Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Hundredth Monkey

As breed of Japanese monkey, Macaca fuscata, had been observed in the wild for a period of over 30 years. In 1952, on the island of Koshima scientists were providing monkeys with sweet potatoes dropped in the sand. The monkeys liked the taste of the raw sweet potatoes, but they found the dirt unpleasant.

An 18-month-old female named Imo found she could solve the problem in a nearby stream. She taught this trick to her mother. Her playmates also learned this new way and they taught their mothers, too. This cultural innovation was gradually picked up by various monkeys before the eyes of the scientists.

Between 1952 and 1958, all the young monkeys learned to wash the sandy sweet potatoes to make them more palatable. Only the adults who imitated their children learned this social improvement. Other adults kept eating the dirty sweet potatoes.

Then something startling took place. In the autumn of 1958, a certain number of Koshima monkeys were washing sweet potatoes—the exact number is not known. Let us suppose that when the sun rose one morning there were 99 monkeys on Koshima Island who had learned to wash their sweet potatoes. Let’s further suppose that later that morning, the hundredth monkey learned to wash potatoes.

THEN IT HAPPENED! By that evening almost everyone in the tribe was washing sweet potatoes before eating them. The added energy of this hundredth monkey somehow created an ideological breakthrough!

But notice. A most surprising thing observed by these scientists was that the habit of washing sweet potatoes then jumped over the sea …colonies of monkeys on other islands and the mainland troop of monkeys at Takasakiyama began washing their sweet potatoes!

Thus, when a certain critical number achieves an awareness, this new awareness may be communicated from mind to mind. Although the exact number may very, the Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon means that when only a limited number of people know of a new way, it may remain the consciousness property of these people. But there is a point at which if only one more person tunes-in to a new awareness, a field is strengthened so that this awareness is picked up by almost everyone! …

You may be the "Hundredth Monkey"…

This is a story that was transcribed by Ken Keyes, Jr. from a book with copyright information as follows... Library of Congress Catalog No. 81-70978 / ISBN 0-942024-01-X. The book itself is not copyrighted. You are asked to reproduce it in whole or in part, to distribute it with or without charge, in as many languages as possible, to as many people as possible.

Reading this made me think of our own community of preppers, how discouraging it can be in a world that still wants to hide its head in the sand, a world that refuses to see the dangers that loom so close. I thought of SciFiChick who has voiced being discouraged about trying to show others who don't wish to be shown. I thought of Yeoldfurt who sometimes laments that we are only preaching to the choir. But not one of us just woke up one day and became a prepper. We were all introduced to the concept of sustainable living by others who were already immersed in that lifestyle.

So keep doing what you're doing fellow preppers. Keep stockpiling supplies for yourself and your families, keep learning the skills that might very well keep you alive someday. Be generous with your knowledge if a newbie shows sincere interest. Some people won't even ask questions at first, they'll just follow your example. Who knows? You just might be the hundredth monkey.

Labels: , ,

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas, My Friends

Let's take a break from our own and the world's problems for a day. Let's celebrate Christ's love this day and forget our worries and troubles for just a little while. They will all still be here tomorrow and the next day, but we won't let them spoil our joy on this Christmas Day.

We should gather with our family and friends as we can. Share some good food and a few laughs. Make some new memories with our loved ones. Sing some Christmas carols. We used to learn the Christmas carols in school but I'm sure that's not the case today. So if we don't sing them at home, how will our children ever learn them?

Whatever our present circumstance might be, may the joy of Christmas fill our hearts. Parents delight to see joy on their children's faces. We are all God's children and He delights to see His children joyful too.

This Christmas Day, may God help us to look past the worries and disappointments and troubles. May we look around and find all the blessings in our lives. Prepping is a testament of faith. If we did not believe there will be a tomorrow, we would not be preparing for it. So keep the faith, my friends. May God be pleased with what He sees in our hearts.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Brace Yourself

I kept my appointment at the orthotics place on Wednesday and did my best to show up with an open mind and a positive attitude. I failed miserably. The brace is bulky and cumbersome and ugly as sin. The doctor had told me you could 'wear it inside most shoes ...just buy one size larger.'

Well, he was wrong. You have to buy special shoes that only mimic normal shoe styles. They are as bulky and cumbersome and UGLY as the brace itself. To make matters even worse, the ugly shoes cost $200/pair! The poor technician that was assigned to fit me got an earful. He did his best to sugar coat things but the bottom line is, I can't live the life I love wearing that thing. I left there without the brace and called my regular doctor for an appointment as soon as I got back in my truck. I meet with him on Monday morning. My doctor is very practical, very compassionate and he knows what my lifestyle is ...I think his lifestyle is similar. I know if there are alternatives out there, he will help me find them. At the very least, he will help me find another orthopedic surgeon for a second opinion.

In the meantime, I decided to get creative and brace myself! I took my old air splint and modified it. It consists of two molded plastic stays that go up the sides of my leg and are held in place by two velcro straps. There are inflatable plastic 'pillows' on the insides of the stays for comfort. I took the 'pillows' off. I took my riding boot for my left foot and cut a two inch slit down the back of the shaft to allow for the extra bulk of the splint brace. I put the splint on over one of Yeoldfurt's tall dress socks, then wedged my foot down into my boot. It felt pretty good. I found out I have to be careful to line the inside stay up just right against my ankle bone but with a little trial and error, I got it right.

The whole purpose of me wearing a brace or the moonboot is to prevent my ankle from folding over. Splinted and wedged into my riding boot like this, it cannot possible fold over. So far, I like MY solution much better than the doc's solution.

I've been wearing the splint in my boot for about an hour this morning, so far so good. Yeoldfurt and I are going into town shortly for some errands and I should know after that if it's going to work long term. I can't wear jeans and riding boots to work, but I can darn sure wear them all weekend and enjoy some semblance of normal again. In the meantime, I already have some new ideas for improvements that might enable me to wear the splint with normal dress shoes for work.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Life on the Sidelines, I Don't Think So

I have been dealing with chronic pain in my ankle for several years now. It's almost pain-free some days and freakishly painful other days. I never know when it's going to act up and there doesn't ever seem to be a particular cause when it does's fine one minute, then I take one step and it hurts like a hot poker. I changed jobs in June of this year and was without insurance for the first 90 days on the new job. Maybe because of Murphy's Law and my having no insurance coverage for 90 days or maybe because the new job entailed some pretty long days on my feet ...but the ankle got bad and stayed bad all summer. It got bad enough my ankle would fold over on me from time to time. The level of pain when that happened spiked to about a 12 on a scale of 1 to 10. It would level back off to a throbbing 8 or 9 within a minute or two, but still.

I went to my regular doctor in September, as soon as my new insurance kicked in. He did xrays and decided I had re-torn the tendon on that ankle and had 'something serious going on with my tibia.' He put me in an air splint to keep the ankle stable and referred me to an orthopedic surgeon in our area. I wore the air splint for three weeks while I waited for my appointment with the orthopedic doctor. The new doctor ordered an MRI and decided the 'something serious' was either osteochondritis dessicans or vascular necrosis ...neither of which is a good thing. He put me in a knee-high moonboot and had me make a follow up appointment in a month to see if the moonboot helped my pain and stability issues. Of course it helped stabilize my ankle ...with my foot securely encased in thick layers of foam and molded plastic, there was no chance of it flexing any direction at all. After a couple of weeks in the boot, the pain was considerably less too. This doctor said that if the first 30 days in the moonboot helped, he would prescribe physical therapy to strengthen my ankle and wean me out of the moonboot. I was hopeful. But two days before my follow up appointment with that doctor, his office called to say they were referring me to an orthopedic surgeon 100 miles away in Temple. I had Scott & White insurance and their main hospital is in Temple so that's where I would have to go. I asked the nurse why he didn't want to at least keep the appointment and see if the moonboot had helped and she said that he consulted the other doctors on staff and they all agreed that the issues with my tibia needed surgical intervention that they were not equipped to handle.

Well it took a while to get the appointment at Scott & White in Temple but the big day was today. I took the day off work and Yeoldfurt went with me. We left this morning and took care of some errands here in Caldwell, then headed north on Hwy 36 to Temple. We scoped out exactly where the clinic was and then wandered around the local mall in Temple until time for the appointment. The staff at the clinic were all very nice, very accommodating, but the opinion of the two doctors I saw was disheartening, to say the least.

It is their opinion that the lesion on my tibia is vascular necrosis which means a portion of the bone is dead. In some such cases, they can remove the dead bone tissue, cast the affected limb and allow (hopefully) healthy bone to fill in the void. But my lesion is too large and too deep within the joint ... so that's not an option. The only surgical alternatives are fusing the joint or doing an ankle replacement. Both of those options would stabilize the ankle and eliminate the pain ...which is a total fix for what is vexing me. But they said that, at 53, I am still too young for either of those options. Apparently, fusing the joint would aggravate and accelerate arthritic changes that are already evident in my lower foot and ankle replacements are only good for 10-15 years patients are not typically approved for replacement surgery before the age of 65.

All they had to offer me is a brace. A big ugly leather lace up brace. They said I need to reduce stress on the joint and as much as possible, prevent the ankle folding over on me as that would cause further damage. They also suggested I use a walking cane. A cane?! They wrote me a prescription for the ankle brace plus a permanent handicap placard for my vehicle.

On the long drive up there this morning, I was psyching myself up for a surgical solution and three months of not being able to do all the things I love ...ride the horses, work in the garden, drive the tractor ...basically just live MY life. But I was only mentally prepared for hearing I would miss out on three months worth of living. I was in no way prepared to hear that this was going to have a permanent impact on my daily life.

I had my cry on the way home and Yeoldfurt was his usual supportive self, telling me all the things I still COULD do and how we would get around the other things that I still wanted to do. He's very resourceful when he sets his mind to it. I'm not resigned to this yet. I'm at least going to get a second (and maybe third) opinion. In the meantime, as of right now, I'm going back to MY life as I want it to be. I'll wear the brace for now, but I'm not going to forego the things that make me happy. It's supposed to be sunshine and clear skies this weekend. I intend to spend a good bit of both days on the back of my horse.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas Cheer

I spent the afternoon digging out my holiday decorations. I already put a string of holiday lights on my blog. A little Christmas cheer here at home would be a good thing too.

I hung a wreath on the window in the back door (the only door anyone uses here) and put a big red ribbon on the walk gate going into the yard. When I was unpacking the boxes of decorations, I found two that were from my son's early school years. One was a little reindeer made from three old fashioned wooden clothespins and the other was a little wooden rocking horse that his 3rd grade teacher gave to him. I found his Christmas stocking too. It's one I made for him when he was four years old out of quilted calico print material. He added his own touch when he blew holes in the toe of it with a little cap pistol I gave him that Christmas. The cap pistol was the kind that uses the little plastic rings of caps. I had it loaded and at the bottom of the stocking. We had a big corner fireplace in those days with a tall brick hearth around it. On Christmas morning, he climbed up on the hearth to retrieve his stocking and, as most four years old would, he was very enthusiastic when he jumped down off the hearth. The impact when he landed set off the cap pistol and the look on his face was priceless. With eyes wide, he held the stocking at arms length ... you could see just the faintest wisp of smoke escaping from the toe of the stocking. It made quite an impression on him. I got to hear him tell that story to his six year old stepson a few of years ago and he said it was one of his favorite memories of Christmas when he was a kid.

This is going to be a very different Christmas. My son has been gone for eight months and I'm still finding it hard to imagine life without him. His wife and our grandsons live all the way out in Arizona. She won't answer or return our calls and we never hear from her when we send packages to the grandsons. The boys are only 11 and 4 years old. We hope when they get old enough, they will come find us but that's all we can do. With my son gone, his wife doesn't seem to want anything to do with us. My daughter and her husband live about 150 miles away but they are as strapped for cash as we are, so it might as well be 1000 miles. Thank goodness for free nights and weekend minutes on the cell phone and email, so we can at least stay in touch.

Christmas will be like Thanksgiving, just me and Yeoldfurt, but that's enough. I'll put up the tree but there won't be any gifts under it this year. I am grateful to still be here, still hanging on ...that is gift enough.



We had our first hard frost of the winter last night. Yeoldfurt said there was a fairly thick layer of ice on the horse's water trough this morning. We still had four little bell peppers growing out in the garden. I meant to bring them in when I got home last night ...better to pick them early than to loose them to the frost. But I forgot. So I picked them this morning. The plants themselves were curled over and the peppers felt soft from the frost damage, but they still smelled good so I chopped a couple of them up in Yeoldfurt's breakfast eggs this mornings. Waste not, want not.

I made two loaves of bread this morning and have another batch in the breadmachine. The second batch is new recipe that called for a little powdered ranch dressing in with the flour. I season a lot of things with powdered ranch so I always have some on hand. It will be good with our homemade chicken soup tonight. We've decided to do a soup night twice a week to cut down on the meat budget. I have always considered myself to be frugal. But we've trimmed so much off of the budget these last few months and looking for way to trim more that I think I just didn't know what frugal was before now.

I have a couple of Series EE savings bonds that my grandmother gave me back in the 90's. I looked up their value online a little while ago and they would cover one mortgage payment with a little left over. So I'm going to cash them after the first of the year too. My grandmother always believed that a government savings bond was one of the safest investments you could make. In her day, that was true. But I don't trust TODAY's government at all so I might as well cash them while they are still worth something. Of course, Uncle Sam will expect me to pay tax on the interest earned on these bonds so I won't cash them until January so I won't have to worry about paying the taxes until the following year. Surely things will be better for us by then.

My sister and her son are coming up late tomorrow night to retrieve my sister's furniture that she has stored with us. They won't be able to get here until 10:00pm so they will spend the night and load up Monday morning. I will have to leave for work early, so I won't get to visit very much. But at least I will get to see them. My sister and I are very close and she moved in with us a year ago to try to find a job up here. It had been three years since her husband passed away and she was looking for a fresh start. But after six months here and no job, she went back to Alvin and found a job almost right away. That was in late May and it's taken her these past six months to finally get an apartment of her own. I know she's happy to be having her own place again. Once all of her things are out of the storage shed, we can reorganize it and set up the 'pantry' for our stores like we want. Yeoldfurt is already contemplating what kind of shelving he wants to build.

Since they won't be here until late, I still have all day tomorrow to do my chores and have everything tidy when they get here. I'm glad I put up the Christmas decorations today. At least things will look cheery.