Lake Michigan at Chicago

By John Ruberry

Chicago, which is for now America’s third-largest city, has suffered a rough 21st century. It is beset by a declining population, a high murder rate, soaring taxes, poorly-rated bonds, and burdensome public employee pension debt.

Now you can add lead in tap water to Chicago’s problems. Chicago pumps its water from Lake Michigan, which is largely lead free.

From an April Chicago Tribune article:

Amid renewed national attention to the dangers of lead poisoning, hundreds of Chicagoans have taken the city up on its offer of free testing kits to determine if they are drinking tap water contaminated with the brain-damaging metal.

A Tribune analysis of the results shows lead was found in water drawn from nearly 70 percent of the 2,797 homes tested during the past two years. Tap water in 3 of every 10 homes sampled had lead concentrations above 5 parts per billion, the maximum allowed in bottled water by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Alarming amounts of the toxic metal turned up in water samples collected throughout the city, the newspaper’s analysis found, largely because Chicago required the use of lead service lines between street mains and homes until Congress banned the practice in 1986.

It was the lead from service lines in Flint, Michigan that contaminated that troubled city’s drinking water. Service lines are the connecting pipes from water mains to homes, schools, and businesses. Upkeep of them, and their replacement, is the responsibility of the property owner in Chicago. And replacing those service lines isn’t cheap, it will cost a property owner anywhere from $2,500 to $8,000. A lead filter is a cheaper alternative.

The Flint water crisis was brought about when that city, in a cost-saving measure, switched from purchasing its water from Detroit–which gets it from Lake Huron–to the Flint River. Chloride corrosives from the river reacted with the lead in the service lines, putting dangerous amounts of lead into Flint’s drinking water. While the US EPA says no amount of lead is safe, the EPA action level is 15 ppb, which many Flint homes exceeded.

But there is no federal standard for tap water lead levels in regards to individual residences.

The Tribune article cited here discovered that some Chicago homes tested had lead tap water with amounts slightly above 15 ppb.

Chicago is currently replacing 900 miles of water mains, and such work can increase lead levels in drinking water, the EPA says. And that might be the cause of the high lead content in Chicago’s water.

Excessive lead levels are particularly damaging to children as it can lead to developmental problems. In fact, dangerous lead exposures among Chicago’s children could be a factor in the city’s high rate of violent crime.

The Chicago Park District may soon shut off nearly half of its water fountains on its crowded Lakefront Path because of the high lead content in its water. For twenty years I swigged that water when I was training for marathons.

Chicago’s two-term mayor, Rahm Emanuel, who is up for reelection next year, has been mostly quiet about the lead issue.

I’ll leave the final words for Randy Conner, the city’s Water Management Commissioner, “Chicago has the best drinking water and the cleanest drinking water that is ever to be found.”

Pass me the bottled water as I praise the day I moved to the suburbs.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit from Morton Grove, Illinois.

Getting to see a doctor in China isn’t easy.

After I had a persistent cough, however, I had to see a physician.

Almost everyone goes to a hospital to see a doctor. That’s the way the system works.

What is interesting is how the healthcare system forces Chinese to do something they abhor: standing in lines in an orderly manner.

The Chinese are good at a lot of things but waiting in a line is not one of them. But everyone seems to accept the burden, with few people trying to skirt the queue.

After getting a number and an hour of waiting, I saw a young physician who analyzed my problems and ordered several tests, including blood work and an EKG.

Unfortunately, the hospital closes for more than two hours for lunch, and you have to wait until 2:30 p.m. to take the tests.

The EKG took a few minutes, and the results were returned immediately.

The blood tests were a different matter. They took about two hours to get the results.

After you get the results, you stand in line for another number to see another doctor.

The physician diagnosed my problem as an upper-respiratory infection and provided me with a prescription for a variety of antibiotics and cough medicine.

Unfortunately, you have to stand in another line to pay for the drugs. In fact, almost everyone has to pay up front for any procedures.

The total cost for the various procedures was about $70, which by U.S. standards is excellent. For many Chinese, however, insurance covers only about 70 percent of the total cost, and residents have to wait for reimbursement, which can be a significant hardship for many.

Although I got good care, I had two beefs. First, I couldn’t see a specific physician. Everyone sees who’s up next. Second, it took six hours from entering the hospital for me to get the medicine I needed. That’s about the same as in the United States, but I don’t have to spend all that time in the physician’s office waiting for the tests and the prescriptions in the United States.

Note: It would have been impossible to navigate the Chinese healthcare system without a translator. The same probably would be true if someone from China entered a hospital in the United States.

Penny:   Here you go, Quesadilla, salad, here’s your pizza and thanks to Sheldon’s heated discussion with my manager One Barbecue bacon burger barbecue sauce bacon and cheese on the side.
Sheldon:  Thank you
Penny:   Go Ahead, eat it, I dare you.

The Big Bang Theory The Panty Piñata Polarization 2008

Hunt Bromley: I say Mac waters his whiskey
Jimmy Ringo: Then you’re kinda dumb to be drinking here ain’t ya?

The Gunfighter 1950

Hello:

I would like to speak to you concerning the rather disturbing incident this mother’s day past at a Cheesecake Factory Location in Miami where a black customer wearing a MAGA hat came in with a party for mothers day and was derided and berated by staff at that location.

On one level I’d like to commend you for your response, the apology offered, the dismissal of the staff involved and the public statement that this is not acceptable behavior is all commendable and to the good but it brings to mind an important point.

The only reason why you were able to take that corrective action is because your former employees actions took place in public in the sight of others with cell phone cameras ready and the story went viral.

What if they hadn’t?

What if your employees who hated Trump supporters in general and black trump supporters in particular enough to make a scene, were cunning enough to decide that instead of making a public fuss that could be publicly reported on and cause them grief,  decided to act quietly by messing with that gentleman and his party’s food, drink or desert?

Nobody would be any of the wiser and even if the manager there knew this happened would such a manager be inclined to act? After all to my knowledge the people who were fired were not let go until this became a national issue.

In fact now that it IS a national issue such people who believe that Trump supports are racist, bigoted nazis who deserve whatever happens to them are MORE not less likely to commit such acts but move them out of the dining room and into the kitchen outside the prying eyes of customers and their camera phones.

Therefore I have the following question to ask of the Cheesecake Factory in particular and to any national eatery, particularly ones in blue states who have supported the left against the right on the corporate or local level:

What steps, if any, are you taking to assure Conservatives in General and Trump supporters in particular, whether we are wearing Trump hats pins or not, that we will be able to eat at your establishments without fear of any employee tampering with our meal?

Without an answer to this question, it would be, in my opinion, “kinda dumb” to quote Gregory Peck in the Gunfighter, for any conservative to patronize your chain.

I think the 60 million plus Americans who voted for President Trump deserve an answer to my question and I look forward to your public response to this issue.

P. Ingemi
DaTechGuy

Saint Dymphna was an Irish princess born in the seventh century to a pagan king and a Christian mother. She is the Patron Saint of people who are suffering from mental illness and/or emotional stress, nervous disorders, epileptics, victims of incest, runaways, and mental health professionals.

I first learned of her from my grandmother, who suffered from depression and who gave me a pocket sized prayer booklet for Saint Dymphna from the Franciscian Mission Associates in New York which features the image below on its cover. I still have that booklet, well over twenty years after it was given to me. Saint Dymphna is very dear to me, and her feast day is coming up on May 15th.

Saint Dymphna Patron of Mental & Spiritual Afflictions

Dymphna’s Christian mother was very beautiful, and her husband, King Damon of Oriel, loved her very much. Saint Dymphna was raised Christian; she was secretly baptized by her mother and educated by their priest, Father Gerebernus. Young Dymphna loved Jesus Christ and promised herself to Him with a vow of chastity as she began to approach womanhood. Via the National Shrine of Saint Dymphna, here is what happened soon after:

It was not long, however, until an unexpected cloud overshadowed the happy childhood of the beautiful girl. She lost her good mother by death. Many were the secret tears she shed over this bereavement, but at the same time she found great comfort in the Divine Faith which, though she was still of a tender age, already had taken deep root.

Dymphna’s father, too, greatly mourned his deceased wife and for a long time continued prostrate with grief. At length he was persuaded by his counselors to seek solace in a second marriage. So he commissioned certain ones of his court to seek out for him a lady who would be like his first spouse in beauty and character. After visiting many countries in vain, the messengers returned saying that they could find none so charming and amiable as his own lovely daughter, Dymphna. Giving ear to their base suggestion, the king conceived the evil design of marrying Dymphna. With persuasive and flattering words he manifested his purpose to her. Dymphna, as may be expected, was greatly horrified at the suggestion, and asked for a period of forty days to consider the proposal. She immediately betook herself to Father Gerebran, who advised her to flee from her native country, and since the danger was imminent, he urged her to make no delay.

With all speed, therefore, she set out for the continent, accompanied by Father Gerebran, the court jester and his wife. After a favorable passage, they arrived on the coast near the present city of Antwerp. Having stopped for a short rest, they resumed their journey and came to a little village named Gheel. Here they were hospitably received and began to make plans for establishing their future abode at this place.

The king, in the meantime, having discovered Dymphna’s flight, was fearfully angry, and immediately set out with his followers in search of the fugitives. After some time, they were traced to Belgium and their place of refuge was located. At first, Dymphna’s father tried to persuade her to return with him, but Father Gerebran sternly rebuked him for his wicked intentions, whereupon he gave orders that Father Gerebran should be put to death. Without delay, his wicked retainers laid violent hands upon the priest and struck him on the neck with a sword. With one blow of the steel, the head was severed from the shoulders and another glorious martyr went to join the illustrious heroes of Christ’s kingdom.

Further attempts on the part of Dymphna’s father to induce her to return with him proved fruitless. With undaunted courage she spurned his enticing promises and scorned his cruel threats. Infuriated by her resistance, the father drew a dagger from his belt and he himself struck off the head of his child. Recommending her soul to the mercy of God, the holy virgin fell prostrate at the feet of her insanely raving father. Thus the glorious crown of martyrdom was accorded to St. Dymphna in the fifteenth year of her age, on the fifteenth day of May, between 620 and 640. The day of her death has been assigned as her feastday.

The records of Dymphna’s life and death say that the bodies of the two martyred saints lay on the ground for quite some time after their death, until the inhabitants of Gheel removed them to a cave, which was the customary manner of interment in that part of the world at the time of the martyrdoms. But after several years had elapsed, the villagers, recalling their holy deaths, decided to give the bodies a more suitable burial. When the workmen removed the heap of black earth at the cave’s entrance, great was their astonishment to find two most beautiful tombs, whiter than snow, which were carved from stone, as if by angel hands. When the coffin of St. Dymphna was opened there was found lying on her breast a red tile bearing the inscription:

“Here lies the holy virgin and martyr, Dymphna.”

The remains of the saint were placed in a small church. Later necessity obliged the erection of the magnificent “Church of St. Dymphna,” which now stands on the site where the bodies were first buried. St. Dymphna’s relics repose there in a beautiful golden reliquary.

Miracles and cures began to occur in continually increasing numbers. Gradually St. Dymphna’s fame as patroness of victims of nervous diseases and mental disorders was spread from country to country. More and more mentally afflicted persons were brought to the shrine by relatives and friends, many coming in pilgrimages from far-distant places. Novenas wer made, and St. Dymphna’s relic was applied to the patients. The remarkable cures reported caused confidence in the saint to grow daily. At first the patients were lodged in a small annex built onto the church. Then gradually it came about that the patients were place in the homes of the families living in Gheel. From this beginning Gheel developed into a town world-famed for its care of the insane and mentally afflicted. An institution, called the “Infirmary of St. Elizabeth,” which was conducted by the Sisters of St. Augustine was later built for the hospital care of the patients. Most of the latter, after some time spent in the institution, are placed in one or other of the families of Gheel, where they lead a comparatively normal life.

In the town of Geel, Belgium, where Saints Dymphna and Gerebernus were martyred, local people still continue to provide care for those who travel there seeking relief from mental illness centuries later. Via NCR Online:

In the mid-14th century, Geel erected a church in Dymphna’s honor; it was built on the spot where she was buried. Around this time, rumors spread about disturbed individuals who were cured upon visiting Geel. As these accounts circulated, people began bringing disturbed family members, hoping for their own miracle. And many embattled souls made it to Geel on their own.

A building contiguous to St. Dymphna Church was built to accommodate the troubled pilgrims. Soon enough, the capacity of this structure was exceeded. Church authorities appealed to the citizens of Geel, who responded in a way that would eventually designate Geel as “the charitable city”: They welcomed mentally ill strangers into their homes.

The Geel community showed remarkable compassion, particularly for an era when most any sort of psychological aberration was viewed as being due to demonic influence or possession. Ronald J. Comer’s Abnormal Psychology mentions the typical techniques of the time for dealing with the psychologically aberrant. Exorcisms, of course, were performed. “Holy water” or “bitter drinks” might be administered. If these remedies failed to produce results, the ensuing therapy could consist of flogging, scalding, stretching of limbs, or starvation. It was hoped that these extreme measures might expunge the iniquity.

In contrast to these measures was the Geel way, in which the mentally ill, who were called “boarders” instead of “patients,” became a valued part of the community. Many of the boarders helped with agricultural labor. They were allowed to go about the village, and some even became regulars at local taverns. Some boarders stayed in Geel for only a few months; others stayed for the rest of their lives.

The boarder population peaked in the year 1938, when the number reached 3,736. About 1,600 remained by the late 1970s. Geel now has some 500 boarders and a total population of about 35,000.

Via Medelita, here is more information about how the mentally ill are cared for in Gheel currently:

These days, boarders are considered wards of the local psychiatric hospital, and they have a treatment team that checks in on them and drops off medications when needed. However, there is no care plan or greater goal given to the families that take them in. They are only told to be as normal as possible. Families are unaware of the patient’s diagnosis, only knowing what the patient chooses to tell them, and often times, families are not trained in any way other than what they’ve learned from relatives, other townspeople, or past experiences. Despite the lack of a treatment plan, boarders are given the security and stability of being accepted by a whole community, as well as family and doctors, which some say has a healing effect. People living in Geel simply do not look at mental illness in the same way that most societies do, and mental illness is regarded with zero stigma attached.

Compassionate care for the mentally ill seems to work out well for the afflicted and the people of Geel who welcome them and help them. Divine intervention seems a plausible explanation for this.

Below is a prayer to Saint Dymphna, via Our Catholic Prayers:

Good Saint Dymphna, great wonder-worker in every affliction of mind and body, I humbly implore your powerful intercession with Jesus through Mary, the Health of the Sick, in my present need. (Mention it.) Saint Dymphna, martyr of purity, patroness of those who suffer with nervous and mental afflictions, beloved child of Jesus and Mary, pray to Them for me and obtain my request.

(Pray one Our Father, one Hail Mary and one Glory Be.)

Saint Dymphna, Virgin and Martyr, pray for us.

You can also do a Novena to her, which is a series of prayers lasting nine days. Via Pray More Novenas:

St. Dymphna Novena Prayers

Day 1 – St. Dymphna Novena

For Faith

O God, Source of our salvation, in the midst of a pagan people, Thou didst enlighten St. Dymphna by the light of the true faith, which she professed under the guidance of her holy confessor, Gerebran, with such constance that she suffered martyrdom. Through the intercession of these two saints, we beg Thee to strengthen the faith which Thou hast given us, so that by wisely subjecting our souls to Thy Supreme Authority, and by faithfully conforming our lives according to our faith, we may honor Thee with our whole heart and soul until the hour of our death. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pray the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be five times

Day 2 – St. Dymphna Novena

For Hope

Almighty and infinitely good God, Thou hast promised eternal salvation to those who obey Thy commandments and make zealous use of Thy graces. Through the intercession of St. Dymphna, who fled from the danger of sin by leaving the palace of her father, and who, eager to gain eternal salvation, fled to Belgium to live in poverty, we beg Thee to grant that we also, who are striving for eternal happiness, may overcome all obstacles in the way of virtue and may attain eternal salvation. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pray the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be five times

Day 3 – St. Dymphna Novena

For Charity

God of love, Thou art the most perfect Being, and Creator of all that is good and beautiful. Through the intercession of St. Dymphna, who in her youth loved Thee above all creatures and for Thy sake loved her neighbor as herself, as the image and likeness of Thee, as the price of the Blood of Jesus and as co-heir of heaven, be pleased to help us by Thy powerful grace, that we may faithfully fulfill the two great commandments of charity not only in word, but in action and in truth. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pray the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be five times

Day 4 – St. Dymphna Novena

For Piety

God, Our Creator and Supreme Master, St. Dymphna served Thee with great zeal even in her childhood, by hearing Thy word with delight, by assisting at Holy Mass with fervent reverence, and by receiving Holy Communion from the hand of St. Gerebran with tender devotion. Through her intercession we beg Thee to grant us the same virtue of piety so that, having honored Thee during this life as our Creator, we may possess Thee hereafter as our final reward. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pray the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be five times

Day 5 – St. Dymphna Novena

For Prudence

O God, ruler of the universe, Thou didst allow St. Dymphna to discover a helpful means of avoiding the evil intentions of her father. Through the merits of Thy holy servant, be pleased to grant that we may become, according to the words of Jesus, simple as doves and wise as serpents, so that through prudent advice and sound judgment we may recognize what we must do to achieve the great work of our salvation. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pray the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be five times

Day 6 – St. Dymphna Novena

For Justice

O God, source of eternal justice, Thou didst inspire St. Dymphna to flee from her country and her father in order to render to Thee that which was Thine. Through her intercession we beg Thee to make us seek after justice so that we may perform our duties toward Thee as we ought. Though Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pray the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be five times

Day 7 – St. Dymphna Novena

For Fortitude

O God, rewarder of those who remain firm in their good resolutions, Thou gavest St. Dymphna such a love of virtue that she had the courage to suffer privation, persecution, and even martyrdom. Through her prayers we beg Thee to grant us fortitude that we may courageously and perseveringly overcome ourselves and finally conquer the enemy of our salvation. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pray the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be five times

Day 8 – St. Dymphna Novena

For Temperance

O God, You made St. Dymphna resplendent in the virtue of temperance so that she mastered sensual inclinations and used temporal goods prudently. With temperance she combined the beautiful virtues of modesty, docility and humility. Let us not forget that humility is called the foundation of all virtue because it banishes from the soul pride, the obstacle to grace. Through the intercession of St. Dymphna, we beg Thee to guide and direct us, so that being preserved from evil and nervous disorders, we may obey till death the commandments and counsels Thou hast given us. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pray the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be five times

Day 9 – St. Dymphna Novena

For Chastity

O God, lover of innocent souls, Thou gavest St. Dymphna the virtue of angelic purity which made her reserved in all her actions, modest in her dress, attentive in her conversation, upright in her character, so that she even shed her blood to preserve this precious virtue. Through the intercession of St. Dymphna, we beg thee to bestow upon us the virtue of chastity that we may enjoy peace of conscience in this life and pure eternal joys of heaven hereafter. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Pray the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be five times

Please remember those suffering from mental illnesses in your prayers and try to have compassion for them in your hearts.

*******

MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals. 

The weird egg laying mammal with a duck’s bill on its face may hold the key to the problem of our antibiotics not working well against resistant bacteria and germs. Via Sky News:

A breakthrough by Australian scientists has found that the platypus – which is already a unique creature – is also in possession of fairly unique biochemistry.

Researchers from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Deakin University have discovered a special protein contained in platypus milk.

CSIRO scientist and lead author Dr Janet Newman said: “Platypus are such weird animals that it would make sense for them to have weird biochemistry.

“The platypus belongs to the monotreme family, a small group of mammals that lay eggs and produce milk to feed their young.

“By taking a closer look at their milk, we’ve characterised a new protein that has unique antibacterial properties with the potential to save lives.”

The study, published in Structural Biology Communications, finds that the way platypus mothers feed their young – which unusually for mammals hatch from eggs – has led to the antibacterial properties developing.

Platypus do not have teats, but instead express milk on to their belly where the young suckle it – meaning the milk becomes exposed to an environment where it could be contaminated by local bacteria.

Evolutionary processes have meant that the milk contains a special protein which protects the platypus babies against this bacteria.

Dr Julie Sharp of Deakin University said: “We were interested to examine the protein’s structure and characteristics to find out exactly what part of the protein was doing what.”

They found that the protein contained a unique 3D fold which had never been seen before in the structure of the molecule.

As Instapundit likes to say, “Faster, Please.”

Pic: Laura Romin and Larry Dalton. Via Sky News

Platypus, funny face, savior of the human race? (Apologies to The Doors)

Which will come first, the Zombie Apocalypse, or the Cure from mammals who lay eggs?

*******

MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals. 

Here in New York’s Scenic Hudson Valley, we are still digging out from two big Nor’easter storms that we’ve gotten in the past week. There are huge piles of snow and big broken tree branches all around my property, but my family was thankfully spared from the power outages that hit this area hard and our little house is still standing. Unfortunately, I’m on my second week with a nasty upper respiratory infection that my kids have caught as well so no sledding or snowman building for us. My dogs, however, had a grand old time jumping around their frozen play yard, so there’s that.

I recently learned that hot toddies can be made with pineapple juice and rum. Not for the kids, of course, although it would have been acceptable for previous generations, and while it did not really much help my symptoms but it did help me care a little bit less about them for a little while. You can make the toddies with any kind of juice, apparently, and whatever spirit you prefer as well – the key ingredients besides the booze and juice are honey and cinnamon. Heat the juice, add the other stuff, stir, and enjoy!

My mom used to make hot toddies with orange juice and whiskey before I developed a food allergy to oranges, but they are traditionally made with tea. Here is a link to a recipe for that: Dr. Pat’s Hot Toddy Cold Remedy

I’m going to have to cut this post short as there are coughing children who need my attention (so no toddies for me). I hope you are all safe and warm and well. I’ve got over the counter cold medicines, Vick’s Vapor Rub, and chicken soup to try to get us through our winter sicknesses but I am open to suggestions. If you’ve got a favorite home remedy or winter comfort food, please share in the comments section.

*******

MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals. 

A lady was sitting in a traffic jam with her dog, Sherman, in the car with her. Sherman, a beautiful 230 pound English Mastiff, is not just a beloved family pet, he is also a therapy dog who visits people in senior communities, home-bound people, and people with other special needs to help to lift their spirits and brighten their days. Sherman’s people mom, Sherry McAllister, uses her vehicle to take Sherman to his jobs and has her cell phone number posted to the outsides of her car advertising their services. So there are Sherry and Sherman sitting in their ride, not going anywhere or doing anything when her phone rings, and as they say in the clickbait ads, what happened next is amazing…

SunnySkyz:

“We were stuck in a huge traffic jam for about 15 minutes, without moving, when my phone rang. Since we obviously weren’t going anywhere, I answered. On the other end of the phone was a soft-spoken man who introduced himself as, Andy.”

“He explained he was a few cars back from us, and saw Sherman stick his big ol’ head out the window, so he called the number on our decal (we have a huge decal on three sides of the suburban with a picture of Sherman’s head, his name, and our contact number). He told us he had just returned home after a 3+ month stay in a nursing home facility. He was recovering from the most recent of multiple back surgeries.”

“It’s because of this stay in the nursing home and his failing health that he had to rehome his large breed dog. He is, sadly, unable to care for him any longer. This decision clearly broke his heart, as we could hear him choking up as he spoke. He asked if we could meet up sometime, so he could just pet Sherman. Of course, we told him we would love to set a time to meet up with him. He thanked us and we said our goodbyes, with a promise to set something up in the next few days.

As we sat there in traffic, I couldn’t get Andy’s sad voice out of my head. We decided to call him back and ask if he would like to turn off into the Wal-Mart parking lot to say, ‘Hello’ to Sherman real quick. We could hear his voice cracking over the phone when he said, ‘Yes!’.”

So, they met in the nearby parking lot, where Sherry invited Andy to meet Sherman and spend some time with him, which he did, and Sherman immediately went about giving Andy exactly what he needed:

Sherman the Therapy Dog photo from SunnySkyz

MORE at SunnySkyz HERE

Sherman has a Facebook page, HERE.

People can be so miserable sitting in traffic, it is the sort of thing that can bring out some of our worst personality quirks, it’s nice to see something GOOD come out of one! As Jerry Wilson wrote right here at Da Tech Guy Blog just yesterday, sometimes God puts us exactly where we are needed at exactly the right time. I believe this truly in my heart and I think the above story is a fine example of such divine placement (as is Jerry’s story, which you should check out if you haven’t already).

*******

MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals. 

Life is better with dogs. I should know, since I have a whole family of six of them living with me and my husband, kids, and cats! Here are a few tales of heroic dogs to brighten your weekend…

It was 4:30 am when a sleeping couple was awakened by their two dogs recently. The dogs were tugging on them and nudging them and insisting on being taken out, which was not something these dogs typically did in the wee hours. These dogs had something important to show their humans, and thank God that their humans eventually complied! Via SunnySkyz:

Meet Adam and Eva, two labradoodles who are being credited with saving the life of a lost elderly woman.

dogs save woman from freezing to death
Credit: J. Scott Park

The dogs woke their owners up at 4:30 a.m. on Sunday. They continuously tugged on their owner’s sleeve, insisting to be let outside.

“(Adam) never tugged on my clothes before, so I was a cautious about letting them out because I didn’t know if there was anything out there,” Lonnie Chester said.

Before Lonnie could open the door all the way, Adam and Eva squeezed past and bolted to his truck outside. Next to it was an elderly woman in her late 80s on the ground, freezing with nothing on but a night gown.

dogs save woman from freezing to death
Credit: J. Scott Park

“She looked up at me and said, ‘I’m so cold,'” Lonnie said. “I have no idea how long she had been out there. She must have been terrified.”

The temperature around the time was about 9 degrees in Norvell Township, Michigan.

Shortly after rescue crews arrived, the woman’s family came to the house and asked if they had found their lost loved one. The family was looking for her but did not see her as she was lying in the snow in the near total darkness.

The rest of the story and see related video HERE

Talk about courage under fire! Meet Chips the Husky/Shepard Mix who has been posthumously awarded for his extraordinary bravery in World War II:

NY Post

He was a very good boy.

A hero US Army dog who ran nose-first into a machine gun fire in World War II and took out a shooter by the throat was recognized with Britain’s highest honor for animal bravery Monday.

Westchester County pooch Chips, a German shepherd-husky cross, was awarded the Dickin Medal for his courageous actions during the appropriately titled Operation Husky.

“It has taken over seven decades, but Chips can now finally take his place in the history books as one of the most heroic dogs to serve with the US Army,” said Jan McLoughlin, director general of the the UK’s People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, which created the award in 1943.

Chips was just a regular family pet living with the Wren family in Pleasantville when the Army asked civilians to donate their dogs to the war effort. Some 40,000 patriotic pooches were signed up, but only 10,000 made the cut — including Chips.

Upon landing at the beach in Sicily in 1943, Chips’ platoon immediately came under fire — and the courageous canine broke free of his leash and ran into an enemy machine-gun nest.

“There was an awful lot of noise and the firing stopped. Then I saw one soldier come out of the door with Chips at his throat. I called him off before he could kill the man,” his handler, Pvt. John Rowell, later recalled — adding that three other Italian soldiers then emerged with their hands over their heads.

He suffered some injuries in the melee, but sniffed out another 10 enemy combatants later that day — leading to their surrender, according to the Washington Post.

Chips survived his three and a half years in the war, and was able to return home to Pleasantville to live out his days as a war hero.

He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star and Purple Heart for his efforts, but they were later rescinded because they’re not actually meant for dogs. MORE HERE

I had a hero dog, her name was Maggie and she was a Golden Retriever who had been abused before animal rescuers saved her and put her up for adoption and she was brought home by my dad. Maggie was here with me seventeen years ago today when my father died. They are both on my mind today. Maggie always had a sadness about her after we lost my dad, but she was the sweetest friend you could ever hope for. A few years after my dad died, while I was very pregnant with my first child, I had somehow ended up asleep on my back and I developed a bad nosebleed (I had a lot of nosebleeds during that pregnancy, but if I was awake it wasn’t a big deal). I only became aware of it because Maggie kept nudging me and licking me until I woke up, choking on blood. I believe Maggie knew something was wrong and I think she spared my baby and I from what could have become a dangerous situation! After my daughter was born, Maggie always stood guard over her bassinet in my room, and did the same when my son was born a few years later. She was a gentle companion for my young children and one of the best friends I ever had. She died some years ago of old age, but she lives forever in the hearts of everyone who knew her.

I have had a lot of special dogs over the years, including my dog Oreo, who once got between me and a neighbor’s vicious dog who had gotten out and came after me. That other dog was twice Oreo’s size but my dog got all up in that other dog’s face barking his “big dog” bark until the other dog finally forgot about wanting to get me, backed off, and went back home. Oreo also once stared down a humongous coywolf who was in a neighbor’s yard while I was out walking him. Again, Oreo put himself in front of me and between myself and something that maybe could have hurt me. Oreo is not exactly a smart dog; he often gets into all kinds of ridiculous mischief, but my memories of his bravery will almost always get him out of trouble for whatever he has just chewed up or peed on.

Thank God for dogs! If you have a special dog story you want to share, I would love to read it below in the comments section!

Oreo, my brave dog

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MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals. 

CDC flu map as of Jan. 13, 2018

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT —  Odds are good that either you or someone you know has the flu right now.  According to the latest CDC report, about 9,000 “laboratory-confirmed influenza associated hospitalizations” have been reported during this season’s flu outbreak and at least thirty children have died as a result of the virus this season.

The flu is highly active in nearly every state right now, according to the CDC.

Not only that, but those with flu are at high risk for pneumonia which can be even more deadly.  My brother is in the hospital with pneumonia right now and has been in the ER for over 24-hours because there are not enough beds in the hospital itself to put him into a room.

Over the counter drugs like Theraflu are flying off the shelves.

Is it coincidence that exactly one-hundred years ago the nation, and the world, suffered the infamous 1918 flu pandemic?:

The 1918-1919 influenza pandemic killed more people than combat did in the First World War. Maybe a lot more: fatality estimates range from 20-40 million to twice that around the globe. In the United States, a quarter of the population came down with the flu; some 675,000 died. Only the American Civil War has been more lethal.

This CBS News report on the 1918 pandemic describes just how devastating it was. We hope that this flu season is not a repeat of that but we are not yet near the end of this season yet.

The experts are giving all the usual advice to protect yourself: wash your hands, get a flu shot, stay away from loved ones who are ill, get lots of rest.  Parents are advised not to send their children to school if they are sick and business are encouraging employees to stay home if they are sick. Many doctors offices are telling patients not to come in if they have the flu: to simply call and get a prescription for Tamiflu.  Emergency rooms and urgent care clinics are overflowing with flu patients as well.

Because I teach school, I am absolutely paranoid about catching the flu; I’m around kids all day long.  I’ve loaded up on hand sanitizer (even though there are claims that it does not work) and sanitizing wipes which I use on my desks and door knobs daily.  I’m keeping a healthy distance between me and anyone who is coughing.

I have a friend who has worked in public health for over 60 years as a physician.  He firmly believes the key to preventing germs spreading is Dr. Tichenor’s antiseptic mouthwash.  He carries a small spray bottle with him during cold and flu season filled with undiluted Dr. Tichenor’s.  He puts a dab in each nostril throughout the day and sprays his throat. Between that and the flu shot, he has managed to avoid the flu every year.

I have another friend who says that her secret to staying well is to eat local honey.

I’m taking every possible precaution, but it turns out that as widespread and virulent as this year’s virus seems to be, we all may be afflicted at some point.

I hope that you all stay healthy and avoid getting sick this year.  If you have a great home remedy or advice, please share!

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

A woman found a Monarch butterfly who was born with a torn wing and would be unable to fly and live out his little butterfly life, so she decided to try to save him with surgery! Via Sunny Skyz:

Romy McCloskey has a good reason to cherish butterflies more than most people. Before her mother passed away, she said, “Romy, don’t worry. Whenever you see butterflies, just know it’s me checking in on you to let you know I’m OK, and that I love you.”

So when Romy found a Monarch butterfly with an injured wing, she took it upon herself to save its life by turning her home office into an insect operating room.

Romy took to Facebook to share the story.

The patient: this 3-day-old little boy was born with torn upper and lower wings. Let’s see how we can help!

woman performs surgery on butterfly
Romy McCloskey

The operating room. Towel, scissors, tweezers, talc, contact cement, toothpick and my sweet girl who died earlier last week (for wings.)

woman performs surgery on butterfly
Romy McCloskey

Securing the little guy down with the bent hanger, as I cut away the damaged pieces. Don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt. It’s like trimming hair or nails.

woman performs surgery on butterfly
Romy McCloskey

The damaged pieces of wings.

woman performs surgery on butterfly
Romy McCloskey

Ta-da! He’s finished! You can see that the black lines in is upper right wing don’t match up 100%.

woman performs surgery on butterfly

Click HERE to see how the story ends! 

If my daughter sees this post, I would not be surprised if she wanted to set up a bug surgery clinic somewhere in our house. That girl is always rescuing all kinds of insects, and also spiders.

You can learn more about the King of the Butterflies, the Monarch Butterfly, HERE, and you can read about why these creatures are vitally important and how you can help them at the US Fish and Wildlife Service website, HERE.

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MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals.