My Sister & the Racoon

My Sister & the Racoon

I seldom get comments regarding my postings. However, I received quite a few regarding the post about Kit Kat (the traveling cat). I posted this personal story as it is one of a few that I found amazing and one that endures. The following, while not as amazing is another personal story which you might find amusing: Dad was a West Point Grad and career USAF officer. From ages 10 – 13 we were living in Colorado Springs. After a 3-year assignment with ADC (Air Defense Command) he was transferred to Ottawa Canada to assist the liaison effort with the Canadian Government. Dad was an avid fisherman and arranged for our family to partner with another family for a rental cabin on Lac Phillipe which was located in Quebec Province approximately 30 miles from our home on the South side of Ottawa. The arrangement was that each family would alternate weeks to occupy the cabin. There were times when our family chose not to use the cabin, but I loved the cabin & the fishing so much that once, I chose to use it for a fishing weekend with a friend. The trip involved about 3-hour ride on our bicycles after school on Friday. My story, which will forever be engrained in my memory, has to do with one family weekend. My sis and I were out scrounging near the lake to a variety of berries and also for small frogs. The frogs were an abundant source of food for the lake’s smallmouth bass population and in great demand for an avid fisherman like myself. Sis spotted a young racoon foraging near the shoreline. It was not a bay, but not yet fully mature. We decided to check it out and it proceeded to climb a small tree, actually a sapling, on the edge of the shore. I would estimate that the trunk was no more than 4” in diameter and it was most likely 20 – 25’ tall. I grabbed the sapling and started moving the trunk back and forth. The tree’s swinging gained momentum and at some point, the racoon lost its grip and was thrown about 25 feet out into the lake. It commenced to swim back to the shore, but at when I stood in front of the point that it intended to make landfall it turned and swam back out into the lake. After about 3 attempts with the same result I suggested that sis run back to the cabin and grab a burlap bag. While she was in the process of securing the bag and returning, I kept the racoon at bay. Thanks to my superior supervisory skills I convinced sis that on the racoon’s next attempt to reach shore she could simply wade out a few feet into the lake, grab the racoon behind the back of the neck and stuff it in the bag while I held it. Surprisingly my plan worked to perfection. I can tell you that my opinion of the plan would not have been as positive if our roles were reversed. As the racoon screeched and struggled, we managed to tote it back to the cabin and insert the animal into a wire cage, without any notion of our intentions in the longer term. We inserted a dish of water and some cat food into the cage and delayed any decision on releasing the critter to the next day. Sometime during the night our entire family awoke to loud screeches and scratching sounds coming from the roof. Dad took a flashlight and used it to peer outside. He relayed that there were at least a dozen racoons in the yard, most of them near the cage. From the sounds that emanated from the above we surmised that several more must be on the roof. The commotion went on for quite some time, then suddenly ceased. We were not inclined to venture outside in the dark and eventually were able to resume sleeping. In the morning we discovered that the cage had been shredded and the adolescent racoon was missing. Apparently, the racoon mob had accomplished a successful prison break of their friend!

Srinivasa Ramanujan

Srinivasa Ramanujan

I am always interested in persons that have had a significant impact on our world. Moses, Jesus & Muhamad are great examples of individuals that were so impactful in their missions that three extremely powerful belief systems sprang from their examples. It is not clear if they intended for organized & enthusiastic religions to be the result, but at the core all three were based on moral virtues. In my mind the specific beliefs are far less important than the goal of spreading the value of moral behavior. I fear that, in many organizations, this original intent has taken a back seat to other objectives.

In the area of mathematics Ramanujan has no rival. What I find of particular interest is that despite his lack of an extensive education in his formative years he found that he had a knack for numbers. He passed away at a relatively young age of 32 (1887 – 1920). He credited his insight into the mathematical formulas that he devised to his family goddess. Following is taken from Wikipedia:

“He credited his acumen to his family goddess, Namagiri Thayar (Goddess Mahalakshmi) of Namakkal. He looked to her for inspiration in his work and said he dreamed of blood drops that symbolized her consort, Narasimha. Afterward he would receive visions of scrolls of complex mathematical content unfolding before his eyes. He often said, “An equation for me has no meaning unless it represents a thought of God.”

The mountain of work that he produced in such a short time was phenomenal. Today there is still work being done on his theorems in an attempt to merely understand them. In cases were his theories have been studied virtually every theory that had proposed has been verified. There is still much work to be done.

Ramanujan was discovered and mentored by the British mathematician G H Hardy.

Again from Wikipedia:

“When asked about the methods Ramanujan employed to arrive at his solutions, Hardy said that they were “arrived at by a process of mingled argument, intuition, and induction, of which he was entirely unable to give any coherent account.  He also stated that he had “never met his equal, and can compare him only with Euler or Jacobi.”

K. Srinivasa Rao has said, “As for his place in the world of Mathematics, we quote Bruce C. Berndt: ‘Paul Erdős has passed on to us Hardy’s personal ratings of mathematicians. Suppose that we rate mathematicians on the basis of pure talent on a scale from 0 to 100, Hardy gave himself a score of 25, J. E. Littlewood 30, David Hilbert 80 and Ramanujan 100.’ During a lecture at IIT Madras in May 2011, Berndt stated that over the last 40 years, as nearly all of Ramanujan’s theorems have been proven right, there had been greater appreciation of Ramanujan’s work and brilliance, and that Ramanujan’s work was now pervading many areas of modern mathematics and physics”

For a complete understanding of his brilliance I would encourage you to google him and check out the complete Wikipedia narrative.

 Also, there was a movie made of his life recently tilted “The man that knew Infinity”? I highly recommend it. Not sure if it is available to “free stream”, but it is available for to rent or buy via Amazon. 5

The Healthcare Issue Revisited, again….

The Healthcare Issue Revisited, again….

One of my top soapbox issues is the status of our broken Healthcare system. It continues to bother me to no end. I suspect that I will continue to revisit this subject often. Here are a few bullet points that I hope will garner your attention:

  • Our country has by far the most expensive system among all counties
  • In 2018 the cost of our healthcare system was $11,600 for every man, woman & child!
  • The average per capita cost for the EU, Canada, Australia & NZ was about $3,800 or 3x our cost.
  • According to the WHO (World Health Organization) almost all of these countries deliver a superior healthcare product. (We rank 37th among all counties)
  • We spent $3.8 trillion on Healthcare in 2018 (over 18 % of GDP) making it by far our largest industry. 
  • The Government pays for less than 30% of this, $1.1 trillion in the form of Medicare & Medicaid. The remainder is paid either by companies’ insurance benefits or by the tax payer in the form of premiums, co-pays and for some self-insured it is simply out of pocket. I could not fund a breakdown between what employers’ pay vs. others.
  • The Cost of Medicare & Medicaid is the single largest Budget Expense at almost twice that of what we spend on Defense and it the major contributor to the annual deficit.
  • Since there are much cheaper and better systems available to our leaders their inaction levies a very high tax on the tax payer. I have referred to this as a “hidden” tax since you do not realize that you are paying it.

Many smaller industries have their hand in our very lucrative system. For details on those I would refer you to earlier posts to my blog. The solution is not very complicated and the reason that it will likely never happen has to do with so much money being made in the private sector. Again, I would refer you to prior posts on this same subject for the details.

The high cost of health care can have several negative effects, including the following:

  • When the government spends more on health care, the national debt increases and/or funds available for other programs decrease.
  • When people spend more on health care, they have less money to spend for other things, and when health insurance is paid by their employer, they are paid less.
  • When employers spend more on health care, the costs of their products and services increase, and jobs may be moved to countries with lower health care costs.
  • More people cannot afford health care insurance. When people without health care insurance receive health care, they usually cannot pay for it. As a result, this care is paid for by other people who are paying into the health care system. Or, people without health care insurance may not seek care when they need it and thus develop a serious disorder that could have been prevented.
  • Medical bills that are not covered by health insurance can lead to bankruptcy.