An Economic Opportunity Missed

If you look at the US GDP growth since 1947, you’ll notice that the recovery magnitude always matched the recession magnitude except for the last one.

I’ve annotated the graph to show the recessions and recoveries in like color ellipses and the pair to the right represents our last recovery.  The zero GDP growth line is shown in clack and notice that with the exception of the last “recovery”, the magnitude of the recovery has equalled or exceeded the magnitude of the recession.

us-gdp-graph-2

Up until this last recession/recovery cycle, it used to all make sense. Recessions are part of the economic cycle and the Free Market would do what it always does, bounce back in like magnitude.

Except for the Obama years…..

Notice this last recession was severe but the recover was nothing but blah. The “recovery” has averaged around a 2% GDP growth rate and 2016 came in at a pitiful 1.6%.

From the WSJ article:

Speaking of weak, growth for all of 2016 clocked in at 1.6%, the slowest since 2011 and down from 2.6% in 2015. That marks the 11th consecutive year that GDP growth failed to reach 3%, the longest period since the Bureau of Economic Analysis began reporting the figure. The fourth quarter also rings out the Obama era with an average annual growth rate of 1.8%, which is right down there with George W. Bush for the lowest among modern Presidents.

Mr. Obama inherited a deep recession, but that makes the 2.1% growth average since the recession ended all the more dismaying. You have to work hard to suppress growth after a deep downturn, and Mr. Obama did that by putting income redistribution ahead of growth as a policy priority. He achieved the remarkable feat of slower growth and more inequality.

Massive regulation and other anti-business policies of Obama (and yes, George W. Bush too) handcuffed the US economy and that means there is a ton of potential energy in the economy just waiting to be released once the US government reverses course. Which is exactly what will happen in the next 2 years with a new style Republican control of the Executive and Legislative branches of government.

Just watch!

Posted in economics, politics | 2 Comments

Let’s See What Happens When Private Sector Folks Run the Government

All I’ve ever wanted for the past 15 years was a chance to see if our country would fair better if we replaced career politicians in the POTUS and heads of the Federal agencies with successful private sector folks and it appears my wish has finally been granted.

If I had known Trump would have placed people in his cabinet who were not career bureaucrats then I would’ve not only voted for him but I would’ve donated to his campaign and knocked on doors. And it appears he’s doing just that.

Rex Tillerson (State), Steven Mnuchin (Treasury), Sonny Perdue (Agriculture), Andrew Puzder (Labor), Tom Price (HHS), Wilbur Ross (Commerce) and Ben Carson (HUD) are just to name a few who spent most of their professional lives in the private sector.

Having a POTUS from the private sector who is used to measuring success based on hitting time and financial targets will cause a paradigm shift in the way DC operates. And this means the House and Senate will not have 4 (maybe 8) years of business as usual.

The recent meeting of Congressional Republicans in Philadelphia highlights that perfectly in their listing of ambitious year 1 goals (Repeal and replace of Obamacare, a defense and border funding bill, an infrastructure bill and a tax overhaul and revamp of the IRS). Repealing/Replacing Obamacare and a revamp of the IRS are two items that I had thought would take years (if ever) with past DC cultures but I’m glad to see the expectations have been drastically elevated.

Even Republicans in the house are starting to realize that life under POTUS Trump won’t be like normal business in DC:

“President Trump comes from a different world,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters. “Out in the business community, he likes things done fast, and he’s going to continue to push them.”

And from this WSJ link, even Speaker Ryan knows that expectations have been raised.

“This is going to be an unconventional presidency,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) told reporters. “That’s something we’re just all going to have to get used to.”

Amen, put the foot to the floor and get shit done so fast we forget what it was like when bureaucrats spent months debating whether a bill should be brought to the floor for a vote and feared what the reaction would be from the Main Stream Media.

Posted in politics | 4 Comments

Food As Medicine

There was a great article on NPR today that talks about the paradigm shift in medical circles where doctors prescribe food instead of medicine and this is manna from the heavens for me!

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-10-34-10-pm

As many readers of this blog know, I believe that any Type 2 Diabetic can have normal blood glucose levels but instead of doing that with medicine you can achieve better results by altering your diet and exercise regime. It’s not easy but it’s more sustainable over the long run than taking Metformin and Insulin injections.

I’ve chosen the Paleo lifestyle for me, but there is a link in the NPR article to a published article that suggest a Vegan diet helps other Type 2 Diabetics. The key is to find what works for your body but don’t default quickly to the medicine route but instead experiment with different foods and exercise routines that work for your body.

The money quote:

“What people eat can be medicine or poison”

Read the whole article, it’s good!

Posted in Diabetes, paleo | 1 Comment

The Dishonesty Of The Left

The Left likes to talk about unity and coming together but only if they are the ones in power. Once things (i.e. elections) don’t go their way, this whole unity thing becomes overrated.

Representative John Lewis is one of many House Democrats that have announced they’ll boycott the peaceful transition of power (AKA the POTUS inauguration) but that doesn’t square with a tweet he sent a week before the Presidential election last year.

If you don’t like the President Elect Donald Trump then you have the right to peaceful protest and to even boycott the inauguration if you so desire. Hell, even I attended peaceful Tea Party protests in 2009 and 2010 to protest the Democratic leaders who I felt were taking our country in the wrong direction.

It’s our rights as citizens to do such things.

But when you are a member of Congress and you push for unity when you think the elections will go your way, you better expect to be called out on your hypocrisy later when you seek division because you didn’t like the results of the election.

Trump has yet to serve 1 day as POTUS so the jury is obviously still out on how he’ll lead this country but I can say one good thing about PEOTUS Trump, he is causing the Left to show their true colors and I think we are only just now getting a glimpse of it. The Left isn’t concerned about hiding their true colors any more and if they continue to do this, the next four eight years will be glorious.

Posted in politics | 1 Comment

AGW Cult Explains Lack Of Major Hurricanes In US

Remember when Al Gore and the rest of the AGW cult told us that we’d be hammered by major hurricanes due to Man Made Climate Change?

Well it hasn’t happened and now the Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) cult is scrambling for answers and they apparently have found them.

Time reports that the answer is partially due to cool (that’s right cool, as in not hot) ocean temperatures.

“Now, new research published in the journal Nature explains the unlikely phenomenon as at least in part the result of an occurrence called “protective barriers,” which help keep major hurricanes from making landfall. Cool ocean temperatures combine with strong vertical wind shear, a measure of how quickly wind changes speed or direction, off the Atlantic coast. Faced with those conditions, major hurricanes tend to slow down, according to the research.”

NPR also covered this story and here is their take on the new research:

“It’s been more than 10 years since the U.S. was hit by a major hurricane. Scientists mark that up to chance. But as NPR’s Christopher Joyce reports, new research suggests a reason for our good fortune.”

“This has been a very lucky thing for us. And we’ve had it in place now for a while, and we don’t know how this phenomenon is going to be affected by climate change.”

But don’t worry, the AGW cult isn’t going to admit defeat, they still have dire predictions for the US. From the Time article:

“The phenomenon uncovered in the new research has thus far been good news for the U.S., but the change may not be permanent, Kossin says. Atmospheric patterns in the North Atlantic can take more than a decade to shift, meaning the wind shear and coastal sea surface temperatures that protect the U.S. could easily disappear. Combine that with continued global warming further out in the ocean, and the coast could face many more major hurricanes that make landfall.”

To sum up the AGW cut findings – Hey we were wrong 10 years ago but dammit we’re super serious now, Climate Change is going to cause the US to be bludgeoned by major hurricane landfalls.

Then there is this hard-hitting prediction in the NPR article about what Climate Change will do to this coastal buffer that has been protecting the US:

“Climate change could strengthen the coastal buffer, he says, or eliminate it.”

Well, which is it?!?!

Climate Scientists and the political hacks that latch onto them have no clue about what Mother Nature will do with increased CO2 in the atmosphere but they’ll twist themselves in knots to avoid an admission that they really don’t have a valid model of Earth’s climate yet.

It’s at least refreshing to see an AGW cult member go off script in the Time article and admit they don’t have a clue:

“Still, many of the variables at play remain unanswered.”

Amen!  Do your research, ask the right questions and let the data drive our policy, not the other way around.

 

Posted in Climate Change | Leave a comment

US GDP Poised For Breakout

See the following graph for the US GDP % growth for the last 10 years:

screen-shot-2017-01-03-at-10-50-52-pm

I’d say we have a good baseline of what an economy can do under intense government regulation and it’s nothing to write home about – around 1% GDP growth per quarter.

Now bookmark this site and let’s check back in about 6 months.

Economics are driven by many factors but expectations are a big part. If a company is expecting a future of diminished growth then they’ll tighten their belts and react accordingly but if a company is expecting opportunities then they’ll expand and invest in capital.

Companies have been hording cash and investment capital has been sitting on the sidelines for 8 years now as we have struggled through the Obama/Pelosi/Reid years and I expect that potential energy will turn kinetic very quickly.

Posted in economics, politics | 6 Comments

“Hottest Year Evah” Update

Paul Homewood has a site that is a must see for those who are opposed to the AGW cult.

NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT

By Paul Homewood

Supposedly 2016 was the banner year for global warming. So what has it brought?

Arctic sea ice extent finishes the year at the level of the last few years:

osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/icecover.uk.php

View original post 90 more words

Posted in Climate Change | 2 Comments

AR-15 Broken Charging Handle

UPDATE 30-DEC-16 – Windham Weaponry responded via Twitter to my complaint and they sent a replacement charging handle to my house within days.  Windham Weaponry also wanted the broken charging handle returned to them (which I will take care of soon) so they could analyze it.

 

Something odd occurred today on the shooting range with my AR-15 that I thought would never happen – my charging handle broke!

broken-charging-handle

The charging handle appears to be made from 6061 aluminum with an anodize coating and considering the fact that this piece undergoes relatively little stress I am shocked that it broke.   It’s only used when the bolt assembly is in the forward position and you need to load a new cartridge after installing a magazine. I didn’t expect this part to fail EVER, much less with less than 150 rounds expended.

See picture below highlighting the charging handle in the exploded view of the AR-15.

ar15-diagram

A couple months ago I bought my first AR-15 and chose the Windham Weaponry Carbon Fiber “SRC” and as I stated above, I’ve only put about 150 rounds through it on two different occasions. Since this was my 1st AR-15 I didn’t want to drop $2,000 on a top of the line rifle considering I didn’t know enough about this weapon to make informed buying decisions and the $850 price tag for this one appeared to put this one in the upper range of “beginner” AR-15s.

Version 2

The purpose of this range outing was to site in my new Vortex Spitfire 3x Prism Scope and apart from the broken charging handle, the experience was top notch. The scope and the rifle performed exceptionally well and I was hitting targets at 50 and 100 yards with relative ease. It wasn’t until I’d shot approximately 100 rounds that the charging handle broke.

It should be noted that the charging handle failure happened during the middle of a magazine and a round was chambered when I noticed it was broken. The end piece of the charging handle prevented the bolt assembly from moving completely forward and that is what tipped me off that something was wrong. I manually moved the bolt assembly back after removing the upper and lower receiver pieces and that ejected the shell. The tip of the charging handle could’ve become cracked during the initial charging and then completely broke off during the stress of the subsequent rounds being expended.

This part of an AR-15 is relatively inexpensive ($20 – $90) so I’ll get a replacement but I will feed this back to Windham Weaponry to express my displeasure. There was no issue with jams in the rifle or anything that would’ve put stress on the charging handle so there was obviously a defect in this lot of charging handles that was used in the assembly of this rifle.

I hope the rest of the parts of this AR-15 are of better quality!

 

 

Posted in guns and ammo | Leave a comment

Trump Makes The Left Crazy

According to my Facebook feed, I apparently graduated high school with several Left Wing radicals.

I knew there were many of my high school friends who were left leaning because during the past 8 years they had glowing posts about Pelosi, Reid and Obama as well as negative posts about Republicans but I was cool with that. Hell, I and many of my Conservative FB friends posted our displeasure with Obama and we had respectful arguments on FB with our friends on the other side of the aisle. Free speech and all that, reasoned debate is what we need in this country right now.

But after 08-NOV-16 things took a turn for the surreal and dark. For many of my leftists high school chums there is such thing as reasoned debate anymore (as you’ll see below).

Trust me when I say, the screen caps below are but a small sampling of what I see everyday. And since these are Facebook posts, they weren’t intended to be public so I’ve blacked out their name, location and picture.

Exhibit A – All Trump voters are cool with racism

fb-exhibit-a

Exhibit B – You racist white people in AmeriKKKa should not comment on my posts

fb-exhibit-b

Exhibit C – Trump is the Anti-Christ

fb-exhibit-c

Exhibit D – For the past 4 years, it’s not Obama’s fault that cops are killing African Americans but for the next 4 years it’s Trump’s fault when cops kill African Americans (I’m the one who gave the 1st comment on this post)

fb-exhibit-d

You may find this odd but even through all this, I’m not muting or de-friending them because this is comedy gold and every now and then it’s fun to poke at them.

Posted in politics | 4 Comments

Trump’s Master Plan

I think I know what Trump is up to.

Full disclosure – I didn’t vote for Trump in the South Carolina primary because I didn’t think he could win in the general election. I also didn’t vote for Trump in the general election because I was sick of being forced to choose between the lesser of two evils and I voted for Gary Johnson as a matter of principle.

But….I’m so glad I was wrong about him not being able to win! I’m very happy that Hillary Clinton will never be a POTUS and for that I’m grateful for Trump and those who didn’t think as I did.

Like most folks, I’m now looking at the actions of the Trump PEOTUS actions and I trying to figure out what kind of POTUS he’ll be. Will he be a twitter happy buffoon who goes down as one of the worst person to ever hold that office or will he be what this country has needed for about 20 years – an outsider who will break with politics and bring real world management to a town that sorely needs it?

Prior to the election I was leaning toward the former but I’m now confident and hoping that Trump will continue to prove me wrong and he ends up being the latter. And as a person who believes we need more political outsiders running our country, I hope he is successful because if he’s not, we’ll have to deal with career politicians for at least a generation.

Knowing that I’m rooting for him to be a success (and therefore will be successful for our country), here is what I think Trump is planning in his first year.

Trump’s use of Twitter has angered his detractors and they have claimed this shows how immature he is and how unprepared he is for the office of POTUS. But I think his use of Twitter is genius and throws the Left off the track of his overall plan.

Look how upset the MSM and others were with his tweets against SNL, the Hamilton play, Boeing’s price tag for Air Force One, and many others that they don’t focus on what Trump is really working on behind the scenes. I think the Liberal media is playing checkers while Trump is playing chess.

I don’t claim to be a political expert but it’s pretty clear to me what Trump’s real target is and what he’ll focus on during the first year of his Presidency and it has nothing to do with ISIS, Iran nuclear deals, Illegal Immigration or anything else that was bantered about during the campaign.

Trump’s target is China.

His phone call with Taiwan, his alliance with Russia (who has had a soft alliance with China but Trump is obviously trying to drive a wedge between them) and his condemnation of Boeing (who has vast interests in China) are all clues to whom he is targeting.

He doesn’t like that US manufacturing has migrated to China (due to cheap labor and high US corporate tax rates) and he’s made the claim that the country has engaged in unfair trade practices that hurts the US so he’s going to launch a full out assault on that country.

China is a super power that has nuclear weapons and they are the world’s 2nd largest economy but they are vulnerable. They manipulate their currency and they aren’t exactly well liked with the rest of the international community. Their economic growth is slowing and they are now struggling to compete as their labor rates are now rising to the point where they are no longer the default choice for companies looking to offshore.

I think Trump will partner with Russia to enter into an economic war with China and depending on the level of the rhetoric, it could quite possibly lead to a new Cold War but with China as our foe instead of Russia.

Of course there is always the thought that Putin is playing Trump and he will keep his alliance with China and then we’ll be fighting two world super powers but it seems Putin likes Trump and would rather have us as an ally instead of their Chinese neighbor.

I hope cooler heads will prevail and we avoid the Cold War but if Trump (and the Republican House and Senate) can roll back corporate tax rates and remove the incentive to manufacture products abroad, he can deal a lethal blow to the Chinese economy and kick-start the US economy at the same time.

It’s a difficult and tenuous game that he is choosing to play and I hope I continue to be proven wrong about him.   I would like nothing more than to see the US economy humming on all cylinders and China reeling.

The 1st 100 days of Trump’s tenure will be very interesting to watch.

Posted in politics | 7 Comments

Elevated Blood Sugar Level Investigation

I had a previous post where I questioned why my morning blood sugar measurements were higher than normal and I had posited that this was due to the Dawn Phenomenon but I think there may be something else at play here.

To further investigate this rise in morning blood sugar measurements I decided to take my blood sugar measurements during a typical day approximately every hour to see if that data would point me to a culprit.

Before I dive into this data, let me share a graph that shows multiple blood sugar measurements during a day back in March of 2015.

march-2015-graph

march-activity

As you can see, my blood sugar levels stayed very consistent through the day and never rose above 120 ug/dL even after a meal. This data validated that the Paleo lifestyle that I had been leading controlled my Type 2 diabetes without the help of medicine and that my blood sugar levels were indistinguishable from someone who didn’t have Type 2 diabetes. Normal blood sugar measurements should be less than 100 mg/dL at a fasting level (when I wake up) and not increase above 150 mg/dL 2 hours after a meal and that is exactly what my measurements show even though I have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

But as I mentioned above, something has changed and now my blood sugar levels are not consistent with someone who doesn’t have Type 2 diabetes.

So let’s see what the data looks like recently.

september-graph

september-activity

First off, notice that my blood sugar levels started off elevated and ended elevated as compared to the graph from 2015. This data proved to me that my elevated blood sugar measurements in the morning were not due to the Dawn Phenomenon but due to something else. Note also that this is a conclusion that I would not have been able to make until I did this experiment. Taking your blood sugar measurements only in the morning doesn’t reveal what happens during the day and this is further evidence that folks with Type 2 diabetes need to take more measurements than their doctor normally prescribes.

There were two spikes that should be investigated and maybe these will provide clues to the source of my elevated fasting blood sugar measurements.

The first spike occurred about 15 minutes after I finished exercising during lunch (run 800m, lift weights upper body, lunges with weights and then finish with another 800m run). I had not eaten lunch yet and this spike was due solely to the exercise.

I have noticed this over the past few years when I’ve taken a blood sugar measurement after an exercise so this is nothing abnormal and I think this is generally understood.

The other spike that happened before dinner is more curious.

This spike happened after I drove home from work and I was quite surprised by this but as I reflected on what may have caused this I realized that I had chewed two pieces of gum and eaten a few sour candies on the ride home and I think this was the explanation for this spike.

Over the past 6 months or so I have developed a habit of passing the long commute by chewing Cry Baby gum and eating Shockers candies and I had thought that this small amount of sugar would be negligible but obviously it wasn’t!

Although many people recoil at sour tastes, for some reason I love it (which might explain why I love Gose style beer) and the pictures and nutritional info of these gum/candies are given below.

cry-baby-sour-gum_1

cry-baby-gum-ingredients

shockers

shockers-ingredients

As you can see, these items are loaded with all kinds of bad stuff including High Fructose Corn Syrup and sugar and these ‘treats’ on the ride home easily explain the spike in my blood sugar levels before dinner.

But back to my original question as to why my morning blood sugar measurements are higher than normal….

I think these candies/gums that I eat (not only on the ride home but I’ve started eating them after lunch too) have remained in my system and this might be the culprit of my elevated blood sugar levels.

I have since stop indulging in this sour treat and after a week of this I’ll see if this has an effect on my blood sugar levels.

Posted in Diabetes, paleo | 5 Comments

The Dawn Phenomenon

As a type 2 Diabetic, I’m well aware of the strange blood sugar measurements I’d see before I learned to control my blood sugar levels by adhering to the Paleo lifestyle but recently I have struggled with seemingly unexplainable high measurements in the morning.

If you frequently monitor your blood sugars then you know what I’m talking about with regard to unexplainable high measurements in the morning but in case you don’t, here is what I mean. I could take my blood sugar measurement before bed and it would be normal after a meal (say around 110 ug/dL) but then when I wake up in the morning the measurement would be above 110 ug/dL even before I ate breakfast.

How can that be? I didn’t sleep walk during the night and eat a bowl of ice cream and during the night my blood sugar levels should’ve dropped like they would during the day if I skipped a meal but miraculously they are higher!

I am well aware of the Dawn Phenomenon (DP), which causes blood sugar levels to spike in the early morning hours, and this is most likely the cause of my higher blood sugar levels in the morning and a nice explanation of the DP can be found here:

“Organs do this to keep blood glucose from going too low at night or other times of not eating. From about 2 AM to 8 AM, most people’s bodies produce hormones, including cortisol, glucagon, and epinephrine. All these hormones increase insulin resistance and tell the liver to make more glucose. The idea is to get you enough glucose to get out of bed and start the day. The whole process is apparently started by growth hormones.”

And somewhere I remember reading where this spike in blood sugar is a holdover from our Paleolithic ancestors. Thousands of years ago we woke up to a long list of physical activities – hunting, fixing shelters, building fires, etc. – so we needed that boost of energy to get us going. Evolution has hard coded this into our bodies and those folks without an insulin sensitivity issue counteract this high blood sugar level in the morning by producing more insulin. But those of us, like myself, who have abused their pancreas can’t produce that much to overcome this spike.

So why all of a sudden did this happen to me?

As you can see from the following graph, my morning blood sugar measurements have spiked within the last few months.

recent morning measurements

I think this recent shift can be attributed to two changes in my lifestyle over the past couple of months – 1) getting more sleep and 2) reducing the alcohol I consume in the evening.

Due to my intense work responsibilities, sleep was one area of the Paleo lifestyle that I had avoided but I made a commitment recently to get at least 7 hours so sleep each night and I have to say I feel so much better. My mind is sharper during the day, my workouts are easier and I generally feel better in all aspects of my life. Maybe the cortisol levels in my body are increased when I get more sleep and this explains part of the change.

But I think the other piece to this puzzle resides with bourbon. I wrote before how I saw lower blood sugar levels in the morning after I had 1 to 2 drinks of bourbon and that correlation was pretty rock solid. When I used to stay up late working I’d have a couple of drinks and once I stopped working at night, the bourbon drinking stopped as well and this also might explain the increase in blood sugar levels.

Over the past couple of months while I’ve been adjusting to this lifestyle change of getting more sleep, there have been periods where I have not been able to do this due to work schedules and as you can see from the graph below (plotting morning blood sugar levels vs. hours of sleep the night before), there is a slight correlation between the amount of sleep I get and the subsequent morning blood sugar measurements.

sleep study no trend line

You can definitely see that there are two distinct populations on that graph!

The correlation is weak (R2 of 0.28) but the average of the two populations is definitely different (96.79 ug/dL when I got less than 7 hours of sleep and 113.10 ug/dL when I got more than 7 hours of sleep).

sleep study

So what does this data lead me to do with my life?

I’m definitely not going back to getting less than 7 hours of sleep every night because the benefits I see from that far outweigh a mild increase in morning blood sugar levels due to the DP. I may start having a drink after dinner or engage in some high intensity exercise after dinner to help offset the DP and I’ll report on that later once I have more data.

 

 

Posted in Diabetes, paleo | 15 Comments

A Thought Experiment On The Orlando Terrorist Attack

Fact – The Orlando terrorist declared on a 911 call that he pledged allegiance to ISIS.

Fact – ISIS claimed responsibility for the Orlando killings.

But even with these facts, NPR is still not ready to link this violence with Islamic Terrorism:

Investigation is still ongoing, and right now they say they can’t determine one way or the other. But folks we’ve talked to down here say it’s pointing to an unstable individual with violent tendencies.

Now here is my thought experiment….

Imagine if the shooter was a Christian and he called 911 and declared his allegiance to the 1st Baptist Church of Orlando.

Also imagine that the 1st Baptist Church of Orlando claimed responsibility even though there was no link to the shooter and the church.

Do you think the Main Stream Media and the Liberal Elites would be cautious to declare a link between the violence and Christianity?

Posted in politics | 1 Comment

Looking Up June 2016

Jupiter, Mars and Saturn are all up in the southern sky right now so I took the telescope and binoculars out for a couple hours last night and in so doing, I got a very unexpected joy.

But before I get to that, here is a screen cap from the Starry Night app that shows the location of Jupiter, Mars and Saturn.

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 1.25.24 AM

My equipment consisted of a 10” Newtonian Reflector, 27mm Televue Panoptic and 11mm Televue Nagler eyepieces, a 2X barlow, a sky filter and 15×60 binoculars.

equipment

I got great views of the three planets and the quarter moon and some of these pics are pasted below. Keep in mind that my telescope is not the best for photography since it is a ‘manual’ mount and doesn’t have a motor to match the rotation of the Earth like an equatorial mount. I also was using my iPhone with a somewhat steady hand and that also reduces the quality of the pics.

jupiter

saturn

moon

Notice that all of Jupiter’s major moons were lined up – Europa, Io, Ganymede and Callisto – and that was a very special treat. Here is a screen cap from Starry Night that shows what I saw (reversed due to the nature of how a Newtonian Reflector works).

Jupiter's moons

I stuck it out later in the evening when the Great Red Spot came into view but I couldn’t capture that detail with my telescope and iPhone. Jupiter’s Red Spot is very intense right now and I highly suggest you use this app and find a time to get out and see it.

All of that was great but the highlight of the evening came early when a couple in my neighborhood drove by in their golf cart and asked what I was looking at. I pointed out the planets I was looking at and asked if they have ever seen Jupiter in a telescope. They said no and I had the pleasure of watching their amazement as they saw, for the first time with their own eyes, the northern and southern equatorial bands of Jupiter along with its 4 major moons.

Unfortunately Saturn was too low at the time to show them that beautiful site in the telescope. Other than dense star clusters like M13, I get the most joy out of watching the reaction of people who see Saturn in a telescope for the first time with their own eyes.

The main reason I park my telescope in the front yard is because the front of my house faces South and that is where most of the ‘action’ takes place but I also do it because I love to share astronomy with folks who don’t have a telescope. Practicing amateur astronomy in the back yard doesn’t afford me the opportunity to share this hobby with strangers passing by. And having a 10” Newtonian reflector in your front yard will definitely get people to stop and ask what the heck I’m doing. The dang thing looks like a cannon!

If you are an amateur astronomer like me, don’t be a monk but instead be an evangelist and share the wonders of the cosmos with a stranger. Those of us who have seen the vast beauty of the cosmos for years tend to take it for granted how amazing it is to see the galaxies, star clusters and planets with our own eyes. Most of the people you know have never had that joy so share it with them!

 

Posted in astronomy | 3 Comments

“Fasting” Experiment

I’m a Type 2 Diabetic and in September of 2013 I decided to control my blood sugar levels by adopting the Paleo lifestyle and the results have exceeded my expectations as evidenced by the fact that my A1C measurements have been indistinguishable from someone who is not a Type 2 Diabetic but being the man of science I am, I decided to really test out how well my body has adapted to insulin sensitivity by performing a short experiment and I’ll share these results in this post.

When I decided in September 2013 to stop taking my medication (Janumet) and adopt the Paleo lifestyle I first kick started my body by going on an extremely low calorie diet for 1 week that had scientific roots in a clinical study performed by Newcastle University.

This diet is not for the faint of heart and consists of only 700 calories a day and requires consumption of only vegetables and 3 shakes per day (complete diet details can be found here). It’s not an actual fasting diet in the truest sense of the word but it’s as close as you can get.  Its a low carb, no meat, no dairy, no processed foods, no sugars, no grains, no fruits, no alcohol type of diet and I’m not going to lie, it’s tough. But I noticed phenomenal results when I first employed it and I wondered what would happen now if I tried it again.

I didn’t “need” to do this as my A1C measurements and fasting blood sugar measurements were within the normal range but I knew that I still had an insulin sensitivity that caused my blood sugar levels to spike if I intentionally ate grains (which I was prone to do to test my body). I wondered if I could improve my insulin sensitivity by going on this diet for a few days so that is what I did.

I was on this diet for 4 days starting on 11-APR-16 but when I finished I occasionally ate foods that I knew would spike my blood sugar levels (fried chicken/duck, potatoes, rice, corn, etc.).

The graphs below show my morning and evening blood sugar levels before, during and after this diet experiment. The days preceding the diet are marked in blue, the days on the diet are in black and the days after the diet are in red.

morning

 

evening

The first observation from this experiment was that during the 4 days I was on the fasting diet my fasting (morning) and bedtime (evening) blood sugar levels were almost identical. This is not too earth shattering since this low carb/low caloric diet should have kept my blood sugar levels stable since I still have a functioning pancreas.

But the real surprise was the week after I went off the fasting diet. Notice that my morning blood sugar levels were significantly lower for about a week (magenta rectangle). It should be noted that the morning blood sugar measurement in the green ellipse happened after a dinner the night before of fried duck wings when my evening blood sugar measurement was 258 mg/dL.

morning detail

So, what did I learn?

I think this fasting diet has some real benefits and I should try this again for a longer duration. It was obvious that my body responded the week following this diet but then my insulin sensitivity reverted back to its normal level. I would obviously desire that my morning blood sugar measurements would be in the 70 – 90 mg/dL range than the 90 – 100 md/dL range so maybe staying on this diet for 10 days may yield longer-term benefits.

It’s obvious that I’ve met my goal of controlling my blood sugar levels without medication but my stretch goal is to eventually get my body back to the point where my insulin sensitivity level is on par with someone who doesn’t have Type 2 Diabetes. Don’t misunderstand me, I’ve seen the benefits of the Paleo lifestyle and I’ll never go back to eating grains but I’d like to know that my body has “reset” to the point where my blood sugar levels are in the normal range when I unknowingly eat something that will spike my blood sugar levels. I only have 1 pancreas and I want to keep those beta cells happy so they don’t die off and I turn into a Type 1 Diabetic.

Posted in Diabetes, paleo | 11 Comments

South Carolina Primary Predictions

 

I hope Rubio wins but I think Trump has too many supporters here to close the gap.

Here are my predictions:

Trump – 29%

Rubio – 24%

Cruz – 20%

Bush – 11%

Kasich – 11%

Carlson – 5%

Rubio is the only guy who is correcting the false narratives of the Left.

The Left, for far too long, has characterized Conservatives/Republicans as the party of the rich.  In actuality, Conservatives, with their insistence for a Free Market Economy, are the party of the poor and middle class.  In the entire history of mankind, Free Markets Capitalism has been the only economic system to ever allow people to increase their wealth and only the Republicans are promoting that system in this election.

And in case you are in doubt of this, we have 7 years of an Obama presidency to prove that Liberal policies increase income inequality.

Marco Rubio does a great job of explaining this in they shot video I shot at a town hall in Anderson, SC.

The big guns in South Carolina came out for Rubio and that shoud be enough to give him a boost for a strong 2nd place finish.

thumb_IMG_4147_1024

Let’s hope the rest of my Palmetto State brothers and sister realize this and vote overwhelmingly for Rubio.

Posted in economics, politics | Leave a comment

Free Market And The Price Of Oil

What in the heck is going on with the price of oil?

price of oil graph

The Economy

Yes, the world economy is in the toilet right now so that has to be a big piece of this. But the world was going through a much worse crisis in 2009 and the price didn’t drop near the level that we are seeing right now so that isn’t the complete answer.

Fuel Efficiency

Yes, the response to the high gas prices of 2008 caused the auto industry to ramp up supply of hybrid and all-electric vehicles to meet the demand and for sure many more folks are driving these fuel efficient vehicles and that lowers the demand somewhat but that can’t explain the recent dive in oil prices. There were 507,272 hybrid vehicles sold in 2014 but that is a tiny fraction of the 17 million vehicles sold in the US in December of 2015 alone.

The Free Market

I think the bigger contributor to this drop in oil prices is due to the Free Market.

Econ 101 teaches us that price of any good in an unregulated free market is set based purely on supply and demand. An increase in supply with demand constant or increasing means the price goes down. A decrease in supply with demand constant or decreasing means the price goes up. And with regard to the demand for oil, the demand is either flat or increasing as more countries move into the developed classification so supply is the main driver in the price of oil.

Up until about 10 years ago OPEC could set the price of oil in some degree because they controlled the majority of the supply and chose to increase or decrease their production to match a price that they desired. But starting in 2008 something happened in the US that confounded OPEC’s tenuous monopoly. That was when the US started increasing their oil production from shale oil (i.e. “Fracking”).

Take a look at oil production by country over the past 22 years:

oil production large

That green line showing a spike during the last 8 years is the US. Let’s look at the graph of only the top 6 producers of oil.

oil production small

Notice how the US almost doubled our oil production from 2008 to 2014? That increase came mainly due to Fracking and we are now the 3rd largest producer of oil.

And what exacerbated this increase in supply is the decision by OPEC to not reduce their production in hopes of pricing the US out of the market. Shale production is much more expensive to produce than normal oil drilling methods so OPEC was playing a financial version of chicken hoping the US would blink. But the US didn’t blink and now we, the consumers, are the beneficiaries of OPEC’s miscalculation.

From the Marketplace story entitled “Is OPEC still doing its job?”:

“Until recently, OPEC has been a sort of central bank for oil – managing supply and stabilizing  prices. But industry consultant Bob McNally, president of the Rapidan Group, said the cartel has been AWOL since 2008.”

“OPEC failed to prevent oil prices from spiking and contributing to a great recession,” McNally said. “We are now paying attention because since October of 2014,  OPEC has failed to put a floor under oil prices.”

Remember when Obama said in 2012 that we were total saps for thinking we could drill our way to lower gas prices?

While some may have thought The One was lying, I just think this is another example of how ignorant he is with regard to Free Markets.

In the case of recent oil price drops, the Free Market proved once again to be the best system we have to deliver the best product at the lowest price.  Free Markets work!

Posted in economics, politics | Leave a comment

LCHF Diet Can “Cure” Type 2 Diabetes

As any frequent reader of my blog can attest, I am a living testimonial of how a Low Carb/High Fat (LCHF) diet can “cure” Type 2 Diabetes. And I put “cure” in quotations because I’m still insulin resistant and my blood sugar problems will come back if I return to eating foods high in carbohydrates.

You can review my Type 2 Diabetes journey in the Diabetes and Paleo sections of this blog but suffice it to say that after I embraced the Paleo lifestyle (which has the LCHF diet as part of its guidelines) I lowered my A1C from 11.5 to 5.5. I am firmly convinced that any recently diagnosed Type 2 Diabetic person can see exactly the same results if they are only willing to give it a try.

Before going this route, I tried following the conventional wisdom of most endocrinologists – take these pills and keep eating carbs – and the side effects of the medicine were horrendous. And even with the high dosage of Metformin, my blood sugar levels were never in the normal range of someone without Diabetes.

Any endocrinologist not suggesting the LCHF diet to any recently diagnosed Type 2 Diabetic is guilty of malpractice in my opinion. I know there are literally millions of people in America struggling with Type 2 Diabetes right now and it is so frustrating that this LCHF solution isn’t on their radar because they don’t know it exists.

My frustration with the way the medical community chooses to fight Type 2 Diabetes was allayed some today when I came across an excellent video from Dr. Sarah Hallberg. It appears that some medical professionals are starting to recommend the LCHF diet to their Type 2 Diabetic patients and this video is pure gold.

If you are struggling with insulin sensitivity then you NEED to watch this video now.

 

Posted in Diabetes, paleo | 3 Comments

Bending The Healthcare Cost Curve – Upwards

Remember how Democrats promised us that once we passed Obamacare that healthcare costs would start coming down?


I knew that wouldn’t be the case and now even NPR has to admit that Obamacare’s promises are not being fulfilled.

npr healthcare story

“Gunnar Ebbesson is used to paying a lot for health insurance, but the small business owner from Fairbanks got a shock recently when his quote came in for next year’s coverage.”

“I don’t understand who can afford this,” he says. “I mean, who really can afford this? I can pay it, but I can’t afford it.”

“The premium for his family of five came to more than $40,000 a year. That’s for a bare-bones plan with a $10,000 deductible — the plan that’s through the marketplace set up by the Affordable Care Act.”

Liberals pushed Obamacare as a way to help the disadvantaged get affordable healthcare and as is the case with most Liberal policies, the realities actually ran counter to the policy’s stated intentions.

Liberals say they are looking out for the poor but time and time again we see how their policies actually hurt poor people.

It’s time for new ideas because the policies of the past 2 presidents haven’t worked. It’s time to try something new. And in case you’re wondering, those new ideas won’t come from Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders or even Jeb Bush.

UPDATE – Another NPR story here

Posted in Entitlement Programs, healthcare, npr, politics | 1 Comment

5 Things I Learned On My Paleo Journey

blood sugar levels

It’s been 2 years since I decided to take control of my Type 2 Diabetes without the use of medicine and I’d like to share 5 things I’ve learned on this journey.

Paleo isn’t just a diet, it’s a lifestyle

Most people hear about the Paleo “diet” but anyone who has read up on the subject knows it is better described as a lifestyle.

Yes, Paleo is about knowing what to eat and what to avoid but it’s also about getting enough sleep, getting the right type of exercise and simplifying your life to remove stress.

As a Type 2 Diabetic, I realized that my blood sugar levels were very dependent on what I put in my mouth so I concentrated on the diet portion of the Paleo lifestyle first but then adopted the other areas and saw more improvement in not just my blood sugar levels but also my quality of life.

Avoiding grains isn’t as hard as I first thought

There are few people in the world who love bread more than I do. I grew up eating bread with every meal and I’ve even walked out of a restaurant that didn’t have a basket of bread that I could order with my meal.

Avoiding grains is, in my opinion, the primary point of the Paleo lifestyle and I received the most benefit from just doing that one single thing. I often tell people that if you can only do this one part of the Paleo lifestyle you’ll receive most of the benefits. But until you’ve truly tried to rid your diet of grains, you have no idea how easy it is for these grains to sneak into your diet.

Avoiding grains is not just about eliminating bread, corn and rice. You have to check the ingredients of everything you buy to make sure these pesky grains are included.

Many sauces, soups and gravies have grains in them and heck, even Beer has grains in it!

But after a couple of months avoiding grains by eating a hamburger with a knife/fork and wrapping meat and veggies in lettuce, I eventually got used to this and it wasn’t as bad as I would’ve thought.

Once you see the benefits of eliminating grains, you eventually associate this food to a poison to your body and I limit my grain cheat occasions to just a few days a year.

Making the Paleo transition slowly over time is easier than going cold turkey

I didn’t fully embrace the total Paleo lifestyle immediately but instead took about 18 months.

I first started out with eliminating grains, then moved on to eliminating legumes and then dairy about a year later. Adding high intensity exercise and getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night came much later.

My first goal was to get my blood sugar levels in the normal range and I found that the elimination of grains did most of the heavy lifting for that task. And since that part of the Paleo lifestyle worked so well I decided to take on the rest of it but slowly phasing this in wasn’t as difficult as going full Paleo at once.

Living a Paleo lifestyle is tough in today’s world and it is a tall order to switch to this lifestyle in just one day. Grains, legumes and dairy are everywhere you look and it takes work to prepare meals that avoid these Paleo no-no’s so doing this slowly over time is more manageable.

Choose the right moment to share your Paleo journey with others.

Because I saw such a drastic improvement in my quality of life, I initially felt the need to tell everyone I saw about this wonderful lifestyle and beg him or her to follow the same. Especially once I met someone with Type 2 Diabetes.

As I droned on about the current western diet and how that has created most if not all of our current autoimmune disease problems, I could see their eyes glaze. They were polite and congratulated me on my success but I could tell they were secretly saying to themselves – “Poor guy, I think he’s a member of a cult.”

Keep in mind that not everyone is ready to embark on this journey and there have been so many fad diets out there that constantly pushing this on people will only turn them off to it.

I now restrict my conversations about Paleo to what it has done in my life and stick to the facts as they relate to my body.

Paleo isn’t a religion and we shouldn’t treat it as such.

Follow the data and choose the lifestyle that best fits your body.

Although I do believe that every Type 2 Diabetic can see drastic improvements in their blood sugar measurements by following the Paleo lifestyle, I also have to acknowledge that my sample size is limited and everyone’s body is different.

I think Paleo isn’t about a one size fits all mentality but more about finding out what foods work for your body and then sticking to that plan.

Find out what variables are important to your body – blood sugar levels, weight, BMI, resting heart rate, 5K time, frequency of illness, joint pain, etc. – and track those as you embark on this Paleo journey.

I started out just tracking my blood sugar levels but I also tracked how often I was sick during this time period and noticed a significant improvement in this area since adopting the Paleo lifestyle.

I’ve struggled with allergies my whole life and received allergy injections from the time I was 6 years old until I was about 20 years old. I suffered from 2-3 sinus infections or upper respiratory infections every year but I’m happy to say that I haven’t been sick at all for the last 18 months. No sniffles, no colds, nothing related to allergies at all even though I still live in an area that is prone to allergy related illnesses in the Spring and Fall. There is no other explanation for why I have been allergy free for that time frame other than the adoption of the Paleo lifestyle.

Your definition of “quality of life” is unique so decide what is important to you and then experiment with what works best for you.

 

 

Posted in Diabetes, paleo | 4 Comments