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What Restaurant Tonight?

This is a blog to equip you with a research resource. The next time that you are trying to decide where to eat, would you like to know what is going on in the kitchen?

Sometimes I like to watch that TV show,  where they bring the TV chef in to scream at the owners and wait staff. It makes for good TV when the camera takes you down in the basement to see a crazy storage area. Well, the Virginia Department of Health does the same thing for Virginia restaurants. Behind the scenes.

Here is the site to do your own research. I have it bookmarked at the Richmond Health District, but you can click back to go to any area in Virginia.

Here’s one restaurant example: Mama Zu. ( I picked them because they were mean to me a few years back) It shows the history of inspections for 2010, 2011 and 2012. On July 24,2012, the Health Department found one critical violation that involved their receipt of raw meat and how the restaurant stored their little neck clams.

Was it too mean for the blog that I picked out a specific restaurant? Yes… it makes me feel bad; but not bad enough to just cite to “a restaurant”. Looking through this website made me feel like I was reading the National Enquirer;  Just a little bit.

What’s for dinner tonight?

Pic o’ day could have several captions. Maybe we should have a caption contest:



Safety versus Inalienable Rights

     Jesse Ventura has a TV show on truTV called “Conspiracy Theory”. Every show chases possible conspiracies and leads the viewer to the possibility… or rather the probability that nothing is as it seems, because of conspiracy.

     Shows include him postulating that there were “Two Oswalds” for the killing of JFK, because there was involvement of a CIA trained assassin.  Area 51 doesn’t have aliens hidden there but the government uses UFO distractions for deeper and darker secrets relating to intelligence.

     Sometimes I watch the show. It would be fun to chase conspiracies for a living but it seems that it would get old looking for hidden meanings behind everything. To me, there are enough question marks out in the open that can make you think.

     “Safety versus Liberty” is a topic that has become more important since 9/11. You don’t even have to type out the full date and you know what I’m talking about. Some believe that the constitutional guarantee of illegal search and seizure should be reconsidered. They say, “if you have nothing to hide, why shouldn’t the police be able to come into your home without a warrant, if it’s for your safety”. Gotta find those terrorist!

     Some of this same logic also extends to government wiretapping. It’s the stuff that good spy movies and novels are made of.

     On Thursday, a federal appeals court ruled that (story) customers of phone companies like AT&T can now sue the federal government for illegal wiretapping. The ruling allows courts and even juries to potentially decide whether constitutional rights are being violated by eavesdropping in a “warrantless dragnet of ordinary Americans”, as the opinion recites.

     The concern raised with this lawsuit proceeding is what could be introduced as evidence, relating to the government’s war on terror. While the court has ruled that citizens have a claim for “concrete injury”, the argument against the lawsuit is like the same argument which says this is necessary for our safety.

     There are those that say that we have not had an attack on American soil since 9/11, and it’s because we’ve been able to stop those attacks with methods like those that would be disclosed in these types of lawsuits. The government defense asserts that there should be governmental immunity, or else it will impact the secrecy and ability of the intelligence community.

     It all comes down to whether the Constitution is mostly important or whether it’s really only important in certain circumstances. All of us have heard the old “the end justifies the means”. Fortunately, I don’t think that most really believe or accept that. Guess it’s an argument with many layers.

     And now, for pic o’ day… some more motivation from “Exercise Cat”.

School Bus Seat Belts

     Jump on any school bus and you’ll notice that the only seat belt visible, is for the driver. Why don’t school buses have seat belts for the students?

     At the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicle website, you’ll see that there is an answer to “Why no seat belts?”.  School buses don’t have seat belts because of “compartmentalization”. That is the name that has been given to the system that relies on seat height, seat length and all the padding surrounding the seat. The website compares this system to an egg carton that protects an egg.

     In 1967, researchers came up with the concept of compartmentalization. Today, only 5 states require some form of seat belt on a school bus. (New York, New Jersey, Florida, California and currently being implemented- Texas)

     For the past 25 years, schools and parents have relied on that 1967 research; even though the research only included the study of frontal impacts. Such research led to the recommendation of  compartmentalization.   Unfortunately, only 1/3 of bus crashes involve frontal impact. Other crashes including rollovers and side impacts are being ignored.

     In 2002, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) did crash experiments to confirm the continuance of this system, so as not to require seat belts.

     NHTSA placed seven instrumented dummies on a school bus and did a test crash of a 25,000 lb. cab-over truck into the side of a school bus. Not much was known from the test except the following and resulting recommendation to Congress.

     In this test crash between bus and truck; of the 7 dummies, only 2 were considered Side Impact Dummies.  Only those 2 dummies had instruments to measure lateral chest and pelvic forces. Even more curious was the fact that they were placed adjacent to the impact area, so that they were not actually thrown across the bus by crash forces. 

     True testing would have been expected to include one or more of the dummies to be belted,  to compare forces versus the other non-belted dummies. The final report from this agency failed to describe the path of motion or the points of impact. So, where and how was not known.

                Blog space won’t permit me to recite more. It’s already too long.  But,  the 2002 report  that was delivered to Congress, pointed out that if school districts are federally mandated to require seat belts and restraints on school buses; then there would be a tremendous cost and an expected 17% loss of rider capacity. 

     One final report.  In 1999, a separate agency, (National Transportation Safety Board)   issued a completely different finding regarding school bus crash-worthiness and seat belts:

Current compartmentalization is incomplete in that it does not protect school bus passengers during lateral  impacts with vehicles of large mass and in rollovers, because in such accidents, passengers do not always remain completely within the seating compartment.


     I think that you’ll be surprised by some of the articles, statistics and excuses regarding seat belts on school buses, if you google that topic. We mandate flashing lights; other traffic stopping, for school bus stops; and, extended “stop bars”. We even have stop signs for ice cream trucks;  but, we don’t mandate seat belts for kids on buses.

Now, pic o’ day  to illustrate something else that doesn’t make sense.





Lead in the Lunch Box

     The Environmental Law Foundation has issued a warning that there are “alarming” concentrations of lead that have been found in a variety of children’s and baby foods. The food categories include apple juice, packaged pears and peaches, and fruit cocktail. 

     My wife regularly buys these type of items, so when I heard about  the leadwarning, I went home, pulled the products and matched them against the checklist. I will provide the list below for your quick access. 

     Many scientists agree that there is no safe level of exposure to lead. Here is a transcription of the NPR news story and interview, which provides more information. I am also attaching an article on why the FDA is hampered in preventing this kind of problem. The report basically says what you would expect: Limited resources and  piece meal approaches in gathering information (basically government inefficiency) are the culprits. 

    I did title this blog “Lead in the lunch box”. I was really addressing the food that sometimes kids take to school. Then, I also saw a report on lead problems in lunch boxes ( Here), so I am attaching that story for your review, as well.

      Below is the list of the food and juices that reportedly contain dangerous levels of lead. I am taking up this blog space with this long list, to make sure you can compare to any products you may consider at the grocery store or are already in your pantry or closet:    

  • Beech Nut 100% Apple Juice
  • Del Monte 100% Juice Fruit Cocktail
  • Del Monte Freestone Peach Slices in 100 % Juice
  • Del Monte Sliced Yellow Cling Peaches in 100 % Juice
  • Dole Mixed Fruit in Light Syrup
  • Earth’s Best Organics Apple Juice
  • Gerber 100% Juice – White Grape Juice
  • Gerber 100% Juice Apple Juice
  • Gerber 3rd Foods Peaches
  • Gerber 3rd Foods Pears
  • Hansen’s Natural Apple Juice
  • Langers Apple Juice 100% Juice
  • Minute Maid Juice Apple – 100% Apple Juice
  • Motts 100% Apple Juice
  • O Organics Organic Unfiltered Apple Juice Not From Concentrate
  • Old Orchard 100% Apple Juice
  • R.W. Knudsen Just Concord Grape Juice
  • S&W Natural Style Fruit Cocktail in Lightly Sweetened Juice
  • Safeway 100% Juice Apple Cider
  • Safeway Organic Grape Juice
  • Santa Cruz Organic Concord Grape Juice
  • Trader Joe’s Certified Organic Apple Juice, pasteurized
  • Trader Joe’s Pear Halves in white grape juice
  • Tree Top 100% Juice Apple Cider
  • Tree Top 100% Juice, Grape
  • Walgreens Apple Juice from concentrate 100% juice
  • Welch’s 100% Grape Juice (from Welch’s Concord Grapes)
  • Welch’s 100% Red Grape Juice from Concentrate


    My Airport Scanner Idea

    Airport scanners are becoming the battleground of Constitutional argument. Privacy is now being pitted against public safety.  Plus, scanners in the news is now a great idea for a fiction conspiracy.

    If you google airport scanners, even the headlines will give you a quick idea as to why they are so controversial. One article discusses that “we are all porn stars“, thanks to airport security. Another tells us that in Manchester, it has been alleged that these scanners break child pornography laws.

    I also just saw that the former head of Homeland Security, from the Bush Administration, is now part of the corporate management of an airport scanner company. Thus, if author Robert Ludlum was still around, I’m guessing that he would write a book about how some group sets up a homeless guy, to go through security and get caught with some item on him. It would get the country all riled up and Airport scanner companies would be begged to outfit all airports with their life saving technology. Wait a second; Is that happening right now?

    All of us want to be safe. I want to get on a plane and know that no one is going to bring a flammable fluid, a body bomb or even a match and flammable pajamas. I go back and forth as to what I think about these airport scanners. I think that the public is willing to accept a certain amount of scrutiny at the airport, but there are clearly limits to what should be acceptable versus invasion of privacy. 

    If you look at the airport scanner attachment, you will see several pictures of the results of these scanners. According to Homeland Security and all those who stand to profit from the sale of these machines, we have nothing to worry about. There is only one person, in an enclosed booth, who is looking at these from TSA. In addition, we are assured that these images are immediately destroyed. 

    In conclusion, here is my security idea of the day. If they want to require these scanners at all airports, then all 435 House of Representatives; all 100 Senators; all cabinet members; the President and Vice President; and all their families should go through the scanner. The images should be stored. Then, if any image from any private citizen is ever released to the public, then all the governmental officials and their families will have their images released as well. That way, no director of Homeland Security will simply get up and say “we made a mistake and we’ll try to do better next time”. Now, if they are ready for that, bring on those scanners!

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