May 9th, 2014

smirking-winslet

The Day After Summer

It's down into the 60s now. But it was still about 80°F around West Michigan at 11pm. We have a slim line Sears air conditioner in the bedroom window. Once we used it to cool the bedroom and take the edge off the whole first floor. Or the fan to move air and provide pleasant white noise for sleeping -- in winter we use the humidifier for that -- and now that we have the heat pump for central air conditioning, we just use the fan. With just one day of heat, we chose not to fire up the heat pump. So I used canned air to clean the filter and the vents and put the fan on HI.

By bedtime it was still pretty close in the bedroom, so we spun the dial to AC on the window unit. Despite being around 15 years old and the compressor not run in maybe two years, it cooled like a champ.

Today's big activity was having our septic tank sucked clean. Oh joy. Seriously, living in the country you gotta do this from time to time. The septic service would like you to do every 3-4 years. We've done it every decade, just like clockwork. (grin) The last time was a week before Memorial Day and my first WisCon and two weeks before the 2004 Clarion workshop began.

Naturally, it rained.


Digging for the septic tank in a drizzle surrounded by our cheerful yellow flowers. My guess is that the berm was added after the house was built, resulting in the tank cover being deeper than usual. If we ever have to replace the septic tank, they won't do that. They also wouldn't use the kind of tank and cover we apparently have. Things change over twenty years, especially standards. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


The whole process was made easier because I had taken reference photos of the hole ten years ago when we last had it done. Yeah, ten years and ten years is a bit long. But we have a big tank and no children, which really cuts down on the load, so to speak. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


I guess the outside water faucet is turned on. The last time, or second-to-the-last-time that faucet was used was the last time we had our septic tank done. Just add water and stir. Glug, glug, glug. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


HAULED PRODUCTS - MADE IN MICHIGAN. Ah, that septic/sewer/outhouse smell -- nothing like it, even when you just get a whiff from thirty feet. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


This was all made easier because I had taken reference photos back on Monday 24 May 2004 with the tiny Sony DCS-U30 I had bought for Clarion. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Side view of the truck. Ten years ago it was another dreary, rainy day. Some things never change. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Another reference photo. While the grass is long, I'm not seeing a lot of twiggy weed stalks, so maybe I was still mowing. Sometimes. Maybe. Or maybe not. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Whole thing took less than an hour. And now, other than a little disturbed ground -- too small to be a body and anyway who buries the evidence in the FRONT yard -- we're good for another ten years. Or maybe a bit less. (grin) All this fun, for just $267. Don't you city kids wish you could do this?

Dr. Phil
wary-winslet

Mumps?

No, I don't have mumps. And I'm sure I had both rounds of the MMR vaccine as a kid. But WisCon placed the following advisory in its eCube Vol. 38 No. 7 progress report:
1) MUMPS IS BACK AND NOT JUST ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES

To quote a UW flyer. "Mumps is a contagious viral illness that spreads by droplets of saliva or mucus from the mouth, nose, or throat of an infected person, usually when the person coughs, sneezes or talks."

In Wisconsin we have already had 15 cases of mumps, the first recognized on UW Madison's campus. However, there have been isolated ones on other campuses and in Milwaukee. The confounding thing about the UW Madison cases is that all of the students had been properly vaccinated with a series of 2 shots. Mumps is one of the M's in the MMR shot. If it were just Madison, and just college students, mumps would be less of a concern. However in Columbus, Ohio there have been over 254 cases and although at least 150 were associated with Ohio State there were also random grade school students and average residents of Columbus. There have also been about 60 cases in Il, and earlier in the year over a hundred at a private college, Fordham University in NYC. All of those students had had 2 vaccines as well.

Mumps is not as serious a disease as roseola/red measles or chickenpox in adults but still can cause an uncomfortable illness, swollen, painful testicles in men and rare brain infections,rare sterility,and very rare death. Infections like Mumps, Measles, Rubella, Chickenpox, and Meningitis have always been more common in places were people live in close surroundings and often share drinks, food, etc.

Mumps, unlike the Noro virus infection that spread around WisCon several years ago, is contagious but has such a long incubation period, up to 25 days, that it is hard to know where someone was exposed to it. You are also contagious for at least five days before any symptoms and some people only feel like they have the "flu" and never develop the classic swollen salivary glands of the cheeks (parotids) or on the underside of the jaw.

The first advice is if you are sick, believe you have been exposed to mumps less than 25 days ago, were born after 1957 and have never been immunized STAY HOME. SORRY.

Secondly if you were born after 1957 and have not been immunized or had only one, either get a blood titer done for immunity or (probably easier to arrange) call your health care provider or county health dept and try to get a second shot at least 2 weeks before Wiscon. I am not sure what to tell those of us who were born before 1957 when almost everyone was exposed to the actual infection. If you are immune suppressed I would ask your own healthcare provider or stay home if you are not a candidate for re-immunization.

So far 3rd shots to boost immunity are only being recommended in places with outbreaks and by May 24th Madison should not be one of those. But faculty and staff at Ohio State and UW have gotten ill so this is not a guarantee. Why did anyone who was properly vaccinated get sick? One shot is 80% effective and a series of 2 at least 30 days apart is 90% but we don't know how long the immunity lasts. Apparently not for over 20 years in some people.

To be on our guard we need to take some of the same precautions we did for Noro virus. Wash your hands as often as possible and especially after sneezing, coughing, blowing your nose and using the bathroom although the last is just normal advice. Also wash before eating if possible and do not share food or drinks, including canned soda with other people. We are a sharing group but if we don't want to share infections we need to eat off our own plates and drink from our own glasses or split our cookies, etc into pieces before sharing it.

--Susan Kinast-Porter (Susie)
So I had blood drawn the other day for a titer, awaiting the results to see if I have current antibodies. As an academic, one gets exposed to all sorts of plagues, especially at the beginning of the semester and after Spring Break, communicable diseases being what they are. And I spent last summer being sick, so no thanks -- you can keep your mumps.

This is not the con crud to mess with.

Just because you had a vaccination years or decades ago, doesn't mean you're not at risk. Viruses mutate. And vaccine protection doesn't last forever in some cases. Of course this may bring out the conspiracy types -- MMR is one of the Big Scares the anti-vaxer crowd lost their marbles and any understanding of science over, plus this must obviously be the fault of Obamacare... No, just no. If I have to explain these...

Anyway. If you're coming to WisCon in a couple of weeks or other possible group, you might want to get a blood titer. Just sayin'.

Dr. Phil