August 30, 2008

August 30, 2008
Welcome to my weekend and another day in Daddy Dab's life. This is Labor Day weekend and I hope you are having a safe and great one.

Well I have good and bad news for today so let's get the bad news out of the way first. Puerto Rico and eight states in the continental United States will no longer receive federal funding for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention’s new HIV monitoring system which found that that annual U.S. infection rate was 40 percent higher than previously estimated. The CDC is shifting the number of participating states from 34 to 25 based on a competitive application process. The states that lost funding were Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. The total funding for HIV surveillance would remain the same nationwide, but the remaining 25 states and cities would receive more of it because they had the most reliable systems in place that would produce the best possible infection rate estimates. The nine jurisdictions cut from the program lost roughly $3 million in funding combined. Overall money available for tracking HIV infections and trends is decreasing, making it difficult for many states to keep up. Surveillance funding is starving at the CDC according to officials. Their ability to say that they’re going to have ongoing reliable reports of incidence is somewhat questionable unless they have funding. So what does this mean for America overall and especially for people with HIV and AIDS? In my opinion, it means given the fact that the number of cases of HIV and AIDS were under reported for eight years of the Bush administration by 20 percent that now will the counts be even any more accurate? And if the counts incorrect, will not that make the amount of funding for services will continue to be under budgeted? Once again, the government finds a way to not fund HIV and AIDS programs which end up endangering human life because of lack of services and ADAP waiting lists! I hope many of you will contact your representatives about the matter before we have deaths from AIDS in our country escalate back to pre-lifesaving HIV medication history.

The other bad news is Hurricane Gustav. Gustav howled into Cuba's Isla de Juventud as a monstrous Category 4 hurricane today while both Cubans and Americans scrambled to flee the path of the fast-growing storm. Forecasters said it could gain yet more power, becoming a top scale hurricane with 160 mph winds in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday before weakening a little ahead of a likely collision on Monday with the Gulf coast of the United States. Gustav already has killed 81 people by triggering floods and landslides in other Caribbean nations. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Gustav had sustained winds of 145 mph with higher gusts as the heart of the storm began hitting Cuba's outlying island province of Isla de Juventud, where officials cut power to many areas. By this afternoon, Gustav was about 110 miles south of Havana and it was moving northwest near 14 mph. Hurricane force winds extended out 70 miles in some places. Gustav is projected to hit the U.S. Gulf coast roughly around Louisiana on Monday though forecasters cautioned that the track could vary. People poured out of New Orleans along highways Saturday and the government announced plans for broader evacuations. I know if I lived there I would not want to live through Katrina again so I agree wish their proactive decision to evacuate the city. I have been to New Orleans many times since I grew up on the Gulf Coast. It is such a beautiful vibrant city. I just hope the city can withstand another major hurricane. They were still recovering from Katrina. So now it is a sit and wait game while Gustav decided where he will go after Cuba. Stay tuned for further updates.

My friend, Patrick, stopped by for a visit today. Since Dale's death several weeks ago, Patrick has naturally been going through a hard time emotionally. Unfortunately, their car died so Patrick has been learning what is it like to live in Jacksonville without a vehicle. Fortunately his parents live in town and are able to help him get around when he needs to go somewhere. It was great seeing him since we have not been able to visit as much as we normally do. I am glad he is finally starting to get out and about and I am looking forward to his birthday party which he is having the end of September. I am hoping it will be a great one for him since Dale and Patrick normally celebrated their birthdays together every year since their birthdays were only a few weeks apart. It will be different this year of course but hopefully a good one for him.

Now finally for some good news. I am so glad it is football season again. True, we are just wrapping up the preseason games for the pro teams and college games have just started. But it's football season again which is my favorite time of year. Today I watch the Florida/Hawaii game where Florida was victorious by a large margin. I also watch the Michigan/Utah game. After the great year Michigan had last year, they are in a rebuilding phase after losing several great players. Utah remained in the lead from the half and ended up winning 25 - 23.

Gary and I ended up ordering oriental from the 5points location after another meal did not turn out so well. I had sweet and sour chicken with white rice. Gary had the sweet and sour pork with fried rice. We both had egg rolls which were better than usual. Not exactly the best meal in the world but sufficient.

It is late Saturday and I just checked some of the websites for New Orleans to get the latest news. A few of my friends were supposed to be there this weekend for an event so I wanted to see how things are going. The mayor has asked all tourists to evacuate and have started evacuating residents. It is looking very bad for the city since Gustav could be a class 5 hurricane when it lands. There was also coverage and photos of the local supermarkets being out of perishables which really hit home. I just pray there will be a New Orleans after this storm. Stay tuned.

I hope you are having a safe and great Labor Day weekend. Remember to make some special memories.

Wishing you health, hope and happiness.

Big bear hug,

Daddy Dab