Archive for October, 2008

The Angels of RAM

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

A few weeks ago I watched a piece on 60 Minutes about an organization called RAM (Remote Area Medical). I was genuinely moved by this EXTRAORDINARY group of people, founded by Stan Brock.


Stan started RAM in 1992 to go into third world countries to set up emergency medical clinics where the needs were the greatest. They have done over 500 expeditions.


Now, RAM is “throwing America a life-line”. In fact, 60% of their work is now done in the US.

There are 47,000,000 people in the United States who have no health insurance, and millions more who are under-insured. RAM sets up weekend outreach programs to help those that cannot afford medical treatment. During one of the expeditions held in Knoxville TN, some 276 doctors, optometrists, and dentists from 11 different states set up their stations in an exhibit hall, and worked the entire weekend for free. All equipment is donated, everyone is a volunteer, and all care is at no charge.

The people who came as patients that weekend (mostly the working poor; most with families) started lining up in the middle of the night, to make sure they would be among those that got seen. They were given numbers to make sure they stayed in order. They slept in their cars, in the cold, and waited.


About 6 a.m. Stan Brock started calling for the first of the numbers to be let in.


That weekend in Knoxville, the docs saw 920 patients, and other than the general medicine that took place, they made 500 pairs of eyeglasses, performed 90 mammograms, extracted 1066 bad teeth, and did 567 fillings.


Stan’s lament? They had to turn away about 400 people when the weekend came to a close.

How does RAM do it? They rely on the generosity of the American people. Plus, they really know how to stretch a buck. Last year RAM’s operating costs were a mere $250,000 and they treated 17,000 patients. Brock (the founder and leader) is devoted - TOTALLY devoted to RAM. He has no family, draws no salary, and has no home. He is currently living in an abandoned school, leased to RAM by the City of Knoxville for $1.00 a year.


PLEASE GUYS!!! This is such a wonderful organization, that if you have a few minutes to spare, please to go this website and watch the 60 Minutes piece on them. I promise it will make you feel good for at least a little while. And maybe the next time you have a couple of bucks to donate to a really worthy cause, you might think of them. I know I will.



Living with the Wolfman

Friday, October 24th, 2008

As some of you may know, I am a fan of TV, and am constantly perusing new and different shows. TV sort of goes in streaks. Reality shows have been hot and heavy for quite some time. That being said, I’m afraid that shows like The Grizzly Man Diaries may be starting a new trend. God, I hope not.

I just got done watching Living with the Wolfman, and crap - where do I begin? There is a fine line indeed, between sanity and insanity. I thought Timothy Treadway was enough of a nut job, living with the Grizzly’s in Alaska, seeing himself sometimes as the father figure. But Shaun Ellis (alias Wolfman) wants not just to LIVE among the wolves, but to BE a wolf. To be ACCEPTED as a wolf. And now he’s brought his girlfriend into the picture as well.

I realized about half way through the (hour long) show, that I had a permanent grimace plastered on my face, and was constantly shaking my head “no”. What was wrong with the days when people had a healthy respect for creatures of the wild? To study them, and learn from them, yes. But now a days it seems, that’s not enough. You have to BE a wolf.

Ellis, who lives part time with the wolves, alleges to “protect” and “help” them. I just can’t figure out how he is helping them, and what he is protecting them from.


He lived for a period of months in their lair, 24/7 to study them. I only wish I could have gotten a pic of him greeting them with his mouth in a “yum-yum-yum” position, playing tongue tag with them - I swear to God!!! Yeah - made me want to lose lunch.

His girlfriend, Helen Jetts, is obviously smitten with the “wolfman” and is determined to fit into the pack too. Her goal is to become a wolf pup “nanny”. Ellis tells her that she must learn to “think and behave like a wolf”. That she needs to convince the adults (wolves) that she is “wolf enough” to join their pack.

Ellis puts her on a strict diet primarily of meat. He claims that if she eats enough meat, the wolves will respect her “wolf-smell”. The more organ meats she eats, the higher her ranking in the pack. Now Ellis has already told us that a wolf’s sense of smell is 100,000 times better than ours. So, do you really think that the wolf is going to think that she is another wolf because she is eating meat? Come-on!!!!!

I won’t even go into the fact that Ellis pretty much tricks Jetts into going into the pen when she isn’t prepared for it. She tells him that her heart is pounding! Not really an ideal way to meet a wolf who’s sizing you up. You KNOW that they can smell fear a mile away; especially with THEIR sense of smell!!!! He’s just damned lucky that she didn’t end up as wolf chow - no thanks to him. He would have had a hard time explaining that one!


One of the wolves (Cheyenne) becomes pregnant, and Ellis wants Jetts to act as the wolf nanny to the cubs. She must prove herself worthy to Cheyenne first, by pretending to regurgitate meat for her to eat. Jetts exclaimed afterwards “I was communicating with her on a level of WOLF TO WOLF”. Come-on people!!! They know you’re not a wolf!!!!!!

The last straw for me was at the end of the show, when Cheyenne’s 4 pups are a month old, and Jetts attempts to win them over by once again regurgitating (this time raw) meat for the pups to eat. But she must wait until they nibble and bite at her mouth before she releases the food. At the end of it all, her lips and face are bloody from the feeding, but all she could say was “It’s a great feeling to be accepted by a pack of wolves. It was fantastic!!!!!!”

Bloody lips - yeah - effing fantastic! OK, whatever you say. I sincerely hope you don’t go the way of Timothy Treadwell, but I think you’re both nuts!!! Really, really, nuts!!!!

P.S. I do really love wolves from afar! They are beautiful and wonderful creatures, to be respected, from afar!

I don’t think I’ll be able to continue watching this show.


Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

Halloween is Big R’s favorite Holiday - hands down. He loves to do something different every year (well, almost every year) and surprise the kids in the neighborhood. He tries to put up whatever it is, on the hallowed day, and by the next morning there is no evidence that anything was ever there. He gets a kick out of that. One year he did a zoo scene, complete with a gorilla (Big R) in a cage.



I think it was 90 degrees that year. I’m glad it was him in that suit and not me!!!



The year that Lord of the Rings came out, Big R made himself into “treebeard” from the Fangorn Forest. It was pretty creative, I must say, but he kept falling off his tall shoes!



He finally had to finish off the night in a seated position - not as impressive, but much safer.



One of my all time favorites was the year he did the dinosaur zoo. They were magnificent.



There was an electric fence around them for everyone’s safety.




Unfortunately, one poor fellow didn’t heed the warning and got munched by a crock.



The wolfman made an appearance a couple of years ago. He was caged behind some wrought-iron fencing adorned with gorilla heads, just to let everyone know he was Serious!!!



Big R was pretty daunting in that outfit. . .



. . . but not daunting enough to scare the mighty Micah.



I think last year was his best ever!!!! He built a movable dragon head with a mouth that opened and eyes that lit up. It was WAY cool!




He blew smoke out of his nose and scared many a little kid.



Here, Jacob gets a reassuring pat from his big sister Julia.



Who knows what evil will be lurking outside our door when Halloween comes THIS year? I guess we’ll all just have to wait and see!!

Gettin’ into the Technorati!

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

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Cross One Off the List

Friday, October 17th, 2008

I think most people have a list, somewhere in the back of their mind, of things they would like to do, or accomplish, or just try for fun while they’re here on earth. I haven’t made a formal list, but there are some of mine:

When I was younger I REALLY wanted to try skydiving. Now that I’m more “seasoned”, I’m not sure I could do it.


I’d still love to watch the whales migrating (is that the right word?), but I wouldn’t be able to bring the dogs. :-(


Sing backup for Tina Turner.

STOP LAUGHING - it could happen!


I’d like to try some whitewater kayaking in a little short yak. Nothing crazy like the hard core nuts . . .


. . . just a little current to make it a bit more interesting.


I’ve always wanted to learn to play the bass guitar. (I had an acoustic 6 string when I was in my teens). A really hard driving bass and a great drummer MAKES the whole band.


Parasailing would be a blast.


I’ve also wanted to learn how to shoot a handgun, which brings me to my current post.


I have some friends that all have their own guns and shoot on a semi-regular basis. They have plenty of guns to go around, so one day big R (the husband) and I tagged along with them to the shooting range. It was kind of exciting watching the people shooting ahead of us. Some of the guns had quite a kick to them, and some not so much. The noise level was incredible, and we weren’t even in the range yet. No wonder you need ear gear.


But when it was actually my turn, I found it strangely intimidating and just . . . icky. I can’t tell you what kind of guns I shot - I think there were 3 different kinds. I remember being told that if I pulled the trigger once and nothing happened, NOT to pull it again or the gun could blow up in my face. Gee, and I found that intimidating? Hmmmm. Even reloading the gun made me feel creepy and kind of shaky inside. I don’t know what caused it, but I guess it doesn’t matter. I was very surprised though, because I thought I would really like it. Ah - no.

I’m glad I went, and tried it like a big girl, but that’s one that I can cross off my list. Don’t care if I ever try it again, and I probably won’t.

I guess I’ll just have to focus on Tina.



Presidential Race

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

Common sense tells you, that you never discuss religion or politics. At least if you want to stay out of trouble. But honestly, in today’s world, politics are everywhere!!! And there’s a lot going on - politically. So I have to make just the briefest comment on the Presidential race.


Without getting into which candidate I favor (and I have reservations about BOTH candidates), I have to tell you how disappointed I was in the presidential debates.

I was really hoping that each one would just talk about what they wanted to accomplish, and what they each stood for, once and for all. But instead I heard the newest version of “he said, she said”.


Candidate #1 would say, “I will do this, not like my opponent who did A, B, and C, and didn’t do D, E, and F”. And then candidate #2 would come back with, “No that’s absolutely not true. I did G, H, I and my opponent did J, K. and L”. They went back and forth, ad nauseam.


They did it over, and over again. By the end of the debate I didn’t know any more than I did before they started. And frankly, I’m just sick of the whole thing.

Debate number two was pretty much the same, with the additional irritation of them not being able to stick to their allotted time for answering questions. Having to be constantly reminded by the moderator to pay attention to their cue lights just doesn’t give me much confidence in their ability. I mean really. How hard is it to see the light change from green, to yellow, to red? Are these guys really presidential material? Kind of makes you wonder, eh?


Oh, I know - you think I’m being too hard on them, and maybe I am. I think I’m just on Presidential Race Overload, and I’m ready for it to be done. Lets put this thing to bed, already!! Come on November 4th.

OK - rant over.


Birthday Blues (or Bad Dog Mom)

Monday, October 6th, 2008

I am embarrassed to say; actually appalled to have to say that I forgot Micah’s birthday!!! OMG!!! I hadn’t looked at my calendar for several days, and it just got past me. I knew I didn’t have much going on (since I can’t really do anything yet with my “gimpy” foot) so not much reason to check it. What a BAD DOG MOM!!!!

It was also Ruby’s birthday last month, but we don’t have an actual date for her, and its Turbo’s birthday in a couple of weeks, so we actually had a few birthdays to celebrate.

As I have explained, they always get “mock” sloppy joes for dinner on their birthdays. . .


. . .and vanilla cupcakes for dessert. So they had their feast for a king today.


I’ve also adopted a new tradition this year, and that is going to the pet store and letting them pick out a new toy. Well, I came home with more than a couple of toys, but that was ok. I guess the guilt played into it. I mean geeez, how can you forget their freakin Birthday?

So I got a couple of chew bones, a purple Wubba, an Air Kong Squeaky Donut,


a Chuck-It Flying Squirrel,


and a weird round throwee deal called “Pitch a Porcupine”. The Wubba’s are among the most coveted toys, but Micah and Turbo insist on chewing on the “legs” and sometimes chew off hunks and swallow them.


As you can see, our poor Wubba’s are loosing legs right and left. Unfortunately, Micah and Turbo, pretty much destroy anything that isn’t hard as a rock, within 24 hours of getting it. (I am reserving the Chuck-It for another day. I see no point in letting them destroy EVERYTHING I bought today).

I was a little annoyed at first, but after I thought about it, I reconsidered. I mean, you should have seen HOW excited they got with a few new things to play with. I guess getting them all at once is WAY more fun than one at a time.

You’d think they were destitute or something. You’d think they don’t have BASKETS full of toys!! and bones, and balls, etc!!!!!

Some of the new ones didn’t last very long, but they sure had fun with them while they lasted. The Wubba’s had to go “away” for a little while, least I have to deal with obstruction surgery from the Birthday celebration. (That wouldn’t be a good thing).

I think it’s safe to say, a good time was had by all.


The Grizzly Man Diaries

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

I don’t know how many of you have watched this series on Animal Planet, but I found it strangely fascinating. It’s kind of like going by a traffic accident that you don’t want to see, but you can’t make yourself look away.

I came onto the scene of this show late in the season. I only got to watch two episodes, and the second one I saw was the last one.

It chronicles the life of Timothy Treadwell, who started a seasonal expedition at Katmai National Park in Alaska, to observe the grizzly bear in the wild. It started in 1990 and ended on October 5th 2003.



While watching the self-filmed and hand written diary of his life with the bears, (and the foxes) I was torn by my response to him. On one hand he seemed very sincere, but on the other hand he seemed almost like a character from a cartoon or a sit-com. Honestly, he reminded me of “Stewart” from Mad TV, the child played by Michael McDonald (which is somewhat unnerving given that he is living among grizzlies). I mean no disrespect, but there was something very odd about him. In the episode with the foxes, he kept expressing over and over to them in a very child-like voice, that he loved them, and thanked them for letting him be in their lives.


It would have been more than a little creepy if it didn’t seem so heartfelt. It just felt awkward. I don’t even know how to describe it: sincere, but a little creepy even so.

Timothy would frequently try to interact with the wild creatures he was filming. Not something I would expect to see.


You can watch some people do the “nature” thing and know that they are totally capable, and able to handle whatever comes along. That they are doing it the right way and are being as safe as possible. Timothy did not strike me as one of those people. The whole thing made me feel uneasy - like he had no business being out there.

His girlfriend decided to join him in Alaska in October of 2003. His last entry on October 5th 2003, stated that he was ending his expedition, and going home.


On October 6th, 2003, the dismembered bodies of Timothy and his girlfriend Amie were found. Their lives were lost to the grizzlies.


The irony of it gave me chills. He had survived 13 seasons in the wild with the grizzlies and the day before he planned to go home, they killed him. I don’t even know what to say. Whether to recommend this series or not. I just know that I had to watch it - HAVE to watch it. They are still airing the show, and I will continue to watch, even though I find it unsettling. Maybe I’m just hoping to make some sort of sense of the whole ghastly story.

If you’ve watched it, let me know what YOU think. I’m hoping I’m not alone out here.