Posted By: Francis Koster Published: October 25, 2020

When compared to other wealthy countries The United States has a life expectancy that ranks 35th in the world, and it is falling. If that was not bad enough, among the 50 states in America, the life expectancy of citizens of North Carolinas ranks 37th.  [2]  Why is that? When I was still working as an administrator in pediatrics, I would often pass through waiting rooms full of mothers holding crying children who had a birth defect.  With proper care during pregnancy, much of this damage was preventable.  These memories still break my heart. A key tool that prevents these birth defects and raises life expectancy is health insurance. As my dad used to say, “All behavior has consequences – good behavior, good consequences, bad behavior, bad consequences”.

Posted By: Francis Koster Published: October 19, 2020

I have powerful memories of my mom, the mother of six, counting money at the kitchen table, sighing and scratching items from her shopping list because she realized we could not afford them. Sometimes she cried. While shopping, she taught me how to look out for overpriced items.  If her suspicions were aroused, she would do something like take a five-pound bag of potatoes over to the meat department and ask them to weigh it.  She was usually correct and they would have to reduce the price.  After a series of such events, we switched to another market. All behavior has consequences.

Posted By: Francis Koster Published: October 15, 2020

I am one of six kids. My father was a very good man – but he was not what you would call “warm and huggy”. He expected us to pitch in and carry our weight in household chores from about the time the broom was twice as tall as you were, and heaven help you if you didn’t. One of his favorite lines was “All behavior has consequences – good behavior has good consequences; bad behavior has bad consequences”. When a bad consequence arose, he would often remind me and my brothers and sisters of the behavior that got us to it. Didn’t do homework? When report cards came around you were reminded of “All behavior has consequences….” Didn’t tie your shoe? Didn’t check your backpack for your lunch? Late for school because you didn’t keep your bicycle tires pumped up? “All behavior has ……”. I must confess I heard it a lot.

Posted By: Francis Koster Published: October 4, 2020

Imagine an evening (pre-COVID-19) where you take your family out to dinner and all order a family-sized meal of seafood gumbo full of clams, shrimp, and other delights.  Yous.  You may get more than you bargained for. Turns out that when someone throws a plastic bottle into the ocean, it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces until it becomes invisible to humans – but it does not go away.[1] Most of the plastic made in the world winds up in water where it breaks down into invisible but long-lasting pieces which gets eaten by wildlife.  The bodies of fish, clams, crabs, and other water critters consume these microplastics contain plastic they ate.  Bigger fish eat the little fish, you eat the big fish and when you eat the seafood, you also get a dose of plastic.[2]  No charge will appear on your bill - but you will pay for it in your healthcare bills. If you ordered hot tea with dinner, things could get worse because a surprising number of brands of tea have plastic in the teabag dissolving astounding amounts of invisible microplastics into the hot tea water which wind up in your tummy.[3],[4]

Posted By: Francis Koster Published: September 28, 2020

Some years ago I took my son and young grandson fishing on Lake Norman here in North Carolina, near where we live.  Lake Norman had a historic reputation for big record setting fish, and I wanted to give him a chance to make a grand memory.  As I planned the trip, I had a fantasy of him standing with his arms outstretched as he bragged to his buddies about the one he caught. What surprised me as I was planning that trip was learning that the breed of big fish (striped bass) that set all the size records back in the day no longer survives in Lake Norman. Between 2000 and 2010, due to climate change, the lake water got so warm the traditional breed of striped bass could not survive. After they all died out, new breeds of fish had to be transplanted in Lake Norman that can survive these still rising temperatures.[1] Why do I tell this story? Because in my grandson’s lifetime, the same thing that killed off the fish can kill him, and many of his generation.  And it is not rising temperature.

Posted By: Francis Koster Published: September 22, 2020

I have bad news, and good news.   The bad news is that if your household does not complete the Census by September 30, you can be fined $100.00.[1]  Why would you be fined?  Because money follows the numbers.  Populated areas get more. if your household does not complete the Census it can cost Cabarrus County $5,100 per year every year for the next 10 years in lost federal dollars that would have funded schools, police and fire, health departments, food stamps, environmental protection and almost 300 other community strengthening programs.  Your own family’s failure to take 10 minutes and answer a few questions would cost Cabarrus County taxpayers $51,000 between now and the next census in 2030.

Posted By: Francis Koster Published: September 22, 2020

Authored by Kevin Kendrick - Published in Wheel of 7680 - Rotary Magazine August 2020 This has been a remarkable year, mostly for all the wrong reasons. But as challenging as it has been for all of us on differing levels, there are people who are likely having more challenges than we can imagine. Some of these are the students attending CMS Title 1 schools and in particular, our 2nd and 3rd grade students. Here are a few facts:

  • 3rd grade reading proficiency is super-important. Educators say this is the point where most children transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.”
  • According to a new report published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, "Early Warning! Why Reading by the End of Third Grade Matters," your child's reading proficiency by third grade has a direct correlation to his success in high school and beyond.

Posted By: Francis Koster Published: September 16, 2020

As a school kid, if I tried and failed at something important to me my dad would usually say “so, what have you learned from this?” I could share some examples, but I will not, thank you very much. If I made the same kind of mistake twice, I assured him I did not need to be reminded of it. Now I am not so sure. As I grew older, I began to realize that making the same mistake over and over was not just a personal problem – countries also repeat mistakes. One good example of our society making the same kind of mistake over again can be seen in our failure to remove lead from drinking water and paint where we live, work, and send our kids to school. The use of lead in plumbing and paint became common around 1900. Children began to eat lead paint flakes and drink lead-contaminated water, and suffer lifelong damage to their brain from it.  As the understanding of the cause and effect of lead on brains grew, the doctors started pushing for the removal of lead from paint and plumbing around 1920 - right about one hundred years ago.

Posted By: Francis Koster Published: September 7, 2020

As my youngest grandson’s first birthday approached, and a Zoom birthday party was being planned, I was scrambling around trying to think of something I could order on-line that would make him (and his parents) happy and be small enough I would be willing to pay for express shipping. Yes, I had failed to pay attention when my wife kept reminding me that if I was going to send something, I need to do it last week. Sigh. How about candy? Well, I am not a fan of adding sugar to a kid’s diet, so that was out.   How about chewy vitamins?  They would maybe do some good health-wise, and maybe dodge or reduce the sugar bullet. As a father of four, and grandfather of a growing number, and a retired pediatric healthcare administrator, I spend a lot of my time thinking about how to protect children.  So I went online to try to figure out what kids’ vitamin would be a good choice.  I also looked up safety – and everything I learned was bad.

Posted By: Francis Koster Published: August 30, 2020

We pride ourselves for being a wealthy nation. It may shock you to learn that in this elite group, we rank 35th in life expectancy. [1] Invisible things in our environment are dramatically impacting our citizen’s health. A major contributing factor to our nation's awful life expectancy is that 72% of all American adults are either overweight or obese – and the percentage is rising. Since 1960, the weight of the average American adult increased by 28 pounds! [2], [3], [4]


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