Monday, February 28, 2011

what a difference a day makes...

gone, at least for the day, are the near hurricane force winds that fanned a path of destruction across the area yesterday.  today's agn reports that at least 58 area homes were destroyed and 32,000 acres burned.  one sheriff's deputy was among those taken to area hospitals for smoke inhalation and breathing difficulties.  it reported 34 dogs were saved before the fire consumed willow creek kennels.

the good news in all this is that, so far, no human life has been taken.  however, the lives of 58 families were forever altered by the flames that claimed their homes.  perhaps to a lesser degree, the same can be said for those whose homes were "only damaged" in the fires. February 27, 2011 will be etched into their memories for the rest of their days. forever more, the question will be; where were you when hell broke loose that day in february in 2011? aio 

go to  for pictures of yesterday's catastrophe.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

2006, revisited?

the driver of this truck had the good sense to turn around and go in the opposite direction as he neared an area grass fire. conditions are ripe for a repeat of the 2006 grass fires that killed 11 people, 10,000 cattle and claimed numerous structures in it's race across the plains. those fires burned 850,00 acres, that is 1,328 square miles of grassland, leaving a scorched and blackened scar behind. eight towns in the path of that inferno back then were evacuated.
conditions are conducive for a repeat of that 2006 horror.  winds this afternoon have calmed to a gentle 36 mph, down from the high of 48 mph (with gusts to 69 mph) i saw earlier in the day.  acres burned today are being reported at 1200. willow creek kennels and 40+ homes have been claimed, and others damaged, in the flames thus far.  mutilple communities have been told to evacuate.

with the humidity hovering at 6-8%, with the plentiful dried grasses left behind by an unusually wet spring and summer, conditions for an encore conflagration on the order of 2006 fires is waiting in the wings.

how do these fires get started?  is there some depraved firebug at work here? is there some nut, intent on garnering a cheap thrill, out there with a zippo doing his worst? possibly, but there is a more likely source of the sparks, which when fanned by our panhandle winds, burst into hungry flames that then race before those winds, leaving a trail of ash and blackness in their wake.
many of these fires start in open country.  how can that be, you might ask?   the dried  grasses plus the howling springtime winds do not equal a prairie fire.  without a spark the two add up to much ado about nothing.  it is when you add an x-factor, the presence of xcel's, or a local electric co-operative's, transmission lines perhaps, that the equation can equal fires like the one that has burned 1200 acres today. another posssibility for the source of the fires might be a spark from the ubiquitous coal trains that wend their wayacross the plains.  an annonymous source related that one of the fires may have been started by a nogoodnik in the process of trying to steal a trailer by using a cutting torch to free it of the chains holding it.


the generator of prairie fires is often the combination of high winds and electric power lines which when whipped together by the wind can result in shower of sparks falling into the tender grasses below.  the result can be a flame, which when propelled by wind can turn into a racing inferno, scrambling fire departments into the face of danger.

panhandle folk are fond of opining in winter, "the only thing between the texas panhandle and the north pole is a barb wire fence-- and the fence is down".  at least for today the temp made it into the 70's and as the smoke cleared the reason for the fence being down came into view.

the area is under an extreme fire danger warning until wednesday.  keep the good folks of the panhandles in your prayers over the coming hours and days. aio




Tuesday, February 22, 2011

you just never know...

in the news of late is the story of a 2 year old boy who allegedly contracted a fatal infection from alcohol wipes manufactured by Triad. 

that may be the case, or not, but that particular wipe was in use at the hospital where i work and at hospitals across the country i suspect.  hospitals, any business trying to watch the bottom line are wont to procure needed services from the lowest bidder. while that is a solid business practice i'm sure, perhaps not a good decision in this case. however, saying that unfairly shifts the blame to the buyer and away from the provider.  law suits will most assuredly be in the offing.

the Triad wipes were removed from use at my work as soon as the recall was announced.  nurses are creatures of habit and it was a major pain implementing the alternate plan until another brand of wipes could be had. old school ain't all it's cracked up to be.

is it fair to lay this catastrophe at the feet of the lowest bidder practice?  would purchasing wipes from the next lowest bidder, or the highest bidder for that matter, be a guarantee that their wipes would be sterile? whatever the case, products are purchased in good faith.

the bottom line is that hospitals, anyone in business for that matter, depend on their suppliers to deliver their product as represented. if the rebar going into the 110th floor of the WTC was presented as being of a certain spec, if the wipes supplied to a hospital are said to be sterile, that construction company, that hospital expects that the product will be delivered as promised. in most cases it is.  

you just never know...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

European Vacation


is there anything better to soothe the jangled nerves and weary body inflicted by a low census saturday at the work than a bitsy vacation respite?

as a rule, by saturday quittin' time the only thing on my mind is collapsing into the cozy confines of the old lounge chair, rearing back, feet up with a schooner of chilled moscato close at hand, remote at the ready. 

last night, however, was symphony night.  after a quick shower and shave, the usual routine out of the question, i was whisked away on a european vacation guided by maestro kimbo ishii-eto and our ASO.

i don't pretend to know anything about classical music.  still it is clearly evident, even to this un-sophisticate, the growth our ASO has seen under the deft baton of the maestro.

i was moved to tears by orchestra's sibelius' karelius overture, opus 10.  as often as not i could just as well do without the guest artist. the exception du jour proved to be bruch's scottish fantasy, opus 46 featuring kyoko takezawa's riveting, strad worthy performance. our wondrous hall, and kyoko's face reflected the nuance of every wondrous note.

the highlight of the evening, for me, came after intermission. lawsy, i say, lawsy! i was carried away to a place where aching backs, fallen arches and frazzled nerves dare not tread. grieg's sigurd josalfar, opus 56 and strauss' don juan TRv 156, opus 20-- conducted by maestro kimbo and played by the marvel that is ASO lifted my spirit on the air of every amazing note.

the maestro was a blur of exhausting, conduction electricity, educing an infinitely precise performance from the house band on my saturday night vaca.

Maestro Kimbo and members of saturday eve's ASO, i would sum up the trip you took me on in a single word. Bravo!  aio      


Monday, February 14, 2011


so it is with a measure of relief that i report the cardiologist as saying, "she's doing fine. there is a 30-40% blockage in the front artery of her heart which we will continue to manage medically.  she doesn't need a stent at this point. we'll see her again in a year." 

it's always a good thing when the doctor asks you to see him again in a year.  that means he expects the patient to still be alive a year from now.

so everything is great, with the possible exception of still not knowing what is causing her chest pain.  at least we are fairly sure, now, it's not her heart that's causing the pain-- and that's a good thing.

the answer to the rest of that equation is waiting in the wings. 

more when i know it, until then... io

Sunday, February 13, 2011

green bay wins...

can it have been only a week ago?

and so Super Bowl Sunday has come and gone.  The Green Bay Packers carry the day! and your point is what?

it's funny how the loosely laid out plans for watching the big game on the big screen, maybe sucking down an adult beverage or three, all while ingesting some decidedly un- heart healthy snacks can in an instant be relegated to a "who gives a rat's ass about a football game?" level of un-importance.

that was the scenario on s.b.s.  as at last i dragged my lazy carcass out of bed as the sundial approached mid afternoon, the little woman casually said "i've been having chest pain since about 4:30." "what? why didn't you wake me?" "you were tired, you needed your rest."  the conversation quickly deteriorated from there. 

she has a remote heart history and a more recent GI history.  together we decided she would take the protonix she usually takes at bed time and a couple of "tums".  after giving them time to do their thing, the pain remained-- unchanged. "that's it, we're going to the emergency room."

to BSA emergency center, screening labs, an EKG, back to a room for a doc to see.  heart enzymes were drawn, nitro sublingual given. enzymes negative, that's good.  pain the same despite 2 nitro, not good.  CAT scan, with and without contrast, of legs and chest.  that too is negative. that's good!

so what the hell is wrong?  we left the emergency with a diagnosis of "chest pain of unknown origin" and with instructions to call the cardiologist, on monday,  for an appointment.

that's done. "forget the stress test, you need another heart cath." 

but what about the super bowl?  who gives a flying f*** about some stupid game when the mother of your children, the love of your life is having chest pain.

tomorrow, in this case valentine's day, is the first day of the rest of our lives. tomorrow, valentine's day, she's scheduled for heart cath.  depending on the findings, so goes the rest of next week.

life is what happens while you are making other plans. aio