Monday, December 30, 2013


From Wikipedia:
"New Year's Drops:

On New Year's Eve, many localities in America mark the beginning of a year through the raising or lowering of an object. Many of these events are patterned off festivities that have been held at New York City's Times Square since 1908, where a large crystal ball is lowered down a pole atop One Times Square (beginning its decent at 11:59 p.m. local time, and concluding at midnight). In turn, the event was inspired by the time balls used by ship navigators in the 19th century to calibrate their chronometers. Whilst some of these events use a ball in imitation of Times Square, many "drops" utilize objects that represent an aspect of local culture, geography, or history. Ball drops are by far the most common in, but not exclusive to, the United States


  • Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: A ball is dropped.  Over two million people turn up along four kilometers of sand and the fireworks last for almost thirty minutes.

Atlantic Time Zone:

North American Eastern Time Zone:


  • Brooksville, Florida: A 200-pound tangerine was dropped 40 feet during the countdown to midnight until 2009. The tangerine dropped was an emblem of the citrus industry that once thrived in Brooksville.
  • Key West, Florida (Sloppy Joe's Bar): The Key West Conch Drop, where a six-foot Queen Conch Shell drops 20 feet to the top of the bar to usher in the New Year, is held annually for the island's official New Year celebrations.
  • Key West, Florida (801 Saloon): The 801 Saloon, a local gay bar, drops a ruby slipper with drag queen Gary "Sushi" Marion inside each year.
  • Miami, Florida: Miami is home of "The Big Orange" Drop. (Florida is the orange state) The 35-foot orange rises 400 feet until it reaches the top of the Hotel Intercontinental Miami and is dropped from the top.
  • Orlando, Florida: The Annual Church Street Entertainment New Year’s Eve Street Party includes "a huge video wall, confetti cannons, fireworks, and the tradition of the Orange Drop high above Church Street".
  • Sarasota, Florida: A glowing pineapple is dropped at midnight to ring in the new year in southwest Florida".



  • Kokomo, Indiana: An aluminum 70-pound Ball with 34,000 lights is dropped during The Kokomo Downtown Association New Year’s Eve Celebration.
  • Muncie, Indiana: A ball is dropped.
  • Vincennes, Indiana (near Terre Haute): The giant 18-foot, 500-pound steel-and-foam Watermelon Ball is raised 100 feet in the air during the 60-second countdown at midnight, then the replica releases 11 real locally-grown watermelons.


  • Bangor, Maine: A beach ball covered in Christmas lights has been thrown off the top of a local restaurant since 2005.
  • Eastport, Maine: A sardine is dropped in a nod to the area’s history in the herring fishing and canning industry. This is the second of two object drops in Eastport (see also "Atlantic Time Zone" above). Both objects were created by sculptor Bill Schaefer of East Machias.



New York:

New York holds many elaborate drops, particularly the ball drop at Times Square. The state falls in second place for the most items dropped on New Year's Eve.
North Carolina:

  • Black Creek, North Carolina: A large red heart drop represents "A Small Town with a Big Heart".
  • Brasstown, North Carolina: A plexiglas pyramid containing a living opossum is lowered from the roof of Clay Logan's convenience store for The Possum Drop. The possum is turned loose at the end of the celebration.(The event was barred from occurring for 2013 due to a successful lawsuit from PETA.)
  • Eastover, North Carolina: A three-foot tall, thirty-pound wooden flea is dropped.
  • Charlotte, North Carolina: A lighted crown is (raised) 25 feet in the air at the stroke of midnight to represent the Queen City. Charlotte Center City Partners produces the festivities.
  • Mount Olive, North Carolina: The New Year's Eve Pickle is lowered down the Mt. Olive Pickle Company flagpole at 7 pm EST, midnight Greenwich Mean Time.
  • Raleigh, North Carolina: A 900-pound copper-and-steel acorn, designed by sculptor David Benson to celebrate the city's 1992 Bicentennial and Raleigh’s nickname, “The City of Oaks”, is lowered by a crane.

  • Ohio:


    Pennsylvania is the state where the most objects are dropped on New Year's Eve.

    South Carolina:

    Tennessee (Eastern):


    US Central Time Zone:


    • Mobile, Alabama: A 600-pound, lit Moon Pie is lowered from the RSA Tower. The drop is televised locally by WKRG-TV and by several Raycom Media stations in Alabama. Festivities also include a Mardi Gras-styled parade, as moon pies are a traditional "throw" at Mardi Gras events in Mobile.
    • Fairhope, Alabama: A ball is dropped. The event was cancelled in 2010, but resumed in time to ring in 2011.
    • Wetumpka, Alabama: A meteorite is dropped at the Old Courthouse at 11pm Central Time in honor of the meteorite that hit the River City. At the stroke of midnight, a big fireworks display takes place over the river.


    Florida Panhandle:






    • Columbus, Mississippi: An illuminated 10-foot wide by 10-foot tall lit aluminum ball is hoisted over College Street 100 feet high as part of the "Having a Ball Downtown Block Party".


    • Bartlesville, Oklahoma: An olive is dropped.
    • Oklahoma City: A lighted ball is raised during Opening Night.
    • Tulsa: The Tulsa Ball Drop, held annually in Brookside, a district famous for its nightlife, features live music, performances, and a street party.

    Tennessee (Central and Western):

    • Memphis, Tennessee: A guitar is dropped
    • Nashville, Tennessee: An 80-foot Guitar Drop took place at Nashville's Hard Rock Cafe during Music City's Bash On Broadway. In 2011 the partnership ended with Hard Rock Cafe and the guitar was exchanged for a 15-foot-tall music note.


    • Austin, Texas: Families in the Austin Woods neighborhood traditionally celebrate the new year with large illuminated new year's balls hung from trees, which are lowered at varying times during New Year's Eve. Downtown, a Lone Star was dropped until 2006, then replaced with a simple mirrored ball.
    • Houston, Texas: A star representing the Lone Star State is raised at midnight. There is also a Noon Ball Drop at the Children's Museum of Houston for families to celebrate New Year's Noon.
    • McAllen, Texas: A giant mirrored ball descends just before midnight. The first orb for 2008 was six feet in diameter, but in 2009 McAllen's big bash was expanded to include a bigger crowd (10,000 attended), a bigger party space and the bigger "Texas-sized" ball used ever since.
    • San Antonio, Texas: The elevator on the Tower of the Americas is raised.


    • Plymouth, Wisconsin: Plymouth drops an 80-pound decorated cheese wedge, the newest Wisconsin cheese, from a 100 ft. ladder truck in a tribute to the region's dairy industry and dairy products. The Plymouth Arts Center hosts the annual “Build Your Own New Year’s Party” next to the Creamery Building's parking lot where "The Big Cheese Drop" takes place
    • Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin: A carp (real but dead) caught by local fishers and weighing between 25 and 30 pounds is lowered. A carp was chosen to represent the area's fishing industry and because the carp is considered one of the luckiest fish in Chinese culture. The carp, nicknamed “Lucky”, is lowered onto a throne. Each “Lucky” has a tree planted where it is buried with a commemorative plaque listing the carp's name and year.

    US Mountain Time Zone:


     * Flagstaff, Arizona: A pine cone is dropped from the balcony of Weatherford hotel.


    US Pacific:  


    • Seattle, Washington: The elevator of the Space Needle is raised, followed by a fireworks display from the landmark. The fireworks shoot across the night sky and an estimated 400,000 people can see the show.




    Kiev Growing

    From the BBC:
    "Fresh Ukraine protests draw thousands onto Kiev streets"

    Tens of thousands of Ukrainians have gathered again in Kiev in a fresh show of force by the month-old anti-government protest movement. Many demonstrators also marched on President Viktor Yanukovych's official residence outside the capital.  They have been re-energised by a brutal attack on a prominent journalist, Tetyana Chornovol, on Christmas Day. She had accused Mr Yanukovych of corruption over his financing of the Mezhygirya residence in an expose. Mr Yanukovych denies any allegation of corruption and has called for an investigation into the attack on Ms Chornovol.
    "We plan to come out here until the day the authorities make changes to the constitution and limit the powers of the president," Kiev pensioner Tetyana Kornienko told AFP news agency, amid a sea of Ukrainian flags fluttering across Independence Square. Protesters then made their way to the Mezhygirya residence, some 15km (nine miles) away on the banks of the Dnipro river, by bike, car and minibus, where they carried a coffin to symbolise what they hope is the end of his political life, AFP reported.  They were kept several hundred metres from the heavily guarded residence. Demonstrators first took to the streets in late November, angered by President Yanukovych's decision to abandon an association agreement with the European Union in favour of closer ties with Russia.  Protesters continue to occupy the central Independence Square and have refortified barricades to ward off attempts by police to clear the camp - though such attempts now appear to have been abandoned. But until Sunday their demonstrations had been dwindling in size since they started last month, and there were fewer people on the streets on 22 December than in previous rallies, says the BBC's David Stern in Kiev. They appeared to be undermined by a deal Ukraine struck with Russia on 17 December, under the terms of which Russia bought $15bn (£9.2bn; 10.9bn euros) of Ukrainian government bonds. The deal also saw the price of imports of natural gas on which Ukraine's precarious economy depends slashed by a third. But on Sunday, more protesters returned to the streets of Kiev, many angered by the attack on Ms Chornovol, who says her car was run off the road before she was taken out and beaten by men. Graphic pictures have been circulated of her bloodied and swollen face following the beating.  Local news agencies say five men have been placed under arrest but no motive has been put forward. Ms Chornovol says her assailants followed her in a "black luxury" SUV after she had been taking pictures of the residences of senior administration figures.
    "When you are struck by a luxury car, you understand that a price has been put on your life," the 34-year-old told pro-opposition Channel 5 television from her hospital bed, according to AFP.

    ^ It seems that the pro-EU protests continue in Kiev and have never really gone away as I'm sure the Presidents of the Ukraine and Russia hoped they would. While there were protests earlier in the year against Putin's re-election they were small with most Russians either loving him or keeping to Russian traditional of keeping your head in the sand and hope for better times, but not actually doing anything about it. The Ukrainians, on the other hand, seem to be a different breed (even though most Russians believe their culture started in Kievian Rus.) They stick-up for their beliefs and continue to be non-violent (despite the violence thrown at them) and the cold, snowy weather. It is a testament to their strong determination. Unlike those wimps in the now-forgotten Occupy Movement around the world (who decided to get real jobs once it started getting cold) the Ukrainians strive on. I hope that things in the Ukraine get resolved peacefully and that the corruption and brutality there stops. It is in the hands of those in power (both in the Ukraine and around the world) to do the right thing. ^

    Medical Shortage

    From the USA Today:
    "Are there enough doctors for newly insured?"

    Signing up for health insurance on the new state and federal exchanges was supposed to be the easy part of the Affordable Care Act. The really dicey part, lots of health policy experts have always feared, will come on Jan.1. That is when Americans who have enrolled in health insurance for the first time under the ACA are likely to discover that having coverage doesn't guarantee them easy access to a primary care doctor, dentist or mental health professional.  Some changes in the works, such as the use of new technologies and allowing mid-level medical providers to perform some functions usually reserved for doctors and dentists, should improve health care access in the long run. "In the meantime," said Linda Rosenberg, president of the National Council for Behavioral Health, "people are going to suffer." According to the Health Resources and Services Administration , the federal agency charged with improving access to health care, nearly 20% of Americans live in areas with an insufficient number of primary care doctors. Sixteen percent live in areas with too few dentists and a whopping 30% are in areas that are short of mental health providers. Under federal guidelines, there should be no more than 3,500 people for each primary care provider; no more than 5,000 people for each dental provider; and no more than 30,000 people for each mental health provider. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), unless something changes rapidly, there will be a shortage of 45,000 primary care doctors in the United States (as well as a shortfall of 46,000 specialists) by 2020. In some ways, the shortage of providers is worse than the numbers indicate. Many primary care doctors and dentists do not accept Medicaid patients because of low reimbursement rates, and many of the newly insured will be covered through Medicaid. Many psychiatrists refuse to accept insurance at all. Christiane Mitchell, director of federal affairs for the AAMC, predicted that many of the estimated 36 million Americans expected to gain coverage under Obamacare will endure long waits to see medical providers in their communities or have to travel far from home for appointments elsewhere. During the debate over the ACA, Mitchell said the AAMC pushed for the federal government to fund additional slots for the training of doctors, but that provision was trimmed to keep the ACA from costing more than a trillion dollars over 10 years. There are various reasons for the shortages. Certainly a big contributor is the aging of the baby boomers, who may still love rock 'n roll but increasingly need hearing aids to enjoy it. The growing medical needs of that large age group are creating a huge burden for the existing health care workforce. The retirement of many doctors in the boomer cohort is compounding the problem.
    The federal government estimates the physician supply will increase by will increase by 7% in the next 10 years. But the number of Americans over 65 will grow by about 36 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Money also is a factor in the shortages. During the course of their careers, primary care physicians earn around $3 million less than their colleagues in specialty fields, which makes primary care a less appealing path for many medical students. In mental health, the problem is that much of the work is in the public sector, where the pay is far less than it is for providers in other medical specialties, who tend to work in the private sector. As an example, according to the National Council for Behavioral Health, a registered nurse working in mental health earns $42,987 as compared to the national average for nurses of $66,530.  But financial factors are not the leading reason that medical students are avoiding primary care, Mitchell said. In surveys of medical students conducted by AAMC, students valued "work-life balance" more than money when they were choosing their specialties. Because primary care often involves long hours and night and weekend calls, it is far less desirable to this generation of students. "Half of the physicians in training are women," Mitchell said. "You find more of them are looking for a career that might be compatible with part-time hours, that don't involve being on call. Men are more engaged in child care today, and they have similar concerns as they consider their career choices." A steady stream of negative attention has made medicine in general a far less attractive career choice than it once was, according to Rosenberg of the National Council for Behavioral Health. Insurance headaches, pricey technologies, long hours and the risk of liability have convinced many talented students to eschew medicine as a career choice."Nowadays," Rosenberg said, "the best and the brightest are talking  about becoming investment bankers or going off to Silicon Valley." To some extent, dentistry created its own problem. Richard Valachovic, president of the American Dental Health Association, said today's shortage of dentists can be traced to the closing of seven dental schools in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1980, he said, the United States produced 6,300 dentists. Ten years later, the number was down to 4,000. Why did the schools close? "There was a perception that we had conquered dental disease," Valachovic said. "Kids weren't getting cavities anymore so we thought we wouldn't need as many dentists." Dental health did improve, he said, but not for the poor and those without insurance.  Twelve new dental schools — smaller than their predecessors — have opened since 1997, Valachovic said, so the U.S. is back to graduating 5,700 dentists a year. But the ACA has made pediatric dental care coverage a requirement for all insurance, which will extend benefits to as many as 8.7 million children by the year 2018. Demand will far exceed capacity to produce dentists for years to come. Despite the shortages, many believe that new technologies will extend the reach of medicine in ways that will ameliorate the problem. For example, health care professionals can serve more people by using Skype or other telemedicine technologies to examine, treat and monitor patients. Similarly, patients can be fitted with electronic devices that remind them to take their medications and provide other guidance about their conditions. These and other technologies are already keeping patients out of hospitals and doctors' offices. Changes in the way medicine is delivered, such as the use of "medical homes" and "accountable care organizations" to better coordinate patient care, are also expected to improve efficiency and keep patients out of the hospital. These organizational changes will make primary care physicians more important than ever, which might make primary care a more appealing — and lucrative — career choice. A more controversial idea is to allow nurse practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists and dental aides to do some of the work usually reserved for doctors and dentists. Many states have passed such legislation while others are eyeing similar measures. The Pew Charitable Trusts, which funds  Stateline, has supported such efforts. The American Dental Association, however, opposes allowing mid-level dental workers to perform some of the functions of dentists, such as routine preventive and restorative work. The organization, which represents 157,000 dentists, questions federal data on a dentist shortage, suggesting the problem is more of an uneven distribution of dentists. Some groups representing doctors are resisting similar efforts to allow nurse  practitioners to, for example, write prescriptions and admit patients to the hospital. But many believe the trend is unstoppable. "Health care is not a zero-sum game where there's a limited amount of care to be given," said Polly Bednash, the head of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. "If there's more care needed than we can deliver in the world, we have to decide who else can provide quality care."

    ^ Anyone with half a brain knew that we already had a shortage of doctors, nurses and dentists and that by adding millions upon millions of people to an already strained system would result in either extremely long wait times or the system collapsing. Obamacare doesn't fix the already broken system it merely adds more to the "sinking ship." I have dealt with many doctors, nurses and hospitals around the country and you can see the strained and inefficient system at work. You have to see a dozen or so of different doctors, nurses, PA's, etc and have to explain everything to all of them before anyone will make a decision. That is not how health care should work. I also do not believe that you should be charged the same amount for a doctor or registered nurse when you don't see one of them. Once I went to the ER and they had no rooms for me so they put me on a bed in the hallway and left me there yet I still got a bill as though I had my own room. Of course those that created this mess won't have to suffer through it like the rest of us (they should be forced to though.) ^