Sunday, June 30, 2013

The prism of history

       A word of caution on historical things, like the battlefield reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg 150 years ago.

            I sense many think historical movies, books, even reenactments, are accurate portrayals of what happened. If that sense is so, then many bad decisions and thoughts and beliefs may result.

            Like an expression many have heard, "take things with a grain of salt".

            After all, the people are different, the terrain is different, like even vegetation growth, the circumstances and values and politics are different, and the times are different.

            And as hard and competent people do their best these days to consider all aspects, the world is different, after all.  Trees grow up, for example.  Often many of these fine people have to focus on the logistics  and finances of just trying to reenact, or even write books about history.

            The only constant I can still detect (and believe in) is the power of ideas, beliefs, and cultural customs. Said another way, we humans don't change all that much in many ways.

            After that, it is mostly entertainment, to me.

            And I do like being entertained.

Working Together Quotes

            And there are many more links like this one.

            Poster's thoughts

                        Most of us can be jacks of all trades, and masters of none.

                        We can't think of everything, or plan everything. There just too many things that we can't reliably or confidently forecast about where we live. Hence the idea of barter may help us and our Families in times of need.

                        Sometimes working together can be as simple as dividing up the "to do" list, and all working together to get it done as best we can.

                        Most of us are better at some things than others. Said another way, we all bring our own skill sets to the leaders who organize us as best they can.

                        If we are to survive, recover, and help civilization succeed, working together will sure help things along. Communities are important to our future, I believe.

                        The total is greater than the sum of the parts.

                        Gung ho!

Gettysburg Address  

At the dedication of the National Cemetery in Gettysburg President Lincoln delivers a two-minute speech. Immediately following the speech he calls it a "flat failure." The speech is known today as the Gettysburg Address

There are actually five (or more) versions of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. This is the version that appears on the Lincoln Monument in Washington, D. C. and contains the words "under God." This term appears to be the most notable difference among the five versions. According to popular accounts Lincoln spoke those words.

The Gettysburg Address

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate—we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom— and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.


 Drink more fluids!

 by Clayton E. Cramer

I just had a very unpleasant experience – a kidney stone – and one that I hope to help you avoid.  The experience is a major health issue for Americans. These cause more than a million visits to health-care providers each year, of which 300,000 are to emergency rooms. If you have ever seen the bill for an emergency room, you know that everything is way more expensive there. Think of this article as not only an attempt to save you great misery, but also to save both public and private funds.

I was in an Enterprise Architecture class (a type of computer geek professional training) on Wednesday, and by the end of the day, I was not just bored; I was in pain in my lower right abdomen. At first I thought that lunch was trying to make an early escape, but a visit to the men’s room didn’t help. And the pain was getting worse – way worse.  I was also beginning to get chills.  Based on the location I assumed that it was appendicitis, although it certainly came on faster than I would have expected.

I left the class early, intending to drive to my doctor’s office, but in five minutes, the pain had become so intense that I did not think it likely that I would be able to safely drive there.  Fortunately, I was a block or two from one of the several excellent hospitals we have in Boise.  I had taken my wife to this particular hospital for outpatient shoulder surgery a few weeks ago, so I did not have to think too long about where it was – and with the pain that I was suffering, thinking was not something that I was strong on doing.

I pulled into the emergency room driveway, honked my horn, because I was not sure that I was going to get inside by myself, and within seconds, there was someone there with a wheelchair, and a valet parked my car.  By this point, the pain was so intense that I was starting to vomit – and in less than 30 seconds, I was on a bed; within another minute or two, there was a nurse, than a doctor examining me. The doctor asked questions, poked and prodded, and concluded that my problem was probably a kidney stone. While waiting for a CT scan, the nurses inserted an IV, and put in some serious painkillers – and this took it from inexpressible pain to just suffering.

The CT scan confirmed what the doctor guessed: a 7 mm kidney stone at the top of the ureter, the tube that leads from the kidney down to the bladder.  A typical adult ureter is 3-4 mm in diameter, so you can see why having a rock lodged there hurts like you can’t believe. Worse, the blockage can lead to urinary tract infections; this is more than just extreme discomfort.

The ER gave me more painkillers, and prescribed Flomax, which relaxes the ureter so that it is a bit larger.  Small stones can sometimes pass as the ureter expands, but 7 mm?  Not likely — at least not without a lot of time and a lot more painful episodes. The instructions on the discharge paperwork told me to make an appointment with a urologist the following day “without fail!” When I was in having surgery the following day, my wife ended up talking with the wife of another kidney stone sufferer who had delayed calling the urologist – the second visit to the ER in three days finally made him do so.

We are fortunate in Boise that we seem to have lots of doctors relative to the number of patients.  While I had to do a bit of calling around, I was able to get scheduled with a urologist Thursday afternoon – and by wild coincidence, the same urologist that treated my daughter’s kidney stone problem a few months before.

Dr. Spencer did the surgery Thursday evening at 6:40 PM.  The procedure is a bit horrifying to read about, but I am hoping that it will be an incentive to do what experts recommend to avoid kidney stones, so that you don’t have to go through this.  Dr. Spencer ran a stent through my penis, into my bladder, up the ureter to the kidney.  With the stent in place, he then inserted a tool (a very small tool) that let him examine the stone, then play Space Invaders inside my kidney, zapping the stone with a laser until it was nothing but tiny fragments that would pass easily.

The stent is still in place; after five to seven days, I am supposed to smoothly pull this stent out at home.  The pharmacist who filled the prescriptions for after-surgical drugs has personal experience with this: he says plan on taking two of the controlled substance painkillers before trying this.  In the meantime, there is a piece of plastic sticking out of my more manly parts, and urination stings a bit, because the stent is irritating everything.  Are you scared enough yet of all this to pay attention to how to avoid this?

There are four different kinds of kidney stones: calcium, uric acid, struvite, and cysteine.  There are both dietary and hereditary causes, but the one dietary solution the National Institute of Health promotes is more fluids:  “Drinking enough fluids each day is the best way to help prevent most types of kidney stones. Health care providers recommend that a person drink 2 to 3 liters of fluid a day. People with cystine stones may need to drink even more. Though water is best, other fluids may also help prevent kidney stones, such as citrus drinks.”

During the consultation, my urologist observed, “It’s raining stones!” He was awash in patients with kidney stones, perhaps because of the sudden onset of hot weather here in Boise dehydrating people. Even during normal weather here in the intermountain West, it is surprisingly easy to not get enough fluids. Yes, it is a bit of a nuisance to drink enough water. But trust me: you don’t want a kidney stone, nor do you want to go through this surgery.


Clayton E. Cramer teaches history at the College of Western Idaho. His most recent book is My Brother Ron: A Personal and Social History of the Deinstitutionalization of the Mentally Ill (2012). He is raising capital for a feature film about the Oberlin Rescue of 1858.


 The methicillin-impervious infection Staphylococcus aureus is the most common post-surgery illness.

 by Theodore Dalrymple

Resistance to antibiotics is often described by neo-pagans as Mother Nature’s vengeance on Man for having had the temerity to interfere in her natural biological processes. According to the neo-pagans, this vengeance has left Man (deservedly) worse off than if he had never discovered antibiotics at all. I do not see the logic of this.

There is no doubt, however, that bacterial resistance to antibiotics is a serious problem worldwide. It is particularly serious in hospitals, where patients may pick up infections that they never had before admission. Many patients die from these infections, which may be of epidemic proportions.

The most important such infection is MRSA, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. (Methicillin is a semi-artificial penicillin that was developed when the Staphylococcus first became resistant to ordinary penicillin, and soon met with resistance itself.) MRSA accounts for most post-surgical infections; the proportion of patients infected by it is often taken in research as a measure of a hospital’s hygiene.

An important paper in a recent edition of the New England Journal of Medicine compares various strategies for reducing the spread of MRSA in intensive care units, a common place for patients to become infected.

The method of control usually employed is to screen patients for MRSA on admission to the ICU and to institute special precautions such as isolation and barrier nursing if they test positive. The authors compared this method with attempts by means of antibacterial products at “decolonization” of those who tested positive, and similar “decolonization” practiced on every patient admitted to an ICU irrespective of whether or not he tested positive for MRSA. 

The authors then compared the overall rate of blood-borne infections with MRSA between the groups. They found universal decolonization – the prophylactic use of antibacterials regardless of whether or not patients were initially infected – was by far the most effective, with decolonization of those initially infected next best, and the method most widely used around the world — isolation and special nursing precautions — the least effective.

One of the reasons for the superior efficacy of universal decolonization might have been that those who were infected with MRSA on admission were disinfected straight away rather than after a delay while laboratory results were awaited, and thus the offending organism had no opportunity to spread in the meantime.

The authors estimated that 54 patients under the scheme of universal decolonization had to be treated in order to prevent one blood-borne infection. The cost of universal decolonization was $40 a head: that is to say, one blood-borne infection was prevented at a cost of $2160. If, as seems likely (though the authors are hesitant on the point), such an infection involves the extra expenditure of more than $2160 per patient, then universal decolonization would lead to economic savings as well as – presumably – to less suffering. (Additional savings would be made by the need for fewer initial laboratory tests.) The trial was not large enough, however, to determine whether any lives would be saved by universal decolonization and if so, how many. It seems to me likely, though, that lives would be saved.

The neo-pagans, however, could take some comfort from a caveat issued by the authors. If universal decolonization were instituted, as seems to be the logical practical consequence of the experiment, the bacteria might develop resistance to the products (chlorhexidine and mupirocin) used to disinfect. Indeed, there is already some evidence that this is happening. Thus victory over bacterial infection is only temporary, not final and probably never to be final, given the genetic flexibility of bacteria; medicine is thus an aspect of Man’s Promethean bargain. But temporary victory is to be preferred to perpetual defeat.


Theodore Dalrymple, a physician, is a contributing editor of City Journal and the Dietrich Weismann Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. His new book is Second Opinion: A Doctor's Notes from the Inner City.


give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime

Feast of the Land can be a fish

An Arkansas Channel Catfish grown in Tennessee

Random Thoughts

Random Thoughts 

Random thoughts on the passing scene:

Edmund Burke said, "There is no safety for honest men, but by believing all possible evil of evil men." Evil men do not always snarl. Some smile charmingly. Those are the most dangerous. If you don't think the mainstream media slants the news, keep track of how often they tell you that the Arctic ice pack is shrinking and how seldom they tell you that the Antarctic ice pack is expanding. The latter news would not fit the "global warming" scenario that so many in the media are promoting.

Someone has referred to Vice President Biden as President Obama's "impeachment insurance." Even critics who are totally opposed to Barack Obama's policies do not want anything to cut short his presidency, with Joe Biden as his successor.

People who refuse to accept unpleasant truths have no right to complain about politicians who lie to them. What other kind of candidates would such people elect?

Given the shortage of articulate Republican leaders, it will be a real loss -- to the country, not just to the Republicans -- if Senator Marco Rubio discredits himself, early in his career, by supporting "comprehensive" immigration reform that amounts to just another amnesty, with false promises to secure the border.

Ever since I learned, as a teenager, that the "Saturday Evening Post" magazine was actually published on Wednesday mornings, I have been very skeptical about words. "Gun control" laws do not control guns, "rent control" laws do not control rent and government "stimulus" spending does not stimulate the economy.

It is hard to think of two people with more different personalities than New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg and President Barack Obama. But they are soul mates when it comes to thinking that they ought to take a whole spectrum of decisions out of citizens' hands, and impose the government's decisions on them.

Maybe the reason for the New York Yankees' low batting averages has something to do with the fact that so many of their batters seem to be swinging for the fences, even when a single would score the winning run.

President Obama's denial of knowledge about the various scandals in his administration that are starting to come to light suggests that his titles should now include Innocent-Bystander-in-Chief.

It has long been my belief that the sight of a good-looking woman lowers a man's IQ by at least 20 points. A man who doesn't happen to have 20 points he can spare can be in big trouble.

When Attorney General Eric Holder argued that a "path to citizenship" for illegal immigrants was a "civil right" and a "human right," that epitomized the contempt for the public's intelligence which has characterized so much of what has been said and done by the Obama administration.

You know you are old when waitresses call you "dear."

Although many people have been surprised and disappointed by Barack Obama, it is hard to think of a president whose policies were more predictable from his history, however radically different those policies are from his rhetoric.

When any two groups have different behavior or performance, that plain fact can be turned upside down and twisted to say that whatever criterion revealed those differences has had a "disparate impact" on one of the groups. In other words, the criterion is blamed for an injustice to those who failed to meet the standard.

Have you heard any gun control advocate even try to produce hard evidence that tighter gun control laws reduce murder rates? Does anyone seriously believe that people who are prepared to defy the laws against murder are going to obey laws against owning guns or large capacity magazines?

I may be among the few people who want Attorney General Eric Holder to keep his job -- at least until the 2014 elections. Holder epitomizes what is wrong with the Obama administration. He is essentially Barack Obama without the charm, so it should be easier for the voters to see through his lies and corruption.

Despite political differences, it is hard not to feel sorry for White House press secretary Jay Carney, for all the absurdities his job requires him to say with a straight face. What is he going to do when this administration is over? Wear a disguise, change his name or be put into a witness protection program?

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Fecal coliform

       A wiki link on the subject can be found at:

            Some poster's stories

                        I presently get my water for all uses from 2 springs that flow year round, now for over a century that I know of (they flowed before then, too). The uses include both a clean water and a waste water septic system, all gravity powered.

                        Nobody has ever gotten sick from this setup in over a century. Basically, the springs do a wonderful job of filtering the rain and snow that comes from the sky. I even flush my toilets with fresh spring water. And the septic system setup makes me happy, too.

                        At my caretaker's wife's request, I did get the water checked at the local university by providing samples from various points in the system setup (circa 2003), and in all cases the spring water results were much better and safer than the local government water. Obviously, all this cost me money, but I am glad I did it.

                        I do have other 2 other springs which I also use, like for making electricity. And there are even more springs which presently just flow downstream.

                        I do have a GIS (Geographical Information System - basically a computer map) to ensure the clean water and waste water systems are in different "drains", so the waters should never meet where I live.

                        I have shopped for appropriate level water quality testers, and can't find one that satisfies my requirements and confidence. So right now I just will use the results method, like do I get sick or not from the system setup. Again I have a history of safe water use over a century, plus a university set of testing, too. But if times change and get hard as a result, I will stick by this method until alerted otherwise. I don't think that will happen.

                        Every year or so I do treat my water system with chlorine, but that seems like a future waste with possible adverse affects on the local terrain, too. After all, chlorine is a poison to humans and most other things around here.

                        Now the water does not have fluoride in it, so one must brush their teeth once a day or more often with a tooth paste that contains fluoride in it in order to help fight cavities. If times get hard, then daily brushing, even with baking soda, is a good minimum idea to practice. In other words, if we lose access to fluoride, don't quit brushing your teeth, anyway.

                        And if one loses their toothbrushes, there are lots of field expedients, including using their fingers, and even homemade toothpicks.

                        Last, and if in doubt where you live, remember you can usually boil the water you use for drinking and cooking to kill all the bad things. Now in some cases this resulting water might look "funny", but also in all likelihood, it is still "clean" water, like healthy enough to use for drinking and cooking. And one can always dig a hole (even building an outhouse over it) to keep us from getting sick from all the sewage diseases, like cholera and typhoid.

A Free Falling Economy Makes Bartering Go Boom

Tess Pennington 

One thing is for sure, bartering booms during tough economical times.  Many situations could cause a person to barter for goods and services.  It could be as simple as neighbors exchanging skills and services to help each other out, or it could be due to economic turmoil, currency inflation, a bug out situation, or natural disaster.

It is safe to say that America is in a full fledged depressionary period and as the people are starting to feel the effects of the economic dead fall, they will look for alternate ways of obtaining products.  We are in a bartering economy.  In fact, many residents in Massachusettes are turning to bartering goods and services in order to fight off the tight finances of this day and age.

Recently in an article in USA Today, Craigslist postings in the bartering section have gone up 100% according to Craigslist spokesperson, Susan MacTavish Best.

Whatever the case may be, bartering for goods or services, in a SHTF scenario, will be more valuable than the paper dollar.  People will need goods to keep them a float, and maintain their survival supplies, as well as to have simple, yet affordable indulgences.  Initially, in a dire situation those that are unprepared will need survival supplies (food, clothing, shelter, clothing and protection).  In an economic crisis, skills of knowing how to find food, fixing cars, gardening, making items such as animal pens, etc will be useful in a bartering situation.  Having some extra of these items in your long term storage could be used for bartering and trading:

·        Baby Formula/Cloth Diapers – In a bad situation, Mama Bears will do just about anything to take care of their cubs.

·        Seeds - I cannot stress how important having seeds is to survive.  A true prepper is not only prepping for short term situations, but on long term situations and supplies to sustain a family for as long as possible.

·        Micro Livestock -  Livestock that are small, produce and do not take much to room to thrive such as chickens, ducks, pygmy goats and rabbits can provide food and manure for farming.

·        Weapons - In a bad situation having weapons to protect yourself, family and property is priority #1.  Having extra weapons and accouterments that go along with weapons will be one of the top bartering items.  Items such as: Knives, Hunting Knives (heavy bladed knives for hunting),  Ammunition/Guns.  When purchasing extra bullets and guns, stick with the most popular models.

·        Mason Jars - Preserving your garden foods, meat, etc will provide food during the cold, winter months.  Many people, especially in the city no longer preserve their foods on their own.  They will need canning jars.

·        First Aid Kits - In any article regarding bugging out, and preparing for a given emergency, a first aid kit full of supplies is always mentioned.  These days, people are not prudent and do not prepare for the worst.  First aid supplies, such as suturing needles, thread, saline solution, gauze and celox will be in high demand.

·        Vitamins – Keeping your self healthy and illness free is a top priority.  If a person becomes vitamin deficient, ailments such as scurvy will become prevalent.

·        Tools – Simple hand tools are an essential on any supply list.  Pick axes, hand saws, shovels,  hammers, wrenches, and screw drivers.

·        Fire Starting Gear – Everyone wants a nice fire to cozy up to.  Maintaining proper body heat is essential to our health as well as our mental health.  So stock up on lighters, waterproof matches, flints, etc.

·        Honey and Sugar  – This item is not a necessity, but it would be a popular item and would give a break from the mundane, bland meals.  Honey can be used for medicinal uses such as alleviating diarrhea, and can be used as a base for cough medicines.

·        Silver and Gold Coins - Silver coins and 1964 US quarters, and small gold coins if the SHTF will be the best form of currency.  Large silver and gold bars may be harder to barter with.     Plan on silver and gold to be the only monetary currency available – and stock up!

·        Vegetable Oil - Use it for cooking and combine oil and herbs to make flavored oils.  When you are finished with the oil, then the used oil to make diesel fuel.  Further, use  the byproduct, glycerin to make soap.

·        Gasoline – People will need gas and lots of it to power their vehicles and farming equipment.  In a bug out situation, do not have a lot on hand in the instance a mob or dangerous person tries to steal it from you.  Carry multiple 5 gallon containers of it.  The 1 ounce silver coins could be used to purchase 1 gallon of gas, etc.

·        Fishing Supplies - Having alternative ways to catch food is always a good supply to have on hand.  Fishing equipment is very lightweight and the hooks, line and lures do not take up space in a bag.

·        Medicines – Many rely on store bought medicines and do not have the knowledge to make their own.  If they can buy medicines to relieve ailments, they will.

·        Boots - I cannot stress the importance of having a good pair of boots.  Military grade boots that have flexible soles and deep tread are the best type of shoes to have as far as walking/hiking in nature go.

·        Coffee/Teas – This is one of those simple indulgences that many of us can’t live without.

·        Liquor – Some like to kick back and try and forget the hard times.  Liquor can be made from almost anything: fruit, cactus, potatoes, rice, even honey.

·        Cigarettes/Tobacco – Many cannot kick the habit of tobacco.  This is another indulgent item that many will do just about anything to get.

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper's Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals. When a catastrophic collapse cripples society, grocery store shelves will empty within days. But if you follow this book's plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply, your family will have plenty to eat for weeks, months or even years. Visit her web site at

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition


Dry Measuring Cups vs Liquid Measuring Cups

Posted by G. Stephen Jones

 "If a recipe calls for four ounces of something, how do you know if they mean four ounces on the food scale, or in the measuring cup? What's the difference between dry measuring cups and liquid measuring cups, why would you need different cups, wouldn't they measure the same amount? This may sound stupid, but not to me. Thanks for your time."

I asked my friend Chef Jennifer Field, a graduate of Orlando Culinary Academy, Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts School, who offered this response,

"This is a very good question; many people don't stop to consider that there is a difference at all between liquid and dry measures, so good for you! My general rule of thumb is if the recipe calls for 4 ounces of a liquid, use a liquid measuring cup. If the recipe calls for 4 ounces of a dry ingredient, use your scale. Now to your other individual questions:

What's the difference between dry measuring cups and liquid measuring cups?

Dry measuring cups are meant to be filled right up to the top and then leveled off with a straight edge of some sort. Liquid measuring cups generally have a pour spout and are made to be filled to the gradations on the side of the cup (1/4 cup, 1/2 cup, 6 oz, etc.) rather than being filled right up to the top. 

Why would you need different cups?

Wouldn't they measure the same amount? Well, for one, measuring a liquid by pouring right to the tippy top of the measuring cup is just asking for spilling and mess. For another, it's really hard to level a dry ingredient (think flour or oatmeal) if it's not right up to the top of the measuring cup.

Also, for liquids, the mantra "a pint is a pound the world around," basically holds true within a couple of wee fractions of an ounce either way. This means that 1 pint of liquid (16 ounces) = 2 cups of liquid, whether that liquid be milk, water, or oil.

With dry measures, pesky settling must be taken into account. I wasn't a physics major, but it's a matter of mass versus weight: depending on how you use your dry measures (do you scoop up a cup of flour or spoon it into the cup? Do you sift first? Do you pack your flour down?) a cup of flour can vary in weight from about 3.5 ounces to about 5 ounces. That's a lot of variation.

My advice is to measure dry ingredients with a dry measure once and weigh the outcome. Use it in your recipe and see if you like the way it turns out. If so, write down the weight of that particular ingredient and use the weight every time that particular ingredient is called for.

For example, the way I fill a one cup measure, all purpose flour weighs 4 ounces. I like how this works in my recipes, so I will use 8 oz. of all purpose flour for 2 cups in a recipe, or 3 ounces of all purpose flour for 3/4 cups in a recipe."

Hope this helps, and thanks for asking such great questions. I bet this will help other folks with the same questions.


 A strong (Kp=7) geomagnetic storm is in progress on June 28-29 as Earth passes through a region of south-pointing magnetism in the solar wind. The storm has sparked Northern Lights photographed in the USA as far south as Kansas. Christian Begeman sends this picture from a farm outside Hartford, South Dakota:


 "A clear sky allowed me to the Northern Lights dancing in southeast South Dakota around the midnight hour tonight," says Begeman. "It was quite the show."

High-latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras in the hours ahead. Solar wind conditions continue to favor geomagnetic activity.

Catfish fillets

       It's pretty good food, like healthy and tasty, too.

            Here's one promotional line from Omaha Steaks.

                        If you haven't tried farm-raised catfish, you don't know what you're missing! Grain-fed for consistent mellow flavor and quality and marinated with zesty lemon and pepper.