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January 14th, 2024

Skills Learned In Childhood Never Leave You

Mayo Clinic sent me a follow-up survey about the Cologuard test I had last year. I’ll stick it in the mail when the weather permits. They should know how many of us had false (abnormal) positives (me) versus how many positives were in fact the real thing.

I haven’t had to fill in the beans with a #2 pencil since grade school. But it all came back to me!

by Bruce | Link | React!

November 24th, 2009

Fear Of Flu…

Several months ago I had an absolutely horrible visit from of some kind of stomach virus and I have never spent six hours of my life sicker.  It was awful.  I won’t go into detail because you might be eating as you read this.

So this flu season, never mind the Pig Flu that’s scaring everyone, I’ve been especially wary.  Every time I get the urge to rub my eyes I flash back a couple months to when I was collapsed on the floor of my bathroom wondering if I was going to die and I try to remember when I last washed my hands.

Where I work we typically get offered a flu shot every year around this time.  Considering we work on a university campus with students coming here from all over the world it’s a good spiff.  They have signs posted at the doors to the student union eatery telling the kids to stay the hell out if they feel sick.  But this year our flu shot is delayed because the vendor can’t get enough of it.  Swell.

I’ve been washing my hands like crazy, and keeping a hand sanitizer spray with me everywhere and trying to keep my hands from complaining too much by using a moisturizer at night.  Every time I pass by one of the hand sanitizer stations they’ve installed at work I spritz my hands with some of it.  Then I’m reminded of the taunt from the IRA that the British Government had to be lucky every day while they only had to be lucky once.  I don’t mean to trivialize horrible acts of terrorism, but the relentless logic of germ warfare is like that.  The damn germs only have to be lucky once.

It’s going to be a long flu season. 

by Bruce | Link | React!

May 5th, 2009

Deep Thought Of The Day

So I get to work, and immediately after settling into my office, go wash my hands before I touch anything on my desk.  I mean…since I’ve had to touch all the door knobs on the way to my desk.  And as I’m washing, I’m thinking…

Remember Y2K?  Remember how it turned out to be no big deal after all.  That wasn’t because it wasn’t any big deal.  It actually was.  If nothing had been done, guarantee you nothing would have worked by the time the calendar rolled over to the year 2000.  Actually, things would have begun to fail Much sooner, since all the programs that calculate things like morgages and car loans and credit card exparation dates would have begun to fail years ahead of Y2K.  But never mind that.  If nothing had been fixed, nothing would have worked.  We computer professionals took the warnings seriously, and got to work, and Fixed The Problem.  And when the magic night came along, it wasn’t much of a problem after all.  Thanks to us.  And what did we get for our trouble?  A lot of grief about how we’d scared the whole damn world for nothing.

Now it’s Swine Flu.  Excuse me…IndustrialPig FarmFlu.   Everybody’s gotten the message.  A Dangerous Flu Is Spreading…  Take Precautions…  Be Alert…  Good Hygiene Is The Best Defense…  Suppose it works.  Suppose that enough people take the message about good hygiene seriously enough, and government health agencies take the threat seriously enough, that this flu does not spread so rapidly, and not so many people die of it.  Will we all say afterward that the threat was overblown?


by Bruce | Link | React!

April 30th, 2009

Don’t Panic. Just…Er…Be Very, Very Worried…

Jonathan Golob over at SLOG has some good bullet points about the emerging Swine Flu epidemic.  I’ll try to paraphrase:

Q: But thousands of people die every year from the flu.  Why is this one any different?

A: It’s killing younger healthier people is why.  This is not your normal seasonal flu that brings down older, or already very ill people.

Q: So we’re all going to die?

A: Not unless the Plague comes out from retirement too.  Even the horrible Spanish Flu of the early 1900s only killed 2 percent of the people it infected.  But considering how infectious flu is, 2 percent if this thing really takes off is still going to be a huge number of fatalities.  Just like it was back then.

Q: So why close the schools if we’re not all going to die?

A: (I love Jonathan’s answer here so I’m going to steal it verbatim) Because kids are second only to mosquitoes as vectors for disease transmission. 

It’s not just that we love the little dears, although we do, and want to keep them out of harms way.  It just seems to be hard to get it into their little heads that they shouldn’t wipe their little runny noses with their little fingers and then pick up a toy or open a door or share a cookie…

Q: What should we do?

A: Everything you usually do to avoid catching the flu, only more of it.  Wash hands often.  Especially after coming inside, and extra especially before touching your face and eyes.  Avoid confined enclosed spaces with other people, or keep at least three feet away.  Surgical masks won’t protect you from it.  Gloves won’t do any better if you forget and rub your eyes when you have them on.  Good hygiene is the best defense. 

It’s unlikely to happen, but keep enough food and stuff at home that you can sit it out for a few days should that ever become necessary.  This is good advice in any case.  Natural disasters, power grid failures, the unexpected localized calamity, can make being outdoors, driving anywhere or getting food a problem.  Just ask the folks in Tornado Ally, any earthquake zone, or anywhere an ice storm has massively brought down power lines.  You don’t have to go all urban survivalist…just be sensibly prepared. Like this little guy…

Right now we are advising all our clients to put everything
they’ve got into canned food and shotguns…

Don’t panic.  Just stay aware and informed.

by Bruce | Link | React!

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