Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thoughts on the "Swine Flu Pandemic"

We have been hearing for months about this "worldwide pandemic" outbreak of the H1N1 swine flu virus. You can find out for sure if you have swine flu here.

I am not exactly sure what is going on, but for anyone who actually stops and LOOKS RATIONALLY at the information, what is going on is actually an "outbreak" NOT a "Pandemic". The dictionary defines a pandemic as "Epidemic over a wide geographic area and affecting a large proportion of the population: pandemic influenza. Widespread; general. from Gk. pandemos "pertaining to all people," from pan- "all" + demos "people".

An example of a true Pandemic is the Influenza Epidemic of 1918, where it has been estimated that there were about 20,000,000 cases of influenza and pneumonia in the United States in 1918-19, with approximately 850,000 deaths. The US population was 103,268,000, which means that almost 1 in 5 people were sick, and 1 in 125 died. Eighty percent of the deaths in 1918 occurred in the last 4 months of the year. Most Influenza varieties have a few fatalities, which are usually the very young, and the very old. There has never been another strain of influenza that killed such a high percentage of people, or that killed so many otherwise healthy young people.

So, how many people are dying from this "Swineflu Pandemic?"

WELL...according to the CDC,each year approximately 56,326 die from "reglar" Influenza and Pneumonia, in the UNITED STATES. So far, IN THE ENTIRE WORLD, 11918 people have died. That's right...

56,326 versus


I am not sure where all the hype and excitement is coming from, but I would place a fairly large bet on the old saying "follow the money"...and according to ABC news, "Drug companies have sold $1.5 billion worth of swine flu shots, in addition to the $1 billion for seasonal flu they booked earlier this year. These inoculations are part of a much wider and rapidly growing $20 billion global vaccine market."

Make up your own mind, but do some real research first, and don't just panic because somebody told you you should!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Giving Thanks

I have posted less this month than in any previous month of my blog-life. Part of that is the insane busyness of my schedule. Part is that I have several BIG posts that I am mentally chewing my way through, before I put them into words.

I always find myself pondering how great my life is around this time of year--and not just because we have an official holiday for it, either. I think the gathering in, as well as the colder weather combine to make me thoughtful. I have a pretty great life.

For general comfort on an everyday level, I am better off than any royalty in the history of the world up until about 100 years ago. I have hot water ANY TIME I WANT IT. I have bright, non-flickering light--as much as I want! I do not have to be downwind of the latrines no matter what the weather is, or which direction the wind is blowing! I can be warm in the winter (although for me, that goes directly back to the unlimited hot water issue!).

I can have any food I want, at any time of year--including fresh fruit in the middle of winter, and while it is slighty more expensive, it is nothing like as costly as it could be! I am at an age, where even at the time my grandparents were born was past middle age--now, I am not even close to half of my life expectancy--and I have all of my teeth! I do love dental care that enables me to KEEP the ones I have!

I am surrounded by family and friends that I love. It is cheap, easy and effective to call, write or otherwise communicate with them. It was not all that long ago when you sent a letter by writing their name and town on the outside, and entrusting it to anyone who was traveling in that general direction. Many of my siblings live in other states, sometimes in other countries. In previous generations, that would have meant that I would probably never see them again. I also have blog friends around the world that I may never meet in person, that still bless and enrich my life.

When BigGirl had appendicitis a few years ago, it was a tiny, minor laproscopic surgery, and she was only out of school for a week. No close call with death, no 6 inch scar across her abdomen. LargeBoy's broken arm is a small inconvenience, not a life changing event. SmallDaughter benefits daily from technology and therapy breakthroughs.

We are blessed.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Halloween Costumes, part 2

I got some new pictures today, which I am happy to share! Didn't they turn out cute!

Here is the whole "Mario Gang" Mario, Luigi, Toad, Princess Peach and a Goomba.


Princess Peach


Saturday, November 7, 2009


Today conditions conspired to create the perfect day for me to stop procrastinating and clean out the chicken coop. While we have managed to keep them from being horribly stinky or unpleasant (deep cedar chips and diatomaceous earth), it needed cleaned out before winter. Thus I had plenty of time to ponder on a discussion I had once with my very wise mother.

I was about 14 at the time, and many of my friends were doing ANYTHING to appear more "adult". My mom's comment was short, but it has resonated in me through the years. She said, "the real adults are the ones who clean up the crap. Our lives are filled with various forms of crap--we care for babies, and pets and old people, which involves physically cleaning up crap. We also care for the people who produce the emotional crap. The real adult is the person who sees what needs to be done, rolls up their sleeves and finishes the job, to make the world a better place--even when the ones they clean up after don't notice or care. By this definition I know some 12 year olds who are the grownups, and some 55 year olds who aren't."

Now that I am an adult by pretty much any way of figuring, this is more true than ever. It also reminds me of the gentle way she taught me that changing a baby is a privilege--to take care of another person's most intimate needs is a gift, and we, by our attitude can make it a time of wonderful bonding. She taught me that we never confuse the PERSON with the BEHAVIOR/RESULT. Thus, you don't say "Ooh, gross, you stink!" you say, "Ooh gross, let's get this stinky poop off of you". People are not their behaviors. Even when supremely bad behavior is going on (ie, screaming tantrums in a toddler, or alcoholic rages in an adult) the person still has merit and worth.

POSTSCRIPT-- Now I get to go clean up the flour. SmallDaughter just got a 5 lb bag of flour out of the cupboard, stabbed it open with a knife and spread it everywhere. BIG SIGH.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Halloween Costumes, part 1

Here are (finally) a few of our Halloween Costumes (and by "our", I mean that I helped think of, sew, create, etc.!) For those of you who got costumes and haven't sent me pictures yet...(sound of throat clearing) Well, we will just say there are more costumes out there!

And so, for your enjoyment (drumroll, please)...

Halloween 2009!

A Medieval Lady and Her Knight?

Zeus & Athena (with Athena's "Mini-Me"!)

A Goth Doll

Now for those poor souls who haven't had the chance to watch the WONDERFUL movie "My Neighbor Totoro" (Our family prefers the 1994 Fox Version, better dubbing), you won't recognize the next costumes. So, as a reference, HERE is a picture of the 3 Totoros, with their human friends Mei and Satsuki.

Now, here is our version:

The Blue Totoro and The White Totoro

I ran out of time before I solved the problem of getting their cute pointy ears to stand up, so they spent the night explaining that they weren't penguins. Oh well.