Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Can't sleep

It’s 3 AM and I can’t sleep. I’ve been up, now, for about an hour and a half. I’ve cleaned 3 litter boxes, rinsed out cat/dog food cans for the recycling bin, partially loaded the dishwasher and have a load of clothes in the wash. Plus I’ve messed around on the computer.

I fell asleep on the sofa just after Chuck started and slept for an hour and a half. I was awake for awhile, watched part of Unanswered Prayers and fell back to sleep. Earlier today my plumber was waiting for me when I got back from my HBO treatment. The toilet was leaking. I thought it was the supply from the wall, but the tank was loose and he replaced the ball cock (?). I’d had a mysteriously leak under the kitchen sink early Sunday morning, but once I pulled stuff out from under the sink, put down a towel and bucket, the leak stopped and hasn’t restarted. Then there’s the mystery of the washing machine. Right before I went into the hospital, it stopped draining. It would run through all cycles but not drain. As long as I repeated the final cycle, it would drain. Extra step, but cheaper than buying a new washer. Then I had to stop using the permanent press cycle because it would blow a circuit breaker. Since I don’t have any “extra” money laying around, I chose to make do with this machine. Then Lowe’s or Home Depot advertised an energy efficient washer for Black Friday for only $249. What a deal. I figured I could swing that, but guess what? My old washer decided to work properly. No more water left at the end of the cycle, just like that! Either my plumbing/appliances are possessed or I have elves who are moonlighting as handymen. Guys, could you caulk all my windows, inside & out, to keep the damn ants from invading, please? Then my leaking back patio roof – could you get that fixed for once and all? Should I just leave my To Do list lying around, or just wish real hard?

I’m going to pitch the clothes into the dryer, finish loading the dishwasher and then try to catch a couple of hours of sleep before heading out to the hospital later this morning. Night All!

Sunday, November 28, 2010



Since Climate Change – and its cause - remains a big divide, mostly along political ideologies, I thought I would take a different tack on this. Why? I’ve continued to come across many folks I know that do not consider this a topic of much importance or even REAL. There are many greater, more knowledgeable minds out there whose facts and figures hold no sway over the reasoning and concern of these people and others. While that is not only disturbing to me, it saddens me. I have, however, come to the conclusion that the “normal” scientific arguments aren’t working in too many cases. Why not come at it from a different perspective? Personally, I see no reason not to plow ahead on clean, renewable energy and want to give you some reasons – other than Climate Change concerns – to reject our dirty, dirty energy sources.

The major sources of energy for the industrialized nations are the following: Coal, Oil, and Natural Gas. I am going to deal with each of them on an individual basis.


Many years ago I visited a former college friend who works as an engineer in the coal industry. The first time he was living in the midst of Kentucky’s coal mining area. Have you ever visited an area where coal is mined? If you haven’t, I would recommend it, especially if you think there is such a thing as CLEAN COAL. You will quickly change your mind. Everything looks bleak and dirty. Coal dust permeates and covers nearly everything. It is a perpetually gray world.

Coal is mined two ways: underground mines and mountaintop removal. No doubt you are aware of recent coal mining accidents, in the US, Chile, New Zealand and China. The men who work in the mines more often than not die from Black Lung, from inhaling that coal dust day in and day out. They come home in black face, with their clothes and shoes covered in it. It’s a hard life and, usually, a short one. Sometimes, mining is the only job available the men in these areas. It’s difficult for generations to escape from this life, not unlike slavery.

Mountaintop removal involves planting explosives to actually blow off the top of a mountain, which destroys anything and everything that once lived there – plants and wildlife. This is done because it is easier for us humans to remove the coal deposits and it’s safer for the workers. Of course, those in the coal industry claim that once the coal has been extracted, they RESTORE the ecosystem. Let me ask you this: if your home blew up (without you, your family or your pets inside), do you think you could restore it? Even if you rebuilt to the exact specifications of your previous home, you lost many things that could NEVER be replaced. Things like treasured family photos, your favorite chair, dishes, pieces of clothing, high school yearbook, etc. Creation is not within the power of humans, only Re-creation, an attempt to remake something that has and will remain lost forever. Most of us can move on, but those losses will remain with us. If we had the option to turn back the clock and avoid the loss, how many of us would choose that option? The previous ecosystem that existed upon those mountaintops can never be reclaimed and neither can the lives that were lost.

What about the waste from coal mining? Where does it go? Of course, it goes into the air and the surrounding water. Some rivers and streams are filled with it intentionally by Big Coal. Most coal ash waste is dumped into slurry ponds. Some blows away but, once wet, it stands there and is filled and filled. In 2008 a slurry pond burst and released over a billion gallons of coal sludge. You can read more here: http://itsgettinghotinhere.org/2008/12/22/coal-ash-slurry-pond-bursts-in-tennessee/   Regulations on these ponds were weakened during the Bush Administration but, as we all know, even the best regulations aren’t always followed and inspections by regulatory agencies aren’t as stringent as they should be. Would you be more concerned about the health and safety of the people living near these areas if some of them were your family members or friends? Should anyone be exposed to toxic waste?

Here in Orlando our power plant, Curtis Stanton II, is a coal-fired plant. Our government regulates emissions from these plants – the Environmental Protection Agency. Of course this agency and its regulations are consistently under attack by many of our elected officials. What is being released into our air, how much is reaching our groundwater, how is the health of people and the surrounding ecosystem being affected? Emissions from coal-fired power plants include: sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, methane and mercury. Mercury in fish has been found to cause birth defects, which is why pregnant women are advised to avoid eating fish during their pregnancies. The particulates from these power plants end up in the water and then in the fish that live there. Maybe you don’t care about the fish or the other wildlife (like eagles, ospreys and pelicans) who eat them, but what about those developing fetuses in utero? You can find the most recent data on Curtis Stanton here:  http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Stanton_Energy_Center_(existing)#Emissions_Data

To find out more about the coal industry, I recommend checking out this blog: http://creekkeeper.blogspot.com/ Take a moment to read about the children in India who are working in the coal mines, or the people in Montgomery County, Illinois who are fighting against Longwall mining under their properties.


Thursday, November 18, 2010


Not so much where Michael Vick is concerned. Vick is not a hero. Vick should not be back in the NFL. Vick has never been and will never be a compassionate, caring human. He destroyed the lives, hearts and spirits of too many dogs in the most callous, disgusting manners he and his partners in crime could devise.

Hate is not a good thing. It isn’t a quality that I like in myself, but I find there are truly some things worth HATING with all of my being. At the top of the list are those who, with no twinge of compassion, torture, mutilate, neglect and/or torture innocents and those weaker than themselves. This is done to nonhuman animals, children and women routinely every second of every day on this planet. And, in the overwhelming majority of cases, it is done by men. Testosterone loaded, aggressive, violent men. In our society, in particular, violence is not only condoned but applauded throughout all forms of media. The most popular movies and video games are those which are the most violent. The messages: violence is good, clean fun; violence solves problems; violence is necessary.

What set me off this morning? The story of Mel, a little black dog who was beaten, tortured and used as a bait dog by Vick and his friends. You can read the LA Times story here: http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-plaschke-20101117,0,4438010,full.column

Mel, a black pit bull, cowers to the corner while another dog, Pumpkin, shields him. Mel was one of the 47 pit bulls in Michael Vick's interstate dogfighting ring. (Richard Hunter / November 16, 2010)

Years after surviving this chamber of horrors, Mel has found a safe, loving home. He suffers still from the damage inflicted by the monsters of Bad Newz Kennels. While Mel still trembles and fears new people, Vick is being lauded for his record breaking performance as quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles. Football fans are going crazy for Vick’s amazing skills. Some are predicting he may take his team to the Super Bowl and win them Super Bowl rings, the Holy Grail for all NFL players. Then there is little Mel and the other survivors from Vick’s “past” life, the one he has “paid his debt for” according to many.

Something is broken in Vick that can never be fixed. No fully human person could ever do what he did to those dogs and be able to live with themselves. He is not a role model. He is not a hero. He is not repentant. He is a monster and will remain one. He doesn’t deserve fame, accolades or rewards. It isn’t up to the fans to forgive and forget the transgressions of this pond scum of a person – his victims continue to work through their recovery and they are the REAL HEROS & HEROINES of this story. We must never forget them.

To read more about the story of the surviving dogs, check out The Lost Dogs by Jim Gorant. You can read a review here: http://badrap-blog.blogspot.com/2010/08/jim-gorant-lost-dogs-our-review.html written by people who took in many of these dogs.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Much like grief, pain is subjective and non-quantifiable. There are no scales or machines that can measure the amount of pain we feel as individuals, nor the sensitivity of our nerve endings. Throughout my most recent illness, health care professionals have asked me to rate my pain on a scale of 1 to 10. That, however, doesn’t go far enough. A rating of 6 for me may be a 3 or a 10 for someone else. There is actually no way to know just how much or how little pain an individual can bear. It has been shown that those of us who suffer from chronic, daily pain become more and more accustomed to pain than those who rarely experience pain.

Where I find this scale rating truly lacking is that certain numbers determine the dosage of pain medication needed to make a patient comfortable. If my 6 is actually equivalent to someone else’s 3 or 10, at least one of us won’t receive enough pain relief and someone else might receive too much. The other thing not taken into account is the weight of the patient to determine dosage. This has made me wonder why veterinarians base dosages for medications on the weight of the animal, but doctors who treat humans do not. That lack of consideration over the years has caused problems in my treatment from time to time.

The other factor that limits proper treatment of pain is that we are living in world where prescription pain medications are fast becoming the drug of choice on the black market and in drug circles. Doctors have become frightened to prescribe for legitimate patients who are suffering, fearing that their name and prescriptions will fall into the wrong hands. There is no central databank – which would be best administered through a central reporting database for all pharmacies – to track by patient ID. By simply tying everything to a patient’s social security number, much of the illegal sales of prescription drugs could be curtailed. Of course, we are facing a climate where regulation and government involvement, especially in areas which will protect consumers, is a dirty word. Frankly I’m confused that the very people who had no problem with warrantless wiretapping of our phones, invasion of the privacy of our emails or the books we check out from libraries are railing against regulations that keep our air, water, food and pharmaceuticals safe for everyone. Why? The simple answer: business interests and profits trump the health, safety and well-being of our citizens and our planet. Capitalism, the free market and competition are the watch words. Forget about being able to breathe clean air, drink clean water, eat food that doesn’t contain pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones, and bacteria or take medications that will improve our health instead of damaging it further. You might want to give a second thought to just what needs to be downsized in the Federal Government. The EPA, FDA, USDA & OSHA are certainly on the short list of many of our recently elected officials.  The only freedom most of us will be sacrificing is living as healthy a life as we possibly can.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Short update

I finally had my skin graft November 4th and spent the night in the hospital.  The donor site for the skin graft - the top half of my right thigh - was excruciatingly painful.  I had to stay overnight to get morphine shots every 4 hours.  I went home on Friday afternoon.

This past Thursday I had the bandage removed from the graft area and it is taking.  There are still a few small areas where it hasn't taken as well, but everything is looking good.  The donor site is still causing me quite a bit of pain and I'm not able to do everything I need to do on my own.  Fortunately, my friends have, once again, stepped in to feed the critters, clean the litter boxes and do my shopping.  I try to stay off my leg as much as possible to lessen the pain in the donor site.  I'm hoping I'll be almost as good as "old" by the end of this week.  Normal, such as it was, may make a return after all.

Chaz continues to hold his own, although he doesn't eat as much as I would like.  His brother Charlie, who had been sick before Chaz, had rebounded but now has begun losing weight again.  He has been doing a bit better in the last week or so.  Time will only tell for both of these sweet guys.