Friday, March 30, 2007

Biotech Launches "Third Wave"

Biotechnology was first applied in medicine and then in farming. There are dozens of life-saving drugs on the market and many crops are genetically engineered to withstand weed killers today. Now the push to develop alternative fuels is driving biotechnology's growth into the industrial sector. After decades, energy companies may finally be able to produce ethanol easily and inexpensively thanks to breakthroughs in biotechnology. The Canadian biotech company Iogen Corp. has developed a method of deriving ethanol from a variety of plants including wheat, oats and barley. They are also working on converting the cellulose in crop waste, wood chips and other plants into ethanol. The billionaire co-founder of Sun Microsystems Inc. is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in green technology and will be a featured speaker this year at the World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology & Bioprocessing. Believe it or not, oil companies are also investing heavily in biotechnology these days. That is great.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

New Law to Curtail Underage Keggers

A few young people in a small town in Iowa got together and talked it over and decided there was a way to stop underage drinking. They drew up a bill to track the beer kegs by using an identification sticker with a number placed on the keg at the time of the sale. Retailers would be required to keep records of those who purchased the kegs, as well as their addresses. That way if a keg was found where underage people were partying and drinking, the adult who purchased the keg would be held responsible. It made such headways, that it went to the Iowa House where they passed a bill on Wednesday to do just that. They hope it is an attempt to stop "all-night parties" with under 21 years of age young people are binge drinking. I think it is a good bill and it passed 88 to 10.

VA Hospital Problems

It has come to the attention of VA Secretary Jim Nicholson, that the VA health clinics are not all they should be. He turned in a report that said the Veterans Affairs vast network of 1400 health clinics and hospitals have many maintenance problems such as mold, leaking roofs, even a colony of bats. This was the first major review of the facilities conducted since the disclosure of squalid conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Our Veterans certainly deserve better than this. Hopefully, full inspections will be completed and every area of concern will be taken care of quickly.

Pay Cuts for National Guard

About a week ago the news came out that pay cuts were being considered for Iowa Guard troops that are headed to Kosovo. The Pentagon is considering cutting combat pay and some of the other benefits, as well, for Iowa National Guard Troops that are being sent to Kosovo for peacekeeping missions. This would afffect about 330 troops and could cost each soldier an estimated $1000 to $2000 a month.I cannot imagine what they are thinking of. These men are going to protect us as well as keeping the peace over there. They have been receiving what is called imminent-danger pay, a tax exemption for income, and government-paid airfare for a trip home during their tour. Soldiers' families have been told to expect those benefits to be cut off effective April 1. I think this is not the way to treat out troops. What do you think?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

New Ethanol Storage, Transfer Facility

The city of Manly, Iowa is ecstatic because a new multi-million-gallon ethanol storage, transfer facility is being built there. It will be a $10 million dollar project, set to open this summer. The first of three tanks is now being built on a 100 acre site. This 3-million gallon tank will be joined by two, one million gallon tanks. The will eventually have storage for 20 million gallons of ethanol. This terminal is an example of the impact ethanol is having on Iowa's agricultural economy. The best part of this is that these types of projects are done by people who live here in this area. It wasn't just designed somewhere else and then just dropped in here. It's also something that just won't pick up and move overseas. It's production needs are right here and that is the corn. There are problems involved but they pale in comparison to the vast explosion of renewable energy operations that continue to make Iowa the leader in this industry. This is a bigger project than most people can even imagine. It's really good for Iowa.

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Destroying Flu Vaccine

Can you believe that they are going to dump millions of doses of flu vaccine because it will expire at midnight June 30, 2007? Actually it is still perfectly good and could possibly be useful for a few more years, but it will wind up being destroyed because it went unsold during this year's mild flu season. What a horrible waste of money. This is done yearly to make sure Americans always get the most up-to-date vaccine every year. But this year, the leftovers, more than 10 million doses, which is a record, will be destroyed before a new supply is guaranteed. How about donating the leftovers to poor countries or pushing back the expiration date. Doctors could keep it on hand until the new doses come in. Wasted vaccine means lost money for drug companies and one stopped making flu shots because of it. That is what set the stage for the shortage of 2004. If there is none available in the summer, people going to countries who are in the flu season, aren't able to get a shot before they go there. There are alot of other good ideas about keeping the vaccine around since it doesn't expire on June 30 and it is thought these ideas should be discussed seriously and perhaps some changes made. What do you think?

Spring Has Sprung

Spring has sprung, the grass has riz, where are all the flower is? That's an old old saying that goes well this time of the year. Spring is in the air. The Robins are back and the other birds as well. You wake up to birds singing now in the mornings instead of hearing sleet, hail, or watch snow coming down. Time to get the rake out. Got the leaves and old branches and shrubs out of the flower bed and the tulips are really high already. We have a little trick we do. We put those little flags in the flower bed, the ones the gas man puts in your yard to mark where the pipes are, etc. They flutter with the slightest breeze and keep the birds from eating the fresh green tops on the tulips. Works every time.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Revenue Soars for Iowa Casinos

Iowa's gambling industry that is seeing double-digit revenue growth. The increased competition means some casinos are taking a hit. Casino revenues were up almost 17 percent during the past eight months. They are giving the riverboats a run for the money.The average gambler lost $58 between July 2006 and February 2007. This looks to put Iowa ahead of last year's record $1.5 billion that gamblers left behind at casinos. The newest casinos are in Emmetsburg, Riverside and Worth County. Revenues are down for 5 out of the 6 riverboats along the Mississippi River and both floating casinos in Council Bluffs on the Missouri River.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

AFS Fun Night

The annual AFS Fun Night will be held tomorrow night at the Forest City High School cafeteria and gym. The carnival and food court will be open from 6 to 9 pm. More than 150 high school students and adults volunteer to help with 50 concessions and games. The event features old favorite games and some new ones as well. The food court has something for everyone. There will be walking tacos, funnel cakes, hot dogs, nachos and cheese, cotton candy, snow cones and more. The cost is four tickets for $1. Funds raised will be used to bring 75 foreign exchange students to Forest City and they have done this since l965. Also 55 students have been sponsored abroad by the Forest City AFS chapter since l966. Currently, there is a student from Thailand and one from Germany attending the Forest City High School. They will also have a display of information for students who may wish to be an exchange student. Let's all get out and support this worthy cause.

Christmas Show? It's only March!

Are you thinking Christmas yet? Well I surely am NOT! But you would be surprised how many people are planning ahead for the Christmas show that is held every year in Clear Lake, Iowa. The past three years this event held during Christmas by The Lake has been sold out. This is the fourth annual event being planned featuring the star of the show, and will be called "Jamie Aaron Kelley and friends". Tickets for the dinner and show at the Best Western Holiday Lodge in Clear Lake began selling in January already. It is scheduled for November 30 and December l. They never expected there to be such interest so soon but ticket orders are coming in from all over the country. It's great that such a local event would be so popular, isn't it?

Tom David Retires from Drake University - Iowa

Tom Davis age 68, announced his retirement after 32 years and 597 wins as a Division I head basketball coach. "Dr. Tom" as he is affectionately called, has called it a career and Drake introduced the new head coach, Tom Davis' son, 35 year old Drake assistant, Keno Davis. Tom skipped Wednesday's press conference in an attempt to keep attention focused on is son. He says he couldn't imagine spending four more enjoyable years than the last four. He led the once hapless program to its first winning record since l987. That is quite an accomplishment.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

R S V P Volunteers

RSVP of North Central Iowa is a great volunteer organization. Many years, I saw them pass out knitted mittens and caps to children in Head Start who didn't have much. They are rolling out the red carpet in Forest City on March 31 at The Atrium at Waldorf College to recognize their volunteers. The theme is a Hollywood style celebration. They will be thanking more than 200 volunteers, age 55 and up, representing 4 surrounding counties who serve in RSVP's programs. This production called "night in Hollywood" will have as it's focal point, a "Hollywood Premiere Video" which was produced by two Waldorf students. Volunteers will also enjoy a wide selection of desserts including a chocolate fountain.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Wed 50 Years, Club Members Have Fun

Did you know there is a North Iowa Golden Wedding Jubilee Club? It is for all North Iowans and southern Minnesotans married at least 50 years. It's a great group of people who get together and celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, new members, the oldest member, longest-married, etc. The club began in l938 and at that time there were usually somewhere under 200 members according to the club president. Members meet on the fourth Tuesday in April, July and October for lunch and entertainment. One couple 89 and 88 are members and really enjoy it. They say to fight and make up. Live every day as if it is your last. They attended the last dance at the Old Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake before it burned down in l947. They returned for the opening of the Surf again in l948.Lunch is served at noon and a program follows. The church members prepare the lunch where the meeting is held. It is $7 each. Annual dues are $1.50 for individuals and $3 per couple. If you are interested in joining, just email to . Meetings are held in Mason City and Nora Springs, Iowa.

Friday, March 16, 2007

New Lamp

I discovered since I moved my laptop into the office that I needed a little extra indirect lighting. So I found the cutest little lamp that is just right. It has a little 3 story house on it with an attic window, steps coming out the two doors with railings and it has a lawn around it with flowers and various other decorations. There are little trees up against two sides of the house and the lamp shade is white with country blue hearts and ribbon bows all the way around it. It is quite a novelty and one of a kind. It even has a little balcony on the second floor. It is quite enjoyable to look at.

Flying in From Texas

My daughter, her husband, and youngest son are flying home today from Texas. They said it was 86 degrees there and they had the air conditioning on. Seems a far cry from Iowa where the furnace is running alot and the snow isn't quite all gone yet and there could be another snowstorm yet before winter lets go of its hold on us. They went to visit their son and his wife who are expecting one of our newest great grandchildren. It was Spring break for their youngest son in college, so he got a great trip and alot to see while on break. He will graduate in May and beginning to look for that first job now.

Earl Wood is a Special Man

Earl went to school when country roads were basically nothing more than a path with grass on both sides. He walked 2 miles a day each way to a small one room country school. Money was scarce in those days and they didn't have much but they were a happy family just the same. He went into the military in l942 and loves to tell stories about it. It is just like sitting down and listening to a history story but one that is definitely true. He is now 85 and has had asthma and hay fever since he was a kid. He has every kind of problem including heart bypass and appendicitis and now aching knees. But to top it off, he has received the diagnosis of pacreatic cancer. That means radiation and maybe even chemotheraphy. But does it stop Earl? No he laughs and smiles his shy smile every day. He has a secret weapon he says. It is his disposition. You know I think he will make it because of his sunny attitude. I sure hope so.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Robins are back

Spring is almost here!!! The Robins are back in Iowa.That's our first sign of Spring. I haven't seen one yet but I have heard alot of reports of others who have seen them. They showed Cardinals on TV the other night in the next town. I could hardly believe it. We have had an unusual number of bald headed eagles in the vicinity this year. I saw one flying over the grocery store so low I could see it's white head and eyes. That is quite unusual. The wild Canadian Geese went farther south this year as we had a tough winter. For the last couple of years, they have stayed in Iowa because we have had such mild winters, but this one was bad. I saw several flocks of them flying overhead though yesterday so they are on their way back North. We were to have a bit of snow today again but it didn't happen. We just had lots of sun, which we really enjoyed. The tulips should be peeking thru the snow any time now. I have to put some little flags out to keep the rabbits from eating them.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Got a new satellite dish

Got a new satellite dish today. Changed over from Dish network to Direct TV. Hope we like it better. Another remote control to learn about. Always something. Beautiful picture though and we kept our antenna. Next I have to see about getting DSL so I can get this moving faster. Dial-up is pretty slow and aggravating at times.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Black Labrador Retriever

Our next door neighbors have a black lab. He is the kindest, friendliest dog. I believe that is the nature of the Labs. We had two on the farm years ago. The grandkids used to ride on the back of Lucky. They thought that was pretty neat. Blackie was our first Lab and he lived to be about 10. We really missed him so went out and got Lucky. Lucky was so big he intimidated people driving onto the farm, which was a good thing. They didn't want to get out of the car unless we came out. Kept away some salesmen that way. But he wouldn't hurt anyone, he was just a big lover like the dog next door. We really enjoy the neighbor's dog and he greets us everytime we go away or come home. We certainly enjoy him alot.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


It is a beautiful sunny day and we have about 14 inches of snow on the ground. It is melting fast and the ground is frozen so there is nowhere for the water to go. The neighbors have a literal lake right in front of the deck to walk through to get onto the deck to get into the house. The snow that is left where you walk has turned to very very slippery ice. No wonder the ER's at the hospitals are full of people who have fallen and really injured themselves. It is going to stay in the 40's for a nunber of days now so it is going to become a problem of flooding and there is little anyone can do about it. Since the big storm last week some people still have no electricity so no sump pumps either. That makes for bad basement flooding that normally wouldn't happen. We have to keep a close eye on the house we watch for friends while they are in Arizona. Last winter the eves filled up and rain went directly into their basement and it was quite a chore to climb ladders and clean out the eves and redirect some of them to stop the flooding in the basement. However, we got it done and it dried out in time. We are enjoying this much warmer weather though.

Friday, March 9, 2007


I had twin girls 48 years ago and the one of my twin girls had twins. She had a boy and a girl. They grew up, married the same month, a week apart. This week they announced that both of them are pregnant and due almost the same day in October. Now what do you think the odds of that happening are? They have to be huge. It will be so much fun to follow along through these two pregnancies and find out what the babies are going to be. Wouldn't it be something if they were born on the same day? It could happen. We are thrilled and excited over this wonderful news.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007


We have a great hospital in the nearby city. It is one of the 100 best hospitals in the United States, both medical and heart unit. You can go to the Emergency center anytime and have wonderful treatment there for anything. I have an appointment tomorrow to see one of the doctor's in the clinic. I have been to him before and he really knows his stuff and is very good at what he does. This hospital has many many specialists which is really to our advantage in this area, as some areas have no doctors at all. I saw on the news that it was Mississippi, I believe, that has lost all it's doctors. Those poor people in that State really have a tough time. We are blessed.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Car Dealerships

Have you ever seen so many used car dealerships popping up everywhere? And I see alot of "Rent A Dent" cars on the road too. It seems everywhere you look these days of tough winter driving, you see many cars with wrinkled fenders, hanging mufflers etc. Last night I saw someones' muffler laying out in the median. That will be common with all the deep snow. The roads have such hard icy crusts on them that the snow plow drivers don't seem to be able to scrape it off. So you are cruising along and it is like driving over continuous railroad tracks.I believe many owners of these used car lots have decided that new cars are just too expensive for the average working person. There are a great many used cars that look great, run great, and although they may have alot of miles on them, they still have many miles left and make great cars for the teenagers in the family or for Dad or Mom to take to work. I think it's a good idea when you are trying to stretch your budget to cover all the necessities of life.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Windows and Siding

These are two home improvements that will save you considerable money year round. Alot of heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer, leak out through your windows and around the foundation of your home. We put in very highly recommended windows in our home and what a difference. We could never look out before during the winter through the old windows. The reason was that they frosted over and were covered with ice and you couldn't see a thing until it warmed up. By adding the new siding, they put more insulation underneath it and this warmed the house quite alot during the winter and helped to keep the air conditioning inside instead of leaking out through the sides of the house. We also blew insulation into the attic and altogether it made a huge difference in our heat and electrical bills. Everyone should take a good look at their homes and see what they can do to improve it. Most electrical companies will come out and do an audit for you to show you where you are losing your heat and air. It pays off in the long run and doesn't take long to pay for itself.