It was a suicide mission. I knew that going in.
That’s the way I like it. Long odds against … well, impossible odds.
I made my time (sic) and said my goodbyes. “Goodbye, iPod. Goodbye, iMac. Goodbye, iPad. Goodbye, Apple TV.” I’m only human so I brought the iPad with me. I knew we would make a fine Thelma & Louise moment together.
I was going to that McDonalidzed experience at the strip mall where they make eyeglasses. What the hell, you can only die once.
I made sure to bring my blue pen. We were decidedly heading out past the point of no return.
I squinted and turned to face my destiny. I took that warm feeling spreading through my pants as a sign I was doing the right thing.
Continue reading →
I Chop To The Trees
The people in the self-described “weird” city of Portland, Oregon are serious about many things. Like roses, microbrew, recycling, bridges, kale, bicycling, front yard gardens, cafés with garage doors, beards, fedoras, the Trailblazers, dogs and, last but not least, trees. These are but a few of our favorite things.
We were lucky enough to be the recipients of a new tree in our front yard courtesy of a non-profit organization that plants and cares for trees in metro areas. We also routinely have a CAR2GO parked down the block but that’s another story.
What we didn’t know was that this tree was the harbinger of a new long-term relationship in our lives. These trees like to put down roots.
Taking on the responsibility of a tree is a serious matter. It’s nothing to bark at.
We recently received our second report card (in the form of a flyer on our door) based on a personalized visit to our home. Yes, in a crazy mixed-up world where abused children often go unnoticed and sadly fall through the cracks, our baby tree is lavished with love, support and attention. If only the government could run with this much efficiency.
I thought I’d end this post by leafing you with a description of our tree parenting grades. I told my wife we should have redshirted the bastard but no one ever listens to me. Now our graduation ceremony marking us as successful tree companions is in danger of going timber.
Soil: Mixed. Ours was rated “a little dry.”
Mulch: Thumbs down. Ouch. But they said they’ll take care of it.
Root Zone: Thumbs up.
Bark: Thumbs up.
Canopy: Thumbs up.
Sucker Growth: Thumbs up. (Apparently we got a waiver for me to remain on the property.)
Overall Grade: Double secret probation.
There was nary a gold star on our report card. Apparently we’re falling down on the job. But we did get a nice thank you doing our part to help the “urban forest” grow.
In the comments section they also noted that we have failed to properly christen Junior with a name for his root certificate. I’ve purchased some baby name books and we hope to accomplish this soon. I’ve already got a bottle of champagne ready to smash on his/her trunk. Hopefully the christening procedure won’t hurt our Bark Rating.
No trees were harmed during the creation of this post.
Yonder cowpuncher of morality and mortality
This may surprise many of you, I’m sure, but sometimes I feel melancholy. Sometimes I get downright moody. I know! Who would have guessed? I generally just chalk this up to the black bile (one of the four bodily humors, believed to be associated with a melancholy temperament).
Continue reading →
Big diff – poop wages war on diarrhea
As one of the foremost “poop correspondents” on the internet it falls on me (no pun intended) to bring you this explosive story. Here’s my report filed from the trenches…
Recently, Brea thoughtfully tipped me off regarding some interesting news in the medical world. News that was right up my alley (so to speak).
To put this succinctly, poop transplants are now being performed as “last-ditch treatments” in the fight against an illness known as clostridium difficile or more commonly as “CDF/cdf” or “c. diff.”
According to Wikipedia, c. diff “is a species of Gram-positive bacteria of the genus Clostridium that causes diarrhea and other intestinal disease when competing bacteria are wiped out by antibiotics.”
The disease can be remarkably hard to treat and can be fatal. According to a story in the Associated Press, C. diff is “a germ that so ravages some people’s intestines that repeated tries of the strongest, most expensive antibiotic can’t conquer their disabling diarrhea.”
In dire cases, a new treatment consisting of a “transplant” of fecal matter from a healthy person is performed. A doctor in the story claims, “[fecal matter] is the ultimate probiotic.” (Probiotics are live microorganisms thought to be healthy for the host organism.)
I can only imagine how that doctor/patient consultation goes down. “Your problem, as you well know, is diarrhea. Our plan is to take poop from someone healthy and put it inside you. Poop will be the solution to your diarrhea.”
Sounds ass backwards to me.
It’s a little more complicated than that. The transplant procedure involves relocation of an “entire bacterial neighborhood” from the healthy donor.
Here’s the fun part. C. diff is thought to commonly be a “nosocomial infection.” That’s just a fancy way of saying the C. diff infection is often the “result of treatment in a hospital or a healthcare service unit.”
You go in for health care and come away with a little unplanned bonus. Interesting how that works, eh?
According to Wikipedia, a stay in the hospital up to two weeks represents a 13% chance to pick up the C. diff infection. A stay of four-weeks or more and that rate jumps to a whopping 50 percent!
I wish I was making this stuff up. All I can say is, “I’m not shitting you!”
As a poop correspondent, I’ve often sat around spending my free time daydreaming about things like hand washing rates. (Hand washing represents a substantial chunk of my “Poop Manifesto” I’m hoping to release someday.) We’ve all heard the stories about public handrails with more than 500 different sources of fecal matter on them. Or how people in public restrooms tend to wash their hands more often when they are being watched.
As a civilization we are apparently not big on the whole concept of hand washing and cleanliness. Even though science has told us about the dangers for a long time now.
Imagine a place where you think hand washing would reign supreme. Imagine people who you think would be best at it. It isn’t too hard to surmise that a place like an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) within a hospital might be such a place, right? And that people like doctors might be experts at washing hands, right? We’ve all seen the surgeons at Mash 4077 like Hawkeye, Trapper John and B.J. Hunnicutt “scrub” before working on patients. For them it was a big deal.
As it often turns out, it’s no big surprise (at least to me) when reality turns out to be just a wee bit different.
When doing my research, one thing I noticed was that the ICU industry (for lack of a better term) seemed to be bragging about hand washing rates of 97%. My reaction: How the hell is that something to brag about in a frickin’ hospital???
But it’s worse than that. Much worse. Studies have found that hand washing rates in ICUs are appalling low. Even after “awaresness campaigns,” specialized training, and even when employees are told that their hand washing will be monitored. And these are the people that take care of the sick?
One study found that within an ICU setting, there was a hand washing rate of 72.8%. Nurses were best with a rate of 97.5%. Technicians came in second with a rate of 47.7%. Are you ready to guess who came in last place? Yep, doctors, with a rate of 37.6%.
37.6%? Holy shit!
The study also found that an “educational program” about hand washing improved the hand washing rate among nurses and technicians, but not doctors. Said the study, “No statistically significant changes in the handwashing behaviour among doctors was observed during the study period.” Is this the “God complex” at work? Apparently doctors don’t like to be told what to do, about anything, from anyone. Oh, put your hands on me, doctor! And some people actually want to date doctors?
Side story: My wife worked in a doctor’s office. It was a small office where people sat a few feet away from the restroom. When someone did their business you could hear every “plop,” if you know what I mean. More importantly, however, you could hear if running water was turned on. Running water that would imply that hand washing was taking place. And guess who used the restroom and didn’t turn on the water before coming back out? Yep! The doctor! One of my favorite expressions used to be, “The doctor will fee you now.” But I think that’s old and busted. From now on, I’m updating my phrase to “The doctor will pee you now.” It think that’s a lot more apropos.
So, it seems to me, we just might have identified at least one culprit when it comes to nosocomial infections, eh? Do a serious internet search regarding the problem of simply getting health care workers to wash their hands and you begin to get an idea about the magnitude of the problem we’re facing.
The good news is that, since getting it’s humble start in hospitals and such, C. diff now seems to be making headway in the “outpatient setting,” also known as the general community outside of hospitals. You know, where people like you and me live our daily lives.
Humans! Is there anything they can’t do?
Thanks, Brea, for getting me started! 🙂