When snow comes peeking in the window.

Snow window

We had a major winter storm blowing for most of this last trip up to the family cabin. I’m guessing there was only a couple feet of new snowfall but fierce winds blew it into big drifts and that’s what caused all the fun. We do so LOVE weather, the hubster and I! This is a view through a back window. The door, just a couple feet over, is completely blocked and will just have to wait till spring thaw to open again.

Winter is our favorite time of year to vacation up here, which some people understand completely and some people never will. I think it’s similar to dog people and cat people. The guy who’s getting ready to replace our fence down in Boise was excited and congratulatory when he found out we were up here during the storm, while a friend from L.A. just shakes her head and says, every single time we come up, I wouldn’t do it. I’d freeze to death. And yet she skis (in winter, on snow!) so I’m confused. What’s the difference? Is winter not just as cold when you’re hurtling down a mountainside at 30 miles an hour? In fact, isn’t it even colder with the wind chill?

People. Personally, I don’t think we’re anywhere near as rational as we like to think. More like big bundles of unconscious bias in fact, overlaid with a very thin veneer of reason which is of course the part we preen ourselves on and strut about holding up to one another because it makes us feel so special.

 I do it myself. Which is totally ridiculous, I know, but it can’t be helped. Oh well. We humans are just so incredibly absurd and vulnerable, y’know? And there’s so much to love in that.

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Guinea Pig Rescue and the (Historic) War On Women

Meet Hashbrown and E. Benedict.

These are the newest additions to the family of Foxed In and, believe it or not, both their little lives have already been touched by tragedy.  Little Hashbrown, pictured on the left, was recently purchased from a well-known chain of pet stores along with poor little Nacho who is not pictured because he died suddenly and horribly a scant three days later.  I’ll let you go over to Foxed In yourself for a hint of the sad, bad news about pet mill horror that exists in the retail world.

But in the meantime, being left with a bewildered and lonely little piglet (guinea pigs are evidently “super social animals and pretty much need to be in pairs”) Foxed In then located E. Benedict, pictured on the right, with the help of an absolutely fabulous (wait for it, wait for it…) guinea pig rescue/adoption group that the vet who did the (wait for it, wait for it…) autopsy on Nacho recommended.  Seriously.  Foxed In requested an autopsy.

I find that sort of humbling actually.  Evidently, this is a woman who doesn’t discount life simply for the sake of size.  Perhaps something for us all to consider.

On a humorous little side note, Foxed In calls E. Benedict a “walking toupee.”

I think I can see it.

On another topic, I began my hospice work as a volunteer but quickly realized that it was the nurse’s aids who got to spend the most time with patients.  (i.e. my own ulterior motive.)  I therefore dutifully trotted down to the university and enrolled in a class to get my certification and become a C.N.A.

The evening classes were held at the old Idaho State Penitentiary, which is now shut down and maintained as an historical monument. I took a tour of the place once, which was pretty fascinating in a horrible kind of way, but I noticed that it entirely ignored the history of the women prisoners who were also once incarcerated there.

The Idaho women’s prison is a small building constructed outside the walls of the men’s prison and, while it’s not a part of the formal tour, there is an exhibit in the main hall explaining some of the criminal history of Idaho’s gentler sex.

Strolling around the room I was initially surprised to learn just how many women were locked up for killing their husbands. (For those interested, poison was the method of choice by a clear majority.) But it all started to make more sense as I read about some of the laws governing women back in the late 1800’s/early 1900’s.

To varying extents depending on the decade, women were not allowed to own property and had no legal right to either their children or any wages they might earn.  Everything they “owned” legally belonged to their husbands.  This complicated the divorce option for a woman whose husband chose to contest it.  If she wanted to leave the marriage he could keep everything she owned as well as prevent her from seeing her own children, not to mention confiscate her wages until the divorce was finalized, making savings impossible.  So unless a woman had a family or friends to turn to, the likeliest outcome was that she would wind up on the street, probably forced into prostitution.

Evidently, this law was not as binding for women from the upper class who retained some property rights under specific circumstances.  But for women from the middle and lower classes, the law in effect made them the property of their husbands with rights equivalent to…say…a chest of drawers..

Add to this the law commonly known as the “rule of thumb”…which defined the acceptable size of a stick that a man could legally use to beat his wife and children with as being no bigger than his thumb…and perhaps these guilty women might be forgiven for believing that murder was their only alternative.

Clearly, the underlying purpose of these laws was to bind a woman to her husband in a way that would establish his dominance and prevent her from leaving him.  (It might be wise for other men with this agenda to note that the plan backfired significantly in some cases.)

I wonder what happened to all the other Idaho women trapped in the kind of abusive marriages that laws like these actually helped to create? How many others wound up poisoning their husbands and getting away with it?  How many decided instead to escape with nothing, only to wind up in prostitution or starving or dead?  And how many simply gave up and stayed in the marriage, dying a slower, black and blue kind of stick-death?

I look at what the Idaho legislature is doing these days where its laws governing women are concerned, and I can’t help but notice a similarity between today’s governing mindset and the one at work during this earlier, abysmal period of our state history.  Yesterday’s elected officials were finally forced to abandon their sticks only to have today’s politicians embracing  some of the stick’s newer, high-tech equivalents like ultrasound machines and health care exclusions.  Laws concerning almost every aspect of a woman’s reproductive capacity are multiplying at an alarming rate (it’s amazing how obsessed our predominantly male legislature is with the subject.)…

(24 hours later…)

Blah, blah, blah.  Believe it or not I wasted three precious hours of my life yesterday on a following rant about Idaho politics.  It was such useless kvetching that finally even I couldn’t stand it anymore.

How do you spell d-e-l-e-t-e?

Let me just finish by saying this.  Women?  Respect yourself, remember how much less we once had and, if all else fails, poison the fucker.  (Kidding!!@#!!!)  Call your elected representatives and picket Congress for a century.  That’s what our foremothers did and they got us property rights and freedom from sticks.  Let’s learn by example and not drop the torch.

A brief tribute for two women to whom we owe much: Elizabeth Cady-Stanton and Susan B. Anthony 

(Photo credit of American Memory)

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

So.  Rather than ranting about politics, I’d rather spend my last paragraph observing that the above-mentioned guinea pig rescue/adoption people believe in the dignity and beauty of life so much that they’re willing to fight for it even in the most ridiculous of little pet-creatures.  And that gives me more hope than just about anything.

I think one of these kind of people is worth a thousand…no…a million politicians.

copyright 2012 Dia Osborn

Spear Fishing Gone Wrong

This photograph sent me in about six different directions at once.

1) Horror.  Whoa.  A butt is never, never supposed to look like that.

2)  Fascination.  But…it does.  It does!  I can’t look away.

3)  Curiosity.  Is he unconscious?  What did the spear go through?  What’s in a butt cheek anyway?  Just muscle, right?  No major arteries or veins?  And how will they get it out of there?  Break off one end and pull out the other?  (Owwwwww!!!!!!)  Will they use an anesthetic?  And who is this guy?  I wish I could see his face. And where’s the other guy who shot him?  Or…good god.  Could he possibly have done it to himself?  Why doesn’t he look wet?  Did the accident happen on the boat?  Did they cut his shorts to pull them down like that?  And what’s that logo on his shirt?  Something…DER?  Why is he strapped down?  And is that a fishing boat?  It looks industrial.  Was he commercially fishing?  Is that really even a spear?…

4)  Amorous.  That medic is pretty cute.

5)  Clinical.  What’s with the scissors?  Is he applying gauze?  Like…a band aid?  Seriously?

6)  Empathetic.  Wow.  So that’s what the fish feels like.

copyright Dia Osborn 2012

 

Planking: The Organization of Random Humor

Planking, otherwise known as “The lying down game”, has evidently been around for a while but I just learned about it.  It’s totally absurd (a guaranteed hit with me) and involves lying down on one’s face in random, incongruous, often public places, and then holding a prescribed, rigid position with arms pressed against one’s sides, legs and torso stiff and straight, and fingers and toes pointed.

All very crisp and gymnastic, with just a hint of narcolepsy.

Eventually, players started taking pictures and posting them on Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and blogs, after which the game evolved into an internet fad.  A competitive element crept in…participants attempting to one-up each other with increasingly creative choices in locale, composition, theme, and scale of danger…which inevitably led to a couple of arrests and at least one tragic death.

Overall though, it’s another splendid example of the new, broad-based, spontaneous organizational power of the internet, a phenomenon that fascinates me.  (Think Arab Spring and flash mobs.)  There’s something about the way this group-mind communication spreads that vaguely reminds me of those huge flocks of birds all flying in unison, or the big schools of fish which turn and flash simultaneously.  I wonder if we humans are wired with a latent gene, too, directing us to coordinate and move together across vast numbers, but it wasn’t until the internet came along that this gene could finally “turn on.”

In any case, the comedy in play with this game is a mix of farce, slapstick, and nonsensism.  (Yes, there really is such a thing.  Look it up.)  And me?  I just call it delightful.

Here are a few of my favorite examples set to “One potato, Two potato…”  Enjoy.

One plank:

Two plank:

Three plank:

Four:


Beer plank:

Wedding plank:

Fast food:

More:

Pole plank:

Fridge plank:

Chopper plank:

Nude:

Sand plank:

Water plank:

Air plank:

Food:

Still haven’t had enough?  Well, just a few more then.  (But after this you’ll have to go to bestplanking.com for satisfaction.)

Here’s the “For godsakes let’s keep a sense of humor men…” plank:

A couple of dead-pan bactrian comedians getting in on the game:

My arch enemy (oh if only…):

And an imaginative, not to mention bath-averse, dog:

Last but not least, here’s something from the country that came up with the fabulous name, Planking. It’s a newscast from Australia with a report on the phenomenon.  Those Aussies…I tell ya.  I really, really love their sense of humor.

(Planking has a Facebook page and a Wikipedia site.  People post their planking photos just about anywhere on the web and then various websites compile “best of’s”.  These particular photos came from Geekosystem’s The 65 Best Planking Pictures From Around the World.) 

copyright Dia Osborn 2011

Fecal Implants? Seriously?! (Yup.)

rectal bulb syringe

(RECENT UPDATES ARE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE POST.  MOST RECENT UPDATE AS OF 5/2/12.)

I live for this kind of stuff.

Slate online published an article a couple days ago titled The Enema of Your Enemy is Your Friend by Emily P. Walker. It reveals an unusual, frontier-type of treatment for an intestinal infection called Clostridium difficile that’s killed a lot of people over the years, and which 1.3 percent of patients are estimated to contract during a hospital stay.

Death by diarrhea.  Not a fun way to go.

The traditional treatment for C. diff is a course of antibiotics but for the unlucky who fail to respond, fecal implants are another up and coming possibility.  And before you wrinkle your nose and shake your head in disgust please consider that, in the small amount of documented research available so far, the outcomes are surprisingly good.  From the article:

“It’s true there’s been no major clinical trial of fecal transplants, but the procedure appears in the medical literature at least as far back as 1958… Now we’re beginning to see some more extensive studies. Mark Mellow, a gastroenterologist at INTEGRIS Health in Oklahoma City, recently presented a paper showing that 15 out of 16 C. diff patients whom he’d provided with a fecal transplant remained disease-free after five months. Several other papers presented at the meeting showed similar positive effects, and in every case, symptoms disappeared almost immediately after the transplant.”

Evidently, it works because the foreign feces helps to repopulate friendly flora in the infected intestines.  (Want to know the best feces to use?  Borrow it from a person who lives with you.  Their flora and your flora are the most likely to be a good match.)  In a clinical setting the donated matter is first screened for disease and then mixed with a saline solution to the consistency of a “milkshake.”  (The article is not only informative, it’s fun to read.) Then it’s pumped into the colon where it does it’s magic.

But there’s also an alternative:

“And then there’s the do-it-yourself crowd.  All you need is a bottle of saline, a 2-quart enema bag, and one standard kitchen blender. Mike Silverman, a University of Toronto physician who wrote up a guide to homespun fecal transplants for the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, says it’s entirely safe to do the procedure this way, provided that a doctor gets involved at some point to screen the donor sample. He felt he needed to draw up the instructions because administrators at his hospital wouldn’t allow their doctors to perform a procedure that hasn’t been validated in a large, peer-reviewed study.”

But as Ms. Walker points out in the article, these studies are proving hard to come by.  Pharmaceutical companies not only have little reason to shoulder the substantial costs involved (there’s not enough profit potential for them), there’s actually a disincentive; a natural remedy like this would replace an antibiotic treatment.

Gotta love our health care system’s fabulous cast of skewed incentives.

Needless to say, I’m endlessly fascinated when conventional medicine turns off the beaten path to consider the unusual.  If this treatment turns out to be as successful as it looks like it could be, it would place it right up there with the simple elegance of biosurgery; the use of maggots in destroying necrotic tissue in a slow or non-healing wound.

My hope is always that the adversarial stance so often adopted between different healing modalities will eventually soften and reverse.  It sure seems like the more hands we have on deck, the more solutions we’ll find for not only treating illness, but increasing health, thereby enriching everyone’s quality of life.

UPDATE:  October 29, 2011

It looks like this treatment may be starting to get the acceptance (and application) it deserves.  I just found a headline article on msn.com called Sounds gross, works great: Fecal transplants cure nasty C. diff infections citing the benefits and growing use of fecal transplants.  The article mentions a success rate of 90% for the treatment (yowza!) yet says the transplants are still looked at as a “treatment of last resort.”  I wonder how much of that is due to doctor’s skepticism and how much is patient’s resistance?

In any case it’s interesting to note how quickly fecal transplants are gaining traction as a viable treatment.  With C. diff infections on the rise, the availability of a treatment with a 90% success rate is a godsend.

UPDATE:  July 6, 2011

And now, a recent positive write-up in a professional journal!  The journal Pediatrics published an article on June 14, 2011 covering the case of a child who was successfully treated with a fecal implant.

For those researching, here’s an online physician’s resource called HCP Live, with a couple of other potentially valuable links.  Good luck!

UPDATE:  March 24, 2011

Because I’m getting a lot of hits on this post I thought I’d update it whenever new information comes in.  Today, I received a comment from Kathy Suszek who is a nurse case manager “working with a gentleman who just had the fecal implant done, he tells me his results are “wonderful”. Had 1-2 loose bowel movements, in the past few wks, but much improvement.  Just wanted to share news that is positive for a change.  His provider has had 14-out of 14 success stories.”

UPDATE:  May 2, 2012

Here’s a great article titled Fecal Transplants: They Work, The Regulations Don’t published in Wired Magazine, December of 2011.  In it the author talks about a couple of early trial results on fecal transplants as well as some of the regulatory hurdles involved in getting serious studies launched.  The success rates for this procedure so far are absolutely amazing, but it’s difficult for people to find doctors working in institutions that are broad minded enough to allow it.

I did find this video posted by Integris Digestive Health Center in Oklahoma City where they consider administering fecal transplants to those with recurring C. diff.  

copyright 2010 Dia Osborn