Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Only Good Hurricane is a Dud Hurricane

Well, for some, perhaps.

After all the work to get ready for it, I'd kind of prefer some thrashing about, at least.

But my little bricklaying project is secured. Whatever *rain event* transpires won't hurt it.

And I'm so exhausted from making that happen, all I can do now is go to bed.

I'll catch y'all up tomorrow. For now - G'night. Again.

It's 1:50 AM. Do you know where your hurricane supplies are?

Yes I do! All squared away.

I went to Sam's this morning for latex gloves and rubbing alcohol. Without them I couldn't continue the bricklaying.

A little later, I saw Ernesto's change of direction and knew I'd feel safer if I had a greater supply of meds. This is tricky on a plan that only allows you to fill 30 days' at a time. [*grrrrrr!!!!!*]

So I: called the doc about some meds details; called the bank and got them to early-release the $379 hold on a check I'd deposited that's my only source of funds just now; left for the second time around 6:15, went here and there and everywhere, and finally got home around 11:30 PM.

Only to find that in my absence from the local weather news, ol' Ernie pretty much fizzled out. Relatively, I mean.

Well, GOOD. This means I don't have to fill 4 nasty gas cans tomorrow, yay! In fact, there isn't anything more I *have* to do at all.

So I think I'll finish the front patio, and when it starts getting rainy, sit back here and show you some of my prep-shopping pix. Oh, they are something else!

AFTER I sleep some.


Monday, August 28, 2006

Hurricane Preps

WELL! Here we go again.

The cone has shifted, and it's now putting the eye right over my house.

Third eye in 1 year. Katrina anniversary time, no less.

Such fun!

Those of you who haven't already figured out I'm nuts, will now. See, I love hurricanes.

I don't like death and destruction. It's the power and beauty and awesomeness of this force of nature that grabs me.

This looks to be a pretty *nice* one, as hurricanes go. The island mountains will chew it up to some extent, and those poor beleagured people in Haiti and Cuba will take a beating for us. I don't ever wish hurricanes to move away from me and into someone else's patch. Not nice. I'm sorry for them. Their lives are hard enough as it is. Moving onto open waters, spinning off to oblivion, that's the only valid course change I'll ever advocate.

It's already disorganized a bit, and will become more so. Then it's pretty likely to beef up again, feeding off the warm waters once it leaves the islands.

After that...we'll see.

I'm always pretty well prepped. I'll try to get some *extras* done tonight and tomorrow am. But I feel pretty secure.

For now - I have some bricklaying to do.


Saturday, August 26, 2006

A Nice Tie in the Desert

A fleeing Taliban, desperate for water, was plodding through the Afghanistan desert when he saw something far off in the distance.

Hoping to find water, he walked toward the object, only to find a little old Jewish man at a small stand selling neckties.

The Taliban asked, "Do you have water?"

The Jewish man replied, "I have no water. Would you like to buy a tie? They are only $5."

"The Arab shouted, "Idiot Jew! Israel should not exist! I do not need an overpriced tie. I need water! I should kill you, but I must find water first."

"OK," said the old Jew, "it does not matter that you do not want to buy a tie and that you hate me. I will show you that I am bigger than that. If you continue over that hill to the east for about two miles, you will find a lovely restaurant. It has all the water you need. Shalom."

Muttering, the Arab staggered away over the hill. Several hours later he staggered back.

"Your brother won't let me in without a tie."

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Senior Driver

By some weird twist of fate, I ended up living around the best neighbors in the world. Me, who never thought I'd find a place I could truly call, Home.

One of those neighbors is an extremely funny, irreverent, intelligent, sweet, genuinely kind person. I call her BB. She's a Florida senior herself. One of the Good Ones, folks. You have no idea what you're missing not knowing her. Oh, the stories she has to tell!

She doesn't drive a car any more. A golf cart instead. Sometimes when I go visit, she takes me back home in it. This is Important! when I can't make the 75 yards or so on my own. She lives sort of kitty-corner to me.

BB's an internet surfer and puzzle freak. She catches herself up at 3am still playing. And she's got a talent for those funny emails and photos and such that people like to send around. Miss Popularity there gets 30 or 50 emails a day, too. Handles her correspondence like a pro. Not bad for an 81-year-old. (Or for a 48-year-old either.)

I asked her to see if she could source these emails for me so I could credit the originator and post them. We can't always get that info. That's what happened on this one. But it made me laugh so I'm posting it anyway. Here: *Thank You, Author, Whoever You Are!*

I mean, really. It is SO Florida.


The other day I went up to a local Christian bookstore and saw a "Honk if you love Jesus" bumper sticker.

I was feeling particularly sassy that day, because I had just come from a thrilling choir practice followed by a powerful prayer meeting, so I bought the sticker and put it on my bumper.

I was stopped at a red light at a busy intersection just lost in thought about the Lord and how good He is, and I didn't notice that the light had changed. It is a good thing someone else loves Jesus; because if he hadn't honked, I'd never have noticed.

I found that LOTS of people love Jesus. Why, while I was sitting there, the nice man behind started honking like crazy, and he leaned out of his window and screamed, "for the love of God, GO! GO!" What an exuberant cheerleader he was for the Lord. Everyone started honking! I just leaned out of my window and started waving and smiling at all these loving people.

I even honked my horn a few times to share in the love. There must have been a man from Florida back there, because I heard him yelling something about a sunny beach.

I saw another man waving in a funny way with only his middle finger stuck up in the air. When I asked my teenage grandson in the back seat what that meant, he said that it was a Hawaiian good luck sign or something.

Well, I've never met anyone from Hawaii, so I leaned out the window and gave him the good luck sign back.

My grandson burst out laughing; why, even he was enjoying this religious experience.

A couple of the people were so caught up in the joy of the moment that they got out of their cars and started walking towards me.

I bet they wanted to pray or ask what church I attended, but this is when I noticed the light had changed.

So I waved to all my sisters and brothers, smiled at them all, and drove on through the intersection.

I noticed I was the only car that got through the intersection before the light changed again, and I felt kind of sad that I had to leave them after all the love we had shared, so I slowed the car down, leaned out of the window, and gave them all the Hawaiian good luck sign one last time as I drove away.

Praise the Lord for such wonderful folks!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Going to the Gyno - Lady Lady Docs Only

I can't STAND to go to a male gyno. No way. Been there done that. Got told so much BS I couldn't take it any more.

Such as:

-It's not possible for a Pap smear to hurt because there aren't any nerve endings in that part of the cervix.

-Menstrual cramps are mostly psychological.

-If you're married and you kept your maiden name, in Illinois, we won't accept a check from you. The law says only the husband is legally liable so we refuse checks if you keep your maiden name. You must pay cash or bring your husband with a check.

-You can't feel ovulation. That's an old wives tale.

And so on.

Of course, this was years back. But it's all I needed to know. With two emergency exceptions, I never went near a male gyno again. It just made sense to me that someone with the same body as mine wouldn't be telling me a Pap smear can't hurt. I wanted a doc who didn't like Pap smears herself.

Here's what the lady lady docs have done for me:

-Warm up the speculum.

-Put little socks on the stirrups so they aren't ice cold on your feet.

-Tell jokes.

-Ask me if I want to get the icky part - the Pap smear - over with first.

-Don't scorn me when I tell them what lady bits hurt and how. No. They LISTEN. Check stuff. Explain it to me.

And so on.

See, it all started when I was 15 and went on the pill. I needed it not for birth control but for medical benefits. Teen acne. And for the terrible cramps I've had since the very beginning. Killer, almost passing out on the girl's room floor at school, bleeding hugely for 7 days, that sort of thing.

Now, kmom always raised us up to say that using birth control was far better than having an unwanted pregnancy. And that she knew perfectly well that teens can get pregnant. Oftentimes, in the heat of the moment - so it's best to be prepared. Quite sensible, and to this day I agree with her 100%.

So what did she do when we left that office with my birth control pill rx to kill my cramps?

She cried and cried.

It was one of the few irrational but sweet mothery things I've ever known her to do.

That gyno was her gyno. The guy who started me on the BS I wrote about above. My cramps were all in my mind, PAP smears can't hurt, you can't feel ovulation, and a few years later, refusing to take my check. They did that part in a very nasty way, in front of all the other people in the waiting room - acting outraged that I'd wanted to pay with a check.

This was the first time they'd ever even charged me, since kdad is a doc, and doc's families used to treat each other for free. So I didn't even know they wanted a payment until I was walking out the door. They really seemed to get a charge out of humiliating me. I had a distinct impression that keeping my maiden name upon marriage had a lot to do with it. Younger women out there may not know how very nasty people could get about that, back then. Vicious. Vindictive.

That doc is still in business, all these years later. And now, he's come to see that his patients are deserting him left and right because they want to go to a female gyno.


I wonder why.

So he tries to find a female gyno to join his practice. And he's furious. FURIOUS.


Because they want so much pay.

See, they're in such high demand, he has to pay the going rate or they won't consider working for him. And that rate is a nice big income.

He feels, somehow, this is unfair.

And me, I feel so extremely pleased.

It really strikes me as hilarious.

After kmom told me about his lady gyno troubles, I told her this:

That doctor is the very first gyno I ever had. He was so ignorant of true things about women's bodies, and so belittling about it, and so nasty about method of payment, that HE is the reason I SWORE I'd never see another male gyno again. Not if I could help it. No way.

So now he's reaping exactly what he, personally, sowed. The punishment fits the crime with a hand-in-glove perfection we rarely see.

And I sure would love it if you could explain that to him.

She politely declined. He's still her doc. I can see that.

But hey, I'm still laughing.

Paybacks are hell, guy.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Resurrection of Bane

That may be blasphemy, right there. If so, please excuse. I'm using it in a common-language context, okay?

Because a weird and wonderful blogger, Bane, was recently restored to the 'sphere after almost leaving us forever.

Bane's broke. This, despite a number of talents and lots of education. See, he has a child who needs really extreme medical care. Lots of very expensive and ongoing surgeries, for birth defects, I believe; I don't know the particulars. But surely it's a terrible burden emotionally and financially both, and this on a guy who clearly truly loves his children. The time and attention and good firm parenting he lavishes on them is a beautiful thing to read about on his blog.

Add to that, he's disabled himself now with arthritis. He's a stay-at-home dad. I think maybe he's home-schooling his two young kids - if not formally, then by definition, considering the amount of thought and care and direction he puts into their activities.

He's a heavy poster, 3-6 per day, full of raunch and fun and snark and strong opinions and naughtiness and such. Truly superb writing. Gifted. His wide readership loves him, and some hate him too. Or both. Some readers are serious Bane addicts. I disagree with many of his positions on things, and I'm not alone. Still, I've come to enjoy reading him. A unique voice in the 'sphere, Bane is. Me, I don't make that claim idly. Ever.

Well. The House of Bane can't afford many very basic things people need, and that kids need too, like books and stuff. So just imagine their feelings when Bane's computer gave up the ghost.

Despair. Absolute and utter despair.

He needs this outlet like nobody's business, and he was ready to quit. Over - at first - a couple hundred buck's worth of parts.

Then everything ELSE on the machine blew too. Whole new system was in order, there. Given the amount of entertainment and thought-provocation he'd provided his blog readers over the years, I thought he'd earned it. And as it turns out, lots of other people did too.

His blog maintenance buddy and friend, LL of Chromed Curses, took over from her location. She did interim postings, and made a Call for Donations that, incredibly, raised enough money to get him a new system that did justice to his artistry as a writer. She gathered a LOT of input from knowledgeable readers on what would suit Bane's computer needs. She got it specially built and quick-shipped to him, and he's online on his own again.

All this took something like 10 days after the old system first went down. Then, since there were customer service problems with Tiger Direct, the vendor, she got the shipping cost reimbursed. That was 25% of the order. We're probably talking roughly $250 or so, ballpark guess - a HUGE savings. Around the same amount that, initially, was budgeted to fix the old computer was what she recovered from the manufacturer. Given my own background and circumstances, I admire that.

This was a really great thing to watch unfold. So: Welcome back, Bane! Welcome back. I don't like everything you say, but hey. I have some really strong feelings about that free speech thing. Not to mention, about our right and responsibility to think for ourselves. Looks to me like you actually do. Fire away! Ah, to your heart's content.

And Wendy? aka LL? I'll just repeat a comment I left over there at Bane's place:

LL, you're a WONDER. Serious business. An idle remark about an online pissing contest, and you took off like a bird in flight, acrobatic and astute, performing a sort of miracle of restoration.

Of resurrection. For a lot of us, I think Acidman was at the back of our minds throughout. It's been such a healing thing, watching all this unfold.

And now you've answered one of my Friday questions: How much do you charge for your blog maintenance? (just curious!)

Answer: It's free.

Now THAT'S a friend.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Bees STING. Well, okay, they bite too. But that ain't the business end. Nope.

Livey has a funny post up about a bee issue.

They keep on - she says - BITING her.

OW! you just hit one of k's Pet Peeves.


The business end matters. It matters a lot because knowing which is which aids in your self-defense once attacked, and in your pre-attack self-protection.

The business end is either the bite or the sting. The bite is from the mouth. The sting is from the abdomen - generally referred to as *The [Critter's] Butt.*

Let's talk Bite vs. Butt.

The business end is *The Butt* on bees. The ones that sting are all female, and the venom's in the stinger. Same with ants and wasps - again, all female - and with scorpions. Stingrays too. All *Butt.* All stinger venom.

Some of them will grab you with their jaws (or a scorpion's claws) in order to get a good purchase. IOW, they hold on tight with their jaws while getting the business end in position to inject poison through the stinger. The stinger works a bit like a little hypodermic.

But that ain't nothing, that jaw grab. A tiny pinch, really. Not a *Bite.* It's the sting that hurts like a sonofabitch, because of the venom. And it can kill you sometimes, almost always from an allergic reaction. Almost no stingers have venom potent enough to kill you outright, otherwise.

Exceptions: Some rays, some scorpions (only one species in the US), and the very rare case of getting trapped somehow, or being dead drunk, and getting literally stung to death by thousands of critters, usually either fire ants or yellow jackets (a small but very nasty type of hornet).

The business end is *The Bite* on things like poisonous snakes, spiders, and lizards like Gila monsters and some iguanas and monitors. Those lizards are now known to be venomous - not poisonous due to massive nasty bacteria as once thought. Oddities like jellyfish, electric eels, bufo marinas (cane toad), etc. aren't *Bite* OR *Butt* - but I'll leave that exotica out for now.

Venom, in spiders, is universal. It's how they eat. However, almost NO spiders have venom that actually affects humans. It's almost always just meant to do things to their insect prey.

In Wisconsin, where Livey is? Poisonous spiders are very, very rare. The only ones you might ever see are northern black widow or brown recluse. Both venoms are nasty and can be lethal. Down here in SoFL, we have southern black widows, northern black widows, brown widows, and red widows.

Brown recluse is not indigenous here, but so many of them are *tourist spiders,* arriving in plant pots shipped from recluse areas, or in people's luggage as they travel here, that we actually get a fair amount of damage from them biting people. This is denied and poo-poo'ed by certain ignorant doctors, who didn't read up enough to know that in many cases the spider was caught, brought to the hospital, and correctly identified as a brown recluse.

I was (most likely but not for absolute sure) privileged to experience this myself last summer. You can't test for brown recluse bite, so the only way to REALLY know is if you catch the spider that bit ya. I didn't. However, the wound made a very characteristic *red, white, and blue sign,* or *bullseye,* in appearance; my symptoms were classic (but systemic, not necrotic); and I was in Tourist Brown Recluse territory during the time they go out hunting for food: in a plant nursery, one that had a large interstate/import business, in the middle of the night. (My bad. I was committing a crime, trespassing into a nursery that was sold to developers, rescuing a few abandoned plants before the bulldozers showed up. And I'd do it all over again. We had a BLAST!, and rescued some great plants that didn't deserve to die. Not to mention, lots of empty pots to put them in. And trays and stakes and labels and orchid hooks and...)

I noticed another blogger almost lost a family member to a recluse bite recently, too, though I'm afraid I can't remember who.

Snakes are rarely lethal either. Here we have Eastern Diamondback rattlers, dusky pygmy rattlers, water moccasins (cottonmouths) and coral snakes. In N. Florida they have copperheads and timber rattlers too. Wisconsin has a few timber rattlers and the small, very beautiful, very rare, massasauga rattler. Neither have any known territory anywhere near Livey's house.

I'll note this too: In the US, bee and wasp stings and lightning strikes, put together, kill far more people every year than snakebites.

Which leads me to that admonition you ALWAYS hear from folks like me: *Leave It Alone.* With almost no exceptions, if you don't bother IT, it won't bother you.

Case in point: We may have had the first coral snake bite fatality in Florida in 40 years - ever since antivenin became available. This was in June, out by Naples, FL. What happened? In the small town of Bonita, a bunch of homeless people live out in the woods by a river, some for many years. One evening, after some drinks, a few guys spied a coral snake. It bit one guy. Another guy went after said snake. It bit him. This pissed said guy off and he started playing *quien es mas macho* with the snake - slashing it with a BROKEN BEER BOTTLE.

Yes. Dumb. Naturally he got bit some more as he slashed away. And being sussed, after he killed the snake, he kept talking to his buddies and then went to sleep - and to die. The first guy who got bit, meanwhile, took the dead snake and went on his bike to the fire/rescue station a mile down the road. He, quite properly, went to the hospital with his dead snake, and survived.

My next point follows. I've seen ever so many rednecks in the 'sphere talking about how they always kill snakes on sight because they are so terrified of them. I mean, uh, because snakes just give them the creeps and that's all there is to it. AND, uh, they are Protecting The Children. Like any good Macho Redneck would!

Well, guys, sorry. I have zero respect for that. Zero. For one thing, no matter how yellow-belly chicken you are, you should not go around killing things on sight. It's just wrong, eight ways from Sunday. Killing snakes, for example, means you're killing beneficial predators that eat rats and mice and lots of other things that can present health dangers to you.

For another, your own actions make you some of the few people who SHOULD be afraid. Why? Because messing with a poisonous snake is a common way people get close enough to the snake to get bit in the first place! That's not the snake's fault any more. It's YOU that got you bit. Own up and take responsibility.

In other words, killing snakes on sight is just out-and-out DUMB. Dumb, I don't respect.

Critters - on the other hand - I do.

Critters are ALWAYS cool.

THERE! Now wasn't that fun?

Livey? ummm...by the way: Sorry about your bee sting. Really. That's just no fun at all.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Made It

I'm home.

I did both appointments.

more later-


Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Fever - in the morning, fever all through the night.
Everybody's got the fever, that is something you all know
Fever isn't such a new thing, fever started long ago...
~Peggy Lee

It's Tuesday. I finally talked to the ID doc this morning. Dr. C.

She asked me how I felt.

--Sick. Sick sick sick. Like a dead dog.

--Okay. Now tell me, how does feeling like a dead dog feel to you? How do you feel sick? Describe it to me.

--My head is swimming. Fevery. Everything hurts, every bone in my body. Everything, from head to toe.

I can tell I'm not totally coherent. She speaks to me carefully.

--Okay. Now I want to tell you this, this is important: Stop taking the Rifampin. It makes some people sick that way.

--Is it safe? Safe to stop?

--Yes, I think so. I see you tomorrow. If it changes, call me.

--Okay. It's less swollen today, less red. Less hot. It's better than it was Saturday night.

--Good. Good. See you tomorrow morning.

Last night, Monday night, I fell asleep in my office chair. I woke up and realized I'd been surfing and leaving comments of questionable content all over the place. Whoops. Went to bed.

Woke up and checked things over. Did I leave anything embarrassing behind in my delirium? Naw, not too bad.

what day is it? where am I? what have I been doing?

Reality check.

It's Tuesday. I'm at home. Saturday night around midnight I got home from the ER. Slept. Saturday night, Sunday, Sunday night I slept.

Monday morning I checked out the papers from the hospital. *If the cellulitis is in an extremity, keep it elevated as much as possible. Use the affected extremity as little as possible.*

I am sick of sleeping. I want to play in my yard. I use my improvised post-surgical sling. Worked for the right hand, huh? Stuck my left hand in it. Keeps it elevated and unused. Pretty much. ha!

So I could weed just a LITTLE patch in front...

I sat there, shaking like a leaf and sweating like a hog, pulling little weeds with my trembley fingers. Jeff the English guy came by to check on me. Doesn't seem to like what he sees, but doesn't say much about it.

Starts telling me about his workday, and his cell phone rings. He walks around talking on it, checking out the yard, admiring my new plants, and eventually must have toddled off down the street, back home. I have no idea when he left, no recollection of him going.

I sweated and butt-walked my way around on my brick path, poring over my little ones. Pushed rain lily bulbs back in the ground that had surfaced from rains or such. Replanted some baby agaves that hadn't rooted deep enough to suit me.

Doing this on a little patch of ground around 10' x 10' or so in area took ridiculously long.

I watered, too, laying the hose down and moving it around the new plants every half hour. Tottering out using one cane, taking six-inch steps, old lady steps. By then I wasn't trying to do anything like weed any more, just playing phone tag with Dr. C and sitting in my office chair.

Where I fell asleep.

I woke up, stumbled out to move the hose again, and discovered the Saturn was back in the driveway, yay! Horacio had taken it in for me to get the windows fixed, they weren't working and it's the rainy season. He's been my hero all week. And I couldn't even drive him in to the garage this morning. Too dizzy.

I call him on the phone. I speak very carefully. *Guess what I found in the driveway!* How do you thank someone for everything he's done? I try my best. I say it clear, twice. Thank you, Horacio. Thank you.

That was my Monday.

I didn't kid myself about doing anything outside today.

Slept. Talked to doctors. Slept. The stupid dishwasher broke and I wanted to cry and cry. Stop it! I scold myself.

Tomorrow will be very hard. Dr. C in Ft. Lauderdale at 10:45, and Dr. E in Hollywood at 1:40.

I'll manage. I usually do.

Hmm. Better Not Walk to Buy Powerball, Either.

Man Run Over By 3 Vehicles, No One Stops To Help


Work at the Cheese Factory, but Don't Drive to Buy Powerball.

Aug 7, 2:57 AM EDT

Teen Kills Her Mom During Driving Lesson

FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) -- A 15-year-old girl accidentally struck and killed her mother while being taught how to parallel park, police said.

Tina Rowe, 39, died Saturday after being pinned under a 1997 Chevy Cavalier driven by her daughter. Police believed the girl may have hit the gas pedal instead of the brake.

Police said the teen won't face criminal charges.

©2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy.
Find this article at: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/B/BRF_DRIVING_LESSON_ACCIDENT?SITE=FLTAM&SECTION=US

Aug 7, 9:14 AM EDT

2 Brothers Die on Same Road, Same Night


BUTLER, Pa. (AP) -- Two brothers were killed in separate motorcycle accidents on the same stretch of road and within just two hours of each other. One was headed to the scene of his brother's accident.

Steven Kerr, 37, of West Sunbury, was killed late Saturday when his motorcycle crashed into a speed limit sign on state Route 38, state police said.

Less than two hours later and only about 100 yards away, 29-year-old Jeremy Kerr was fatally injured when his motorcycle crashed into the rear of a vehicle stopped in traffic on Route 38, police said.

Jeremy Kerr, of Hilliards, was speeding as he headed for the scene of his brother's accident, and traffic was stopped because emergency crews were still at the scene, officers said.

The occupants of the other vehicle suffered minor injuries.

Butler is about 30 miles north of Pittsburgh.

© 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy.

Aug 7, 10:54 PM EDT

Cheese Workers Say They Won Lottery


By EMILY FREDRIX Associated Press Writer

PLYMOUTH, Wis. (AP) -- Dozens of cheese company workers returned to their jobs Monday after they reported being among about 100 workers who won a Powerball jackpot worth $208.6 million.

Andrea Fink, 26, of Sheboygan, said she arrived early for her second shift in the afternoon at Sargento Foods to meet with the other winners. The group said it held the only winning ticket for Saturday's Powerball drawing.

"I don't know what to say. I can't believe it. It just seems unreal," said Fink, who planned to buy a house with her winnings.

Sargento chief executive officer Lou Gentine said he met with the most of the winners and some other employees Monday afternoon before they started work, and the gathering often burst into applause. The ticket has been turned over to an attorney, he said, though he was not sure when it would be submitted to the lottery. The group estimates each person will receive between $500,000 and $700,000, after taxes, if they choose to take a lump sum, he said.

"To see the joy on their faces, it's just incredible," Gentine said. "We're really happy for them."

The winners are of different ages and do a variety of jobs, such as cutting and shredding cheese, loading trucks and performing maintenance, Gentine said. He said their average salaries range between $30,000 and $50,000 a year.

Colleen Sumner, 51, of Crystal Lake, said she was not sure whether she would keep working at Sargento, where she has been employed for nearly 19 years.

"It's going to help how many different families. It's super. It's a lot better than one person winning," she said.

The winning ticket was sold at Ma and Pa's Grocery Express in Fond du Lac along the so-called "Miracle Mile," a stretch of South Main Street where several stores sold multimillion-dollar tickets during the 1990s. Ma and Pa's sold a winning Megabucks ticket worth $6.5 million in 1994 and has sold tickets that won $500,000, $250,000 and $100,000.

Powerball is played in 29 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
On the Net:
Powerball: http://www.powerball.com/
© 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Jealous, jealous...

Walter's telling me about the beautiful scenery he's driving through. Scenery I knew in the past, me; as a child, a teen, then only a few years ago when I was on the road with him, delivering furniture for our little shipping business.

He went by the big sand dunes. Past a Petrified Wood Museum. Heading for Lakeside, AZ. You know. Down the road from Show Low, out by Ft. Apache. Not far from Granny J.


Soon, soon...

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Flowers are Prettier than Boo-Boos

Any day.

 Posted by Picasa

Boo-Boo Updates

(Yes, if you click the pic, it'll enlarge - usually, depending on your computer.)

The Write Hand

The hand with the tenosynovitis recovered nicely. The stitches came out, and only after that did one tiny piece of MRSA show up, which I promptly killed off with good 'ol Silvadene.

The surgeon and infectious disease docs were astonished at how well and how quickly the incision healed, such minimal scarring and infection despite deep surgery and 11 stitches. They still don't know I completely contradicted orders, and slathered it with Silvadene twice a day.

See, the thing is, I've been working with this body's mishaps for a lot longer than anyone else, including the docs. If studies show *dry* is the current thinking on wound healing, still, one size does not fit all.

It healed so well, the surgeon said I didn't even need physical therapy. Then, one week later, the exact same long hard lump of tenosynovitis showed up - right next door to where he'd removed the first one.

After all that beautiful surgery...I was embarrassed. It seemed such an insult to his work.

The pic with a *y* shaped hand is my left hand, making a correct Y in ASL (American Sign Language for the Deaf). The next pic is me trying to say Y with my right hand, with tenosynovitis now eating a little secondary tendon that goes to one's pinkie. Posted by Picasa

The surgery took more than twice as long as scheduled, as the doc had to tediously pick off diseased inflammatory tissue from both the tendon, and the nerve that serves the top outside half of that hand. It wasn't paralyzed, but I have little sensation in much of the hand now. A creepy feeling.

Surgery is so risky for me to begin with, and I don't want any more nerve damage in there, and the tenosynovitis might just keep on growing back anyway...so, he sent me to the fab Ft. Lauderdale Hand Clinic for physical therapy.

Ms. Foot and the Eye. And stuff.

Posted by Picasa That foot there? Since the left foot is Poor Mr. Foot, I call the right one Ms. Foot. She's Poor Mr. Foot's right hand man.

I get tan lines from my flipflops, okay? Stop laughing.

Ms. Foot gets the blister disease more than Poor Mr. Foot does. As you can see, she's got lots of old blister scars, some fresh ones, and a BIG sucker right on top of that big toe. The blisters love those toes.

BUT!!! The nail is actually growing back, and it seems to be the entire toenail no less, yay! And the place where Dr. Superglue stuck the big toe back on when I dropped the hurricane log on it? Glue took nicely and it's healed up well.

My scratched up left cornea works just fine again, and I don't need the ointment or eye patches any more. Which is good, because the only way I'd have put in a pic was if it were one of those black pirate eye patches. All *I* got was some ugly thick white thing. Looked like a flattened egg. Great eye doc, but no sense of glamour.

Last but not least...I think I got all the cactus spines pulled out, head to toe, and soon I can stop slathering my boobs with Silvadene.

Uh oh...

Posted by Picasa On Thursday, I had a Boniva shot. This is a new thing for me, and it's supposed to last for 3 months. Since my gut's all eaten up with acid and inflamed from post-nasal drip and handfuls of meds, it seemed like a great alternative to deal with my moderate bone loss.

Only thing is, any opening in one's skin is an invitation for MRSA to enter and set up camp.

Before any medical visit, I wash from the neck down in surgical scrub soap (Hibiclens). I put it on a wet washcloth, smear it everywhere except, ah, personal parts, and let it soak in for a few minutes. At the very end, I wet the washcloth again, and use the diluted residue very carefully on parts of my face, but rinse it off right away.

I do this routine anywhere from once a week to once a day, depending. And - I'm still *colonized.*

The MRSA germs live in one's nasal passages, folds of skin, clothing, bedding...and the kind I picked up, the *community-acquired MRSA* - aka CAM - infects even healthy people through healthy skin. It is so virulent it's scary. I've been taking a powerful oral antibiotic, Minocycline, 200 mg/day, for eight months now, and I STILL get new infections all the time.

That's why I get little skin lesions, *mini-MRSA's,* when I garden. Little nicks and scratches get infected almost instantly. I do treat them carefully, but they don't worry me like injections, blood drawing, or surgeries. Those methods inject MRSA way deeper in the body. They give it contact with a channel - like a blood or lymph vessel, a tendon sheath, bone sheath...and MRSA just LOVES a channel. It travels on them, like they were little MRSA highways.

So when my hand started feeling tender by Friday night, and was warm and red and puffy by Saturday morning, I was pretty sure what I was in for.

It took about eight hours before my house and body were tidied up enough for me to feel comfortable about going to the ER. By then I was shaking with fever - for me. Like 98.6, instead of my usual 97.0. Oh, sickening stuff, MRSA. Dizzy, weak, headachy.

Since it's a hand, and that great hand surgeon works out of Imperial Point, I went to their ER instead of Holy Cross. Where, unfortunately, I encountered one of those Dismissive Secretly Hostile Passive-Aggressive Ignorant Know-it-Alls, in the person of the Triage Nurse. He made me so concerned they wouldn't take this seriously, I called the hand surgeon on my cell phone. Hm. Second time I've called him at 9:30 on a Saturday night.

He got the page, called me back, and asked what the jackass said. --One example: I said I'm very sick, and that I carry MRSA, CAM MRSA. Jackass said, Oh, everyone's got that. You're not very sick.

Hmm...Then the doc said, --Wait and see what the ER doctor says. The doctor matters, not the triage nurse.

Of course, he was right.

And the doc was wonderful. She took one look and knew.

See, if you just look at a newly forming MRSA infection, it's not a very dramatic looking thing. People sometimes get told they have a sprain, get sent home - and die. Look at the pic. It doesn't look like much. Not to me, anyway.

And I know a bit about what to look for. I can see the redness starting to creep up my fingers, for instance, and up to my wrist. I've been watching it grow since Friday night. And another thing they say about this? The amount of pain caused, compared to the minimal physical appearance of the infection, is astounding.

Once they've seen some MRSA, medicos get so very serious about it, some will do that thing I call *Giant Step Backward.* It just doesn't look like much to the uninitiated.

And not to that ignorant fool of a triage nurse. Who I expect I will never see again. Why go back? If I need the hand surgeon, he can go to Holy Cross. I know his whole crew is all set up at Imperial Point there, but I won't subject myself to that kind of treatment if I have a choice. Not even by one peon staff member.

I was pretty sure they were going to incarcerate me for 10 days with vicious antibiotic drips again. All my wonderful neighbors are set up to water the plants and such, got my ducks in a row. But! Instead I got a prescription for oral Rifampin - it's a TB antibiotic, and it's worked against my MRSA before - and sent HOME. Eat it with the minocycline and call ID in the morning.

Oh, I feel like a little kid let out of school early, unexpectedly, on a sunny springtime afternoon...

Monday I'll call the infectious disease doc. Even if I have to get serious IV stuff, she does a lot of home health care infusions instead of inpatient admissions. We already know I can handle Vancomycin, physically at least. So I know she'll keep me out of the Icky Place if she can.

And we'll see what develops.

It might clear up with just antibiotics. Hope hope hope. It might make an abscess, which has to get removed surgically, by draining, debriding. Or by removing the affected extremity. In either case, it might or might not spread further in my system.

I'm buckling my seatbelt.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Gator Hole - Boys reel in 5-foot, 60-pound alligator in Kalispell, Montana pond

Most of my gator news is local.

Not this one. It's from Montana.

They don't see many gators up there. Don't understand 'em, and don't know what to do with 'em, I guess. So...I shall refrain from any further comments on the inappropriate actions of the local grown-ups toward the gator.

I don't know how to get the photo from the article to post. But if you click on the link, a nice pic of two young fishermen will show up. And don't they look juuust right. Ah, the innocence of youth.

(I bet Desert Cat had something to do with this. Not sure what. but something. I mean, he was just there.)

The Gator Hole
Boys reel in 5-foot, 60-pound alligator in Kalispell pond

Some birthdays stand out as exceptionally memorable; 16 and 21 usually make the list.

Josh Bryant will never forget his 11th birthday, when he came nose to snout with a 5-foot alligator in Kalispell.

On Monday afternoon, Josh and his mother, Lynn, were trying out the new fishing pole she’d given him for his birthday. The Shady Lane fishing pond near the old Steel Bridge, where he spends three or four days a week during the summer, seemed the perfect place to test the rod.

It was about 4 p.m. when Lynn Bryant spotted something swimming toward them.

“I thought it was a muskrat,” she said.

Then she took a closer look. Muskrats didn’t swim with just their eyes and back ridges sticking out of the water.

The Bryants couldn’t believe their eyes, but there was no doubt the animal swimming toward them was an alligator. Bryant moved to the edge of the dock and started taking pictures with her camera phone, knowing no one would believe them otherwise.

At first the alligator was almost friendly, she said, but they still wanted to get it out of the water so someone could come take care of it. A friend grabbed Josh’s pole and tried to hook the gator. He succeeded a few times, but each time the alligator simply swallowed the lure.

A few more would-be fishermen showed up soon after. One of them had a stronger pole; he, too, tried to catch the alligator but once again it swallowed the proffered minnow, hook and all.

By this time, onlookers had called friends and soon a crowd of about 50 people had gathered. Some simply watched. Others tried to help subdue the alligator, which was now agitated.

“This thing was very aggressive,” Bryant said.

“It was snapping at us kids and adults,” Josh added.

Someone brought a bow and shot it. They knew the alligator had been hit because the arrow was sticking straight up, Josh said. Then the arrow — and the alligator — disappeared for almost an hour. Suspense mounted on the banks of the pond.

“It was like a serial killer movie or something, a killer alligator,” Josh said.

The gator didn’t stay down for good, though. When it surfaced, the crowd was ready.

“His dad jumped in the water,” Josh said, pointing at his friend, Kaynen McGuire.

McGuire, 11, nodded. His father had plunged in the water with a stick, grabbed the alligator by the tail and swung it onto the bank.

“This was right out of ‘Crocodile Dundee,’ I swear,” Bryant said.

Four men held it down and tied its jaws shut with fish stringer, then put it in a canoe and dragged it up to the road. Someone produced a knife and tried to slit the animal’s throat. Still it didn’t die.

“This thing’s got like nine lives,” Bryant said.

The Flathead County Sheriff’s Office didn’t hear about the incident until about 10 p.m., according to dispatch logs. When Deputy Ray Young arrived, he called Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, which referred him to U.S. Fish and Wildlife. By this time, the alligator was in bad shape, so the federal agency told Young to shoot it.

Brian Sommers, regional investigator with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, got the call around 10:40 p.m.

“When I got there, it was pretty much over and done with,” he said. “It was just talking with the people that were there and picking up the critter.”

The “critter” will go in a freezer at the Fish, Wildlife and Parks office, Sommers said. He’s not sure what the agency will do with it.

He’s also not sure where the alligator came from.

“The only thing I can guess is it was probably somebody’s pet,” he said. “Maybe they got tired of it and turned it loose.”

Sommers has had to deal with pet alligators in the past, he said, but only a few and only animals about 20 inches long. At 5 feet long and roughly 60 pounds, Monday’s alligator was the largest he’s ever seen in the area.

If found, the person responsible will be charged for releasing the alligator into the wild, he said.

“Given the right circumstances, we could’ve had a pretty big problem if it got hold of a kid swimming or something,” he said.

If anyone has information about how the alligator got into the pond, call 1-800-TIP-MONT or call Crimestoppers at 752-TIPS.

Even though it’s now alligator-free, Josh won’t be fishing at the pond anytime soon.

“It was just my 11th birthday, and I had to catch an alligator,” he said. “Why couldn’t I catch a little trout?”

Reporter Kristi Albertson may be reached at 758-4438 or by e-mail at kalbertson@dailyinterlake.com.

(photo caption & credit)
Keynan McGuire, left, and Josh Bryant, both 11, were two of the children who found an alligator at the Shady Lane fishing pond Monday evening in Evergreen. “It was pretty scary, I’ve lived in Montana for nine years and I’ve never seen anything like it,” Bryant said. Chris Jordan/Daily Inter Lake