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Archive for April, 2009

White Trash Warehouse

Every time I see someone wearing File:T Flag H FC NO.png around here, I automatically think “TOMMY HILLBILLY.” This comes in part from a former boss who considered HILFIGER to be the epitome of high fashion. The Hilfiger name on everything he owned seemed a personal goal.

The other day as I was leaving Walmart, a genuine “hillbilly” type was entering. He was thin and ragged looking and wore a dirty t-shirt with the famous (and copyrighted) logo, but the name “HILFIGER” had been replaced by “HILLBILLY.” My thoughts about the brand are apparently not unique. I wondered if he considered the shirt a fashion statement. He didn’t seem the type for self-depreciating humor.

It turns out that the “Tommy Hillbilly” line is available from the White Trash Warehouse. Hot couture!

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Amerika, ich komme! 6000 Kilometer will Bernd Barthel bei seiner Amerika-Durchquerung mit seinem Fahrrad erfahren.

Amerika, ich komme! 6000 Kilometer will Bernd Barthel bei seiner Amerika-Durchquerung mit seinem Fahrrad "erfahren".

I’m coming, America!

Bernd Barthel is a retired school teacher from Hassfurt, Germany. Hassfurt is right next to Knetzgau, the little town where we will be retiring to soon. Mr. Barthel is planning a cross-country bicycle ride from California to New York this summer. Gerda met a young niece of his when they shared a hospital room in Hassfurt a few years back. When we read about his planned trip in the Hassfurter Tagblatt recently, we thought we might invite Mr. Barthel to stop by if he was passing through the area. So she looked up the name in the phone book and called Germany this morning. She ended up speaking with another niece, whose mother knows Gerda from the time she was in the hospital with the younger niece. This lady was probably pretty surprised to get a call from America, offering help for her uncle’s road trip before he even gets underway. But it is a small world, at least in some respects. I rode a motorcycle across the country once years ago, and that wasn’t easy. I don’t think I would make it on a bicycle, but this fellow has made other long-distance tours in Europe so he knows what it’s like. 

I don’t know yet what route Mr. Barthel is planning to take in this 6000 kilometer journey, but if he’s planning on crossing the Appalachians, Cumberland Gap is just down the road from here. Daniel Boone found this a convienient path across the mountains. Maybe is still is. We’ll see.

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Why?

 

CAN-AM Trike

CAN-AM Spyder Roadster

I came across this strange looking three-wheeler in Abingdon yesterday. It is a Spyder Roadster, made in Canada. It isn’t a motorcycle and it isn’t really a trike. It is more like an ATV missing a rear wheel. 

The lady riding this thing told me she was planning to ride cross-country in June to attend a manufacturer’s rally in Los Angeles. 

I like the color, though.

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When I finally hit the lottery, one of the first things I will do is go out and find the Airstream of my dreams. I have loved these travel trailers since I was a kid. There is something about the classic design and that vintage aircraft look that catches my eye every time I seen one on the road. 

It will probably be one version or another of this Airstream Classic Limited. It is available in exterior lengths from 25 to 34 feet, though I will have to actually try ’em on for size before I decide which one is for me.

These things aren’t cheap. A new 27 foot Airstream lists for around $66,000. I’m sure the options list is long and expensive, and of course I will need something to tow it with. But what the heck, the Mega Millions jackpot is up to and estimated 130 million this week. I should be able to afford both an Airstream AND tickets to Disney World.

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Not everything Detroit has done in the last 20 years is wrong.

Most cars on the road today have a check engine light that comes on when something isn’t right. This is part of the “on board diagnostics”  which monitor, report, and record the status of any number of systems in a vehicle. When this warning light comes on, you simply take your car in to the dealership or a modern garage. A technician will open the hood and connect a computer to the electronics. Before you can drink a cup of really bad coffee they always have in the waiting area, he knows what is wrong. They can then start work on the important part of the job, the repair bill. Medicine would do well to emulate Detroit when it come to diagnostics. 

When you aren’t feeling well, you head to the doctor’s office. You assess your own basic body functions so you can tell the doctor what is going on with you. You might take your temperature and your blood pressure. You know if you are breathing too fast or if your heart is racing. These are the vital signs the nurse records so the doctor gets an idea of conditions “under the hood” once you’ve sat in an examination room long enough for him to wander in and see you.

To make this process profitable and often to diagnose less obvious symptoms, the doctor might order further tests. Blood and urine tests are common to check electrolytes, blood sugar levels, and the presence or absence of certain chemicals in the body. This is fine, if you have the time. By this I don’t mean a free afternoon to spend in the waiting room on a return visit. I mean if your life isn’t hanging in the balance while your blood is sent to the lab for chemical analysis.

Real progress in medical treatment could be made if you had “on board” a device that could be connected to a computer in the ER for instant readings of all the standard things like electrolyte levels, blood sugar, body temperature, respiration, etc. Of course I am not a doctor. I don’t even watch “House” on television. But I would imagine having this kind of information immediately available would be a tremendous advantage in the emergency room. And I bet it would help to know if and when these values have changed in the recent past. 

People walk around with pacemakers, insulin pumps, and who know what all implanted in their bodies. These devices make it possible for people to live fuller lives today. In the future, maybe everyone will walk around with an implanted “check body” device. Wealthy people could be connected to “On Star” and a professionally calm representative will send an ambulance for you when the systems signals you are having a heart attack. When your unconscious body is wheeled into the emergency room, computers immediately report the condition of all your systems. The doctor has the information he needs and can more quickly make the decisions that will save your life. Then he can get on with the important stuff – the bill. 

Of course, people will abuse this technology. They will hack into the diagnostics and self-monitor. They will use this information to make informed decisions about diet and excercise. They will become healthier and need medical intervention less and less.  What will the doctor do then?

Go golfing, and enjoy.

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McSurgery

Wandering around the Bristol Regional Medical Center last week, I had time to notice things. A sign in the window of the “Short Stay Surgery” department caught my attention. It read “Hip and Knee Replacements Check in Here.” When did body part replacements become “short stay” surgical procedures? Fairly recently, it seems.

What Are Recent Advances in Knee Joint Replacement Surgery?

Minimally invasive surgery (MIS) has revolutionized knee replacement surgery as well as many fields of medicine. Its key characteristic is that it uses specialized techniques and instrumentation to enable the surgeon to perform major surgery without a large incision.

The “specialized techniques and instrumentation” involves taking an MRI and sending it off to the computer folks, who custom design a cutting plan for the patient’s knee. This allows the surgeon to make a much smaller incision, with the corresponding reduction in trauma. The result is quicker recovery for the patient. People are now further along in the recovery process at four weeks then they would have been in six months using the traditional method. 

What was once science fiction is now a routine procedure, upgrade available.

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Black and Blue

dsc_0008_edited-2The longest lasting effect of Gerda’s recent adventure will probably be the ugly bruising to both arms, caused by the IVs and other needles she was stuck with at the hospital. The front of her left forearm is so bruised, it looks like a farmer’s tan. But this to shall pass.

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Bristol Regional Medical Center

Bristol Regional Medical Center

Gerda’s first helicopter ride was on Easter Sunday. Unfortunately, it was to the Bristol Regional Medical Center where she was admitted to the Medical Intensive Care Unit after suffering a seizure that evening. She is home now and I expect she will fully recover.

I learned a lot during the time Gerda was in the hospital, and hope to write about some of this here. But probably the most important thing to come of all this is the realization that I am not ready, willing or able to go it alone. Thankfully, I won’t have to today.

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Tulips


Tulips

Originally uploaded by kilgorebrian13

Some volunteer tulips growing in the area. Gerda picked them rather than buy some at the store. I like these better than the store bought ones.

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Climatis


Climatis

Originally uploaded by kilgorebrian13

April showers, we’ve had plenty of. Now if the May flowers follow . . .

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