The Ghosts at Eastern State Penitentiary Must Only Work Night Shift

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Eastern State Penitentiary was an interesting place to tour.  For those who are not familiar with it, this facility opened 1829 to house criminals.  It was designed to become the model for incarceration.  The “Pennsylvania Model” was to house criminals in solitary confinement, with no interaction among inmates allowed.  Initially, the jail was created to allow criminals to reform by giving them time to think to be able to tap into what it was like to be good again.  Sentences were generally 2 years or less.  Some were as long as 8 years. Over time, the emphasis became warehousing, rather than penitence.   Over time, it suffered from insufficient funding and overcrowding.  It was eventually closed permanently in 1971.  It did house some famous criminals, including Al Capone.

It does have the reputation of being haunted.  While interested in exploring the supernatural aspects of this building, our tour was in the day time.  We also discovered that the evening tours do not occur until the Fall.

Still, it was interesting to see the structure and learn how inmates carried on their lives.  They do offer audio-guided tours, but only one that is lead by a tour guide (at 2:00 pm during the weekday).  Along with having some areas being restored, a few cells featured interesting art and research on what life was like in jail.

I know that life behind bars is not supposed to be appealing, but I can’t imagine the level of punishment (especially solitary confinement which has data to back up how incredibly detrimental it is) being beneficial to society.  The psychic damage done to inmates is probably why it is likely haunted.  I did not hear or see anything supernatural, although what they charge for parking ANYWHERE in Philly is definitely scary.  The parking lot right next door did charge $8 dollars for up to two hours (which is plenty of time to see everything at Eastern State Penitentiary).

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The Walrus: Dissolving The Dead

Dissolving the Dead.

Unpleasantness aside, both traditional methods are also environmentally damaging. According to DeathLab research, cemeteries in the United States put more than 3 million litres of toxic embalming fluid in the ground every year, some of which invariably seeps into the soil and contaminates groundwater systems. Building the caskets that (at least temporarily) contain those fluids takes 82,000 tonnes of steel, 2,500 tonnes of copper and bronze, and 71,000 cubic metres of wood annually. Cremation uses fossil fuels and releases toxic gases into the atmosphere. And, while the effluent from bio-cremation can be used as fertilizer, flame cremation ­renders corpses ecologically useless.

This is an article on a topic that I find interesting.  It discusses the impact the funeral industry has on the environment, and the better (yet, controversial) means of disposing of dead people.  I remember reading about this in Mary Roach’s book, Stiff.

One of the things mentioned in Mary Roach’s book was the Body Farm, if I remember correctly. It is part of the University of Tennessee. They place donated bodies in various conditions to study how they decompose. Morbid, perhaps, but still interesting.

Sparkonit: Are You A Genius?

http://sparkonit.com/2014/01/10/are-you-a-genius-read-these-signs-and-find-out/Sparkonit: Are You A Genius?

Have you ever wondered what geniuses have in common? A number of experiments have been conducted to find that out and some peculiar behaviors have been observed among people with high IQ. How anyone turns out to be genius is due to their genetics. So genetics of geniuses definitely differ from “not so genius” ordinary people, but these brainy people do have similarities in their genetics that lead most of them to possess similar qualities. How would you recognize a genius if you come across one?

I liked this article. The content does hit, somewhat, close to home. I am not saying that I am a genius. I do consider myself creative, but I do feel that my mind works differently than others. I am not about to share details about some of the more personal things the list reveals, but I will say that #3 which has to do with socialization rings true.

However, I am horribly disappointed with the accuracy of one point on the list. If only #18 were actually true. =(

18. Being Skinny

Obesity has been shown to decrease IQ over time. A research led by French scientists found that people with Body Mass Index of 20 or below do better in vocabulary test than people with BMI of 30 or more.

Proof: High BMI Tied to Poor Cognitive Function in Middle-Aged Adults

Setting Unrealistic (Medical) Expectations

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Laser Spine Institute Commercial

Being in the medical field, I take care of wide range of patients….including those with joint and spinal problems.  Pain not only can make doing everyday tasks difficult; it can also be difficult to manage.  Sometimes, pain management is finding the right combination of the type of pain medicine, physical therapy, and even other non-invasive procedures.  Surgery can be an option, but it shouldn’t be the first choice.  Doctors are required to present patients with information about what the surgical procedure is, what the possible benefits are, what the risks are, and what to expect afterwards.  There is ALWAYS a risk with surgery.  It can happen for any number of reasons, including allergic reactions or extrapyramidal responses to medicine, comorbidities with the patient, or any complication during the procedure.  Every person is different; therefore, their response to the medicines, treatment, and surgery can be different, as well. Here is where I begin to have a problem with commercials with the Laser Spine Institute.  It presents all of the benefit with none of the risk. Setting expectations really high….unrealistically high, in my opinion.

I found one website that gives patient reviews about the organization. Granted, I am not completely sure of the credibility of the website….or those who present any information about it.  I am not gullible enough to believe that any presence of data on the Internet means it is true. I also found a Bloomberg Business article about lawsuits against Laser Spine Institute, so I would think there may be more credibility with this information. I will leave it up to the reader to check its veracity of its statements.

Speaking of veracity of its statements, I am reminded of a similar “rosy picture” painted by commercials produced by the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.  I have read articles that say that their success rates are heavily influenced by not taking on patient cases that may have more serious, more aggressive forms of cancer (that may not be as likely to survive).  Quoting a Doctor interviewed for an article from Reuters News Service that Iinked to:

Accepting only selected patients and calculating survival outcomes from only some of them “is a huge bias and gives an enormous advantage to CTCA,” said biostatistician Donald Berry of MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

This is more than just a nurse pointing out nonsensical responses to medical crises on Grey’s Anatomy (Don’t get me started!). This is irresponsibility among those whose motives are financially-oriented that patient-driven.

 

 

 

 

Exploring The Apocalypse: Disaster Types

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(I couldn’t find any good apocalypse photos, so I used this one I found in my scrapbook that captures my experience from high school. )

For those of you who have been following my blog, I have already shared some initial thoughts about Doomsday Preppers (who are waiting for when the SHTF).  Rather than wallow in depressive hopelessness, I want to explore the issues in an academic manner.  I think there are some things that aren’t being taken into consideration, like what we may actually face versus what we can prepare for.

The types of disasters, according to the U.S. Federal Government, include: biological, chemical, drought, earthquake, fire, flood, heat, hurricane, nuclear, tornado, tsunami, volcano, wildfires, and winter storm. Most of these appear to be natural disasters, so the scale isn’t necessarily global. Many of these are globally-specific threats, as well. Volcanos are dependent on proximity to tectonic plate borders. Hurricanes and tornadoes are heavily mitigated by mountainous areas, and more likely to roam in flatter topographical areas. Tsunamis are limited to coastal areas; just like flooding will be limited to those near rivers and streams. Flooding, just as wildfires and droughts are fairly cyclical – and occur naturally. Winter storms, as well as heat, are seasonal (and conditional) threats. This leaves us with chemical, biological, and nuclear.

Chemical threats would include mismanagement of the resources we already use. It isn’t necessarily something triggered by terrorists.  Taking illegally dumped chemicals out of the equation for the moment, we have countless chemical plants used in a variety of uses all around us.  We also have industrial chemicals in our environment already. For example, the natural gas industry pumps a liquid, deep into the ground to shatter rock which allows them to collect the gas.  This process called ‘fracking’ already poses a threat to our global environment. The BBC wrote an article to identify what fracking is and the controversies around it, including pumping carcinogenic compounds into our water tables. A USA Today article points out that a Duke University study shows increases radioactive materials in the water table, as a result of fracking. Let’s not forget to mention that there are many other nasty chemicals, according to this New York Times magazine article. My point is that the chemical threats are already here. It won’t necessarily be some external threat.  We have our own home-grown people who may have some ideations to initiate “end times” by sabotaging such places. There are also businesses that have used oils and hydraulic fluids, concentration of heavy metals, acids, and other caustic chemicals on premises. Those chemicals are also just an accident away from exposing us, too.

Nuclear threats are real, too. Again, it is already integrated into our society.  Bad guys don’t have to run to the store to pick-up radioactive material or have it shipped into the country. It is here already.  Yucca Mountain is one such place, but used radioactive material is stored in nearly every state in the United States – as seen here on this Federal Government website.  These are highly secured areas, but are just as subject to accidents – as well as any potential home-grown threats.  The Federal Government has many resources, including this page on potential nuclear fallout from our current nuclear reactors. While the dropping of nuclear bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima in the 1940s provided a great deal of data about radiation fallout, sickness, and radii of contamination; there is still a hypothetical element to any potential future radioactive events – which include weather systems, topography, water table, as well as the amount and time that exposure occurs.  All of these factors will shape the intensity of radiation sickness one might experience, which is a public group. Radiation sickness is also documented on Federal Government websites, too. I have a feeling that if a wide-scale nuclear disaster were to occur; a Pinterest-inspired bug out bag and stockpile may not really change the  drastically horrible outcomes that would follow.

Biological threats would not be limited to man-made ones.  We are in the middle of many battles within a wide-range war with microorganisms, as we speak.  MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is one such potential threat. VRE (Vancomycin-resistant enterococci) is another. Yet another, newly emerging threat is CRE (Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae) explained on a governmental website.  These “superbugs” have developed a resistance to powerful medications, which means that they pose a threat – especially once they become pathogenic. In other words, once these “germs” cause illness – we are in serious trouble.  The same Darwinistic ability to adapt to their environment that humans have is shared with other organisms. Our environment poses a threat to a living organism. Some die. Some survive. Those that do, pass on their ability to survive that threat – or, at least provide some level of protection from that environmental condition. We have created a pattern of make a drug/see resistance appear to it as an on-going cycle. That has brought us to this point. However, I have seen a TED TALK from a molecular biologist named Bonnie Bassler that discusses “quorum sensing” which is how microorganisms chemically “talk” amongst themselves to function. I am not sure where this stands on the experimental process, as the talk was in 2009. It does sound promising.  The bottom line is that this threat is, again, a natural one.  Once again, natural recurrence of microorganistic threats are cyclical – as documented at this Federal Governmental website.  Even with the knowledge of standard precautions to prevent the spread of infection, things could get ugly very quickly – depending on the germ, exposure, and how it is managed.

I would also add that a power grid failure, or collapse of our network that provides power to everyone would be another cause for potentially apocalyptic conditions.  A few years ago, we all experienced large regional outages that cause quite a disruption of our lives.  There was a cascading effect where one site failed, which then led to other sections failing.  The talk was that our power grid is outdated and piecemealed together, and needed serious upgrades. Unfortunately, the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality has kept that issue out of the spotlight.  Have we taken our access to electricity for granted (not granite, people) that we are assuming that it won’t fail? Or that we can pick up the pieces fast enough when it crashes again?  If it were to fail, our whole infrastructure would follow in the collapse.  Our commerce, our businesses, our economy, our ability to communicate, our livelihood, our wealth……everything lost without access, once the power goes out.  Our data on our harddrives, documents, etc. Gone. I would think that our ability to travel would be lost, as well.  Power is needed to pump fuel from the ground, yes? People can’t get around. Goods can’t be moved. And, once again, a few days supply of water/food/stuff may not ultimately help. Somehow, the acronym “SHTF” will likely fall short of what we can expect from such an event. It could be a chain reaction that makes the apocalypse a long, drawn out event. We will be ultimately left to survive off the land, shaped by the catastrophic events that lay before us.

This is shaping my views of doomsday prepping to more of a “embrace the chaos” plan.  I can hope my family will be around each other when such an event occurs. For there, we would have to figure out what our assets and liabilities are.  Not a pleasant thing to consider, but seemingly more real.

Peace out.

 

The Patriot Nurse: Why Nurses Eat Their Young -(her story)

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Why Nurses Eat Their Young: My Story

This YouTube video is one woman’s perspective on the culture that allows nurse bullying. She boldly shares the darker side that most nurses, statistically, face in the workplace. There is a lot of truth here. She does describe the ‘trial by fire’ (my words, not hers) that nurses face through our training, orientation at a new job, and after being in the field for awhile. Personally, I agree with a good portion of what she offers to counter this negative dynamic.

Embrace The Chaos

Shift report can be a funny thing. Your patient assignment, even if you have had the group before; can go in many directions. You may have a patient whose vital signs are “circling the drain,” or lab results have just come back all wonky.  Altered mental status, sometimes in the form of ‘sundowners’ can make a quiet evening a noisy/busy one.  There have been shift reports where I felt like that last click on the first hill of a rollercoaster. Butterflies in the stomach. You know it’s going to be a wild ride, but you don’t know where it will go. This is where I came up with the phrase, ’embrace the chaos.’  You fight that new nurse urge to go in the opposite direction of the crisis, and step towards it.  You tap into your spiritual center to remain calm, build upon your desire to help people, then tap into your skill sets and knowledge to work towards saving the patient.

However, those evenings that feel like all the little things spin out of control.  You begin to feel like everything is closing in. Perhaps the feeling of being trapped in a strange medical game show.  I think these are the moments that separate new nurses from experienced ones. As the saying goes, “new nurses run/old nurses don’t.’  Experience nurses work smarter, not faster.  I was able clear my mind, take a deep breath, then attempted to use my best critical thinking skills to determine what I needed to focus on first.  I also found out that all of the rituals I had developed to improve my time management skills, including those during med pass paid off.  Reading this, I feel that I am making smaller events seem larger – which is probably the case. However, I think I had a glimpse into even more intense rapid response/codes in the future.

Not that I have had many of these moments, but I have had a couple. A few cases had to do with hypoglycemia. Another case, a patient I had just collected blood labs on, came back with a 7.2 Potassium level. The free charge was very supportive. There is a set protocol, listing everything to do – include contacting the doctor.  The supplies were organized. The checklist was followed. Luckily, everything turned out well. It was scary, but a manageable, learning moment scary.  I was able to ask questions while things unfolded. Since then, I have also seen other nurses go through crises with their patients.  The sense of teamwork and commitment that my peers and I share reinforce the decision that I made to join this team. Nursing rocks.

Nurseeyeroll: When Your Patient Starts Crying

If they really trust you to do a good job with their loved one, that will put them at ease and support them by taking one big stressor off their plate. I don’t mean all of the technical stuff like getting all of your charting perfect, interpreting lab values, giving all of your meds precisely on time, or consulting with the interdisciplinary team. I mean the more basic stuff. Things like taking extra time to comb their hair, getting their favorite flavor of Jello, or trying to connect with them and make a joke to get them to laugh…that can really mean the world to someone. If they trust that they or their loved ones are safe and cared for in your hands, that itself provides emotional support.

Nurseeyeroll: When Your Patient Starts Crying

Nurses get front row seats to every aspect of patient care, including facing and dealing with the sometimes-tangled arena of emotions.  The post I am sharing offers some good insight into managing those situations.