Sunday, June 14, 2020

Blood Types and COVID-19

                     One of the challenges in COVID-19, is predicting who might require hospitalization or who might require intensive care level intervention as a consequence of complications of COVID-19. It is not as simple as whose who are elderly, and it isn't as simple as those who have an underlying or chronic medical issue.  Several months ago, I recall a couple of newspapers claiming that some physicians had indicated that some blood types had shown more of a proclivity to developing complications with COVID-19 than others, and I even remember being asked about this.  My answer at the time was that this is interesting, but that a couple of different research centers would need to confirm this, otherwise it changes nothing for us. It simply means that we all need to take the precautions as directed.

                   Today, I received an article from what should be an authoritative source on the matter, The American Journal of Nursing.  From the study described in the article, it does appear as if those with Type O blood appear to be capable of managing the illness in most cases, and that Type A individuals have had more complications.  It's an interesting article, and since a number of you asked me about it, I am simply going to provide you with the link to it here.

                 COVID-19 is not yet over. Please continue to be cautious.

Just after I posted this, the National Institute of Health's director, posted very similar findings.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

A Word to the Wise is Sufficient


                 Why is the woman who has been writing posts on preparedness and survival here for the last twelve years, fairly silent, as the United States deteriorates into looting and insurrection?   Rational Preparedness is about situational and regional awareness and family and personal preparation. It's about knowing enough about your own health, diagnoses and the diagnoses of your family to care for them properly in between physician visits. It's about knowing enough about your animals to care for them properly and to take them with you, should you have to depart from your home.  In the last twelve years, we have discussed self defense, health management, growing food, homeschooling issues, purchasing supplies, emergency kits, tools, reasonable stockpiling, animal care, landscaping for safety and privacy, cabins and bug-out locations, and when we evaluate sheltering-in-place against a family evacuation.

                    We weren't planning for things that might happen. We were planning for issues that would eventually emerge in one manner or another.  It has been no secret that American public schools have been deteriorating sharply for years. History has been flattened and extracted, and alternate history has been taught to most young people. Consequently, many of them are gullible and don't have the measure of skepticism they should. Their education has not prepared them to be thinking individuals and so they can't ask the correct questions. Many have not been prepared to support themselves, and many hold huge amounts of debt for an education which in itself, has handicapped them.  In addition, we have a deterioration of morality all over the world.  A collapse of cultures is bound to occur, and many thought it would come sooner than this.

                    Without getting too deeply into politics here, we also have a problem. We have rotten apples in media who ignore happenings and stories that may be important, only to present stories which may or not not be true at all, simply because they advance the agenda they wish to push. We have decent American people doing their jobs, caring for their families, helping charities and perhaps churches and doing an excellent job, and we have the disenfranchised who simply want to tear down anything they wish. They claim that they have a purpose in doing so, but they don't. They are simply expressing rage.   In addition, the groups stoking insurrection would have us believe that we have racial problems in the US.  Although nothing is perfect, the members if different races who are working together, fare better than most people, US and foreign realize.  In the US, we have had a black president, black governors, lots of African American and black physicians of all specialties from other nations. We have lots of African American attorneys. People of all races have lots of opportunities to learn whatever they wish in the US. Many of them are quite wealthy now, and are CEOs of substantial businesses.  African Americans continue to make significant opportunities in sports, the arts, music, fashion and design.  Many journalists and editors in some of the largest newspapers and magazines are African Americans and many are high ranking police officials and high ranking military officers.  We mustn't forget this.  We are being asked to war between different factions of our society in order to collapse our government.  We must be better than that. We must reject what we know not to be true.

                 So, continue to find a source of reasonable news.  Listen and then turn it off. Take care of your family. Make plans that allow you to continue to do the job. Read the posts here.  Shelter in place when necessary, and evacuate if needed.  2020 is indeed a difficult year, for everyone. Do what you need to do to care for yourself, your family, your property and your animals. There are twelve years of posts to help you tackle some of the things you have not yet planned to do. Those who pay attention should survive this year's upheavals.

Friday, May 22, 2020

What Is a Rill ?

This rill comes to us from

             What is a rill, and why should you care ?   A rill, or in German or Swedish a rille, is a narrow water stream. These occasionally occur naturally, but our mention today is of rills that are man-made. Man-made rills first became very popular when the Romans came to England, which incidentally is about fifty-five years before Jesus was born.  They were an efficient way to bring water from one place to another.  Persian gardens may also have had rills but they were wider than the ones I wish to discuss today.  A rill can help you take water from a place where water is plentiful, to a place some distance away, where it is needed, for plants or for animals. It also can be used as an exquisite water feature for a garden.
              Often, rills have concrete sides which keep them intact, straight and beautiful, but they may also be lined with bricks or rectangular stones. Some are lined with the same waterproof linings that we use in ponds.

This is a much less typical rill, because it curves, but it too has concrete walls.  Travis St Clair

                    Today, rills are most often seen in lovely British formal gardens. They are sometimes seen in Japanese gardens though often in tandem with other water features such as waterfalls of various sizes.  A rill can simply have still water which has movement during rain or when the water in the source is high, or it may have movement because the owner has installed a small circulating pump, just as we might use in a small pond we have installed in a garden. Keep in mind that water that is moving, always stays cleaner than water that is stagnant.

This is a modern rill. Austin Patterson Disston.

                       The rill above is straight, bit it can also we constructed on an incline, and occasionally in a sculpture.  You may consider having a rill installed in order to beautify a garden, or increase the value of a property before sale.  You might install a rill in order to provide water to plants or to animals, while beautifying a certain area of an otherwise uninspired garden.

These are directions as to how you might install a rill:

These are other links that apply to rills:

                  Since I am in the process of deciding where on my farm a rill would be most attractive and most useful, I may have a future post which provides additional insights.

Monday, May 11, 2020

On Dakin's Solution

This is a bottle of commercially prepared Dakin's Solution.

                Recently, I was in Wal-Mart buying supplies, and when I got to the check-out, the woman who was scanning my purchases, had a rather significant bandage on her arm.  All these years of being a nurse hasn't yet taught me to mind my own business, and so I asked what she had done.  She told me that she had cut the arm recently, and that due to the COVID-19, she was unable to buy either hydrogen peroxide or isopropyl alcohol, and so she had just washed the wound in soap and water.  It was reddened and slightly infected.  I asked her if she knew how to make Dakin's Solution. She responded that she had never heard of it.

                    I quickly explained in the empty Wal-Mart, that Dakin's is a solution used by doctors dating back to WW I, but that even in hospitals today, occasionally nurses will see an order for it for a particular use or a particular patient.  Although we generally buy a commercial Dakin's Solution, it can also be made at home

                     Below is the University of Virginia Medical Center recipe for it.  Please note that one should use an unthickened, plain bottled bleach without lemon, lavender or other additives. It would probably also be best to use the name brand Chlorox if you are buying some, simply because we have a better assurance of strength.

                      For many things, including the cleaning of a superficial wound when you have no other available antiseptic, 1/8 strength below should be adequate.  For special uses, please ask your physician.  

                 Store your fresh Dakin's solution in a glass lidded jar,  clean or even a sterile jar, like a canning jar.  Ideally, we throw away the solution 48 hours after we make it.  It must also be kept away from children.

                   I saw the woman in Wal-Mart again three weeks later.  They still have no peroxide or alcohol, but her wound has healed, and she did make the Dakin's solution as I had suggested.

                    Print this recipe out, next time you need it.   Don't forget that plain Chlorox can also be used a couple of tablespoons to a sink full of dishes when someone in your home is ill, or when your dishwasher is non-functional or non-existent. Make sure you rinse your dishes well afterward.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

What Happened to Nova Scotia's Gabriel Wortman ?

Constable Heidi Stevenson RCMP


           As those of you who have read my books know, Nova Scotia is a special place for me. Two of my novels, both Westward: The Novel and The Granite Rock have large sections that take place in various locations in Nova Scotia.  For many reasons, the province and many places within the province, are near and dear to my heart.

             Nova Scotia is presently enduring the same challenges the rest of us are in terms of COVID-19 lockdowns. Many of their businesses are closed, and there is as much concern and trepidation about the future there, just as we have here in the US.  Sadly, this week Nova Scotia was given something else about which to be concerned, and now, about which to grieve.

             This week, a fifty-one year old man, named Gabriel Wortman,  a talented denturist who owns two branches of his business in both Halifax and in Dartmouth became a wanted man. Wortman was described by those who knew him as an "odd bird". A friend says he "was not treated well in college".  On the surface, life seemed good for Gabriel Wortman. He was a respected denturist and a millionaire. He was affable and respected by the elderly who comprised many of his customers. He owned quite a luxurious home on the ocean , north of Halifax, on the Bay of Fundy.  He owned multiple properties he apparently rented to others in the area. When asked about him, people who knew him said that he enjoyed "doing things for others".  This certainly seems to be true. In 2014, he appeared on Canadian television, not only explaining the basics of state of the art dentures to the Canadian public, but as a consequence of providing a free pair of dentures to a woman who had recently lost all her teeth to cancer treatment. He also was an obsessive collector of Royal Canadian Mounted Police memorabilia. People in his high school thought the 6'3" man would likely become a member of the RCMP.  He also, in the present day, was a hobbyist who restored RCMP vehicles. The police say that he is believed to have been an alcoholic. When pressed, people who knew him alluded to a jealous streak he had with regard to his girlfriend, and to an altercation which occurred with friends years ago. They admitted that he had "a bit of an obsessive personality".

               For some inexplicable reason this week, Gabriel Wortman, dressed up as a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and drove a car he had fashioned to look like a current day RCMP cruiser.  His exact movements are still being pieced together by police.  At the beginning of his crime spree, he had only a long gun. A pistol is extremely difficult to obtain in Nova Scotia, unless you are current and active law enforcement.  Wortman began a twelve hour spree in which he killed his ex and her new boyfriend, and then began to kill clusters of those at multiple crime scenes across Nova Scotia who were clearly unknown to him.  He killed Constable Heidi Stevenson, a 23 year veteran of the RCMP who was not only a highly respected officer, but a wife, a mother of a son and a daughter and who was a daughter herself, and who had answered the call which concerned gunfire. Without providing too much detail here, he intentionally executed her, and then took her service weapon. He went on to kill parents in front of children. He killed a pregnant woman and a seventeen year old girl. For twelve hours, he continued the pattern of going to doors in uniform, killing those who answered, and then torching their homes. He apparently continued, taking the car of the RCMP constable he had killed. Thus far, the RCMP have discovered sixteen crime scenes, and we do not yet know, since he chose primarily rural locations, if they have located all of the people he has killed. The killings continued until he stopped in a gas station well known to me, at the Stanfield Airport in Halifax, where he encountered police, and he fired at them. He was ultimately killed by police who could not let him proceed any further.

Gabriel Wortman

               Most everyone has lost an ex and had them find happiness with another person.  Most of us do endure a period of time in our lives where we weren't the most popular person on the block, often while we are growing up.  Some of us struggle with substance abuse, and for many it is alcoholism.  All of us are presently stressed by being locked down, unable to go anywhere, and by worries that we could become ill with COVID-19.  Most everyone, millionaires AND the rest of us endure a background worry that we could lose homes and businesses as a result of a protracted COVID-19 shutdown.   Yet, with all of that, we wouldn't dream of hurting another person, let alone twenty-three people who were remarkably consistent in their own desires to serve humanity. Wortman killed parents, a constable, nurses, teachers, firemen, and another denturist. Most of them were people who did not know him. All of them will be sorely missed by those who love them.

              What happened to Gabriel Wortman which caused him to morph from the affable odd man who reportedly spoke so gently to elderly people and who happily provided, repaired, and relined their dentures who became an efficient unmerciful killing machine over twelve long hours to people who were already afraid and locked in their homes ?

              Why is this important, you ask ?    Because in the face of lockdowns and the stresses endured by people worldwide just now, we need to be better at identifying those who could slide into a psychotic break that would allow them to commit such acts.   Justin Trudeau says he plans to further restrict firearms in Canada.  What good would that do ?  The weapon used to kill many of the people was the service weapon Wortman took from the constable after executing her. Wortman himself was already prohibited from owning a firearm of any kind due to charges from 2001, where he was ordered to have anger management counseling.  It's a shame Wortman didn't meet any armed opposition whatsoever. Perhaps the number killed could have been limited to three, or six, rather than twenty-three people. Perhaps tightening guns further in Nova Scotia takes things in the wrong direction.  After all, criminals don't observe gun restrictions, just as this man didn't.  Guns aren't the problem. Inadequate care and supervision of the mentally ill is the problem.

             My family and I send most sincere condolences to our family, friends, and the people of Nova Scotia who have been directly impacted by these shootings and these arsons.  May God bless each of you during this very difficult time.


Monday, April 13, 2020

When They Are Losing Their Minds During COVID-19 Confinement

Calm days will come again.

     Most of you know that I have been talking about emergencies, sheltering-in-place, and emergency food supplies for many years. On this blog alone, I have discussed various aspects of family disaster preparedness for ten years.  I have also discussed or alluded to mental health issues which occur as a result of disasters or emergencies, also for ten years. At the bottom of this article, I am going to list the prior posts which touch on mental health issues in emergencies, that I have written in the course of the existence of this particular blog.

                   Although this was inevitable, it's still disturbing to see. Since all of us went into seclusion at different times across the US, there is no way of calculating how long many of us have been locked up at home.  Many people are also enduring the stress of having a job you can't return to, and the resultant stress and fear that they will be unable to pay rent, a mortgage, electricity, car payments or buy food.  Some of us are insulated from some of this, but many of us are not. 

                   It is therefore not a surprise to see that on social media, a percentage of people are no longer rational.  Some are talking about forgetting all of it and going back to work and sending their kids outside to school, even though school has been cancelled for the rest of the year, and the doors to work are still locked. Restaurants and bars are still closed. They are not thinking clearly. Some cannot be reasoned with, and that makes them dangerous.

                   There is not much you can do for those determined to get back out there. All you can do is try to calmly keep those within your own family thinking normally, and being hopeful as we edge toward a gradual lifting of the necessary restrictions which presently encumber our nation and its economy.  It isn't just the United States that is restricted.   I speak daily with people in Italy, France and the UK, and they are enduring similar stresses, sorrows and fears.

                 Please know that as with every challenge that befalls us here on Earth, it IS temporary. It will eventually fall away.  Yes, there will be some negative fallout as a result of this one for some time, but we will weather it and overcome it also.


Prior posts that may be of value during this time:


Sunday, March 29, 2020

Plan and Be Cautious

      In September, 2003 a hurricane named Isabel came, and the resultant bad weather hit our Mid-Atlantic farm and much of our state.  Multiple large oaks blew over the gravel entrance road to our farm, and our two chain saws were insufficient to cut them up remove them.  Power poles became piles of matchsticks in the area. Power might not be restored for months, we were told. Warm winds and heavy rains continued.  On that particular farm we depended upon electricity to pump water both for animal use and for our own. We couldn't even get out to get additional bottled water.  We did well because we'd had almost two weeks notice in order to line new plastic trash cans with plastic liners from Sam's Club and to store twenty-five large new trash cans with water for the animals. We filled every water container we had for us, and we also filled three bathtubs.

              Although there was a long waiting list for tree experts who would cut and remove large trees, our neighbor found one, and asked if he could cut one large tree for us while the professionals were there. It was a good thing he did because when the tree was partially still held in the deep soil and when it was cut it snapped back, nearly killing the man doing the cutting. Afterward, with the toughest tree work done, we were able to use our chainsaws to clear and path from the farm to get out.

             At that time we owned only a small generator, and we were able to charge some things so that our kids were able to watch television. As a result, we learned that our power company was giving away a package of dry ice to each family, and a couple of large packages of water in small bottles, but that they were doing so many miles from our home.  Still, we could pick up the freebies and buy some food and extra supplies, so we happily loaded the most rugged vehicle we had and made the trip.

             We were early to the hand out, and so was everyone else.  The power company had far fewer of the items than the demand seemed to be.  The packages of water and dry ice for refrigerators went quickly.  Most of the people who showed up for the distribution were women with kids from the fairly wealthy suburb of Glen Allen.  As the supplies dwindled only to three units, women who'd arrived in Land Rovers and Mercedes Benz SUVs began to fight over bottled water and the remaining few ice packs.

             We had remained because we thought that when the initial offerings were gone, the power company might have another pallet of them, but they did not. We left immediately not wanting to get into a brawl or to have our children who'd come, witness women injuring or perhaps killing each other.

             It took only a couple of weeks without power to turn wealthy soccer moms into women who would fight over and take bottled water from another family, just like their own, while her own children actually watched. The facade of politeness or decency was completely gone.

          At the time, I wondered what they would have done is faced with a protracted emergency.  In some ways, we have a protracted emergency now.  If supplies became truly hard to find, what would soccer moms, and everyone else choose to do ?

               When you do choose to go out into the world during COVID-19, take reasonable precautions in self protection.  The mask and the gloves are a good idea. Change your clothes and take a shower, washing your hair also, on your return home.

                 Most of all understand that in difficult times, many people jump to thinking their survival is at stake, often when it isn't, and they will quickly move on to feeling justified in either out and out theft or even in looting.   Don't be paranoid, but be cautious during this time, and for many areas, the COVID-19 emergency has just begun.