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DayCreek Journal

July 26 , 2007

Dog Days of Summer

Since we don't have a dog, I figured this photo of a dog-like rabbit would work. (It was the best I could do—just use your imagination.)

Today the weather is hot and humid with temperatures in the low 90's(F) and a dew point of 73°F . It's one of those days that if you move, you sweat. I think it is one of those "Dog Days of Summer". The origin of phrase "The Dog Days of Summer" has an interesting background. I think most people nowadays just think of the phrase when the weather is hot and ugly. But the origin of the phrase goes back to the time of the ancient Romans.

Have you noticed that during the course of a year the constellations change their position in the night sky? And sometimes they are not visible at all? Take for example the constellation Orion. Here in the northern hemisphere, Orion shines brightly in the winter sky, but by spring it is already setting in the west by sunset. Then in the summer, it isn't seen at all until late summer when just before sunrise it can be seen.

Similar to the constellation Orion, there is another winter constellation named "Canis Major". Canis Major is a latin phrase meaning greater dog. And the brightest star that makes up the constellation Canis Major is the star named Sirius or the "dog star". Sirius is the brightest star found in the sky during the winter months.

Now the ancients believed that Sirius was so bright that it actually produced enough heat to help warm the earth. During the summer months, Sirius rises and sets in conjunction with the sun and the ancients believed that Sirius added to the heat produced by the summer sun. And that's how the phrase "The Dog Days of Summer" originated.

We're also entering one of my favorite times of the year when summer nights are warm and the Milky Way glows brilliantly. There's nothing better than to set up a lawn chair and just gaze at the stars. This year will especially be good for viewing the Perseid Meteor Shower which will peak on the night of August 12th. The moon is new, so there is no moonlight to interfere with the night sky. It should be a great night for viewing provided there's no clouds to obscure the show.

If you can get out away from city lights, look up into the night sky (preferably midnight to dawn, direction doesn't matter) on the night of August 12th - morning of August 13th. Meteors should also be visible on nights before and after this date, but the rates will be lower. During the peak of the shower, it is possible to see 1 to 2 meteors per minute. Of course, this is just a prediction and you just never know what to expect.

What's New?
Not much. How about you? I have just taken ownership of a new camera and I have been busy learning how to use it. I'm hoping to use this camera to capture birds-in-flight, escpeically bald eagles when they migrate down the Mississippi River this fall.

I also hope to complete my new web site soon: This web site will be used to highlight my bird photography work. It still needs quite a bit of work, but I do plan on finishing it up this year.

This is actually an exciting year for me, photography wise. I have won a number of photo contests and have gotten some of my work published in a children's bird book. (More about that once the book has been released.) I also will have one of my photographs featured on the cover of our local phone book here in southeast Minnesota and some of my photographs will appear on informational signs posted along the Mississippi River. And just this week, I received the latest copy of WildBird Magazine and found that I took first prize for the birds-in-flight category for this year's photo contest. So even though I haven't been working on the house, I have been busy with bird photography.

Medical Update
Both Jo and I are doing just fine—thank you to all of you who have written. Life is good.

I would however like to share a story of a friend of ours here in the La Crosse, Wisconsin area that recently learned the hard way about our ailing medical system. So many of us are at the mercy of the health care system run by big business and there's not much we can do about it. My personal opinion is that it will never matter who is in the White House or if the congress is run by Democrats or Republicans. As long as big business has their hands in politicians pockets, this is never going to get resolved. But I digress...

La Crosse has two major hospitals. I won't name them here...wait...why not! The two major hospitals here in La Crosse are Gundersen Lutheran and Franciscan Skemp. You would think that their costs to do a particular medical procedure would be similar, but this is not always the case as you are about to find out.

Our friend is self-employed and can only afford a policy with a $5,000 deductible. In January 2006, he went in for his first colonoscopy at hospital “A”. They found two precancerous polyps and removed them. The bill came to $9,540. He thought this bill was rather high, so he investigated the bill and found that the hospital had overcharged him by $1,740. He still thought the $7,800 bill to be high but he was assured by the hospital that this was the normal cost for the procedure.

Since they found the precancerous polyps, the hospital suggested that he again have the exam performed in one year. When the time came to have the exam, he called hospital “B” in La Crosse and asked what they charge for a colonoscopy. It took 6 different people to determine the cost, but eventually he found their “guru” that determines the cost for his procedure. The guru told him that the cost should just be under $3,000.

He went and had the procedure done at hospital “B”. During the exam they found and removed two small polyps. The total cost with the lab work was approximately $3,200.

My friend asks this question (and so do I): How does one justify two hospitals (which are about 5 blocks from one another) charging a difference of $4,600 for a relatively simple procedure?

And why is it the wealthiest nation in the world doesn't have a health care system that covers everyone?

rainbow over barn
Always keep a camera with you...I just happened to catch this rainbow right before sunset.