caroline may be in Georgia

    02/22/2014 8:36:00 PM PST · 68 of 71
    MD Expat in PA to Pelham; hondact200

    According to this, Saint Augustine, Florida is the oldest continuously inhabited European established settlement in the United States – 1565.

    St. Johns Newfoundland is the oldest English-founded city in North America – 1583

    Jamestown Virginia was the oldest colony in the original thirteen colonies comprising the United States of America – 1607. And Jamestown served as the capital of the colony for 83 years, from 1616 until 1699. However in 1699, the capital was relocated from Jamestown to what is today Williamsburg, after which Jamestown ceased to exist as a settlement, existing today only as an archaeological site. So yes, Jamestown did survive as a settlement for 83 years.

    Hampton Virginia (1610), Newport News Virginia (1613) and Albany New York (1614) all predate Plymouth (1620).

  • Oldest fortified settlement ever found in North America? Location of Fort Caroline may be in Georgia

    02/22/2014 3:53:06 AM PST · 6 of 71
    MD Expat in PA to Makana

    I am not sure why. This discovery won’t change the date of the settlement at Plymouth and it won’t change the fact that it wasn’t the first in North America.