Thursday, February 28, 2013

Noticing Disturbing Trends

Empty houses don't stay this nice for long. It's surprising how quickly a house which is not being checked or maintained deteriorates.

   We live deep in the country where barns are common, and large acreage and forests are the norm. I mentioned this trend some time ago, but it is a trend which is continuing. When I make my weekly trips to pharmacies, or the distant trip to Sam's Club every couple of weeks, I have been noticing that more and more people are moving and leaving their homes empty.  Why does this happen ?  Well in many places, people disappear when they choose not to rent somewhere anymore. However, in our area, there are very few rentals, and so the homes being abandoned are not generally the rentals.  Sometimes people leave when they lose a job and find another one elsewhere, and could not sell their home. Homes are averaging a year on the market, and so sometimes people must simply move to another state, to a new job. They, in essence, abandon their home and their responsibility to pay its mortgage. Quite a few months later, the bank forecloses, and then makes attempts to sell the home.  You might think that this is a great way to pick up a house at a low cost, but it really isn't.  Our daughter spent a year visiting all the local foreclosures trying to buy a home here. What she found was that banks who often felt very stuck by having someone who owed two hundred and fifty thousand dollars on a home, were not at all likely to accept that the home they now own, has a roof leak and may now be worth about ninety-thousand dollars. Rather than cutting their losses, many of the banks see these sales as a chance to recoup losses.  The result are homes and farms which stay vacant for a long time and fall into significant disrepair, even if they were constructed within the past five years or so.  Our daughter finally found a home, but she did not purchase from a bank.  It is disturbing to note more and more people moving away, as they cannot pay mortgages on a home they once loved. The result is a county who charges taxes to someone, likely a bank, and then who finds that a property that was at one time assessed at a high rate, is now worth much less.  Our county has seen a consistent devaluation of many properties during this recession. Some of the luxury homes have been up for five years or more. The owners cannot take a huge amount less for them, because a large mortgage is owed. They simply cannot take less than the mortgage owed, because then the property cannot be conveyed to someone else, without the original mortgage being cleared. Locally, banks haven't been too willing to receive less than the mortgage amount, even by a couple of thousand dollars in order to convey the property to someone else, and get a loan which is in trouble off their own books.

This trained horse which is registration eligible is for sale for $800. in a county nearby. She is only five years old.

                The other trend which is happening here, concerns the animals.  In the past eighteen months, costs to feed our animals have doubled.  Cornmeal has skyrocketed in costs, as has hay and other staples for animals. My husband believes that it costs us five hundred dollars a month to feed all of our animals.  This trend has caused people who own horses to sell as many of them as they can.  It has caused people with alpaca farms to liquidate completely.  There are also many ads, where someone with farm livestock is selling their animals, pigs, calves, etc. for a particular price, but if you have a good home which meets their requirements, then they will make a gift of the animal to you. I cannot tell you how many Quarterhorses, Percherons, donkeys, or others have been offered to us free of charge recently. People simply can't pay feed costs, veterinary costs, farrier costs, etc.  Although I would like to get a miniature horse at some point, I cannot take any animal for which I don't have pasture and housing specifically arranged, and arrangements for equine veterinary care and farrier care. I am thankfully not aware of trends indicating that animals are being abandoned here.  Thus far, when people must leave, they have made arrangements for their animals.
           I have no idea whether my area is unusual or whether this is occurring in other rural areas across the country. We are told that an improvement in construction trends is being seen.  It hasn't reached here yet.  I hope things are better where you are.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Adventures with Bungees

( This storage shelf comes from )

                 You thought I was going to talk about the advantages of bungee jumping as they apply to preparedness ?  Well, I am not.  I am simply not that adventurous.   I also don't have the glorious shelves as shown above which have wonderful finished slats of wood in front so that nothing falls and shatters during an earthquake.   During the 5.8 earthquake, in 2011, a number of things from the pantry were literally thrown across the room.  Loyal readers will remember that a plastic jug of ketchup which I use to add a half a cup of ketchup to family sized portions of meatloaf before cooking, fell from the top of my refrigerator as it waited to be put away. When the earthquake hit, the jug of ketchup fell from the frij., ruptured sending ketchup to parts far and wide.  It looked like "ketchup carnage" !   The jug below is an exact replica of the one which met such a violent and unexpected end..


           Although all the ketchup was eventually cleaned up from everything everywhere, at a cost of numerous rolls paper towels and the loss of the ketchup itself,  I didn't want to repeat this with any other products,  like honey, Italian sauce, salad dressing, mint sauce. I think you get the idea.  I began to look at alternatives to keeping items on shelves more secure.
            My husband's first thought was to buy some flexible netting, with bungees on the edges, as is used over the shelves in boats or in the back of storage compartments in SUVs.

Bungee nets come in all sizes and can be very useful for holding things in specialized places.

         Unfortunately, I thought that the frequency by which we had to access many of the shelves, especially in the kitchen, made a bungee net cumbersome.  I did think that a bungee cord hooked on hooks placed at the front of each wooden shelf in the pantry might be enough to prevent falling of the items, while still allowing us to reach in and get what we need while cooking.  I should have known that my brilliant idea had long been conjured in advance of mine by Martha Stewart.   At least one of Martha's internet magazines has been advocating the use of bungees in securing storage, as you will see in the picture, gratefully borrowed from her, in the picture below.

( From Martha Stewart's companies )  In Martha's use of the bungees, she has wrapped them all around this metal storage shelving unit.  In my pantry, which has a door in the front, and walls on three sides, I only need to prevent falling forward when the door is opened , or during earthquakes, and so mine are only hooked in the middle of the of each shelf on each side.
                Following the earthquake, a lot of canned goods and medical supplies fell from the disaster supply room metal shelves.  These are a stainless steel industrial version of the shelves which Martha has used in the picture above. In order to prevent this from happening again sometime,  I used 36" bungees hooked in the middle of both sides of the front of each shelf.  Then I did the same to the back.  This left the top shelf and sides of the shelf uncovered, but I simply rearranged the articles there to be things which needed to be more quickly accessed and would not fall as readily as the areas which are bungee secured.  The system is working pretty well, although I do have a fortune invested in bungees now.  You can wait until they are on sale, or get them from a place in which they are discounted, like Harbor Freight.   (My husband calls them Harbor Fright, because my eldest son and I spend so much money in there when we go to buy something like solar lights and come home with a hundred dollars worth of other really well priced things.) You can either visit the store or use their website.
               One other important thing about bungees.  Some of these are made with latex rubber, and others are not. If you have a person in your family who is allergic to latex and latex products, you will need to read carefully and bring one home, and make sure that it is safe for your family member before you invest in others.  Since latex allergy can be developed at any time in a person's life, many hospitals, and our family as well, are not buying anything made of latex, and are replacing latex items with vinyl ones.

More information about latex allergy can be obtained by clicking this link:

 American Latex Allergy Association

Monday, February 25, 2013

Overcoming a Long Term Lightning Injury


   Close friends of ours know that one of our sons was struck by lightning, within one of our steel roofed farm outbuildings, about a year and a half ago.  It was within a few weeks of the 2011  5.8 earthquake, and we had a number of particularly bad rapidly occurring  thunderstorms with lightning at that time.  We also lost some old oak trees to lightning then also. The lightning strike event with our son, is the precipitating event for our blog series on lightning protection for houses, barns, and trees, and for our eventual hiring of a lightning abatement company, which we also discussed as a blog post.   I had asked our son to go down to one of the outbuildings and unplug one of the pieces of equipment there, in advance of a coming thunderstorm.  I told him the storm was coming in quickly.   He headed down there, and we all thought he had done this, and then returned to the house. My husband was taking care of animals in a large barn, also in advance of the storm, and when the storm rolled in very quickly, he was stuck in the barn for its duration.  The thunder and lightning were far worse than usual. I remember being up at the house and I remember that my heart was beating quickly.  There was lots of cloud to ground lightning and I hoped my husband would be safe in the barn.   My husband watched outside from the barn, and I watched from the house, as we saw a large bolt of lightning, hit the building where our son had unplugged the equipment.  I thought, "it's a good thing our son unplugged everything", and my husband thought, "It's a good thing no one was in that building !"   Just then, as quickly as the storm rolled in, it rolled out.  I wandered down to the barn and the outbuilding that had been struck to see if there had been any damage and to check on my husband.   While my husband asked me if I had seen the lightning strike of the far building, one of the garage styled doors opened, and it was our son who exited steaming ! He had been in the building when it was struck by lightning !   Actually, the entire inside of the wooden structure was steaming.  I started asking him why he hadn't gotten back to the house, and it appeared he couldn't hear me.  When he saw us, he told us that he couldn't hear, except for ringing in his ears, which he attributed to the loud crack and bang when the lightning hit the building he was in. Later we learned that he had come down to the building to unplug a few things, and that the storm blew in so quickly he was unable to walk back in time. He thought he would be safe remaining in the building.   After the strike he was as amused as anything else. I took his pulse, which was regular, and I called his doctor, who was unimpressed.  A glancing blow from lightning with a patient with a normal pulse probably means he is fine, and the hearing will come back.   The following day we noticed that our son's arms were burned as if he had received a bad sunburn.  He related that when he was stuck in the building he noted a loud bang and a bright flash.  He surmised that lightning had struck the steel roof of the building, and had grounded through the structures wooden beams which were copper arsenate treated.  He received a glancing blow from a lightning strike and believed himself to be very lucky.  A couple of days after, his arms were better and he went on a trip which had long been  prearranged, with a friend to Washington DC.  They walked a fair bit while they were there, and other than being a little tired, he seemed okay.  On his return, he complained of leg pain which he attributed to "walking a lot in DC".   This did not improve.  In fact, it worsened.  It took us a little time to equate the leg pain to the lightning strike, but eventually we did.  The year and a half which followed have consisted of severe leg pain with tremulous motion in the musculature in the legs which the neurologist calls fasciculations. Then, there were EMGs.   There is no evidence of any other neuromuscular disorder in play here. Numerous physicians feel that this leg pain and fine tremor syndrome relate directly to the lightning strike itself.   Over time, the pain and tremors have moved up the trunk and afflicted the arms occasionally also.  Our son's life at this point, centers on taking numerous medications for this, and seeing neurologists, his primary physician, and an anesthesiologist who specializes in pain management, who is known as an algiatrist.

               There is an entire medical specialty devoted to those who have been struck by lightning. It's called keraumomedicine.   Being struck by lightning isn't nearly as rare as I had once believed.  Many people each year, in Virginia and in other states and around the world are struck.  Statistically, 10% of them are killed, but many of them sustain injuries, which are occasionally permanent ones.

                  A percentage of those with lightning injuries may exhibit similar symptoms secondary to such a major assault on their nervous systems.  Many of them cannot fall asleep or stay asleep for very long.  Some of them have permanent eye or ear damage. Some have paralysis, and many suffer Depression. Some have some defects in cognition.   Some have memory deficits. Some have seizures. You can access additional information on lightning strike symptoms and additional treatment information by clicking this link in blue.

                 Our son's primary issue since the lightning strike has been difficulty sleeping, pain in his legs and fine involuntary muscular twitches, which contribute to his leg pain.  This has been severely limiting for him and has not yet responded very well to the pain management strategies from the algiatrist.

                  This week he began receiving acupuncture with a certified physician acupuncturist, and for several days he noticed an improvement.  The process involved the insertion of gold alloy pins into very carefully selected areas of one of his ears.  This type of acupuncture is known as auricular acupuncture.

I would have believed that this was largely placebo effect, but after the treatment, my son went to sleep in the car for an hour as I drove, something I don't think he has ever done.

                   Apparently, in auricular acupuncture, present day physicians and licensed practitioners use the auricle or outer ear for both the detection and treatment of certain medical issues. This is actually an ancient Chinese practice, but it was refined and expanded upon in the 1950s by Dr. Paul Nogier of Lyon, in France. This is a fairly safe and fairly non-invasive way to treat everything from pain, to addictions, hypertension to infertility using the ear as virtually a miniature map of the human body.  Certainly, this procedure takes experience, skill, and expertise, because ears are not standard, and because there is variability in them.  For most things, either ear can be used, but for the liver and the gallbladder, practitioners say that they can only use the right ear.   I would like to have thought all of this was hooey, except that it has been more successful in the last three days, than Vicodin, so this nurse is having her horizons expanded.  This is information on Auricular Acupuncture from the National Institute of Health.

The process was very interesting, and made me wonder why this wasn't attempted first.

                  Today, my son had the second acupuncture treatment.  Interestingly, of all the medications and the TENs unit  the neurologist, the pain management physician, and his primary physician tried, I think the acupuncture was most effective.  It's still early in the course with this, but I wanted to let friends know about auricular acupuncture, what to expect, and that it is, or can be effective.

Our prior series on the various aspects of Lightning Abatement can be found at:

On pain management following lightning strike or pain management for chronic pain of other causes:

On lightning injuries which occur more commonly than people realize:

On the necessity for protecting key trees from lightning strikes on farms, fields or other properties:

Our experience in hiring a top lightning abatement contractor for our farm and its outbuildings.

A discussion of the hazards of lightning.

Information on auricular acupuncture:

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Many Gifts of Animals

These are Sebastopol geese.  These charming geese were indigenous to the area which is now considered Ukraine.  They are also known as Danubian geese because of their abundant number in the environs of the Danube River.  They were originally domestically bred for their down feathers for pillows and blankets.  A female produces about 35 eggs a year, which make fabulous family sized omelets when combined with cheese and chopped onion.

  We do a lot of discussion here on a lot of serious subjects.  Medical issues, social issues, hazards, preparedness issues all dominate here.   Once in awhile, I think we should sit back and appreciate some of the wonders we have on Earth that are available for us to enjoy as pets, and in terms of what they can bring to us in terms of eggs,  milk, cheese, fiber, and sometimes meat, as well.  Animals and particularly farm animals are incredibly diverse.  With challenges in the economy, a great many dealers of animals are making starter herds of various creatures available at prices which are a good deal more reasonable than they have been in the past.   If you reside in a rural area or one zoned to permit certain animals, this may be time to consider  Today, we will consider, and appreciate a wide variety of species of animals.  This is the first in a series of a couple of posts in appreciation of farm animals.

These are Dorset sheep.  This sheep is not only kept for its fleece, but because it has two lambing seasons per year, and this results in rather prolific lambing.

This is a small donkey.   A young donkey is actually considered a foal.  Donkeys come in a variety of sizes and types, and if treated well, can have a lifespan of as much as 50 years.  Donkeys can be convinced to do different types of work unless, of course, the donkey perceives what you are trying to do as dangerous.  They are cautious and loyal animals.

This is an Icelandic sheep.  This breed tolerates cold weather extremely well.  Some people use these for milk and cheese, though most commonly for wool and meat. Like goats, sheep can be used to keep down certain grasses and avoid mowing.

This is a barred rock rooster.   Roosters can be excellent defenders of your hens when you choose to free range them.

This is a beloved family dog.   Dogs are not only excellent companions and comforts for us, but they hear much better than we do. They know when something is wrong with one of our other species of animals.  They can hear changes which may lead them to warn us of an impending earthquake.  They can notify us of strangers.
Cats are intelligent companions.  Some of them are also excellent on a farm in limiting the number of mice which can find their way into feed stores for the other animals.

We are blessed to have so many types of animals available to us on Earth.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Why Would I Need a Gun in America ?

           I first heard about this case from my good friend and self described country curmudgeon, Gorges Smythe.    Gorges is a highly intelligent person who writes a common sense blog, called Gorges' Grouse.    He claims to be "a voice grumping in the wilderness" when I think he is a regional dispenser of common sense.  When you get a chance, please check out his blog. On many levels it's worth some time spent there.

           The twenty-eight year old man below is Yusuf Ibrahim.  I feel very sorry for anyone else who shares this name right now, as it is a fairly common Muslim name.   Yusuf had two male roommates with which he is reported to have shared a home.   According to the contents of a New Jersey State Police Press Release, Yusef Ibrahim is alleged to have shot both of the men, who were in their twenties, at close range.  Then he decapitated them, and removed their hands, and buried different body parts in different graves.  Of course, in America, at least for now, people are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.  Yusuf Ibrahim was apprehended while driving the white Mercedes Benz of one of the victims. Why would Yusuf do such a thing ?     Well, apparently his roommates were Coptic Christians.

        I deplore any type of violence against ANYONE.   Muslims should be free to worship as they wish. Jews should be free to worship as they choose, and Christians as they choose, and so long as Pagans don't indulge in human sacrifice, I am fine with them too.   Most of us start to have difficulties when any group thinks they have the moral obligation or the right to freely execute others, of their own, or of another faith.  I have trouble with the teachings of Hitler, and I have difficulties with people like Yusuf Ibrahim who mistakenly believe that their faith requires them to decapitate others.

        Could it be that Yusuf was emboldened by the encouragements to Muslims offered by President Obama ?    Could it be that extremist Muslims are feeling comfortable executing Christians because of the soft attitudes toward Bengazi on the part of the Obama Regime ?    Could it be that people like Yusuf Ibrahim were emboldened by the fact that an attack on a Muslim in the US gets coast to coast coverage, and this story hasn't seen a lot newsprint ?   Would it surprise anyone if terrorist Muslims felt encouraged in the present climate ?

          I don't know about anyone else, but if Muslims or anyone else are targeting Christians, I don't want the president going around talking about taking our guns or limiting our access to them.  If extreme Muslims are executing Christians in New Jersey and then decapitating and desecrating them, then I think I want to carry my weapon for self defensive purposes, wouldn't you ?

         With this in mind, lets contact our Congressmen and Senators and ask them not to restrict our access to firearms.  Meanwhile, lets hope our president doesn't find an angle by which to pardon our friend Yusuf below, or give him citizenship if he doesn't already have it, or perhaps a hundred thousand dollars in student loan money via FAFSA for a Phd in chemical engineering which he might not use for altruistic purposes !

          Americans need to have weapons because our own government won't or can't defend us.   Better a gun in our hand, than a SWAT team on the phone.

This is 28 year old Yusuf Ibrahim, who chose not to go to school, learn and trade and make a success of himself, but to decapitate other human beings and desecrate their bodies.

This is Yusuf with his new haircut and his orange clothing courtesy of the prison system in the State of New Jersey.

This is Yusuf in court with his attorney Elizabeth McPhillips.   This time he is answering to a robbery charge.    ( Photo:The Jersey Journal )

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Long Term Results of "Dumbing it Down"

Our country's deterioration began by being okay with misspellings.

WHO made the chili ?


  When I was a child, both my parents unceasingly called my attention to misspelled words or poor grammar in our daily lives.  It didn't matter if this was a fruit stand, or a television program, they wanted me to know that something was spelled incorrectly.  My initial response to this as a young person was generally, "Who cares ?"   Is there going to be a spelling test afterward ?  Will points be lost somehow ?   My parents explained that when a television program misspells, misuses or mispronounces words, that this causes other people to do the same, and that in the long term this erodes our language.  At nine, this just didn't seem to be much of a problem to me.
              As I aged and entered my teens my parents were concerned about the general education of those within the US.  When we shopped, no one could deduct 10% or 20% from something without going through a protracted process with their cash register, and even then, they couldn't get it right.  I didn't care.  After all, a job at the Newberry's was not rocket science.  Who cared if the sixteen year old behind the cash register couldn't do math ?   All he really needed to do was count change.
              In my twenties, I graduated from college, married, bought my own home, and began to have children.  My parents continued to lament on how people might have a degree in a particular subject, but that they weren't well educated across the board.  Many didn't know even basics of literature and science, and a lot of people in the eighties didn't know the first thing about geography or history.  Even though I was beginning to notice this, my response was pretty much that, we did, and this would stand us in good stead. If most people lacked a broad education, and we had one, then we would do, oh well.
             Of course, like most people, as I grew, I have found that my parents are much brighter people than I imagined them to be when I was, perhaps nine.  All of the things they worried about when I was a child have come to roost as big problems.  Political correctness has reached a point at which we can't communicate clearly in the workplace for fear of offending someone in some way.  General public education has deteriorated to such a point that high school graduates might, or might not be, functionally literate.   Many people can't speak clearly enough to be understood, and don't know enough vocabulary to make themselves understood, without dipping into swear words.  People with degrees might know their subject, or they might not.  A new mechanical engineer might be able to function at his first job, but he also might not.  A physician, might be adequate in family practice, but might not be able to better the child on "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader ?"   I meet Phds all the time who are functionally inept in anything else besides their own field, and some, who aren't stellar in their own subject.
             My parents had a point.  The thirty to forty year stretch of time when people didn't need to have decent handwriting, or didn't need to write clearly or convincingly, has left its mark.  Many people can't write a letter, even coherently enough to complain about a product or a service.  Many people, don't know who the president of the US was during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  They think we have 56 states.  They think Canada is a US state.  They think that Russia is a communist country.
              I am different from my contemporaries only in that I have very clear memories of being three, four, five and onward.  I remember when a US high school graduate was a person whose education actually permitted them to go to a company, read the orientation notebook and begin to do a job, which resulted ultimately in a career which supported a family and bought them a house.   I remember when a person in college had to study in order to remain there.  I remember when a Phd was something rare, and when there was nothing you could ask them that they wouldn't have known something about, or could have ventured an educated guess.
              My parents were right.  The erosion of our language, how it's spelled, and it's meaning, over time resulted in a laziness of communication, of functional precision, and eventually in critical thinking.    Without critical thinking, our nation was ripe for someone whose plans for it did not make sense and would not be workable.  This is how the present regime was elected.
              I am sorry that I wasn't bright enough to understand the implications of making the standards so low when I was a child.  I suppose if I had understood, I would not have been in a position to improve the situation anyway.   I did do my best as an instructor to keep the standards high, and help my students meet those standards, rather than "dumbing down the course material" whenever I could.
             We now live in a nation which may not be able to compete with all of the other world nations.  It seems to me that many of the other nations have also fallen into sloppy writing, sloppy definitions, and imprecise work.   How long will it take to repair forty years of sloppy education resulting in a largely ineffective workforce ?     Because half of our citizens can't read or think well enough to borrow a presidential candidate's books from the local library and to read them, we now have a president who issues executive orders rather than interfacing with Congress.  We have a president who thinks the Constitution is an archaic document which has outlived its usefulness. We have a president and a regime which thinks spending money will help to relieve our nation's crushing debt.   Yes, it did start with sloppy spelling, and an inability to write, and it's ending with an inability of half of the American people to apply critical thinking skills.

You first !

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Government Seizure of Weapons or Harassment ?


   I know a fair number of SWAT members and varietal law enforcement members in Virginia.  For the most part, our law enforcement is very good and very ethical in Virginia.   We do have the recent case of Brandon Raub, the Marine who was held in a mental facility a great distance from his family, on a mental health hold when both the FBI and Chesterfield Police decided that his private Facebook page was apparently too critical for their tastes, but he has been released, and this was definitely a Virginia aberration.

            This week I came upon an account I had hoped was not true.

This is a personal account of how the Department of Homeland Security confiscated the guns of a respected FFL (Federal Firearms Licensed dealer)

             For those of you who wish more information.  This is the news account of these occurrences from KRQE.

            This story is the personal account of FFL holder, Robert Adams.   Adams is said to be a highly respected FFL dealer who has special licensure which has allowed him to keep antique weapons.

We all need to keep careful watch on the actions of our government with regard to our Second Amendment Rights.

For those who wish to do the additional reading, I have collected links from other less moderate sources than I am, who voice serious concern.    If the points that Robert Adams makes are true, then our government not only owes him all his guns back, restitution for the antique weapon broken, expenses for the mess in his home, and an apology.   This is definitely worth watching.

Department of Homeland Security Raids Dealer Who Did Not Violate the Law
DHS Raid Home of Robert Adams

This is Robert Adam's Business Website

         I have no difficulty with our government doing what they are meant to do, but there are a number of elements of this case which are disturbing.   Please read.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Supportive Treatment of Viral Syndromes

An extra large hot lemon.   (Picture: )


   I can't blame super blogger Lotta Joy.  I have somehow come down with the same respiratory super plague she had.  I would like to blame her, because she is so much fun with which to trade barbs, but the only viral syndromes which come through the computer, afflict only those, not human beings. The computer also apparently has better virus protection than I do.
             Despite my influenza vaccine this year, I am the last person in my household to catch this lengthy plague. When I took one of my sons to the doctor this week, she assured us that this respiratory illness falls squarely "under the viral umbrella".   So. I would imagine, if things continue, that my son will recover but I will expire clutching a giant viral umbrella.  I must remember to thank my son's pediatrician for that mental image, before I go.  I took my seventeen year old son to the adolescent medicine physician because he was experiencing ear pain, and because ear pain and infection are probably one of the few things which really should be treated in anticipation of other complications.  About a day after sitting in the pediatrician's office, I came down with this.  Of course, only 60% of patients who receive an influenza shot are successful in avoiding influenza that year.  Since the day after the pediatrician's office visit, I have been intermittently febrile, which is nurse-speak for "with a fever".  This might explain my last post which attempts to be humorous, rather than informative.   Of course, with asthma and intermittent atrial fibrillation, I expect to have a rougher time than my son, who was able to eat Tombstone pizza today.  (Oh, the irony !)
             In influenza, there is sometimes value in antibiotics.  Some patients benefit from a carefully selected antibiotic in order to prevent superimposed bacterial infections which are more likely in those with chronic illnesses, pre-existing respiratory problems, sinusitis, or heart problems.  Most of the time however, physicians, in an attempt to keep antibiotics effective, and to avoid organism resistance, withhold antibiotics from viral syndrome patients.  This is fine with me, because I would rather that antibiotics work when I need them, rather than upset my stomach, when I really don't.

            For a few of us with viral syndromes, we will move into an infection which requires seeing a physician again, and at that time, she will prescribe the appropriate antibiotic.   However, the bulk of us will suffer and need to be treated with what is known as Supportive Care.

       By far, the most important element to supportive care in influenza is ensuring hydration.
Plain water is very helpful, but most patients take in more fluids if you can vary the fluids for them.  Water, alternated with gatorade, or even a little soda, fizzy or allowed to flatten, can also be helpful as it provides fluid, some sodium, and some phosphorus.   Hot fluids can be helpful too, especially with a sore throat.  I usually make something my family has long called a hot lemon.

It has been made with many variations including honey, but mine is:

One cup hot water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons sugar                  (or Splenda or Stevia if you are diabetic)

  This is helpful because it is soothing, it supplements vitamin C, and it provides enough sugar to keep the patient moving, but not really enough to coat the throat with sugar that it can use to grow bacteria.

Tea can be soothing, but cannot comprise too much of your daily fluids while ill because tea has a diuretic effect and will actually pull fluids from your body.  This is one of the times in which we wish to keep those fluids !

When most people tolerate fluids and are taking an adequate amount of them, they can progress to a soft diet.  Try not to eat anything which is easily inhaled or chokes upon, because when you have a cough, you are much more prone to accidental inhalation of food.   Some people like toast and soups, or maybe some tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich.   Watch the creamed soups because people with fevers sometimes cannot digest milk, and we do not wish to cause nausea or vomiting when you are ill already.
Oatmeal is also good on a soft diet.  You can advance your diet gradually as you see fit.  For children, move more slowly.

People who have the flu, and who are eating and drinking well, can consider using an anti-pyretic for comfort.   Acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be taken by those who are adequately hydrated.   It is probably not absolutely necessary for those with temperatures under 102 F determined orally, but I give it if they are hydrated because it a.) promotes comfort   b.) prevents the vomiting that some people get during fevers, which could furthur contribute to dehydration.       Some patients can use aspirin or ibuprofen, but these are harder on the stomach for some, and enhance bleeding for others and so this is a good time to default to the anti-pyretic or analgesic that your physician has suggested on a prior visit.     Children under 18, should not be given aspirin, unless specifically ordered by a physician for a specific purpose.   It should not be given during viral syndromes because of its association with Reye's Syndrome.

Most people improve very slightly day by day, and some have slight relapses.
If you or your family member deteriorate in the following manner during a viral syndrome, then you need to see your physician immediately or if not immediately possible, go to the nearest emergency room.

Symptoms which should trigger seeing a physician include:

* A change in level of awareness, including confusion or delerium.

* A fever above 102F or one which rapidly returns three or four hours after last dose (as this suggests
  an additional bacterial infection or perhaps even strep infection)

* Diarrhea or vomiting in a baby or a child.

* Dizziness on arising, or a marked increase in pulse between the sitting and standing position.
  (This may signal something called orthostatic or postural hypotension, which can accompany dehydration,.)

* An irregular heart rate in someone who did not have one before, or who is not being treated for one.

* Wheezing in a person who normally doesn't or who is not being treated for it.

* Blue lips in a child.  Crying without tears in a child or baby.  A sunken fontanelle in a baby.

* Dark or brown urine, which is a sign that this person is inadequately hydrated.

* Any other symptom which frightens you, as a parent, spouse, or friend of a person with influenza.

                My son's doctor was of the opinion that the viral infection she is seeing most often, which she believes has afflicted our seventeen year old son, lasts about eighteen days.  Eighteen days. I should live that long !

Prevention is best, if you can do this. ( Graphic: )

Medical Specialists We'd Like to See, Who Don't Exist Just Yet


   Having been a registered nurse for  all of my adult life, I always tend to see things in those terms.  Even when working as a writer or as am adjunct college instructor, I suppose I have always seen things analytically, first as a nurse, and then as whatever other hat I am wearing on that week.   Now that I have made it to the first year of middle age, I was thinking that I have more specialists now than I did at earlier junctures of my life.   I now have an electrophysiology cardiologist.  I have an internist. I suppose I still have a gynecologist if she remembers my name since I skipped a year, and I think they are like a magazine subscription, in that they don't seem to like your skipping a year.  I have an allergist-immunologist.  It occurs to me however, that I don't have all the specialists I need. It seems to me that with Obama-care coming in, I need to fix some longstanding issues once and for all, before health care, and the specialist networks we lucky Americans can sometimes access, decide to retire or buy ice cream stand franchises.  It also occurs to me that some of the specialists I need, don't even exist, just yet.
            Here are some of the new medical specialists of which I feel I might personally benefit.  I can just imagine hospitals with medical schools chomping at the bit to create these residency programs for new MDs.  Who knows, perhaps these are residencies which can be taught online. It seems everything else is today, whether it genuinely can be taught that way or not.

 Their definition follows:

1.   Bronchiatrist                        

  One who treats my asthma, and my bronchitis which develops when I have a cold, while simaltaneously treating my cat's behavior which periodically exposes me to cat dander, of which I am apparently allergic.

Pets who resemble my Susan and my Tosh, awaiting their appointment at the Bronchiatrist.   ( )

2.   Pastacologist  

  A gynecologist, usually female, who treats women who hope to be past their childbearing.  This gynecologist will run these tests  if you want them, but doesn't harass or harangue you about them when she realizes that all your family have died of heart rhythm disturbances, and no one has ever had breast or uterine cancer.   She is a pastacologist because in her specialty, people like are just past needing more painful mammograms or pap smears. Pastacologists are also responsible for birth control, and if you conceive while under their care, they owe you 100K. I have never liked the idea that normally the male physician  OB-GYN who normally provides birth control, actually profits when it fails.

This genuine gynecologist would be alright.  Remember, a pastacologist can't be too young.  (Photo:

3.  Gastrocountant     

  This is a medical specialist who treats you for stomach and intestinal disorders which result from nausea or gastritis which follows receiving the bills from other medical specialists.

Yes, she could be a gastrocountant, checking those bowel sounds !  (Photo:


4.  Chocolatrician     

 This is a board certified physician who, now that we know the true value of chocolate in terms of antioxidant potential, and heart health, as well as its use in emotional balance, assesses  whether you have enough chocolate in your diet to achieve and sustain optimal health.  Some of us may need therapeutic treatment several times a day with higher than normal doses in order to correct deficiencies.  Cadbury's is the name brand used for therapeutic use, with  Hershey's being the generic.

This would, of course, be a poster from a chocolatician's office.  ( )

5. Medascribologist        

  A Medacribologist is an exciting new medical specialist, which  I have just made up.   Their practice consists entirely of writing  notes for you should you be too sick to attend work, or perhaps not in the right frame of mind to attend. She will also write notes for your children should they be similarly indisposed.  She also will write renewals on prescriptions for things you genuinely need, while your primary doctor is in Barbados, Tristan da Cunha, or her kid's graduation from Harvard Med School.   Her practice  may occasionally extend to writing you a note to cancel or avoid invasive testing that other physicians have ordered, which she feels might be hard on your emotional or physical health. She might  write you a note in order to sidestep that endocscopy your doctor  has ordered, because you might not be in the right frame of mind to endure the necessary prep.

He fills out medical forms for any purpose.  Including receipts for IRS.  Yes, my vacation was medically prescribed !(Photo: ) 

6. Dementician        

  Finally, we all get a Dementician.  This medical specialist prescribes medications and computer games which help keep our intellects and short term memories in tip top condition for our ages. He or she makes sure that our fluid and particularly our electrolyte balance and nutritional state is such that any of the more obvious causes of the multiple varieties of dementia are being addressed. They make sure we are ingesting enough olive oil, as there is an association with olive oil ingestion and preservation of both intellectual function and memory. They might also prescribe some statins which theoretically could prevent amyloid plaques from depositing in other types of plaques in the brain, and leading to Alzheimer's Disease.   Should we ever actually descend into an actual genuine dementia, then she works with the mediscribologist to see that notes are written so that we can drive any way we wish, insult our relatives when necessary, and write obnoxious notes to politicians and our employers without negative fallout. This specialist should ideally not actually be demented themselves.

(Graphic: )

     If you have any other ideas for needed medical specialists, please write and let me know.  Since we will need to set up a website for the official board certification of these specialties, we better get cracking !

Gosh, all of these ideas are so inspired, I am surprized that I have not been requested to set up health care across the US on behalf of the Obama administration.  I am, after all, fully qualified, since I have a blog.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Revisiting the Concept of a Disaster Supply Room

This is not my basement, but this is the idea.  This particular basement comes from

     It is no secret that one of the rooms in my basement is a Disaster Supply Room or DSR for short.  (No, a DSR is not the most advanced nursing degree which will be required by all new nurses after 2018)
My DSR is a small room with wooden shelves all around the periphery of the room, and a locking closet.  You would think that having gone from a single emergency supply shelf in my first apartment, to an entire closet in the next house, to a large walk in closet for supplies in the suburban house before, that I would know what I am doing by now, in terms of design and set up.  In 2005 when we finally moved our emergency supplies into this new DSR, we ran out of space very quickly.  My original vision had been the locking closet for peroxide, and alcohol at the bottom, and over the counter (OTC) meds on the shelves above.  I planned to put evacuation kits, evacuation bedding, and other supplies on the shelves in the periphery of the room to be grabbed easily.  Then, I added a place for preparedness books. Afterward, I added a place for the Evacuation Notebooks, including medical evacuation notebooks etc..  After that, I added a place for communications equipment and it was full.  There was nowhere for bottled water, freeze dried or canned food.  With a large family there are lots of DSR needs.  I decided to keep the room set up as is, and to buy three of the very sturdy shelving units sold at Sam's Club which have wheels.   This allowed me to cluster them, and move them when I need to create an aisle through which to walk when I need something.  Now I have freeze dried food, some water, toiletries, and I keep some unopened veterinary oral meds there for our farm animals.

             The idea behind the Disaster Supply Room is that in an emergency, anyone could enter, obtain the emergency item they need, and then use it. It is therefore very important that it be orderly and preferable that it be inventoried, and the stock regularly rotated.

             In August of 2011, we had a 5.8 or 5.9 earthquake, depending upon which authority you ask, which was centered not too far from here.  Houses broke in half, two  schools, a middle school and a high school were eventually demolished as a result of the damage they sustained that day. Many houses were reduced to being worth only their land value, when the foundations were irreparably damaged.  Historical properties lost chimneys as if they were legos.   We were fairly lucky in that we had less damage than most people.  We built this home using a full basement with thick and tall walls made by Superior Walls.  This and a fair measure of good luck limited the damage we had.  We had no real damage to the house itself, although the well had slightly muddy water for a couple of weeks.  However, the pantry in the kitchen did throw contents to the other side of the room.(I apparently left the door unlatched that day)  A large  sealed plastic bucket of ketchup which came from Sam's Club which I use to add a half a cup of ketchup to a large meatloaf on occasion, fell from the top of the frij, rupturing leaving abundant ketchup far and wide. It looked like a crime scene !  This took time to clean up, but we were thrilled that the farm and it's outbuildings did not sustain more damage. I also lost an antique piece of cloisonne as it fell from the mantle.

I have multiple steel shelf units such as these which are filled and stacked against each other.  They can be pulled out sideways to remove or to load things we need.  There is an incredible amount of space in such a set up. Sam's Club also sells longer units than this, and some that do not have wheels for heavier articles. 

These are the size metal shelves I use in the center of the DSR, leaving a clear aisle to walk around them to access the items of the peripheral wooden shelves built in to the finished wall.  (Picture: )


            About this time, I was aware that things had fallen from some of the shelves in the DSR.  I was concerned about a lot of other things, and so I resolved to get back there later.  I have used some things from there since that time, but things here have been busy. Since the earthquake, we have built an additional animal storage building on the farm, so that everything animal can be in one space. I wrote two books, and we helped our daughter locate and clean up a home she bought as a government repossession. Let's face it.   I didn't really want to go through everything which had fallen down in some of the areas of the DSR.    This week I finally got to it.  I started by picking up all the things which had fallen on the floor from the Sam's Club metal shelves.  I found bottles of Apinol.  I found bottles of liquid soap. I found a large package of Omeprazole.  I found a six pack of D-Mannose. 

              A couple of hours later I realized what I had suspected originally, which is that although the heavier items remained secure on the built in shelves in the periphery of the room, the tall stainless steel shelves with wheels shook during the quake and many light items, packaged gauge, vinyl gloves, and all the aforementioned articles fell and many different places in the room. The only reason things didn't get destroyed, is that there was relatively little activity in that room, and therefore no one to inadvertently step on them.  In fact, until I got the room reorganized and the set up repaired, I have been stacking other large cans of freeze dried food elsewhere.
             The reason I wanted to relate this to all of you is that there is some learning that all of us can do here, myself very much included.

 1. To prevent things from shaking and falling from these tall steel wheeled shelving systems a la Sam's Club, if you have them,  simply buy whatever color and brand bungee cords you like.   On each shelf, front and back, select the size that will hold things securely when there is shaking, or even simple normal moving. Simply hook a bungee on each side to provide a stretched guide which prevents bottles and other items from falling forward off the shelf in the front. Do the same to the back.  These are simply unhooked if needed, and most times, they can remain intact when I collect something from the shelf.

2.  Try to stock more freeze dried food than canned.  The canned food does age and need to be used within 5-10 years and some of the freeze dried really is good for 25-30 years. Also canned food is being made with thinner cans, and some of these items I would not trust as long as 5-10 years.  Freeze dried food is also a lot lighter and so long as you have access to water when it's time to reconstitute all of it, freeze dried food is MUCH LIGHTER than canned when stored.  This has all sorts of benefits, including when it's time to rotate stock.

3. Place smaller medical supplies like wrapped roller gauze and elastic bandages in square plastic open topped baskets. This way, fewer things tumble out when you take one.

4. Make liberal use of freezer bags.  Many of these things store much better in freezer bags than they do in the boxes in which you bought them. They also occupy less space. I have fifty pairs of all different types of shoe laces, all in a freezer bag which takes up next to no space.

5. Group like things together.  This sounds obvious, but it doesn't always work in the manner in which you initially cluster.  I tried grouping all oral meds together, and all topical meds together.  What I found is that it worked far better to group things in like categories.  For example, I now have a shelf for everything related to cold and flu. This includes oral meds, and vitamin C, along with things like vaseline and Vick's vapo-rub generic.  In the old system, vaseline and Vick's would have been groups separately with topical medications, leaving someone searching through several different DSR regions, paper, topical, and in the closet for OTC meds..   Now, everything from masks, kleenex with lotion, etc. are all grouped together for the ease of the person, who might actually be ill while entering and gathering supplies for themselves.

6. Mark true emergency supplies differently.  I have a rack where I hook packaged Epi-pens,  Glucagon kits, Snake Bite Kits etc.  My family is very likely to grab emergency supplies and not so likely to go digging looking for some of the obscure things I stock, like the tool to remove rings when there is a hand injury.   Another area has cyalume lightsticks, for quick and easy distribution to the family.

       My next task for the DSR is to install some better lighting.  Presently, there are two bright lights in the tall ceiling in the finished room.  However in numerous parts of the room, where one might need to read tiny writing while making a selection, there are shadows as the supplies are stacked very high on metal shelving units.  I am thinking that LED lighting in chair rail fashion, around the periphery of the room might be an economical and safe way of lighting all the supplies when needed.   Tying up one hand while holding a flashlight while looking for a particular item, has not worked very well.

This is an example of the type of LEDs I plan to use in the room.  Mine came from Harbor Freight. These can be a big help in lighting up a DSR.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Sincere Condolences to Russia

Meteor over Russia today   (Picture from NY Daily News)
(Photo )

    Here in the US, we are somewhat lucky we did not get nuked this morning.   Some hours ago, on what is Friday morning over the Ural Mountains,  in Chelyabinsk,  in Russia, multiple meteorites screamed by, and the sky lit up in what looked like a nuclear blast.  Then, multiple loud explosions occurred.  The largest one caused a blast wave which damaged buildings and blew out windows for great distances.  I have reviewed eight dashcam videos of the event from Russia, and my first impulse would have been that this was a nuclear attack.  As of the moment of the writing of my own post here, just under 1100 people have been injured by the resultant blast wave.  Several news outlets have reported that the largest meteor was the size of a bus.
              We are being told that this is in no way related to the near miss of , the meteor which is to pass close to Earth later this evening, but I don't believe that anyone can know that certainly.
             I send condolences and best wishes to any of our Russian friends who were afflicted by this apparently natural, but very frightening disaster/phenomenon. I would imagine that people in Chelyabinsk are very shaken. I was shaken myself by simply watching a series of these videos.

Blast wave damage outside a zinc factory.   ( (Oleg Kargapolov/ Photo)

Viktor was injured by the meteor blast earlier today.  (Photo:
Viktor declined to provide his last name.

This is the General Meteor Situation Page

UPDATE: One day later, fifteen people from the region remain in hospitals as a result of the meteorite. One person remains in a coma.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Economy is Not Improving

In my area the panhandlers are white, black, occasionally Mexican and occasionally Asian. Sometimes they bring a dog, and once a couple brought their two children !  There are a disproportionate number of veterans who need to panhandle.  How do I know ?  Because sometimes I talk to them, and sometimes I feed their dogs, or bring them food.                    (Picture: )

    Judge Judy has a saying which is, "Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining !"
Yet this is what our federal government seems to be doing.   "I have created 3 million jobs" says Mr. Obama.  Where ?   Although my daughter was able to secure a job a year after graduating with honors from a university, she has both a full-time and a part-time job because this is what it takes to survive.  My son who graduated, also with honors from the same university has been unable to secure any paid employment whatsoever, and he graduated in 2010.  That's two and a half years ago.  One of my other sons used to work for his college while attending, but they ran out of funds and now his job as a supplemental instructor of mathematics is over.  Who needs math anyway ?  Most college students can't do higher math.   This is probably what the government thinks anyway.   Our son who came to us through adoption as a young teen, is now almost 18.  He also has no job, which would have been helpful in saving for a car, car insurance, and ultimately college.  Employers are closing, not opening.  I am told that things are better where we live, than in many other places.   No one at our house draws foodstamps, but I won't begrudge anyone who does and who needs it.  Our family used to provide to our local foodbank.  When we took monthly trips to Sam's Club we would buy an extra six pack  of the canned chicken, and canned chili six-packs there, and give it to the food bank.  We can't really afford to do that now.   Our electricity costs have jumped, as have our costs to register vehicles, repair them, buy oil, and car parts. Our food costs have skyrocketed, especially meat, milk and cheese and produce.  We provide our own eggs, but animal feeds have skyrocketed also  Our family's prescription medicines have also skyrocketed, in both overall costs and in terms of final costs to us. (Yes, I too was taught to use multiple words in writing, but skyrocketing is the correct word for all of these !)  Our homeowner's, car, and other types of insurance have also sharply risen, except life insurance.   Of course, according to the Obama Regime, there is no inflation.   More of that peeing on my leg, apparently.       Our property taxes and personal property taxes have stabilized.  Our payroll taxes have increased and my husband brings home seventy five fewer dollars per week, since the year began. My husband hasn't had either a cost of living or merit increase in five years. His company cannot afford to give them to anyone anymore.  My daughter just received a modest raise, and the increase in payroll taxes at the beginning of the year, not only ate it, but a little more also.
         More and more people are moving out of their homes and either in with family or to a small apartment closer to a city.  I can think of ten homes locally which will go up for foreclosure sale when the banks get around to it.   When they do, they are not that cheap, and sitting empty without heat, they are now damaged. One notable home has black mold, and should be bulldozed.  When I do go to town on a weekday, I am the only person in the store.  Store employees follow me around asking if they can "help me".   I usually know what I want and they are disappointed when I spend six dollars rather than the hundreds for which they were hoping.  We still know people who are losing their jobs.  We still know people who have been out of work for three years.  Even in our rural area, we have people who wait at the grocery stores with signs which say, "Will Work for Food. God Bless", or  "I am Ashamed to Need to Ask for Your Help. Anything will help".   In a neighboring county, the Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance prohibiting pan-handling.  (It's SUCH an eyesore, they said, and not good for the local economy or for real estate values.)   Is it any wonder that daytime home robberies are up substantially, including some in which only FOOD is prepared and taken ?    Oh yes, Mr. Obama. We have turned the corner and now the economy is improving.  I have only one thing to say to that. Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining.

To cheer you all:

This is Sarah Slean, who wrote this, played the piano, arranged  and conducted this uplifting piece,      "Amen"

You can buy Sarah's album at: 
Her albums are also available on iTunes and some of them on amazon.