Posts Tagged ‘medicine’


It Sounds Like New England

Sunday, November 16th, 2014


I woke this morning to a howling wind. The sound is unmistakable. We’re in SoCal, but my ears said winter in New England!

I’m hearing Santa Ana winds. These are dry, often hot winds coming from the east. The official meteorological term is katabatic.

A katabatic wind, from the Greek word katabatikos meaning “to flow downhill”, is the technical name for a drainage wind, a wind that carries high density air from a higher elevation down a slope under the force of gravity. Such winds are sometimes also called fall winds.

As the wind flows downhill it compresses, warms and dries. It picks up speed flowing through canyons and passes. The sound is the same, but the effect is nearly the opposite of the New England howl I’m attuned to.


At the moment the temperature is 73° and the dewpoint -8°! The relative humidity is 4%.

The wind sucks the moisture from anything it passes. You would be hard pressed to show visible perspiration today. Santa Ana sneezes are often accompanied by a little blood on the tissue.

This is very dangerous fire weather. We had drizzle a few days ago. Any beneficial effect of that rain is gone. If it’s not green it’s tinder.

Red Flag Warnings are up across Southern California. There will be fires. They will spread.

When a weather feature has its own name, it’s significant! Think Nor’easter.

A few more days of Santa Ana wind will follow.

Don’t Watch Cable News

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

gupta glassesIf you want to get scared keep cable news on all day. That’s my takeaway from a couple of days of doing just that! I’ve got the eebie jeebies over Ebola, or as it’s called in the Fox house, “The Ebola.”

That two health care professionals in bunny suits got infected seems totally Michael Crichton. Plausible fiction. But it’s real.

From here it looks like health care professionals were treating it too lightly. Dr. Nancy Snyderman, allegedly on voluntary quarantine, was ratted out for driving around her home in Princeton, NJ. Her quarantine is now mandatory.

And, as Crichton would have probably fictionalized for added drama, one of the two Ebola stricken nurses took two flights on jam-packed airliners. They’re petri dishes in the sky already. This is insult to injury.

I’m not an immunologist. I’m not a doctor. Take what I say with that admission.

We should have already figured out a cure. Maybe we already have in ZMapp–if there were any available.

Ebola is a nearly perfect disease to fight with genetically engineered drugs. Some people fight it off. Their blood has the answers.

ZMapp hasn’t been run through all the tests to be approved. It works flawlessly in monkeys. Human trials must be completed. Drugs have unforeseen side effects.

Beyond that, ZMapp takes time to produce. The drug is infused in growing tobacco leaves in a process is called “pharming.” This limits mass production.

This should have been done years ago, but it’s easy to not prepare for rare events.

Pandemics can happen. The last was the flu in 1918.

It infected 500 million people across the world, including remote Pacific islands and the Arctic, and killed 50 to 100 million of them—three to five percent of the world’s population—making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history. – Wikipedia

Today I worry about Ebola like I worry about a plane crash or car crash. All are possibilities, but remote.

In a week my opinion might change.

The Pot Editorial

Monday, July 28th, 2014


Even 19 year old Geoff is amazed. The New York Times came out for legalizing pot. This week they’re running a series of editorials on the subject.

Spoiler alert: I lived through the sixties and everything that implies.

The gist of the Times argument is, we do a lot of things that are worse and the penalties for pot are crazy.

The social costs of the marijuana laws are vast. There were 658,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2012, according to F.B.I. figures, compared with 256,000 for cocaine, heroin and their derivatives. Even worse, the result is racist, falling disproportionately on young black men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals.

Many, many, many years ago I worked in Florida. I was very young, a disk jockey on an ‘underground’ station. One night a co-worker and I hit the Waffle House at 2:00 AM. We were stoned.

A sheriff’s deputy followed us as we left and before long was searching the car. Mike, my co-worker, was arrested for possession. I was released.

The bag wasn’t mine, though I certainly knew it was there.

I never saw Mike again. He made an arrangement with the prosecutor and enlisted in the Air Force.

Mike avoided a criminal record, but had to short circuit his professional career. Not everyone is so fortunate.

Here in California there is (wink, wink, nod, nod) medical marijuana. It is smoked by the world’s healthiest sick people!

In Colorado, Washington and soon in Alaska you can just got to the pot store.

It’s time to stop punishing guys like Mike for something most teens and young adults have tried. It can be done without encouraging consumption.

SoCal Weather: Mainly Gentle, But Interesting

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

I’m sitting out in the California room. This is a protected spot, but I can see the effect of the wind whipping around me. The watering can is on its side. The thin mattress on the hammock is pointing down, not up. The overhead fan, turned off, is spinning slowly.

IMAG0936The sky is as blue as can be. I’m not sure it could be Photoshopped any bluer!

We’re at 94&#176. The dew point is 8&#176. It is very dry. I should be perspiring. Moisture evaporates before drops can form.

That’s part of the desert’s power. You can succumb to dehydration without suspecting you’re in trouble.

My lips are dry. Where’s the ChapStick?

IMG_0441Our earlier neighborhood wildfire is out. The Fire Authority reported 77 firefighters for the three acre blaze. I saw two copters. The air was pungent.

Thank you Orange County Fire Authority for keeping us safe. We appreciate your dangerous mission on our behalf.

This area was built with the understanding that things burn. All the homes have fire suppression sprinklers. The roofs are mainly clay.

I leave my laptop out here on the sofa. It’s full of dust. Maybe I should reconsider? Maybe it’s too late?

The weather here in SoCal is usually gentle, but it has interesting twists and turns. Another one is coming tomorrow.

Kristen Gets A Website

Monday, April 28th, 2014

memomparkA lot of you reading this know Kristen Cusato. She and I worked together at Channel 8 before she left for the West Coast. Then Kristen’s mom was stricken with Alzheimer’s.

In 2009, when she was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia at the age of 61, I quit my TV news job in San Diego, packed up 14 boxes, grabbed my cat and moved back to the East Coast to be with her through her journey.

Kristen’s mom’s journey has ended. Kristen has returned to Southern California.

Her passion and dedication to Alzheimer’s patients and families hasn’t diminished!

I started working for the Alzheimer’s Association in Connecticut, as a trainer, educator and fundraiser. It was after talking about my Mom at a book event, that I met the publisher of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series. She told me we needed to do a book about Alzheimer’s. My response: “Yes, we do.” A year later, and Chicken Soup for the Soul Living with Alzheimer’s and other Dementias” is here, in bookstores April 22nd.

Kristen has a story in the book and now a website to help get the word out. When she asked me to build it, I couldn’t say no. The site is simple, Kristen’s message is important.

You’ve heard people use the phrase “my pleasure” a million times. Seriously, when it comes to work like this, my pleasure.

The Physical

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

I saw Steve today. He’s my doctor. Today was my annual physical. Steve’s the only friend I get undressed for! Neither he nor I look forward to that.

I have come to the age where a trip to the doctor is accompanied by a ‘punch list.’ I ask about nagging little problems that need attention. Every year the list gets a little longer. I am obviously out of warranty.

My cholesterol is at an all-time low. Thanks Lipitor.

I don’t eat a lot that’s bad for me. I just eat a lot!

My blood work was good. My PSA number has fluctuated over time, but it’s OK.

Recently we’ve been told not to fixate on that potential cancer marker. Fine. One less thing to worry about.

A few years ago Steve looked at something on my skin and said, “It’s not cancerous.” Even when used in a comforting fashion having cancer in a sentence about you is sobering.

He asked about medication I take. I knew some, not others. There are seven unmarked pills on the counter when I get home. I just swallow and move on.

I’ve got to have a colonoscopy sometime soon. This will be my second. I’m in no rush to do it again. It’s not the procedure that bothers me. It’s the prep.

He took my blood pressure and noticed it was high. He told me we’d try again in a few minutes. Does he also retouch X-rays?

As Steve cuffed me to run the test a second time he said, “Relax your arm.” Oops. BP was normal. There’s a reason he’s the doc!

All things considered I’m in good shape for my age. I just wish I wasn’t my age.