Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Letter to my Local News

(Foreword: I should mention as a geek, I am very annoyed at sloppy science reporting and even more annoyed at LAZY, sloppy science reporting. Seriously people, it is not rocket science all you have to do is ask a few questions...)

I am a long time viewer of Channel 5 news. The last few nights there have been stories about the increasing flu-like symptoms of people visiting the emergency rooms. After each story I think, what was the point of that story?

There is information missing from this report: Do the people at the emergency room have the flu or flu-like symptoms? How is this diagnosed (there is some question at the CDC and within the medical community as to what is the best and most reliable test for the flu? Of these people in the emergency room, how many have received the flu vaccine? Does the flu vaccine contain the same strain of flu as those in the emergency room? If the medical community doesn’t know, are they testing for it and when will they know?

If the goal of this report is to increase the number of people receiving the flu vaccine, then this seems like good information that would help convince them.

If the goal of the report is to stop people from reporting to the emergency room (most people are told to go home take aspirin or acetaminophen and drink fluids), then maybe a list of warning signs would be appropriate. Doctors say if you feel flu-like symptoms, rest, drink plenty of fluids and treat symptoms with aspirin and acetaminophen. Please contact your doctor is symptoms do not improve after several days or the patient shows sign of dehydration, etc.

Without these investigative details, the story reads as, “Ice is cold.”

I am sure you meant better.
Thank you for your time and attention,

How do I really feel about the flu vaccine?

this report

this report

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Boy and his Horse

My youngest son and his horse take a nap on an unbelievably warm January day.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Real Answers to Real Homework Questions

Question: What is the worst thing that could happen to you as an engineer in industry?

Answer: Developing a vaccine that cures cancer only to find it actually turns people into vampires.

Monday, January 28, 2008

First Rock Concert

My first rock concert I ever attended was Gary Wright (Dream Weaver), Manfred Mann (Blinded by the Light) and Robert Plant (Robert Plant who? We were young, what can I say. He was the opening act) My friend's mom dropped us off and picked us up. I think it cost fifteen dollars (discuss amongst you how old I must be)

It's a new generation, and I was excited to bring my two young boys to their first concert ever.

We had to wait in line because it was general seating.

We were worried that we wouldn't find seats.

Luckily we got some great seats techinically behind the stage.

Great seats until the pyrotechnics!

So we left our seats and explored the arena.
We bought a cd and stood in line to get it autographed.

A major milestone for their babybook, don't you think?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Song of the Canary

One of the safety videos I show my students is a documentary "Song of the Canary". It is a story of men working in a pesticide company. During the filiming, it is discovered that an overwhelming number of men working in the plant are sterile. Even more shocking is the discovery of a study of the chemical on rats that clearly showed adverse health effects, published by scientist that work FOR THE SAME COMPANY and has sat on the shelf unheeded for years.
The comfrontation with the company VP leads to maybe my favorite quote in movie documentary history.*

Lindley (The company VP): Well there was a study, funded by Dow, and, that, the Torkelson study, Dr. Torkelson, and it did not show sterility in rats. What it showed was that with very high doses of DBCP you could get testicular atrophy, if you will; the shriveling up of the testicles. I've talked to, uh, two scientists who are familiar with that work and they both say heck, we just, we just didn't draw the conclusion that there'd be sterility from the fact that the testicles were shriveling up.

This quote always makes me want to go up to men and ask' "Would it be okay with you if your testicles shriveled up? I mean as long as you didn't become sterile"?

In fact if there are any men reading this or if you know any men, ask them and report back to me.

*By favorite, I mean most unf&*%king unbelievable, and does not diminish my sympathies for the men and families at Occidental Chemical Company.

Friday, January 25, 2008


I love/hate the American Idol Auditions.

I love watching people rising from obscurity and into the limelight. I love watching people with raw talent.

I hate watching people with possible personality defects openly mocked. But most of all I hate watching people with GOOD voices get the news that they will never be GREAT. These are people that had the lead in every school musical, they have sung solos at church since they were in grade school, people ADORE them, every day someone has told them "You need to audition for American Idol". They practice and practice, they get up the courage, and ....nothing....nothing. They are barely a blip on the Simon Insult radar.

This is the song that has been going through my head lately:

But music was his life, it was not his livelihood,

and it made him feel so happy and it made him feel so good.

And he sang from his heart and he sang from his soul.

He did not know how well he sang; It just made him whole.

Mr. Tanner by Harry Chapin

If you are not familiar with Harry Chapin's music (you should be), the story is of Mr. Tanner, a man with a beautiful baritone. He is encouraged to try singing professionally, and after much build up, he gets an audition.... and a lukewarm review.... and he never sings again (except late at night, when the store is dark and closed).

Those who know me know I love to sing. I was lucky (yes, lucky no false illusions here) enough a long time ago to realize that I was never going to make a living singing. In high school, when choir conflicted with trigonometry, I took trig. I was right, trig has made me alot more money than my singing would have (unless they paid me to stop, hah). But I love to sing, and that is why I feel so for those auditioning that "sing from the soul" and I hope they never lose that joy.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Down with Fractions!!???

I read this today. What do you think? Dream come true? or the end of life as we know it?

Professor argues against teaching fractions, long division in new book.

USA Today (1/24, 11D, Milford) reports, "A few years ago, Dennis DeTurck, an award-winning professor of mathematics at the University of Pennsylvania, stood at an outdoor podium on campus and proclaimed, 'Down with fractions!'" DeTurk, in a contribution to a 60-second lecture series, argued that fractions were "useful for by-hand calculation. But in this digital age, they're as obsolete as Roman numerals are." The speech was posted online, triggering a "firestorm" of discussion among educators. Now, DeTurk is scheduled to publish a book that argues for "the teaching of decimals over fractions to elementary school students." He also criticizes "long division, the calculation of square roots and by-hand multiplication of long numbers." DeTurk argues that "the study of fractions should be delayed until it can be understood, perhaps after a student learns calculus."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I hope it's not a relative

This is what I saw on the highway last Saturday.

The engineer in me appreciated the efficiency. For this crew there was no wasted time and motion used in disassembling the playground. And LOOK now have a two story truck, why not use the area for more storage. That'll save you one fourth of a trip!

The safety instructor in me gasped.

The blogger in me reached for the camera.

For more "safety" photos see here:

The Naval Safety Center

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Good Side of Competitive Sports

Here's an idea, why don't we get a group of kids together and have them play basketball just for fun. This my youngest on Saturday.

He had a blast!

On this team, the win-lose record is not important, the kids are.

After each game the team gets their awards. Not just some generic thank you for participating, but genuine awards. Real observations like, you were guarding your man so closely he only was able to receive one pass, I saw you pass to you teammates whenever you could, and you ran the entire time and never gave up.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Comfort Food

When the temperature starts dropping and January seems to stretch on endlessly, I crave food from my childhood. My number one comfort food is not only from my childhood but also from my dad's childhood, a comfort food that has spanned the generations.

My dad grew up in the depression, the only son of a divorced woman, uncommon in the day. My grandma worked in a dress factory when she could and my dad was not embarassed to tell me of the time they gladly took food from the Salvation Army.

Knowing this you should guess that my dad's boyhood food was simple, cheap, and filling. Here's the recipe:

Beans and Hamhocks

1 pound dried navy beans
1-2 Ham Hocks (I substituted smoked chicken breast because of my son's pork allergy. It was a delicious substitution however I am sure it would not acceptable to my grandma if she were still with us)

That's it, that is all the ingredients.
Soak the dried beans over night. Rinse and add fresh water and cook over low heat until the bean are cooked through. (no al dente, I mean mushy) Add hamhocks and continue cooking. Add salt to taste.

Serve with (and this is important) fried potatoes and onions. Pour a couple tablespoons of oil in a frying pan, add thinly sliced potatoes and onion. Cook until the potatoes are very crispy. Add lots of salt and pepper (this is comfort food, salt and fat do not count). You can eat corn muffins with this as long as they are made sweet corn bread, such as those made from Jiffy Mix.

For a GFCF, egg free version, see following:
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon egg substitute
Mix the dry ingredients with
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup water
Makes 2 dozen mini muffins baked 15 minutes at 375

Thursday, January 17, 2008

What kind of mother allows her child wear that on a day like today?

My son this morning on his way to school this morning.

The temperature today ----

Light Drizzle Fog/Mist and Breezy 35°F(2°C)

I am that mother. Before you report me, let me tell what you see here is the result of complex problem solving skills. This is a child led solution to several problems including sensory issues with pants and socks, and having to change clothes for middle school PE. Note: this boy has played soccer for seven years in the cold while wearing shorts and is so rarely sick that I think it might be good policy for all of us to wear shorts in winter.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I am a blood doner and so can you

Okay, manic I did it just as I promised. Here's the proof:

I went as myself although I considered giving as:

My blood did not sink like it was supposed to but when it was spun it passed the test. (Note to self take TWO iron tablets a day)

And this is what my arm looks like now.

I had the choice between red, green, purple, pink or blue, I hope I made the right decision.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Coats, coats, coats

What is it with my family and coats? We lose more coats. Somewhere there are lost and found boxes full of our coats and jackets.

But it gets even weirder, it is like there is this balance in the universe and for every coat we lose, another pops up in its place. BUT the substitute coat will NOT fit anyone that lives here, and here's the creepy part - Noone knows how the substitute coats have gotten here.

After asking about one particular coat, a women's Eddie Bauer winter coat (I am the only female in the house, it is NOT mine), my oldest sons thinks maybe it belongs to a girlfriend he had two girlfriends ago. The break up was not pretty.

So here's the question- Can I donate the coat to charity guilt free or must I feel guilt when donating it?

Monday, January 14, 2008

What I want to be when I grow up

When I grow up I want to be is a College Student.

1. Long winter and summer breaks.
2. The smell of new text books (yes they do smell and it is intoxicating)
3. The possibilities of an empty spiral notebook
4. The campus quad on unexpected warm spring or fall day. Inpromptu classes sitting in circles, boys without shirts playing frisbee, squirrels walking right up to students who decided to skip class and eat bagels instead.
5. The IMPORTANT conversations that go on forever into the night and hardly ever include the words babysitter or diarrhea.
6. Attending parties that START at 10:00 and end at dawn, then sleeping until two in the afternoon.
7. Starting every semester with a clean slate.

What do you mean that isn't a career option.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Conversation with a school nurse


Me: Hello

School Nurse: Hello this is the school nurse from JR's school.

Me: oh (honestly thinking, "oh no do I have to come get him?")

SN: He is just fine, but he was in here because he hit his head on a desk. School Policy says that whenever there is a head injury we have to inform the parents.

Me: OK (seems like a good policy)

SN: (continuing) But he is awake and alert and all neurological signs have been checked. I am sure he will be just fine.

Me: Great (as long as I don't have to go get him, yipee!)

SN: In fact he was feeling well enough that he asked for a candy cane before he left my office.

Me: Ha, you didn't give it to him, did you? (becoming a bit apprehensive, head injuries don't scare me near as badly as a food reaction, and JR's reaction to red dye #40 is the worst!)

SN: Well yes, I let him take it back to class, why wouldn't I?

Me: Because of his food allergies....

SN: No I have his folder right here and under allergies it says Allergies to food and Seasonal Allergies.

Me: (pause, waiting for her to make the obvious does not happen)

Me: Yes food, like a candy cane, I am sure I wrote on his form and told the nurse that was there at registration that he was not to have any food unless it was sent from home or I was called first.

SN: Well that would have been me because I was the one at registration and I would have remembered that. (a bit snotty)

SN: Well if that is the case I need to email all of his teachers.

Me: Yes, I asked you too and you had me fill out a special form waiving some privacy rights so that you could. (I was at the little table hunched over filling out form after form)

Me: But that's okay, I emailed his teachers anyway at beginning of the year just in case .....(just in case I was dealing with an idiot..).

SN: Well I'd better contact his teacher for the class he just went back to.

Me: Yes (Duh, You think?)

Me: Well you don't need to worry about him stopping breathing... (why am I reassurring her?!)

SN: Well no, his head injury was no where near that bad.

Me: (GASP WTF) No. From. The. Food. Allergy.

SN: oh

Excuses why I can't donate blood


1. I no longer work at at place that allows me to donate blood while I am getting paid.

2. The bloodmobile that comes to church everyother month only is there in the morning. The only time I gave blood before lunch was also the only time I passed out.

3. I can't give blood at my son's school because last time I tried there the air conditioning was blowing on me so hard my teeth were chatterering. The technician actually had to give me his lab coat.

4. If I took my boys to the blood center with me, there is NO WAY they would sit quietly in the waiting area. I picture myself corraling them holiding the bag of blood with one hand.

5. Sometimes when I try to give my iron content is too low. This could happen again.

6. The blood bank is closed today (I called)

I made an appointment for Wednesday, happy manic?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Monday, January 7, 2008

Date Night

Today is my (and my husband's) 24th Anniversary. Yeah us!

The last two weekends we have had a child-free night, so we have done something we haven't done in a long time...No besides that. We rented R-rated movies on DVD. Not inspiring movies like Saving Private Ryan or such. No, pure trash Adult Comedies. Here is a short review of the two.

Review of Knocked Up and Superbad (I told you they were trashy)

Okay they were both kind of cute if not hysterically funny. Superbad had some genuine laugh out loud moments with the two clueless policemen (they reminded me of some cops I knew when I worked at Denny's years ago). Superbad actually had some sweet moments and not a bad moral story (Evan refused to have sex with the cute girl while she was drunk). Knocked Up relied too much on gross humor of which I am not a fan, but I don't believe I am the target audience.

Bottom Line: Worth every penny of the dollar we spent renting each one. Thank you RedBox.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Safety Rap

I have no idea where to start blogging so I will begin by posting a link to the very best safety video ever. And yes I collect safety videos, so if you think you have a better one, Bring it!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

New Year


Just testing out my new blog!