Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Post in Two Parts

Why watching a Anthony Bourdain show on Rome isn't a good idea before having dinner. 

Last evening was a football evening, I was going to watch my Ducks in their yearly dismantling of the Huskies, so I needed a easy-to-cook dinner. Some linguini from a package, a jar of marinara sauce with garlic and peppers added. Perfectly adequate. Then, while waiting for the game to start I played a episode of "No Reservations", it was on Rome. As you're aware, it's mostly about eating. The pasta and various Rome specialties. When I got my dinner and looked at it, I could only sigh at the ordinary looking plate of pasta.


So I got out the folder of pictures taken when my daughter and I were there last, just to re-capture the feeling.

Friday, October 17, 2014

"Joy is converted, to bittersweet tears"

If I could spend a day and evening anywhere in the world, this might just be it.Play it full screen size.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ebola and the vectors of transmission

There has been a lot of news and opinions the last couple days about the nurse in Dallas who has been infected with the Ebola virus.

The outbreak in West Africa where her patient contracted his virus is currently the largest by a huge margin since Ebola was first identified in 1976. Prior to this the deaths were limited to smaller villages, and the total deaths would be around 10. This time it's above 4,400, and increasing. Current thoughts are that the number of infected is at or above 10,000, and rising at a current rate of 1,000 per week.

Consider that the mortality rate in those who are diagnosed is around 70%. We're talking 700 deaths per week, and it could increase through November. These are all stats from the CDC and Doctors Without Borders.

There is one major train of thought in the current outbreak as to the contagion, and another that has few numbers supporting it, but has not been ruled out by the majority.

The predominant theory as to why this one is exponentially larger is it's origins in cities, rather than the small villages, which were largely isolated. This coupled with their inability to handle the isolation requirements to protect workers at the hospital. This is supported by the fact that the alpha case, Patient Zero, was treated at a small hospital in a city, undiagnosed for a day. Of the 4 doctors that initially treated him, 3 died of the disease. All the phlebotomists also died who drew blood from him.

The alternate thought is that is found a way to mutate, to develop other vectors of transmission. An example given is that it has a respiratory/ventalitory means of transmitting the disease.

In understand the issue, and assessing the potential for threat, one needs to know the virus.

In order for a virus to transmit to others by their breathing, it is necessary for the virus to be present in the infected person's throat, large and small bronchi, or the lungs. Currently the Ebola virus have not been found in that area on those infected. The protein coating each virus has been identified as having the ability to adapt in blood, to disguise it's self and fool immune systems, allowing it to multiply.

So how did this nurse, in full contamination regalia, become infected?  I can think of a hundred ways, everything from a near-microscopic hole in her gloves, to a small tear in her sleeves, on and on.

Here's where Ebola is scary:  the concentration of virus per unit of blood. HIV, smallpox, the viral load in the blood. The higher, the worse in any virus. Comparing HIV, Smallpox and Ebola, the first two shrink to microscopic images, compared to Ebola. Over a million times greater concentration of virus per unit.

This means, if I can speculate, back in the day I and many, many other had direct exposure to HIV. Treated a lot of them, at some point I'm sure I got blood on my skin, saliva, etc. I never got it. Were it Ebola, I'd not be here.

The really scary part is scientists are hedging their bets on how fast it is mutating. The fact is, we don't know where this current outbreak is going, and how many it will kill. Or if it can successfully spread to a northern climate.

I guess we'll find out. Just an evening's thoughts.

Oh, and Ebola and The Vectors of Transmission might be a good name for a rock band.....

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A few hours early: Friday Flashbacks

Karen (taken down by request, should have asked her first.)

Me, to the right

1968. I guarantee everyone there would have rather been somewhere else. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Rainy night, the prelude to the last story

It was 2000, November I think I was in Portland, staying at a friends house, there on business. Evening, maybe around eight, I took a walk from her house around the neighborhood in SE Portland. Raining, like much of the winter in the Northwest, a light rain, but constant.

A half hour later, walking along in my gortex hood I was lost in thought. Work, the project ahead up on the hill, the kids, life. Dim light, the streetlights on the corners near gone by the middle of the block. Walking, looking down.

The next happens in time measured by milliseconds, or in a lifetime. Depends. As I walked, looking down a branch across the sidewalk appeared. Four or so inches off the concrete, straight across. My foot moved toward it, 6 inches away, swinging forward in a stride.

The sidewalk wasn't concrete, it wasn't a sidewalk. It was a path through the jungle. The branch wasn't a branch, it was a wire.

As my shoe continued on it's journey to the branch, time changed. It was no longer 2000, and I wasn't planning on how to exploit the upcoming worry about what would happen to medical computers. It was 1967, and my foot was about to hit a wire that would trigger a mine.

A quarter-second passed, my foot nearing the wire, and I went over in my mind what would happen next: The mine would go off, my lower legs would be gone if I was lucky.

The thing was, I couldn't stop my leg from moving, my foot from completing the journey.

As it hit the wire I knew I was gone. All was lost. Despair I'd never felt before, all the things I thought I'd do (knew I did do) were gone.

I walked on, the rain still falling.

Then I remembered the boy, losing his legs, then his life. The nurse who helped him with the process, made his passage easier.

The next morning I was in my best Nordstrom's suit up on the hill, shaking hands with a primary investigator of a study. In my mind, tucked away, was the memory of Karen, and all she did.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Last day until June

Last day of the Farmer's Market, I should say. It runs during the summer, featuring local produce and the other things one sees at these things.....handcrafts, etc. It's our only opportunity to get really fresh produce and fruit. Odd that city-dwellers like Seattle can get quality vegs year round, while country bumpkins like us have basically 2-3 months.

In the later months, August, this guy brings the melons he grows, Dixon melons. Sort of like a cantaloupe, but much, much better.

The best produce is at the Hmong farmers from over by Missoula. They came here in the 70's, during the turbulence post VN war era.

So I was up at 6 this morning for the mandatory 2 cups of coffee and read the newspapers about my miserable ducks of Oregon's football team. It's 31 outside, a nice fall day.

This is looking east from town, up at the aspens on the hillside.

Have a good weekend.