All posts by Steve Small

Born in the Caribbean on the island of Barbados, became a naturalized US citizen 1990. Proud father of three children. Enjoy traveling, good food and hanging out with great friends and family.

The “Senior Salute”

A New Hampshire judge sentenced former student, Owen Labrie, 20, of the élite St Paul’s School to a year in jail for raping an underage female freshman on campus two days before his graduation. Unfortunately for Mr Labrie, who was considering a career as an Episcopal priest, is practically now likely over (But he can consider a switch to the Catholic Church and forget about women); along with a full scholarship to Harvard. He was also ordered to register as a sex offender for life, while his partner in the crime remains anonymous.

St Paul’s School established in 1856, is a highly selective private college, co-educational preparatory boarding school in Concord, New Hampshire, affiliated with the Episcopal Church. The 2,000 acre campus serves 531 students from all over the United States and the world. Notable alumni are: John Kerry (1962), Robert Mueller (1962), J. P. Morgan (1884), Efrem Zimbalist and others well renowned.

St Paul’s is home to many long-standing traditions, one of which, is the “Senior Salute”, in which seniors proposition young classmates for sexual encounters before graduation. The events of May 30, 2014 is basically a ‘he said, she said’ proposition. Labrie insisted that their encounter was consensual, that he did not penetrate the girl, and that it stopped short of sex after putting on a condom, said he had a moment of ‘divine intervention’ and changed his mind about having sex with the girl. He is the first guy to ever waste a condom. That story is so preposterous, it is like taking your rain wear off in a down pour, and God does not interrupt any opportunity for procreation.

During the trial the victim testified that she agreed to meet Labrie as part of the annual school tradition. She said she kissed him and participated willingly in some physical contact, but resisted as he became more aggressive and that she said no, more than three times. Although, the jury did not believe he took his condom off or put one on at all, they determined the State did not prove that she did not give consent. Nobody exactly knows what happens, however, she was under the age of consent and that is against the law.

Mr Labrie must be the unluckiest man in New Hampshire. He will be a historical footnote that ended the 159 year tradition of St Paul’s “senior salute”.

Supplements: The Good and The Bad.

I have always been fascinated, and envious at the same time, of people who gulp down vitamins and supplements by the handful with the potential to add years to life, improve energy, and a better sex life – or all three. I tried to match their enthusiasm for these assorted pills but more often than not, I usually got very sick because my stomach could not tolerate the ingredients, or whatever is in them, wasting good money, because I just could not keep up the daily regimen for this form of therapy to make me feel better, look healthier, and younger.

In the Unites States, multivitamin/mineral (MVM) supplements is an $27 billion industry, 40 – 50% of the men and women 50 years of age or older regularly use supplements. The questions remain whether using supplements is beneficial to health. Results of randomized studies and trials of multivitamin supplements show that, for the majority of the population, there is no overall benefit from taking MVM supplements. Some studies have shown increased risk of cancers to using certain vitamins. Considering that these pills are not regulated like drugs, since The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 defined “dietary supplement” to include vitamins, minerals, botanical, and other ingredients, and ruled that supplements would be regulated as food. This act exempted the manufacturing companies from having to prove of efficacy of their products. The law also permitted supplement makers several kind of marketing claims that do not need Federal and Drug Administration approval, including structure/function statements which describe how a nutrient is intend to affect the body. Often the research behind a claim, e.g., “zinc helps maintain immunity” has no scientific agreement. Claims must also bear the disclaimer, (“This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease”).

The truth is there is no legal definition for ‘multivitamin’, manufacturers apply the term to any product supplying two or more vitamins, and generally, what is listed on the label is not what is really in the product. Supplement manufacturers must list each ingredient (and its quantity) in a product but they do not have to prove the accuracy of these lists. Unlike the case for drugs, human research is not required to prove that supplements are safe and effective.

There are some nutritional supplements health experts agree we do not need, and may be harmful if you are not diligent about dosages or side effects. According to Gale Maleskey, M.S., R.D. writing in Spry Living, list the vitamins and minerals we can skip:

• Trace minerals such as iron to treat anemia; zinc purportedly minimizes cold symptoms and helps with enlarged prostate; and copper supposedly eases rheumatoid arthritis. But these trace minerals are only safe in very small amounts, a few months of high dosage could start producing symptoms of toxicity, like fatigue, aches and pains.

• Extra folic acid. This B vitamin is now added to foods such as bread and breakfast cereals, most people now get the 400 micro grams (the recommended daily allowance), but recent research suggests that amounts higher than 800 micro grams might promote the growth of cancer. You may need extra folic acid if you abuse alcohol or take anti-seizure medications.

• Vitamin A is a lifesaver in third world countries against infection and blinding eye disease. But in the U. S., many researchers now believe people get more vitamin A they need from fortified foods. Too much vitamin A can promote osteoporosis. Your best bet is to get no more than 750 micro grams (2,500 IU) of vitamin A a day from foods or supplements. Get most of your vitamin A instead from beta-carotene, which can convert vitamin A in your body as needed.

• Large doses of vitamin E, more than 200 to 400 IUs is not helpful for heart or cancer prevention. Higher doses of vitamin E actually interfere with blood clotting or disrupt other antioxidants and fat-soluble vitamins. To get healthier, consume small amounts of vitamin E from fresh nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, avocados, unrefined nuts and vegetable oils.

• Green tea extract used for everything from weight loss to cognitive enhancement to cancer prevention, without much proof of benefit. Few studies suggested that drinking green tea is beneficial to your health in many ways. Go with the tea, instead of the pills, and drink about three cups a day for the most benefits.

• Growth hormone-releasing supplements that stimulate the body’s natural muscle-building growth hormone are popular with body builders and anti-aging fanatics. But even the producers of these products admit that you can stimulate growth hormone even better with high intensity exercise and getting enough sleep also increase growth hormone release.

When the USDA came out with its Dietary Guidelines last year, it also published information on the nutrients that most people do not get enough of. Here is what they are and how to get them through the foods you eat.

  1. Fiber can help prevent type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer and heart disease. Research suggest that consuming fiber-rich foods might boost weight loss by helping you feel fuller after you eat. Nutrition guidelines recommend that women eat 25 grams daily and men eat 38 grams. Great sources of fiber are plant-based foods – the less processed the better such as oranges (a cup of OJ has zero); whole grains: oatmeal and beans.

  2. Calcium is important for keeping bones and teeth strong, but also helps muscle contract, the nerves to transmit signals, blood clot and blood vessels to contract and expand. Adults ages 19 – 50 requires 1,000 mg per day; for women 51-plus and men 70-plus, needs 1,200 mg daily. Dairy products are good choices (choose non-fat or low-fat to limit saturated fat): milk or nonfat yogurt. If you are lactose intolerant like I am, dark leafy greens such as kale and collard greens that is well absorbed by the body.

  3. Potassium is critical to support normal blood pressure. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, an adult should eat 2 or more servings of fruit per day and 3 or more servings of vegetables per day.

  4. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient that is important in bone building and has been linked with lower incidences of cancers and lower rate of immune-related conditions, such as type diabetes and multiple sclerosis. The primary way to get vitamin D is by UV rays from the sun, but vitamin D is also found naturally in fatty fish such as: salmon, mackerel and sardines, and in egg yolks.

Though many people take an active role in improving their health and increasing longevity, taking a pill daily is the easy way out and not eating foods laced with hormones, sugar and salt which might be difficult to avoid. Although multivitamin/minerals sales benefit from misleading information, although in the long run, MVMs may slightly increase the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease, but in the short run may produce little harm, however, despite the risk, people will continue to use them.

Memories of Parris Hill

I spent my formative years in rural St Joseph in the small community tenantry of Parris Hill and it has been the most important and influential years of my life, mostly for shaping my character, my core values and principles. With the limited resources of my grandparents, ingenuity, imaginative ability and enterprise were the standards I quickly acquired on a daily basis, when facing unbelievable and difficult challenges, before the amenities of street lights and in-door plumbing.

My parents, like many Barbadians between 1955 and 1966, recruited to fill the labor shortages in transportation, healthcare and the postal service; migrated to the UK. During this period, migration to the UK was easy since many Barbadians were overseas British citizens, and as a result more than 27,000 Bajans left the country, which they hope was for a better life and prosperity. Some succeeded, but others struggle with racial discrimination and the unyielding British weather.

In the early 60s, sugar cane production was still the main source of income of the Barbados economy and the sugar cane industry dominated every facet of life in this tiny agricultural village of less than 250 people. Andrews Factory and Plantation, located just on the main road from entering Parris Hill, was instrumental in the island’s booming sugar trade, and the mainstay of subsistence to the many tenants for their livelihood. The back-breaking agricultural work of reaping ‘cutting’ canes during the Crop Season and the out of season work of clearing weeds, preparing the fields for other crops of yams, potatoes, peas and other ground provisions, is the most extensive labor any human being can endure. During the Crop Season, the sun beats down like a fireball and the cane cutters drenched in sweat, broad brim hats, long sleeves shirts to shield from the blades of the cane stalk, undershirts and boots increase the exorbitant temperatures in the cane field to over a 100 degrees. It is not easy for the women, either, who are similarly dressed, but are able to take breaks until it is time to load the trailers.

The break for the men is usually when lunch time arrived. My job is to deliver my grandfather’s food before noon. St Anne’s Primary Principal and teachers has allowed me and my other friends who have parents or relatives in the agricultural sector to leave class around 11:00am and pick up the food for delivery, that means coordinating which cane field he is working that day, or if that field is harvest, somehow a message with directions to the new field is convey, through word of mouth. Being late reaching my grandfather for lunch, is absolutely unforgivable, a punishment is mete out. I remember one day, I fell off the bike and lost most of the food.

Like most Andrew Plantation tenants, my grandfather had the ownership of a temporary right to hold land and a house ‘spot’, of which the rent deducted from his weekly wages. The land he held, he cultivated sugar cane and share the profits with the Plantation. As a precocious nine-year old, I had the responsible of calculating the tonnage (the weight of cane) at the rate set by the Plantation to decide what money he would receive to buy new clothes or give me some pocket-money or school fees.

To supplement our family income, pigs were to sell for emergency cash, or share with the neighbors, chickens for eggs and rabbits for Sunday dinner. My uncle, the tailor, also ran a convenience shop that I managed at the ripe old age of ten after he migrated to the UK. I ordered supplies when the salesman showed up weekly, I keep track of all customer credit and was generally a whiz with numbers.

I returned to Parris Hill this summer, the house where I once lived is gone, replaced by a mini park. I could not bear to take a picture. Andrews Factory, formerly a source of employment to Parris Hill and the surrounding villages; the place where I spend long nights listening to the hum of the turbines and clouds of warm hissing steam emanating from the pipes, is now being dismantled for a sugar diversity production. Parris Hill is no longer the lively place of fun and excitement, but the murals are becoming a tourist stop on the way to Bathsheba. Parris Hill is now without water for four days a time, I rather go without electricity.

When Free, Is Not Really Free

Lately I have been receiving a lot of unsolicited mail and tons of email in my spam box. I have never paid too much attention to this mountain of mail, however, while separating the good from the bad and after careful scrutiny to determine that I was not tossing any bills that I neglected to pay on time, the junk was gleefully discarded into the trash bin, likewise, in the case of my spam folder, I joyfully hit the empty button.

Recently I decided to peruse this junk mail I was receiving, curiosity got the best of me, you might say. Between October 14 and October 24, I received 517 pieces of spam mail, ranging from medication for sale at 87% discount or more, a Rebecca from Canada claimed she is a Pfizer dealer and has Real Viagra, and many with provoking subject matters such as:

Big booty waiting for you!

On a wave of pleasure. Get on with Viagra,

Surprise! Your Yankee Candle Samples are Ready!

Erection Stimulants really Cheap

Surgical Mesh Settlements. You may be Entitled to Legal Compensation

Impotence Tabs, discreet delivery

Erection tablets, free trials

Libido Enhancements. Please confirm your address

Stranger has requested you for a quickie (Why Me?)

These are just a few of the many free offers that I received. There were others with more vulgar content that I cannot dare to repeat in polite company. Maybe, because I am over 60 years old, the internet marketing establishment assumed I must be impotent but I do appreciate their concern about my well-being. No doubt, I will seek all the help I can get when ED raises its ugly head. It is been said that men would rather their hearts stop beating than to have a malfunction penis.

Every once in a while, the word, ‘free’ generates a desire to earn or acquire something with minimum or no effort. This project has taught me that nothing is really free, although it typically means no exchange of cash, but you have to ‘give up something for something’, quid pro quo, generally a return of a favor.

When you see the solicitation, ‘Send for Your Trial Issue Today’, or ‘Get A Free Report’, it should be regarded with plenty of skepticism. That usually means that you have to fill out your shipping information and supply a credit card to be charged for later issues, which you can cancel if you do not want any further reports, but finding that cancellation number to call among the legalese is like looking for a needle in a haystack, and you do not want to get entangle with customer service. Is it worth giving away your email and mailing address for a free sample of Bath and Bodywork’s free samples?

We have seen over past years the late night infomercials and get rich schemes have been the ruin of many a people. If it is too good to be true, it always is. Remember the Ginsu knives – a matching carving fork, personal six-in-one kitchen tool, six steak knives and a precision spiral slicer all for $9.95 with a 50 year warranty. Some customers are still trying to get a refund. Those knives could not cut through butter. What about Miss Cleo’s Psychic Friends Network? This Jamaican accented woman usually give you a free 1-800 free call to analyze your problem, and then switch you to a 1-900 number for 99c a minute, however, she could not predict that she would eventually be in the slammer.

The historical ‘freebie’ for all times goes to The Greeks’ gift of a horse to the Trojans, who for 9 years defended their city from The Greeks, until they open the gates to receive a wooden horse full of warriors and like a piñata, they busted out and defeated the Trojans. Beware of a free horse.

The Killing Spree

Since 1982, there have been 72 mass shootings across the country from Massachusetts to Hawaii. The perpetrators are mostly white males; mentally unstable or displayed varied mental health problems; a loner; seemed to have difficulty establishing relationships with the opposite sex and maintain an unusual bond with their mothers. Maybe, the mom’s nurturing is mere coincidence or no link at all to the reason these men without girlfriends are more likely to kill indiscriminately.

A lot of men, however, with spouses and girlfriends, and arm with an arsenal of big guns prefer to go hunting. The thrill of bagging a wild beast apparently satisfy the lust to kill defenseless animals instead of people. In the world of trophy hunting, where wealth élite hunters travel across the world to lure endangered animals to shoot them – just to mount them on their living room walls. MSNBC aired a documentary, Blood Lions, that offered a glimpse into captive or canned hunting, where animals mostly lions, bred for the only purpose being shot at in a fenced area where the animals have no opportunity to escape, for a guaranteed kill. Most people would agree that this is not a sport.

It is sad to see the once regal “king of the jungle’ relegated to a second class existence, not a ruler in his domain but a captive in his kingdom.

Now bullfighting is a popular sporting event in Spain, where the bull’s death is a little more humanely and becomes a meal at the end. This show is a deadly dance between the matador and a bull with at least a 50% chance of survival. The matador must prove his courage and artistry, with one wrong move his ‘cojones’ could be on the menu of local restaurant’s fare.

What is the cost of gun violence in America? The Mother Jones May/June 2015 magazine special investigation report estimates that it cost the taxpayers $229 Billion, about $700 per American a year. There is no definite assessment of the cost of victims who survived as paraplegic; deformed and disfigured with mounting hospital bills, the many hours of physical therapy, trauma counseling, in-home care and lost of income.

Even as violent crime has decreased in recent years, the rate of gun injury and death and mass shooting are on the rise. Nobody doubts that gun violence is a serious problem, except the NRA, and is now a public health crisis. In a country where statistics and data accumulation is prevalent on every citizen, the NRA and gun rights activists successfully blocked research on the economic cost of gun violence and put pressure political leaders to stop research related to firearms.

Here are some facts that are quite alarming. Louisiana has the highest gun homicide rate in the nation. Wyoming has a small population but the highest overall rate of gun deaths – including highest suicide rate. California, New York, Massachusetts and Hawaii have the lowest gun death rates due to low gun ownership rates and tight gun laws. Florida and Texas outpaced all other States.

Preventing violence is our homes, schools and neighborhood is our country’s most difficult undertaking. Violence is preventable, not inevitable.

What A Summer!

Summer is over and the chilly winds of Fall will bring cooler temperatures, and many of you will welcome the relief from such a wild hot summer; retiring your swimsuits, cottons and linens for sweaters, scarves, hats, flannels and boots. This is my favorite time of the year, the balmy winds and the colorful leaves of autumn gives a colorful hue to the landscape. A time to enjoy hot soups, hot chocolates and New England chowder and a warm fireplace with a loved one. Also, in my case, getting that important flu shot to protect my immune system from the dreaded flu which shows up every year uninvited.

It’s been an unforgettable summer, with stories that even Shakespeare, the great dramatist could not make up. The escape of two prisoners from the upstate New York facility with the help of a lonely wife who suffer some inattentiveness from her husband, imagine a life on the run with a couple of handsome men, until she came to her senses, and now faces a sentence of seven years with one of the men she helped to escape.

Bruce Jenner turned into Caitlynn before our very eyes; the Jello Man admitted he bought Quaaludes but not for the purpose intended; the incredible story of Rachel Dolezal, a white woman, almost succeeded in living life as a Black woman, until she was outed by her parents. It is usually Blacks passing as Whites to avoid discrimination and being marginalized in this society. The massacre of 9 Black church members by a White man while attending Bible study; a Triple Crown Winner with the odd name of American Pharaoh, finally end a drought of 37 years; the ‘little pink pill’ was approved by FDA to bring hope to women who have lost their mojo, hopefully will bring a lot of men back in the saddle; and the final lowering of the Confederate Flag forever.

It was also the summer of Trump. The Donald continues to lead the Polls as he insults and ridicules his fellow candidates, women and minorities all across America to the consternation of the Press, the political pundits, and the money donors, which says a lot about the US political system or the voting public that adore these rogue characters. Sarah Palin former darling of John McCain and the right wing, can still generated a sizeable audience, whenever she comes down to the lower 48 with her mindboggling rhetoric and incoherent speeches. Donald has shaken up the Republic establishment with the policies which the Party espouses, but should not be aired in public. The herd is thinning on the Republican side for the Presidency as Rick ‘Oops’ Perry and Scott Walker jumped off the clown car.

As the Presidential race heats up, and the Speaker-ship of Congress up for grabs (John Boehner happy to jump ship as a frustrated leader), look out for Kevin McCarthy as the possible successor to Boehner will keep the comedians employed for sometime.

Hello world!

I have just became a blogger; with plenty of encouragement from all my friends on Facebook, I took a leap in the blog-sphere. I hope to keep you entertain with my writing style, and brand of humor at on a weekly basis, or as often as I find a topic the piques my interest. I updated a previous comment from FB to get started. Wish me luck!