Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for October, 2014

“That’s it!” I said to Bob this morning while watching the Breaking News Conference out of Dallas on CNN. This could be your real retirement plan, become a disease detective!

We turned up the sound as Dr. David Lakey confirmed that the first case of Ebola contracted inside the US tested positive in their Austin lab, and that they didn’t want to give his/her name at this time. As reporters questioned Lakey, we learned it was a health care worker who took infectious disease precautions, and not someone who treated their patient from Liberia, Thomas Eric Duncan, at his first fateful trip to the ER – when he was sent home with antibiotics. Duncan has since died.

So now we have our first case here in the US, like Spain, a provider is sick with Ebola. And it wasn’t the janitor who cleaned up the ER room when they first thought Duncan had a cold; when the travel history the triage nurse obtained never made it back to the doctor.

Cue the Mystery Detective music. Our family and friends have always thought Bob was the medical oracle. When signs and symptoms just didn’t make sense, when people were getting the run around from doctors, they would tell Bob their story and the sky would clear. He could somehow always make sense out of a complicated medical scenario. He is our very own Dr House!

But of course I’d rather he do some medical school teaching, or even golfing, rather than run around the world trying to solve real-time medical mysteries. Even though the CDC is probably hiring right now. Here are the facts, and only the facts about Ebola: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/

In my dystopian view of the crisis, I can see the GOP blaming this outbreak on Obamacare. I can see the National Guard putting up a fence around Dallas, and I can see some crazy militia taking up arms. As soon as the TX Health Resources guy told people of Dallas not to panic, while ambulances are currently being diverted from that Presbyterian Hospital, I just knew people were going to panic. But let’s get real.

“The Ebola epidemic has killed 3,431 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia; it has killed one in the United States.” http://mic.com/articles/100618/one-powerful-illustration-shows-exactly-what-s-wrong-with-media-coverage-of-ebola

So if we can keep some sense of perspective about this whole business, we’ll be alright. If we remember that yet another child in Michigan has died from enterovirus D68, that this upper respiratory infection is something we really need to wash our hands about, we may not panic about Ebola. “Enterovirus is very common, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimating 10 million to 15 million infections each year in the United States.” http://edition.cnn.com/2014/10/11/health/michigan-enterovirus-68-death/

“…D68 is a particularly virulent strain of this respiratory virus. So far there have been 691 cases of enterovirus D68 in 46 states and the District of Columbia;” six patients who died had the virus strain. It mostly affects children with asthma, or compromised immune systems. And like Polio, there can we some paralysis associated with its symptoms. Enterovirus-D68--EV-D68-jpg-1

Oh, and remember to get your flu shot!

Read Full Post »

…this video contains profanity.”

If you happen to be one of those people, you know the kind that think feminism isn’t an issue anymore, that’s it’s been taken over by Lesbians, that it’s so over, well think again. Did you hear the news this morning about the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella? Apparently he thinks women in his company should just trust in Karma. Don’t ask your boss for a raise ladies, just trust in The Man Karma to make it happen.

Caitlin Moran doesn’t trust anybody to make her life happen, except herself. She’s an irreverent comic, a Times UK columnist and a best-selling novelist who also happens to be a die-hard feminist. Not exactly sure when she first caught my attention, but it may have been a brilliant essay about why safe and legal abortions should be part and parcel of every country. Her writing spares no one. Her latest book, “How to Build a Girl,” is a coming of age tale:

“I want to be a self-made woman. I want to conjure myself out of every sparkling, fast-moving thing I can see,” she declares, “I want to be the creator of me. I’m gonna begat myself.” First, she’ll change her name. This, then, is how to build a girl: find a cause; identify your image; let nothing stand in your way.” http://www.npr.org/2014/09/29/350891370/novelist-caitlin-moran-wryly-shows-how-to-build-a-girl

In this Youtube interview, and don’t forget she might swear, filmed last month in Canada, she lets it all hang out, literally. She admonishes girls to do three things regularly: 1) go on long, country walks, 2) masturbate frequently, and 3) start a revolution! You can see where this video is going with its warning. She snorts when someone asks her the age-old question about childcare, and asks does anyone ask a man interviewing for a job about childcare? Then gamely suggests that editors should make male columnists write about childcare.

Moran’s pearl of an idea is that in order to change our patriarchal culture we have got to use Art – writing, media, painting, film – to make it Cool. Marching around with placards and petitions, arguments at town hall meetings are all well and good, but once we see Dr Who kissing the bisexual Captain Jack Harkness, well then the younger generation says that’s alright! On our side of the pond, I think Ellen DeGeneres’ show is partly responsible for the fast pace of the marriage equality movement.

Moran wrote her book about girl-building because when she was 16 she wished she’d had a book like this. Today, a 17 year old girl won the Nobel Peace Prize.  Malala Yousafzai.

Pakistani child advocate Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the face for believing that girls should have every right to an education as boys, has certainly let nothing stand in her way. Shining her light on the deplorable conditions of child slavery and work in her country, she has started a revolution! Malala is deliberate in her cause, even as a Pakistani womens’ rights lawyer was executed by her government last week. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-29564935

So as headlines like, “Mother of Three Heads up BBC”  are still cranked out by old white men, and an American CEO can tell his female employees they should not ask for a raise, the popular media backlash to Western corporations is telling. We are all laughing, Isn’t that funny? But in Malala’s world, the Muslim world, women are not laughing. “Overwhelming percentages of Muslims in many countries want Islamic law (sharia) to be the official law of the land, according to a worldwide survey by the Pew Research Center. But many supporters of sharia say it should apply only to their country’s Muslim population.” http://www.pewforum.org/2013/04/30/the-worlds-muslims-religion-politics-society-overview/

Just try to imagine if that “17 (18,19??) Kids and Counting” crazy Quivering Christian movement were the law of our land. I know, I’d get pretty profane and stop laughing too.

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Have you heard of the saying, “Don’t feed the cat?” Literally it refers to the alley cat who comes to your door, meows and looks starved and miserable but cuddly too, and so you give it some food. Just a few bites of your leftover fish maybe. This would be a bad move if you don’t like or want a cat in your life, because soon enough you’ll be hauling said cat to the vet and setting up a nice, cozy bed by the fire for her. She will rule the roost; you will own a cat.

Well, I’ve been thinking about this as it relates to our country’s policy on kidnapping. Like Great Britain, we don’t pay ransoms. We are not feeding these cats so to speak. The sheer outrage over the latest beheadings of American and British citizens has caused us to once again go to war – and not with a country. With a bunch of highly organized jihadists who would like to claim a stake of sand in the desert as their own, to rule with their own biblical/koran-like laws. And the reason we say ISIS and our government says ISIL is telling.

Is it ISIS the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or is it ISIL the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant? But as we learned from reading Gertrude Bell, nomadic cultures do not have borders. They roam freely according to the season and their history – borders were artificially drawn by the British when they left their Empire to the sands of time. And so our President has tagged this terrorist group with an “L” because the Levant is more fluid and denotes their mission if you look at their name in Arabic:

In Arabic, the group is known as Al-Dawla Al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham, or the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.The term “al-Sham” refers to a region stretching from southern Turkey through Syria to Egypt (also including Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan). The group’s stated goal is to restore an Islamic state, or caliphate, in this entire area. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/06/18/isis-or-isil-the-debate-over-what-to-call-iraqs-terror-group/

al-Sham is translated into English to mean the Levant. It’s sounding a little more treacherous now, isn’t it? And I remember listening to an NPR piece about how European countries may say they are not paying for their kidnapped citizens, but their diplomats negotiate deals that fund certain Islamic charities and they launder money back to terrorist groups in this subversive, back-door way. Which is why many German and French hostages have been released over the years, and our people are not.

“Since 2003, at least 68 Westerners have been kidnapped in the vast Sahara.” http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-29409361 When I read this BBC article I was shocked, not just by the numbers, but also to think my BFF’s daughter had worked for the Peace Corps in Mali and lived with a Tourig family. Aid workers, tourists and journalists are pawns in this senseless slaughter. And money talks, money funds their ammunition and their “soldiers,” Western money helps them to kidnap more Western citizens.

We may not be feeding the cat, but other countries are. Two Million per person! In Africa hostages are discounted, they were asking 10M for James Foley in the Middle East, although they may have accepted 5M…

“…Ransoms totalling at least $30m (£18.3m) have been paid since 2008 in connection with these kidnappings and that the going rate for a single Western hostage in the region (Africa) is now about $2m (£1.2m). Most of these hostages were citizens of countries that are believed to have paid ransoms….at least five Spanish, four Italian, two Canadian, two Austrian, two Swiss and two German hostages have been taken. Of this group of 17, one died of natural causes in captivity and the rest were released unharmed. Nearly all of them were aid workers or tourists.

It’s not fair, terrorist groups get 30M to fund what they do best, terrorize people, which creates that insane feedback loop of more and more kidnappings. And for those who don’t pay, a beheading on Youtube. I’m not a diplomat, and I have no idea how to stop this problem, except that maybe building schools, educating girls, and providing access to water, sanitation and basic health care needs might go further than drones dropping bombs. Maybe leaving Iraq and leaving Assad to his own devices, helped to create these black/flag/waving/zealots; but certainly, now that they have advanced to the edge of Turkey, we have to do something.

I’m writing this as I gently remove my Grand Cat from my laptop. It’s a good thing I love cats.   IMG_1263

 

Read Full Post »

This morning I have chain saws in my woods. We’ve hired a man to do what Bob used to do all the time in Windsor, MA, cut down trees.

Except these trees are not for fire wood to be used in our stove, no this time around we installed a gas burning fireplace. We’re felling only the dead trees around the house. Now when Bob gets into the hot tub and there’s a strong west wind, I won’t worry he may never get out! We are seven years down the road from carving out this serene spot in the forest, time enough to know which oaks will live, and which are gone.

And speaking of “gone,” should I see David Fincher’s “Gone Girl?” I’m conflicted since I love a good murder mystery, however I didn’t read the book. Yes, I am part of that small minority of women who didn’t, and I’m not sure why.

Maybe because the idea of someone going missing is anathema to me, and it’s also hitting close to home with our own missing UVA student, Hannah Graham. We have had too many girls disappear in this college town. The FBI has traced evidence, presumably DNA, from Jesse Matthews who is the last person seen with Hannah, to the Morgan Harrington case; which is also related to a rape in Northern VA.

I would not be surprised if we hear about more charges in December, when his hearing is scheduled. This is the hot topic around town. One woman told me had such a sweet demeanor, and then we hear he was a suspect in 2 other college rapes that were never prosecuted. I saw many state police cars parked on the side of the road yesterday, troopers with sticks were walking up and down Barracks Road, past grazing cows near Ivy Farms, an area we lived in when we first moved to town. Helicopters and drones are searching for Hannah. A multinational media circus has taken over the Historic Downtown Mall. There is a $100,000 reward for information leading to her safe return. And yesterday we heard this plea from Hannah’s mother:

“Somebody listening to me today either knows where Hannah is, or knows someone who has that information,” the mother, Sue Graham, says in a video released by the city of Charlottesville, home to the university. “We appeal to you to come forward and tell us where Hannah can be found. Please, please, please help end this nightmare for all of us,” she continues. “Please help us to bring Hannah home.” http://edition.cnn.com/2014/10/04/justice/virginia-hannah-graham-case/index.html

I cannot imagine how her mother is standing, the pain of not knowing must be unbearable. On this too beautiful Fall day, may her family find  grace, courage and healing during this not knowing time.    IMG_1220

 

Read Full Post »

There’s been much ado about something. The Director of the Secret Service, Julia Pierson, resigned, after being grilled by Congress and then skewered by the media. http://edition.cnn.com/2014/10/01/politics/secret-service-director-resigns/ How much did she know and when did she know it? These are always the two troubling questions surrounding Beltway Business.

We all watched President Roosevelt get shot and continue speaking during Ken Burns’ week, and some of us have lived through that horrific week in Dallas, watching President Kennedy’s motorcade again and again. Hoping beyond hope we’d wake from a nightmare. And then we had that close call with President Reagan.

We would all like to think our home is our castle, surrounded by an impenetrable symbolic moat. And the White House, why it must have many layers of defense – if not a real moat, fencing, dogs, Secret Service Agents patrolling the perimeter, right? Which is why of the series of bungles leading up to Pierson’s resignation, one breech seemed pretty lame.

I get that gunshots may have sounded like a car backfiring.

I could believe that a security guard might slip into an elevator with POTUS

And how many people have jumped the White House fence? 16 people over the last five years!

But the guard dogs. Now that was my last straw; not the elevator or the fence jumper. It was rumored that there was an incident with one of the highly trained attack dogs and our First Family’s dog, Beau. Supposedly the dogs were not patrolling because somebody asked that they be muzzled and kept in a certain area…Now I would agree that Beau should be the top dog IN the White House. But outside, in the Rose Garden and on the vast Lawn, that should be the K9 moat. Keep Beau on a leash, or make a secure run for him on a side portico – allow the guard dogs to work! Release the hounds!

Our guard dog has her work cut out for her. The mountain manse has been invaded by an attack cat, the lovely Ms Uli! Ms Bean is being hunted by tabletops and by windowsills, it’s a virtual Serengeti in here. And we’re doing what every normal pet owner knows to do, we’re letting them duke it out. Eventually, one or the other will become top dog/cat, and that will be that. I’m betting on my pretty little Grandcat, who thinks she’s a tiger in her mind.  IMG_1187

 

Read Full Post »

Imagine where you were and what you were doing in 1970. I was finishing up college in Purchase, NY. while my first husband commuted to work in NYC. SUNY required a dissertation, so much of my time was spent driving to the Hartford School for the Deaf in order to test their students. I was only 22 and didn’t know yet we’d be divorced very soon. My single connection to nature in our little apartment was a cat I had rescued from the school, an Abyssinian I named Minnie Mama (instead of Minnie Mouse) because she promptly delivered six kittens.

Today the World Wildlife Fund WWF has issued a call to arms. The population of wildlife on this fragile planet in the past 40 years has decreased by half. http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/wildlife-populations-halved-last-40-years-by-human-consumption-degradation-1467806

“The biggest recorded threat to biodiversity globally comes from the combined impacts of habitat loss and degradation, driven by unsustainable human consumption,” the report said. “The impacts of climate change are becoming of increasing concern.”Other factors that contribute to the populations decrease are the presence of invasive species, pollution, and diseases.The main threats to freshwater species, which have suffered the biggest decrease, are habitat loss and fragmentation, pollution, and invasive species.

It’s rather frightening to think that since the 70s, we’ve lost so many species. In other words, in our lifetime; it’s been on our watch and it seems somebody wasn’t watching. Of course it is guns and butter. Human population is exploding and we’re not just increasing our carbon footprint, we’re denuding habitat. But yesterday I took heart with a TED talk about “Rewilding” in the Yellowstone National Park.

So to watch the Youtube talk, you’ll have to click on over to the WordPress site. In a nutshell and not quite so eloquently as George Monbiot who advocates for “…the large-scale restoration of complex natural ecosystems,” he relates the story of reintroducing wolves in to the Park in 1995. Most thought we’d lose some species since they are such vital predators. But instead, nature did something truly grand. After a 70 year wolf absence, deer had grazed away most vegetation; now of course the wolves did kill some deer who were already overpopulating the Park.

But they learned to avoid the wolves by steering clear of fields, valleys and gorges. And you thought deer were dumb? This allowed the vegetation to grow, which brought in migrating birds and rabbits, beavers and hedgehogs…well you get the picture. Valleys became forests. Ecosystem engineers were fast at work! What happens next is truly amazing http://www.ted.com/talks/george_monbiot_for_more_wonder_rewild_the_world

“Rivers changed in response to the wolves.” 

This morning I watched a family of six deer graze through my shade garden while I showered. First the fawns come out of the woods, then the elders look me squarely in the eyes for a few minutes, and we decide to have an understanding. I keep Ms Bean in the house, and they keep feasting on my flora. What can I say? I think Buddha must have been a wolf. Buddha's new sister 001

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts

%d bloggers like this: