There Be Aliens

In 1986, the world was shown what would happen in the event of a massive failure at a nuclear power plant when Chernobyl suffered a critical failure in Reactor 4 during a safety inspection.  I was 5 and don’t remember it happening.  But it’s terribly hard to get a history degree without learning about it (especially when your degree is 20th century military and political history of Europe).  Chernobyl is located in Pripyat, Ukraine, although it was all part of the USSR when it happened.

One of my history classes was taught by this really amazing professor who was from the Soviet Union originally and moved to the UK as an adult around the time the USSR fell.  One of his classes covered the decade prior to the fall of the Soviet Union.  It was a very interesting class with lots of information I hadn’t learned in any of my other classes.

Interestingly, on the night of the failure, there was an increase in UFO sightings over Chernobyl.  Three or four of the engineers dispatched to examine the problem at Chernobyl reported seeing a UFO hovering over the reactor.  In the days that followed, more than 200 UFO reports were made to the Soviet government by people living near the reactor and people heading to the reactor to see if it could be saved.

The inclusion zone around Chernobyl was 12 miles.  Nuclear scientist in both the USSR and the US later stated that it should have been larger.  Many of the locals surrounding the inclusion zone believe the UFOs kept it from being a much worse disaster.  Now, this isn’t to say that Chernobyl wasn’t a huge disaster anyway, it was.  It took several decades for wildlife to return to the area and there are still genetic defects among people whose parents were exposed to the radiation fall-out of Chernobyl.  And there are still occasionally, genetic defects found in the wildlife around the area.

On another note, Chernobyl ties into a much larger conspiracy theory involving radio waves.  There was an experimental Soviet project called Duga-3.  It’s a giant array of radio towers and wires meant to alert the USSR to incoming missiles.  Duga-3 was more expensive to build than Chernobyl and surprisingly an even bigger failure.  And it sits in the inclusion zone.  Some have speculated that the Soviet Union intentionally destroyed Chernobyl so they wouldn’t have to admit Duga-3 was a disaster.

Also on a related side note, Duga-3 powered up in 1976 and within a short time the entire world knew it existed somewhere behind the Iron Curtain, because Duga-3 sent out a ticking sound that managed to interfere with radio signals around the world.  However, it’s location was kept secret until they razed the forest that surrounded Duga-3 in the aftermath of Chernobyl.


Voter Fraud

I’ve drafted this post about a dozen times and deleted it every time.  But with recounts happening once again in Broward and Palm Beach counties in Florida, let’s talk about how voter fraud works.  Because it isn’t easy.  And it’s rather illogical.

And there’s only 3 ways it can be done.

Method One:  You steal someone’s identity.  In most states, this requires you to buy a fake picture ID, appropriate someone’s address, because you can’t go vote at your local poll using two different identities, that’s going to arouse suspicion.  Doing this you get to vote twice, maybe.  As long as you don’t screw up.  In some states, not only do you need picture ID but your voter registration card.  This would require you to sit and watch the mail of the appropriated address so that you can surreptitiously pull out the voter registration card that you had sent there.

Method Two: Absentee Ballot, you apply for and get approved to do an absentee ballot.  Then you also go vote at the polls or you once again pay for a fake ID and get hold of a voter registration card that matches said ID.  And like the method above, you are out a some cash (most forgers do not accept debit or credit cards for their services and the price is dependent on what state you want the ID to be from.  Some states are easier to forge than others.  In Columbia, MO a forged picture ID is going to run you around $500 for a Missouri ID.  Plus, you’ve spent this money so you can vote twice.  I know we like to pretend every vote counts, but even if you vote twice, you probably aren’t doing your candidate a huge favor with your two votes.  I have never seen an election won by 2 whole votes.

Method Three: You somehow manage to get hired by the elections office in your county and you throw away or negate votes for the candidates you don’t want.  This requires you to either be slick enough that others in the room where the votes are counted do not notice you pitching votes or no one double checks your work when validating signatures on absentee ballots.

Method one and two aren’t very good.  Those two votes probably aren’t worth the cash you spent to get them.  Method Three would be more effective, but realistically…. How do you get 12 people feeding ballots into machines to miss that you are throwing ballots away or hiding them under the machine?  Because votes are not counted in a vacuum, there are usually multiple people feeding the ballots into the machine.  As well as some supervisors.  And I talked to a volunteer several years ago that said there was always a police officer in the room when they feed the ballots into the machines.

There is a 4th method that gets mentioned when talking about voter fraud, but it’s much like Method 1 and Method 2.  You somehow manage to get people who are not legally allowed to vote (illegal immigrants, convicts who have not applied to have their vote reinstated, etc)  the proper paperwork that allows them to vote.  But this is usually a fake ID.  There was a case in Georgia a few years ago where a woman voted using her friend’s ID because they looked enough alike that no one questioned it.  She had been convicted of DUI and had her right to vote revoked for the felony conviction and hadn’t applied to get her rights back.

This isn’t happening in large numbers though.  If it was, we’d have to redesign our election process from the ground up.  Because if millions of people were pulling this off across the country every election, it would prove our system flawed, even in states where picture ID is required.

The day before this posted, someone gave me a new method… Method 5: Personal belief – Someone pointed out to me that if you want to believe voter fraud is widespread and rampant, then no amount of evidence gathered by bipartisan research groups or critical thinking on the matter is going to convince you it isn’t.  In the same way, no one is ever going to convince Girgio Tsoukalos  that ancient aliens didn’t further the evolution of mankind or help build some of it’s more incredible engineering feats.

Two Things

I read a blog post the other day, that I had written and something jumped out at me, my punctuation, which is normally questionable was atrocious.  But the post was dictated.  I don’t always remember to insert things like commas when I dictate.

The second is all the crying faces on Facebook in response to posts about my CRPS.  It does suck and it has taken over a large part of my life.  But I rarely blog about it just to whine about it.  I blog about it for the same reason I blog about serial killers, politics, and conspiracy theories.

I have a forum that’s open to whatever my mind thinks of….  And with nearly 5,000 followers between my blog, Facebook, and Twitter, I can pass along information via my blog to others.  And when one of those 5,000 people who reads my blog and meets someone new and that person says “I have CRPS” those readers will not have to ask “what the hell is that?”

And ultimately, that is my goal.  Or worse, if their daughter or granddaughter or neice breaks an arm and a year later, it still feels broken, that reader can say “Look, is this a possibility?  I follow a writer who has it and she went 23 years without an accurate diagnosis, because she had to wait for it to take hold in another area and the pain to be unbearable.”  There’s no test for CRPS.  Some people have visual changes to the skin around the area.  My hip, buttock and thigh on the right side are massively swollen all the time.  That hip gets a mottled red and white and it feels slightly colder to the touch than the rest of my body, even when I’ve been up and moving around.  Some people have the opposite, it feels warm to the touch. Some people lose their hair in that area.

When I mention it probably started in my right arm when I was 14, doctors touch that arm and inspect the hairs on it.  The hairs are normal as can be though.  It doesn’t change the fact that it always hurts a little and it always feels like it has a small electrical current passing through it.  I have a neuropathic twitch in my pinky on my right hand.  I also have it in my thumb.  Neuropathic twitches are common with CRPS.  Sometimes I know it’s coming, sometimes, I don’t.  And there’s one in my thigh and one that will make me kick out my right foot.

Usually, once a day, I can sit and watch a nerve near my groin twitch.  It makes my entire thigh “jump”.  Why the foot kick?  Because we are fairly certain the nerves in my groin aren’t the only ones afflicted in my hip.  It would appear my sciatic is as well on that side.  When that nerve twitches (the sciatic is the largest and longest in the legs), my foot uncontrollably kicks out.  And my toes point.  It doesn’t hurt, it’s just annoying as hell.  The twitch usually lasts less than 5 minutes.  Sometimes it will last 10-15, but that’s incredibly rare for me.

For years, I didn’t know the symptoms of RSD/CRPS.  So I didn’t know the neuropathic twitches in my fingers and at my wrist could be signs.  I also didn’t know that radiowave nerve ablation is one of the worst things that can be done for it.  So in September 2017, when we didn’t have a diagnosis, but knew the pain was nerve related, we did nerve ablation in my hip.  My hip hurt before it was done, no doubt about it.  But it wasn’t as bad as it was now.  I could take Tylenol 75% of the time and that would help the pain.

Only after nerve ablation, did the Tylenol stop helping.  That was when I had to have something stronger all the time.  I have talked to a dozen other people with CRPS who, like me, didn’t know they had CRPS and went ahead and tried nerve ablation only for the pain that was bad to get instantly and insanely worse.  By sharing my story and struggle, I hope to help others.

I hope that if someone new comes into your life and says “I have CRPS/RSD” my readers will know exactly what it is, keeping that person from having to explain their misery.  My other hope is to keep someone from going diagnosed for a long time, like I did.  And maybe stop them from doing something that is irrevocably worse for the condition, like I did.

Here’s the thing, it normally affects women, but about 20% of my support group members are male.  Also, I have mothers in the groups who are there because their 7 year old daughter has it, or like one, her 6 year old son has it.  Both of them got the disease after breaking a bone.  That’s the most common initiator of the disease.  But it isn’t the only one.  I have talked to people who got it after spraining a wrist or ankle.  I’ve talked to people who got it after tearing a nerve in a car accident.  The cause of this neurological disorder is unknown, why does one person get it, but not another?  Who is at risk?  From what I can tell, anyone… It doesn’t seem to have an age preference, or a ethnic preference.  A 40 year old German woman is just as likely to get it as a 10 year old African American girl.

Some research suggests there is a genetic component, but it is probably a multi-gene component.  Some one may be required to have multiple gene mutations at different points, which would explain why I have it, but no one else in my family does.

And it usually starts in a limb.  That’s a big thing.  It didn’t start in my hip.  It spread to my hip.  Why?  Possibly one of two reasons; I have had very, very mild arthritis in that hip since I was in my early teens.  I was born with both of them out of socket and my right leg is approximately 1/8th inch longer than my left.  It could have been triggered to spread to my hip from arthritis that is so mild not every radiologist even marks it on the list when I have an X-Ray of that hip done.  I also have a cartilage tear in that hip.  Nearly all cartilage tears heal on their own.  Most people don’t even know they have one.  I didn’t.  But it showed up on an arthogram.  A procedure that left me in brutal pain for 2 days afterwards.  My hip did not appreciate having dye injected into it.

And sometimes, it just spreads on it’s own and no cause for the spread can be found.  Since it’s on my right side and my right side seems more prone to CRPS (it started in my right hand and forearm when I was 14), neither of those things could be responsible for it moving to my hip.  It may just be one of those things.

It’s working, my goal of educating others about this.  Since I started blogging about my battle with CRPS in the fall of 2017, two of my readers have been diagnosed.  One had been misdiagnosed.  She broke her foot about ten years ago.  She messaged me one day to say that her foot never stops hurting.  Never.  And one foot is a shoe size bigger than the other.  Standing on it, is awful she told me.  Her doctor told her it was nerve damage from the break.  They weren’t doing anything for it though except Gabapentin.  She took what she had learned from my blog to her doctor.  And after a couple of visits where her pain was evaluated, they decided she had CRPS.  Another reader, took what she had learned from my blog to her doctor for her mother.  Her mother had fallen on some ice several years ago and was experiencing terrible pain in her shoulder after breaking her upper arm in the fall (from what I could gather, she broke the head of the bone off in the socket and had to have surgery to fix it).  Once they brought it up to the doctors and had a thorough evaluation, it was decided both of these women were indeed suffering from CRPS.  Interestingly, one of them messaged me after my gallbladder surgery and my discussion about how much better I’d felt after getting ketamine for the surgery.  She took that information to the doctor and got her mother approved for oral ketamine tablets.  The doctor told her it probably wouldn’t work, but they’d try it for 2 weeks and then evaluate the side effects v. pain relief.  She says her mom is doing fabulous on it, no side effects and the pain has decreased enough that she is able to garden again, one of her great pleasures.

That’s why I blog about it.  Admittedly, most blog posts are triggered by an event or comment or question or my need to vent my frustrations when I can’t do something because of it.  But it help others, not just me.  And that helps me too.  Yes, I have this awful thing, but if my blogging about said horrible thing can help someone else?  Then maybe it’s worth it?



Mississippi on a Saturday Night

When I was in my 20s, my best friend and I used to just take off for the weekend.  One weekend, we decided we wanted to see the Chattanooga Aquarium and the Chattanooga Choo-Choo.  And so we headed to Tennessee once we both got off work.

Most of our spontaneous trips went well, despite the lack of planning.  It was a Friday night, Easter weekend.  Our goal was Chattanooga on Saturday.  We spent Friday night in Nashville.  Got up to road construction on a major highway.  Had breakfast and crawled down an 8 lane interstate due to the road construction.

But we made it.  Saturday we went to the aquarium and we went into a cave where you had to take an elevator down to the main cavern.  I’m slightly claustrophobic, but I am occasionally surprised at the shit I will do when my best friend is with me (like fly, I’m terrified of heights, prone to motion sickness and vertigo, and am afraid of being bored – which is a weird phobia, but I have it…).  Anyway, Saturday night we were going to stay in Chattanooga and then head back to Missouri.  After returning to the surface from the pit of Hell.

We decide we still have 2 days… screw it and head further south.  We crossed into Georgia, where we stopped and ate dinner, which was a really good thing.  It was a Shoney’s or Denny’s, a chain diner, food okay, not great, but unlikely to make you puke later.  And we decide to go to Alabama.  In our heads we get the idea we’ll go to Alabama and then head to Arkansas and come back to Missouri a completely different route from going to Chattanooga.

Remember, it’s a Saturday night and the place we ate at was at the border of Georgia, Tennessee, and Mississippi.  I have no idea if the place we ate at was in a town or a truck stop or what.  I just know it was in that general area of where the three states meet.  We head into Mississippi with a full tank of gas and Alabama as our destination.  I had never been to Mississippi before and did not know they had billboard laws.  Missouri highways are littered with billboards, bright beacons in the night that string along the sides of our interstates and highways as if guiding travelers onward.

We’re on a two lane highway (this was before GPS, so I was using an actual map to navigate while she drove – we were pros at this, just FYI).  And there is nothing along this highway.  At least, nothing open, except churches, on a Saturday night.  We passed through several small towns where the churches were brightly lit with the doors open and people going in and out, but there don’t seem to be open gas stations, open restaurants, nothing.  And without billboards, it was creepy as f*ck.  Turns out, I’m not a fan of desolate highways without lighting and gas stations and truck stops and billboards.  My imagination is a little too good for those types of scenarios.

But we made it to Alabama.  More precisely, we made it to Huntsville, Alabama.  During breakfast we decided to take a risk, after all we are in Huntsville and head to the NASA center and much to our surprise it was open!  As a matter of fact, everything in Huntsville seemed to be open on Sunday.  It was a welcome change from Mississippi.

We tour the space center.  Then begin the journey home.  When we got to Jonesboro, Arkansas, it began to pour down rain.  We are talking sheets of rain so heavy you couldn’t see twenty feet in front of you, but we’re on a heavily traveled 4 lane highway so we stick with it into Missouri.  The rain hasn’t let up and the road is no longer heavily traveled or 4 lanes.  It’s dropped to 2 lane.  We arrive in West Plains, Missouri and decide to stop for the night.  We’re both off on Monday, so staying in West Plains doesn’t screw anything up.

As we are leaving the motel we stayed at, we hear someone say that about two miles north of West Plains, it wasn’t raining.  We probably could have made it home Sunday night if we hadn’t decided the torrential rain was a hazard and we should definitely stop.

We made it back Monday afternoon.  Four states, three days, and a ton of fun.  Even if Mississippi was creepy on Saturday night.  Her and I did things like that all the time back then.  We’d decide to go somewhere for a weekend and go.  Sometimes the trip was about the conversation on the way there and back, sometimes it was about the events.  But it was always a great trip.

My first trip to Chicago happened this way.  She said “We should go to the Field Museum, you will love it,” and away we went.  For the record, she was right, I did love it.  I enjoyed all of Chicago.  We also “planned” a trip to Chicago and got to see Spamalot on the stage there, with Tim Curry and Hank Azaria.  Even though it was a planned trip, it was still great.  We listened to the audiobook of Wuthering Heights because neither of us had read it.  I hated it, which is unusual because I usually love classic fiction.  Eventually, when I was forced to consume War & Peace and got to follow that with Anna Karenina, I decided Emily Bronte and Leo Tolstoy had a lot in common in their writings… they were incredibly wordy when describing things.  Description is fine, but I don’t need 77 pages about Heathcliff’s terrible childhood or Levin’s wheat.

I write this post with a touch of nostalgia and a touch of regret.  Now that riding in cars for long distances is torture, I wonder how many times I told her “I couldn’t go.”  There are still places I would love to go and my most adventurous trips have been with her, she talked me into getting on a damn plane and flying to Berlin, Germany.

A curious thing happened with Berlin, Germany.  The day before we were set to fly out, I went partially deaf in one ear.  I had a hell of a time getting that ear to pop during the flight, but eventually, by plugging my nose and exhaling really hard, I managed.  Nothing else I tried worked though and I thought I was talking really loud all the time and my friend kept complaining she couldn’t hear me.

The day we flew back… we were there 10 lovely days in August… it cleared up.

NaNo Update #3

So I had a slower week this week, my total words for the month is at 34,437.

Unfortunately, this week, the temperature has been low.  One morning, when I climbed from bed at 8:10 am, it was 14 degrees Fahrenheit and felt like 4 with the windchill.  But at that point, who cares that the outside temp is a whopping 14 degrees.  That number exists in a void because there is a windchill that makes the temp 4.

And with the cold came excess pain.  I’ve been trying to power through it, but with extra pain comes the inability to move my hip properly.  I have begun to kick stairs a little more often than normal, which leads to more pain, which leads to me kicking the stairs more and on and on… a cycle that just continues.

But I’m still on track to finish by the end of the month.  My writing program is estimating I’ll finish the 23.  It will actually be a little longer, but it will still be done by November 30th and that’s the goal.

Some fun and interesting things have happened along the way.  I’m having quite a bit of fun with the book and the characters.




When You Find Your Neck of the Woods on Ranker

The other night, I was reading a Ranker list called Funniest Local News Interviews.  As I’m scrolling down, watching videos, one opens and I notice it’s the call letters and number for a local CBS station.  So I start the video….KRCG Columbia/Jefferson City

Two things immediately strike me:

  1.  This guy cannot originally be from Mid-Missouri
  2. I remember this fire

Let me clarify the first statement, most Missourians do have an accent.  Most Missourians do not have that accent.  I can’t tell you what accent most Missourians do have, because they sound normal to me.  But the accent he uses in the video sounds southern to me (and I’m sure some of my southern US friends are going to laugh at me for it, because it’s Southern US meets Alien Abduction I think) and I’m sure Chris Patterson from Texas and Krissy Smith from Louisiana are going to go “that doesn’t sound like what I hear”.

I don’t know anyone within a 60 mile radius from where I live where that accent is their native one if they were born in Mid-Missouri.  I hear it in the very southern reaches of Missouri from time to time, near the Arkansas border, but not in Mid-Missouri.  Not regularly and certainly not anyone native to the area.

For some reason, when I find something this local on the internet, it surprises me.  Partly because if you combined all of the KRCG viewing area, you’d get around 500,000 residents.  Maybe.  Columbia is the largest town in it at 110,000+-40,000 in students.  The next largest is Jefferson City with 45,000 people and it’s the capitol of our state.  Then size varies from 5 in tiny little Shamrock, Missouri to 13,000 in Moberly, Missouri.  The number of students who attend the University of Missouri – Columbia’s undergraduate program is larger than most of the towns that surround us.  Which is why I do an estimate of 40,000 students (undergrad at 3 major colleges/universities and 4 small ones) plus graduate programs at the 3 larger ones.

I think globally except when my town is involved.  It doesn’t really make sense.  But I have conversations with readers from all over the globe including South Africa, Norway, the UK, Australia, Germany, Russia, India, China, and numerous other places, so you’d think I’d be more accustomed to the internet making everyone a local.

And yet I’m not… If you didn’t go watch the video, spend a minute on it so you can hear this guy.  He sounds so out of his skull, but coherent…


Weapons of War

Did you know that under law, only certain types of weapons are allowed to be used for warfare?  I know it sounds crazy, but there is a governing body for it and breaking it can make you a war criminal.  And it started because of biological warfare in the days of the Holy Roman Empire.  It’s going to get a little gross at times, but it is an interesting topic, so bear with me.

Guns revolutionized warfare in Europe.  But guns weren’t all that accurate until recent times.  In order to make up for the limitations of accuracy, early gun battles included bullets that had been stored in either dead bodies or cesspits, ensuring they carried some very nasty bacteria into the blood stream of people being shot.  It was horrifyingly effective.  Eventually, it was banned after the Holy Roman Empire and France went to war and more people died from infections after the battles than during them.

The first decree declaring biological weapons (the above mentioned practice) happened in the late 1600s.  And during that decree, not only could you no longer poison bullets, but you couldn’t catapult dead bodies into walled cities (totally real thing; the Mongols perfected it, although Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans are all guilty of the practice).  To modern day listeners, this sounds more like psychological warfare than biological warfare, but it’s both.  You didn’t use fresh corpses, the best ones were the ones that had begun to bloat (remember the gross comment – skip if you have a weak stomach).  These would be catapulted into the cities, it’s scary, but impact was much more gruesome as it would cause the body to explode sending gasses and diseases created by decomposition into the air of the city.

After WWI, chemical weapons joined the list of biological weapons that couldn’t be used.  And this is where it gets interesting, along with Mustard gas and nerve gas, pepper spray, and tear gas are also considered chemical weapons that work on the principle of it being an irritant.  So they were also banned.  This means the US can use pepper spray and tear gas on it’s own people to restore law and order, but not on enemy combatants.

Japanese ingenuity created balloon bombs during WWII.  Only one balloon bomb successfully reached the US, where it killed a family that was picnicking.  Even though they sent up hundreds of balloon bombs.  The problem with a balloon bomb is you can’t control it and it doesn’t show up on radar, meaning it can’t be prepared for.  After WWII, balloon bombs joined the list of things that were banned.

Moving forward, the Vietnam War brought bans on napalm and flame throwers.  Oh and spike pits, those things you see in movies where there’s something that looks like ground hiding a pit full of nasty sharp pointy things – this is actually an ancient tactic used against cavalry as well as ground troops.  However, the battlefields of Asia in Korea and Vietnam showed these things to be rather destructive to soldiers and civilians alike.  And they were banned.

Also on the list are plague animals; rats, locusts, fleas, etc.  Anything that causes widespread destruction that cannot be effectively controlled.  Thankfully, in this measure dog bombs, bat bombs, and pigeon bombs, were also banned.

There are two forms of nuclear weapons banned “dirty bombs” and “salted bombs” but nuclear weapons themselves are not on the list of banned warfare.

Just something to think about.

Everything on my Work List

I took on more this November than most.  My plate is definitely full.  Thankfully, most of it is going well.

First there’s my NaNo novel Goddess Investigations.  Granted I worked on it in fits and starts this past week, but that’s not uncommon or unusual even during NaNo.  I’m still working on Ritual Dreams as well.  I suspect it will release in the first quarter of 2018.

Plus, I am content editing/history checking 2 other novels by different authors.  Those two jobs are fairly easy. I consider them “afternoon” work.  Meaning I work on them in the afternoon when the pain killers have stopped working and my brain can’t process being creative.  And while it’s “easy” it’s also slow.  I feel they need my critical thinking brain and a line by line read.  I’m averaging 4 chapters a day on one of them.  I couldn’t do this kind of work all the time.  I don’t have the focus and self discipline to do it more than once in a while.

I have The Dysfunctional Expansion on my plate as well.  And the next Nephilim Narrative has been started but it’s going no where in a hurry.  I have too many story ideas and not enough time to get them all out.  It’s not an uncommon occurrence.  But it is an annoyance.  I used to be able to churn out 5 or 6 books a year.  I hate that it’s basically not an option anymore.

Dictation of stories started early this year.  On November 8th, we got 3 inches of snow.  Coupled with a cold front that moved in.  It’s not really the snow that’s the problem, it’s the cold that came with it.  Normally, it’s late November or early December before I have to break out the gloves and hand warmers for use inside my house.

Anyway, here’s the condensed list of November Goals:

  • Goddess Investigations – At least 50,000 words this month
  • Here Be Dragons (not the real title) by C. Patt.
  • Aliens and Cloaks (not the real title) by LH
  • Ritual Dreams (after I finish my 50,000 word goal)

December Goals:

  • Ritual Dreams (Finished by December 31st)
  • Goddess Investigations (Finished by December 31st – while 50,000 words is technically a novel, mine usually run closer to 75,000 words and a lot of my fun paranormal novels run over 100,000 I think Goddess Investigations will be much closer to 100,000 than 75,000)


My Veteran’s Day Post

Someone sent me a private message telling me they were disappointed I hadn’t done a Veteran’s Day post.  Here it is.  I had scheduled it to run on the 12th, on the day it would be observed this year.  It was altered after I got the message.

WWI ended on the 11th day of the 11th month during the 11th hour.  It is the birth place of Veteran’s Day and is why it is celebrated on November 11th.  WWI also gave birth to the US Marine Corps.

During WWI, the marines were a special forces unit within the US Army.  At the end of WWI, the Marines were taken from the Army and given their own branch and their own motto.  It was all very new and exciting.

Unfortunately, WWI brought lots of new things to the world, most of them not exciting.  Mustard gas was used in war for the first time and would be banned as soon as the war ended.  Trench warfare had existed in previous wars, but not like it did in WWI.  It was “perfected” for lack of a better word.  Trenches were lived in by troops, one side trying to wait out the other because it was essentially a stalemate between opposing forces.  Soldiers hoped for reinforcements in the form of tanks, because tanks are pretty damn destructive to a trench and the soldiers inside it.

Trenches are dank, cold places where bacteria and viruses run rampant.  Even if you didn’t get a bullet, you were in danger of dying from infection if you were in a trench.  Frost bite was common, as was malnutrition, dysentery and influenza and god only knows what else.

The horror of the trenches was that you were more likely to die or lose a limb if you got frost bite than if you were shot.  Gangrene was a constant threat as was frost bite.  The coats and boots of soldier didn’t hold up under the pressures of winter in the trenches.  But we couldn’t make and ship these items fast enough.   Leaving many US soldiers in WWI left to take what steps were necessary to stay warm.  Including removing and wearing the clothing and boots of their dead comrades or the enemy.

There were no time outs where wounded and sick could be evacuated from a trench and taken to a hospital.  If you were in a trench and needed surgery, it was done in the trench.  Not just US forces, but all forces were doing this.  Rarely were qualified doctors in a trench.  This meant going old school with a lot of surgeries.  A little bit of whiskey for the patient, sometimes morphine if the supply hadn’t run out, maybe a shot for the soldier about to do what needed to be done.  A sharp knife, a fire, and a hot pan.

The pan was used to cauterize the wound where the limb had been removed.  The hot knife was sterile as much as it could be and sometimes, it would help with sealing the wound.  But the survival rate if the gangrenous appendage was left on was zero.

I got to interview a man once that was a trench soldier in both world wars.  A dubious honor to be sure.  He told me a story that gave me nightmares, one of his buddy’s got frost bite while they were in the trenches in WWI.  And while it was most common on the feet, his buddy got it on his hand.  They took his damaged fingers.  He got an infection, most likely gangrene, and within a few days after he lost several fingers, they had to take his hand.  This didn’t stop the infection from spreading though and within a week, he had it in his forearm.  The guy’s buddy told them to take his arm near the shoulder, because he wanted to live and he knew if they kept doing it piece by piece trying to out maneuver the infection, he’d probably die from it.

They didn’t have any antibiotics to give.  So one day, they broke his humerus with a rock and cut his arm off at the break.  I had never considered that.  They didn’t have bone saws or knives strong enough and sharp enough to cut through bone.  So if they didn’t remove it at a joint, they had to find a way to break the bone.  Rocks and gun butts were used most often.  And if they couldn’t get the wound sealed with a hot pan, they would have to improvise or the man would bleed to death.  Improvised cauterization usually mean sticking the wound in a fire.  My horror was about what I would learn next, I had to ask How they got a fire to cauterize a wound.  It isn’t like there’s a ton of wood in a trench.  If there was, they wouldn’t be getting frost bite in the first place.  They would burn whatever they had available when they had to do a battle field amputation, even amputated body parts.

Perhaps it’s not surprising then that nearly five million US soldiers died in WWI.  Perhaps the surprise is anyone survived life in a trench.

In most of eastern France, there are cemeteries dedicated to soldiers that lost their lives on the battle fields there.  After a major battle, the French citizens that lived in that area would come out and bury the dead.  They’d take the identification off the body and put that as the grave marker originally.  For US troops these were dog tags.

The largest is in Paris, where France built a WWI memorial and dedicated it to fallen US Soldiers who kept France free.  However, each of these cemeteries is a memorial on it’s own.


Lord Byron & the Vinegar Diet

George Byron is an 18th century poet, politician, philosopher, and terrible role model for young ladies, who identify with Lord Byron because he did indeed write some very moody poetry.  Lord Byron was a bit of a kook.  Born in Britain he eventually moved (or was sent to India – I don’t remember, Byron didn’t leave much of an impression from my Brit Lit classes).  However, Byron comes to mind every time someone tells me to drink apple cider vinegar to cure what ails me.

I don’t, because Lord Byron proved a vinegar diet wasn’t good for you way back in the 1700s and 1800s.  This might need a touch of explanation, since Lord Byron wasn’t exactly sickly.  He was your average guy who wrote poetry as a member of the British nobility.  But he had a secret, he was very sensitive about his weight and terrified of becoming fat.

Lord Byron made the decision that vinegar would keep him slim.  And he began to drink it every day.  He believed it aided digestion so that you wouldn’t need to eat as much.  The logic is sort of there.  Lord Byron began having stomach problems shortly after starting his daily vinegar intake.

The symptoms sound like an ulcer, but could have been almost anything.  Vinegar is an acid after all.  Drinking vinegar can lead to esophageal issues, stomach problems, and it destroys the enamel on your teeth worse than citrus, carbonation, sugar, and starch from foods like potatoes (for the record, potatoes are worse for your teeth than sugar).

He also developed symptoms of malnutrition at one point, possibly because he wasn’t really eating he was so sick from the vinegar intake.   Although in his defense, it was keeping him slim, he suffered digestion problems and couldn’t eat very often or very much and reportedly he developed horrible diarrhea which is always fun.  Of course, just to make sure the vinegar was capable of working, Byron who was a vegetarian most of his adult life, sometimes went weeks subsisting on wine and crackers.  And, when he did indulge in food, he often purged it afterwards even before starting on the vinegar diet.

And while he died at the ripe old age of 36, it wasn’t from malnutrition, dehydration, or anything else that should accompany a vinegar diet.  He died from a fever contracted in India, I believe.  However, a doctor friend of his claimed his dieting habits had left him weak and susceptible to terrible illnesses.

Apple cider vinegar isn’t any better for you, it just has a slightly improved flavor over white vinegar.  Pickle juice which does contain vinegar can actually be quite good for you, commercial pickle juice is a mix of vinegar and a brine solution.  The brine solution uses salts that the body needs to help with all sorts of things (including potassium).  But one should still not sit down and drink a jar of pickle juice, unless you are also drinking lots of water, brushing your teeth religiously with an enamel protective toothpaste, and eating regularly.

Small amounts of vinegar are actually good for you.  It can aid with digestion as well as help clean up microbes in the mouth, and surprisingly, provide us with nutrients we don’t get from most of our foods.  But that’s the key, vinegar should be consumed in food products, not drank like a glass of water (pickled vegetables (beets, jalapenos, pickles, sauerkraut, etc).

For the record, dieting fads of the 1700 and 1800s are fascinating and strange and mimic modern dieting fads.

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