A Miserable 22 weeks

Some of my good and faithful readers recall what seems like a decade ago when I told you my tale of preparing to get dentures for all the teeth I had.  That meant sitting in the dentist’s chair for more than four hours on April 13.  I had no idea what I was getting into–and contline to endure.  This means this has now gone on for more than 22 weeks.

That means 22 weeks of almost no solid food, except some grilled fish.  It means way more liquids than anything else.  While milkshakes can sound yummy from time to time, too much of anything becomes wearisome.  Honey buns and chocolate milk even lose their appeal.  My sister urged me to get bean protein powder to get some nutrition.  OMG.  How foul?

Waking up every morning and trying to figure out what you can gulp down is no fun.  You lose your appetite for things you’ve eaten all your life..  My insurance company sent me 14 pureed meals.  I think 12 of them went in the trash.

The gums are now healed.  Thank goodness.  But “gumming” stuff to death is not very satisficing.

I have made some really dumb decisions before, but I think this was the dumbest.  The dentist swears that I had no real choice.  If it were now early April, we would find out.

I’m told that there is now light at the end of tunnel and I should have the permanent dentures within a few weeks.

In the meantime, I will keep on gumming.

GOP Now Has A Crystal Ball

As I write, it is Tuesday night, September 14, 2021 and the big election news is a recall election in California where an effort is being made to recall Democrat governor Gavin Newsome.

His primary opponent is Republican Larry Elder, a right wing talk show host and attorney.  All I know about Elder is that he is a frequent guest on Fox News.and a die hard Donald Trump fan.  And he has taken a page from Trump’s playbook and proclaimed that he is a victim of THE BIG LIE.”

In fact, Elder’s website carried a statement on Sept, 13 claiming that he lost the Sept. 14–EVEN THOUGH THE VOTE HAD NOT BEEN COUNTED.  He further added that he has hired an army of lawyers to go to court.

This is what we’ve come to?  Not the most votes.  The most lawyers..

And these clowns want us to believe they are patriots.  Give me a break.

This is treason.  Nothing less.  And a very sad situation.


The Only Change Is Constant

Editor’s note:  More info from the 2020 U.S. census was released this pat week.  While it shows a profound impact on our future, it did hot seem to get the scurrility it deserved..as it definitely has severe political consequences as to how diversity will play out.

The New York Times has a brief, but well-done, article that deserves you attention.


From Panola With Love

You can’t get to Panola, AL from here.  In fact, it’s hard to get there from anywhere.

But I have been.  Even been to church here.  And a barbecue.  It’s tucked back in the pines just off highway 17 on the west side of Sumter County.   Some say it has about 400 residents.  Truth is I’m not sure anyone is counting.  The same can be said for Danzy or Warsaw or Geiger.

It’s been the home of my friend Clyde Marine for decades.  His daughter Connie is just a few hundred yards away.  Clyde is 95 years old now.  Without doubt, one of the most interesting people I’ve ever known  If a machine has a motor. Clyde can make it run.  Or build one for it.

Dorothy Oliver runs a very small store in Panola.  If something is going on in the community, Dorothy knows about it.  Her sidekick is county commissioner Druicilla Russ-Jackson.  In this little part of the world, if help is on the way, someone who lives there has to provide it.

So it was when the coronavirus came to west Alabama.  Dorothy and Druicillia set about to get locals vaccinated.  By the time the job was done, the majority of people in Panola had gotten a shot..

And news about their effort traveled all the way to New York City where The New Yorker magazine did a short documentary about what they The Panola Project  Take a few minutes to watch it and be uplifted by the effort of Dorothy and Druicillia to help their neighbors..( Editor’s note:  click documentary on bottom right to activate sound)

It is impossible to watch this and not contrast it to so many who are intent to try and twist public health policy to their own selfish political purposes with this virus.

Leave It To The Kids

Editor’s note:  How any of us keep our sanity these days is a question I ponder each day.  Between the confusion and mis-information about Covid 19, seven months of claims that Donald Trump got more votes than Joe Biden last November and that January 6 was a “love in” at the nation’s capitol is enough to make anyone doubt their mental capacity..

Then, we happen upon this article from The Washington Post that describes how a high school class took on a project that has brought joy to a young couple and for a few moments we once again realize this world does have things to rejoice about.

Read it and be thankful:

“Jeremy King thought he’d probably be deprived of the simple pleasure of taking his child for a stroll. It was something he desperately hoped to do.

After undergoing brain surgery in 2017, the 37-year-old Marylander was left with mobility and speech challenges. Although his cancerous brain tumor — which was “about the size of a baseball,” he said — was successfully removed, he faced a fresh set of obstacles after the operation.
“Even going out on a walk is so incredibly difficult for me,” said King, adding that balance is his biggest struggle, and he often uses a wheelchair to get around.

When he and his wife, Chelsie King, 32, found out they were expecting their first child in June 2020, they were ecstatic — but the news also sparked concerns for the couple, who live in Germantown, about 30 miles from D.C.
Mainly, they wondered: “How are we going to parent safely? How might Jeremy carry the baby without having to walk?”
While searching online for devices that might assist Jeremy with safely carrying their child, they found little information. Although there are design ideas for wheelchair adaptive strollers, there are limited options to purchase them.

“Getting outside and taking your baby for a walk in a stroller is something that a lot of people take for granted,” Chelsie said.
But fortunately for them, a group of 10 innovative high school students spent several months crafting products that would ultimately enable Jeremy — and other parents with mobility challenges — to safely stroll with a child.

The project started after Chelsie, a middle school drama teacher at Bullis School in Potomac, Md., shared her concerns with a colleague, Matt Zigler, who runs the independent school’s “makerspace” — a creative lab where students are encouraged to participate in hands-on projects.
“I approached him as a personal favor. I know he’s a whiz at building things and is an incredibly collaborative person,” she said.
She expected him to spitball a few potential ideas, but instead, Zigler — who teaches an elective course called “Making for Social Good” — asked her for permission to consult with his high school students.

“It seemed like that would be a perfect project that would engage the kids and result in a successful end product,” Zigler said, adding that the class focuses on creating innovative products that have a positive impact on society. In previous years, students made durable metal information cards engraved with various resources as part of a kit that was distributed to homeless people, as well as solar-powered cellphone chargers that were sent to Africa.
In this case, though, building a product that would directly benefit someone in their own community felt “especially meaningful,” Zigler said.  When he pitched the idea to his students “they were all very excited about it,” he said.

Plus, he added, given that the class is a trimester course which ran from November to March — ending just around the March 4 due date for the baby — “it lined up very well, and gave the students the time crunch they needed to stay focused.”
The students went straight to the drawing board in November and began with basic brainstorming, which included simply sitting and navigating in a wheelchair, while trying to imagine how Jeremy could safely stroll with his child.  “A big part of the course is developing empathy for the person you’re designing for,” Zigler said.

Evan Beach, 15, who just completed ninth grade, said the early stages of the process highlighted “the simple tasks that we take for granted.”  Using a wheelchair that they borrowed from the nurse’s office, as well as two strollers and a car seat that were donated to the class, “they started with low-tech experiments to see what might work, and then once those proved that they had some potential, they spent time refining them,” Zigler said.

The class, which decided to name the project “WheeStroll,” was divided into two teams: One group set out to build an apparatus that would attach an infant car seat to a wheelchair, while the other sought to create a contraption that would safely secure a stroller to a wheelchair for when the child is older.
Once the students devised early-stage blueprints for their respective products, they conducted a virtual interview with the Kings to hash out critical details, including what terrain Jeremy expected to travel on, and what weather he would consider going out in.
After the interview process, students became even more determined to help the family, they said.

“It was really soul-touching talking to them because we really got to understand what they were thinking and their idea of what they wanted,” Evan said.  “I was already really passionate about the project, but just talking to them, seeing their faces and hearing them explain the problem made me that much more inspired,” added Jacob Zlonitsky, 18, who is headed to Boston University in the fall.

 “I was ecstatic to connect with these students,” said Jeremy, who was a nurse anesthetist before his brain surgery and now works on the administrative side of anesthesiology. “They raised important points that we hadn’t even considered ourselves.”
Both teams had three central design goals: safety, maneuverability and ease of use. They also aimed to make the products as cost-effective as possible without sacrificing quality.

While one group embarked on a more complicated route and used a 3-D printer to create connectors to attach a stroller to a wheelchair, the other team purchased simple materials including screws, Velcro cable ties and metal tubes from Home Depot, totaling less than $100.
“One of the goals of the class is to make something that can be cheaply and easily replicated by anyone who has access to some tools and a little knowledge,” said Zigler, who publicly shared a detailed video tutorial explaining how to make the wheelchair attachment, and has received multiple messages from people planning to re-create the product.
Through trial and error, the students produced many iterations of each design, until finally landing on a solid prototype. They connected several metal pipes to securely attach the car seat to the wheelchair and conducted weight tests using 55 pounds of cinder blocks to ensure that the mechanism could safely support a baby.

Although they are still running safety tests on the 3-D printed version, Zigler delivered the completed car-seat connector to the Kings just days after son Phoenix was born.
A few weeks later, the couple tested it out and shared a video of the first ride with the class.

“I was elated,” Jeremy said. “I was really excited to see what they could pull off.”  “It was emotional to see it all come together and [to] put Phoenix in it for the first time,” Chelsie said.

Zigler and his students were proud of their work.  “Seeing the video was like hitting a home run. It felt really good,” Zigler said. “It’s super-gratifying to know that it’s being used and is helping someone.”

Since receiving the wheelchair attachment in March, Jeremy has taken Phoenix on numerous outings and adventures, including to the Bethesda Trolley Trail, a place he’d long hoped to visit with his son.

“These students gave me the opportunity to do something I thought I would never be able to do,” Jeremy said. “I’m really grateful.”


Readers Say, “Get Your Shots”

I am always pleased to hear from readers–even those who disagree with me.  But lately, every one I hear from is just like I am–dismayed that people have resisted getting vaccinated against covid-19.  Many are old enough to recall when polio swept the countryside.

Richard Davis of north Alabama recalls,  “I had polio in the fall of ’48 and spent 18 months in Children’s Hospital in Birmingham. Left shoulder and arm severely limited. In the fall of ’54-55 school year the Salk polio became available. I was the first child in Marion Co to get the vaccine and was the poster child for polio vaccines. NO BODY turned down the shot whether old or young. What is the mental condition of all these people?”

Dr.  Brytney Cobia, a hospitalist at Grandview Medical Center in Birmingham, answers this question in an excellent article on AL.com.

They tell me they didn’t know. They thought it was a hoax. They thought it was political. They thought because they had a certain blood type or a certain skin color they wouldn’t get as sick. They thought it was ‘just the flu’. But they were wrong. And they wish they could go back. But they can’t. So they thank me and they go get the vaccine. And I go back to my office, write their death note, and say a small prayer that this loss will save more lives.”

How does one stoop so low as to try and convince fellow citizens that a life or death situation is just a “hoax” or only “political?”  How can you be so self-centered that your own well-being supersedes anyone else’s?

No doubt the people who do this consider that they should be at the head of the line of so-called “patriots.”  I strongly disagree with that.