This caterpillar was crossing a roadway in my little retirement village.  He was simply beautiful.  I suppose I had always undervalued and underappreciated the caterpillar.  This fellow was yellow and black and was moving at a slow steady pace.  It seemed he had an objective to reach the other side.

I was fearful that he might be squashed by a passing automobile, so I stood around waiting for him to cross over.  Several of my friends came by, stopped their cars to speak, asked if I was okay and then inquired about my purpose in directing the traffic this day.  I told them I was protecting a caterpillar that was moving to the other side of the road.

One of them smiled and inquired, “As in relocating?”

“No,” I said, “He thinks the grass is greener.”  The window went up and a broad smile appeared.  Two bad jokes in a row.

This unusual dude had three pairs of legs and several leg-like appendages. He was also hairy in spots. He will be a butterfly soon.

Caterpillars are the larval stage members of the order Lepidoptera (the insect order comprising butterflies and moths).

As with most common names, the application of the word is arbitrary and the larvae of sawflies commonly are called caterpillars as well.

Caterpillars of most species are herbivorous, but not all; some (about 1%) like insects and may be cannibalistic. Some feed on other animal products; for example, clothes moths feed on wool, and hoof moths feed on the hooves and horns of dead cows, sheep and pigs.

Caterpillars as a rule are voracious feeders and many of them are among the most serious of agricultural pests. Many moths are best known in their caterpillar stages because of the damage they cause to fruits and other agricultural produce, whereas the moths are obscure and do no direct harm. Conversely, various species of caterpillar are valued as sources of silk, as human or animal food, or for biological control of pest plants.

Most likely, this was more than you wanted to know, but the caterpillar is one of God’s interesting and unusual creatures.

Potato Pancakes Like Ernie’s


I used to sit at the counter at Ernie’s on Market Square in Roanoke and marvel at the delicacies that came off that grill. One of those delicacies was a potato pancake. They were crisp, brown and delicious. I didn’t even use ketchup. After Ernie’s closed, I decided to make my own.  Here are the ingredients and the simple recipe.
2 cups mashed potatoes
1 egg
1/4 cup flour
Salt, pepper and powdered garlic to taste
chives, optional
Canola oil for frying
In a medium bowl mix together the mashed potatoes, egg, flour, salt, pepper, garlic, and chives if using.
Preheat a large skillet with 2-3 Tbsp. of canola or enough to give an even layer in the pan.
Form the potato mixture into patties and fry them for a couple of minutes until they are golden brown. Turn them over and fry on the other side. Serve hot with a sprinkling of chives.

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PATRICK HENRY was born on May 29,1736, in Studley, Virginia. Studley is an unincorporated community in Hanover County, about 12 miles northeast of Richmond.  His “GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH!” was the spark that ignited the Revolution in Virginia.

But the influence of “The Voice of the Revolution” was greater than that.  He was the first to raise his voice against England for taxation without representation. He led the attack against the Stamp Act in 1765, as well as being a leader in every protest against British tyranny and every movement for colonists’ rights afterward. He helped draft the Virginia Constitution and the May 1776 declaration favoring independence. He was the first governor of Virginia. He opposed the Constitution for fear that it would lead to centralization and then led the fight for a Bill of Rights as a guarantor. He was offered posts as Chief Justice and Secretary of State, which he turned down because of failing health.

All most Americans today know about Patrick Henry is his most famous quote. But he was central to our heritage, both as an advocate of the principles of liberty and as a participant in the revolution that made our nation a reality. Honor him by reflecting on his commitment to liberty.

  • The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government–lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.
  • Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!
  • Liberty is the greatest of all earthly blessings…the dearest rights of man…the time has been when every pulse of my heart beat for American liberty; and which, I believe, had a counterpart in the breast of every true American…
  • Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel.
  • …you ought to be extremely cautious, watchful, jealous of your liberty; for instead of securing your rights, you may lose them forever.
  • …liberty ought to be the direct end of your government.
  • When the American spirit was in its youth, the language of America was different: liberty, sir, was then the primary object…our glorious forefathers…made liberty the foundation of everything…
  • …those nations who have gone from a simple to a splendid Government? What can
  • No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by…frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.
  • [Do not] bind our posterity by an improvident relinquishment of our rights.

We give little thought to whether our founding fathers would consider us worthy of the name Americans, in our commitment to liberty. But Patrick Henry would face us with that question. With liberty still contested day after day in America, let’s remember these words of Patrick Henry.




The following questions have been formulated as a tool for assessing signs of alcoholism.

Want to find out if you are an alcoholic, take the test.

  1. In the last year, have you driven under the influence of alcohol, even just a few drinks?


  1. Do you consume more than 7 alcoholic beverages a week?


  1. Do you drink heavily when you are disappointed, under pressure or have had a quarrel with someone?


  1. Do you hide your drinking from any friends or family?


  1. Have you failed to keep a promise to yourself or a loved one that you would quit drinking?


  1. When drinking with other people, do you try to have a few extra drinks when others won’t know about it?


  1. Are more than 50% of your friends’ drinkers?


  1. Do you find it difficult to stop drinking after one or two drinks?


  1. In the last year, have you done anything while drinking that you regret?


  1. Are you more in a hurry to get your first drink of the day than you used to be?


  1. In the last month, have you had a drink in the morning to help recover from a hangover?


  1. Do you often want to continue drinking after your friends say they’ve had enough?


  1. Have you tried switching brands or drinks, or following different plans to control your drinking?


  1. Have you ever encountered difficulties remembering what happened while you were drinking?


  1. Have you ever had a DWI driving while intoxicated or DUI driving under the influence of alcohol violation, or any other legal problem related to your drinking?


  1. Do you sometimes have the shakes in the morning and find that it helps to have a little drink, tranquilizer or medication of some kind?


  1. Do you ever feel depressed or anxious before, during or after periods of heavy drinking?


  1. In the last 3 months, have you continued drinking until you became unconscious?


  1. In the last year, have you urinated or soiled the bed or your clothes during or after drinking?


  1. Have you ever awakened after drinking in a strange place or at home, without remembering how you got there?


If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may be at the start of a problem.

If you answered “yes” to 3 or more questions, you have a problem with alcohol and are most likely an alcoholic.  Spending $9 on the book, NO MATTER WHAT!!, will be the best money spent in the last year. It will provide a way to stop before tragic consequences surface.

If you answered 5 or more questions with “yes” you are an alcoholic and you need help.  It’s not too late.  Read the book NO MATTER WHAT!! and you will get answers.  Next, find an AA meeting and go—save your life!  YOU CAN GET SOBER!!


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Men and women enjoy drinking for a variety of reasons—to celebrate some event, to socialize, or to relax after a long day. The stereotype alcoholic is usually a middle-aged man who would prefer to spend hours at his local tavern than be at home with his wife and kids. Now, that stereotype is being turned on its head. Young women, ages 18-35 are drinking alcohol far more than previous generations of women and are overtaking men in alcohol consumption. The rate of drinking in young women has risen sharply due to the homogenization of a generation that finds identity in cool alcohol beverages and the way our culture is starting to normalize binge drinking habits in women.

White women are particularly likely to drink dangerously, with more than a quarter drinking multiple times a week and their share of binge drinking is up 40 percent since 1997, per a Washington Post analysis of federal health data. Breaking down the numbers by race, 71% of white women drink some alcohol, but only 47% of black women and 41% of Hispanic women do so. In 2013, more than a million women of all races wound up in emergency rooms because of heavy drinking, with women in middle age most likely to suffer severe intoxication. This behavior has contributed to a startling increase in early mortality. The rate of  deaths due to alcohol for white women ages 35 to 54 has more than doubled since 1999, per The Post analysis, accounting for 8 percent of deaths in this age group in 2015.

Why are young women drinking more? A combination of advertising, changing generational attitudes and advancements in women’s rights has contributed to normalization of excessive drinking by women. Drinking regularly is marketed as something that cool, young and liberated women do to assert their independence. While progress in gender equality has led to many great things, more women dying of alcohol poisoning is not one of them.

For women, binge drinking is defined as having 6 units of alcohol in less than 2 hours.  A single glass of wine and one bottle of beer have 2.3 units. A shot of hard liquor has about 1 unit of alcohol.  It is easy to see that someone passing on shots at a night club or bar and only drinking wine would not consider herself a binge drinker.  Yet, several glasses of wine at home can be considered binge drinking. If someone is unclear about what constitute binge drinking, she may think there is no problem and may delay seeking help.  If she constantly thinks about when she can have her next glass of wine and plans her day around her drinking time, an alcohol problem is developing. Other signs include limiting herself to one drink or deciding to forego alcohol for a week, craving alcohol during the day or experiencing night sweats, nausea or shaking if she doesn’t have a drink.

It is important to note that women’s biological composition makes them more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol. Women have less of the critical enzymes needed to break down alcohol, making the effects of drinking quicker and more potent.  Women also tend to have more body fat, which stores alcohol in the body longer. A woman’s monthly cycle can also change how alcohol impacts her. All this leads to the conclusion that if women are drinking as much as men, the results are likely to be more dangerous for her.

With modern demands for a thrilling career, a picture-perfect home, and above-average children, it comes as no surprise that women are feeling stressed.  I watch my own daughters and wonder how they do all the things they do.  Advertising and social media may try to normalize it, but excessive drinking is almost always a sign of an underlying problem.

Be mindful of your drinking habits and think about your attitudes toward alcohol.  Never dismiss excessive drinking as harmless fun.  Are you a responsible drinker and do you know what binge drinking is?  Three glasses of wine are binge drinking for a woman. Look out for yourself and loved ones who may be struggling with alcohol use. Watch out for young moms who need “mommy’s little helper” to help with their hectic days.  If there are signs of alcohol dependence, seek help and find out.


Recipes For a Gourmand


(A gourmand is someone who takes great pleasure in consuming excellent food in large amounts.)


A terrific marinade for flank steak, skirt steak or London Broil starts with a primary ingredient— Coors Beer. The recipe follows:

  • 2 Cups of Coors Light beer
  • One minced green jalapeno-no seeds
  • ½ cup of bees honey
  • ¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • One cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup of 100% pure peanut oil
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 tablespoons BBQ sauce
  •  1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 3 Minced Large Cloves Garlic

Start with a large mixing bowl.  Add the ingredients together and blend using a large whisk.  Whip the ingredients until the mixture has a consistent color and the contents seemed to be properly mixed.  I used three pounds of flank steak that I had the butcher at Fresh Market cut for me.  I then placed the steaks in a large Tupperware Marinating container and pored the mixture over the meat. I let the steaks stand in the mixture for 24 hours, turning the container over every two hours when I was awake. I set aside a small portion of the marinade that had not been in contact with the meet for basting when I grilled the meet the next day.  The meat was unbelievably tender and very tasty.  ENJOY GOOD EATING!


2017 and THE PARADOX

By constantly destroying the status quo, capitalism provides a powerful force for making societies wealthier. It does so by making scarce resources more productive. But some are always harmed in this process.

Companies that fail, industries that vanish, and jobs that disappear are inherent parts of our growth system. The economy in the U.S. has been experiencing these negative aspects of the evolutionary nature of capitalism since 2007. The saving grace comes from recognizing the good that comes from the turmoil, which is difficult if you have lost your job and house. Over time, societies that allow capitalism to operate grow more productive and richer; their citizens see the benefits of new and better products, shorter work weeks, better jobs, and higher living standards.

Herein lies the paradox of progress. A society cannot reap the rewards of the evolutionary nature of capitalism without accepting that some individuals might be worse off, not just in the short term, but forever. At the same time, attempts to soften the harsher aspects of free markets by trying to preserve jobs or protect industries will lead to stagnation and decline, short-circuiting the march of progress. Capitalism’s mantra of no pain, no gain is not easily absorbed when a family needs to be fed. The process of creating new industries does not go forward without sweeping away the old way of doing things. This where we are in 2017.

Entrepreneurs introduce new products and technologies with an eye toward making themselves better off—the profit motive. New goods and services, new firms, and new industries compete with existing ones in the marketplace, taking customers by offering lower prices, better performance, new features, catchier styling, faster service, more convenient locations, higher status, more aggressive marketing, or more attractive packaging. In another seemingly contradictory aspect of free markets, the pursuit of self-interest ignites the progress that makes others better off.

Producers survive by streamlining production with newer and better tools that make workers more productive or eliminate jobs. Companies that no longer deliver what consumers want at competitive prices lose customers, and eventually wither and die. The market’s “invisible hand”—a phrase made famous by Adam Smith in the Wealth of Nations–shifts resources from declining sectors to more valuable uses as workers, inputs, and financial capital seek their highest returns.

Through this constant threat to the status quo, capitalism provides a powerful force for making societies wealthier.  Are we willing to allow this to happen?

There is nothing necessarily bad about this. Big firms can be more innovative than startups if given the right incentives. But today’s (2017) incentives favor a static balance. Many big firms thrive because of government and regulation. The cost per employee of red tape—endless form-filling and dealing with health-and-safety rules—is significantly higher for companies that have a few dozen staff than for those with hundreds or thousands. In theory, a capitalist economy depends upon owner-entrepreneurs to lend the dynamism to fuel growth. Today capitalism exists without capitalists—companies are “owned” by millions of shareholders who act through institutions that employ professional managers whose chief aim is to search for safe returns, not risky opportunities.

What has grown from this toxic brew is a wave of populism that is rapidly destroying the foundations of international and domestic order, thereby producing a far more unstable world. One of its many dangers is that it is self-reinforcing. It contains just enough truth to be plausible. It may be nonsense that “the people” are infallible repositories of common sense, but there is no doubt that liberal elites have been smug and self-serving. And populism feeds on its own failures. The more that business copes with uncertainty by delaying investment or moving money abroad, the more politicians (i.e. Donald Trump) will bully or bribe them into doing “the right thing”. As economic stagnation breeds populism, so excessive regard for the popular will of the people reinforces stagnation. Sounds familiar.

High-tech companies are overhauling a larger slice of the economy, including shopping and transport, which should be good for growth (though it also means power is being concentrated in the hands of a few big firms). Is Amazon a mere flash in the advancing darkness or is it developing the new normal? The only new businesses they seem to spawn are small retailers who want to use AMZN’s distribution system which leads to even lower job growth. The US Post Office may ultimately be saved by FEDex and UPS as the latter use the former more in the delivery of small packages.

The rate of productivity growth across the rich world has been disappointing since the early 1970s, with only a brief respite in 1996-2004 in the case of the United States. Here our population is ageing fast and growing slowly. Meanwhile, the fruits of what growth there is, gets captured by a miniscule section of society. And those who succeed based on merit are marrying other winners and hoarding the best educational opportunities.

At the same time democracy is becoming more dysfunctional. Our form in the USA has overspent to give citizens what they want in the short run (whether tax cuts or enhanced entitlements) and has neglected long-term investments. On top of that, lobbyists and other vested interests have by now made a science of gaming the system to produce private benefits.

The first act of our new Congress was to render by rule the ETHICS watchdog useless by having it report to those it was watching.   Thank heavens for twitter.  Donald Trump tweeted that this was a bad idea.  (Our new President may prove very good for the Twitter stock price).  Government can spend to improve infrastructure which is badly needed and this will help the economy.  But then it needs to back away.  It will be hard for those of us who want a better environment, want equality in the work force, are appalled by racism and want better health care.  Regulations are killing economic growth.  Concern for little known creatures must be put aside for pipelines needed to fuel growth. Water and air quality standards should remain because that involves health.  Populism won’t lead us to a better America, but compromise and free markets will.