Dear British Parliament

Yesterday the British Parliament “debated” whether to “ban” Donald Trump from the UK for “hate speech”.

I have a couple of minor points to make on that PC attitude.

1) His supposed “hate speech” was to state that the USA ought to stop letting Muslims flood in until such time as we can figure out ~”what the hell is going on”; based on the simple observation that there is a Global Jihad against the USA, Christianity, and Western Values in general; and that ISIL has stated the intent to pack the “refugees” with inflitrators bent on death and destruction in the west, in particular. Now to many of us, that seems like THE most basic of common sense. There’s a large pool of “good Muslims”, contaminated by a very significant pool of “bad muslims” with murderous intent. Do you just “drink the cool-aid” to find out which ones want to kill you? Or do you say “Don’t Drink That!” until we can filter out the poison?

As the UK is presently in the middle of committing cultural suicide via making a Very Bad Choice on this question, I’m not inclined to listen to your pontifications on the subject. Tell you what, take a load of Bibles into, oh, Birmingham, and stand on a street corner handing them out and preaching God’s Mercy and see how long you last.

Bear in mind that in the UK “Asian” or “Asia” can often be talking about Muslims from Pakistan or folks from India.

2005 Birmingham riots
The Birmingham riots of 2005 occurred on two consecutive nights on Saturday 22 October and Sunday 23 October 2005 in the Lozells and Handsworth area of Birmingham, England. The riots were derived from ethnic tensions between the Caribbean and British Asian communities, with the spark for the riot bein…
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Related Topics
1981 Handsworth riots – The 1981 Handsworth riots were three days of rioting that took place in the Handsworth area of Birmingham, England in July 1981. The major outbreak of violence took place on the night of Friday 10/11 July, with smaller disturbances on the following two nights.

1985 Handsworth riots – The second Handsworth riots took place in the Handsworth district of Birmingham, West Midlands, from 9 to 11 September 1985. The riots were reportedly sparked by the arrest of a man near the Acapulco Cafe, Lozells and a police raid on the Villa Cross public house in the same area.

1991 Handsworth riots – The third Handsworth riot occurred on 2 September 1991 in Handsworth, an inner-city area of Birmingham, when a power cut plunged the area into darkness and sparked a looting spree in local shops. 200 police officers in riot gear were called in to bring the unrest under control.
Anti-Pakistan sentiment
Race riots in England
British Pakistani history
Black British history
Murder in England
History of Birmingham, West Midlands

2005 Birmingham riots – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Birmingham riots of 2005 occurred on two consecutive nights on Saturday 22 October and Sunday 23 October 2005 in the Lozells and Handsworth area of Birmingham …
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Muslims ‘shown in positive light’ after Birmingham riots …
After conducting surveys with Birmingham Muslims about the riots Dr Allen said some Muslims felt the world now had a better understanding of them.
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Birmingham Riots 2011 | How it all began… – YouTube
FILM: Just days after the London riots in Tottenham, violent rioting and disturbances take place in Birmingham city centre following tensions created by …
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UK riots: Birmingham’s Muslims and Sikhs … – The Guardian
Emotions run high at candlelit vigil for three men killed in riots as Asian communities weigh up how to react When the prime minister, David Cameron, said on …
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Birmingham Riots 8th August 2009 – “Unite Against Fascism …
UAF and Muslim extremists causing riots and havoc in the city of Birmingham. Of course the media will blame the EDL (And in hence blame the BNP for …
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Birmingham riots: Crowds mourn riot death ‘martyrs’ – BBC News
Image caption Haroon Jahan, Shazad Ali and Abdul Musavir were hit by a car in Winson Green during a night of riots “As a Muslim we are not …
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Birmingham riots | Stand Up 4 Islam
What caused the riot? Well thankfully, it was not something down to Muslims. The riots started from an incident where the police shot down a man, Mark Duggan, at …
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So you would have us emulate Birmingham, eh? So how’s that workin’ out for you?

2) The Donald just happens to be leading in the polls at the moment. He has a high probability of being the Republican Candidate for President.

Think ( I know it’s hard, and you are waaaay out of practice, but please do give it a go…) for just a moment: You are with significant potential directly insulting the future president of the USA.

In a match up between The Donald and our Head Liar Hillary, there are a huge number of ABC voters. “Anyone But Clinton”. I’m one of them. The alternative is Chief Socialist Bernie Sanders. Do you really think the USA would choose a socialist? Maybe you’ve never been here before, but “socialist” is slightly less complementary here than “drug dealer” or “used car salesman”. (No, not hyperbole. Take a look at the stats and you find Politicians ranked lowest…)

How do you think President Trump will handle things like, oh, spending on defense related to the UK, or support for ‘free trade’ agreements with the UK, or even “visa waivers” for the UK? Then again, given your present demographic trends, maybe that’s a good thing.

(Oh, BTW, Mum was from England… so about 1/2 my family are in the UK… Please consider that when thinking me perhaps biased against the UK or Brits. I just finished ‘morning tea’ and I’m pining for Mum’s scones, rest her soul. The ancestral name meant roughly “summoner to the Crown” (i.e. Royal Bounty Hunters… to paraphrase) so it isn’t like we were not happy supporting the British Government either…)

3) Trump is (depending on the particular poll) running about 30% at the moment with LOTS of other choices. Cut that in half (since Republicans are not the total population and what he loses in Democrats he picks up in Independents) and you have about 15% already firm Trump supporters. The USA has about 325 Million population. So that’s about 30 Million Trump Supporters (allowing some for ‘too young to vote’). So how does it feel to Royally Piss Off 30 Million potential tourists and folks who might buy your products?

Then again, the UK exports nearly nothing to the USA these days, so maybe it doesn’t matter. And Australia has some of the same cultural echos, while having MUCH better beaches. ( I’ve been to both places ). So maybe you don’t really need to worry about it all. Besides, you can get LOTS of visitors from Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, etc. etc. instead. I’m sure they will bring just as much $Tourist Money and cultural appreciation to your shores.

Still, when next you have need for a little “military bailout” as in the last few of your ‘dust-ups’, think having 30 Million USA Voters with a bitter feeling toward you will help that appropriation? Eh?

In Conclusion

You might just want to have a bit of a think about things before you royally screw it up.

While 1/2 my ancestry comes directly from the UK shores, the other half is Iowa USA. I can tell you with some certainty that The Midwest is not going to be very fond of your pissing in our political soup. YOU may be hard core PC wussies, but we are not (despite all the best efforts of the Democrats, Socialists, Globalists, et aliae ad nausium).

For now, at least, the backbone of America is still in place, and we know that “Free Speech” must exist for speech you despise, or it will exist for no one (as someone will despise your speech).

Worse, the polite person will be oppressed by the obnoxious person as the polite person will not complain about significant insults while the obnoxious person will complain about imaginary insults “for effect”. We see that today in Islam being very vocal about trivialities while “turn the other cheek” Christians get roundly smacked up and say nothing.

Just because WE can see that, and act on it, doesn’t mean you have a clue nor that you can have any “value added” at all by criticizing our awareness in the midst of your blindness. Frankly, it just makes you look the fool. (Then again, you’ve had lots of practice at that since Mum left. She once complained that “All the good ones had left Britain”, I’m beginning to think she had a point… Post Churchill you’ve lost something of great importance. I think it was your self reliance, or maybe your self respect…)

You will be happy to know that I’ll not be visiting the UK any time soon. The spouse wants to go, but I think there are other places where I’ll be more comfortable. Jamaica was nice (and they knew how to make a good cup ‘a tea). Decisions, decisions… Then there are all the family who moved to Australia and Canada. Maybe a visit with them would be better. Then again, I just found out that some of Mom’s clan (from her Uncle IIRC) are now in South Carolina. It’s a very nice place to visit too. In short: I don’t need you any more. I’ve “gotten over it” about the British heritage. MY British Heritage was based on the UK of 100 years ago. That UK is now, clearly, gone. 1/2 Century of steep decline has erased it and now the UK is a nice PC Police Nanny Welfare State with a Toy Monarch for show-and-tell (picture time on schedule).

Lucky for you, not too many folks have figured that out. Yet. But keep shoving in our faces that you despise our freedoms, our liberties, our rough and tumble freedom of speech, and frankly, our self reliance and acceptance of others like Donald Trump (even when we don’t agree with what he says) and eventually even the more dim folks will find you an inhospitable place to tour. Folks don’t really like being “on stage” (or on camera…) 100% of the time on a vacation (or a business trip, or a…) and certainly don’t like the idea that they must ‘walk on egg shells’ to avoid stepping on some emotional landmine from fragile egos of the wussy class.

I’ll close with one little point:

Texas just reinstated “open carry”. That means you can strap on a side arm (i.e. handgun) and walk down the street with it.

Now realize there was a bit of a dust up in Texas where two muslim jihadii wanna-bees were going to kill a bunch of folks because some of them drew a picture of Mohammed that they didn’t like. (Seems they don’t like any of them).

Forgetting that in the USA we do still have freedom of speech and that includes political pictures and satire. ( Heck, we even let the Piss Christ ‘art’ go by…) These two ‘wanna-bees’ jumped out of a car armed to the teeth. There were two local police who met them. One was ‘only’ a school cop so was forbidden (then) to carry a gun. So it was one armed officer against 2 jihad-johnies with AK-47 style + more. The result? 2 dead “perps” and one celebrated cop. Oh, and no “Asian” or “Muslim” riot… Oh, and no innocent cartoonists hurt either.

So now, in Texas, it doesn’t have to be a cop who does that, nor one of the millions of folks with a ‘concealed carry’ permit. It can be any old person who wants to strap on a six-gun and ‘take care of herself’. (There’s nothing quite as ‘hot’ as a lady packing a sidearm… oh, and be advised that they have faster reflexes and better precise motor skill – called ‘aim’ here – than big ol’ guys. Don’t you ever mess with a Lady From Texas…)

Yes, Texas is a bit unique. In Florida, for example, they prefer concealed carry, but there the permit also allows for other weapons, like knives, clubs, whatever. They think that’s a bit more polite. Some States like “open carry” as you can see what’s being packed, others like concealed as that is less likely to upset the more timid.

I know all this will seem very alien to you. But look back at the pre-1950s era and you find old B&W movies of folks with pocket guns, even in the UK. (I’m not sure exactly how far pre-1950 you must go there, but here it was common up until 1963 when Kennedy was assassinated and folks decided to ‘never let a disaster go to waste’ and passed a load of gun laws on the theory that preventing a little old lady from having a purse gun would stop political assassins from plying their trade…)

The UK Culture has decayed a great deal from the time of the Great British Empire. Don’t know what to call it now. The Modest British EU Satrapy? But just because things look a bit strange when viewed from your knees doesn’t mean we don’t see a bit further and from a better point of view standing tall. And it is the person standing tall who can accept freedom of speech in others. It is the person who is confident and comfortable that they can protect themselves who can accept some insults from others and not take offense. And it is the person who has true freedom that feels no need to put others in a cage for ‘wrong think’.

I’d say “please forgive my blunt speech”, were I operating in “Mom mode”, but I’m not. Today is “Dad mode”, so today you get the straight up USA Old School directness. Don’t like it? NOT my problem. I said my piece, and you can accept it, or not, or say what you want… oh, wait, no you can’t, you are in the PC UK that might collapse if you offend someone… Sorry about that… Well, maybe you can visit over here and THEN say what you want in reply. I’ll open a tab at the bar in Houston. Don’t forget to bring your six-shooter… Oh, wait, you can’t own one… Sorry about that… Well, at least you can watch TV for free… Oh, wait, not in the UK. Sorry about that… Well, dang it all, guess that’s why y’all sit around nit-picking what each other says. You’ve got nothing else left you can do that isn’t regulated into oblivion.

But do realize that we take it personal when you insult our politicians. We don’t like other folks taking-dirt about them, throwing spit-balls at them, insulting their low intelligence or calling them names or saying they are evil despicable lying bastards with no heart. That’s our job…

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Posted in Political Current Events | Tagged , , , , , | 65 Comments

Wheat, Gluten, and A Complex of Diseases

As is often the case, I was digging around on something else and stumbled onto a more interesting topic.

In this case, it was that gluten intolerance not only causes folks to have bowel issues, but that there is a more subtle cluster of symptoms that folks might have, and never “make the connection” to wheat. For one, a friend has fibromyalgia and it is one of the possible causes.

In particular, the complex is called “Gluten-sensitive enteropathy-associated conditions” and yes, there’s a wiki on it (and the obligatory three letter acronym of GSE):

Gluten-sensitive enteropathy-associated conditions

Gluten-sensitive enteropathy (GSE) has key symptoms typically restricted to the bowel and associated tissues; however, there are a wide variety of associated conditions. These include bowel disorders (diarrhoea, constipation, irritable bowel), eosinophilic gastroenteritis and increase with coeliac disease (CD) severity. With some early onset and a large percentage of late onset disease, other disorders appear prior to the celiac diagnosis or allergic-like responses (IgE or IgA, IgG) markedly increased in GSE. Many of these disorders persist on a strict gluten-free (GF) diet, and are thus independent of coeliac disease after triggering. For example, autoimmune thyroiditis is a common finding with GSE.
However, GSEs’ association with disease is not limited to common autoimmune diseases. Coeliac disease has been found at increased frequency on followup to many autoimmune diseases, some rare. Complex causes of autoimmune diseases often demonstrates only weak association with celiac disease. The frequency of GSE is typically around 0.3 to 1% and lifelong risk of this form of gluten sensitivity increases in age, possibly as high as 2% for people over 60 years of age. This coincides with the period in life when late-onset autoimmune diseases also rise in frequency.

Genetic studies indicate that coeliac disease genetically links to loci shared by linkage with other autoimmune diseases. These linkages may be coincidental with how symptomatic disease is selected from a largely assymptomatic population.

So the basic point of that is simply that there’s a load of autoimmune related stuff going on, and wheat may have an involvement. It gets worth with age (and length of exposure?) and can rise as high as 1 in 50.

I’m not going to quote the whole thing, you can hit the link for that, but just to give the flavor of it, here’s the table of contents:

1 Associated blood disorders
1.1 Deficiencies
1.2 Anemia
1.3 Clotting abnormalities
2 Dermatitis
2.1 Dermatitis herpetiformis
2.2 Atopy, urticaria, eczema
2.3 Rare dermatitis
2.4 Alopecia areata
3 Endocrine disorders
3.1 Autoimmune thyroidosis
3.2 Diabetes
3.3 Addison’s disease
3.4 Infertility
4 Gastrointestinal diseases
4.1 Irritable bowel (IBS)
4.2 Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
4.3 Gastroesophageal reflux disease
4.4 Eosinophilic oesophagitis
4.5 Diseases of the pancreas, gall bladder, bile duct
5 Neurological disorders
5.1 Peripheral neuropathies
5.2 Ataxia
5.3 Dementia and epilepsy
5.4 Visual and auditory disturbances
5.5 White matter lesions
5.6 Depression
5.7 Anxiety
5.8 Fibromyalgia
5.9 Chronic fatigue
6 Connective tissue disorders
6.1 Arthritis
6.2 Still’s disease
7 Myositis
7.1 Dermatomyositis
8 GSEA Nephritis
9 Precancerous states
10 Cancers
10.1 Esophageal cancer
10.2 Adenocarcinoma
11 References

That’s one heck of a load of “associated” stuff. Anyone with any of those might benefit from trying a gluten free diet. That isn’t as easy as you might think, since just skipping toast and cereal in the morning is not enough. Wheat is all over the place in all sorts of things. Even Cherios Oat Cereal had it until recently ( one supposes enough folks complained so they swapped to corn starch…) You simply MUST read labels for this to work. For example, a great many “cream soups” have wheat flour as the thickener as do many (most?) gravies.

I’m going to focus in on just a couple on the list that have a particular ‘connection’ for me. Friends or family with similar symptoms.

First up, the general tendency for anything that screws around with the bowel to cause all sorts of malnutrition symptoms. (This ought to apply as well to folks with other food sensitivities / immune reactions, like my reaction to corn and the general tendency for BT toxin in GMO foods to cause bowel irritation issues). Any bold bits are my doing.


Avitaminosis. Avitaminosis caused by malabsorption in GSE can result in decline of fat soluble vitamins and vitamin B, as well as malabsorption of essential fatty acids. This can cause a wide variety of secondary problems. Hypocalcinemia is also associated with GSE.[4] In treated GSE, the restrictions on diet as well as reduced absorption as a result of prolonged damage may result in post treatment deficiencies.[5]
Vitamin A – Poor absorption of vitamin A has been seen in coeliac disease.[6] and it has been suggested that GSE-associated cancers of the esophagus may be related to vitamin A deficiency [7][8]

Folate deficiency – Folate deficiency is believed to be primary to the following secondary conditions:
Megaloblastic anemia
Calcification of brain channels – Epilepsy, Dementia, Visual Manifestations.

B6 deficiency. Vitamin B6 deficiency can result in neuropathies and increases in pain sensitivity.
[9] may explain some of the peripheral neuropathies, pain and depression associated with GSE.[10]

B12 deficiency
Megaloblastic anemia
Pernicious anemia

Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency can result in osteopenia and osteoporosis

Vitamin K – Coeliac disease has been identified in patients with a pattern of bleeding that treatment of vitamin K increased levels of prothrombin.[12]

Vitamin E – deficiency of vitamin E can lead to CNS problems [13] and possibly associated with myopathy[14]

Mineral deficiencies. GSE is associated with the following mineral deficiencies:

Calcium – Hypocalcemia [11] causing Oesteopenia

Magnesium – hypomagnesemia,[15] may lead to parathyroid abnormalities.

Iron – Iron deficiency anemia

Phosphorus – hypophosphatemia,[16] causing Oesteopenia

Zinc – Zinc deficiencies [17] are believed to be associated with increased risk of Esophagus Carcinoma[8]

Copper – deficiency [17]

Selenium – deficiency [18] – Selenium and Zinc deficiencies may play a role increasing risk of cancer.[19] Selenium deficiency may also be an aggravating factor for autoimmune hyperthyroidism (Graves disease).[20]

Blood factors

Carnitine – deficiency.[18]
Prolactin – deficiency (childhood).[21]
homocysteine – excess.[22]


Megaloblastic anemia (MA) is associated with GSE and is believed to be the result of B12 and folate deficiency.[23] In GSE, is appears to be associated with the IgA-less phenotype.[24] Unlike other forms of megaloblastic anemia, GSEA MA is not a form of autoimmune gastritis.[25]

Pernicious anemia (PA). Pernicious anemia is associated with GSE and is believed and results primarily from malabsorption phenomena.[23]
Iron-deficiency anemia. Iron-deficiency anemia (IDA) may be the only symptom for CD,[26] detected in subclinical CD[27] and is accompanied by a decrease in serum ferritin levels.[28] This can cause addition problems (see:symptoms of IDA and certain conditions like such as Paterson-Brown Kelly (Plummer-Vinson).[29] Whereas IDA is corrected on GF diet, refractory disease or gluten-sensitive malignancies can cause persistent IDA.[30]

The point? IFF you are wheat reactive, it might be showing up as all sorts of things that are entirely unrelated to bowel irritation, or the typical symptoms associated with wheat problems. That laundry list of nutrient impacts can have symptoms all over the place.

One friend has had asthma. No, it’s not on the TOC above, but buried under “dermatitis”:


A study of patients with dermatitis herpetiformis or coeliac disease revealed significantly more gluten in the blood than controls.[36] This increases the risk of asthma, anaphylaxis and dermatological conditions.

Dermatitis herpetiformis

Triticeae glutens are the primary cause of dermatitis herpetiformis(DH). Epidermal transglutaminase (eTG) is related to tTG and is the autoantigen of DH. It appears that all DH patients have or are susceptible on wheat ingestion to CD. Within CD DH is relatively rare or underdiagnosed with about 5% of patients having DH. Aphthous stomatitis is a common mouth lesion found with celiac disease.

So you ought to read the whole list in the wiki to see if you have some unexplained or hard to cure symptoms that are listed in an unexpected place in that parade of “issues”. I’m not going to quote it all here, and there are many such bits of “what the?” in it.

Several family and friends have migraine headache issues. One has fibromyalgia. She also just LOVES to start the day with a big bowl of wheat based cereals…

Neurological disorders

Neuropathies tend to be associated with late-onset celiac disease. Dementia and ataxia appear to be more common. A recent study of children with neuropathies revealed no increase of CD in early-onset neuropathies.[71] Although many studies link CD to various neuropathies such as migraine, encephalopathy, chorea, brain stem dysfunction, myelopathy, mononeuritis multiplex, Guillain-Barre-like syndrome, and antiganglioside-positive neuropathy with antibodies, strong associations remain largely unconfirmed in epidemiologic studies.[72] A recent study looking for changes in the physiology of the brain found regional cerebral hypoperfusion in 73% of untreated CD.[73] The calcification of channels at the surface of the brain appears to be a leading phenomenon associated with migraine, visual, auditory, schizophrenia, epilepsy, dementia. The problem is that while these are found increased in GSE, the cause of these calcifications is unclear and this may extend beyond GSE to other immunological or allergic phenomena. A 2007 study in Sweden of 14,000 GSE patients revealed no association of CD with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, hereditary ataxia, ataxia(the symptom), Huntington’s disease, myasthenia gravis, or spinal muscular atrophy, but prior polyneuropathy was associated with subsequent CD.[74] However, a 2009 study of myasthenics revealed that 1 in 23 had high levels of anti-transglutaminase.[75]

Peripheral neuropathies

Peripheral neuropathies are greatly increased in people who have GSE. In clinical CD there is on obvious reason; avitaminosis and the inability to adsorb essential fatty acids and vitamins can lead to nervous system problems, including sensitivity of the peripheral nervous system. In addition to these problems there are a number or rare autoimmune conditions, secondary autoimmunities, such as fibromyalgia that are more frequent in GSE than in the normal population. Gulliane-Barre syndrome is associated with peripheral neuropathies, and it has been found that anti-ganglioside autoantibodies take part in the binding to axons and schwann cells. Antibodies to these gangliosides have been found elevated in coeliac disease[76]

While this is hardly a “smoking gun”, anyone with migraines will know that you will give anything a try to make them stop, or even get just a little better. And folks with fibromyalgia basically get a migraine like feeling all over their bodies sometimes, and just plain hurt much of the rest of the time. For folks dealing with that, going gluten free for a month or two is a small price to pay for an assessment of the impact on pain.

Or maybe you just generally feel upset and like crap.


Anxiety is a common feature of GSE; treatment on a gluten-free diet is effective at reducing anxiety, some aspect of which may be due to malabsorption phenomena and cytokine activity (i.e. constant stress).[87]


Fibromyalgia was found in 9% of adult patients relative to 0.03% in the general population with a link common to IBD.
[88] Concurrent IBS is found in 30% to 70%. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth is associated is common with a transient response to antimicrobial therapy.[89]

Chronic fatigue

Chronic fatigue associated with GSE is a systemic disorder, however there are neurological components that are especially manifest in blood deficiencies like avitaminosis, amineralosis and anemia. Reduced iron and the lack of vitamins folate, B6, B12 and malabsorption of essential fatty acids can cause depression and chronic fatigue.[90] Anti-gliadin antibodies correlate with higher risk for chronic-fatique when no clinical finding of CD is present.[91] While fatigue is reduced on gluten-free diet, bouts of depression can become worse. [90]

So about a 1:10 chance of cutting wheat helping the fibromyalgia. For me, that’s in the “worth a shot” range.

Then there is the “biggie” for me:

Connective tissue disorders


Some instance of arthritis with small bowel villous atrophy have been found to resolve on gluten free diet,[92] and anti-connective tissue antibodies have been found in increased levels in celiac disease.[93] Anti-rheumatoid factor antibodies are also increased.[94] In addition, cross-reactive anti-beef-collagen antibodies (IgG) may explain some rheumatoid arthritis (RA) incidences.[95] Although the presence of anti-beef collagen antibodies does not necessarily lead to RA, the RA association with Triticeae consumption is secondary to GSE and involves DRB1*0401/4 linkages to DQ8[96] and is debatable. In one instance rhuematoid arthritis was tied directly to refractory disease.[97]

As I’ve noted several times, eating beef more than once / week causes my joints to get ‘creaky’, i.e. arthritis symptoms start. That there is a wheat angle too interests me a great deal. A preliminary reduction of wheat seems to have had some benefit, and “falling off the wagon” seemed to have a return of mild discomfort. I have a cake to finish before I try the wheat free trial again, and a few more “on/off” cycles to prove a connection; but early indications are that it has some impact.

It goes on into a nephritis that correlates with calcium oxalate levels (spouse had an oxalate kidney stone) and then into ‘precancerous states’ that look to be correlated.

Clin Med Res. 2004 Feb; 2(1): 71–72.
PMCID: PMC1069074

Celiac Disease: Celiac Sprue, Gluten-sensitive Enteropathy

Anita I. Gheller-Rigoni, DO, Steven H. Yale, MD, and Ahmad S. Abdulkarim, MD


Celiac Disease (CD) or gluten-sensitive enteropathy is a T-cell mediated disease occurring in genetically susceptible individuals induced by the ingestion of one of several proteins found in wheat (gliadins), barley (hordeins) and rye (secalinin). Symptoms classically include episodic diarrhea, abdominal pain and distention and weight loss. Approximately one half of adults develop clinically significant diarrhea. Interestingly, only one half of all patients with CD have symptoms referable to the gastrointestinal tract.

So there is a genetic component, and you can have “issues” without having G.I. “issues”… The good news is you can have a blood test for it.

Serologic markers are used to screen patients with suspected CD and/or monitor their response and adherence to treatment with a gluten-free diet. Serological studies currently in clinical use include IgA endomysial antibody (IgA-EMA) and IgA tissue transglutaminase antibody (IgA-tTG). Antigliadin antibodies IgA and IgG (AGA) have moderate sensitivity but are less specific compared to IgA-EMA and -tTG antibodies (table 1). Antigliadin antibodies are generally not useful clinically due to the emergence of the more sensitive and specific EMA and tTG antibodies, and therefore their use as a screening test is no longer recommended (table 2).

If you dig into it more, you find (eventually) that HLA-DQ2 is one of the key bits.

HLA-DQ2 (DQ2) is a serotype group within HLA-DQ (DQ) serotyping system. The serotype is determined by the antibody recognition of β2 subset of DQ β-chains. The β-chain of DQ is encoded by HLA-DQB1 locus and DQ2 are encoded by the HLA-DQB1*02 allele group. This group currently contains two common alleles, DQB1*0201 and DQB1*0202. HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQB1*02 are almost synonymous in meaning. DQ2 β-chains combine with α-chains, encoded by genetically linked HLA-DQA1 alleles, to form the cis-haplotype isoforms. These isoforms, nicknamed DQ2.2 and DQ2.5, are also encoded by the DQA1*0201 and DQA1*0501 genes, respectively.

DQ2 is most common in Western Europe, North Africa and East Africa. Highest frequencies are observed in parts of Spain and Ireland; this distribution correlates with the frequency of two of the most prevalent autoimmune diseases.
There is also an increase in DQB1*0201 in Central Asia, peaking in Kazakhstan and declining slowly west to east into China and finally Southeast Asia. DQA1*0501 : DQB1*0201. DQ2.5 is one of the most predisposing factors for autoimmune disease. DQ2.5 is encoded, often, by a haplotype associated with a large number of diseases. This haplotype, HLA A1-B8-DR3-DQ2, is associated with diseases in which HLA-DQ2 has suspect involvement. Direct involvement of DQ2 is certain in coeliac disease.

They then start looking at the particular variations on that gene.


DQ2.5 refers to either a protein isoform and a genetic (chromosomal) haplotype. DQ2.5 isoform or heterodimer is shorthand for the cell surface receptor HLA-DQ α5β2. Frequently called ‘the DQ2 heterodimer’, the DQ2.5 isoform is actually one of two common DQ heterodimers, the other being DQ2.2. DQ2.5 haplotype is created by close genetic linkage of two alleles, written as a haplotype, DQA1*0501:DQB1*0201. The haplotype encodes DQ2.5cis isoform, referring to the cis arrangement of the DQA1*0501 and DQB1*0201 on the same variant of chromosome 6. The isoform can also be encoded trans-haplotype (between two sister chromosomes) forming the DQ2.5trans isoform. This isoform occurs when a person has the DQ7.5/DQ2.2 phenotype.

DQ2.5 and the linked DR3 are associated with probably the greatest frequency of autoimmune occurrence relative to any other haplotypes. The haplotype is positively associated with coeliac disease, dermatitis herpetiformis, juvenile diabetes, Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS), Sjögren’s syndrome, and autoimmune hepatitis (although significant proportion of the risk is secondary to coeliac disease). DR3 and/or DQ2.5 are linked to the following diseases: Moreen’s ulceration,[5] “bout onset” multiple sclerosis,[6] Grave’s disease[7] and systemic lupus erythematosus.[8]
In celiac disease

DQ2 represents the second highest risk factor for coeliac disease, the highest risk is a close family member with disease. Due to its link to coeliac disease, DQ2 has the highest association of any HLA serotype with autoimmune disease, close to 95% of all coeliacs have DQ2, of that 30% have 2 copies of DQ2. Of the DQ2 homozygotes who eat wheat, lifelong risk is between 20 and 40% for coeliac disease.

So folks with ANY autoimmune disease are more likely to have the particular genetics that make wheat sensitivity an issue. Oh, and if you have Irish ancestors, well… it gets worse:

DQ2.5 and gluten

As mentioned the DQA1*0501:DQB1*0201 haplotype produces DQ2.5cis which by frequency and efficiency in alpha-gliadin presentation is the major factor in adaptive immunity. The isoform, referred to frequently as the DQ2 heterodimer or DQ2 (DQA1*05:DQB1*02) and more recently DQ2.5 can be differentiated from responses from other DQ isoforms, including other DQ2.[10][11] Specifically, that this DQ2 heterodimer is responsible for presenting the α2-gliadin that most effectively stimulates pathogenic T-cells.

The highest risk for coeliac disease is in Western Ireland and overlaps one of three global nodes of the DQ2.5 haplotype in Western Europe.
The DQ2.5 haplotype is linked to DR3 and DR3 is not linked to DQ2.2. Therefore, using either serotyping or genotyping, DQ2.5 can be distinguished from DQ2.2 or DQ2.3. The refined studies of risk and immunology suggest that all DQ2 can mediate coeliac disease, but that DQ2.5 is the primary genetic risk factor. A genome wide survey of markers linked to CD, reveals that highest linkage is for a marker within the DQA1*0501 allele of the DQ2.5 haplotype.[12] The association of DQB1*0201 is almost as high. Greatly elevating risk is the ability of the DQ2.5 haplotype encoded isoforms to increase abundance on the cell surface in DQ2.5 double homozygotes. While most people can form two or four different isoforms of DQ. Double homozygotes (of DQA1 and DQB1) can only form DQ2.5cis. This occurs when a person inherits a DQ2.5cis bearing chromosome from each parent. While the frequency of DQ2.5 haplotype is only 4 times higher than the general population, the number of DQ2.5 homozygotes is 10 to 20 times higher than the general population.[3][13] Multiple copies of the DQ2.5 haplotype do not cause apparent increases of severity, DQ2.5/DQ2 increases risk of life threatening complications and more severe histological findings.[14][15] Of the approximately 90% of coeliacs that bear the DQ2.5 isoform only 4% produce DQ2.5 by pair alleles from different haplotypes, this isoform is called DQ2.5trans and differs slightly, one amino acid, from DQ2.5cis.

So those of us with ancestry from “western Ireland” are pretty highly likely to have “an issue” of this form. (Though there are two other locations I’ve not mentioned that are hot spots for those genetics).

Anyone with Irish ancestors, and one of the autoimmune diseases, has a pretty good reason to try a wheat / gluten free diet for a while and see what happens. That, as it turns out, includes me and many in my family.

There are other variations, it isn’t all just DQ2.5:

The DQ isoform has a complex genetic involvement in coeliac disease. And these involvements explain the majority of disease. One other haplotype exists that is associated with disease, although not as common in Europe, DQ8 is found to be involved in coeliac disease in peoples where DQ2 is not present. DQ8.1 haplotype encodes the DQA1*0301:DQB1*0302 haplotype and represents the overwhelming majority of all DQ8. DQ2.5 is generally highest in northern, islandic Europe, and the Basque of Northern Spain. Phenotype frequency exceeds 50% in certain parts of Ireland. DQ8 is extremely high in Native Americans of Central America and tribes of Eastern American origin, fortunately most of these peoples have retained a maize-based diet.

So folks of Basque or North Spain ancestry have reason to take a special look (due to DQ2.5) while Native Americans may also have wheat issues (but due to DQ8).

In Conclusion

So there you have it. Your genetics can predispose you to “autoimmune” reactions, and in particular to wheat induced “issues” that may or may not manifest with obvious gut symptoms. For some of those autoimmune reactions, and for some of the malabsorption related results, ditching wheat can help things. For some others, it doesn’t. ( I have a tendency to just ‘kill off’ all sorts of bacteria and viruses that take my workmates down, so I suspect that the ‘benefit’ of the genes is just a general “when in doubt, kill it fast” immune system… useful in pre-antibiotic days, not so much now that we have tons of wheat based foods everywhere all the year round…)

For me, that means a fairly long ‘trial’ of the gluten free diet is in my future. I can already modulate arthritic symptoms with beef, now we’ll see is the residual moderates when wheat is left out. (Oh, and tomatoes set off the spouse… so beef lasagna is a ‘triple threat’ for us, dang it… I make a mean lasagna…)

It isn’t hard (well, it IS annoying…) to do a gluten free trial. The hard part comes in with full avoidance longer term. The old college roomie has full on wheat allergies, so we have lots of practice making wheat free bread, pizza, etc. One can also get rice noodles for that lasagna and use pork or lamb for the meat. That just leaves a non-tomato marinara to develop… Sigh.

But for folks not reacting to beef and tomatoes, just swap in the rice noodles and go.

Swap over to non-wheat breakfast cereals. Have some buckwheat or millet cakes instead of wheat based pancakes. Pick up some gluten free bread at Whole Foods. It’s all doable. Then we get to see what happens. It will likely be a couple of weeks as I slowly run down the inventory of wheat stuff in the house, but eventually I’ll have a clear trial / report to make. The hardest part will be that I really like to make home made bread and have about 20 lbs of flour… Maybe I can make “gift loaves” for others ;-)

Bon chance!

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Posted in Biology Biochem | Tagged , , | 22 Comments

Al Jazeera America to close down

My “go to station” for all news related to Islam and the Middle East is closing down.

Say what you will about “bias”, their editorial position was clear and it gave a clear eyed view of “facts on the ground” with lots of live coverage with cameras and reporters in the middle of things when something happened. Their perspective and their live reports in the thick of things will be sorely missed.

Yes, any news about Israel was couched in those particularly Islamic code words for “evil bastards” and they couldn’t even bring themselves to say Israel much of the time (the ‘inside term’ being ‘Occupied Palestine’). Yes, they were pro-Arab and pro-Muslim. Who would expect otherwise? But that POV was valuable to me and gave a great contrast to the pap and nonsense ridden US commercial news. Even with that, they typically reported the news “straight”. You could pick out “just the facts” pretty clearly. Unlike other sources (BBC, MSNBC, etc. etc.) that give a load of emotion laden “perspective” and don’t bother to include the facts… Their camera staff could often go where no others were welcome, and their live coverage of “action” in hot-spots in the Middle East was stellar.

For example, in the recent coverage of the explosions in Jakarta, they covered that a few hundred had been arrested for being radicals some time back and that this ‘event’ was linked to a desire to free the leader of that group and / or as retribution for the arrests. Things not covered on the other channels. ( I’ve forgotten the exact names of the groups and leaders, but they were given, had I cared to take them down.) That there was an official ‘crack down’ on radical islam in Indonesia, that there had been hundreds arrested, that this was “islam on Islam” violence; all that was the special perspective they brought. Our news? Focus was on the potential for a couple of non-Indonesians to be hurt in the process. Missing the whole point.

Al Jazeera America to close down

Unsustainable business model cited in decision to close as global network announces a new digital drive in US market

January 13, 2016 2:11PM ET
by Al Jazeera Staff

Al Jazeera America will shutter its cable TV and digital operations by April 30 of this year, the company announced Wednesday. The decision by the AJAM board was “driven by the fact that our business model is simply not sustainable in light of the economic challenges in the U.S. media marketplace,” said AJAM CEO Al Anstey.

“I know the closure of AJAM will be a massive disappointment for everyone here who has worked tirelessly for our long-term future,” Anstey wrote in an email addressed to all the company’s employees. The decision was no reflection on the work of that staff, he said. “Our commitment to great journalism is unrivaled. We have increasingly set ourselves apart from all the rest. And you are the most talented team any organization could wish for.”

The announcement of AJAM’s closure coincides with a decision by its global parent company to commit to a significant expansion of its worldwide digital operations into the U.S. market.

“As audiences increasingly turn to multiple platforms, including mobile devices, for news and information, this expansion will allow U.S. and non-U.S. consumers alike to access the network’s journalism and content wherever and whenever they want,” the Al Jazeera Media Network said in a statement. “By expanding its digital content and distribution services to now include the U.S., the network will be better positioned to innovate and compete in an overwhelmingly digital world to serve today’s 24-hour digitally focused audience.”

Anstey praised the Al Jazeera America staff as “a brilliant team made up of the most committed, professional and dedicated people … In the months to come, we will do everything that we can to support you, to work with you and to ensure you are shown the respect you deserve.”

My only complaint was their run to embrace the Global Warming Mythology and their bringing forward several old tired voices (and faces) from the Left Wing of USA broadcasting (and PBS left-overs). Had they realized that the bulk of America is NOT watching MSNBC, but instead keeps having FOX news ranked first in the ratings, they could have done much better. Just sticking with the basically conservative POV of Islam instead of running to embrace Loony Lefty POV stories. IMHO, that, more than any Islamic bias, is what lead to their demise.

With luck, they will adopt something of a Netflix model, and continue to stream their live news coverage to the world ( we can live without the nanny-nag left wing “perspective” shows… and the Global Warming crap…)

As for me, I’m not sure where I’m going to turn to get the ‘counterpoint’ to FOX and CNN and the BBC on all things middle eastern and Islamic. Perhaps their online presence will remain.

Despite its initial struggle for TV ratings, the newcomer network was quickly and repeatedly recognized by its industry peers for the excellence of its journalism. Within months of launching, AJAM began collecting prestigious prizes — from Peabody, Emmy, Gracie, Eppy and DuPont awards to a Shorty Award, for best Twitter newsfeed, and Newswomen’s Club of New York’s Front Page awards and citations from groups such as the National Association of Black Journalists and the Native American Journalism.

Anstey said AJAM made slow but steady progress in recent months in growing its audience. “Our editorial excellence was demonstrated time and time again on the major stories of recent months,” he wrote. “And we continue to win praise from our colleagues in the industry and from our viewers for the quality of our output.

He vowed that AJAM would maintain its standards of excellence until it goes dark.

“Between now and April, we will continue to show America why AJAM has won respect and the fierce loyalty of so many of our viewers,” Anstey wrote. “Through your remarkable work at AJAM, we have shown that there is a different way of reporting news and providing information. The foundation of this is integrity, great journalism, impartiality and a commitment to the highest quality story telling. This will be our lasting impact, and as we produce and showcase the best of our work in the weeks to come, this will be clear for everyone to see.”

I agree with that evaluation of things, FWIW.

Still asks you to pick your TV Service Provider. Perhaps they can keep the news feed running there, minus the “Service Provider” hook that keeps a very large potential audience out…

Here is the parent Al Jazeera live on the net feed:

With that:

Farewell to those at Al Jazeera America. You were and are appreciated. Best of luck. Even those who gave a POV with which I did not agree did it well and professionally, and you, too, will be missed. I may not have agreed, but you made me think about my position and ask questions of myself. Always a beneficial thing. Those “on the ground” doing nearly instant live coverage of world events, IMHO, beat the pants of the other choices. Almost always “first up” and then with more depth, more facts, more cameras live on the ground. And yes, sometimes dodging more bricks and bullets; occasionally from both sides. Stay well my friends, I look forward to your future “ride”, when you find a place to land, and more display of skill, courage, and clarity.

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Posted in Arts, News Related, Political Current Events | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Bottom Fishing Silver

Is it time to “bottom fish” for silver? Not quite yet, but IMHO “soon”.

We’ll look at three charts with three different views of the time scale. The huge bubble in Silver has passed, and we’re now in the the flattening tail phase. Typically these can take a few months and up to a year+ to finish flattening, have the “dead cat bounce” as the shorts leave, and then have the “confirmation” where price crosses the SMA stack, returns from above to “kiss” it, and then rises away. That’s the final confirmed bottom action.

Yet Silver is a very volatile commodity, and we are likely in a very bear market for other assets (such as stocks and as soon as The Fed tightens hard bonds will roll down too). In those kinds of situations, folks often run to precious metals (despite them just being Yet Another Highly Volatile Commodity…) as though that was safety. So Silver might move faster than expected if some surprise news flow hits. For that reason, it’s worth looking early and preparing.

The Context

First off, lets look at the context. This is the “All Data” chart that runs back about a decade. It captures the “bubble” very nicely, and it shows the more or less stable low prices before that.

SLV Silver vs a set of Safe Haven tickers, All Data from 14 January 2015

SLV Silver vs a set of Safe Haven tickers, All Data from 14 January 2015

One interesting point to note is that the price is on a percentage scale when comparisons are done, and the present is at a 0% gain compared to the starting point of the chart. Silver is a sterile asset and does NOT grow over time all on its own. There are no dividends, and it does not have retained earnings to reinvest… In fact, you often must pay someone to store it. It is NOT a long term investment, it is “money” and a store of value. Yet look at the peak in the middle of the bubble… It is a very volatile store of value. Buy during an exponential bubble rise phase and hold, you find a store of value can lose a lot of value before it starts to store again…

Long time readers here will remember my calling that bubble and saying not to jump in. How to spot one? Price pulls away from the Simple Moving Averages. In the final ‘blow off’ phase, it does so in a nearly exponential curve kind of way. Then there is the story. “There is always a story. -E.M.Smith”. When folks are all repeating the same Story, and it is in the news, and they are excited about it, walk away. That’s the fad talking. Kind of like all the story and hype about Global Warming (and part of why my alarm bells went off about it fairly quickly… the huckster pushing The Story is well worth skeptical examination.)

But now that bubble has passed. What happens after that? Well, first off, prices plunge, then the plunge flattens out as folks give up The Story and have mostly all sold. Finally, with nobody pushing the hype, prices slowly return to their longer term trend. For sterile assets, that is the cost to mine / produce plus inflation of the currency. With the $US presently showing “strength” (as the best whore in the whorehouse) relative to other currencies, nominal inflation is near zero.

So look at the tail on the right hand side. Nearly flat slope. The SMA line (20 week or 100 day) is still above price, so trend is still downward, but only slightly. At about $13 / ounce, not a bad price. Notice, though, that a few years back the same price sometimes had dips down to about $6 / ounce. We could easily have dips like that again. But that pretty much sets the lower bounds on prices. We’ve got about a 40% downside during “dips” and at any price under $10 / ounce it is likely an OK buy for longer term holdings. Personally, I’m going to wait for the charts to show clearly that the downtrend has ended and reassess things then.

After a bubble, it can take a year+ in the tail of the decline before prices rise again. Folks got burned, and are NOT going to return in droves over The Story again. It takes a new crop of folks, and that takes a long time. And a new Story. Like an inflation scare. Inflation is not the Worry Of The Day just yet (the Talking Heads are nattering about deflation and that has to change first). But it doesn’t hurt to start looking early. IFF inflation scares heat up, owning silver can be a nice handle on things. Just not quite yet…

Also on that chart are some other “traditional” Safe Haven tickers. TLT is long term government bonds. Essentially flat over the last 4 years. When The Fed starts to raise interest rates (we’ve had one dinky rise so far) that makes the interest on old bonds worth less, so bond prices tend to drop during Fed Hike periods. We are entering a Fed Hike period. Only use very short term bonds or paper as a safe haven, not the 20 year kinds. It’s ‘dead money’ at the moment anyway, so might as well hold cash. Speaking of cash, who’s cash?

The Japanese Yen FXY and the Swiss Franc FXY are the two typical alternatives to the $US as a ‘safe haven’. They both show a rise with the silver bubble (though much flatter) as the $US was suspect, then a drop to now as the $US recovered some. You can see that FXY is more volatile with news flow (note the peak mid 2011 when silver was peaking on inflation mongering) while the Yen is much more staid. Yet the last 4 years has both in a slow slide. Japan more than FXF as Japan tries desperately to print its way out of a shortage of workers, high costs, and expensive government and management. Oh, and hopes that cheapening the currency will stop China from winning. I’d not use FXY just now as a safe haven. But watch the FXF ticker. It will show when the $US stops strengthening. Also note that it is up about 20% over the decade. The Swiss know how to manage their money.

Note that RSI is lifting off of a ‘near 20’ showing that the fall is ending. MACD is approaching zero from below, but in a mostly sideways run, showing “not yet”. It will need to have “blue on top” and crossing zero to the positive side to show the end is here. DMI- (red) is still on top showing “not yet” and it, too, must turn to “blue on top” for a confirmed end of the down slide. Yet ADX is ‘near 20’ and that’s a very weak downward drift, not a drop. Overall, “time to watch” is here.

Let’s look a bit closer at some of those lines:

Silver vs Safe Havens 2 year Weekly chart from 14 Jan 2015

Silver vs Safe Havens 2 year Weekly chart from 14 Jan 2015

This is a 2 year long “zoom in” on the end of the chart. Relative positions of lines will shift as the ‘zero point’ of the starting comparison is now just 2 years back. But we can see things like the SMA line vs price better, and the shape of price bars is more clear.

First off, an apology. I’ve been leery of bonds for the last couple of years and repeatedly warned that The Fed could hike rates any time and cause them to fall. In the last 2 years you would have made 20% on them. Yet note that they peaked at a 30% gain then dropped back to 20% (based on news flow of risks in the world and The Fed, no doubt) so it’s not like it was a low volatility ride in long term bonds. Still, I said I was going to stay away from something that made money. Not good.

Note, too, how FXF closely follows the shape of the GLD Gold curve. The Swiss manage their currency to stable prices via comparison to a basket with a lot of gold in it, and some Euros and some… The Yen also looks fairly stable the last year, but still with a modest down drift relative to the $US. Both are in agreement with GLD that the $US is showing (unwarranted?) strength and all three track each other more than the $US, so in their own framing, will look more stable. (That is, some of those wobbles and falls are due to the $US moving, not them.)

We can also more clearly see how the SLV ticker is just crossing over the SMA 20 week line. Using a 40 line would have the price just touching it before falling back to trend. (I did the graph but didn’t upload it). So it looks like “whoever” is the market maker in silver is managing to the 200 day moving average line (or it is the natural period…) When SLV moves up to the 40 week / 200 day line, do NOT buy, but sell, until such time as the SMA stack inverts and price approaches it from above, not below. We’re in “bear market rules” still until that happens.

Here, too, we can better see the RSI ‘near 20’ and rise toward the zero cross, the MACD nearing zero from below and with the blue just about to cross over red, maybe ;-) Also that ADX is ‘near 20’ showing flattening trend and with red / blue starting to approximate. (they will weave a bit before a clear blue on top happens, most of the time)

Now look closely at the price bars. They are starting to get little “kangaroo tails” (don’t blame me! that’s what they are called and they were named by others!) where price excursions were to the downside, but didn’t hold, and the close was above them. “Price springs off the kangaroo tail” so the tail points away from the bias direction. We’re starting to see upward bias creeping in to the buy side on dips down. There are still a few kangaroo tails and ‘price stars’ (where a tail is on each side of a nearly flat open / close price spread) at the tops of rises, so still some arguing between the factions, but the tops are weakening and the bottoms showing more spring. Soon that battle will resolve to the upside. (Where “soon” could be a couple of weeks, or months, or a year… depending on news flow and world events.)

We are approaching the phase I like to call a ‘flat roller’, where price has wiggles up and down, but trend is flat. That can hold for a long time if there is no ‘catalyst’ (aka “The Story” pushed by talking heads…) During those times, trades can make money as ‘swing trades’ where you buy on those bottom kangaroos and sell on the tops at the halt of the rise. But for that, it takes a faster time frame. This can make a bit of money, but IMHO is mostly useful as it keeps you looking at a flat on the bottom chart so you can catch the moment of ‘lift off’. (Otherwise my attention wanders to ‘other things’ and I find out that bottom fish started rising 6 months ago and I missed it… A computer would really be better at this…)

So lets look at a daily chart with very fast tick marks:

SLV Silver vs a Safe Haven basket with Daily tick marks from 14 Jan 2015

SLV Silver vs a Safe Haven basket with Daily tick marks from 14 Jan 2015

Here I’ve gone back to my “usual” three period SMA stack for daily tick marks. You can see a ‘bottoming weave’ attempt about the first half of 2015, then in falls away again. That’s common. It takes a while to crush all the greed and enthusiasm out of prospective buyers (and for Goldman to collect the maximum gold…) That is also why I have my “confirmed bottom” rules. These “false bottoms” are common on the way down and you simply MUST wait for the fat lady to really sing loud to know for sure.

Still, you can see that buying on the MACD cross to blue on top and selling on the crossover to red on top (perhaps using a trailing stop loss) can often pick up a nice trade. Watching DMI “blue on top” helps too. Note that right now ADX is nearly 10. Almost dead flat trend. MACD is slowly approximating zero, but with a woven sort of look, not a clear nice slope ‘blue on top’. That’s a flat market, not a trade. It often happens when the bottom is near. What we need now is for RSI to have a ‘higher low’ off of that near 20 point, for MACD to cross over zero to the positive, and for a clear ‘blue on top’ not weaving look with decent slope to it. Yet look at May – June at the start of the chart. That was a very nice trade as a very similar ‘flatish rising MACD’ with ADX near 10 had a break out on some kind of news. A “buy if touched” order can help catch those if you don’t live on the financial news channels and do charts 2 x a day…

But the “confirmed bottom signal” is when those price jumps that cross the SMA stack and then drop back through, instead, stop at the SMA stack from above and reverse to the upside. Bouncing of the SMA stack from above. So it’s not quite a bottom just yet. But it looks like ‘soon’.

The ‘traditional’ advice is to ‘scale in’ with a series of small buys. Now look again at that starting May – June. Had you started to ‘scale in’ then, you would now be down 30%. I don’t consider that a good safe strategy. That is why I wait, and wait, and wait until it is clearly a real confirmed bottom. It can take weeks or months. Don’t expect to see it tomorrow.

But IMHO, it’s time to start watching silver as a safe haven trade. WHEN, and it is a when, the $US starts to reflect the money printing going on and WHEN, and it is a when, The Fed starts to do more than a symbolic 1/4 point rate hike, look for the $US to fade, and ‘real assets’ to rise. Silver ought to participate then as well, and while it has returned to the historical base price, gold has not yet. Gold may need to drop a couple of $hundred more before we reach that point, so I’m not yet doing a bottom watch on gold. Just my opinion, and worth the price you paid for it (i.e. nothing), so watch the charts for what really happens.

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Posted in Economics - Trading - and Money | Tagged , , | 17 Comments

Cancer and Marijuana

Since I’ve not managed to make a grand unified Marijuana posting, I’ve decided to “move on” and do it in chunks. Some things are amenable to the “one full story”, others more to “bits and pieces”.

So the latest news is just that the National Institutes of Health have decided to throw in the towel on PC and admit that it kills cancer cells. Details to elaborate over many years, no doubt.

July 25, 2014
Marijuana destroys Cancer Tumors says NIH and new Study
By Mark Wachtler

July 25, 2014. Norwich, England. (ONN) The US federal government and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have quietly confirmed what some of us have known for years – that marijuana somehow fights cancer cells without harming healthy cells. Now, and the NIH have actually published that fact, reversing four decades of disinformation and propaganda against the natural remedy on behalf of multi-national pharmaceutical corporations. And to top it off, the results of a just-released study demonstrates how it happens.

Now I cite this 2014 article because this story was just now reaching the ‘regular news’. I saw it on some “cable” TV news channel just about a week ago. Clearly some news travels faster than other to your TV set…

Study discovers how marijuana shrinks tumors

Cancer is big business and big money. Many have long suspected that the cure for cancer has always been held hostage by the powers that be so Wall Street corporations can continue to rake in $125 billion a year fighting the disease with radiation, pills and endless surgeries. The National Cancer Institute alone has taken in and spent an estimated $90 billion allegedly trying to find a cure for cancer. Image, all they had to do was ask a teenager or just test a documented 3,000-year-old medical treatment. Marijuana is the first known medical treatment used by humans, literally dating back to roughly 1,000 BC.

So what’s some of the “story behind the story”? You know, that technical stuff most reports glaze at…

Note this is from 2002. Not exactly “new news”.

Blood. 2002 Jul 15;100(2):627-34.

Targeting CB2 cannabinoid receptors as a novel therapy to treat malignant lymphoblastic disease.

McKallip RJ1, Lombard C, Fisher M, Martin BR, Ryu S, Grant S, Nagarkatti PS, Nagarkatti M.

In the current study, we examined whether ligation of CB2 receptors would lead to induction of apoptosis in tumors of immune origin and whether CB2 agonist could be used to treat such cancers. Exposure of murine tumors EL-4, LSA, and P815 to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in vitro led to a significant reduction in cell viability and an increase in apoptosis. Exposure of EL-4 tumor cells to the synthetic cannabinoid HU-210 and the endogenous cannabinoid anandamide led to significant induction of apoptosis, whereas exposure to WIN55212 was not effective. Treatment of EL-4 tumor-bearing mice with THC in vivo led to a significant reduction in tumor load, increase in tumor-cell apoptosis, and increase in survival of tumor-bearing mice. Examination of a number of human leukemia and lymphoma cell lines, including Jurkat, Molt-4, and Sup-T1, revealed that they expressed CB2 receptors but not CB1. These human tumor cells were also susceptible to apoptosis induced by THC, HU-210, anandamide, and the CB2-selective agonist JWH-015. This effect was mediated at least in part through the CB2 receptors because pretreatment with the CB2 antagonist SR144528 partially reversed the THC-induced apoptosis. Culture of primary acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells with THC in vitro reduced cell viability and induced apoptosis. Together, the current data demonstrate that CB2 cannabinoid receptors expressed on malignancies of the immune system may serve as potential targets for the induction of apoptosis. Also, because CB2 agonists lack psychotropic effects, they may serve as novel anticancer agents to selectively target and kill tumors of immune origin.

Key takaway here being that it is both THC and Cannabinoids that have activities, just in different parts of the biochemistry. The argument for “the whole package” instead of drug extracts has some merit.

When we get to 2012, things are continuing to develop.

FASEB J. 2012 Apr;26(4):1535-48. doi: 10.1096/fj.11-198184. Epub 2011 Dec 23.

Cannabidiol inhibits lung cancer cell invasion and metastasis via intercellular adhesion molecule-1.

Ramer R1, Bublitz K, Freimuth N, Merkord J, Rohde H, Haustein M, Borchert P, Schmuhl E, Linnebacher M, Hinz B.

Cannabinoids inhibit cancer cell invasion via increasing tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinases-1 (TIMP-1). This study investigates the role of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) within this action. In the lung cancer cell lines A549, H358, and H460, cannabidiol (CBD; 0.001-3 μM) elicited concentration-dependent ICAM-1 up-regulation compared to vehicle via cannabinoid receptors, transient receptor potential vanilloid 1, and p42/44 mitogen-activated protein kinase. Up-regulation of ICAM-1 mRNA by CBD in A549 was 4-fold at 3 μM, with significant effects already evident at 0.01 μM. ICAM-1 induction became significant after 2 h, whereas significant TIMP-1 mRNA increases were observed only after 48 h. Inhibition of ICAM-1 by antibody or siRNA approaches reversed the anti-invasive and TIMP-1-upregulating action of CBD and the likewise ICAM-1-inducing cannabinoids Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol and R(+)-methanandamide when compared to isotype or nonsilencing siRNA controls. ICAM-1-dependent anti-invasive cannabinoid effects were confirmed in primary tumor cells from a lung cancer patient. In athymic nude mice, CBD elicited a 2.6- and 3.0-fold increase of ICAM-1 and TIMP-1 protein in A549 xenografts, as compared to vehicle-treated animals, and an antimetastatic effect that was fully reversed by a neutralizing antibody against ICAM-1 [% metastatic lung nodules vs. isotype control (100%): 47.7% for CBD + isotype antibody and 106.6% for CBD + ICAM-1 antibody]. Overall, our data indicate that cannabinoids induce ICAM-1, thereby conferring TIMP-1 induction and subsequent decreased cancer cell invasiveness.

So the cannabinoids also slow the spread and inhibit invasiveness.

Then there are the other things it does that can make pain and inflammation less. (Frankly, if they come out with a THC reduced high CBD variety that reduces arthritic inflammation a whole load of folks will be lining up, me included.)

Have any preclinical (laboratory or animal) studies been conducted using Cannabis or cannabinoids?

Preclinical studies of cannabinoids have investigated the following:

Antitumor activity

Studies in mice and rats have shown that cannabinoids may inhibit tumor growth by causing cell death, blocking cell growth, and blocking the development of blood vessels needed by tumors to grow. Laboratory and animal studies have shown that cannabinoids may be able to kill cancer cells while protecting normal cells.

A study in mice showed that cannabinoids may protect against inflammation of the colon and may have potential in reducing the risk of colon cancer, and possibly in its treatment.

A laboratory study of delta-9-THC in hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer) cells showed that it damaged or killed the cancer cells. The same study of delta-9-THC in mouse models of liver cancer showed that it had antitumor effects. Delta-9-THC has been shown to cause these effects by acting on molecules that may also be found in non-small cell lung cancer cells and breast cancer cells.

A laboratory study of cannabidiol (CBD) in estrogen receptor positive and estrogen receptor negative breast cancer cells showed that it caused cancer cell death while having little effect on normal breast cells. Studies in mouse models of metastatic breast cancer showed that cannabinoids may lessen the growth, number, and spread of tumors.

A laboratory study of cannabidiol (CBD) in human glioma cells showed that when given along with chemotherapy, CBD may make chemotherapy more effective and increase cancer cell death without harming normal cells. Studies in mouse models of cancer showed that CBD together with delta-9-THC may make chemotherapy such as temozolomide more effective.

Stimulating appetite

Many animal studies have shown that delta-9-THC and other cannabinoids stimulate appetite and can increase food intake.

Pain relief

Cannabinoid receptors (molecules that bind cannabinoids) have been studied in the brain, spinal cord, and nerve endings throughout the body to understand their roles in pain relief.

Cannabinoids have been studied for anti-inflammatory effects that may play a role in pain relief.

Animal studies have shown that cannabinoids may prevent nerve problems (pain, numbness, tingling, swelling, and muscle weakness) caused by some types of chemotherapy.

Nausea and vomiting

Cannabinoid receptors found in brain cells may have a role in controlling nausea and vomiting. Animal studies have shown that delta-9-THC and other cannabinoids may act on cannabinoid receptors to prevent vomiting caused by certain types of chemotherapy.

Anxiety and sleep

Cannabinoid receptors found in the brain and other parts of the nervous system may be involved in controlling mood and anxiety.
Anti-anxiety effects of cannabidiol (CBD) have been shown in several animal models.

Here’s an older study (2006) that is interesting as it specifically calls out angiogenisis. Typically a tumor starts growth without much blood supply. Later, blood vessels form to feed it (angiogenisis) and if that step doesn’t happen, it has a more limited future growth. In any case, these were folks with recurrent and essentially untreatable cancers who were given an experimental dose of THC mostly to see if it had horrid bad effects or if it was OK to test it on less terminal folks… Yeah, medicine is like that…

Translational Therapeutics
BJC Open article

British Journal of Cancer (2006) 95, 197–203. doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6603236
Published online 27 June 2006

A pilot clinical study of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol in patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme

M Guzmán1, M J Duarte2, C Blázquez1, J Ravina2, M C Rosa2, I Galve-Roperh1, C Sánchez1, G Velasco1 and L González-Feria2

1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology I, School of Biology, Complutense University, Madrid 28040, Spain
2Department of Neurosurgery, Hospital Universitario de Canarias, La Laguna, Tenerife 38320, Spain
Correspondence: Professor M Guzmán, E-mail:; Professor L González-Feria, E-mail:

Revised 15 May 2006; Accepted 5 June 2006
Advance online publication 27 June 2006

Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other cannabinoids inhibit tumour growth and angiogenesis in animal models, so their potential application as antitumoral drugs has been suggested. However, the antitumoral effect of cannabinoids has never been tested in humans. Here we report the first clinical study aimed at assessing cannabinoid antitumoral action, specifically a pilot phase I trial in which nine patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme were administered THC intratumoraly. The patients had previously failed standard therapy (surgery and radiotherapy) and had clear evidence of tumour progression. The primary end point of the study was to determine the safety of intracranial THC administration. We also evaluated THC action on the length of survival and various tumour-cell parameters. A dose escalation regimen for THC administration was assessed. Cannabinoid delivery was safe and could be achieved without overt psychoactive effects. Median survival of the cohort from the beginning of cannabinoid administration was 24 weeks (95% confidence interval: 15–33). Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol inhibited tumour-cell proliferation in vitro and decreased tumour-cell Ki67 immunostaining when administered to two patients. The fair safety profile of THC, together with its possible antiproliferative action on tumour cells reported here and in other studies, may set the basis for future trials aimed at evaluating the potential antitumoral activity of cannabinoids.

Keywords: cannabinoid; glioblastoma multiforme; pilot clinical study; antitumoral drug

So it didn’t cure the incurable, but did slow it down. At least in this trial. One wonders what a mixed THC / Cannabinoids would do…

Here’s a study from 2015 finding a cannabinoid component useful in breast cancer treatment:

Modulation of the tumor microenvironment and inhibition of EGF/EGFR pathway: Novel anti-tumor mechanisms of Cannabidiol in breast cancer

Mohamad Elbazemail, Mohd W. Nasseremail, Janani Raviemail, Nissar A. Waniemail, Dinesh K. Ahirwaremail, Helong Zhaoemail, Steve Oghumuemail, Abhay R. Satoskaremail, Konstantin Shiloemail, William E. Carson IIIemail, Ramesh K. Ganjucorrespondenceemail

•CBD inhibits TNBC proliferation, migration and invasion.
•CBD inhibits EGF/EGFR signaling pathway and its downstream targets.
•CBD inhibits GM-CSF, CCL3 and MIP-2 secretion from cancer cells.
•CBD inhibits breast cancer growth and metastasis in two mouse models.
•CBD inhibit M2 macrophage recruitment to the tumor stroma.


The anti-tumor role and mechanisms of Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychotropic cannabinoid compound, are not well studied especially in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). In the present study, we analyzed CBD’s anti-tumorigenic activity against highly aggressive breast cancer cell lines including TNBC subtype. We show here -for the first time-that .CBD significantly inhibits epidermal growth factor (EGF)-induced proliferation and chemotaxis of breast cancer cells. Further studies revealed that CBD inhibits EGF-induced activation of EGFR, ERK, AKT and NF-kB signaling pathways as well as MMP2 and MMP9 secretion. In addition, we demonstrated that CBD inhibits tumor growth and metastasis in different mouse model systems. Analysis of molecular mechanisms revealed that CBD significantly inhibits the recruitment of tumor-associated macrophages in primary tumor stroma and secondary lung metastases. Similarly, our in vitro studies showed a significant reduction in the number of migrated RAW 264.7 cells towards the conditioned medium of CBD-treated cancer cells. The conditioned medium of CBD-treated cancer cells also showed lower levels of GM-CSF and CCL3 cytokines which are important for macrophage recruitment and activation. In summary, our study shows -for the first time-that CBD inhibits breast cancer growth and metastasis through novel mechanisms by inhibiting EGF/EGFR signaling and modulating the tumor microenvironment. These results also indicate that CBD can be used as a novel therapeutic option to inhibit growth and metastasis of highly aggressive breast cancer subtypes including TNBC, which currently have limited therapeutic options and are associated with poor prognosis and low survival rates.

In Conclusion

There ARE negatives to Marijuana consumption, especially for young boys where it can interfere in the testosterone / estrogen balance results (link in another article later). It also causes some degree of confusion (personal experience …) and it can even cause a minor kind of paranoia if you are sitting in a Denny’s at 1 AM scarfing down pancakes and 2 cops sit down at the counter across from your booth… but I digress…

So for me, it has never held a whole lot of interest. I “tried it” back in the ’70s and largely moved on.


It does look to have very definite medical properties in several areas and especially for anyone with terminal cancer, well ‘worth a shot’. I’d not mix it with any other cancer treatment without the M.D. saying “OK”, but once you have that “nothing more we can do” line in your face, it looks like a reasonable “well hell, why not” response.

I’ve found many other such articles, including one specifically about prostate cancer. It does look to be particularly effective in the cancers of the estrogen / testosterone sensitive tissues (my guess). Since just about any guy over 60 to 70 is looking at eventual prostate cancer formation, I expect we’ll be seeing a whole lot more old guys with red eyes in our future ;-)

I’d also expect we’ll be seeing a large number of derivative drugs come out of it as it gets processed through the drug industry.

I’m not going to be headed out to ‘score a baggy’ any time soon since among other things I have a tendency for it to just put me to sleep (part of why that ’70s experiment was a short one… pay a chunk of change to stuff down a whole bag of Chips and Dip and then fall asleep? Why?…) but it is pretty clear a lot of folks don’t react that way. For anyone on chemo, that might be a feature anyway…

So count me on the side of those who endorse legalization of Marijuana (for whatever use… you are an adult and it is your body, not mine and not the government’s and certainly not your employer’s…) even if it isn’t particularly attractive to me. Besides, some day I might need something that shrinks tumors, slows or stops their spread, and inhibits angiogeneses all while making chemo tolerable and getting me to eat even while feeling horrid.

In short, looks to me like it works at least as well as most of the stuff pushed on us by The Medical and Drug Establishment.

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Markets In The New Year

I’d started this posting on the 3rd. Now it’s the 10th. Time flies sometimes… I’d intended to get it up then, but “things happen”.

In terms of the market, not much has really changed in the intervening week.

FWIW, back in October I’d said:

But, to me, it looks like that has run as far as it can. The drug no longer gives the high and we are shooting up just to feel normal for a while.
So that’s my view of things. Dismal, I know. But IMHO more time to hunker down in a ‘risk off’ mode than play ‘risk on’ when things are blowing up and melting down at the same time and The Fed will not be spiking the punch bowl.

In September I’d made the rather strong statement:

So that’s our context. “Topping” on the decadal time scale. Bear / falling on the annual scale.

Even as early as last August I’d said:

All the indicators clearly saying “time to be out” with red on top in DMI / ADX and MACD Neither ADX nor DMI- inflected yet, so more to come. MACD well below the zero line and no crossover there yet, either (blue over red when the down tends toward ending).
I also expect we won’t see any Fed tightening any time soon. They are kind of stuck between collapsing the property bubble they have just reflated and crashing an already wobbly stock market and killing a barely happening general economy struggle to neutral (hard to call what we have ‘recovery’ or ‘growth’ when it is more like “well, we didn’t die!” yet…)

All in all “not good”. But wealth can be preserved in “risk off” assets and potentially in shorts and options covered positions.

For short terms, use a 10 day chart and trade fast. With the kinds of drops we are having, there will be some rebound up days. That’s a good time to sell over-held long positions and a good time to buy downside protection. Once the longer term trend is clearer then longer term trades and investments can be on deck.

So it isn’t exactly like I didn’t holler about it already.

I’ll put a new chart up down at the bottom, but for now, here’s the bit I’d done on the 3rd:

From Jan 3rd

Well, it’s a new year, and all the Talking Heads will be busy pontificating. Sadly, one of my favorites will no longer be with us.

Wayne Rogers

Wayne Rogers was “Trapper John” on MASH, and went on to a career in finance with appearances on Cashin’ In. His direct no-nonsense calling of bias in other’s positions will be missed. Stickler for facts over preference and a direct understanding that “what you want” must never cloud “what you see” and “what will happen”.

Sad news for fans of the television show ‘M*A*S*H.’

FOX’s Rich Denison explains:

Wayne Rogers, who played Trapper John McIntyre for three seasons of ‘M*A*S*H’ died Thursday in L.A. of complications from pneumonia. He was 82.

After leaving the hit TV series, Rogers had a recurring role on ‘Murder She Wrote,’ and later became a successful money manager and investor, he was a regular panelist on “FOX News’ “Cashin’ In.”

Rich Denison, FOX News.

He would sometimes have little to say while others argued some irrelevancy, then step in with a simple ~’Thats wrong and you know it’… and then pony up the facts to back it up.


The general ‘trend’ is a continuation of the ‘wobbling down’ we have had for a while now. Some time back I’d said the run up was over, this pattern continues in that way. At this point it is pretty clear that we’re headed into more than just a quick sharp ‘correction’.

Now back to Jan 10th and a new chart

RUT Russel 2000 vs a Mix of other ETFs and Index funds from 8 Jan 2016

RUT Russel 2000 vs a Mix of other ETFs and Index funds from 8 Jan 2016

This is a 2 year daily chart. I think you know how to read the indicators by now. If not, holler and I’ll interpret in comments.

Things continue to fall apart. Money is to be made on the short side of things, but I usually don’t trade shorts, just use them as hedges and I’m pretty much hedged out already. One of my weaknesses, I don’t like trading the short side even though there is more money faster there.

Oil USO continues to slide. Next up from the bottom JJC is trying to make a flat bottom, but looks to have failed. EEM Emerging Markets and EZU the EU continue down while GLD, Gold, has had a slight run up this week or so on horrid geopolitical news in an overall down drift of months (years?) duration. RUT and SPY S&P 500 continue too fall apart in a rush downward in a strengthening trend. TLT bonds are wobbly-flat when they ought to be rising more in a stock market fall ( due to the overhanging threat of ongoing Fed Rate Hikes that kill bond values for existing bonds) while QQQQ the Nasdaq 100 (heavily weighted to Apple, Google, and the other major players) has decided to leave the flat-to-rising club and join the flat-to-falling club.

Overall, it is still a mess. Still not seeing any investment worth the name.

With the present geopolitical context and with the Idiots On Parade at the White House and in the Pretenders To The White House, not seeing much hope for a rescue either. Stir in a Congress that can’t find their brains OR their balls with both hands and there is little to engender hope.

Maybe North Korea can put a nuke on their sub, run it up the Potomac, and end the pain and misery… Or perhaps a river near the UN in NYC or EU in Belgium would do better. Frankly, with the rank stupidity by the train load coming from government globally, just about anywhere might be an improvement… (All said in strongest political satire, with sarcasm and NOT as an actual suggestion of violence. It really wouldn’t do any good so why waste a perfectly good nuke…)

How about a longer term view, using the SPY proxy for The Market?

SPY 10 Yr Weekly 8 Jan 2016

SPY 10 Yr Weekly 8 Jan 2016

SMA lines gone flat into an inversion. Price below that. MACD below zero AND with “red on top”. DMI- (red) on top and with clear trend strength (ADX over 20). All the indicators in place to say this is a confirmed bear market now and bear market rules apply. Rallies will be fast and short and hard to make gains (returning to the SMA stack from below, then falling again). Best trades are to short at the top of those rallies until the bear market is indicated as over. If you are still “long” stocks, protective measures ought to pay off best (sell covered calls at the SMA stack and buy put options then too). No “long trend trades” only “short trend trades” or long “counter trend day trades” on short fast rally days. Those kinds of rules.

Me? I’m happy too sit in cash and have a nice hot chocolate while waiting “for that day”… when it is time to ‘pull the trigger’.

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Posted in Economics - Trading - and Money | Tagged , , , | 41 Comments

A long Journey In Progress

A Modern Adventure Begins

At last, I’ve caught my breath and had a few long naps…

The Story starts a couple of weeks back. On a Monday, I put the spouse on a plane to Chicago. I was to drive out over 5 days or so, taking my time and spending nights in hotels along the way. Didn’t happen.

The Banana Boat ( Old Yellow Mercedes Wagon ) was in the shop from the last return trip from Florida. Brakes, tune-up, valve seals (it was smoking off the line…), etc. After about $2000 worth it was supposed to be ready to go. I went by to pick it up. Running was rough…

After about a day, it was running OK, but on the drive home that night in the cold air, the rough / sputter returned. 8 AM Tuesday, back at the shop… Eventually they found a couple of vacuum lines that were off / leaking. Fixing that then needed re-timing and resetting the points (it’s a very old gas engine with points and carburettor). OK, finally back home at about 7 PM (4 to 7 spent waiting for Silicon Valley Rush Hour traffic to clear enough to let me go home…) I had a 2 hour nap, then started loading the car.

On The Road Again…

The bottom line is that I was “on the road” at just about midnight. Having had about 4 hours sleep the night before (helped a friend home from the airport and picked up the car for that late cold drive before the return the next morning). So all up about 6 hours sleep including the nap. The sleep budget becomes ever more important over this trip…

Headed out, snow was “an issue” on the direct route via I-80 and the more indirect route via I-70 to I-80. Open were I-40 and I-10. I chose I-40 despite the 6 hour or so time cost added. Through the long cold night down the Central California Valley, the car was mostly OK, but acted up on some gas that was, IMHO, not quite up to Super Octane spec. Adding octane booster helped, when I could get it. Choosing better gas stations helped too. (Likely the timing is set ‘to spec’ for the 1970s and that was when gas had more octane in the Super… and less alcohol leanness).

Climbing up to Arizona, Flagstaff was cold. Snow along the sides of the road, but the road was clear. It stayed cold across New Mexico and on into Oklahoma. Somewhere around Friday 3 PM I was in Missouri. (Yes, that’s about 36 elapsed hours from departure as a rough guess…) I’d ‘cat napped’ a couple of hours as needed. The cold would wake me up after about an hour+, even with a good cover.

Then the car began to sound like a drag racer.

Inspection showed the exhaust pipe cracked off of the stub out of the header pipes. (There’s a side bar here: I stopped to look, cell phone in hand, then in the car could not find my cell phone. The bluetooth headset still connected, barely, so I thought it was in the car. Later, about 100 miles down the road, I thought maybe I’d left it in the engine compartment. A check showed it nicely held between the air cleaner and the foam liner of the hood… But I’d made a few calls on it by then ;-)

Long story short: Checking with 5 different shops along I-44 in Missouri was no-joy on muffler / pipe repair. One had no welder. One had a welder, but the guy who knew how to use it was off early. 3 more had a welder, and people who could use it, but wanted to go home at 5 PM and were already busy ( 10 minutes for one weld being too much, I guess…)

So I ended up driving into Chicago on a load of noise, earplugs in, and with poor operation due to the wrong backpressure. About 4 hours out I got the call that labor had begun… 45 minutes apart. About midnight I stopped at a ‘park and ride’ in a stiff cold wind and adjusted the points for better operation on that particular backpressure… and somewhere around 2 AM pulled into the garage to unload the stuff I was delivering. Figured that The Kid, being a parent now, ought to have the dozen boxes of his stuff still in ‘his room’… Plus some other bits and gifts.

At this time, you can figure I was not very “focused”… Got to bed about 3:30 AM, and then up about 8:30 AM for “meet and greet”.

In Chicago

Labor turned out to be not quite the real thing. (Don’t know the details). Bottom line is we had a very nice ‘family dinner’ with her folks, his (my son’s) folks (i.e. me and spouse) and some friends. That night I got a decent night sleep.

The next day, we went to the Movies. (At least, I think it was the next day, I get a little hazy on the days here ;-) I *think* it was Sunday the 20th. So up about 8 AM, all day doing things, off to The Movies. Star Wars… We watch the whole movie, including credits, then on standing up, her ‘water broke’ and the gals all ran off to the restroom. That was about 9 PM. Off to The Hospital.

Now I was all ready to say “OK, we’ve got time to go home for a nice long nap before anything gets going” as she was 3 cm and “it takes time” from there. But No. Everyone was set to stay “up” as long as it took…

About 24 hours of trying to nap in a hospital waiting room later…

I’d explored their fine cafeteria, had coffee from their in house Starbucks (that closes at 7 pm… unclear on the major use of coffee at night…) and generally found that sleep was not possible in a semi-comfortable chair.

Cutting to the end…

After dilating to 9 cm and starting to push, the fetal heart rate dropped on each push. C-Section time, and found umbilical around the neck. Fine healthy delivery, but yet more hours in the chairs for us.

At about ‘who knows what’ AM on Dec 22, Miles was born.

Some time after that, I got another full night sleep. 2nd in how many days?…

On the 24th, I found a very good exhaust repair place in Chicago (in the Hispanic part, the city is 40% or so Hispanic now) and in about 10 minutes and for $30 had the exhaust welded. Car was once again my friend.

Somewhere around the 24 th, they all came home. We had a Christmas event with opening presents and all (and I got to sleep my 3rd? night out of 10 or so…) and all was pretty good.

Saturday was when the spouse was supposed to fly home. We got up at about 5:30 AM ( and I think I’d had about 7? hours of sleep) and there is a loud ‘thump’ from the bathroom. The spouse had sat down on the toilette due to feeling dizzy and then from that low position fainted.

Another “long story short” after a rapid assessment / differential it was down to ‘something with the pulse’ and both head / stroke issues and any neck issues were ruled out. Doing a heart-attack vs ‘other’ differential on her without an EKG was not possible, and women have variable heart attack symptoms, so it was Ambulance Time.

A nice 4? hours were spent in the ER, where the EKG was normal, the Cat Scan showed nothing (confirming the head injury differential) and the doctor gave her an antihistamine on the presumption it was vertigo related to that (which I didn’t quite follow how…) He did ask if the spouse was ‘anemic’ and she replied that she was, a little. That “a little” ought to have been explored more…

With an official “OK to fly” from the Doctor, it was back at the house and I’m madly carting luggage up and down 3 stores of walk-up stairs. (The other ‘grandma’ had come back from a brief excursion, so I brought her luggage up while taking ours down). At about 3 PM, we headed out for the airport and a bit of city tour.

Spouse was starting to feel a bit dizzy again, and I guessed it might be that the pill she was given was wearing off and we’d not had the prescription filled yet; or that Something Else might be going on. Having Kaiser, it’s a royal pain to be hospitalized out of a Kaiser Area, and it was about a 4 hour car ride back to the hospital, or a 5 hour plane flight to Kaiser Land. We opted for “air transport”.

That was likely a very good thing. At the other end, she was having trouble getting into a wheel chair, so the 2nd ambulance ride of the day followed. (Short form: Gastric or esophageal very tiny bleeder of some sort, that stopped bleeding before they could cauterize it or even find it really.) A couple of days later and with really low red blood count starting to recover, she was out of the hospital and home with friends.

Back At On The Road Again, Again

I’d gotten a snack at the airport and pointed the car south.

It was “unclear” if I’d go home or to Florida (to see friends) and phone calls during the trip were to determine that via spouse status, along with weather reports.

Normally I check the Hazards & Warnings map before leaving, but the events of the day had sucked up that time. The prior day had shown Goliath (named storm by The Weather Channel) heading in, and prior day hazard map showed snow on the northern route, rain in the middle of the mid-west and into the Appalachians, and a sort of clear path due south to I-10 and New Orleans, where a right / left turn decision could be made (though with a distance cost of about 600 miles). I was headed that way, expecting to make a choice after seeing newer weather news at some stop or other (either Truck Stop TV or Starbucks WiFi or…) and a phone status on the spouse.

Well, that didn’t happen.

The Car decided on Florida.

I pointed to the diagonal shortest path through the rain front.

About the end of Illinois, the exhaust noise returned, along with poor operation. Inspection of the pipes showed a different break spot. I likely need to replace the whole pipe, but this one is up near the manifold, so I’ll find out ‘in a few days’ if it is terminal for the car, or just a quick repair. Very few people in Florida work on cars from the 70s. Few of them will work on a Mercedes. I have a “choice of one” at the moment…

After a half dozen ‘tweaks’ at gas stops with mileage as low as 10 MPG, I got the points right and it went back up nearer to 20 something. Smoother operation even with wrong backpressure and a better drive on in to Orlando. It was having marginal / hard starts when cooled down, so letting it go fully cold in a hotel for the night was not an ideal solution, nor waking up everyone IN the hotel when parking / starting, so it was another marathon drive on the cards. Cat naps of very short duration only.

So a quick “run to safety” was the order of the day. Good thing, too, as Goliath not only dumped snow all over the norther routes, and dropped temps to the negatives, it also put 10 inches or so down near El Paso Texas and closed the airport across the freeway in Ciudad Juarez Mexico (they do get snow in Mexico, just not often enough to close the airport).

So with flooding rain filling in behind me, and show / freeze / high wind blocking the approach to the West Coast, and a car on the margin, Florida it was to be.

Driving through the night and all the following day had me go through the frontal zone in / near the Appalachians in Kentucky or Tennessee. It was night, and dark and raining. Then it turned to “Rain Of Biblical Proportions”. Now I’m very experienced in rain and fog. I grew up in “tulle fog” in the Central Valley. I’m not bashful about doing 30 mph being able to only see the tail lights in front of you (NOT the vehicle) and bits of the line next to you. This was like that for about 2 miles, then we were suddenly crossing a bridge that I could barely see (steel work to the side of me and above) and it got worse…

Crawling at about 10? MPH, an exit sign showed up on the other side of the bridge. The truck in front of me headed that way, to my relief, as I was not looking forward to taking that exit without a pilot car… I curled around and entered a gas station, stopping under the overhang. I stayed in the car for a good 10 minutes waiting for the rain to let up. Yes, I was under the overhang, but there was significant wind spray and a inch or so of ‘runoff’ crossing the pad.

After a nice 1/2 hour at the gas station, breakfast of a home made style biscuit with real ham chunks on it (clearly a rural operation ;-) and a full tank, it was back onto the road in much lighter rain as the front was past (and headed to behind me).

After an all-day Sunday drive, I arrived in Florida at just before midnight. For those keeping track, that’s roughly 36 hours (some day I’ll look at receipts and things and adjust for time zones and…)

My third Marathon No-Sleep-Just-Nap in 2 weeks. At most, 4 nights sleep spread over 14 or so days.

The Florida Haven

Needless to say, I’ve been sleeping a lot since then and I’m exceedingly grateful to My Florida Friend for providing a guest room and parking space. The weather here has been great, BTW. He has been fuming a bit about the weather reporter (Weather Channel?) saying folks were “braving the record heat” here. It was about 84 F that day, and perfect. Folks in short playing outside, washing cars, having a great time.

Beats the pants off of snow and sleet in Chicago.

Beats the pants off of “below zero” in the Rockies.

Beats the pants off “rain of biblical proportions” in the Midwest Cornbelt and Mississippi Drainage basin.

Beats the pants off “feet of snow and interstate closed” in the passes between east and west and on down into Mexico.

Frankly, it’s been “incredibly perfect” and I’ll happily “brave” it any time ;-)

Though today is back to a more regular winter pattern with about 60s to low 70s and overcast. No pool time for me today ;-) as it is solar heated and not warm on days like this. Not cold either, but I like it warm… Maybe we’ll do the hot tub instead ;-)

Oh, and a bit later I’ll find and put up the link to the article about how when the Gulf Stream slows down and cooling is happening (and Europe going into a Little Ice Age or a real one…) Florida gets more “summer pattern” weather. That it’s been warmer in Florida than the last 30 years is direct evidence for a cold regime starting. (Peer reviewed paper, too… with pollen from lake sediments and such.)

The Future Is Cloudy

After finding out I have a “choice of one” to fix the car and he’s on vacation until next week, I decided not to drive to California just now. The Florida Friend is lending me some garage space, and I’m renting a room here.

Flights back were screwed up by the storm, and they were 100% booked on my airlines of choice for a good 5 days with “get out of town after the holiday” traffic and rebookings post storm and airplane repositions and… I’ve booked a flight for 6 days out…

Some time after I’ve caught things up on that end, it will be a return trip here “for a while” to sort out more things, decide what to do about cars among them, and look for a ‘gig’ here. I’m having increased allergic reactions to “something” on the California end, and it looks like being “bi-coastal” is tilted toward “Florida First”. That’s a very large ‘chunk of work’ to get done, so expect a long slow slog through it. “Someday”. (Right now I’m just too drained to ponder it much…)

In Conclusion / Starting Here Forward

So that’s why postings have been ‘slim at best’. Frankly, I’m a bit surprised / impressed I’m still able to do that kind of “marathon of marathons”, but I’d really rather never do it again.

Next time I’m flying to Chicago and any remaining “stuff” can go UPS ;-)

Either that, or I need a newer car ;-)

Hopefully I’ll get the Florida Stuff done (car needs registration renewal- it’s the Florida Car and is supposed to be here anyway and has Florida tags as one example) and have enough time left over to both pack for the flight AND do some R&D / Postings.

I do have a lot ‘in queue’, just still feeling a bit ‘thrashed and had’ when thinking about spending 4 to 6 hours at a desk / keyboard instead of with a beer by the pool or a bag of chips dozing on the sofa…

Yet energy levels are almost back up to normal. So it is time to ‘start loading up the processor’ again.

Thank you all for ‘hanging in there’ and keeping yourselves entertained with comments during this time. I’ve looked at some of the ‘tips’ links, for example. Interesting stuff.

With that, I’m going to grab some chips and dip and hit the couch for some Big Screen American Football and ponder more “braving” of the weather here… I need to find my pool shoes and suit…


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Posted in Human Interest | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments