Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The yield from our lamb, in case you were wondering

I kept track of all I got out of that lamb, and kept meaning to post it for posterity's sake, but kept forgetting. Here is the tally:

4 boneless leg roasts, total 10+ pounds
2 standing rib roasts, total 3 pounds 4 ounces
spare ribs, 2-1/2 pounds
stew meat, total 8 pounds
neck meat, 1 pound 10 ounces
7 quarts of stock
1 pound 4 ounces of cracklings which I mixed with peanut butter for the birds
Over 5 pounds rendered tallow + 2 pounds additional rendered fat, for making soap

We ate one of the rib roasts for Christmas dinner and it was just lovely.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Suspension of Disbelief

Erik Evan has compiled a list of The 50 Laws of Science Fiction Physics over on his Kunochan blog. Absolutely worth reading.

Here's a taste:

Doctrine of Hostile Alien Tourism: when technologically advanced spacefaring aliens initiate a war or invasion against the Earth, their first strategic maneuver will be to destroy a number of famous human landmarks, usually ones with no strategic or defensive value.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Printer done died

My trusty HP Photosmart 3310 up and died last night while I tried to print our annual Christmas letter (a hint, perhaps?). I have decal orders waiting and could not delay, so I ordered a new Epson Artisan 810 from Amazon with overnight shipping. Barry really loves Epson and has never been able to understand my loyalty to HP. He wore me down last night, as I was already having a discouraging day and did not feel like defending my position. I like many features of the Epson and the price was certainly right. I'll let you know what I think of it after I use it for a bit.

EDITED: Don't buy one. I'll post specifics later.

Everybody's Doing It: My Favorite Movies from 2009

C'mon, it's all the rage! Everyone wants to know what everyone else's favorite movies of the year were. And I'm sure you have been checking this blog at least daily wondering what Maria's favorites were. Wait no longer. Here they are.

Since we hardly go to theaters because of a) being broke and b) having children of too many different ages and interests to go together, I saw exactly 2 movies in the theater this year.

So my top 2 movies were: Star Trek and District 9. I liked STG and I LOVED D9.

Can I count movies I saw this year that didn't come out this year? I can? Oh good. This year I saw Voices of a Distant Star on DVD. I do not do anime. Master K does, and cannot figure out why I am not interested in it. But I Netflixed Voices of a Distant Star on the recommendation of several people whose opinions I respect, and loved it. It's animated, but not anime, if that makes sense. It's a poem of a film, not very long, and while it has a sci-fi setting, it is a poem about two people separated by time and space and what happens to their love. I cried and cried. I give this one a Five Hankie rating.

I re-enjoyed Aliens after a long time away from it. We have the extended version with all the deleted scenes and I don't like it as well, but I can cover my eyes and say lalalalala during those scenes and just let the story unfold as I remember it.

Some others:
Gran Torino Clint Eastwood swearing a lot and showing that he's really soft-hearted in the end.
Let The Right One In A darling baby vampire. In Sweden.
The Fall Lee Pace being sexy, tortured and a little twisted.

And in television:
The Wire: The Complete Series (Barry and I went on an all-five-seasons binge during which not much else got accomplished around here)
Flight of the Conchords: The Complete First and Second Seasons (indescribable and hilarious)

I'll post my favorite books from 2009 another day.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Friday, December 11, 2009

Family news

I have not posted here (blathered enough about it on Facebook, I guess, for most lifetimes), but my father in law, Ron, in Pennsylvania, had a heart attack a week ago Wednesday. He has a pretty high pain tolerance, which is why I think he wouldn't go to the hospital. I'm trying to give him the benefit of the doubt. :o) Anyway, he didn't call his doctor till the next morning, and of course his doctor told him to get himself to the ER immediately, and so by the time he finally got some care for this, it had been many hours since the initial event. He failed a stress test, had an attempt at angioplasty which also failed, and then this Tuesday he had bypass surgery. He's evidently doing fine; we are not hearing much, so we hope all is well.

Barry has finals next week but as soon as they are over he will be catching the train back there to spend the next 2 weeks helping his dad settle in at home and helping his mom, too. I'm thankful all is going as well as it is, and that Barry was able to take off and do this. Had this happened a month ago, I don't know what he would have done. To leave then would have meant trashing the semester of work. God is so in charge here and we are thankful.

Anybody recognize these two little guys?

It's a cabinet photo of two little boys in a parlor, taken by Seely of New Albin. It's on eBay right now. (Not my listing.) Their descendants are probably around here somewhere and would love to know about this picture. I think I'll post it on the bank bulletin board, too.

Sorry for the bad reproduction of the photo; the auction shows that it's actually much brighter and clearer. I couldn't figure out how to snag the image off eBay so I printed it and scanned the printout. Terrible.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Two Mighty Hunters

You may not think they look very vicious, but these guys are mighty mouse hunters. Mouse, singular.

Beckham raced through the nativity scene Tuesday, sending porcelain figures flying. He is in disgrace. But he and Briggs ACTUALLY CAUGHT A MOUSE this morning. So they are partially redeemed. It's not a house mouse, it looks like a field mouse, and they caught it way off guard or they could never have nailed it. I still don't know how they managed it. They were sniffing at the bottom of the kitchen door, and then I opened the door to put something on the porch and the mouse must have run in when I did, because when I came back in again, they had him and were slinging him back and forth across the kitchen floor with their paws like a hockey puck. They have no front claws, either of them. I felt bad for the mouse.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

We knew we were the best, but...

... now more people do. :o)

This just in from Webmedx CEO Sean Carroll:

Webmedx has been awarded this year’s #1 ranking in KLAS for our industry. KLAS independently monitors vendor performance through the active participation of thousands of healthcare organizations and then scores the data to create this ranking.
Not only that, but this was the first time Webmedx had been included in KLAS rankings, and it scored the highest any MTSO has ever scored. Ever. Ev-er.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Cloth-Cord Pendant Lights from Rejuvenation.com

I just received an email from Rejuvenation spotlighting their cloth-cord pendants. I just love this kitchen.

I would like to have a little cabin somewhere, a hideaway, that I could decorate like this.

Monday, December 07, 2009

How Not to Make Your Own Modeling Dress Form in 27 Easy Steps

hownot1Remember Mabel the Dress Form? I originally got Mabel from a Salvation Army thrift store in Pasadena, California. She was in good shape, just purplish; she was covered with purple doubleknit fabric. I recovered her in black and we have been friends ever since. However, Mabel is shaped quite a bit like me (flat chested, big butt, hefty waist), so the wire dress form that I got more recently did better for modeling stuff I wanted to sell, like aprons. I really miss that dress form. I got to wondering if I could make a replacement for her. After reading lots of instructions on making your own dress form, I decided to meld them and see if I could make one with just the stuff I had around here.

It provided hours of hilarity for my family. Learn, children, from my mistakes. The photos that follow will show you how I made my dress form, minus many of the false starts and messes that occurred along the way.

We started with an old floor lamp that I had dumpster dived for. The lamp was broken at the top, with one of the pieces (pot metal painted bronze) snapped right in half. But look at those interesting pieces when I took it apart:

I cleaned all the parts in dishwater and dried them.

Here's my first piece of advice: If someone offers to help, say, "Yes, thanks." That's Beckham there, checking out the lamp parts. He has pretty good taste. That thing he's sniffing was a smooth disk of inch-thick cream-colored marble. Very pretty.

Now Beckham and I have begun putting the lamp back together, minus the wiring. We realized that without the top part of it, where the shade and bulb go, the whole thing would not hold together. I found a nut in Barry's tool bench that fit the threads of the center pipe thingie on the lamp, to keep everything in place, more or less.

Next we took a mailer tube and threw away the plastic cap from one end, and taped the other one on so it won't get away. We put this on top of the lamp pole. It's not fastened there, it's just resting.


Next I started to wind a strip (about 5 inches wide) of scrap quilt batting around the mailing tube to form the neck of the dress form. This turned out to be a stupid idea, but the pictures make it look like I knew what I was doing, so I'll leave them in. Do not do this.

I put a little bit of white glue under the end of the batting to hold it in place.

Next I wrapped a wider scrap of batting around the tube below the neck part. See what I mean? Stupid. Next time I'll do it all at once, and then stop winding at the neck part so that it stays narrower than the body.

Next, I started adding rolls of batt strips to shape out an hourglass figure for this lady. I was beginning to attract a crowd - a jeering, critical crowd with lots of unhelpful suggestions.

By the way, glue wouldn't hold those rolls on, so I started tying them around with heavy cotton thread. That turned out to be a pretty good idea, actually.

Now I wrapped the torso up loosely in some thick, fluffy batting.

There's that thread again. Now I am using it to shape the torso in at the waist and start to add some definition.

Underwire thread. It lifts and separates. (A little extra padding under that top layer there.)

I started wrapping the whole body in cotton batting strips. The net effect was that the boobies got flattened down.

So I added more oomph. (Actually this wasn't the final version. I didn't take a picture of that. I ended up cutting circles of batting, basting them down and then stuffing them with fluff.) Oooooh, the peanut gallery was really having a great time by this point.

Next came a long, grueling period of time where I used unbleached muslin to make a covering for the figure. I cut a hunk of muslin, made a hole for the pole, and then basically just draped and tucked and pinned and darted and tucked and pinned and basted and fitted it to the form, on and on, ad nauseam. I will spare you all the trials and errors. At least this part bored my audience to the point where they all left for something more interesting.

I covered the neck with a longish tube of muslin with the end gathered. I pulled up the gathers and then glued a circle of white felt to the top of the neck to cover everything neatly.

Voila! There she is! Wait a minute. I wanted her petite, but this is ridiculous. She's a miniature mutant with weird boobs.

But all was not lost. I realized she would work well as a child modeling form. Here she is, modeling a child's wool coat and cap. She worked even better when I turned her body around backwards in the coat.

Okay, so this was not a success, but it wasn't a total failure either. AND since the body is not attached to the lamp base, I was thinking I'd try again with more figures and just swap them out to suit my needs.

Stay tuned, and another day I'll tell you How Not to Make a Papier Mache Modeling Form.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Saturday's Apron: A Dressy Floral Apron

This was a Way Station find: A homemade chiffon apron with pansy motifs added, possibly from an old tablecloth. It's very cute, but I don't wear these (I need something more substantial for my messes). Not sure yet if I'll put it in Lulu's or not; it has some issues, and I like to list things are perfect.

December sunset photos

Is $18.69 a month a decent price for an addiction?

I am the only caffeine addict in the family (Barry kicked the habit a couple of years ago and is insufferable about it). I drink coffee and Diet Dr. Pepper. I buy green coffee beans from Invalsa and roast them and grind them myself. It feels selfish since I'm the only one who drinks the stuff, but on the other hand, who's earning the money around here? More importantly, who needs to stay awake to earn the money around here? That's my justification.

Anyway thanks to Quickbooks, when I realized I was just about out of beans and needed to reorder, I found that I have been spending about $18.69 a month on green coffee beans. And I have cut way back on the DDP.

I know what I WANT you to answer, and since you are my friends, you'll all probably be nice and say things like, "Of course! You deserve it. Go ahead and re-up your coffee beans." But this time I actually want the truth: Am I being too selfish? Do I just need to kick the habit? Or maybe go with cheaper coffee that is less delicious?

Friday, December 04, 2009

Health insurance

First off, let me say I'm really thankful to have health insurance. I am.

But wow. We just found out a couple of days ago that our group coverage through my employer is taking a premium jump, to $675 a month for our family. And this is with me the only one really employed here.

I'm scrambling to see if there are other options for us before the deadline of December 24th when I have to make any changes to our current coverage. Barry has hypertension, two of three kids have ongoing conditions for which they are on meds (nothing serious, don't panic, just kid stuff)... Ten years ago, this probably would not have been a big deal, as we have had coverage for many years now. But now? In Iowa insurers can exclude any condition they don't want to deal with. I'm waiting to hear what Blue Cross of Iowa wants to do about us and if it wants us. We have applied for a very high deductible family plan that would cut our premiums by about half, but heaven forbid anybody should actually need surgery or hospitalization. It would break us.


Pat Rothfuss turned me, and a bunch of other Fanatical Minions, on to this fantasy artist, Phil McDarby. McDarby did a limited edition printing of a painting he did of his own conceptualization of the Draccus from The Name of the Wind. It's awesome, and he's selling signed (by both him and Pat) prints as part of the Worldbuilders fundraiser.

I like that painting, but was really taken with this one on McDarby's website:

The Amber Dragon's Hoard by Phil McDarby

Anyway, here's an interesting fantasy artist to check out.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Thoughts on the Ethics of Comment Moderation

I put a comment on someone's blog the other day, and then just now I went back to see if there were replies. There were. But also there was my comment, with the guts torn out of it, basically. The blog owner had changed the name under which I posted, and had taken out most of my comment, leaving the beginning and the end but not the main part.

I wrote back and asked her to just delete the whole thing if she was going to edit it.

So let's open this up to discussion: What do you think of editing a post on your blog? I mean, actually changing the words?

Here's my opinion: Comments moderation should be all or none. Either you delete the whole post because you object to the stand taken or the language used or whatever - or you don't. In my opinion, editing the content of the post without the consent of the writer is dirty pool. I have deleted exactly one comment from my blog because it used racist language. I didn't edit out the language and leave the post to stand.

My guess is the blog owner will whine, "But it's my blog, I can do whatever I want." True. But it seems to me that if one were to do that, one should be up front about it. As it stands, she has me saying something quite other than I actually said, and I don't like it one bit.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Police: Dead suspect had officer's gun - CNN.com

Police: Dead suspect had officer's gun - CNN.com

Pat Rothfuss' Second Annual Heifer International Fundraiser W00T!

It's here! And they have a logo and everything.

To recap, last fall, Pat Rothfuss, one of my favorite authors, ran a little fundraiser off his blog to benefit Heifer International. He said he wanted to buy baby ducks for needy families, and asked his readership (The League of Fanatical Minions) to help. He agreed to double all donations up to, I think, $5000. Then when donations passed $5000, he upped it to $10,000, and then $15,000, and in a fit of madness, agreed to match ALL donations. He ended up buying a LOT of baby ducks:

Mind you, that was just Pat's half - the matching half. He and we bought over $110,000 worth of hope for needy people around the world. That hope comes in the shape of livestock and the training to keep it well and use it to the maximum. (As an example, families are taught to care for a goat, feed it properly, use the milk, and then to use the manure to enrich their fields, producing better vegetables/grains.) And that gift will continue to grow; if you are not familiar with Heifer's policy of Passing On the Gift, read about it here. In short, each family that receives a gift from Heifer agrees to pass on the first offspring of their animal to another family in their community that needs help. (I love this. Not only for the increase of the gift, but for the transformation that it performs in the life of the Heifer family: It transforms them from a family in need of assistance to Givers. This is deep, folks. Being transformed into a Giver changes all kinds of things about a person.)

Anyway, Pat had a rather startling awakening to the fact that his fandom was a bit crazy. :o) And he learned his lesson. He's doing the fundraiser again this year, but this time he has a lot of help. He has sponsorships from a bunch of his friends in the fantasy and sci-fi world, and a huge help in the form of Subterranean Press, which is helping with the matching and has offered a ton of wonderful prizes. You see, not only do we get to buy baby ducks, we get PRIZES!! Signed editions of all kinds of sci-fi and fantasy literature, for the most part. You like Neil Gaiman? He's donating books. So's John Scalzi. Pat Rothfuss is giving some of his own books. There are writers willing to look over your manuscript for you. There's even a Golden Ticket: If you win this, Pat will owe you a favor. You get to ask him to do something for you. (He says there are only three rules: It has to be something legal, possible and he can't make anyone fall in love.)

Okay, so here we go. If you are interested in giving to Heifer International, please consider giving through this link (click the baby ducks)

where your gift will be added to by Pat and his friends.

Here's the link to Pat Rothfuss' blog where he will be updating all information about the fundraiser, including the prizes: Worldbuilders Page. Get it? Worldbuilders? Fantasy and SciFi writers? They build their own worlds? Isn't that clever? I thought that was clever.

P.S. So far we have bought a goat. We figured it was the least we could do, having been blessed with a lamb this year ourselves.

Monday, November 30, 2009

30 Websites for Retro Inspiration

My Google Blogs digest alerted me to this post, full of luscious retro goodness. Wow.

No, I will NOT be part of Iowa history after all.


Jen Cannon, Competitive Events Director, for the Iowa State Fair confirmed that Jim Pfiffner’s quilt design won. His design will be among the other 99 counties in Iowa to have a barn quilt mural displayed on the outside of the Richard O. Jacobson Exhibition Center in 2010. The winning designs will be on display at the Iowa Fairs Conference in December. Please look for an upcoming announcement about the winning design in the newspaper.

Thank you for your interest in the Richard O. Jacobson Exhibition Center Tile Design Contest. I commend you for designing a quilt mural that is truly unique.


Oh well.

The Capehart is on eBay

I put the Capehart Panamuse on eBay last night. I hate to do it, but we cannot afford to restore it, and I want SOMEONE to.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner Clean-Up Made Easi(er) with a Presto Pressure Cooker

Last spring I bought a 23-quart Presto pressure cooker at the recommendation of Judy Laquidara. I have used it much more than I guessed I would! I am now in a routine of making turkey or chicken stock and canning it, and using it just about as fast as I can make it. I thought I'd tell you about how this helped this Thanksgiving.

We had a 20-pound bird which I roasted unstuffed this year. I rubbed herbed olive oil beneath the skin and roasted it breast side down and it came out very nice and moist. Barry carved it, doing a great job of boning most of the meat as he went, so after dinner, instead of having to face my usual after-dinner chore of boning the rest of the meat, that part was done for me. I emptied the roaster into my Presto pressure cooker. I have developed the habit of keeping a freezer bag handy in my freezer into which go all the vegetable scraps we produce - onion skins and root ends, carrot and parsnip tops, potato peelings, even apple cores and in this case a pineapple core. I dumped that bag into my pressure cooker, too, and then I filled the pressure canner with hot tap water to the maximum fill line. I cooked all that for an hour at about 15 pounds pressure, then let it cool down on the back porch. I drained off all the broth, threw out all the other stuff, chilled the broth further so that I could easily defat it, then canned the broth, again in the pressure canner, at 11 pounds pressure, 25 minutes (quart jars). I should probably can some pints because sometimes we don't need a whole quart of broth.

Extracting all possible flavor from the bones of the bird makes me feel thrifty. :o)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Blaze Orange Daughter

Britta is home for Thanksgiving, and Barry's sister Ronda, her husband Bill and their little girl are also here from Texas. Bill has been trying to bring in his first deer. This afternoon he took Britta out with him, and she asked me to take a picture of her in blaze orange.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving service over at the church tonight. I always wish I could stay home and then I'm always so glad I didn't, once I'm there. It was wonderful. I just love my church.

National Tie One On Day (a little early)

National Tie One On Day has nothing to do with what YOU were thinking just then. It's supposed to be a chance for women to encourage other women in the midst of the holiday bustle and fuss. See, you're supposed to make a homemade baked good, possibly bread or maybe something else, wrap it in an apron and give it to a woman in need of encouragement, with a little note offering encouraging words. I made my apron Saturday night because that's when there was time, and as I sewed, I prayed about who it should go to. I got an extremely clear, and rather surprising, answer - a woman I see about 3 times a year and don't know well at all. So I really think it was an answer to my prayer. Since I had an easy way to deliver a gift to her on Sunday I also made a loaf of bread.

A funny thing is that since God had given me this woman's name as the person who needed some encouraging, I assumed that He would also give me the words of encouragement she needed. So I opened the Bible and started searching for the words I was to give her. And instead I kept finding words that really aren't very encouraging - like geneaologies. :o) And proverbs about not eating too much honey, or wisdom calling out at the gates. Very obscure, if it was meant to be encouraging! I ended up just writing her a note saying the truth, that I pray for her, and I do, and I'll keep doing it, too.

Here is the apron and bread I sent. The apron is a disappointment to me because I made it of scraps and wasn't thinking and made the waist sash rather short. I ran out of scraps! Argh!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Chuck Returns!

Catch the Laserdance bit at the very end. I need more Chuck.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Blenback Oilcloth Shelf Edging with Strawberries

This is 1940s-1950s Blenback oilcloth shelf lining with an edge that you fold over. I bought a bolt of it on eBay thinking I'd use what I wanted and then sell the rest at LulusDressShop.com, but it's very brittle, and I'm afraid my buyers would be disappointed.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Netflix - Now in Cedar Rapids

We were served out of a Netflix distribution center in the Twin Cities for some time, and I loved it because we would get our movies in 1 day after shipment (though it took 2 days for a returned disk to get back there). Then they opened a Des Moines center and everything slowed down to 2 days each way. Go figure. Then things improved, and lately it's usually a day each direction.

I just noticed that my envelopes now have a Cedar Rapids address. It will be interesting to see if the speed continues to hold with this new center. I read an article on the way a Netflix distribution center operates and it's an amazing example of an efficient combination of human and machine (a cyborg, if you will) labor. The slowdown has always come from the postal service.

CORRECTION: HackingNetflix says that center has been around since !!2005!!. So it's not new, it's just new to us. Interesting.

I think I may have found the ultimate bread recipe! EDITED

I have been making most of our bread lately in an effort to save money, and while the results have been tasty, they have also been rather crumbly, making it difficult to make sandwiches. Barry has been nice about it but finally asked if he could please just get one loaf of "real" bread for sandwiches.

This morning I tried yet another recipe from allrecipes.com and with a few changes I think this might be The One! The One Bread to Rule Them All! The Chosen One! Here it is.

Bread (how's that for a catchy name?)
1 c. warm water (110 degrees Fahrenheit/45 degrees centigrade)
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons dry yeast

2 cups white flour/bread flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
Scant 1/2 cup Bob's Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten
2 tablespoons golden flax seed
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil

We'll be starting with the bread machine, then moving to the oven to finish. Put the warm water in the bread machine bowl, then add the sugar and yeast. Swish it around a little to mix and then let the yeast proof for about 10 minutes.

Mix the flours, flax seed and salt together in another bowl. Begin scooping the dry mixture into the bread machine. When you get most of it in there, start the bread machine mixing on the "dough" setting. When most of the dry stuff has been mostly incorporated into the liquid, pour the olive oil on top of the glob of dough that is bouncing around in the bread machine. Close the top and let the dough cycle finish.

As soon as the machine beeps to tell you the dough cycle is over, start preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Punch down the dough and remove it from the bread machine. Form it into a loaf and place it in a greased cast iron loaf pan. Cover it with a cloth and set it on top of the oven while the oven preheats. When the oven has preheated and the dough has risen a little above the top of the pan, pop it in the oven and bake for 30-45 minutes or so until the loaf is golden brown and you can touch the top of it without burning your hand. Remove it from the oven, then from the pan, and let it cool on a rack.

This turned out to be a delicious, light bread that sliced very neatly and (so far at least) has not died out to a pile of crumbs, as my bread has been wont to do.

Adding the oil last is a trick I picked up from my Home-Ec queen sister in law Vania, who said that the oil can coat the yeast particles and inhibit them, so it's best to add it after they have been incorporated into the rest of the dough.

Yield: One loaf for slicing or half a loaf for slicing and the other half for a hungry teenaged boy to devour in about 3 bites

Notes from Trends in Emergency Care 2009

Friday I spent the day at Gundersen Lutheran, attending a seminar on emergency medicine. They have this every year. I am definitely going to try to go again next year, as it was excellent!

Here are my notes from the day:


Trends in Emergency Care 2009

Friday, November 6, 2009

Session I and II: Agricultural Trauma

Dan Neenan, Paramedic Specialist Manager

National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS)

Peosta, Iowa

This lecture focused on farm trauma that upper Midwest EMS personnel are likely to encounter. Farming is a hazardous occupation. OSHA law does not even apply to it unless a farm has 12 or more employees, and that leaves out most family operations. Farmers live on their farms, so there are usually children around, and the teenagers usually help, representing an undertrained work force. Plus there are the old farmers. Dad may have sold the family farm to his son, but you can't keep him off that tractor when there's work to be done, and while the son may have bought a new tractor with updated safety features, the one Gramps will want to use is the one he is most familiar with, the old one. Plus, they don't want to put too many hours on the new tractor. So he ends up doing the grunt work, running the Bush Hog or pulling stumps, with the older tractor. Farming also tends to be a solitary occupation, especially with the trend over the past 30 or so years of the wife having to work outside the home to provide steady income and, more importantly, insurance. So if she is gone to work, the kids are in school, and Dad gets hurt in the field, it could be hours before anyone even notices he is overdue and goes out looking for him. The Golden Hour of trauma is lost long before anyone even knows he needs help. (Statistically, the busiest time for farm trauma is Tuesday mornings at about 10:30 for some reason.)

Neenan talked about the personality of the farmer in general. They tend to be extremely hard working and tough. They don't want to admit when they're hurt, and they don't want to stop working. It takes a lot for a farmer to admit he needs help, so frequently the 911 call doesn't even go out until things are really, really bad.

Neenan presented 4 clinical scenarios which were taken from actual case studies. He presented the scene through photographs and diagrams and had the group work out how they would take command of the scene and what steps they would take for extrication and transport. Along the way we learned many of the pitfalls of farm rescues, access being a big one. Most of the accidents happen far back on the Back 40 where you can't get an ambulance in and you have to hike the person out. He encouraged everyone to put Medlink on standby for any callout for farm trauma, just in case. They can always be told to stand down if you don't need them but it takes awhile to spin up the bird so you might as well get them in the air ready to go. Average time from 911 call to EMS on scene on a farm trauma is 45 minutes, and even if the trauma was reported immediately, that leaves only 15 minutes of the Golden Hour for transport. Use the helicopter.

The cases he presented were: A man who tried to clear a jammed grain auger on a combine and had his hand caught in it, and was not discovered for hours, by which time he was covered in snow; two teenagers riding a tractor, struck by a pickup on the highway; an inexperienced driver on an old tractor, trying to pull stumps with it (which they are not rated to do anyway), who flipped the tractor over onto himself; and one more. I think it was a grain bin entrapment but I cannot remember for sure.

By the way, grain bin rescues are unique in that usually only one or two EMTs will actually have eyes on the patient until after the rescue. He pointed out that this can be very tough for the rest of the EMTs on scene, who are maybe walking around outside the grain bin for up to 3-4 hours waiting for something to do. He pointed out the psychological effect of this on a person who wants – needs -- to rescue, and said that it can cause poor judgment and that Incident Command needs to be watching for this.

By the end of this lecture I wanted to sign up for the EMT-B class.

Session III: A Sneak Peep Down the Pipes (Airway Management)

Terry Dorshorst, RN, RRT

Kolby Kolbet, RN, BSN, EMT-P

Gundersen Lutheran Specialty Care – Transport and MedLink Air

Terry and Kolby brought in two anatomic specimens which they set up on a table at the front of the hall with a camera and projector so we could all easily observe on the screen. The specimens were porcine lungs, heart, trachea, esophagus and larynx. One specimen also had the aorta attached. They demonstrated various forms of intubation and the tools used. At long last I understand what LMA is because I saw it demonstrated on a pig! They did endotracheal intubations and then did some tracheostomies to show how that works. They showed how a collapsed lung inflates. They demonstrated hyperinflation and its dramatic effect on the lungs. They demonstrated a tension pneumothorax by stabbing holes in the lungs, putting a plastic baggie over the heart-lung specimen and then using the Ambu bag to try to inflate the lung, then demonstrated insertion of a chest tube through the baggie and how the lung quickly reinflated.

There was still some time left, so they demonstrated what an abdominal aortic aneurysm is by injecting water between the layers of the aorta. They also dissected one of the hearts to show the thickness of the left ventricle wall compared to the right. (A pig's atria are very small compared to a human's, in case you ever wondered.)

After the presentation, we were all invited to come up and play with the pig parts if we wanted to. This was right before lunch. :o)

Session IV: Should Tipping Be Allowed in EMS?

Tom Carpenter, NEMT-P, CCEMT-P

EMS Educator

Gundersen Lutheran EMS

Tom Carpenter, or “Carp,” presented this fairly light after-lunch session on tipping. His premise is that yes, tipping should be allowed in EMS – in fact it's mandatory. Only his twist on it is that he feels he owes his patients a tip. He has worked out a scale: They get a dollar for making him smile, five dollars for making him laugh, ten dollars if they teach him something new. He spent about an hour telling the stories of things he has learned on EMS calls and concluded by saying if he actually had to pay out the tips he owes in cash, he would be broke, so he puts them back into being a better paramedic for the next callout.

Session V: Underlying Psychiatric Disorders in Emergency Care

James Padesky, MS, RN

Nurse Therapist

Gundersen Lutheran Psychiatry

This was an excellent presentation on how to handle psychiatric emergencies as EMS personnel. Padesky was well prepared but also tailored the lecture to his audience so beautifully that he appeared to just be having a chat with us all. He asked for example situations that the EMS people present had faced in the past year or so. I believe over the hour 4 different people brought up their scenarios and how they had handled them. He led a discussion of each case and the strategy employed to help the patient. My husband told me that his EMS training skips straight from the part were the EMT tries to figure out what is wrong with the patient to the point where the patient is in the ambulance and is completely unhelpful in instructions on how to get the patient to get in that ambulance. That was what this session was all about: Gaining trust, establishing rapport and defusing a dangerous situation to the point where the patient is willing to be helped. Strategies that people had employed successfully mostly centered around the establishment of a real rapport with the patient based on cues on the scene and in the patient's behavior or speech. One EMT faced a locked door when her patient refused to allow her in, thinking the EMT had killed the patient's father. The EMT spent about 20 minutes on the other side of the door, talking with the patient “as if she were my grandma.” Eventually the patient unlocked the door. In another case, EMTs were able to establish rapport with a gentleman by picking up somehow on the fact that he had once been a fireman, engaging him in conversation about that, and then appealing to him to allow them to do the job he had once done so well himself.

Padesky also briefly touched on the difference between a psychiatric emergency that an EMT should be able to handle, and a situation where law enforcement needs to take over. An example would be any time there is meth involved. He said that's primarily a criminal situation, not a psychiatric one. Another would be where the patient has put a child or other helpless person at risk, essentially a hostage situation. That's the time to step back and let law enforcement work.

Session VI: I-35W Bridge Collapse

Kurtis Bramer, EMT-P, AS, CEM-MN

Supervisor, Emergency Manager

Hennepin Emergency Medical Services

Minneapolis, Minnesota

This was a wonderful session that talked through the EMS response to the I-35 bridge collapse. We heard the early 911 calls and analyzed the response from that moment on till the last body was gently and respectfully carried to shore. Bramer's team was in charge of all the EMS response and credits its success to careful planning long beforehand, so that people did not have to consult a playbook or wait for direction, but smoothly stepped into what they had been trained to do. His response plan's strength is its flexibility. It is a very lightweight plan where people's duties are assigned based on how quickly they arrive on scene. For example, the first EMS person on scene always takes the position of EMS Branch Director/Transportation. The second EMS person, who is usually the first person's partner, takes on the job of Triage Supervisor. The second ambulance in goes straight to the EMS Branch Director and is assigned a job from there. Everybody is trained for all jobs, so anyone can step in and do the job. There are specific directions on how to identify oneself on the radio, instructions to do face-to-face communication any time it is practical and stay off the radios as much as possible, and to avoid the use of cell phones entirely unless there is no choice.

The I-35W bridge collapse represented many huge challenges, geography being a big one. There are no boat landings near there. The river is encased in concrete banks with no place to get down there and pull people out of the river, no way to get a boat up there unless you go way downriver. Plus it's right below the lock and dam so you cannot approach it from upriver. The bridge itself dumped all kinds of rebar and concrete into the river. The bridge deck was about 70 feet above the water line, so cars had already fallen a great distance by the time they came to rest, and so had the people inside. One area, where the bridge had fallen straight down from a pilon, had formed what they called “The Pile,” a several layers thick heap of concrete, rebar and cars. People were trapped in there.

There were jurisdiction issues to hash out at first, too: The state highway patrol said they were in command, since it was an interstate. Minneapolis city police thought they should be in command, as it took place in their city. Hennepin County Fire thought they were the obvious choice. And EMS just wanted to get a good handle on who might be hurt, and where.

There was a huge response from fire departments and EMS personnel from all over the place, which is admirable, but there were very few access roads to the area that were not already blocked, and all the additional traffic actually hindered the rescue efforts. That tide was actually turned by a few people on foot who started directing traffic and kept vital access roads open for EMS. Private citizens in pickup trucks also ended up running patients out to where the ambulances could park, which was vital.

Bramer commented on the bigheartedness he saw that day, how many people he saw who were wounded but would not leave the collapsed roadway, persisting in rescuing people from cars. He talked about a man with a flail chest who simply would not stop working until finally he was so short of breath that they were able to get him into an ambulance. Trucks from various area restaurants and food service suppliers showed up to help feed the rescue people. We saw slides of people in shorts and flip-flops, climbing around in the rubble trying to rescue others. It was a little frightening to see, but you have to admire their concern for their fellows.

Bramer discussed the effect of shock on EMS personnel and how it clouds judgment. One of the early 911 calls was from a very experienced EMS officer. His voice sounds so calm on the tape. Yet his shock is evident in his choice of words; he understated the magnitude of the collapse and politely requested “three or four units, if you have them available.” It was not ignorance on his part, it was shock that made him make this erroneous call.

This presentation was fascinating in that he told about both successes and failures. Over all the effort can only be seen as a giant success. When one considers the possibilities, the fact that only 13 died is a success. He also pointed out errors that were made in the field that he hopes to learn from. In context, these mistakes were not major, but they were things that could have been done better, certainly. One was that the “walking wounded” were not attended to. An EMS team that was on the scene early in the situation was met by a large crowd of shocked, frightened but still mobile survivors and directed them to take rest in a grassy, shaded park area, but then they did not leave anyone with them to take care of them, and by the time someone went back to check on them, they had all left. Some of them surely needed help but did not get it.

Another mistake was when the mobile command post was first set up right in the middle of the Tenth Street Bridge. It offered an excellent view of the scene, but was a poor choice of site because nobody knew yet what had caused the I-35 bridge to collapse. What if it was terrorism? A favorite tactic of terrorists is to stage a second blast for an hour or two after the first, right where emergency personnel are likely to set up. He encouraged EMS commanders to practice running an operation without line of sight of the scene. He asked, “Do you really need to SEE the accident to run it?” The answer is no, yet as helping personality types, we tend to want to have eyes on scene. It takes practice to run it without seeing it, and he encouraged that.

And another mistake was in supervision. He showed a bunch of slides of rescue personnel taking risks with their own safety in an effort to rescue someone. He said that this is a supervision problem. He said that when helping personalities are all wrapped up in their effort to save someone, they tend to do things they would normally realize are too risky. For example, there were guys in full bunker gear working at the water's edge. Bunker gear does not float. If it gets wet, you sink. That was not really the fault of the firemen, it was the fault of their supervisor who should have been checking on them and reminding them gently to be safe themselves.

He touched briefly on the response from Hennepin County Hospital. There was not a lot of hard information coming out of the scene at first (another mistake he admits), and someone had to make the decision to put the hospital on an alert status. As he put it, that's a “six hundred thousand dollar decision.” Whoever it was did make the decision to go on alert and it turned out to be correct, of course. I was interested to hear that one part of the alert is to clear the ER and trauma bays. They make a sweep through and immediately admit everyone who is waiting who is actually sick, saving further assessments till later, and everybody else, they send home. That must be a hard call to make. For starters, that's money going out the door. Plus they might be sending home someone who really needs help. But that's the call they have to make. Within about 20 minutes they had cleared the ER, had most of the trauma bays open and staffed, and had cleared out and staffed several ORs.The staffing part is probably what made the effort pay off so well; trauma patients were in the door and on the table in a matter of minutes.

My husband attended a presentation on the same topics a year ago by the same gentleman, and he commented how much the presentation had improved over the months. He recalls that Bramer had a lot of anger to express the first time around, and wonders if maybe it was just too soon after such a traumatic event for Bramer to have processed things sufficiently. This is now an excellent presentation, informative and inspiring.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Applesauce Coffee Cake

From Cooks.com.


2 c. prepared baking mix
1 c. natural applesauce
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
2 eggs
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1/2 c. raisins
Streusel topping (recipe follows)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix baking mix, applesauce, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and eggs in ungreased square pan, 9 x 9 x 2 inches. Stir in walnuts and raisins. Sprinkle with Streusel Topping. Bake until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. 9 servings.


1/4 c. sugar
2 tbsp. prepared baking mix
2 tbsp. firm butter
2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

City Council Race Today

For the record, Shallow Thoughts endorses Dick Mauss for Mayor, encumbents Lori Darling and Tom Schofield for Council Members-at-Large, and write-in Council candidate Barry Stahl.

Just in case you were wondering.

I don't think now is the time for a shake-up. Quite frankly, the current Council and Mayor were the ones who allowed our town to come inches from bankruptcy. They need to stick around and help put it back together. Sure, they were not the ones who embezzled funds and lost a year's worth of tax income for the town, but they were charged with overseeing the town's employees, and that did not happen. Putting someone new in those seats leaves them no opportunity to repair the damage. Let's keep them in their positions and support them as they sort out the mess we are in.

The Browncoat is Back!

Abbyshot Clothiers is back with a licensed replica Browncoat. See it here. Is it my faulty memory or has the price actually gone DOWN? It's now $359. Of course it's no longer custom sized and it's cowhide, not deerhide. But it looks wonderful. And of course I want one. And of course I won't get one, at least not till Barry is out of college.

If you start at www.realbrowncoats.com you can take a ridiculously easy Serenity trivia quiz that will make you at least smile and want to watch the movie AGAIN.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Movie Preview - What I Learned

I learned that the ancient Persians spoke English with fake English accents.

IGN Video: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Movie Preview - Video Preview

Monday, November 02, 2009

Lulu's Dress Shop and ecwid.com

I put a little link box over there ======> to show you my new website, Lulu's Dress Shop, but never said anything about it. It's in progress; I'm slowly working on stocking the shelves.

I just have to blather a little about the shopping cart I am using. It's a widget by ecwid.com. These are the same people who developed X-Cart, which is a full-function cart that I use at Sweet Gal Decals, but this widget is such a cute little thing! 'Widget' is a perfect word for it. You build it on their site, plug the html into your page and boom, you have an ecommerce site with a shopping cart. Seriously, if I can do it, anybody can.

I also added a blog version, same stuff, just a different location. It's amazing, because I just had to insert the same widget and there all the stock is, in two locations! If someone buys something off the blog, it will disappear off the website, and vice versa. There's even supposed to be a way to load the widget on your Facebook Page, though I have not figured that one out yet.

If you are even pondering opening an ecommerce webstore I strongly recommend you check out ecwid. I love their philosophy that everything must be simple. In fact, they don't even have a manual for ecwid, because they figure if it needs a manual, it's already too complex. These are my kind of software developers.

And I'll say it again: IT'S FREE. They promise there will always be a free version, even when they move up to a more professional version.

Friday, October 30, 2009

My brother as Dr. Horrible

I love it! My sister-in-law custom made the lab coat from that ubiquitous Matrix coat pattern that lots of people start with. Didn't she do a great job?

And the Death Ray looks strangely familiar.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fabric Basket Tutorial

CLARIFICATION: I did not write this tutorial, I am just linking to it.

I'm parking this link here so I don't lose it, but take a look while you're at it. I love these. So many possibilities.