When People Go Above and Beyond

camping 3 When People Go Above and BeyondI love to camp.  I camped since, well, maybe since before I was born.  Mom camped as a little girl.  Grandpa camped.  Now my grandchildren camp with me.

When I say camping, I mean in a tent, on the ground, cooking on a campfire or a propane stove, swimming, biking, walking, and eating ice cream.

I love the sound of the night that comes through tent walls.  I love when the sound of silence wakes me at 2 AM because even the crickets went to sleep. I love the sound of the wind rustling the branches, and flashes of lightning waking me to a dark thunderstorm.

camping 2 When People Go Above and BeyondI don’t like kids howling in the night from another tent, or climbing into my sleeping bag or sand tracked all over.  I don’t like branches falling on tents or tornadoes whisking us away.  Sooo…

When the camp ranger came around and warned us that high winds, thunderstorms and possible tornadoes were coming our way, I loaded up the family and headed into town to find shelter.

“Sorry,” the Holiday Inn told me.  “The Inn is full.”

“Sorry,” Jack, the young guy behind the desk at the Hampton Inn proclaimed.  “We have one room.  You can’t put all those kids in there.”

“How about a conference room?” I explained our situation and the kids and the storm.  “We can bring our sleeping bags in and camp in a conference room.

“I’ll have to call my manager,” said Terrance Gainey.   He looked doubtful.

He explained the situation to his manager.

“What does she look like?” he said into the phone.  “Well, sorta like my grandmother.”  (This, honestly, is my favorite part of the story.)

They talked some more.

“How much do you want to pay.”

I named my price.  More low-talking into the phone.

“You got it.” Terrance said.

Terrance helped us set up.  He changed the TV channel to something the kids liked.  He made us cookies and hot chocolate.  He let us use the swimming pool.

In the morning, we met a maintenance man, Jack Lawson  He brought juice and donuts and coffee to the conference room as we “broke camp.”

Before long, Shall Pandya, the owner, stopped by and invited us to a full breakfast:  waffles, eggs, bacon, biscuits, yogurt, fruit.

“You know at first, I was a softie, at this job,” explained Jack.  “I had to rein myself in.  Then I got too tough. I got robotic, and didn’t consider the circumstances.  The owners sent me to a course in compassion.”

camping 4 When People Go Above and Beyond
Jack Lawson and the morning host, Ruth Lambert.  (Missing from picture:  Terrance & Shall)

“Sometimes the best policy is to treat people, like, well, like people,” said Ruth Lambert, Terrance’s colleague.

That was three months ago, Jack, and I’m still thanking you.  The storms blew through, our campsites needed a little clean-up, but no big damage.  Maybe we could have toughed it out.  Maybe that would have been an exciting experience.  But then….

camping When People Go Above and Beyond    I’m so glad we met Terrance and Jack, and Shall and Ruth.  Four people who went above and beyond.  They gave us an experience that we will talk about for years to come.

camping 1 When People Go Above and Beyond
Camping kids with G-dad. Missing from picture: Duckie & Beanie & Me.



Ebola and Root Cause Anaysis

Last month the CDC reported that worst case scenario, 1.4  million people will contract Ebola by early next year (2015.)  Somewhere around 70% of those will infected die.  (I wish to volunteer because I know about containment and proper donning and doffing of protective equipment.  I can help.)

This month the first two cases transmitted to someone on US soil happened.

The news media reports Ebola as “something we’ve never experienced,” and therefore we do not know how to deal with it.

Ebola strikes quickly, is deadly, and no immunization is available.  Still, Ebola is not a mystery disease.  There are four Ebola viruses that infect humans.  It is named after the Ebola River where it was first discovered in 1976.  Although no one knows for sure, experts suspect that people first became infected by eating contaminated meat.  Dogs do carry the disease after eating flesh infected with Ebola.)

Sadly, the way the disease strikes makes it both fatal and self-limiting.  That is, the disease spreads by direct contact with bodily fluids and once a person is sick, they are very, very sick.


Ebola is not like a cold or flu:

  • It is not spread by air or water or food;
  • People who become sick are too sick to walk around infecting others.

Using Root Cause Analysis and asking the “Five Whys” prompts addressing a problem at its source.

  • Why did the nurses in Texas become infected? (the first to be infected on American soil.)  They came in contact with infected body fluids.
  • Why did they come in contact with infected fluids?  Because their PPE (Personal Protective Gear) was either inadequate or improperly used.)
  • Why did Ebola get to Texas?  A sufferer unknowingly contracted the disease in Liberia and flew here before symptoms set in.
  • Why did he get Ebola in Liberia?  Because the healthcare system is inadequate to isolate and treat the disease.  Too many people are contracting the disease for the the system to handle.
  • Why is Liberia’s healthcare system inadequate? Civil war, lack of education, poor communication, inadequate infrastructure.

Root Cause Analysis can seem like pointing a finger or finding someone to blame.  Far from blaming nurses, identifying faulty gowning procedures helps identify how to eliminate future infections.  The biggest risk is not pile-up of infected waste, or covering more area or putting on thicker layers. The biggest risk is self-contamination when the PPE is taken off. Although reports of waste piled to the ceiling is unsettling, if it is in a contained area, it does not in itself, pose a risk.  (By the way, I doubt the angle of repose would allow waste piled to the ceiling.  I know, math geek, here.)

A military effort to combat Ebola seems somewhat counter-intuitive.  However, Root Cause Analysis provides some insight.  The military is trained to put on and take off PPE designed to protect against biological and chemical warfare.  The military can provide infrastructure, communication, and protection for volunteer health care providers.

The Ebola epidemic gets compared to AIDS because it is spread through bodily fluids (blood, semen, saliva, feces, vomit, breast milk.)  However, a person with the  AIDS virus can be without symptoms and infect others for years before having any signs himself.  This is unlikely with Ebola because symptoms come quickly, usually within 8 days, and severely:

  • headache,
  • fever,
  • diarrhea,
  • vomiting,
  • Muscle pains,
  • Severe stomach cramps,
  • Unexplained bleeding (in about 17% of sufferers)

Death occurs within a week.  Ebola is nothing like AIDS.

The method to control a disease like Ebola is more like those used to isolate historically familiar diseases:  polio, diphtheria, small pox, and even the bubonic plague.  Although the modes of transmission are different, isolating the sick and those exposed prevents the spread of diseases.  Using aseptic techniques and universal precautions protects those who care for the sick.  Techniques and precautions must be used properly.

One more why:  Why so many, so quickly?

A disease can go along for quite some time before anyone considers it a crisis.  The math looks something like this considering one person infects just one other person and 8 days to show signs of infection:

1→2→ 4→    8→16→32→→→2048 people infected in

1→8→16→24→32→40→→→     96 days

Ebola got discovered in 1976.  That’s represented by the flat part of the graph below.

formula exponential growth3 Ebola and Root Cause Anaysis

Along the horizontal line is the number of people infected.

Along the vertical (y) axis is time.  In the beginning, the infection rate is so slow, it hardly gets noticed.

(The CDC is only taking medical personnel volunteers to help.  When they are ready to take trained quality assurance personnel, I am ready.)




Gratitude Monday #51: Home and Away

I’m home from a road-trip to Utah.  A road-trip tells so much more than a fly-over.  roadtrip 2 Gratitude Monday #51:  Home and Away

I feel spunky and ready to go.  So many mornings a woke up with things I want to write about:  blog-posts, a quality article for ASQ, improvements to my novel, and yes, maybe I’ll even be a speaker at a conference.

I’m primed.

So, besides my get-up-and-go, here’s what’s on my gratitude list this Monday:

Waffle makers in hotels:  Such a warm way to start the day.  Marry that to a boiled egg and some cranberry juice, plop it down beside a hot cup of coffee and I’m ready to greet the day.

Indoor swimming pools:  Another great way to say good morning.  I love getting a little exercise in before hitting the road again.  1500 miles one-way, makes it hard for me to get in my 10000 steps a-day.  Swimming is a great way to stretch those muscles and get the heart beating.  I believe  swimming is a great way to exercise the sit-up-straight muscles.

Beautiful people:  Three women, approaching 40, or maybe just past, sat sipping coffee as I got my cup of cocoa.  They discussed their joint efforts to keep fit, lamenting their saggy arms.  “You are beautiful,” I said.  They smiled.  I smiled.

Interesting people:  Two men in particular, make that three.  One is looking for his sweet-heart from thirty years ago.  Another, a former roustabout, was blankety-blank-blanking about his boss, who stood over him naked, in the middle of the night, wanting to fight.  Of course, the third, is the boss, who showed up for waffles and coffee, fully clothed, but looking quite sheepish.

Wi-fi:  So common now.  Love that I can use my i Pad almost everywhere without having a data package.  For those other places?  My phone works almost as well.

Adventures with RoadTripper:  2/3 of the time, the suggestion was right on target.  The other 1/3?  We had a silly adventure to laugh about:  an eagle’s nest in the middle of a suburb with no trees; the world’s oldest cabin on the right road, in the wrong state.  But we did find the crane sanctuary, the world’s best ice cream, Herbert Hoover’s Library, some great restaurants, and a beautiful memorial garden.

roadtrip 1 Gratitude Monday #51:  Home and Away
The home where Herbert Hoover was born.


Midwestern Fall Colors:  The west is full of yellows and a few golds.  Bland compared to the crimson, burnished gold, bright yellows, two-toned orange-red, burgundy and browns of the Midwest.roadtrip Gratitude Monday #51:  Home and Away

Knitting left undone:  I packed it up, searching the bag’s hidden pockets to make sure I had everything.  I found the battery charger to my Sony Cyber-shot.  I thought I had to break down and buy a new camera.  I had searched everywhere, tried to buy a new one (twice,) and resigned myself to never seeing it again.  Now, where can I look for my lost black sweater?  In the refrigerator perhaps.

McDonald’s calorie counts:  Wow!  Who knew a Quarter pounder with cheese is 200 calories less than a Happy Meal?  Both were free thanks to Monopoly and BlogHer.  He, who hates long drives, liked this trip so much, he’s ready to take on my longed-for Route 66 trip.

NPR:  I found NPR in every single state.  My old friend found me listening almost everywhere.

Home:  I’m so glad to be back in my own bed, bothered by a persistent Sasha.  Even Misha curled up on top of the recliner to say hello.  And, of course, Duckie had many stories to tell.  I think she enjoyed her alone time with her hubby, too.

roadtrip 3 Gratitude Monday #51:  Home and Away
Great milage, even in the mountatins

Want more gratitude lists?  Hop on over to Alphabet Salad and follow the links.

 Gratitude Monday #51:  Home and Away

Progress Report: October

How September flew by:  A wedding, three birthdays, a garden to harvest.

My Progress on Game Plan 2014:

  1. Get my novel published:  I will get editors, a cover designer, and a publisher.  I will.
    Progress:  I got through all the edits of my beta readers and Lisa Romeo, my editor.  Next up, a timeline study and a character consistency check.  I think I’m good on these, but, hey, check, check, and double check.  I’m still relying on Guy K’s artisanal how-to, APE, and I am getting a list of publishers together.  I really need to start putting a list of agents together.
  2. Knit or crochet yarn stash into hats for charity: I have a lot of yarn stash.
    Progress:  None in September.  October I’m back on it.  We’re taking a road-trip to Utah.  I’ll knit as when Loved-One drives.
  3. Make enough money writing to pay property taxes:  Maybe I wasn’t clear enough in 2013.
    Progress:   Four more newspaper articles and a contract as webmaster for ASQ1212.
  4. Expand my platform: a key to successful selling of a published book, I’m told.
    Progress:  Still growing  Fastest on Twitter; I just passed 700.  In the grand scheme of things:  paltry.  Still, progress is progress. BlogHer,SheWrites,Instagram, Twitter, FB page; Google+,Pinterest.  I re-did my Linked-In profile to reflect my writing career.  Already, I am getting new contacts.  Also, I agreed to help Wrestler #2 get his essay published, which takes time and introduces me to new people.

  5. Experience Night at the Museum with Two More Grandkids.
    Complete!  Yay!  Miss K and Mr. L.  Mr. L plans to be a paleontologist when he grows up.  Miss K has her heart set on fashion design.  The two kids were congenial enough, but they never really talked to each other.  Really interesting dynamics.
  6. Travel Route 66 with Loved-One:  I plan to get some sponsors and write about out trip.Progress:  This goal is post-poned until spring or fall of 2015.  But, we are going to Utah.  I got an app, “RoadTripper” to plan the sites along the way.  Guess what?  A Route 66 road trip is pre-ordained.  Yes!  Springtime trip, here we come.
  7. Volunteer:  Last year I tried a women’s shelter.  Maybe this year, the food pantry.
    Progress:  Success with “1st Way Pregnancy.”  Volunteering is going much better.  I’m trained.  The women we help are wonderful.    (This shelter mission is “To provide loving assistance, emotional and financial support for women and girls who find themselves in a crisis.”  The values of “1st Way Pregnancy” match mine, that is: empower women to make life-affirming choices by offering financial and emotional support.  Rather than shaming and coercing with rules and regulations.)
  8. Read two book a month:  This goal doubles my 2013 rate.
    Progress:First, the book I read in July.  You know, the one who’s title  I forget.9781620405345 Progress Report: OctoberJoel Greenberg, A Feathered River Across the Sky  Oh my gosh!  This book is the most interesting book I read all year.  Okay, a side note, most of my book club did not really care for it.  But to me it’s utterly fascinating.  I read aloud to Loved-One.  I am flabbergasted that carrier pigeons were once so abundant that flocks of over 34 billion flew overhead.  The flock often darkened the sky and took more than 12 hours to pass.  Now theses birds are extinct.

    lg homeroomDiaries Progress Report: OctoberJames Petterson & lisa papademetriou, Home Room Diaries illustrated by keino.  Keino is a big part of the fun found in this book. The main character, Cuckoo Clarke, is a freshman in high school.  Each of Cuckoo’s friends have a wacky nickname based on their biggest vunerability.  They consider themselves misfits, and are working for a more peaceful, get-along high school with “Operation Happiness.” The illustrations are integral to the story, as it’s written as Cuckoo’s diary.  Maybe this would be different if a read it on paper, but I stopped reading all the conversation “bubbles” in the illustrations.  In order to read them, I had to click to enlarge, which got tedious. I just looked at the pictures, which are delightful.  A great read for junior high kids, looking forward to high school with a little bit of fear.

    From past months:
    Elizabeth Berg, Never Change
    Matthew Kelly’s Rediscover Catholicism.
    Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings
    Louis Erdrich, The Round House
    Kate Atkinson by Life After Live:  A Novel by
    Doreen M. McGettigan.  Bristol boys Stomp:  The Night That Divided a Town
    Adela Crandell:  A Land of Milk and Honey
    Eric Larson:  In the Garden of the Beast
    Beth Nonte Russell:  Forever Lily.
    Graham Greene:  Our Man in Havana.
    Michael Allan Scott:  Flight of the Tarantula Hawk – A Lance Underphal Mystery.
    Linda Lawrence Hunt:  Bold Spirit:  Helga Estby’s Forgotten Walk Across Victorian America.
    Rachel Thompson: Broken Pieces (interviewed)
    Guy Kawasaki: APE
    Hilary Grossman:  Dangled Caret (interviewed)
    Candice Millard:   Destiny of the Republic.

  9. Get new carpeting for the lower level:  Ugh!
    Progress:  Not yet.  The wedding went beautifully.  Loved-One cleaned the carpet with our new Kirby, and got someone in to stretch it.  Voila, it looks like new.  Well, maybe not brand new, but good enough for a few more years.  It rained, mud got dragged in, but hey, it’s just mud.  All water soluble.  The carpet is back to almost new again.  Yeah!
  10. Send St. Patrick’s Day photo cards to friends and family: Progress:   Complete.  I got  great feedback from my Welcome Spring card.  Several people thought they just received an invitation to something; they weren’t sure what.  They loved the pictures and the surprise out-of-the-blue greeting.  I think I’ll do this again next year.

Continue reading


Gratitude Monday #50 Road Trip

This morning I woke up smiling. A quiet cup of coffee and a mini banana walnut muffin and things were moving for me in a positive way. I’m not sure why I feel so happy, maybe it was the dream I was having when I awoke at 5:30 AM. Maybe a smiling face at breakfast, a cook, already at work, and handing me a bottle of water. Maybe it was Loved-One pulling me close in the middle of the night. Maybe the higher altitude is lifting my spirits.

So in no particular order:
A road trip with Loved-One: I never get tired of him. I love his sense of humor and the quirky details he points out to me. This afternoon we ate at Rodriquez’s Polar King, authentic Mexican Food. What a funny sign.
IMG 0146 0 Gratitude Monday #50 Road Trip

Cell phones: Duckie calls me every day, just to check in and tell me how her day went.

Christina: A young trans-country runner I chatted with this morning. She started in New York, and is running to bring attention to families of Navy Seals. She’s going all the way to San Franscisco. Go, Christina, go.br />IMG 0004 Gratitude Monday #50 Road Trip

My Prius: It’s eleven years old and going strong. We are spending 1/2 the money on gasoline.

Good technical support: My new “Newsletters” plug-in is finally up and running. Thank you tech-support for importing over 1500 subscribers from my old plug-in.

Swimming pools in hotels: I love an early morning swim.

Mountains: So beautiful. I always wonder if people living near mountains take them for granted and bustle by without a second thought. I hope not.IMG 0006 Gratitude Monday #50 Road Trip

WiFi: Need I say more?

What’s on your gratitude list this week? Join Laurel and her friends and add yours at AlphabetSalad.com.

 Gratitude Monday #50 Road Trip

IMG 0001 Gratitude Monday #50 Road Trip
(Geezers can create silly selfies, too.)

Gratitude Monday #49: Nice People and Such

This  past weekend, Loved-One, Duckie, Beanie and her brood traveled “home” for my godson’s wedding.  Twelve hours in the car in two-day.  An uneventful trip for a wonderful celebration.  (No pictures, my battery died.)  Breaking a peaceful silence, Loved-One turned to me:

“You have such Continue reading

Photo Friday: Gun Raffle? (Link-up #5)

This weeks Photo Friday Link-up is another puzzling signs.  I see so many of them. For more about my photography, hop on over to my Photo Friday page by clicking here.

I saw this sign in a bakery window.

I mean, can just anyone who has $10 and is over 18 win?  Do they really need a 400 ticket limit?  That’s almost $4000 in tickets.  No other criteria or screening?  How much do these guns cost at Walmart?

I feel uneasy, what about you?

guns Photo Friday:  Gun Raffle? (Link up #5)


What’s in your lens this week?  Please link-up my clicking on the “Links Frog” below, and let me take a peek, please.

 Photo Friday:  Gun Raffle? (Link up #5)

Come Meet Seth Brady, Illinois Teacher of the Year Finalist

seth2 Come Meet Seth Brady, Illinois Teacher of the Year FinalistThis week I sat down with Seth Brady, one of the 12 Illinois Teacher of the Year finalists.  Disclaimer:  Yes, Seth is my son, the same son I bragged about here, on FaceBook, Twitter, Google+, and any other place that came to mind.

“All you need is one teacher that cares about you and can deliver a comment that resonates with your soul.”

She can undo almost any negative comment and totally change a student’s perception of himself.  A Parent’s love is important, of course, but often it takes someone outside the family, someone who recognizes a child’s unique genius, to cement a confident belief in himself.  For Seth Brady, 2014 Illinois Teacher of the Year finalist, one of those teachers is Mrs. Fryzel who tenaciously pointed out his gifts. Her ability to see his talents was like magic.

“Teachers are like seed-scatters, they don’t always know what becomes of the seeds,” but the seeds take root and grow throughout an individual’s life.

Brady earned two masters degrees Continue reading

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