Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What a Fun Weekend!

Thursday through Saturday Judy and I had the pleasure of keeping our four year old grandson, Sammy. What a joy! Breakfast consisted of bear, snake, and Mickey Mouse pancakes. Did you know that when you make pancakes in the shape of a snake that you have to also form small snake eggs? Snake eggs are especially yummy. The first few photos were taken at the Gilmer County Recreation Center. Sammy, Grandma, and I had a gourmet picnic.

After eating our supper, it was time to play on the playground equipment. Well.........Sammy played and the grandma and grandpa watched.

Before we had to take Sammy to Burnsville to meet his Dad on Saturday, we went on a mighty fishing expedition to the wilds of Cedar Creek State Park.

A guy has to store up fishing energy by downing an ice cream bar.

You will notice the excitement that abounds when one is expecting to snag a bluegill!

We did not catch one fish. We did leave with a plethora of memories.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

2010 Folk Festival Picnic

The Folk Festival Volunteers Picnic was hosted this past Tuesday by Dave Millard at his home. Dave's goats are an important part of his family.

Dave has such a neat home. He actually lives in a restored old one room school house. He bought the school and moved it to his property. One can see the love and care that he has in this unique house.

The food was, as always, outstanding. The grilled chicken and brats were certainly yummy!

Tasha and Carl are trying to choose from the plethora of desserts.

We had a great time visiting with our Folk Festival family.

Entertainment was provided by the Glenville State Bluegrass Band members. What a great group of kids!

Thanks again to Dave for all his work in hosting this year's picnic!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Otterbein Church Cemetery

On Monday, our friend, Mary Lou, was buried in the Otterbein Methodist Church Cemetery. As with most country churches, the gravestones reflect the history of the region.

The cemetery is located on Rt. 5 East just a few miles from Glenville.

Some graves are very old reflecting the first settlers arriving in Gilmer County. This stone has obviously been replaced by the family since Mary's death in 1850. This lady was one of the amazing ladies who lived to a ripe old age of 100.

John Lynch was born in Ulster, Ireland about 1745. He emigrated to America, where he married Mary Moore, who was of Irish descent but born in America in 1750. Mary died in Gilmer county VA (WV) after 1850. She is listed in the household of George in the 1850 Gilmer County VA (WV) census as 100 years of age.

There is a huge (and very old) hemlock tree guarding the cemetery.

As I walk the grounds, I think about each of the individuals and wonder what stories these folks could tell. As I have said many times, as one gets older you realize that family stories are so important.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How Weird Can It Get?

I usually do not blog political issues, but this is so strange. OK- who wants to see this reality show? Not moi!!!

LOS ANGELES — Levi Johnston, the former fiance of Sarah Palin's teenage daughter Bristol, has filed official papers saying he intends to run for political office in Palin's Wasilla, Alaska hometown.

Johnston, 20, has been embroiled in a nasty feud with the former Republican vice-presidential candidate since fathering Bristol's baby out of wedlock two years ago.

He filed a "letter of intent" with Alaska authorities on Friday, stating that he plans to run for elected office in Wasilla in 2011 elections, according to documents obtained by celebrity web site TMZ.com.

Sarah Palin, the polarizing conservative politician widely thought to be planning a U.S. president in 2012, was once mayor of the small Alaska town.

Johnston signed up earlier this month to shoot a TV reality show that will chronicle his attempts to follow in Sarah Palin's footsteps as Wasilla mayor, and attempting to launch a career in Hollywood.

Johnston's filing allows him to officially start his campaign and accept campaign donations.

Johnston and Bristol Palin broke off their engagement for a second time three weeks ago after announcing in a celebrity magazine that they planned to marry and raise their young son together.

In the past year, Johnston has posed nude for Playgirl, and publicly criticized Sarah Palin and other members of the Palin family before apologizing.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Back Scratching

Those who know me learned early on that I do like my head and back scratched. I did buy a bird shaped back scratcher on Ocracoke Island that really works so much better than the ole bamboo claw type seen above. However, no back scratcher can come up to the quality back scratching provided by the good wife. After 43 years of head and back scratching, I am certain that her finger are considerably shorter than they would have been.

I wonder why this latest research presented below was so intriguing to me!

Chimp invents new back-scratcher

The new evidence that chimpanzees are indeed capable of "monkey see, monkey do" came from the Sonso chimp community in Uganda.

"I would sometimes spend days trying to find the chimps and then they might travel through everything from muddy swamps and thick undergrowth to colonies of army ants before there'd be a good chance to film them," said researcher Catherine Hobaiter, a primatologist at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. "But then, when you do get to observe them in their natural habitat, it's an incredibly rewarding experience, and you completely forget about the fact you're sitting in the mud with ants in your socks!"

One chimpanzee there was named Tinka, a roughly 50-year-old male who had near-total paralysis in both hands. Until recently, Sonso chimpanzees would encounter large numbers of snares intended for bush pigs and kinds of antelopes known as duiker, leading one-in-three adult chimps in the community to have permanent disabilities.

To compensate for his paralysis, Tinka invented a new way to groom himself using a liana, or woody vine. Imagine using a towel on your back, except in this case, rather than moving the towel, Tinka held the liana taut with his feet and moved his body against it.

"It's always sad to see chimpanzees with these debilitating injuries," Hobaiter said. "On the other hand, it was incredible to see just how individuals such as Tinka were able to innovate new techniques in order to overcome these disadvantages."

Other chimps follow suit

Scientists then video-recorded seven perfectly healthy, able-bodied wild young chimps ages 4 to 13 who shared Tinka's home range. The videos revealed the chimpanzees mimicking Tinka's backscratching technique, even though they could just as readily have groomed themselves with their hands, as chimpanzees normally do. This suggested the apes learned this novel, distinct practice through imitation.

"Copying behavior that has no function is one of the classic characteristics of human imitation," Hobaiter said. "To see that in wild chimps was incredibly exciting."

The capability to imitate an organized sequence of action was something that had been argued to be a uniquely human trait.

"The fact that we are able to show that wild chimpanzees have the ability to learn new behavioral routines through imitation is not only relevant to how they might be able to acquire complex technical skills such as food processing, for example nut-cracking, but it also suggests that this cognitive capacity evolved earlier than previously supposed.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Brain Freeze
The Agony and Ecstasy of Ice Cream

Yep, I have experienced brain freeze and even tongue trauma when it comes to ice cream. I remember when sister Judy and I were growing up and the ice cream truck would arrive on the street. The sound of the chimes meant ice cream was at hand. Many times I received the unsuspecting dreaded epoxy lick. What you have not experienced this phenomenon?

Take your tongue and place it on the Dreamcicle and your tongue freezes immediately to the critter. You are now one with the frozen treat! Screaming was my first reaction and I always succeeded to pull the critter off my tongue taking with it a plethora of epidermal cells.

Even now a slushie on a hot day is the source of pain!

Bill Briggs writes:
Ice cream: you scream, we all scream – with eye-scrunching, table-pounding pain.

The dog days of summer mark the high season for sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia. Or, as you know it: “brain freeze.” A singles scoop of butter brickle or fudge ripple on a steamy afternoon can bathe your taste buds in silky pleasure yet drench your head in instant agony.

You want a doctor’s formal opinion? “Excruciating,” said Dr. Eric Lewin Altschuler, a physician and neuroscientist at the University Hospital in Newark, N.J. “It hurts like heck. I’ve gotten them since I was a child. But it’s weird because the pain comes and it goes.”

Yet that bizarre ache mimics cluster headaches so closely that Altschuler has spent some time researching everyday brain freezes to better understand cluster headaches, which affect about one in 1,000 people and which can last for hours or weeks. The more serious version – similar to the ice cream variety – tend to be localized in one area of the head and are so intense that some neurologists have called them “the worst pain that humans can experience.” Both types of aches, Altschuler said, seem to involve a part of the brain called the hypothalamus which has many functions, including controlling body temperature.

Some medical experts speculate that when you quickly devour or gulp a cold food or beverage, the trigeminal nerve inside your head detects the fresh chill in your mouth then instantly increases blood flow to the brain to help keep it warm. Inside the brain, blood vessels are then, in theory, dilated or expanded which changes blood flow and prompts pain.

“That’s possible,” Altschuler said. “But question is: why is the pain so specific? Why don’t you see a circulation problem on both sides of the head?”

While the answer to that remains murky, Altschuler agreed that “trigeminal distribution” is likely involved in both brain freezes and cluster headaches.

So why does ice cream always seem to strike right behind an eyeball where you have no chance of massaging it away? That's because the trigeminal nerve has three branches that all converge behind the eyes.

But Altschuler warns there’s something even bigger and more potent than a single chomp of ice cream that can spark sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia: “The slushie.”

That brand of brain freeze, the doctor said, “is intense.”

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Galileo Galilei (15 February 1564 – 8 January 1642)

Auctions and Galileo

We were talking to friends recently about traveling some Thursday evening to attend Bob Stewart's auction at Jane Lew. Auctions are so much fun and you get all those items that are essential in your life! (Chuckle) Stewart's Auction Company certainly has a fine facility.

I thought about strange items offered at auctions. The one below may take first prize for being weird.

Galileo's fingers and tooth found

Was that any way to treat a genius? Back in 1737, Galileo Galilei's admirers removed three fingers, a vertebra and a tooth from the astronomer's body when his corpse was being moved to a new tomb. The vertebra and one of the fingers were recovered soon afterward, but the whereabouts of the tooth and the other two fingers were a mystery. Recently, however, the relics turned up in a container that was auctioned off to a private collector. Now the Galilean body parts, including the finger shown below, will be put on display at the Museum of the History of Science in Florence.

OK- this auction item is certainly not essential in my life! I collect canes and walking sticks, but who in the world collects dried up human fingers?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Largest Erection In Gilmer County

OK- I am chuckling to myself about the blog title! I am wondering how many folks are searching the internet for risque and erotic subject matter and arrive here to see we are celebrating the erection of the new Ellyson Funeral Home.

If you remember this important Gilmer County business and also the home of our Van Horn neighbors were destroyed by fire this spring. Terry, Denise, Lee, and their family have worked hard on reestablishing their losses. The huge erection crane was certainly impressive! The following photos are courtesy of Denise's Facebook page.

Site preparation involved preparing the footers.

When the erection crane arrived, it was time to lift the modules in place.

Things are now starting to look like a home and business.

How exciting for the community! Congratulations to the Ellyson family!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Day After Rituxan

Morning all! This is my report on infusion one of Rituxan. Judy and I arrived at WVU Cancer Center at 8:00 A.M. for blood tests and the establishment of my IV in the ole arm. Dr. Craig met with us at 9:00. We are still staying "What a special man!"

Infusion started around 10:00. Rituxan has to be administered slowly so that if there are side effects during infusion they can be addressed quickly. Every 30 minutes the dosage of Rituxan was increased. The drug dosage started at 40 ml per hour, then 80, then 120, then 160... increasing to 200ml after another 1/2 hour.... we kept increasing (240, 280) until a maximum drip dosage of 320 ml per hour was maintained. After every 30 minutes my vitals were monitored (blood pressure, respiration, oxygen, and temperature).

I had no side effects and all went well. I did head for the bed when we got home. I was, indeed, a tired puppy. The next infusion will be in two weeks.

I talked with the good sister this morning who has started her own battle with lymphoma. We discussed our experiences and Judy said.. "I really believe that in fighting cancer a positive attitude, a support group of family and friends, having a meaning faith, and a facility and staff that treat you as a special patient are all essential.

Judy and I believe we have been blessed with all these!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Off On Another Medical Adventure

Since rheumatoid arthritis made an entrance into our lives in 1973, I have had a continual parade of therapies. The late Dr. Saville started me on the "standard" treatment at that time - the salicylates. I took over 20 aspirin per day. I was lucky that it did not have an adverse effect on my tummy.

I remember the names of the drugs well. When one drug therapy failed, we hopped onto another chemical path. There was an assortment od DMARDs (Disease-modifying antifheumatic drugs). The early one consisted of injections of gold salts. Soon I was introduced to such drugs as Cuprimine (penicillamine), Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine), and my old friend Methotrexiate.

I have been injecting Methotrexiate for many years. Dr. Saville assured me back in the 70's that I did not need to travel to his office in Charleston for the injections, but could just administer them myself. I remember Dr. Saville's words after I had some apprehension. 'For heaven's sake, if the druggies on the street can administer shots, you can do it!' Methotrexiate is used in association even now with the newest therapies.

For decades, I have taken a special class of RA medicines called corticosteroids. I take a daily dose of prednisone and have had cortisone injections in the shoulders and knees when extreme swelling occurred. They work well, but one has to be especially areful in taking high doses to alleviate pain.

My last drug for RA consisted of weekly injections of the biologic drug, Enbrel (etanercept). It worked wonderfully for a while. As you can imagine, ALL of these drugs may cause SERIOUS side effects. The Enbrel caught up with me on the side effect issue. Dr. Craig, my wonderful oncologist, believes the cause of my Hodgkin's lymphoma was Enbrel.

Today I am having infusions of Rituxin. This seems my only option at this time. I have read the serious side effects. The quality of life is the prime focus here. I am having RA symptoms that have limited my mobility because my knees, shoulders, hands, etc., have been swollen and painful. We want the opportunity to travel once again to special places with a return visit to Yellowstone National Park being my first choice. Then the list will continue until I am no longer above grass.

Rituxin is a monoclonal antibody that is directed against CD20, a protein that is specifically found on B cells, a type of white blood cell. B cells are instrumental in causing inflammation of RA and can develop into the cells that make autoantibiodies in autoimmune diseases. Rituxan is given by IV infusion and depletes the B cells.

Rituxan has been shown to work in RA to prevent symptoms and also help heal joint damage. The medicine is given as 2 doses 2 weeks apart. Each infusion may take up to 5 hours. Unique to other drugs, Rituxin is not given again until a patient starts to flare and many patients can go as long as a year before needing another infusion. Side effects range from infections, tumors, or even death - but we are not voting for the last consideration. As always, Methotrxiate will always accompany me.

As always, I shall keep you posted on our medical adventures.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Final Shots of Sammy and Dad Fishing

I love to see these guys together. Before Jeff starts the fishing lesson on the Greenbrier River, it was time to teach Sammy how to skip rocks.

Hurray! A mighty catch has occurred!

Sammy is learning his fishing techniques so well. When asked how long the fish was that he caught, this was his response below!! He will make a great teller of fish tales!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Smokehole Caverns

Thought I would post a few of Jeff and Sarah's pics of this past weekend's visit to Smokehole Caverns. The tour always starts with the "moonshine display"! Local lore has it that the cave was utilized during Prohibition by moonshiners. There is only one entrance into the caverns which made it secure and with an ever present supply of fresh water it was a perfect place to produce moonshine.

Smoke Hole Caverns were opened to the public on 30 May 1940. They are located near the mouth of Smoke Hole Canyon from which the cave takes its name. They are located on WV 28 13 km west of Petersburg.

On the night of November 10/11, 2009, the Smoke Hole Caverns Gift Shop and Restaurant were completely destroyed by fire. The Caverns and local lodging facilities remain open.

The caverns are owned and operated by Jerry and Janet Hedrick.

The cave also has an artesian well.

The tourists do not realize that the artesian well is actually a pump connected to the tube going through the stalagmite. When the tour guide switches on the lights it activates the pump and behold one sees an artisian well!