Important News You May Have Missed

I have been very quiet on the blogging front. Not because I have nothing to say, but because I have been overwhelmed with the news coming out of Westminster, Washington and North Carolina politics.
This week has seen a lack of progress in the Brexit process. One cabinet minister has resigned (been sacked). There are local government elections in England on Thursday and there is a fear that Brexit frustration will flow into the voting patterns and that very many hard working councillors will be swept away by a possibly ungrateful electorate.
The Mueller Report has been delivered, summarized and published in a redacted format. The Attorney General has appeared before the Senate and as we speak he is resisting appearing before the House of Representatives.
Meanwhile in the real world in East London football, West Ham beat Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 on April 27th. and Leyton Orient have returned to the English Football League having achieved promotion from their non league status.
So, all in all, it’s a great time for East London football and long may the teams prosper.

Chocolate and Lent

It is always important to enjoy the present whilst at the same learning from the past. It is also never too late to think of Lent, Easter and Chocolate.
An article in the Tablet last year reported that Chocolate is “innocent” in the eyes of the Church. Its consumption does not break any religious fast. This was declared in 1662 by Pope Alexander VII.
Admittedly he was only concerned with chocolate beverages. But none the less we are assured that the teaching of the Church cannot change. Of course, as a legalist one cannot add sugar or sugar substitutes – but dark chocolate can be very satisfying.
So enjoy the present and make sure you are stocked and prepared for Lent.
http://www.thetablet.co.uk/columnists/3/9829/chocolate-is-innocent-in-the-eyes-of-the-church-its-consumption-breaks-no-fast
http://www.thetablet.co.uk/author/50/sara-maitland

The Legacy of Josephus Daniels

JJosephus Danielsosephus Daniels was a North Carolinian appointed by President Wilson to be Secretary of the Navy during the First World War. Daniels is famous for many things but particularly he objected to alcohol on ships and ordered that coffee be served instead. The author Garrett Peck in his book “The Great War in America” reports that recruits groused about their “cup of Josephus” which today is referred to as a “Cup of Joe”. (This thought is challenged on the internet – but has an aura of authenticity about it and in any case deserves to be true).

Arras 28th March 1918

The 28th March marks the 100th anniversary of the death of my great uncle Charles Luck who died aged twenty during the Battle of Arras. His name is remembered with honour on the Arras Memorial
The Arras Memorial commemorates 34,795 servicemen from the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth who died from the Spring of 1916 until August 1918, and who have no known graves.
Family legend has it that Great Uncle Charles was killed during a barrage of heavy gun fire. (One moment he was there and the next he wasn’t!)
The Great War casualties were horrendous and their effect echoes down the century. The Great War cost my Great Grandmother her husband and her oldest son – not a happy outcome and a bleak prospect for the peace that followed.
1918 Luck Charles Memorial

Blessed with Politicians

Larry PittmanIn North Carolina we are blessed with some of the most creative thinkers in the political landscape.
Take for example N.C. State Representative Larry Pittman
In the wake of the Parkland, Florida, shooting, Americans were asking why would someone do something so terrible?
Experts say it’s often a combination of mental illness, adversity in the shooter’s life – and access to guns. Larry Pittman took the speculation a step further.
He speculated on Facebook that the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, had political motivations and suggested the Florida shooter was part of a conspiracy to push for gun control so they (the communist Democrats) could more easily take over the country.
Larry is well known for his ahead-of-the-curve thinking. Last year, he proposed a constitutional amendment that would allow North Carolina voters to repeal that part of the North Carolina Constitution, which declares that “This State shall ever remain a member of the American Union; the people thereof are part of the American nation,” and prohibits the state from seceding from the United States of America; The amendment is currently languishing with that committee which runs the Legislature’s timetable.
Larry has been a registered Republican since 1972, when he was 17. He posts that he is proud of the fact that without his votes Jesse Helms would have never won elections to the US Senate, nor Ronald Reagan’s  elections as President.
We are truly “blessed”.

For more information please see http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article200807499.html

Hurricane Preparedness

The following is taken from Hurricane.com:
When a storm threatens, what should you do? Hurricane preparedness is merely a matter of planning ahead. Hurricane threats come in many forms, including storm surge, high winds, tornadoes, and flooding.
Before the Hurricane Season Begins
Develop a plan. Know home’s vulnerability to the threats above – surge, wind, and flooding. Check supplies – water, batteries, food. For information on developing a Hurricane Supply kit, Know where you can evacuate to – friends, relatives, a hotel?
Know when to take action – Watch vs Warning
WATCH: Hurricane conditions are possible in the specified area of the WATCH, usually within 36 hours.
WARNING: Hurricane conditions are expected in the specified area of the WARNING, usually within 24 hours. Remember that there is no such thing as a “minor hurricane.” Category 1 and 2 hurricanes still can do significant damage.
Prepare before a Watch or Warning is issued and be ready to evacuate when the Watch comes or
earlier if so instructed.
An Approaching Storm
As a storm approaches, you should prepare your house and your yard. Some things to consider:
Turn down the temperature on the freezer and refrigerator as low as possible. This will buy you more time in the event of a power loss. 24 to 48 hours before will cool the food. Avoid opening them whenever possible. If you are evacuating, probably unnecessary.
Before you evacuate, call at least one person out of state to let them know your plans.
Ensure that your
Hurricane Emergency Kit is fully stocked.
Charge electronic devices, for example, computers, cell phones, rechargeable batteries, razors, and the like.
Make extra ice, bag it – this will be useful to use and to keep the freezer cold.
If you have a generator, do NOT run it inside or near the house. But make sure you have fuel to run it.
Make sure your car has fuel.
Pick up yard debris – furniture, tools, decorative items, branches – anything loose that could become a missile.
Secure boats, trailers, campers, RVs, and the like in the safest place you can find. Tie them down, anchor them, or however you can best secure them. But, take into account that there may be a storm surge.
Secure all doors and windows with locks, and shutters if available. Plywood, properly secured, can be effective. Don’t forget the garage doors.
Move items that may be damaged by water to higher areas of your home if you can not take them with you if evacuating. Move them away from windows in case they are broken.
Huge items must even be secured in big storms. An engine block was found 40 or 50 feet up in a pine tree in the Homestead (actually Redlands) area after Andrew. Don’t think that something is too big to be moved by the wind.
Re-check tie-downs.
Bring cars, bikes, scooters and anything like that into your garage if possible.
Bring in grills or other cooking items.
Bring in hoses, trash cans, hot tub covers, wind-chimes, plants.
Caulk and fill bathtubs – extra water comes in handy for toilets and more..
It may sound strange, but do your laundry, dishes, and take a shower. Why? Because if you lose power, having as much clean as possible will make a big difference.
Check if your pool pump should be on or off.
Close and fasten gates so they don’t swing.
Close chimney flues.
Close/latch inside doors and cabinets.
If you have time, help your neighbors. Debris in their yards can easily impact your home and yard.
During a storm.
Stay inside, away from windows
Be alert for tornadoes
Stay away from flood waters and storm surge. It can be deceptively strong.
Be aware of the eye. It may be calm, but winds can and will pick up quickly and could catch you outside.
Un-plug electronic devices that are not in use to avoid surge damage. This is less likely that during afternoon thunderstorms because lightening is rare in a hurricane, but it is better to be safe.
After a Storm
Know power safety – avoid downed lines
Know food safety – what is good and for how long.
Chain saw safety is critical
Generator safety is important too
Water treatment – whether water needs to be boiled or not.
Listen to local officials
Use flashlights instead of candles
Inspect your home for damage.
Stay off roads as much as possible
You may need to super-chlorinate your pool
 

See also the Washington Post 

Best Practices for Keeping Away Ticks

I was recently reminded by our vet that the tick season is well under way and this year promises to be a good one for the critters.
While tick prevention is essential year-round, it is smart to take extra precaution during the summer.
Each year, approximately 300,000 people in the US contract Lyme disease, which is caused by bacteria from a tick bite. I received the following advice from Julius Miles of Sierra Pacific Mortgage to keep humans, pets, and properties safe:
Wear protective clothing Conceal ankles and feet with long socks and closed shoes. Tuck in shirts and pull socks up and over pant bottoms.
Assess outdoor spaces Ticks live in humid environments, particularly wooded or grassy areas. Mow lawns frequently, keep leaves raked, and clear brush, weeds, and debris. A barrier of cedar mulch or gravel between lawns and overgrowth can restrict tick migration. Fencing can discourage unwelcome wildlife from entering a yard.
Apply repellents & conduct checks Repellents can protect for several hours. Always follow product instructions. A guide to child-safe repellents can be found at HealthyChildren.org.
Last, inspect for ticks upon returning inside (check scalp, behind ears, around neck, under arms—and pets as well). For more information, visit CDC.gov/Ticks.