Sunday, September 30, 2012

Securing a Safe Within Your Home

This is not as hard as you might think to remove from your home. Later, the thief has plenty of time in private to get into your safe.

It might pay a thief to take an unanchored safe with him.

        Some safes are simply too large and too heavy for most lone thieves to take with him on a conventional break and entry into your home.  To take them, he would need to mount an operation with several assistants, a dolly perhaps, and have a vehicle that would permit such an extraction.  This would be worth it to some thieves, but most of us don't have a safe of this type.  Most of us, if we are lucky enough to have a safe, have a small one. We bought it, we got it home, and this is where it ends for many of us. We don't give a lot of thought to it's anchoring, but we should.  Not only should a safe be anchored to sloe anyone who wishes to steal it, but it should be anchored to prevent injury to people and pets during earthquakes, or tornadoes etc. Even a small safe can killl a child, or fracture the limb of an adult.
          Fortunately, most small safes come with an anchoring kit, which is often inside the safe itself when it's sold. Most people never use the anchoring kit.  Some of them think that this is something they might get to another time. Still others decide not to use it, in the event that they move someday, and they think they would like to take the safe with them in that event. This means they have failed to adequately protect the items in the safe.
         If you have a small safe, take a look at the anchoring kit and the directions for anchoring it. Anchor it to a floor or closet as per the directions. Some safes are designed to be installed in a floor.

This is the simple kit which is sold with Liberty Safes which permit them to be anchored. It is well worth taking the time to do this.

        If you bought your safe used, do not drill into it, in order to place hardware to anchor it. Consult a locksmith or sale seller instead, as to how to anchor it properly.  Drilling through the safe will diminish the fire protection of the safe that was part of its original construction.

Anchoring and Securing Heavy Items In Your Home

These are some of the items you will use to anchor and secure bookcases, appliances, and heavy mirrors in your home.
Many objects can be secured exactly as they are in this rendering


     There are two reasons we need to secure heavy items in your home with anchoring or with a cable of some type.  The first is to prevent injuries of your family members during earthquakes, tornadoes, or during the simple exploration and climbing of a toddler of school aged child.  The best reason of all to have a flat screened TV anchored to the wall with a kit which allows this, and adjustment of the set, is not just to have more space in the room itself, although you will.  Having the television anchored prevents its falling and injuring a young child. It, to some degree, prevents an intruder in your home from grabbing it and taking it, without doing an awful lot of work which takes time, first.
                   Some US States with serious earthquakes actually require the anchoring of large appliances prior to issuing a Certificate of Occupancy for new homes.



Install angle brackets or pronged zee clips.

Supplies Required

Larger imageWall Anchorage
Source: Noson, Perbix, SSD
  • Angle bracket—4" x 2" x 1/8"
  • Lag bolts—3/8" diameter x 4" (for wood)
  • Expansion bolts—1/2" diameter x 4" (for concrete)
  • Metal screws—No. 14
  • Pronged zee clip


Angle Bracket Installation
  1. Secure the angle bracket to a wood wall with a lag bolt for wood.
  2. OR
    Secure to a concrete wall with an expansion bolt for concrete.
  3. Use a metal screw to attach bracket to the refrigerator.
Larger imageFloor Anchorage
Source: Noson, Perbix, SSD
Pronged Zee Clip Installation
  1. Align the angle of the clip with the leg of the refrigerator.
  • Place refrigerators and vending machines away from exits and hallways if possible.
  • Enclose refrigerators in a confined space (if possible) to prevent the machine(s) from tipping over.
When anchoring to post-tensioned slab, locate and avoid reinforcing.

 This information:

Source: School Facilities Manual Nonstructural Protection Guide 
The way that we have secured items in our home is by attaching flexible metal cable to our appliances. Then we have anchored these to hardware on the wall or anchored them to a stud within the wall.  We like this method because it permits us to unhook and clean the appliance in the back or to do repairs and maintenance when needed. 
This information is from Quakecare at:
Please contact them at   for any unusual questions or supplies for securing objects.
The information within the two sets of undulating lines is exclusively their own work product

How To Secure Household Items and Heavy Furniture

WINDOW AND MIRROR GLASS: Sharp shards may fall or be thrown across a room. Consider safety glass, wire glass or solar/safety film. The solar/safety film has the advantage of improving the insulating factor of the window. The energy saving may pay for the cost of the film. There are cost free protective measures that you can use if the glass where you are is not the safety type. You can pull down and close shutters or draw drapes. Even blinds that are pulled down, but not closed, offer some additional protection from flying glass.
HEAVY FURNITURE: Furniture will move and fall during many types of disasters, especially tall, top-heavy items. Secure the furniture to the wall. Use braided metal cable, chain, or angle brackets to secure all furniture to a wall anchor. Most often, a wall anchor is an appropriately sized eye screw. Be sure you screw wall anchors into a stud (A stud is the vertical 2" x 4" wood post that supports your wall; they are normally spaced at 16" intervals.) Use of an inexpensive electronic stud finder makes the job much easier with less damage to your walls. Screws should always be used, never nails.
GAS APPLIANCES: Your stove, water heater, furnace, clothes dryer, etc. may run on natural gas or propane. Unsecured gas appliances may crush someone or rupture their gas feed line during a quake. If these objects move or topple, the resulting gas leak may destroy your home, a home that would otherwise have survived with only minor damage. Secure all gas appliances to a wall stud, and use flexible gas line. The flexible gas line should be longer than necessary to allow for some movement. The appliance should be secured top and bottom to prevent tipping, rolling and sliding. Use heavy plumber's tape or braided cable to secure your water heater to the studs in the wall.
REFRIGERATORS: Refrigerators are extremely heavy, and most of them are on wheels. Because of their weight they may crush someone if they move and tip. Secure refrigerators, top and bottom, to ensure they remain in place and upright during any earth movement. Use plumber's tape (perforated metal strapping). Screw one end into a wall stud and fasten the other securely to a structural component of the refrigerator. Do not secure the tape to the coils in the rear of the box. These are made of lightweight material and will not support the weight of the unit.
HANGING PICTURES, MIRRORS, CLOCKS, ETC.: Anything simply hanging on a wall will come flying off in a large shake. Use an appropriately sized eyebolt and a hollow wall anchor for lighter items. Larger items will require an eye screw that is screwed into a wall stud.
DECORATIVE ITEMS: Unsecured objects will fall during a shock. Run a wire, monofilament fishing line, or guardrail across the shelf front. (The line/rail should be placed 1/3 the height of the shelf, from the bottom.) Objects can be secured in place with Velcro, two-sided tape, or porcelain glue. Place large or heavy objects on the bottom shelf. Heavy items can be secured with industrial strength Velcro.
CUPBOARD ITEMS: Cupboards will open and spill their contents during a quake. Put heavy items on bottom shelves and use positive latches to prevent doors from opening.
FLAMMABLE LIQUIDS: Spilled flammable liquids may cause fire and destroy a home that would have survived undamaged. Store all flammable liquids outside, in their original/proper containers, away from structures and vehicles. If you must store flammable liquids in your home, store them in the garage, keep them in a locking cabinet with locking doors, and always store them on the lowest shelf. See "Hazardous Materials" section.
BEDS LOCATED NEAR WINDOWS: All beds need to be "safe areas," where you can ride out an earthquake without injury. Falling window glass is a serious hazard. If a bed must be located under a window, have safety film installed.To assist those who live in California with their safety window filming needs we advise that they install safety film, which will hold broken glass together so it will not rain down on your bed when shattered by a major earthquake.


    Next:  Securing a Safe in Your Home

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Welcoming the "Last Resort" to Television

      Tonight, American television debuted a new program on the ABC network called "Last Resort".  It ran also in Canada on the Global network.  The program centers on the Captain and Crew of the USS Ohio, which is the most powerful nuclear submarine ever constructed.   The Captain is sent orders through unusual channels to mount a nuclear attack to Pakistan.  Rather than doing so, he asks that the order is confirmed via regular channels.  He is promptly relieved of duty.via radio-telephone. His second in command, also requests conventional notification of his orders, and this is met by a US ship attempting to destroy the USS Ohio and her crew of 150.  The sub is damaged and twelve members of the crew are killed.
        In order to survive, and to honorably discover what has happened that would generate an order to nuke Pakistan, and to clear their names of any wrongdoing, they commandier an island which operates as a NATO monitoring station.
         This was an interesting program because we do live in a time when our White House makes some incredibly bizarre statements and has taken unusual well as generated a large number of Executive Orders without the benefit of Congress.   The program cannot help but ask whether a completely bizarre order from the White House would be followed, or whether the order would be clarified, questioned or refused on its Constitutionality.  Implied is how much do we trust our government ? And perhaps more importantly, how much does our military trust our government as a legitimate entity, and how far, when push comes to shove, does that allegiance go, and in what circumstances ?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

An Interesting Predicament


       We have an interesting little problem here in Virginia which pits the rights of one group against the rights of another.  In Virginia, quite a bit of our land was provided to private owners by Crown Grants from Kings of England in the 1700s back before the United States, was in fact the United States.  My own farm was in fact, a Crown Grant from the King, and is traceable in our court house as such. The last farm I sold in Virginia was also.  These grants state that the riverbeds of that land are also owned by the landowner.  However, Virginia Law generally considers that waterways belong to the Commonwealth of Virginia, although there is a brief reference to the "bottom of the riverbeds belonging to Crown Grant holders".
               In Virginia, we have a Constitutional right to hunt and to fish, so this is serious business to a lot of Virginians.  Recently, a number of landowners have sued fly fishermen who have stood upon their land and riverbeds.
             This is a sticky situation. On the one hand, as a landowner, every time someone hurts themselves on my property, they tend to sue,or try to sue,  even if they are here without permission and are trespassing, and so I see the need to restrict access to property. On  the other hand, how does a man standing in waders in a river adjacent to my property, who fishes in accordance with the fishing license issued to him by the Commonwealth of Virginia hurt me ?
              We need some kind of a revisitation and a meaningful policy under Virginia Law. regarding  this matter.

This is more information on this issue:

The James River in Virginia

Monday, September 24, 2012

Don't Forget the Garage and Yard Sales


      Until recently, I had not been to a garage sale in quite a time. I have most things we need here, and need to focus on organizing some things, general maintenance, etc. and not really on acquisition. However, my eldest son and my daughter do need a few things and garage sales can be a great place to get some of them.  I have a hard and fast rule that I do not buy toasters or electrical articles which could have a short in a garage sale, and later could start a fire. When the kids were small, I bought a broad range of good things from garage sales. If I bought toys I washed them all in hot soapy water with a cap or two of bleach in the sink before rinsing and drying them.  Some people run some toys through the sanitization cycle on their dishwasher and that would work too.
                      I must also admit that depending upon your area, you can go to a lot of sales which don't have anything in which you are interested. However, you really just never know.  It can certainly be feast or famine. You can go to a sale in which you are hard pressed to find even a single item that you need for something, and then go to another sale where you simply don't have enough cash to buy all the things they have that would be useful to you or to your family.   We were fortunate to have zeroed-in on one of these types of sales this week.  A woman in our area is selling everything and moving in with her daughter in another state, and she had many items which were new and in boxes that she had never used, for very reasonable prices.  She had a host of excellent pots and pans, and cookware in boxes, all of which my daughter needs.  My son found a top brand weed whacker, and you can simply never have enough of those !

These are a few tips I have found over the years:

1.  Try to go as soon as the sale opens. Many start at 8 am, on a Saturday, and a lot of their best items go to dealers or other shoppers at that time.

2. If you are available on a Friday, check your area newspaper and hit the Friday sales if you can.  Very few people can attend these and often there are some great items.

3. Don't buy things you can't clean or launder.  Although you can get MRSA trying on a pair of new shoes, you cannot dismiss the possibility that you can get it from even nice looking garage sale coats or shoes.  Spray the inside of new and used shoes when you get them with a generic lysol, and then let them air out for a full day. The germs will be gone, and by then, so will the disinfectant chemical odor which is something you don't want up against your skin either.

4. Always wash used toys by running through dishwasher or using 2 caps full of bleach in got soapy water at your sink.  Rinse them, and let them dry before giving to children.

5. The best buys in wooden furniture can be found in garage sales.  Many times, you can buy a piece of furniture or even a set for a fraction of the cost of the item new, and you can get far better quality than you can in many new stores.

6. Linens can be an interesting thing.  Most of us would not want linens which had been used, however, many times, bedsheets, blankets, and curtains are in new packaging. If the colors fit your decor, these can be fantastic buys.

7. Keep in mind not to over pay.   Garage sale items usually go for a fraction of the retail price of such an item, even when new.

8. You don't have to BUY anything. The journey of seeking can be just as enjoyable as the final result of acquiring things you want or need.

9. Bring cash, and singles when you can. It makes the process easier than getting change.  Very few take checks, and I wouldn't take one, and I wouldn't give my personal information by writing one either.

10. Bring a car with enough room. If you have access to two cars, bring the one with more room.

11. Bring some large roller style trash bags.  Sometimes you'll wish to put something like clay flower pots in a bag rather before placing in a new car.

12. I have bought lovely daylillies, irises and other plants people have split at garage sales and I have always done well. However, my son warns that this can be a way to introduce wire grass or diseases to your garden, so be cautious.

13.  Garage sales can be one of the best sources of older solid American-made gardening tools, which are all but unavailable in conventional hardware stores now.  Look carefully !

14. Almost everything from fairly new bunk beds sans mattresses to silver coins can be found at garage sales. Over the years I have found some wonderful things, although I will admit to pickings being slimmer in the past couple of years.

            Have a good time, and enjoy those special purchases which do eventually come.

Yes, everything from Wedgewood to silver can be found at some garage sales.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Still Waiting for a Tax Refund

One of these with our names and the correct amount is the goal !  It shouldn't be that hard.

    My accountant filed our taxes about a week late in April of this year after filing an extension because we had not yet ourselves received all the documentation we needed.    Because we were due a sizeable refund we got the information in as soon as possible.  A refund did not come.
             Some time later we were asked for clarification and additional paperwork. The paperwork they requested had actually already been sent with the initial filing, but to obtain a speedy refund, the accountant provided it again.  The IRS agreed to send the refund.   Several more times, the identical thing occurred.   It is now nearing the end of September and I do not have the refund. I have been unable to pay certain bills, my accountant, and to make it this year to our house in Canada to do maintenance and to have our version of a brief vacation.
            Is this occurring because the Obama Regime hired an abundance of new IRS agents and they are attempting to justify their existences ?   Is this happening because the entire system is complex and convoluted beyond our imaginings ?  Is this happening because I have written some blog posts which portray the Obama Regime in a somewhat negative light, and I am being persuaded to think again about doing this ?  Is this happening because they wish to hold on to large or not so large amounts of money they owe families, because they simply don't have it ?    I think I will reconsider paying estimated tax.  We might never get what we pay in, even when we are supposed to. The collapse has not yet occurred.

Update:  October, 2012.    The tax refund was finally received. Of course, I need to pay bills with it now, having had to borrow in order to get through from April to October without it.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Does All the New Technology in Medicine Really Translate to Innovation and Improved Care ?

Airstrip Technologies offers remote, virtual real-time access to patients' medical data, with software tailored to individual specialties. Software versions are available for critical care, cardiology, obstetrics/gynecology, imaging, and laboratory. Airstrip Cardiology, for example, gives remote access to telemetry strips, EKG data, pulse oximetry, end tidal CO2 monitoring, and arterial pressure monitoring. The software reduces delays in making time-critical decisions when the physician is not present. Users can also access bedside monitoring data, including heart rate, respiratory rate, temperature, and blood pressure, as well as invasive monitoring measurements. Image courtesy of Airstrip Technologies.

    As you might guess, I do a huge amount of continuing medical education. Some of it is in symposia or groups,and involves some travel, and an increasing percentage of it is on the internet with an exam afterward, prior to credit being given.  I say I do this in order to keep my RN license in a variety of US states, but I suspect that I would do this level of work even if it were not required, simply to help to guide my own family and for my own intellectual curiosity.
        This week something came to me through one of the companies I use for medical education. Dr. Eric Topol, Director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute and Editor-in-Chief of Medscape Genomic Medicine and, has written a series of articles which had their origins in a book he had written.  The series is called, " The Creative Destruction of Medicine".   His series begins on a fairly simple assertion that many physicians have discomfort in the digital age of medicine.  Many physicians were trained in times in which a patient, who might be bright in his own field, comes to him for advice on a particular health problem. The patient often knows very little about his issue, and even depends upon the physician in order to know what to call it. Then, not only are treatment decisions made but even the education the patient is given about his condition is chosen by the physician. Voila ! The patient is managed.   The internet has changed the landscape of medicine in many ways.  Now, with increasing frequency, a patient comes to a physician bringing symptoms and conclusions he read about on the internet. The patient may come in saying, "I have joint pain.  Do I have lupus, fibromyalgia, or Lyme Disease.  Is it even worth getting a Lyme titer because they are often falsely negative ?"    These are a lot of conclusions drawn, and it can take time to explain why none of these are our starting point with this patient.  In the clinic where I have most recently worked, patients come in being very sure of their diagnoses, and having misunderstood a great deal about what they read on the internet.  They don't understand enough about basic anatomy and physiology and pathophysiology for the information on the internet to make any real sense to them. Of course, in addition, no one can be objective about their own symptoms from inside their own body. Physicians and nurses alike have made this same mistake.   Getting a diagnosis from your physician and then seeking some information about your condition afterward is probably best.
         The internet has brought a huge amount of medical information to the general public and this often does not allay their fears. Most people live more happily not knowing how many things have and can go wrong in a human body. Sometimes, less time should be spent reading about medical disorders and pathophysiology and more time needs to be spent simply living the life.
      In some regards, an electronic medical record can save lives.  The rheumatologist who orders a certain drug, doesn't always consult with the cardiologist who orders something else which is not only incompatible but dangerous. You may not be seeing a cardiologist when the rheumatologist ordered the original drug. An electronic medical record in the same health system can help to identify these types of problems.  In addition, those with a serious chronic medical issue can stay in touch with their physician weekly.  My son see his physician every three months or so following a lightning strike, however he is in e-mail contact with him every week or two.
       The next article written by Dr. Topol talked about a number of devices which have a potential to change the way we follow patients. He told the story of having done an EKG on a patient on an airplane, with his iphone using peripherals and a certain ap. Ge diagnosed the person's anterior wall MI (heart attack) and the person was successfully  released from the plane onto an ambulance for excellent care. He talked about the continuous glucose monitor. (I have news for him. I've used that on my juvenile diabetic daughter, and it's not the panacea people might think.)
         On the one hand, appointments, prescription refills, and quick communication should become easier.  On the other, patients may come to the physician needing more information and correction of misconceptions gathered from the internet assessment of symptoms. This might take more time.  This also may lead to more people having a better understanding of what a physician really does.  People may actually figure out who does their continuing education, and who isn't doing it.
        Now it's my turn to weigh in.  In the early 1980s, I graduated as a Registered Nurse, and we were prepared to do the job. Our units were staffed adequately unless a disaster was occurring. Our patients were cared for properly and for the most part, did well.   In the late eighties and nineties, in critical care, we began doing things procedurally that had been the venue of physicians, and we found that nursing was evolving and that this was legal. While I was working in critical care, and in semi-management, I found that the staffing to other types of units was dwindling.   When I talked to other RNs in other hospitals, I found that my own hospital was staffed better than most.  As the technology to care for our patients improved and its availability increased, the quality of the candidates in both nursing and in medicine decreased. Nursing aides and assistants were used to do procedures which ten years prior would have legally only been the venue of registered nurses. This was not due to a true unavailability of nurses, but an unwillingness and financial inability of many hospitals to hire more of them.  The job of being a Registered Nurse in many settings became so difficult and so unpleasant that many nurses leave the profession as soon as they can line up another gig. You can see why I later taught medical subjects as a college instructor.   It is my opinion that technology and medical "toys" cannot compensate for decreasing the numbers of properly trained nurses and physicians in hospitals with the time to really do the job. 
It looks to me that the technology might have changed the practice of medicine and the practice of nursing in order to compensate for sub-optimal staffing levels hospitals adopted to keep up with diminished reimbursements and a heavy burden of illegals who will never be able to pay them.
To my way of thinking, the practice of medicine might be more interesting and more fun with these toys, but won't necessarily result in good care.  We need to remember that a good physician, a good history and a good physical exam will produce the most accurate diagnosis and then, the best plan for treatment.  In the hospital, a Registered Nurse with adequate time to check her patients, provide them with intravenous blood, treatments, chemotherapy etc. and watch their responses to such will result in the best patient outcomes. The toys each of them use aren't going to change that.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Fire Tornado ?

A small fire tornado

 With any luck at all, you and I should never see such a thing, but I did want all of you to be aware of such a thing. A Fire Tornado is an unusual natural phenomenon which can occur when a fire encounters just the right conditions which allow it to twist and turn sufficiently to follow the pattern of a dust devil or a tornado, and to develop a vortex. Because these are thought to most often occur internally during forest fires, human beings usually don't see them, as they are felt to be internally shrouded by smoke and fires which surround such a phenomenon. These are also a relatively short lived proposition also. Another name for this natural occurrence is a Fire Whirl. These were noted to have occurred in Japan in 1923, following an earthquake, and in 1926 in San Luis Obispo in California when a lightning strike igniting an industrial facility. There was also one in Hawaii in 2010. These are only rarely photographed, I think because most of us with sense, are busy running from the heat and danger of such an area. I think most of us are content to simply watch a video, rather than to see this in person ! Chris Tangey, a film maker who was working in the Australian Outback on another project entirely, obtained this incredible video on September the 11th, 2012

Please click on the underlined portions below to see the video as provided by Chris Tangey.

Outback fire tornadoes-Australia from chris tangey on Vimeo.
Used with the consent and permission of Chris Tangey Alice Springs Film Company, Australia

         Thanks Chris !

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Some Opportunities You Might Not Consider

An Equator refrigerator

  Lately, I have shaved time off from everything I do in order to complete both of the books I am working on.  Both are nearing completion, and after I proofread, and the remaining pictures for each are taken,  then the projects leave my hands, and are the projects of someone else for awhile. One of the books is deeply personal, and another is intended for a different genre and focus entirely, and is more an intellectual endeavor. I have been lucky to locate a publisher who actually wanted both.
    When I do have spare time, I have been helping our daughter, the young woman with, count them, three jobs, renovate her house sufficiently to move in.  If it were me, I would have moved in already, but she is making each room a lovely backdrop to life, as if each room is a movie set.  The wood floors will be installed soon, and then I don't think she has anymore excuses.
     In the course of helping my daughter furnish her new home on a shoestring, I have been spending a certain amount of time on Craigslist.  I don't know whether to squeal with glee and what I find there, or cry for those who paid retail.   Yesterday alone, there was a new stainless steel refrigerator being sold for just a couple of hundred dollars. The family was transferred in, bought a house, and now are being transferred out, back to Texas.  The new buyer of their home already has a frij they love.  It won't work for my daughter, but it would for most people.  I spent an hour  gleefully looking.  My favorite section was the "free" section. They had everything from free AKC registered dogs, to firewood.  Freecycle has spread many places over the Earth very quickly.  In Canada, Freecycle is doing very well.  Our nearest Freecycle when we are  in Canada routinely shuffles everything from computer peripherals to chickens and maternity clothing. Composted manure, and bunkbeds were quickly shuffled last week.

       The economy is still very bad.  Homes are hard to sell, and buyers are hard to attract. Jobs are hard to come by, and jobs which lead to better jobs are almost all but gone. However, opportunities to acquire things we thought we never would, are here. Those who save cash might be able to get a new sleep sofa, a front loading washer dryer, a Honda, or an RV at a price you can hardly believe.

        Wherever you are, consider some of the things you never have before.  Local newspapers, Craigslist, or even a card with "In Search Of" as a heading might bring opportunities you did not know existed.  Be careful when making new contacts, but it's worth a look !

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Reflections on September the Eleventh


    I remember September the 11th, 2001 as if it were just a few months ago.  That morning I was gathering paperwork and working on paperwork for our entry Visa into Russia.  I had the television on, and I think "Regis and Kelly" were on.  All of a sudden, a special report appeared on the television. Of course, report fragment after fragment kept coming that morning, as no one really knew for a time, what was going on. Before long, video of a plane crashing into the Twin Towers was being shown. It was only the first of many other news reports, which were worse and worse as the day went on.
        I remember my husband calling that morning wondering that if we were at war, and if we had been attacked, if perhaps we should not go to Russia at all." Ours is an humanitarian mission", I said.  We have to go.  Of course, being an American on a plane which had to go from Virginia to New York, then New York to Moscow, and then Moscow, five thousand additional miles East to Vladivostok, was no longer a comfortable prospect. My husband asked if I thought we would still be able to enter the US after being in Russia for the month we were scheduled to be there, if by then we were at war.
       In retrospect, I don't think I understood that day how much had changed.  Prior to September 11th, I knew that Osama Bin Laden had been spreading the internet with hate speech against the United States, and was doing so rather vigorously. Other nations do sometimes as well. I thought it unlikely that anyone other than the disturbed would follow Bin Laden. I did understand the amount of venom and jealousy some nations have for the United States. A great deal of it is based in misunderstanding of our media, particularly some of the television programs we export as "representative of the US" when it in fact, is not.  I believed that our CIA and FBI was likely monitoring sufficiently to block any real attacks, especially since the domestic terror situation in Oklahoma City.
        I did not understand.  Osama Bin Laden found plenty of people who hated not only the US, but any nation that was developed and anything approaching civilized. He found plenty of radical Muslims who hated women, and any nation who permitted them to hold positions of power.  Sadly, Muslims who did not hold these views, for the most part, kept quiet. They did not renounce the actions of a radical fringe. Since then, some of them have insensitively tried to build Mosques in areas that Christians feel are offensive. I do have moderate Muslim friends, and therefore I at least understand that they don't all hold such radical views.
       Prior to 9-11, preparedness and survivalism were largely felt to be the purview of the paranoid. Following 9-11, people began to realize that when the planes are down, the medications en route to your pharmacy and hospital aren't getting there, as few pharmacies hold what they need for even a week of prescriptions. People in the US began to examine how vulnerable our nation is, not only to terrorist attack, but to any type of natural disaster which cuts or limits our ordinary supply lines.  Preparedness did not begin for me after 9-11, but it began that day for many Americans, and at least we can thank the radical Muslims for that.  We can also thank them for the progressive dilution of our Constitutional protections which have occurred since that time, slice by slice.  Now, an illegal Mexican occupant of the US can open a bank account at Bank of America with a social security number, but I cannot.
        Since then, I have met a surprising number of people whose brothers, cousins, friends, fathers-in-law were killed in the collapse of the Twin Towers or the attack on the Pentagon that day.  I have yet to meet someone whose family member was on heroic Flight 93.  I can't help but notice how similar the weather, the sky and the day is today in comparison to September 11, 2001. I pray for the surviving families of all the people lost, and who remain missing from that day.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

It's Very Early Autumn

    In my part of the world, it's still Summer, but Autumn will be coming soon.  The Crepe Myrtle trees are still in bloom, the trees still have their leaves, but some of them have a little bit of tell-tale red or yellow interspersed. My Gingko Biloba trees look well, but one of them is dropping leaves from the outermost branches, and this means Autumn is on it's way.  Believe it or not, it's time to begin to consider Christmas gifts or gifts for the Winter holidays you celebrate. A good gift can seldom be conjured the week one needs it, and so consideration should begin now. Also, grabbing gifts at the last minute is expensive. Considering the genuine needs of people, finding the right thing, and then wrapping it attractively need not be.
              One of my dear friends who actually lives within about ten miles admired an ornate pewter dish I have in my dining room. This year, I happened to see the same one on sale in "Tuesday Morning", a department store liquidation shop.  I put it away and I added it to my Gift Notebook. This is where I write down ideas for gifts for people, so I won't forget.  I have a sheet in there where I can check off gifts for people when I get them. She is the first person for whom I have a gift for Christmas this year.  I don't yet have gifts for anyone else, but I am thinking about it.   For my eldest son, he could use a gift certificate either to Harbor Freight for tools or a gift certificate for Woodworker's Supply.   My daughter, who moved into her own house this year, is normally easy to buy for, but I am afraid this year, this is not so.  She already has everything inexpensive,and I am afraid that anything she really needs is going to be expensive.  She could use "The Simple Pump" which would allow her to obtain water from her well, and pressurize her house, even when the electricity is out. Even if she bought the pump and I paid for the installation, this would be more than my Christmas budget just now.  She could also use a riding law-mower.  Both items are too expensive for my husband and I to give to her this year. We will have to keep looking.  Our college aged son likes books.  I have been going to and assembling a collection of the classics. These are books he has said he wanted but are too expensive in conventional bookshops. I have been buying them, only as new books, gradually over several months. I have quite a collection of excellent books for him.  Our next son is still enamored with computer games.  I have been gathering new games that he has mentioned he would like to play from wither amazon or new from . I think he will be very pleased.  We always give birthday and Christmas presents in the name of Daniel, our son who passed when he was 12 1/2.  Usually,  something comes up before Christmas, that seems a worthy contribution, usually to a family well known to us, and less often to an organization.  This year, I think we might again take canned goods from Sam's Club and donate them to a local church foodbank in Daniel's name.  Daniel always thought food bank donation was an important task, even if you have little money yourself.

Food on its way to a foodbank.

 My husband usually likes decidedly bland gifts. He likes a pair of woolen or perhaps alpaca socks to go under his boots in winter while doing things on the farm. He likes the more expensive and non-synthetic long underwear.  Tall, thin people seem to get cold in Winter, even in Virginia.   For everyone else on my gift list this year, if my book is out, I plan to give them a copy. Of course, it's on the basics of preparedness for beginners ! This depends on how long it spends in editing etc,   This leads me to my next subject. Don't be afraid to go through the catalog or website of or to search for gifts for loved ones.   There are wonderful gifts that in these times, and in any other, would be welcome additions.

You can do something like this yourself !

This is also not difficult.       You can cut out designs for brown paper.

( From )

         Remember also to make cookies, jams, or candy if you can and give these as gifts to the people who can enjoy them.   I have a neighbor who definitely bests me every year as they leave us homemade cereal bars, jams, and even homemade soaps. One of our sons got a gift of some exquisite homemade granola last year, made by a friend.   I never seem to have the time, and always buy them some type of treat.
When it's time to wrap remember that brown paper stamped with Christmas stickers or stamped with red Christmas trees and secured with red yarn looks as good as any $6.-$10. wrap sold in a department store.  Plan how you will wrap in advance this year.  Spending very little need not look cheap or lousy.
          So, stay quiet, and plan your gifts little by little, starting now.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

On Adult Gummy Vitamins

         When I first saw and read about the advent of gummy vitamins, I was not encouraged.  Most of us need very little encouragement with which to ingest sugar, and I had concerns that children could easily become poisoned when they eat the entire bottle, not realizing these are medicine. This was of particular concern for me as a critical care registered nurse, because iron overdosage has caused child deaths. When I saw this package in the store, I was not thrilled. Certainly, it comes with a "child-proof cap" but at my house, we often joke that this is only a "nurse-proof" cap, as when our children were tiny and I couldn't open something, I would hand it to them just long enough for them to open it, and they were in it in a jiffy ! (No poisonings, by the way.)  It was only a matter of time before there were not only gummy vitamins designed for children, but gummy vitamins designed for adults, with adult potencies, available on store shelves.
          I am glad I reconsidered.  One of my children has Crohn's disease, and normal vitamins often produce stomach aches and occasionally vomiting for him.  Perhaps this would be a way he could supplement certain vitamins on a more consistent basis. He was reticent, of course. He thought that although the vitamins came in a sugary vehicle, that he would likely taste the vitamins, just as we do in Carnation Instant Breakfast drink, or Ensure.  He was pleasantly surprised that at least, Vitafusion brand gummy vitamins, taste like gummies.  We even wondered if they really had the vitamins in them !  He needs to supplement pretty large amounts of vitamins as he no longer has a colon, and must absorb things using a small intestine alone.  The Vitafusion Prenatals actually fairly closely approximated some of the things he needed.  The manufacturers left out the iron one would normally include in a prenatal, most likely because I am not the only one who feared child death following a potential poisoning of iron rich gummies.  Before long, we were supplementing his D3 using a gummy, and his Vitamin C in this way also.   I also have been taking my Vitamin C, B-complex, and D3 in this way.

Yes, these are for adults, with adult potencies.

It is no longer necessary to stir crystals into a glass of water for fiber for some of us.

I don't know whether these are absorbed as well as Calcium Citrate preparations of calcium. Check with your pharmacist or physician to see if this brand and vehicle are beneficial to you.  Always drink plenty of water with calcium also.

         This is my new take on the advent of at least this brand of adult gummy vitamins.  First, if you have any small children who reside or even visit your home, you need to lock these up. They are very tasty, and the most discerning psychiatric patient, or your Aunt Freddie with Alzheimer's will not have a clue that these are anything beyond a candy.  Compliance, or the regular ingestion of this medication will be excellent. No one is going to forget their gummy after breakfast each morning. Even I am tempted to ingest just one more !  The poisoning potential hazard remains and so you must be careful of this.  Fat soluble vitamins, which are A, D, E and K, are poisonous in doses higher than the Recommended Daily Allowance, unless your physician has ordered higher, therapeutic doses for the purpose of treating some other pre-existing condition.  Water soluble vitamins are less toxic, and wind up in your toilet and septic, but are still undesirable.  Excessive Vitamin C, for example, will cause cold like symptoms when withdrawn.  So, we want to make sure that everyone takes the RDA and not more unless it's physician ordered.
         Secondly, if you are diabetic and your diabetes is under control, then these still may be a possibility for you.  Most varieties are about 4 Gms of sugar per dose (one or two vitamins, depending upon brand) and are about 15 calories. If you do choose to use them, they should be taken after a meal on a consistent basis, so that the sugar is processed along with protein and fat, and does not spike blood sugar.  For the rest of us, a consistent time of ingestion is wise for another reason. We probably should take our gummies after breakfast daily so that just after we can brush our teeth and remove that sugar bath.  Dentists will tell us that a consistent habit such as this will probably increase the number of cavities some of us develop.
        Still, I now accept that some patients, by virtue of better compliance, and better tolerance can benefit from this new novel approach.  Please note that genuine pregnant women who take gummy prenatals will need to supplement the iron they need to take in another non gummy form.  This does provide another means by which patients who really need supplemental vitamins can get them, without nausea and vomiting afterward,allowing them tol take them on a more consistent basis.
         These are available at most pharmacies, Ebay, Amazon, and at Wal-Mart.  As for adding them to preps, you could, although I do expect them to become less tasty in the vicinity of their expiration dates, which was 2/2014 on mine.  I suspect that conventional vitamins would last longer in a cool dry place.
Again, take every possible step to keep these out of reach of children, or adults with dementia.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Significance and Importance of Good Signage

We found signs like these with our name signed on a space at the bottom to be the most effective for us.


Despite the fact that one would think these would be camouflaged, these work quite well also.  They are available

This is also distinctive.

     We have now lived in a profoundly rural area for more than fourteen years, in two different farms. The area around our present farm, which we also own, is surrounded with thick forests, and is marked with  "No Hunting or Trespassing" signs.   I am not completely anti-hunting, but we don't want people on our land with guns that we don't know, and those who have had a six-pack too many, milling about. We don't want people casing the house or the outbuildings or barns for robbery. Although we don't hunt our own deer presently, we certainly reserve the right to do so ourselves should we either need to thin their herd, or obtain some food. In short, the people making the payments on this property would like to retain the right to hunt the deer, if this became necessary.  You would be surprised at what a difficult concept this is, particularly for some urban dwellers.
             We are quite a distance from any urban centers or even suburban ones.  This is why it can be so interesting when people with guns trespass in an attempt to hunt and then when apprehended, say, "I didn't know anyone owned this".   This happened sufficiently in the first years at our first farm that we enclosed all of it with "No Trespassing" signs.  When this was apparently ineffective, because so many people have the same thing, we started prosecuting trespassers.  In Virginia, those who trespass are subject to large fines or up to twelve months in prison or both.  Those who are proven to be trespassing with some type of criminal intent, are likely to get both penalties in tandem with their conviction, even on the first offense.  Yet people still do this !    One of the reasons this is such an issue to us is that when urban warriors come out to the country to hunt, and they hurt themselves, their families often sue the landowner. For this reason, our attorney has told us to lock the place down, and prosecute those who don't listen.
              A bit more than six years ago, we built this particular farm and thought that it might be more defensible than the last.  We started with the same type of "No Trespassing" signs we bought from our distant hardware chain, and they had about the same effect they always did.   We decided to beef up the signage and see if it made any difference.  You are certainly welcome to use anyone you would like. We don't receive any additional benefit or discounts for endorsing them, but has made our custom signs and we are very pleased.   You can design your own custom signs online.

These are very similar to the original signs we used. We signed them all.

                  People apparently notice and respond better to signs they do not see every day, and to signs that might be a bit more expensive.

                 There are a number of signs I would like to put up. However, one must be cautious about the type of signs you use.  In the event you use a provocative sign, and then must shoot a trespasser who means to do someone harm, then your sign may be used against you by the prosecutor when the issue goes from a Coroner's Inquest to a Grand Jury.   These are a few of the signs of which you might need to check with your jurisdiction as to how pleased they are to see these.

I am not certain what this says, but I get the idea.

If you shoot someone and have this sign, you will be seeing it again at the Coroner's Inquest.


                        I am happy to say that we now have some perfectly worded signs surrounding the property, and different ones marking the gate house and the gate on the way in.  It's hard to tell whether the trespassers are in fact, responding to the clean and new signs or to the frequent target practice which can be heard within.   If you can, always enlist the help of your local sheriff or law enforcement before formulating a strong anti-trespassing plan.

                       Our attention has now turned to preventing any future thefts from a garden of our daughter's place. I'll let you know how that goes.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Adventures in Painting

The kitchen in process

   Most of us have painted the interior of a home from time to time, and know something about the process. However, it has been many years since I assisted in the painting of multiple coats to the interior of an entire house !    My daughter purchased a home in July, and in tandem with her demanding full time job and yes, 3, sketchy part time ones,also,  she has not had a lot of time to work on her new home.   Her father, her brothers, her boyfriend and I have all helped and she has done the more difficult cleaning, removal of the old carpet,  and eventually the drywall repairs, which were quite lengthy, and preparations for actual painting.   One of the reasons this has taken so long is that we were all mindful that the more time you spend in preparation of the area to be painted, the less time you will spend on the actual painting itself.
     The selection of the paint caused some rifts between my husband and my daughter.  My daughter wanted to use something called Zinsser primer because one of the rooms in her house had been painted a deep forest green and another had been painted a deep midnight blue/black    My husband thought a good quality paint in a couple of coats would cover just fine.  The second thing we did was purchase tape to cover lighting fixtures, doorknobs, etc. then brushes and containers of different varieties and then rollers of different sizes.  Because only subflooring was present, and the house was empty, we didn't bother with drop cloths.
     We started with the bathrooms and the oddly colored rooms first.

Visual from:

          Next, I used a brush to cut-in on the walls at the ceiling, around windows, above baseboards at the lowest portion of the wall.  This allowed my daughter to come in with a hand roller and paint the large areas of the walls and ceilings.   Her boyfriend did the tough parts of painting the cathedral ceilings.  We ran into some real challenges in the bathrooms which had sheetrock problems, and needed repetitious repairs before painting could even be comtemplated.  Then, even when these areas were cut in, a normal roller was too large for ceilings or walls. A smaller roller had to be rigged.  When these were finished there was a lot of splatter in tubs and on toilets, and a lot to clean up. Additionally, the paint my husband selected, which was not Zinsser primer, did not cover adequately, and the bathrooms needed almost six coats.   The family room and the kitchen in this house are quite large and reaching the ceilings, even with a roller screwed on to a pole was difficult.  With others doing the tough large area painting, I went on to painting the interior of closets, painting baseboards, door frames, and the six panel doors with a semi-gloss paint and a brush.  In all, there is plenty of work to go around.


            My daughter is a smarter woman that I.  Rather than cleaning the rollers and brushes after each session, she would wet them additionally with the paint which was used on them,  and cover them with an airtight clear bag.  This meant she was spending less time washing up each day and some days could paint early in the morning, and then later in the afternoon also.

             My husband bypassed the Zinsser primer my daughter had requested because he thought it was more expensive.  It turned out that one coat of Zinsser primer would have allowed us to move on faster to the final paint color, and would have been cheaper in the long run.  She used Duron a latex matte paint on most walls.  She chose Valspar brand from Lowe's for the rooms which were becoming a color other than cream or white.  This paint performed well.  We used Sherwin Williams paint on house exterior doors and trim, and on the large outbuilding.    By far, the best paint brushes were the Wooster brand.  We used moderately priced rollers and supplies from Lowes.  Our daughter received a ten percent discount for some of these supplies from a coupon she received from her change of address packet from the post office.

            We also learned something else.  My daughter has been concerned about not using too much in terms of electricity before she is in the house. She had been turning off the air conditioning when we finished painting and were leaving.  She eventually found that this was a bad idea.  In Virginia, the air conditioning is needed in order to not only cool the rooms but to decrease the high humidity here which would allow the paint to dry !  We were surprized when we returned the following day to find the paint not fully dry. We lost a day while she ran the central air to cut all that humidity.

          As we left that day we spied a doe right near the pond who has evolved into being a frequent visitor. We have concluded that she too lives at our daughter's house.

This is help in selecting types of paint:

Other great information on interior house painting:

Our final hints:

Don't be in too much of a rush. More spills and more clean up will take even more time.  Don't overdo. I am not accustomed to having my hands over my head steadying a fairly heavy paint soaked roller painting a ceiling. I pulled muscles in my chest and upper arms and this is slowing down my participation.  Last, remember that any color you select is darker when it's dry and on an entire wall.  Think about getting a paler yellow or a paler gray than you might want in a store that is lit with fluorescent lighting. Last, make it fun. This is not only a lot of work, but it's probably our final step in the "launching" of our daughter. This should be a special memory for her, and for us also. Our princess has her own castle !

     When the painting is done, we move on to wood floors throughout all of the home but the kitchen and bathrooms.

Make Time for Parties with Friends


A close friend invited my family and I to an evening garden party yesterday.  It was to be an end of Summer evening party and a farewell and best wishes party to their daughter who will be going to the United Kingdom to complete her Master's degree at a wonderful university there.  I had planned to bring the entire family, but yesterday, my own daughter was grieving the sudden death of a friend, and had a migraine, and my husband offered to stay with her.  Two of my sons were otherwise scheduled.  By the time the evening party began, I didn't feel much like going, but I felt it was important to support my friend, and so both my eldest son Adam and I attended.    It was a lovely event.  I am very fond of my friend's daughter, and she has earned such a wonderful opportunity.  As exciting as living in Scotland will be, it will still be an adjustment, and it will take her away from her close friends and from her very loving parents, from her boyfriend, and also from her brother.  Still, this is why we raise our children.  They must go into the world, and make use of the opportunities they choose. Nights like these are like the gravy of life. They are celebrations of why we do, everything we do.


  It was wonderful to meet my friend's daughter's roommates and her friends from the college from which she has just graduated. They were all intelligent, reasonable and gifted people, and speaking to them, I got a hint of the idea that the world might be in good hands after all.   My friend is the consummate hostess, one of those rare people who is comfortable with all people, entertaining in all situations and also, what we used to call, "a hostess with the mostest."    The food was not only excellent and varied, as were all the drinks, but the conversations and gatherings and music were so good that I wound up eating very little ! There was a disc jockey and good music, two large screen televisions in the house where people took turns watching their favorite teams playing football. There were also a couple of croquet games under way.
      This evening was a reminder that as hard as we all work, we must make time for friends, for shared food and drink, for gatherings, conversation, and laughter, because over all, the entire journey is just too short.