CHICAGO—THE MUSICAL

February 18, 2017


Our youngest son and his wife gave us two tickets to the musical CHICAGO.   This was a Christmas present from them this past year.  The play was held in one of the most beautiful theaters in the south and certainly the most beautiful in the Chattanooga area.  Before we talk about the play, let’s take a quick look at the Tivoli Theater.

THE TIVOLI:

The Tivoli Theater is located at 709 Broad Street in downtown Chattanooga and is definitely the focal point of the city.  The first digital shows the entrance and the marquee as you approach from Broad Street.

outside

The Tivoli was built between 1919 and 1921 at a cost of $750,000.  That was a huge sum of money in 1919.   It was designed by the famed Chicago-based architectural firm Rapp and Rapp and well-known Chattanooga architect Reuben H. Hunt.  It was constructed by the John Parks Company (general contractors) and was one of the first air-conditioned public buildings in the United States.  The theatre was named Tivoli after Tivoli, Italy.  It has cream tiles and beige terra-cotta bricks;  a large red, black, and white marquee with one thousand (1,000) chaser lights, with, as you can see, a large black neon sign that displays TIVOLI with still more chaser lights.

It is a well preserved and excellent example of the downtown Grand Palace Theater built throughout America in the 1920s. Not every town and city has a comparable theater so we are extremely lucky and very happy events such as CHICAGO still visit.   Its elaborate and exotic architectural and decorative detail, its conveniences, and luxurious materials combine to make theater going a complete social as well as entertainment phenomenon infrequently rivaled. Notable is its elaborate plaster work, rich colors and textures, marble, and theater organ. It was also among the first buildings in the United States to be air-conditioned.

Twenty-six hundred (2,600) yards of carpet for aisles, boxes, logs, approaches, mezzanine, stairs, and rest rooms. Electric fixtures for the entire house are plated with fourteen (14) karat gold, burnished, and ornamented with hand painted china. The balcony is supported by a five thousand five hundred (5,500) ton steel beam encased in concrete, and there are no columns or pillars. One million bricks were used in the construction of the balcony. The proscenium opening measures 48 x 26 feet and is the largest in the south. You may see the balcony design and structure as follows.

the-auditorium2

 

The lobby is noted for its marble floors, niches, tunnels, and promenades. The marquee extends the width of the building and has 15,000-watt capacity lamps, and on its underside, are a number of 75-watt day light globes. The outer lobby’s ceiling is the same height as the building, and is enriched with massive plaster designs in polychrome and antique with Chinese and cobalt blue, mulberry, green, and buff over aluminum leaf. There are sectional plate glass mirrors at each end to reflect the ceiling. On the left is a seven-foot fountain with running water and a figure of Cupid which is named “Cascatelle” for the river of many cataracts outside Tivoli, Italy. The floor is marble. It is lighted by a seven-foot hanging lantern in antique design. Glass doors lead to the inner lobby and the large plate glass window is hung with brilliant American Beauty plush draperies.

the-lobby

The grand staircase features ornamented bannisters of copper bronze surmounted by mahogany handrails.  Of course, the stairway leads to the balcony above.  You can see the auditorium and balcony, as pictured from the stage area in the digital below.

auditorium-from-the-stage

The mezzanine is the most beautiful section of the theater. It circles the auditorium and is the promenade. Its carpet is solid and it is furnished with chaise lounges and Adam designed chairs. It is known as “Villa D’Esta” after a famous villa at Tivoli, Italy. All openings are draped in silk with gold embroidery. The box seats are on either side of the auditorium and are truly beautiful.

box-seats

NOW THE MUSICAL:

My musical abilities are limited to playing the radio.  No piano, no guitar, no trumpet.  I can only listen, BUT I have an immense respect for talented individuals. Performers who can make a play, movie, musical come alive.  That is exactly what my wife and I saw last night during the CHICAGO performance.  I don’t know if you are familiar with the play but her are several specifics.

CHICAGO is a musical Vaudeville play that opened June 3, 1975 at the 46th Street Theatre.   It ran for 936 performances, closing on August 27, 1977.  The opening night cast starred Chita Rivera as Velma Kelly, Gwen Verdon as Roxie Hart, Jerry Orbach as Billy Flynn and Barney Martin as Amos Hart. Set in Prohibition-era Chicago, the musical is based on a 1926 play of the same name by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins about actual criminals and crimes she reported on. The story is a satire on corruption in the administration of criminal justice and the concept of the “celebrity criminal.” You may think this is somewhat heavy but it is hilarious and the music is phenomenal.  Several recognizable songs are:

  • “All That Jazz”
  • “Cell Block Tango”
  • “When You’re Good to Mama”
  • “Roxie”
  • “Mister Cellophane”
  • “Razzle Daxxle”
  • “Hot Honey Rag”

One definite reason we wanted to go—Eddy George played the part of Billie Flynn.  As you recall, Eddy George was a Heisman Trophy winner from Ohio State in 1995 and played for the Tennessee Titans for several years.  HE WAS GOOD. I know it is difficult to go from the NFL to the stage but he really pulled it off.   ALL of the performers were absolutely excellent.  The rolls of Roxie and Velma were played by Dylis Croman and Lana Gordon.  Amos, the husband of Roxie was played by Paul Vogt and Mama was played by Roz Ryan.  Are you ready for this?  All of the ladies in the cast sang and danced in high-heels never missing a step. If you ever get an opportunity to attend the musical CHICAGO—take it.  You will come away realizing it was a wonderful experience.

THE NEXT FIVE (5) YEARS

February 15, 2017


As you well know, there are many projections relative to economies, stock market, sports teams, entertainment, politics, technology, etc.   People the world over have given their projections for what might happen in 2017.  The world of computing technology is absolutely no different.  Certain information for this post is taken from the publication “COMPUTER.org/computer” web site.  These guys are pretty good at projections and have been correct multiple times over the past two decades.  They take their information from the IEEE.

The IEEE Computer Society is the world’s leading membership organization dedicated to computer science and technology. Serving more than 60,000 members, the IEEE Computer Society is the trusted information, networking, and career-development source for a global community of technology leaders that includes researchers, educators, software engineers, IT professionals, employers, and students.  In addition to conferences and publishing, the IEEE Computer Society is a leader in professional education and training, and has forged development and provider partnerships with major institutions and corporations internationally. These rich, self-selected, and self-paced programs help companies improve the quality of their technical staff and attract top talent while reducing costs.

With these credentials, you might expect them to be on the cutting edge of computer technology and development and be ahead of the curve as far as computer technology projections.  Let’s take a look.  Some of this absolutely blows me away.

human-brain-interface

This effort first started within the medical profession and is continuing as research progresses.  It’s taken time but after more than a decade of engineering work, researchers at Brown University and a Utah company, Blackrock Microsystems, have commercialized a wireless device that can be attached to a person’s skull and transmit via radio thought commands collected from a brain implant. Blackrock says it will seek clearance for the system from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, so that the mental remote control can be tested in volunteers, possibly as soon as this year.

The device was developed by a consortium, called BrainGate, which is based at Brown and was among the first to place implants in the brains of paralyzed people and show that electrical signals emitted by neurons inside the cortex could be recorded, then used to steer a wheelchair or direct a robotic arm (see “Implanting Hope”).

A major limit to these provocative experiments has been that patients can only use the prosthetic with the help of a crew of laboratory assistants. The brain signals are collected through a cable screwed into a port on their skull, then fed along wires to a bulky rack of signal processors. “Using this in the home setting is inconceivable or impractical when you are tethered to a bunch of electronics,” says Arto Nurmikko, the Brown professor of engineering who led the design and fabrication of the wireless system.

capabilities-hardware-projection

Unless you have been living in a tree house for the last twenty years you know digital security is a huge problem.  IT professionals and companies writing code will definitely continue working on how to make our digital world more secure.  That is a given.

exascale

We can forget Moor’s Law which refers to an observation made by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore in 1965. He noticed that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits had doubled every year since their invention.  Moore’s law predicts that this trend will continue into the foreseeable future. Although the pace has slowed, the number of transistors per square inch has since doubled approximately every 18 months. This is used as the current definition of Moore’s law.  We are well beyond that with processing speed literally progressing at “warp six”.

non-volitile-memory

If you are an old guy like me, you can remember when computer memory costs an arm and a leg.  Take a look at the JPEG below and you get an idea as to how memory costs has decreased over the years.

hard-drive-cost-per-gbyte

As you can see, costs have dropped remarkably over the years.

photonics

texts-for-photonoics

power-conservative-multicores

text-for-power-conservative-multicores

CONCLUSION:

If you combine the above predictions with 1.) Big Data, 2.) Internet of Things (IoT), 3.) Wearable Technology, 4.) Manufacturing 4.0, 5.) Biometrics, and other fast-moving technologies you have a world in which “only the adventurous thrive”.  If you do not like change, I recommend you enroll in a monastery.  You will not survive gracefully without technology on the rampage. Just a thought.


FACTS:

  • 707,758 motor vehicles were reported stolen in the United States in 2015, up three point one (3.1) percent from 2014, according to the FBI.
  • A motor vehicle was stolen in the United States every forty-five (45) seconds in 2015.
  • Eight of the top ten cities with the highest rate of vehicle theft in 2015 were in California, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
  • Nationwide, the 2015 motor vehicle theft rate per 100,000 people was 220.2, up two point two (2.2) percent from 2015.2 in 2014. The highest rate was reported in the West, 371.5 or up eight point two (8.2) percent from 342.2 in 2014.
  • In 2015, only thirteen point one (13.1) percent of motor vehicle thefts were cleared, either by arrests or by exceptional mean, compared with 2014 percent for arson and nineteen point four (19.4) percent for all property crimes. Very disappointing statistics indeed.
  • Autos accounted for 74.7 percent of all motor vehicles stolen in 2015, trucks and buses accounted for 14.8 percent and other vehicles for 10.5 percent.

Given below are the cities in which most vehicles are stolen:

top-10-cities-for-stolen-vehicles

TOP TEN VEHICLES STOLEN:

The National Insurance Crime Bureau ranked the 10 most stolen vehicles in the country with data from the NCIC. Let’s take a look.  The actual numbers are in parentheses.

  1. Honda Accord (52,244)
  2. Honda Civic(49,430)
  3. Ford pickup (full size) (29,396)
  4. Chevrolet pickup (full size) (27,771)
  5. Toyota Camry (15,466)
  6. Ram pickup (full size) (11,212)
  7. Toyota Corolla(10,547)
  8. Nissan Altima (10,374)
  9. Dodge Caravan (9,798)
  10. Chevrolet Impala(9,225)

Automotive engineers continue to examine smartphone system and design to provide models for the development of an increasingly sophisticated user experience, with large center information displays and capacitive touchscreen being a good example.  Now designers are adding another smartphone feature, the fingerprint sensor to enhance modernization of the driver’s interface to functions in and beyond the automobile. This and other forms of biometric authentication, show great promise if implemented with sensitivity to user privacy and the extremes of the automotive operating environment.

BIOMETRICS:

Just what is the science of Biometrics?

Biometrics may be a fairly new term to some individuals so it is entirely appropriate at this time to define the technology.  This will lay the groundwork for the discussion to follow.  According to the International Biometric Society:

“Biometrics is used to refer to the emerging field of technology devoted to identification of individuals using biological traits, such as those based on retinal or iris scanning, fingerprints, or face recognition.”

The terms “Biometrics” and “Biometry” have been used since early in the 20th century to refer to the field of development of statistical and mathematical methods applicable to data analysis problems in the biological sciences.

From the Free Dictionary, we see the following definition:

  • The statistical study of biological phenomena.
  • The measurement of physical characteristics, such as fingerprints, DNA, or retinal patterns for use in verifying the identity of individuals.
  • Biometricsrefers to metrics related to human characteristics. Biometrics authentication (or realistic authentication) is used in computer science as a form of identification and access control. It is also used to identify individuals in groups that are under surveillance.

Biometric identifiers are the distinctive, measurable characteristics used to label and describe individuals. Biometric identifiers are often categorized as physiological versus behavioral characteristics. Physiological characteristics are related to the shape of the body.  Examples include, but are not limited to fingerprint, palm veins and odor/scent.  Behavioral characteristics are related to the pattern of behavior of a person, including but not limited to typing rhythm, gait, and voice.  Some researchers have coined the term behaviometrics to describe the latter class of biometrics.

More traditional means of access control include token-based identification systems, such as a driver’s license or passport, and knowledge-based identification systems, such as a password or personal identification number.  Since biometric identifiers are unique to individuals, they are more reliable in verifying identity than token and knowledge-based methods; however, the collection of biometric identifiers raises privacy concerns about the ultimate use of this information.

The oldest biometric identifier is facial recognition. The dimensions, proportions and physical attributes of a person’s face are unique and occur very early in infants.   A child will (obviously) recognize a parent, a brother or sister.  It is only since the advent of computers and accompanying software that the ability to quantify facial features has become possible.

The FBI has long been a leader in biometrics and has used various forms of biometric identification since the very earliest day.  This Federal institution assumed responsibility for managing the national fingerprint collection in 1924.  As you know, fingerprints vary from person to person (even identical twins have different prints) and don’t change over time. As a result, they are an effective way of identifying fugitives and helping to prove both guilt and innocence.

AUTOMOTIVE BIOMETRICS USING FINGERPRINT TECHNOLOGY:

What areas of a typical vehicle might benefit from specifically identifying a human being and matching that person to a particular car? Several possibilities come to mind:

  • Secure Access;
    ● Ignition Permission;
    ● Seat Reservations;
    ● On board communication systems;
    ● Anti-Theft programs;
    ● Driving license suspension programs.

All of these would insure privacy and access.  The two digital photographs below will serve to indicate how this methodology might work for an automobile.

starting-the-car

The fingerprint reader can be located in the steering wheel so the driver can concentrate in a better fashion.  This definitely desirable if biometric fingerprints are used for purposes other than starting the vehicle.

starting-the-car2

With this in mind, there are three mainstream fingerprint-sensing technologies available for automotive applications. These are as follows:

  • Capacitive Sensing—This is used in the world’s best-selling smartphones due to very small size: a sensing pad a few tens of microns thick and a small controller allow for very low power consumption.
  • Optical Fingerprint Sensing—Optical sensors are highly reliable and accurate, and so are widely used at border crossings. However, the sensors require a backlight to illuminate the finer.  They are still comparatively bulky compared to capacitive solutions.
  • Ultrasonic Sensing—This offers reliable detection of fingerprints in 3 D but has not found its way into mainstream mobile devices and is relative expensive.

CONCLUSIONS:

I believe biometrics will play a much bigger role in the automotive industry over the next few years.  Biometric fingerprinting could be used in a host of areas including:

  • Access to cabin compartment
  • Starting
  • Accessing cellphone communications
  • Allowing for application software located on cellphone so warm up in very cold climates could be made possible.

Now—here is the downside.  Someone has to be capable of troubleshooting a failed device and fix same if difficulties arise.  As complexity grows, we move more toward replace than fix.  Replace is costly.

As always, I welcome your comments.

DIALYSIS PUMPS

February 8, 2017


I entered the university shortly after Sir Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz invented calculus. (OK, I’m not quite that old but you do get the picture.) At any rate, I’ve been a mechanical engineer for a lengthy period of time.  If I had to do it all over again, I would choose Biomedical Engineering instead of mechanical engineering.  Biomedical really fascinates me.  The medical “hardware” and software available today is absolutely marvelous.  As with most great technologies, it has been evolutionary instead of revolutionary.    One such evolution has been the development of the dialysis pump to facilitate administrating insulin to patients suffering with diabetes.

On my way to exercise Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I pass three dialysis clinics.  I am amazed that on some days the parking lots are, not only full, but cars are parked on the roads on either side of the buildings. Almost always, I see at least one ambulance parked in front of the clinic having delivered a patient to the facilities.  In Chattanooga proper, there are nine (9) clinics and approximately 3,306 dialysis centers in the United States. These centers employ 127,671 individuals and bring in twenty-two billion dollars ($22B) in revenue.  There is a four-point four percent (4.4%) growth rate on an annual basis. Truly, diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in our country.

Diabetes is not only one of the most common chronic diseases, it is also complex and difficult to treat.  Insulin is often administered between meals to keep blood sugar within target range.  This range is determined by the number of carbohydrates ingested. Four hundred (400) million adults worldwide suffer from diabetes with one and one-half million (1.5) deaths on an annual basis.  It is no wonder that so many scientists, inventors, and pharmaceutical and medical device companies are turning their attention to improving insulin delivery devices.   There are today several delivery options, as follows:

  • Syringes
  • Pens
  • Insulin Injection Aids
  • Inhaled Insulin Devices
  • External Pumps
  • Implantable Pumps

Insulin pumps, especially the newer devices, have several advantages over traditional injection methods.  These advantages make using pumps a preferable treatment option.  In addition to eliminating the need for injections at work, at the gym, in restaurants and other settings, the pumps are highly adjustable thus allowing the patient to make precise changes based on exercise levels and types of food being consumed.

These delivery devices require: 1.) An insulin cartridge, 2.) A battery-operated pump, and 3.) Computer chips that allow the patient to control the dosage.  A detailed list of components is given below.  Most modern devices have a display window or graphical user interface (GUI) and selection keys to facilitate changes and administrating insulin.  A typical pump is shown as follows:

insulin-pump

Generally, insulin pumps consist of a reservoir, a microcontroller with battery, flexible catheter tubing, and a subcutaneous needle. When the first insulin pumps were created in the 1970-80’s, they were quite bulky (think 1980’s cell phone). In contrast, most pumps today are a little smaller than a pager. The controller and reservoir are usually housed together. Patients often will wear the pump on a belt clip or place it in a pocket as shown below. A basic interface lets the patient adjust the rate of insulin or select a pre-set. The insulins used are rapid acting, and the reservoir typically holds 200-300 units of insulin. The catheter is similar to most IV tubing (often smaller in diameter), and connects directly to the needle. Patients insert the needle into their abdominal wall, although the upper arm or thigh can be used. The needle infusion set can be attached via any number of adhesives, but tape can do in a pinch. The needle needs to be re-sited every 2-3 days.

pump-application

As you can see from the above JPEG, the device itself can be clipped onto clothing and worn during the day for continued use.

The pump can help an individual patient more closely mimic the way a healthy pancreas functions. The pump, through a Continuous Subcutaneous Insulin Infusion (CSII), replaces the need for frequent injections by delivering precise doses of rapid-acting insulin 24 hours a day to closely match your body’s needs.  Two definitions should be understood relative to insulin usage.  These are as follows:

  • Basal Rate: A programmed insulin rate made of small amounts of insulin delivered continuously mimics the basal insulin production by the pancreas for normal functions of the body (not including food). The programmed rate is determined by your healthcare professional based on your personal needs. This basal rate delivery can also be customized according to your specific daily needs. For example, it can be suspended or increased / decreased for a definite time frame: this is not possible with basal insulin injections.
  • Bolus Dose: Additional insulin can be delivered “on demand” to match the food you are going to eat or to correct high blood sugar. Insulin pumps have bolus calculators that help you calculate your bolus amount based on settings that are pre-determined by your healthcare professional and again based on your special needs.

A modern insulin pump can accomplish both basal and bolus needs as the situation demands.

The benefits relative to traditional methods are as follows:

  • Easier dosing: calculating insulin requirements can be a complex task with many different aspects to be considered. It is important that the device ensures accurate dosing by taking into account any insulin already in the body, the current glucose levels, carbohydrate intake and personal insulin settings.
  • Greater flexibility:  The pump must be capable of instant adjustment to allow for exercise, during illness or to deliver small boluses to cover meals and snacks. This can easily be done with a touch of a button with the more-modern devices. There should be a temporary basal rate option to proportionally reduce or increase the basal insulin rate, during exercise or illness, for example.
  • More convenience: The device must offer additional convenience of a wirelessly connected blood glucose meter. This meter automatically sends blood glucose values to the pump, allowing more accurate calculations and to deliver insulin boluses discreetly.

These wonderful devices all result from technology and technological advances.  Needs DO generate devices.  I hope you enjoy this post and as always, I welcome your comments.

ESOPHAGEAL MOTILITY TEST

February 2, 2017


If you ever ever hear these words used relative to an investigation your doctor wants you undertake—RUN AWAY.  I say this advisedly because I just experienced this test due to issues I was and am having with acid reflux.  The first test was a barium swallow with pill.  This was not so bad and took a fairly short period of time. The motility test is definitely a horse of a different color.  Let’s examine the motility test and take a look at what all is involved.

ESOPHAGEAL MOTILITY:  We start first with a definition as follows:

An esophageal motility disorder is any medical disorder causing difficulty in swallowing, regurgitation of food and a spasm-type pain which can be brought on by an allergic reaction to certain foods. The most prominent one is dysphagia.  Dysphagia is the medical term used to describe difficulty swallowing. … In contrast, dysphagia is a symptom that only occurs when attempting to swallow. Globus can sometimes be seen in acid reflux disease, but more often, it is due to increased sensitivity in the throat or esophagus. There are several very popular over-the-counter medication to mitigate acid reflux.  Just a few are. 1.) TUMS, 2.) Alka-Seltzer, 3.) Milk of Magnesia, 4.) Pepto-Bismol, 5.) ZANTAC, 6.) Pepcid, 7.) Tagamet, and 8.) Prilosec OTC.  These medications work and work well but I really wanted to get an answer as to WHY I was having the reflux.  For this, testing was necessary.

The tubular esophagus is a muscular organ, approximately 25 cm in length, and has specialized sphincters at proximal and distal ends. (That upper and lower portions of the esophagus.) The upper esophageal sphincter (UES) is comprised of several striated muscles, creating a tonically closed valve and preventing air from entering into the gastrointestinal tract. The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is composed entirely of smooth muscle and maintains a steady baseline tone to prevent gastric reflux into the esophagus.

Esophageal motility disorders are less common than mechanical and inflammatory diseases affecting the esophagus, such as reflux esophagitis, peptic strictures, and mucosal rings. The clinical presentation of a motility disorder is varied, but, classically, dysphagia and chest pain are reported. This was my case, chest pain accompanied with reflux after every meal. Before entertaining a diagnosis of a motility disorder, first and foremost, the physician must evaluate for a mechanical obstructing lesion. This is the motility test.

THE PROCEDURE: The procedure takes about forty-five (45) minutes from start to finish.  Please note, the patient, in this case ME, is fully awake so commands may be received and followed.

  • The nurse will verify that you had nothing by mouth in the last 6 hours prior to the test. It is a fasting test.  I also took none of the medications I normally take A.M. This is very important.
  • Your nostril and throat is numbed with a topical anesthetic while you are sitting upright. This topical anesthetic BURNS LIKE HELL and gives the sensation your nostril is stopped up. It actually is I suppose.
  • A thin flexible tube about one-eighth inch in diameter (approximately the size of pencil) is then passed through the nostril, down the back of the throat into the esophagus and the stomach, while the patient swallows water.  (Are you getting this?)  The nurse snakes a tube with thirty-six (36) pressure-sensing rings or holes through your nose and down your throat right into the upper portion of your stomach. OH by the way—you feel it all the way down!
  • The tube has holes in it that sense pressure along the esophagus. It will be positioned in different areas of your esophagus. The nurse moves the tube as the test progresses.
  • With the tube inside the esophagus, you will lie down on your left side.  This is to prevent ingesting bile and aspirating that into your lungs if it does occur.  (Now do I have your attention?)
  • The nurse will give you small sips of water during the test to record the progression of the swallow.  Each sip is metered and measured using a syringe. Five Ml, ten Ml, etc etc.
  • The contractions of the esophageal muscle will be measured at rest and during swallows.
  • Pressure recordings are made while the tube is in place and as the tube is slowly withdrawn.
  • The results of the manometry test are displayed as a graph with a wave pattern that can be interpreted to determine if the esophagus is functioning normally.  The digital image on the left below will indicate the location of the tube and on the right, the pressure spikes as you swallow. During the test, I started coughing and had difficulties in calming down.  With each cough, the tube would rattle around and bounce right and left hitting the walls of my esophagus.  Really great feeling.
  • Since your throat was numbed, you have to wait one hour after completion of the test before you can eat or drink anything. This is to protect you from burning your throat or choking.

esopheus

The actual display on the monitor looks like the images below.  Again, location on the left and pressure on the right.

image

I will certainly say this; the nurse was very patient with me as the tube was inserted and withdrawn.  The insertion feels like someone trying to slip a garden hose through the eye of a needle. One of the most uncomfortable feelings I have ever had. I am told some patients simply cannot tolerate the test and have to bail out.  It really was a struggle for me but I decided I needed an answer more than I needed immediate relief.

The technology monitoring the pressure is fabulous and very accurate.  As it turns out, my problem seems to be with the lower sphincter valve. It does not close tightly enough to prevent acid reflux.  I have no idea as to what the “fix” might be.  I find that out on 14 February.  I suppose that information will be my Valentine’s Day present.  I can promise you two things: 1.) Ain’t no way I’m repeating the test—ever and 2.) if I have to live on Prilosec for the rest of my life I will.  No surgery.

THREE DAYS IN JANUARY

January 31, 2017


In looking at the political landscape over the last fifty (50) years I can truly say I have no real heroes.  Of course, ‘beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder’.  Most of our politicians are much too concerned about their base, their brand and their legacy to be bothered with discerning and carrying out the will of the people. There are two notable exceptions—Sir Winston Churchill and President Dwight David Eisenhower.  Let’s look at the achievements of President Eisenhower.

DOMESTIC ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

  • Launched the Interstate Highway System. Also known as the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act, this act came into effect on June 29, 1956, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed it. It authorized $25 billion for 41,000 miles of interstate highways to be constructed in the United States.
  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). On July 29, 1958, President Eisenhower signed the Act that created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) which provided for the peaceful and collaborative exploration of space.
  • The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency. Launched the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which ultimately led to the development of the Internet. (Cry your eyes out Al Gore!)
  • Established a strong science education via the National Defense Education Act
  • Sent federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas for the first time since Reconstruction to enforce federal court orders to desegregate public schools
  • Signed civil rights legislation in 1957 and 1960 to protect the right to vote by African-Americans. After declaring that “There must be no second class citizens in this country,” PresidentDwight Eisenhower told the District of Columbia to use their schools as a model of integrating black and white public schools. He proposed the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960 to Congress, which he signed into law. The 1957 Act created a civil rights office within the U.S. Justice Department and the Civil Rights Commission; both departments had the authority to prosecute discriminatory cases and voting rights intrusions. They were the first significant civil rights laws since the late 19th Century.
  • Opposed Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy and contributed to the end of McCarthyism by openly invoking the modern expanded version of executive privilege.
  • Desegregated the Armed Forces: Within his first two years as president, Eisenhower forced the desegregation of the military by reinforcing Executive Order #9981 issued by President Harry Truman in 1948.

FOREIGN POLICY ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

  • Deposed the leader of Iran in the 1953 Iranian coup d’̩tat .
  • Armistice that ended the Korean War: Eisenhower used his formidable military reputation to imply a threat of nuclear attacks if North Korea, China and South Korea didn’t sign an Armistice to end the three-year-old bloody war. It was signed on July 27, 1953.
  • Prioritized inexpensive nuclear weapons and a reduction of conventional military forces as a means of keeping pressure on the Soviet Union and reducing the federal deficit
  • First to articulate the domino theory of communist expansion in 1954
  • Established the US policy of defending Taiwan from Chinese communist aggression in the 1955 Formosa Resolution
  • Forced Israel, the UK, and France to end their invasion of Egypt during the Suez Crisis of 1956
  • Sent 15,000 U.S. troops to Lebanon to prevent the pro-Western government from falling to a Nasser-inspired revolution

ACCPMPLISHMENTS PRIOR TO BECOMING PRESIDENT:

  • Becoming a five-star general in the United States Army
  • Serving as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II
  • Serving as the supervisor and planner of North Africa’s invasion in Operation Torch in 1942-43
  • Successfully invading France and Germany in 1944-45, attacking from the Western Front
  • Becoming the first Supreme Commander of NATO
  • Becoming the 34th President of the United States for two terms, 1953 until 1961

All of these accomplishments are celebrated in a new book by Bret Baier and Catherine Whitney. Bret Baier, the chief political anchor for Fox News and talented writer Catherine Whitney, have written a book that comes at a timely moment in American history. I found a great deal of similarities between the transition of Eisenhower and Kennedy relative to the transition of Obama and Trump.  Maybe I was just looking for them but in my opinion they are definitely there.  “Three Days in January” records the final days of the Eisenhower presidency and the transition of leadership to John F. Kennedy. Baier describes the three days leading up to Kennedy’s inauguration as the culmination of one of America’s greatest leaders who used this brief time to prepare both the country and the next president for upcoming challenges.

Eisenhower did not particularly like JFK.  Baier writes: “In most respects, Kennedy, a son of privilege following a dynastic pathway, was unknowable to Ike. He was as different from Eisenhower as he could be, as well as from Truman, who didn’t much care for him.” Times of transition are difficult under the very best of circumstances but from Eisenhower to Kennedy was a time, as described by Baier, as being a time of concern on Eisenhower’s part.  There were unknowns in Eisenhower’s mind as to whether Kennedy could do the job.  Couple that with Kennedy’s young age and inexperience in global affairs and you have a compelling story.  During those three days, though, Eisenhower warmed up to Kennedy.  There was a concerted effort to make the transition as smooth as possible and even though Kennedy and his staff seemed to be very cocky, the outgoing President was very instrumental in giving President-elect Kennedy information that would serve him very well during his first one hundred days and beyond.

On January 17, 1961, three days before inauguration ceremonies, Eisenhower gave a notable and now-prophetic farewell speech in which he looked into the future, warning Americans about the dangers of putting partisanship above national interest, the risks of deficit spending, the expansion of the military-industrial complex and the growing influence of special interest groups on government officials.  Eisenhower’s concerns have become reality in our modern day with technology outpacing legislation and common sense to oversee development of hardware that can destroy us all.  This book is about those three days and brief time-periods prior to and after that very meaningful speech.

If you are a historian, a news junkie, or someone who just likes to keep up, I can definitely recommend this book to you.  It is extremely well-written and wonderfully researched. Mr. Baier and Ms. Whitney have done their research with each reference noted, by chapter, in the back of the book.  It is very obvious that considerable time and effort was applied to each paragraph to bring about a coherent and compelling novel.  It, in my opinion, is not just a book but a slice of history.  A document to be read and enjoyed.

BUILD THAT WALL

January 30, 2017


Certain portion of the information for this post come from the article entitled “How to Build Trump’s Controversial Wall” by Mr. Chris Wiltz.  Chris is a writer for Design News Daily.

 

OK, President Donald Trump indicated during pre-nomination televised exercises that if elected President, he will authorize building a wall between Mexico and the United States AND get the Mexican government to pay for it.  Now as President, he seems to be living up to fulfilling that somewhat lofty campaign promise.  From an engineering standpoint, how do you do that?

A direct quote from President Trump:  “We are in the middle of a crisis on our southern border: The unprecedented surge of illegal migrants from Central American is harming both Mexico and the United States,” Trump said in remarks reported by Reuters. “And I believe the steps we will take starting right now will improve the safety in both of our countries. … A nation without borders is not a nation.”

An analysis done by Politico estimates to do just that would total at least $5.1 billion US (not including annual maintenance costs). According to Politico:  “Those estimates come from a 2009 report from the Government Accountability Office [GAO], which found that it costs an average of $3.9 million to build one mile of fencing. About 670 miles of fencing is already up along the 1,989-mile southern border, so finishing the fence that’s already there would cost about $5.1 billion.

But the actual cost is likely much higher, according to experts. The vast majority of the existing border fence is single-layer fencing near urban areas, which is considerably easier to build. Much of the remaining 1,300 miles runs through rough terrains and remote areas without roads, so it’s fair to assume the per-mile cost of finishing the fence would be on the higher end of the GAO’s estimates, which was $15.1 million per mile.”

This is obviously a huge amount of money and the time necessary appears to be years and not months or certainly weeks.  The construction time of the Ming Wall was well over 2,000 years Many imperial dynasties and kingdoms built, rebuilt, and extended walls many times.  This wall subsequently eroded due to environmental issues and the materials used. The latest imperial construction was performed by the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), and the length was then over 6,000 kilometers (3,700 miles).

HOW WOULD WE DO IT:

In a September 2015 article for The National Memo , a structural engineer, writing under the pseudonym Ali F. Rhuzkan took on the challenge of mapping out the logistics of constructing Trump’s wall. I really do not know why Ali F. Rhuzkan was used but his article was very interesting.

Rhuzkan writes: “A successful border wall must be effective, cheap, and easily maintained. It should be built from readily available materials and should take advantage of the capabilities of the existing labor force. The wall should reach about five feet underground to deter tunneling, and should terminate about 20 feet above grade to deter climbing.”

A rendition of his design looks as follows:

diagram-of-the-wall

According to Rhuzkah, assuming the wall would be constructed using pre-cast concrete (cast in a factory, then shipped to the construction site) building a wall to the necessary specifications to meet the President’s demands for a roughly 2,000-mile border wall would require about 12,600,000 cubic yards of concrete. “In other words, this wall would contain over three times the amount of concrete used to build the Hoover Dam,” Rhuzkah writes, “Such a wall would be greater in volume than all six pyramids of the Giza Necropolis … That quantity of concrete could pave a one-lane road from New York to Los Angeles, going the long way around the Earth…”

And this is just the concrete. One also has to factor in the amount of steel needed to reinforce such a structure – about 5 billion pounds by Rhuzkah’s estimation – as well as the labor, production, and shipping costs of all the pieces. Not to mention the wall would have to be built and regularly maintained by workers that would ideally be paid and not slaves.

If you need a visual of what such a wall would look like, a group of interns at  Estudio 3.14 —a design firm based in Guadalajara, México have created a conceptual rendering that they’ve dubbed the Prison Wall . Estudio 3.14’s concept envisions a wall that crosses multiple terrains (hills, desert, a river, even the city of Tijuana) and also includes a built-in prison to detain those seeking to cross the border illegally, as well as a shopping mall and a viewpoint for tourists. By its renderings, the studio estimates the wall could employ up to 6 million people. As for why it’s pink, the studio said in a statement that, “Because the wall has to be beautiful, it has been inspired by Luis Barragán’s pink walls that are emblematic of Mexico.”

rendition

CONCLUSION:

I have a twenty (20) foot ladder in my workshop downstairs.  If I have one, the Mexican illegals probably can get one.  Here are my conclusions:

  1. A twenty (20) foot wall is much too short. Forty or even fifty (50) in some places will be necessary.
  2. Five (5) foot depth is much much too shallow. I could tunnel under a five-foot depth.  At least fifteen (15) in some places will be necessary.
  3. It would be wonderfully wise if someone could and would estimate the maintenance cost on an annual basis so we know what’s coming.
  4. It does not matter how high the wall; additional patrolling will be necessary by our Border Patrol. Please estimate the added costs for that.
  5. Please forget the government of Mexico paying for the wall. I WILL NOT HAPPEN. President Trump indicated he may assign added import taxes to pay for the wall.  Those will be passed on to the American people.  You know that.
  6. I hope it’s obvious that I do not know the complete answer to this one, but you have to give credit to President Trump. He is trying and, in my opinion, making progress is not waves.

As always, I welcome your comments.

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