Hotel Discount Tricks

So I work in housekeeping now.  It’s a great job if you’re not a lazy person and you have an eye for detail. Pay is good and it has benefits.

Anyway, what I want to speak about is over a recent incident where an open condom was found by a guest in their bathroom. They tried to pin this on one of the housekeepers, except this makes no sense because for one who has time to jack off in a room? The second thing is that every room is inspected after it’s cleaned, and our inspectors are rigid – they can see a single eyelash clinging to a marble-tiled floor. How could they miss a whole condom?

Working in food service for as long as I have, I’ve seen people pull off crazy stunts to get free food. Likewise, I’m sure the guest put that condom there, and I’ll bet they demanded a refund or discount for it, too.

Now it’s one thing to haggle for a better price at the front counter, but lil’ cons like this get innocent people fired. Not only is there a housekeeper with their neck in a chopping block over this, but an inspector, too. That’s the livelihoods of two people. And over what? A $50 discount?

People who don’t think their dumb stunts over really piss me off. Think about what you’re doing and who you’re screwing over. You’re gaining a little, but someone – likely multiple someones, and dozens if you include the families of these people you’re also screwing over – is losing everything.

To all those scammers, cons and thieves out there – May you certainly live in most interesting times! (Of course, you’re probably too stupid to understand that little “blessing.”)



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Dehydration – Signs and Prevention for the Workin’ Fool

I figured I’d better follow up the last post with a bit more information on recognizing and preventing dehydration, because I know too many folks who work outdoors or in hot conditions and who tend to ignore or overlook this serious threat. You’re busy. You need to work and work hard. You don’t always have time to stop and take a break when your body needs it. Trust me, I get it. But what would you rather do – take a few minutes from work, or take several days in a hospital, potentially ruining your ability to work?

Dehydration is when your body is losing more water than it’s taking in. Along with this water, the body also loses salt and trace minerals. Let it go too far and your body starts to shut down major functions one at a time, devoting all its energy to keep your heart and brain functioning. But it can only do this for so long before those functions, too, collapse. I think you can guess the results.

Now, I’m no doctor. While I base everything I write about on first-hand experience and the simple (often scoffed at) science of observation, I am no expert. See disclaimer at the end of the page.

Everyone’s heat tolerance is different – get to know how your body responds. While you’re out there working, pay attention for these signs:

  • Thirst. I’ve been told if you’re even a little thirsty, you’re already 1% dehydrated. Keep water within reach at all times. Take a small drink, or sip, as often as you can remember. Don’t guzzle – this can backfire on you and make you throw up, which dehydrates you further.
  • Lack of sweat. Sweat keeps you cool via evaporation. If you’re not sweating, your body will overheat very quickly. With that sweat, you lose electrolytes, which allow your body to absorb water. Some folks don’t sweat much at all, which is okay. It is not okay if you stop entirely and suffer the next symptom.
  • Your face suddenly pales. Listen to your co-workers if one of them tells you your face is pale. If you’re not sure, ask. Your blood vessels are constricting, trying to conserve moisture.  It’s also might indicate your insides are holding too much heat. Drink water or get electrolytes immediately. If you can, get somewhere cool, even for just a few minutes.
  • Sudden bouts of dizziness, fatigue, and/or hand trembling. This is a very serious warning. Get plenty of water and electrolytes and get to a cool place fast. Take a break, sit down, and check your heart rate. If your heart beats too fast, its working too hard trying to get water to the brain and you need to give it a chance to get back to normal.
  • Vomiting, sudden diarrhea, fading vision (“blacking out”), and severe dizziness. At this point your body is starting to shut down, starting with your digestive system.  At this point, you may find you can’t hold down plain water. Stop working immediately. Get to a cool place at once, sit down, and take tiny, frequent sips of an electrolyte drink or suck on an ice cube. SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL ATTENTION!!! I can’t stress this enough, as at this stage you’re well on your way to heat stroke. Avoid guzzling ice-cold drinks, as this can lead to instant cramp and migraines.  

For a more detailed list of symptoms, please see the article “Dehydration in Adults” on WebMD.

The last thing you want to do is to shove yourself in a very cold environment for too long or guzzle iced or near-frozen drinks. Your blood vessels will automatically contract, forcing the blood you’re trying to cool away from your skin to pool around your over-heating organs.

Here is a list fantastic sources of electrolytes, and I recommend you have one or more of these on hand at all times, along with plenty of fresh water. Some of these are not to everyone’s tastes. That doesn’t matter. Just stock up on something you like:

  • Gatorade, Powerade, or similar. They’re cheap, they’re everywhere, and come in dozens of tasty flavors. May not be suitable for diabetics, dieters, or people allergic to the ingredients. Diet versions may contain sugar substitutes that are difficult to digest. Do not drink any electrolyte drink exclusively. I’ve made myself sick doing this. Alternate drinks of Gatorade with equal amounts of straight water. 
  • EmergenCVitamin C powder packets, such as Emergen – C. Compact and easy to carry, these powder mixes come in a variety of flavors, and don’t contain nearly the sugar content of other drinks. They usually work pretty fast and stay with you. Mix with water as directed, or to taste. Not a good idea if you’re allergic to vitamin C. A co-worker of mine recommended drinking this before working to get the maximum benefits.
  • Pickle Juice, aka, Pickling Brine. For those who can stand the taste, pickle juice is about the fastest-acting rehydrating liquid I know of. Personally, I swear by it. Pickle brine consists of high concentrations of salt and vinegar, a touch of sugar, and trace minerals such as magnesium and potassium. All these work together to deliver one powerful, hydrating punch. However, it is concentrated, so I don’t recommend downing a big glassful. In a pinch, you can sip on a couple of ounces of straight juice, but it’s better to fill a glass full of ice, then pour in the brine. Even if your stomach refuses water, the brine will soothe and deliver. I always know when I’m dehydrated when iced pickle juice tastes like the best thing in the whole world. Other brines work as well – pickled olives, green or black, pickled garlic, gherkins (though they have more sugar), pickled beets, etc. – so take your pick. Then, when you’re feeling better, you can snack on the pickles!
  •  “Poor Man’s Powerade.” Here is a wonderful do-it-yourself electrolyte water recipe I derived from and modified for the average working person to understand. I’ve used a diluted form of this recipe for my animals, and it can be flavored or mixed with whatever you want:

1 qt. Water

1/2 tsp. baking soda

3 – 4 Tbs. sugar or honey

1, 1/2 tsp. salt

(More details on how this recipe can be used for animals in my next post.)

These are some beverages you should avoid while working or exercising in the heat:

  • Alcohol. Duh. Do I have to explain this one? While I’m certainly one to enjoy a cold beer on a hot day, I advise saving it for later in the evening near closing time or after. Alcohol increases fluid loss and makes it impossible for you and others to tell when the heat is gettin’ to you.
  • Energy drinks, soda, and sports drinks. Notice I did not say “caffeinated beverages.” While recent studies indicate caffeine is not a direct cause of dehydration, the caffeine content of some of these beverages may cause over-stimulation when over-consumed. This forces your body to work harder than it has to. These drinks also contain stupid amounts of sugar and calories and zero minerals, which can lead to kidney problems, obesity, sugar crashes, and diabetes. Many people I’ve met substitute soda for their entire daily water intake. This is dumb. Don’t be dumb. Alternate your soda intake with equal amounts of plain water, with sips of electrolytes in between. If soda makes you queasy, and water doesn’t solve it, that means it’s not hydrating you. Go for the electrolytes.

Keeping your body cool is just as important as staying hydrated, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t include my favorite tricks for beating the heat.

  • Wear light-colored, breathable clothing. Dark colors absorb heat, and synthetic materials like nylon and polyester blends don’t breath or wick off sweat. Cotton, hemp, silk, and even wool allow your sweat to evaporate and air to circulate, cooling your skin.
  • Wet your hair, soak a hat, or wear a wet bandanna. Your head releases the most heat on your body. It’s also the first piece of you the sun hits. Keep it covered and keep it cool.
  • Spray bottles and misters are a wonderful ally and there are many neat products – like spray bottles with fans on them – available in the market. They’re fun and co-workers appreciate a light misting on a hot day.
  • Keep towels soaking in ice water on hand. Wring out a towel just enough so that it isn’t pouring and drape across the back of the neck. This cools the blood flowing to and from your brain, heart and lungs. Replace when the towel gets too hot or too dry. Be careful that the water isn’t TOO cold, or you might get a temporary headache.
  • Run cool water along the undersides of your forearms for several seconds. You can dry your hands, but allow the water to air-dry off your arms. This works along the same principle as the wet towels.

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you found it helpful. Stay cool this summer!


Disclaimer: I am not a professional health care provider. This blog post is not all-inclusive. Please do your own research. If you need serious medical advice, ask a doctor. 

Categories: Health and Nutrition | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Like a California Raisin

angry sunIt’s gettin’ really hot out there, reminding me of all my friends working and living in this heat, constantly under threat of dehydration and heat stroke. Working hard, it’s easy to ignore the warning signs until it’s too late.

My personal experience with severe dehydration (not the first time, but definitely the worst) happened while working the Southern California Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Los Angeles for the first time. I’ve visited Southern California on numerous occasions, usually during the winter, and the temperature rarely dropped below 50 degrees. At night. In the shade. So imagine what it was like living there for two months at the start of summer. When the temperature hit 70, we were diggin’ out the sweaters.

We had a hellacious journey traveling from Texas through the Mohave Desert in a brand new (twenty-year-old) car loaded to capacity.  Due to the car’s overheating every ten miles, what we calculated as a ten-hour drive turned into three long days. Add to that little sleep, barely any food consumed and not nearly enough water.  We almost didn’t make it to the first day of work – and I still technically didn’t have a job. So add STRESS, now, to that list.

We plunge into work. The SoCal (as the Rennies call it) faire is big and beautiful and draws literally throngs of people while we stand in the middle of them in three layers of garb slow-roasting in the West coast sun like a turkey in a tanning bed. A couple of days of running around and I finally land a job as a Breaker (someone who covers while others go take a break) for Hubby’s boss.

I never saw it coming. I finished up a break and popped behind scenes to sit for a minute since I was tired from lack of sleep and standing around shouting at people all day. I sat in the shade of someone’s storage truck and, since I had a good fifteen minutes before my next break job, I decided to lay back in the grass and relax a bit.

Three hours later I woke up dry heaving and nauseated. I wasn’t sweating and my face was so pale, you couldn’t see the sunburn from the previous day. I tried to drink water, but it came right back up and made the nausea worse. Dizzy and feeling like someone replaced my bones with lead, I apologized to the boss and made straight for a friend’s place, where I knew they had a cool place for me to rest. I almost didn’t make it – by the time I got there, I couldn’t hardly see straight and I was so hot I felt cold in my layers.

My buddy saved me. She got me situated in a chair and handed me a great big tall glass of iced down pickle juice.

Pickle juice? What? Oh, yes. Better than Gatorade. Pickle juice is loaded with electrolytes (mostly in the form of vinegar, but I wouldn’t recommend downing straight vinegar unless you’re masochistic and can do without vocal chords for a while) which allow the body to absorb water.

You know you’re dehydrated when that pickle juice tastes downright delicious. I sucked down the first cup and a couple more, pouring the juice over the ice each time (the ice allows you to get some water in without throwing it up, and makes the taste less pungent). Within a few minutes, I felt the color come back to my cheeks, my vision cleared and the nausea faded. I took the rest of the day off and rested. By the next work day I felt 100% ready to endure L.A.’s punishing dry heat.

I may have likely suffered minor heat stroke. I still think I’m lucky to have woken up at all, and more than thankful for reliable friends and the awesome powers of Pickle Juice.


Categories: Road Stories | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment


deadlineSo now that I’m free of the restaurant noose, I have a bit of time to devote to playing with the baby and working on my writing projects.

I recently read an article advising writers to practice their skills by keeping a blog. I know I’ve been lax on posting in years past. I’ve attempted many times to revise the nearly 500 posts this blog actually contains. (They all sound like they were written by a vulgar emo teenager, for one, and are in need of severe revision – thus why most of them are no longer in my archives.)

The article – I can’t remember where it was, now – recommended posting regularly three times a week. However, I’m already eyeball-deep in two other writing projects, so for now I’m going to start by posting twice a week until I get the hang of having a dedicated deadline.

So on Sundays and Wednesdays at 6am each week I’m going to post something. Starting with and including this post today. I’ve already got a nice line-up of new topics. Some posts will be revisions of old posts, but it’s been so long since I got any hits on them that they’ll pretty much be new.

So thanks to the random few who still keep up on this blog. Hang in there, it’s about to see another kick-start!


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Snake Dreams and Hypocracy in the Workplace

I’ve had snake dreams all of my life, and gradually, I’ve learned how to interpret them. For me the meanings are simple, based on the type of snake, the situation surrounding it, and my feelings as the dream takes place.

Generally, any snake I dream of is a symbol of an issue that is causing me stress either physically or emotionally. A non-poisonous snake often indicates a physical problem, and a poisonous one drama that affects my emotional state. Generally, if I encounter a poisonous snake, and try to handle it, the snake bites me (resulting in a surreal pain and, once, my death), indicating that I need to leave something in my waking life alone.

Usually these dreams are vague or I have to think about them a few days to work out their meaning. This time I had a snake dream, and when I awoke, I knew exactly what the dream was trying to tell me.

rattlerI’ve been dealing with a lot of work-related drama, and thanks to my good intentions, wound up in the middle of it. This drama was tearing apart a good team and strong friendships. So many lies flew around that it became impossible to tell who I could trust. I would go home feeling exhausted both mentally and physically, with a terrible ache in my chest. I couldn’t eat and I couldn’t sleep soundly through the night.

Then I had a dream that went like this:

Someone handed me a snake and asked me if it was poisonous or not. I didn’t want to handle it, but found it in my hand nontheless. It was a copper-colored creature with a beautiful blue diamond pattern on it’s back. At first, it looked non-poisonous, but when I saw it’s evil orange, slatted eyes, I realized it was poisonous. As soon as I did, the thing thrashed violently, changing size and shape, the fangs first large and then small. I held it at the base of the neck, but it’s head twisted into hideous shapes and managed to bite my hand several times.

I released it and felt the poison slowly crawl up my arm with a hot, numbing sensation. I knew that if I didn’t get the antidote, the poison would hit my heart and kill me. The dream kept on for what felt like hours, and I cried louder and louder for help, but no one came, and I knew no one would. I sighed, disgusted, and promptly awoke.

Immediately, I knew that the drama at work would not stop, and that I would not get any help in resolving the issue. I knew I should let it go, but I couldn’t stand to see my friends suffer, so the next day at work, when my boss approached me to ask me what was going on, I attempted to sweep away the rumors and hopefully help out my struggling team mates.

The very next day, that snake I trusted in showed her true form by screwing both me and all of my team mates by getting rid of us in the sneakiest, most underhanded, childish and cowardice manner I’ve ever seen.

The snake in my dream turned out to be my boss – the head of all the lies. I wish it were not so, but now that the truth showed its ugly head, I am at peace. There is no point in me confronting this issue any further (unless she doesn’t pay me my last check, of course). I’m going to sit back and watch karma do the work for me.

She can have that restaurant – it’s been nothing but horribly bad mojo for over 20 years and she just inherited it.

Lets see how the snake likes living “in interesting times.”

For a more comprehensive guide to snake dreams, check out this informative page: The Definitive Guide to Snake Dreams.


Categories: Dreams and Dreaming | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment


At the moment I’ve got my hands full trying to figure out this new mother thing, so there won’t be many blogs for a little while. Also, this site is a mess as well, because I’m working on making this blog more pg-13, which is why 400-something posts “vanished” from public view. After a little editing they should start showing back up – at least the interesting ones will.

Oi, I need more sleep…

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“That Dog Don’t Hunt” – Rumors Debunked

farnsworthToday I’ll be addressing three rumors I’ve recently heard that are scaring folks in my community: 

1) Is collecting rainwater illegal?

2) Is the government banning “off-grid” living?

3) Is the government moving against peaceful communes?

Also, I will address my issues with this new fad of “survival homesteading,” a term that raises many red flags with me.


I’ll be the first person to admit that I’m not always the brightest bulb in the box. There was a day where my brain was so off I couldn’t see a yellow-handled hammer lying on the ground four feet away from me while someone pointed directly at it. No joke. I graduated with an average GPA in high school, never completed college, and my wittiest comments come hours too late.

However, my life on the road gave me some pretty well-developed instincts. So when I hear something that isn’t accurate, I may not know why at the time, but something in me tells me, “That dog don’t hunt…”

Is Collecting Rainwater Illegal?


One rain barrel is rarely an issue.

The short answer is No, there is no federal law stating collecting rainwater is illegal. Laws regulating the use of rain or grey water are specific to state and region. Most of the paranoid rumors are coming from old blog articles and threads from states in the West, where water regulations have been in place for many years. Most of these are high-risk fire zones, like Southern California, Colorado, and parts of Texas. These laws fluctuate all the time, depending on many factors from rainfall to some politician forgetting to modify the laws.

Politicians and “fear-bloggers” also use this as a tactic to garner more favor from the public. I was sad to see a 2010 article by Ron Paul promoting this rumor, which just goes to show that all politicians, no matter how “morally righteous,” are really out for themselves.

When you read about folks getting in serious trouble for collecting rainwater, it usually has to do with impressively large amounts of water, like in the case of this guy who collected 13 million gallons, or the car dealership guy using it to wash his cars in the drought-riddled state of Utah. Both persons suffered very small penalties in comparison to other “minor crimes.”

The fact is, most states PROMOTE the collection of rainwater, but you don’t hear of those, do you?

If you want to know the laws regarding the collection and use of rainwater in your state, don’t just rely on rumors, go research for yourself on your state’s agriculture laws website. Here is just one state-by-state listing.

Is It Becoming Illegal to Live “Off-Grid?”

This rumor comes from a report of a widow living in Cape Coral, Florida who was asked to vacate her property after the city found out she was not hooked up to the local power and water supply. According to this article, she is fighting the city’s antiquated laws and slowly winning. It’s of interesting note that the city pretty much ignored her until she made her lifestyle public on local news. She may very well change the law for the better.

A larder I'd love to have on my homestead.

A larder I’d love to have on my homestead.

Again, laws against off-grid living are extremely localized – they are usually city ordinances – and easy to maneuver around. There are no federal laws, nor do I find anything that states the feds give a crap. So long as you have a clean, running water system hooked up to your home and a sanitary sewage disposal system, the health department will look the other way. Find out your area’s zoning laws and figure out a way to comply with those laws while still, technically, living off-grid. Keep your homestead well-maintained, get to know your neighbors, and don’t do something stupid like trying to grow hemp (until it’s legalized, that is), or hording weapons.

Better yet, don’t go completely off-grid, but figure out how you can SUPPLY your local power provider with electricity. I know plenty of people who get paid by the power company for their excess power from windmills or solar panels. That turns you from a “lazy hippy” into a “valued supplier.”

Most of the non-political negative commentary I ran across came mostly from this extreme “off-grid survival” site that offered very little in the way of practical advice and was riddled with promos and advertisements. They like to take a handful of reports and blow them way out of proportion – like a PETA for survivalists! (What, like there is such thing as “ON-gird” survival???)



Is the Government Cracking Down on Communes?

 There’ve been crackdowns on communes since the 60’s, and there is still no federal law against them. There’s not really any state laws, either. It all boils down, once again, to local zoning regulations and a handful of paranoid neighbors claiming illegal activity on the commune property. Sometimes there really is a major grow operation happening, but most of the time the cops raid the place only to discover a handful of half-naked hippies pressing wheat grass and making gardens out of used tires. No drugs, no weapons, no illegal activities whatsoever, and nothing to make their time worthwhile in the courts.

In the case of a recent SWAT team raid of a commune in Texas, the cops swooped in, destroyed a handful of crops, confiscated a bit of garbage and in the end arrested only one person for “outstanding traffic tickets.” Because the members of the commune behaved in a peaceful and compliant manner, no one was harmed and the owner was able to keep her property without prosecution. Click here to read about the amazing details of this particular case.

Again, I will note, that no one gave a rat’s ass about this commune until they started openly advertising their lifestyle online. There’s always that one dumb redneck in the neighborhood (especially in Texas)

One of the many signs at Bishop's Castle.

One of the many signs at Bishop’s Castle.

who saw a picture of a half-naked hippie flying a peace sign and thought, “DRUGS! GUNS! WACO!” Otherwise, why’d they send a SWAT team?

There Will Always Be Stupid Laws

The point is, there will always be stupid laws that infringe on the rights of US citizens. Many of these are old, outdated, or rarely contended. Greedy or ignorant persons will always try to target those trying to make an honest living and/or free life. It is the responsibility of all of us as individuals to empower ourselves with knowledge of the laws and to comply as much as possible with those laws and in the event those laws become unreasonable, fight them.

One famous case is that of Bishop’s Castle in Colorado. The sole builder, Jim Bishop, fought local authorities for 40 years just for the right to build a castle on his own property. I got to visit the castle, which is an utter masterpiece and still to this day free to the public.  To read his inspiring story, click here: The Story of Bishop’s Castle.

 “Survival” Homesteading — Now Here’s a Dog That Don’t Hunt

On one final note is the red flags that go off in the back of my mind when I hear the term “Survival Homesteading.” For one, that is a contradiction in terms. Survival means not dying in extreme circumstances. Homesteading is, essentially, farming – building a nice, comfy home, keeping livestock, tending a garden. Some skills cross over, such as knowing how to skin, clean and quarter an animal for cooking, but when you’re homesteading, you don’t worry about whether or not the weather will permit you to make a fire to cook said animal.

For an article that explains the difference far better than I could, read the article Survival vs. Homesteading by Frank Borelli.

This survival kit sells for $595.95 online. Worthless if you can escape with only the shirt on your back.

This survival kit sells for $595.95 online. Worthless if you can escape with only the shirt on your back.

What raises the red flags for me is that lately survivalism and emergency preparedness are becoming a social fad fed by an overly-paranoid public. A lot of the websites I’m finding on the subject feel and look like anarchist groups, and many are product-driven. They want you to veer away from “corporate America,” but they want to sell you something while doing it. Many are also government-bashers, which in my opinion has nothing to do with the actual skill of surviving and everything to do with fear and politics. It’s Y2K all over again.

I fear that this anarchist attitude will become associated with the backyard garden, and thus unfairly targeting innocent, law-abiding citizens who just want a few tasty tomatoes for their salads. I don’t want to see my local, small-time farmer labeled a terrorist because of a slew of ignorant city slickers.

Oh, and here’s the truth about survival for all you city idiots: No matter how prepared you are, the least little screw-up and you’re just another candidate for the Darwin Awards.

Categories: Society, People, and the World, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blood Transfusions Can Kill You

We, our fathers and grandfathers all grew up with this familiar image. Does that make it accurate?

We, our fathers and grandfathers all grew up with this familiar image. Does that make it accurate?

In my recent visit with my OB Technician, she asked me straightforward if I had any ethical objections to any medical procedures, “For example,” she said, “Jehovah’s Witnesses would rather die than accept a blood transfusion.”

Now doesn’t that sound extreme? I giggled to myself when I replied, “Well, I will certainly refuse a blood transfusion, but not for religious reasons. I wrote a term paper on bloodless surgery in college and strongly feel the risks of a transfusion far outweigh the benefits.” 

Granted, for many, many years I studied under the Witnesses, and I wrote that paper in 2001. I also have not been an active member of my childhood religion in quite a number of years and my viewpoints on many things have changed. Yet after discussing the topic with my husband and digging up new research on the subject, my opinion on blood transfusions is the same. I’m willing to go so far as to say that it is stronger than ever.

Why would I refuse a blood transfusion when it could save my life? Well, to answer that, you have to ask another question: Do blood transfusions really save lives? Where’s the evidence?

Sadly, the evidence that blood transfusions actually help people is sorely lacking. Our faith in blood to save is really based on tradition and propaganda. Did you know that no clinical studies have ever been done on blood transfusions? Did you know that you can lose up to 75% (and in some extreme cases 90%) of your total blood volume and survive? Did you know that blood is actually a liquid organ, which deteriorates and looses its ability to transfer gases the moment it leaves the body? Did you know that accepting blood products compromise your immune system and increase your chances to get cancer and other diseases – permanently? Did you know there are over 270 blood-types with many more discovered every year? Did you know that transfusions cause complications ranging in severity from lengthy hospital stays to allergic reactions to death?

Have a Discerning Mind – Observe. Question. Decide.


Because zombies need blood, too!

Even a simple, discerning mind will question the effectiveness of receiving blood. Think about it. We know from our health classes in elementary school that blood contains hemoglobin – the protein responsible for carrying oxygen to our bodies. So it just makes sense that if you lose lots of blood, you need to replace it, right? Yet we forget that blood also is the taxi-cab of viruses and disease. Do you think that blood banks screen everything out? That’s just impossible with new diseases popping up all the time. AIDS, HIV, Hepatitis B and C, and Mad Cow Disease were all rapidly spread all over the world thanks to global blood banks.

It is said that thousands of soldiers would have perished in WWI if not for blood. Perhaps that is true, or perhaps the doctors didn’t know any better and fresh blood was so readily available. What about those stories where doctors, entrenched far behind enemy lines, saved the lives of their unit without blood? Clearly, then, blood itself is not directly responsible for saving lives.

There is a new documentary out that explores these questions and many more (such as the enormous cost of harvesting, storing and using blood) in great depth from a purely medical and scientific viewpoint. You never know when you are going to need major surgery, and it is vitally important for the lives and well-being of yourself and those you love to know your options (and risks) when you’re wheeled into a hospital.

This documentary is called, “First Do No Harm.” You can pay $9.00 to download it, or you can watch it on YouTube here: I recommend everyone who wants only the best medical care to watch it.

If you don’t think you can stand sitting through almost two hours of well-built video, you’ll get plenty of information from this 20 minute abridged version:

Be warned, this is a documentary about blood. Even though it is very tastefully done, if you can’t stand the sight of blood, you may just want to listen to it. This documentary could possibly save your life.

“B-But, My Doctor Said….”

Never let doctors intimidate you into accepting any kind of treatment, even if that treatment is “standard procedure.” The field of medicine is one that is ever-changing in the light of new technology and circumstance. It must do this to keep pace with Nature, which cannot lie and constantly makes fools of the educated. It is the pride of the letters behind a doctor’s name that can make him blind to stark observational truths.

Remember: “Doctors advise, patients decide.”


Further Research

Author’s Note – Keep in mind that when a document states statistics for transfusions, this likely means per bag of blood, not necessarily per procedure. Every bag represents a different donor. Since most hospitals prescribe a minimum of two bags per transfusion, this automatically doubles the risk factor. 

NO BLOOD – An older documentary that mostly explains why Jehovah’s Witnesses do not accept blood, but also highlights many alternative medical procedures that are still used today.

The Mayo Clinic on the risks of Blood Transfusions.

WebMD – Risk of Blood Transfusion

What is really dangerous: anaemia or transfusion? – BJA

Science Daily – New Research on the Overuse of Blood Transfusions

Unniversity of Michigan on the Overuse of Transfusions


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The All-American LaMancha – The Milking Goat for Me

An adorable baby face!

An adorable baby face!

A couple of years ago, while I was working a food booth at the Louisiana Renaissance Festival (my favorite show), I came back from an unusually long break to relieve my teenage co-worker. “Where’d you disappear to?” she asked me. With a big grin I replied, “Oh, I was just playing with the teats of eight lovely ladies,” I replied. Her eyeballs just about popped out of her head. “WHAT!?” she shrieked and I roared with laughter. “Goats, dear! I was milking goats!”

The fellow that ran the goat-soap booth brings along a small herd of milking goats with him and keeps them in a secure paddock at the back of the parking lot, where they can get to the acorns and tender pine needles. This little herd usually included up to eight mature milkers, a couple of young females getting familiar with the routine and one beautiful Alpine weather (neutered male) who went to “goat school” to learn to pull a small cart in Parade.

The ladies showing off "the goods!"

The ladies showing off “the goods!”

For two seasons, “Goat-Man Pat” taught me all about the intricacies and challenges of raising goats and showed me how to milk. In return, he let me take home some of the milk. Seeing as I was highly lactose-intolerant at the time, I greatly appreciated this. To this day I’ve never had sweeter, more delicious milk. To me, it was like drinking homemade ice cream!

Isn’t Goat’s Milk “Goaty” Tasting?

Many folks balk when it comes to drinking goats milk. Either they’ve had it in a store – for some reason, ultra-pasteurizing kills the taste – or the milk came from goats raised around an un-neutered male who liked to spray (tinting it with a “goaty” flavor), or it came from girls who were not fed properly, or allowed to graze on bitter forage. Pat’s goats had the warm smell of sweet feed, fresh hay, and that’s what his milk reminded me of. Oh, how I miss Pat’s milk!

These goats come in a variety of sizes and color patterns.

These goats come in a variety of sizes and color patterns.


Pat’s herd consisted mostly of the floppy-eared Nubians and the no-eared LaManchas, a breed I came to appreciate and love. LaManchas are the only goat breed developed in the United States by Mrs. Eula Fey Frey of Oregon. The ears are not docked or clipped, they’re just really short and curly. This genetic oddity does not impair their hearing in any way, but they may catch dirt and dust in the little folds.

Pat’s LaManchas were quiet compared to the vocal Nubians, they were well-behaved (for the most part – one can only expect so much from a goat!), and milked out easily by hand. They are smaller than the Nubian, too, making them my pick for my future homestead.

The Best Breed for a Small Homestead

Who would not love this sweet baby?

Who would not love this sweet baby?

While the Nigerian Dwarf is a smaller breed that produces milk with a much higher butter-fat content for making cheeses, Pat warned me quite passionately against them. “They never shut up, they’re notorious escape artists, and they breed like crazy!” he’d tell me, over and over. As if to exemplify his point, the lady who ran the medieval “farmhouse” across the lake had one. That thing NEVER stopped bleating, even on the weekdays (with or without company). Pat did mention that a “Nigie” cross-breed might be okay, if you really desire the butter-fat content, but after his experiences, he would have nothing to do with them.

I am not a fan of all the hormones and lack of nutrients found in today’s store-bought milk. With my first child on the way, my



thoughts turn more toward owning a milking animal. After comparing the needs of miniature cows versus goats, my vote stays with the goat. They’re cheaper, require less space, are far more entertaining, and can be raised in almost any outdoor environment. They’ll forage on anything, keeping the nettles and thistles down and the tree branches trimmed back. Goats are natural climbers and get bored if they can’t get up somewhere where they can look around. They will need a “goat-proof” enclosure and some kind of sturdy structure to climb on that is not my car.

Working with goats was like working with 100 lb. rats. They share much the same personality – ornery, sttubborn, intelligent, greedy, grabby, and a little too clever for their own good sometimes. All this just makes me want one even more!



Further Reading

American Lamancha goat – Wikipedia

LaMancha Goats – Hobby Farms

History of the LaMancha Dairy Goat

Breed Standards | American Goat Society


Categories: Animals in Our Lives | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The Paw Paw – Banana of the North

The Common Paw Paw, Asiminia triloba

The Common Paw Paw, Asiminia triloba

I was overjoyed when I returned to my hometown to discover that the Paw Paws were in season. For years I boasted to my husband of this native fruit’s sweet, creamy texture and mango-peach-banana flavor. Now he finally gets to try it! Read on to learn more about this delectable edible.

Young trees in the environment I'm used to seeing them in.

Young trees in the environment I’m used to seeing them in.

A Favorite Since Childhood

It was my parents who took me in hand as a young child and introduced me to this native shrub-like tree, which grew in the rich soil alongside our driveway. I’m sure this tree is what sparked my life-long love of identifying edible wild plants. Since then I found dozens of colonies growing along the creek banks and in the steep ravines of our wooded property. Each year around late September – early October, I’d take a walk down the driveway and as soon as I caught a whiff of the fruits’ pungent sweet scent (I

Despite their tropical-like leaves, the Paw Paw is a temperate plant that needs cold winters to thrive.

Despite their tropical-like leaves, the Paw Paw is a temperate plant that needs cold winters to thrive.

had a nose like a bloodhound when I was a kid, and sometimes still do), I’d start shaking all the trees I could find, my head whipping around to locate the fruits every time I heard a THUD! And, yes, sometimes they’d hit my head.

The trees are very easy to spot. They have broad, tropical-like leaves and thin trunks. Often, if the tree was short enough, I’d merely bend the whole tree down until my brother, or another friend, could reach the maturing fruits. I never snapped the trees – they are surprisingly supple.

The flowers bloom before the leaves form, making trees easy to identify.

The flowers bloom before the leaves form, making trees easy to identify.

In early spring, while I was scouring the ground for morels (about mid-March through May in my zone), I’d check on the paw paw groves to asses which trees would bear fruit later that year. Paw paw have beautiful, waxy flowers that fell off easily if tampered with. As I recall, they had a delicate, sweet aroma that black ants loved. I never did see bees or wasps visiting flowers, which makes me think that perhaps the tree is a throwback in flowering plant history.

When I looked this tree up, Wikipedia stated that “The conspicuous fruits begin
developing after the plants flower…” however, I’ve personally never seen fruit clusters even begin to form until fall. I doubt the Wiki-pencil-pushers escape their desks often to experience the things they write about!



These paw paws are what I consider perfectly ripe for eating.

The flesh w/ seeds.

The flesh w/ seeds.

Old textbooks on wild edibles used to say that the paw paw was inedible until it turned completely yellow-black and fell off the tree. This was, of course, completely untrue. Like a banana, once they reach this stage, the flesh is soggy and almost too sweat to bear by itself. I suppose, though, like a banana, once it reaches this stage it’d be perfect in bread recipes or frozen and tossed into a smoothie. Paw paw smoothie? Yummmm!

The reason paw paws are not on the market is they supposedly do not keep well, quickly going over-ripe. I don’t know what they’re talking about; picked barely ripe and still green, I’ve not had a problem keeping them fresh in the refrigerator for quite a few days. In fact, I have to take them out to get them to ripen further! Other sources confirm that the flesh cans and freezes well, too.

The seeds take up most of the space inside the fruit.

The seeds take up most of the space inside the fruit.

My brother and I used to make up our own board games and we would use paw paw seeds as playing pieces. They are large – up to and inch long! – and smooth and flat and I’ve found as many as twenty of them in a single fruit. They also made great worry stones when a buckeye wasn’t available.

Raising a Paw Paw Grove

I’ve seen some folks in the Midwest and Eastern US growing paw paw trees in their backyard. In fact, there’s a whole orchard of them in Ohio! (See “Further Reading” below.) Some states even hold paw paw festivals.

Cultivated trees have more robust foliage than those raised in the shade of a forest.

Cultivated trees have more robust foliage than those raised in the shade of a forest.

Recently, a friend of my dad’s wanted to come over and dig up some of the smaller saplings and collect seeds to start his own grove. The trees grow very quickly and do not get very tall. They bear fruit in just four years and the trees in my folks’ driveway are almost as old as I am and showing no signs of dying anytime soon. When walking through the woods, I look for trees at least ten feet tall – these are mature enough to bear fruit. They reach an average height of 30′ or so, but a really healthy tree can easily hit 40′ – 45′ (like our driveway tree, which gets more than the usual amount of sunlight and plenty of drainage).

Only the immature fruits of the papaya are remotely similar to the paw paw.

Only the immature fruits of the papaya are remotely similar to the paw paw.

Some folks confuse the North American paw paw with the tropical papaya, which shares the same moniker. Of course, one look at the picture on the right will reveal how dissimilar they are.

So I hope you enjoyed this article and get a chance to try a taste of this amazing fruit!

Further Reading

Wikipedia on the Common pawpaw, (Asimina triloba).

Briar Patch Outdoors — Hunting the Michigan Pawpaw by George Hedgepeth

NPR – A Coming-Out Party For The Humble Pawpaw, Native Fruit Darling by Allison Aubrey and Dan Charles

Integration Acres – A Paw Paw orchard in Ohio. Recipes and more.

Categories: Health and Nutrition, Nature | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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