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Reading about the recent disasters in China and Myanmar (Burma) is a reminder of how quickly our lives can change.  Safe and happy one minute and picking up the pieces of our lives the next.

I was in a earthquake when I was in Japan in 1966.  It wasn’t a strong earthquake, only minor damage to some houses, but having the earth move beneath your feet is a scary experience.

The worst natural disaster I was in was the flood, caused by hurricanes, that hit Connecticut in 1955.

In August 1955 back to back hurricanes, Connie and Diane, drop over 24 inches of rain at the end of an already wetter than usual summer.  Almost 100 people were killed, an estimated 4,700 were injured, and countless others were left homeless.

I was 12 and they let us out of school when the second hurricane hit my hometown of Stamford.  A little stream I could walk across easily had just started to flood it’s banks and I was able to make it to my house, that was on a small hill.  Pretty soon our house was completely surround by water.  We were high enough to be safe but the house across the street had water up to it’s chimmny.

The Emergancy people used our driveway to dock their boat.  One policeman was swept away and drowned.  I don’t remember how long it took for the water to subside but within a few days we could get out of the house into town.

I found a picture of that boat online:

 

More stories about this storm can be found at the following link:

http://www.courant.com/news/specials/hc-55flood,0,6565100.special

Below is a video which shows the flooding in the town I now live in, Seymour:

 

Questions: 

Have you ever been in an earthquake or tornado?

What is the worst storm you have experienced?

 

 

 

 

I hope you enjoyed the Memorial Day weekend because I spent mine cleaning up cat vomit and cat poop. Two of my cousin’s cats were sick, not that I enjoy spending time with them even when they are healthy. The alpha male, Midnight, has developed diabetes and you have to mix his medication into his food so he won’t taste it.  The other male, Ketsu, quickly sensed that Midnight is sick and has now taken over as “top cat”, cat’s really are merciless.

Another of the females, Miska, also know as the blob, has a thyroid problem and just sits on “her” couch 24/7.   I had to put a new “wee-wee” pad on the couch each day because she won’t even get off her couch to use the litter box.  

The door to the bedroom I use was broken so I didn’t need an alarm clock for their 4 am feeding.  One of the cats would just jump on my stomach to remind me to get up.  Did I mention how much a really, really don’t like cats.

Dogs

1. They help blind people walk in town.

2. Save lives by sniffing out explosives and finding bodies buried in rubble and snow.

3. Help the police catch criminals and with crowd control.

4. Protect your home and family.

Cats

1. Spoiled

2. Lazy

3. Completely self-centered.

I am interested to know about anyone’s house guest that happen to be animals, their personalities, or habits.

Can anyone tell me what cats are useful for?  They use to catch mice, but ferrets are much better for that.  Even ferrets are more useful than cats.

I will be leaving for my cousin’s to house sit her cats again. Inga will be spending the weekend with some friends in Vermont. Although I won’t be enjoying this holiday weekend as much as everyone else, being retired, everyday is a holiday for me. 🙂

I will just leave you with some great dancing videos from the past to get your hearts pumpin and feet stompin. I will be off line until next Tuesday.

1) Sly and The Family Stone – Higher, from 1984. Sly’s performance of this song is one of the highlights I can remember from when I was at Woodstock.

2) Tommy James and the Shondells – Mony, Mony from 1968. I did own a jacket like his and even wore it in public, however I must admit that even when I was younger I never had as much hair as he did. 🙂

3) Wilson Picket – Mustang Sally from 1965. I have seen two shows at the Apollo Theater in New York. Wilson Picket performed at one. He put on a great live show.

I got a DVR from my cable company a few years ago so I could record my favorite tv shows and watch them when I want. I noticed this week that there weren’t many shows on that I wanted to tape. Mostly I like mysteries and shows with interesting characters. I am not a fan of any of the “reality” shows.

Since I have had a problem trying to think of interesting topics to post about I will do a series on “favorites”.

My top 10 2008 tv shows:

1. Wire In The Blood – on BBC America starring Robson Green as a clinical psychologist who helps the police.

2. CSI (Las Vegas) love the cast, especially Will Peterson and Marg Helgenberger

3.Closer

4.Bones

5.House

6.Medium

7.My Name Is Earl

8. Myth Busters

9. History Detectives – a PBS show about investigations into objects that are claimed to be of historical importants.

10. The only new show I really like is the new Terminator series, The Sarah Conner Chronicles

What are your favorite tv shows for 2008?

1) A 21 year old women had a brain tumor removed successfully with the surgery being performed using a robot.  The robot was controlled by a surgeon from a computer workstation working in conjunction with an intraoperative MRI machine.
 
The women, Paige Nickason, speaking form her hospital room less than 24 hours after the surgery, said, “I had to have the turmor removed anyway so I was happy to help by being part of this historic surgery.”
 
The surgery was performed at the Foothills Medical Centre using a surgical robot developed by a team led by Dr. Garnette Sutherland, professor of neurosurgery in the University of Calgery Faculty of Medicine.
 
 
The NeuroArm site, with a video:
 
 
2) Also from a May 2nd article on the Science Daily site:
 
 
“A new surgical procedure for head and neck cancer at the University of Alabama at Birmingham offers improved accuracy for surgeons and reduced post-operative pain for patients.

“The new procedure uses robotic surgery, and results have shown it lessens the scarring, breathing problems and damage to speech that can happen with treating head and neck cancers, said William Carroll, M.D., a scientist in the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center.”

“Initial tests have shown the new procedure also shortens recovery times for cancer patients.”

“There is an option for patients to have a more minimally invasive surgery, and one that could effectively remove the cancer while causing fewer side effects,” he said.

“Robotic surgery is an alternative to traditional open surgery and a refinement on the concept of laparoscopic surgery, Carroll said. The robot most commonly used in cancer treatment is called the da Vinci, which is sold by Intuitive Surgical.

“UAB was the first medical center in Alabama and among the first in the United States to begin using the da Vinci for head and neck cancers more than a year ago. Since that time, 40 UAB patients have had the new operation.”

3) Questions:

a. Would it bother you to know that major surgery you need was going to performed using a robot?

b. Medical advances all come with a price tag.  Those that can afford it, or have adequate medical coverage, will live longer lives and have a better quality of life.  Those who can’t will die younger, have reduce mobility or live in more pain. The health care gap between those with adequate medical coverage and those without it is likely to continue to grow.

In those countries where governments provide health care to all it’s citizens the results appear to me to be mixed.  In some case the medical care seems to be adequate in other case it’s sub par.  Government run programs appear to be more inefficient and result in higher taxes.

Should universal health coverage be provide to all Americans?

I came across an article in the New York Times, about a horse rescue farm, LumberJack Farm, owned and run by Diana Koebal.  One of my blogging buddies, Papa, http://choicesrmine.blogspot.com , does volunteer work at a horse rescue farm. 
 
The more love and respect we give the animals we share our lives with the closer we come to creating a world where love and respect guide our actions in all endeavors.
 
A link to the United States Equine Rescue League:
 
From the NY Times article, by John Branch:
 
 
“LumberJack Farm works with a nonprofit organization called ReRun, which prepares discarded racehorses for a second career — as jumping show horses, maybe, or just as pets — and then makes them available for adoption. ReRun annually places about 40 thoroughbreds once destined for the slaughterhouse.

Similar organizations, some larger and some smaller, have the same goal: to save as many horses as possible. Combined, the groups resurrect a fraction of the roughly 100,000 horses that are expected to be shipped across the border to Mexico and Canada this year and ultimately fed to other animals or to humans who consider horse meat a delicacy.

About 15 percent of the American horses slaughtered, horse advocates said, are thoroughbreds. Many are only a few years old but considered too broken to race and, therefore, to live.

“But there is a lot of life left,” the ReRun president, Laurie Condurso-Lane, said. Horses can live to 30 years or longer. “They are young. So why not find them new jobs?”

The spotlight that shines on horse racing during the Triple Crown events each spring rarely illuminates the shadows. The sport is usually painted with bright, pastoral backdrops. Winners of the biggest races become royalty, revered by people and seemingly destined for a pampered life doing little but producing more runners like them.

But most racehorses run a far different route — downward, slipping from rung to rung in the sport’s hierarchy. Some are traded a dozen or more times as their earnings fade, until someone decides that the horse is no longer worth the time and money to keep it.

It even happened to Ferdinand, the 1986 Kentucky Derby winner, who reportedly was slaughtered in Japan for pet food a few years ago.

There are a couple of obvious options for the owners of such horses, besides the one increasingly urged: donating them to charity. They can spend money to euthanize the animal. Or they can sell the animal for a few hundred dollars, to someone who will gladly take the horse off their hands. They can tell themselves that the horse may live to see better days, but they know it is probably headed straight to a truck pointed toward the border.”

“At LumberJack Farm, most of the horses were donated, a tax write-off for their owners. ReRun pays eight farms (two in New Jersey, two in New York and four in Kentucky) about $250 a month, per horse, to care for the animals. ReRun has 42 horses now. LumberJack has 12 of them.

Koebel regulates their diet, assesses their behavioral idiosyncrasies, and slowly assimilates them into a herd, something that most thoroughbreds have not been part of since before they began racing. On occasion, Condurso-Lane said, a pair of horses standing in the field together will appear to nudge one another, then dart off together in a straight line, as if reliving their past.”

 

Josh George is a world class athlete at the young age 24.  He has held world records in the 100, 400, and 800 meter distances.  He swept the 100, 200, 400 and 800 meter races at the 2006 World Championships. Because he already is so good, so young — wheelchair racers typically reach their competitive peak as late as their mid-30s — George is a budding star in wheelchair racing, and easily the United States’ top Paralympic medal contender in races from 100 meters up through the marathon.
 
Josh George is the kind of role model athlete we should be seeing in the headlines, and in advertisements.
 
I read about Josh in an article by Alan Schwarz, in todays online New York Times: 
 
 
“George has been paralyzed from the midchest down since he fell out of a 12th-story window when he was 4. The accident — which shattered his legs, dislocated his hips and damaged his spinal cord — required surgeons to insert pins in George’s hips, impeding his leg development, and later led to a fusion of his spine, which stopped his slow growth altogether at 14. He now weighs 98 pounds with legs the size of a 6-year-old’s. “I got hit kind of hard in the growth department,” he said proudly.Determined to be an athlete while growing up in Herndon, Va., George developed his upper body to the point where today his shoulders ripple out of his shirts, he can bench-press 220 pounds, and he can do dips (forms of pull-ups on parallel bars) with 100 pounds strapped to his back. That sheer strength, as well as the pushing motion that is so ingrained in his joints — many competitors weren’t hurt until their teens or later — leaves George with an off-the-charts power-to-weight ratio that is crucial to acceleration. Add to that the dexterity to hit his wheel rims at maximum power up to 140 times a minute during sprints, lungs strong enough to handle marathons on consecutive weekends and an eat-my-dust competitive verve, and George could soon dominate wheelchair racing.”

“If George puts it all together, many in wheelchair racing say that he could be a breakthrough athlete, someone whose talent and personality could attract mainstream United States audiences and advertisers. (Many other nations’ top wheelchair racers — like Britain’s Weir and Canada’s Chantal Petitclerc — are considered national sports heroes, worthy of product endorsements and other rewards.) This could prove crucial for George, because modest race purses barely help him make ends meet; in a few years, like many American wheelchair athletes before him, he could be forced to work a regular job, hurting his training.”

The Paralympic Games will be held September 6 – 17, 2008 in Beijing, China.

A link to the Offical US Paralympic Team site:

http://www.usolympicteam.com/paralympics/

I have a friend, Frank, at the beach who had both his legs amputated.  He gets around on a modified scooter.  He goes everywhere around town, including the supermarket.  Frank does not see himself as handicapped.  He makes the point that living in a dysfunctional family can be a greater challenge.

I was tagged by both Brandy, http://bransblahg.wordpress.com , and Sir Robert, http://sirrobertsworld.blogspot.com to write a six word memoir.
 
I would like mine to read “Full Steam Ahead, Don’t Look Back.”  This was inspired by a quote I remember from the african-american baseball pitcher Satchel Paige, “Don’t look back – something might be gaining on you.”
 
Satchel Paige never let having the wrong skin color, or being an old man in a young man’s sport, stop him.  His is an inspiration story for everyone.
 
Some other quotes from Paige:
 
“Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
“Avoid fried meats which angry up the blood”
“Keep the juices flowing by jangling around gently as you move.”
“Go very light on the vices, such as carrying on in society – the social ramble ain’t restful.”
“Avoid running at all times” – Great advice from a professional athlete.  🙂
 
Paige played in professional baseball until he was at least 59.  He is listed as being born in 1906, but neither he or his mother ever confirmed when he was born.  It is likely he was in his 60’s in his last professional game.
 
Because of the race barrier Paige did not get to pitch in the Major Leagues (or white baseball) until 1948 when he was at least 42.  He was probably twice as old as most other “rookies”.  In his first year he went 6-1 with a 2.48 ERA.  In 1952 he was the first black pitcher selected for the All-Star game.
 
In 1965, at the age of at least 59, he pitched in one game for the Kansas City Royals.  He pitched three score less innings.

Paige was elected to the Baseball Hall Of Fame in 1971.

 
The Satchel Paige Wikipedia page:
 
The Offical Satchel Page web site

The Oreo has landed in Britian, the “Battle of the Biscuits” is on. I found the article linked to below, written by Brendan O’Neill, in today’s Christian Science Monitor.

Will the British abandon “tea and biscuits” for Oreo’s and milk?  I think it will be an uphill battle.  Getting the Brits to switch from tea to milk, at break time, is the big challenge.  I love Oreo’s but they just don’t work well with tea for me.

I must admit my favorite cookie is Walker’s Shortbread, from Scotland.

What is your favorite cookie?

Excerpts from the Article:

London – “It’s very dark. It’s almost black.” May Woodward, an office worker in central London, is holding an Oreo cookie in her hands. It’s the first time she has ever seen one “in the flesh as opposed to on an American TV show,” and she’s not sure she likes what she sees. “It’s the color of wet mud!” she complains. “And the bit … looks like toothpaste rather than cream.”

She twists and turns the cookie in her fingers, staring at it from every angle with a screwed-up look on her face that seems to say, “Gross!” not “Mmm, cookie time.” You could be forgiven for thinking she’s handling some dangerous alien element, Cookie Kryptonite, say, rather than one of the best-known biscuits in the Western hemisphere.

She bites, chews, raises an eyebrow, chews some more.

“OK, I get it,” she says, finally. “I can see the attraction. It’s very sweet.” Suddenly she seems to change her mind. “Actually it’s too sweet … it’s becoming mushy,” she says, alarmed as tentative chewing becomes frantic munching to wolf the cookie down.

My impromptu taste test in Leicester Square is now attracting the attention of puzzled passersby giving us weird looks.

Ms. Woodward’s verdict is that the Oreo is “too … damp.”

I tell her that, according to the ads, it should be “dunked” before eaten.

“In tea?” she asks. (Dipping biscuits – we Brits call all cookies “biscuits’ – in a steaming hot cup of tea is an almost sacred ritual here.)

“No, in milk,” I reply.

“Milk?! A biscuit dipped in milk? Who does that?”

“Apparently Americans do,” I explain.

“Well, let them,” she say dismissively. “I won’t be doing it anytime soon.” And with that, she disappears into a throng of pedestrians, nonplussed by what has been labeled here as “America’s Favorite Cookie.”

“Kraft hopes the Oreo will capture Britain as it has America (with 419 billion Oreos sold since they first appeared in 1912).”

“Since its 1996 launch in China, the Oreo has become the No. 1 biscuit in that vast country. But the Chinese Oreo is very different from the American one – it has less sugar and it is a crispy cream-filled wafer. The version being launched in Britain is the exact same as the American one. Only the packaging has changed. At 74 pence ($1.44) a go, we Brits will get our Oreos in a long, thin tube.”

“We Brits are biscuit-mad. The British Department of Trade and Industry estimates that $3.1 billion is spent on biscuits here annually, and one newspaper estimated that the average Briton eats 1.5 tons of biscuits and cakes in his lifetime.”

“Some of these biscuits have a history of 150 years,” says Mr. Payne. He describes British biscuits as “thoroughbreds” specially designed – in a Darwinian process of the survival of the dippiest – over generations to suit British tastes. For example, he notes, “Our love of tea-dipping has influenced the selection of flour and the temperature at which biscuits are baked. Our biscuits are built for dunking.”

“Yet the Oreo, because of its high-sugar content, is “woeful” when it comes to being dunked in tea, he says. “In my experience, it dissolves. It’s not a survivor in tea terms like the British biscuit is.”

“Eating biscuits in a certain way is part of British culture, says Payne. It goes back to the days when lots of people worked in factories, and the only thing they could squeeze into their 10-minute breaks was “a cup of tea and two Rich Tea biscuits.” Biscuits had to be sturdy and satisfy hunger.”

http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0513/p20s01-woeu.html

On a Sunday, May 10, 1908 there were simple church services in Grafton, West Virginia and Philadelphia to honor the nations mothers.  A bill introduced to established an official “Mother’s Day” failed in the US Senate that year.  It wasn’t until 1914 that the measure passed.
 
I read an interesting article on Mother’s Day in the Christian Science Monitor, by Marilyn Gardner, titled “Was It Easier Being A Mother In 1908?” The following are excerpts from the article with a link to it below:

“With their tightly laced corsets, long skirts, heavy shoes, and upswept hair, the mothers of 1908 bear little physical resemblance to their counterparts in 2008, dressed in shorts, Spandex, and sneakers. But as today’s busy mothers savor their holiday, some might think longingly of simpler times, before women spoke of “juggling” or “balancing” work and family. They might even be tempted to idealize mothers of a century ago, whose serene images grace family photo albums.

But wait. “It’s not a time to be romanticized,” says Stephanie Coontz, a historian and author of “Marriage: A History.” “Mothers in 1908 spent less time mothering than they do today. Even in the middle classes, they spent much less time with their kids than we would have imagined.”

One reason for this time deficit involves work. “Most families needed several wage earners,” Ms. Coontz says. “Women took in boarders, did sewing at home, cleaning, and all sorts of jobs that weren’t counted as jobs on the Census but were time-consuming.”

“Even mothers without paid employment labored endlessly doing housework. In 1908, a New York settlement worker estimated that the average woman, even in middle-class families, spent 40 hours a week just cleaning and shopping. Laundry was an arduous, two-day task, washing one day and ironing the next. Wood and coal stoves required tending and cleaning.”

“The mothers of 1908, like their counterparts today, received advice from pediatricians. Emmett Holt, author of “The Care and Feeding of Children,” was the Dr. Spock of his era, Coontz says. His advice to women: Don’t pick babies up when they cry, and do not breast-feed. And a noted psychologist, Dr. J.B. Watson, cautioned against using pacifiers or indulging in displays of affection. He wrote, “When you are tempted to pet your child, remember that mother love is a dangerous instrument.”

“In the early 1900s, about 10 percent of families were single-parent households, partly because of death and partly because of a high rate of abandonment. “A lot of women were living apart from their husbands,” says Steven Mintz, a historian at Columbia University.”

“Even so, Professor Mintz says, “Life was tough in ways we don’t appreciate.” Life expectancy was 51. Infant mortality was high. Most women could not vote.

In 1907, Laura Clarke Rockwood wrote poignantly in The Craftsman magazine about the need to simplify housekeeping: “This mother of to-day hurries from kitchen to nursery and over the other parts of the house, performing as best she can the many home duties of our times. But she is so overwearied in the doing of it all that the deep well of mother love which should overflow, flooding the world with happiness and cheer, runs well nigh dry at times.”

http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0508/p17s02-hfgn.html

Every era presented it’s problems.  I suspect it is no easier, or harder, to raise children now than it was 100 years ago, the challenges are just different.

If you could pick a decade over the last 100 years which would you pick to raise your children in?

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