Sunday, July 20, 2014

Phoenix in The Smithsonian - and in the summer

Not sure how gratifying it is to have Phoenix as a site to study the effects of heat on civilization.

The May issue of The Smithsonian magazine featured an article called "Hot Enough For You?".

One item mentioned a study to see how long it takes for the second driver at a light to honk when the light turns green and the first driver doesn't move.  The study showed that when the temperature was 108 drivers were more likely to honk or get angry than if it's 84 degrees.

Well, duh.

The air conditioner on my little four-cylinder engine doesn't cool if I'm not moving.  So yeah, people get more agitated.

Studies predict that summer temperatures in Phoenix in the second half of the century will regular hit 130 degrees.


Still, it generally makes it to 115 degrees at least a couple days in the summer.  Will 15 more degrees make that much difference?  You learn to adapt.  Just as people adapt to climates where the temperature plummets to -30 or -40.

And basically with the same adaptation.  Stay inside.

If you have to go outside, do it early in the morning before the sun has a chance to heat up the concrete, or late in the evening after the sun starts its descent.

Good parking spots are hard to come by.  I'm lucky to have underground parking at my office.  Shady and cooler.  The next step is covered parking, but that all depends on the time of day and the direction the parking spot faces.  After that people look for the meager shade from a tree planted in a parking lot.

The worst is a spot in the open.  If you have to park in the sun for even an hour, you dare not touch the seat belt buckle with your bare hands.  Seriously.  You can get burned.

Don't leave anything in the car that isn't heat tolerant.  I've known people who have had candles melt or soda pop explode because of the heat.  And if you are buying ice cream, either bring a cooler or hope that it isn't more than 10 minutes to home.

Mostly we think, it's 110 degrees out.  Do I really need to go shopping?  Do I really want to go out into this heat.

Generally the answer is No, no I don't.

Your perspective changes.  We applaud when it is "only" going to be 100 degrees for the day.   The weather reports a cooling trend from 108 to 103 degrees.  And we are grateful for the five degree decrease.

Will the future be people isolated in their homes, connecting only via social media?  Maybe.  But I'm hoping someone comes up with an underground infrastructure where people can work, live, and travel underground, away from the searing rays of the sun.

At least, that's the way I'd write it.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Volunteering is a long process

When Bogie was taking obedience lessons, the trainer suggested that he would make a good Pet Therapy dog, visiting people in hospitals or nursing homes.

I didn't think much about it until my mom was in surgery in May.  As we waited for her to come out of surgery, a volunteer came around with a Golden Retriever.  It was impressive to see how much the people perked up when the dog came by.  Myself included.

So I decided that Bogie and I should do that together.

The first step was to get Bogie and I certified as pet and handler.  I thought the Canine Good Citizen made us a shoo-in.


Certification required three visits to the hospital visiting staff, patients and their family.  We walked 3 floors of one hospital, then 3 at the medical center next door.  We had to learn to pass in front of the nurse's station first, so they were aware we were on the floor.

We had to watch for patients that might be interested in a visit.  We had to watch out for room labeled with allergies or no contact warnings.  We had to keep mental track of how many people we visited, per building.

I kept track of people, as best I could, mentally.  There is a clicker counter that one can carry.  But the requirement that I keep two hands on Bogie's leash plus carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer to offer people, left me no free hand for the clicker.

So Bogie was certified.  I got his official certificate and figured we were all set.

Not even close.

This week I attended a three hour orientation that was more intense than any job orientation I've had.  Of course, I'm a software engineer, not someone working in the medical field.  I've had the sexual harassment training, but this is the first time since the nuclear power station that I had to learn about emergency codes.

Codes for fire, cardiac arrest, missing child, chemical spill, etc.  Plus segments on hand washing and infection prevention, HIPAA regulations, and what can and cannot be done for patients.

Done, right?

No.  I had to have a TB test and I had to have my immunity to childhood diseases checked.

TB negative.  That's good.

Mumps titers negative.  That's NOT good.  That indicates a lack of immunity to mumps. When I had mumps as a kid, I was told I could get them again since I only had them on one side. I figured that was a myth.  

Apparently not. 

So I have to get immunized before I can get started.  

I'm anxious to get started.  I wonder what the next step is? 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

More food allergies?

I had an endoscopy two weeks ago to try to determine why vitamins get caught in my throat.  I went back yesterday for the results.  

Contrary to what a previous doctor had said, the problem isn't acid reflux disease.  This specialist said acid reflux doesn't go up as high as where my inflammation and erosion is. 

I asked if aspirin and/or ibuprofen use would have caused the throat damage, since I take it daily.  No.  

Allergies?  Yes.  

Dogs?  (I tested positive for dogs 30 years ago.) No.  Not environmental. 

It's most likely a food allergy.  

She asked me if I wanted an allergy test.   I said not right now. 

I told her that at least 25 years ago. I had been diagnosed allergic to wheat.  But since avoiding it didn't help my headaches, I stopped avoiding it.  Besides, 25 years ago, in Iowa, it was really hard to find wheat alternatives.   

She said to try decreasing my intake of wheat. 

Yeah.  No bread, cake, cookies.  

I already have almost eliminated my intake of chocolate due to its potential as a migraine trigger, as well as avoiding nuts, beans, sour cream, onions, fresh yeast, dried fruit, sodium nitrates, aspartame, yogurt, yellow cheeses, pickles, and MSG.  All migraine triggers for me.

And now that I am typing this, I think I tried to avoid milk years ago as well.  Maybe I was diagnosed allergic to dairy?  That one I can’t remember.  I just remember trying to find goat’s milk 25 years ago. 

Yeah.  No cheese or ice cream. 

The real reason I don’t want the allergy tests?  I don’t want to find out what other foods I can’t eat.  It’s already hard enough to figure out what to eat.  

I've been prescribed acid reducers to take twice a day.  Not sure why the acid reducers are supposed to help, if the reflux isn't the issue.  Forgot to ask. 
I’m going to take them and hope things improve, or don’t get worse.  I don’t want to give up cookies.  Or cheese. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Clean and Shiny Post Apocalypse

Don’t take this as a slam against Falling Skies or Walking Dead or any of the post-apocalyptic shows I love. 

It’s just that I noticed how clean and tidy the women in these shows are. 

I just binged on Falling Skies and most of the men have stubble or beards.  This is to indicate that regular grooming isn't possible.

Nor should it be possible, based on references to a lack of hot or even running water.  And since they carry their belongings on their backs part of the time, I don’t think a razor and shaving cream would be high priority.

Yet the women have clean, bouncy hair and clear skin.

I wish.

An hour working out in my yard leaves me with flat, sweaty, lank hair.  And a red face full of freckles. 

Four days driving truck without a shower and I had to resort to pony tails and baseball caps. 

A month away from tweezers or razor and I would be able to compete with the guys for best mustache. 

Add to that, their clothes all fit.  Different sized women, scrounging for clothes, manage to find better fitting garments than I can when I go shopping.

Maybe I’m just jealous. 

I know I’ll never look that good after the apocalypse. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Motivation to exercise - no pain

I do a series of exercises and stretches almost every morning.  I never skip two days in a row.  Why not?

Because I learned I like being pain free.

Most of my pain derived from hunching over a computer keyboard all day.  After more than 15 years, I had a litany of aches and pains.

This is how I counteract it.

I do crunches because it strengthens my core and then my lower back doesn't ache.  Also, I want to be able to carry a 40 pound bag of bird seed from the garage to the seed bin.

Hip flexor stretches and hamstring stretches have eliminated the sciatica that made the outside of my thighs feel like they were on fire when touched. A paw on my bare thigh would make me want to scream.

Back extensions counteract the forward curving of my shoulders.  This relieves the pain I was having in the trapezius muscles.

Child pose stretches, with leans to the right and left, relax the deltoid muscles.

The next one I can't find the name of.  Kneel on the floor, flex the back slowly forward and back.  It relieves a lot of the stress in the back.

Neck rolls have decreased my neck pain by 80%.  Not perfect, but so much better than before.

I finish with a downward dog, forward roll, and mountain pose.

Is it a perfect routine?  Probably not.  But it works for me.  After a month of doing it, I suddenly realized that I didn't hurt all the time.

That's a big deal.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Phoenix Art Museum

Yesterday my friend, Sarah, and I went to the Hollywood Costume exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum.  

I've lived here 23 years and have never been to the museum.  I wasn't expecting much.  Somehow I forget that Phoenix is the 5th or 6th largest city in the country.  I was surprised to discover that it is a wonderful museum.  Much bigger than I realized.  

The Hollywood Costume travelling exhibit was interesting.  The focus was on the decisions that the fashion designers make when creating a costume for a character.  Tidbits like how many hats they made for Indiana Jones, and how they made them look worn, were fascinating. And since the costumes on display were on life-sized fixtures, you could see how tall or tiny the actors were.  

The other two wings were amazing as well with American, Contemporary, European, Western art, etc. Sometimes I don’t understand why something is considered art, rather than a child’s drawing.  But there were a lot of interesting and/or beautiful paintings. 

The giant lizards made out of junk caught my interest.  The chameleon was especially cool.  His spines were broken boards, his flanks were tree roots, and his feet were covered in bottle caps.  And there was a giant bird made out of wicker baskets. 

I also really liked a  sculpture of a life sized horse made of old wood plank and chicken wire fencing.  

Other than the Hollywood exhibit, we spent the longest time looking at the Thorne Miniature Rooms.  Phoenix has 20 of the rooms on exhibit.  Years and years ago, I saw the ones in Chicago.  Such amazing detail on a 1" to 1' scale.  

I have full intentions to keep track of when the exhibits change so I can go back.