Friday, May 23, 2014

Getting Used To Wearable Tech

Runners are always looking for new tech to help them out and I have seen a lot about the Fitbit recently so I decided to take the plunge a couple of weeks ago and get one. I went with the Fitbit Flex which you wear on your wrist. It looks a lot like the colored wristbands people wear for various causes but contains a small sensor.

The Fitbit is basically a glorified pedometer that will sync to your cellphone or computer via Bluetooth. It has built in memory so if you are not near your phone or computer, the date will be stored and syn next time you are in range. Obviously it will count your steps each day and it calculates the distance you covered. As a runner, I was curious how this would work as stride length is different for running versus walking. The device comes much closer to measuring the distance I ran than I was expecting (I have a GPS running watch I can use for comparison) so there is obviously some adjustment made when you run to get a more accurate distance.

When you setup the software, it asks a few basic questions about height and weight and uses them to estimate calories burned. I always take those with a grain of salt, but you can probably at least use it to gauge which days are your most active.

Another neat little trick is it has a sleep monitor. It will tell you how many times you wake up during the night and how many times you are "restless" based on the motion sensor. I am sure it is not a perfect measurement, but I had not data on this before so it is fun to see what it says.

There are lots of other online features. You can set goals for steps/miles/calories burned per day. It also lets you setup a food plan, enter pulse rates and blood pressure, log activities like weightlifting that the motion sensor might not pick up and of course look at your history. You can also friend people on the site and share data if you want to compete with someone on fitness goals.

There are lots of features I haven't explored on it yet but it has been a fun little gadget. You can buy an optional scale that will sync wirelessly as well (I haven't done this yet...I own a perfectly good scale that is much cheaper...would consider it if the cost came down though).

Battery life is about a week before you have to recharge it via USB. It took less than an hour and a half to fully recharge.

Phones have some of this functionality built in, but I haven't seen an single app that combines all the data as well as Fitbit does. I am curious what the next generation of these devices will be able to do.

Four for Fridays

Hello everyone and welcome back! It has been back to the grind this week. Wonderful, huh? It has been busy, yet slow. Makes sense, huh? The week has been weird. Anyways, some questions for you....

1) What was your first job?

2) What was your favorite childhood toy?

3) Did you go to a summer camp as a child?

4) What do you remember about your grandparents?

Enjoy your weekend! 

Ask Doctor K - "How can I change my pessimistic outlook?"

- Ask Doctor K - -

"How can I change my pessimistic outlook?"

Posted By Anthony Komaroff, M.D. On May 17, 2014 @ In Mental Health | Comments Disabled


"I’m a 'glass half-empty' type of person. I know that way of thinking adds to my stress and unhappiness. Is it possible to change the way I see things?


"Yes, there is. Through a type of 'talk therapy' called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), you can learn to reframe negative thoughts. That, in turn, can help change how you feel.
"CBT can help you challenge overly simplistic, irrational, negative thoughts. It’s easiest when the thoughts are patently untrue: 'I never do anything right,' for example.
"It’s harder when there’s an element of truth mixed in: 'At my age, I’ll never reach my goals.' If your dream was to be a famous opera singer, that statement may apply. Most likely, though, there are other goals you did reach. And other goals you can still reach.
"I’ll describe a four-step process taught at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts GeneralHospital. It’s one way to counteract distortions and negative thoughts:
"STOP. Call a mental time-out when you feel stressed.
"BREATHE. Take a few deep breaths and step back from whatever is causing you stress before you react.
"REFLECT. Ask yourself: Is this thought or belief true? Did I jump to a conclusion? What evidence do I actually have? Is there another way to view the situation? What’s the worst that could happen?
"CHOOSE. Decide how to deal with the source of your stress. For example:

  • Problem-solve what you can control. Gather information, make a plan and take action.
  • Accept what you cannot change.
  • Challenge distorted, irrational thinking. Ask yourself: How else can I think about this? What else can I do to cope more effectively?
"Here’s an example of how it might work. If you get stuck in traffic on the way to work, try to relax and take a few deep breaths. Reflect: 'It’s just a traffic jam. I can handle this. It’s not worth getting this upset.' Don’t assume you’ll be fired. Tell yourself, 'I’ll just be a few minutes late. I’m doing the best I can. I can handle this.'

"Yes, I know this sounds simplistic and obvious. And I was skeptical, too, when I first heard about cognitive behavioral therapy. But I’ve seen enough examples of success that I’ve become a believer."
 Read more:

I'm going to try this.  I definitely need it.

Open Blog - Friday

Let's get married.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

New Toy

When I moved to my new apartment, I upgraded my internet service with Time Warner Cable because they offered me their highest speed for the same price I was already paying - for a year.  Part of the promotion was that if I kept the service for three months, I'd get a Samsung Galaxy  tablet for free.  It took a little while, but I finally received it today.  It looks very similar to the above picture

This is unknown technology to me, based on touch screen swipes and pulls.  I've studiously avoided getting involved with these upgrades in technology because I don't want to have to learn a new way to do the same old thing all over again.  Touchscreens bother me.  I don't have a cellphone. I'm a desktop PC man.  A dinosaur.

So, do any of you have experience with tablets, and if so, what are your impressions?  Wikipedia says 31% of internet users have a tablet.  I can't see much, if any, benefit for me in owning one.

What do you use your tablet for?

.        .         .          .         .

A friend just stopped by.  He said I'll love the tablet.  I can watch Netflix in bed now.  

Best of Racine 2014 - Burgers!

Where do you go when you need a good burger?

Vote now!

Alltime10s Thursdays

Open Blog - Thursday

Save a penny for me.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

When The Tones Go Off by Barbamedic

I missed many holidays because I was working.  Sometimes I really envy the people that have 9 to 5 jobs...they get up at 7 AM, get ready, drive to work while drinking a cup of coffee at a nice slow and even pace, and arrive at work. They can chat with the office crowd. I cannot say that I haven't ever had that type of work....I have had "normal" jobs in my younger day.
In Emergency Medical Services, for a semi-rural department, things can get very hectic, scary and hairy, especially in the middle of the night.....well,  also in the daytime hours. The EMT s and Paramedics are allowed to respond from their homes at night, provided they can get to the scene or to the station to pick up the required apparatus within an allotted time frame. This is usually an ambulance and a fire engine.  There is also someone that may act as a first responder that goes directly to the scene....someone that has some gear in their possession. They carry oxygen, a med bag with basic items, such as bandaging materials and splints, and maybe a blood sugar machine. This person could be of higher training or of lesser training who can manage the ABC's.  That means airway, breathing and circulation, the very first steps of managing a patient. The first responder must also know CPR.  This person is also important because they radio transmit basic needed information regarding this patient or of the scene. The crews like to know if the scene is secured and is safe to enter.

Soooooo..... When I am on night duty, I am obligated to respond to any and all calls during that particular night. I carry a pager that alerts me by making a very loud beeping sound. The dispatcher sets off those loud beeps so the crews are alerted to a call. The tones go off!  That is the terminology for it when the beeper opens up and beeps by radio transmission.  Certain set tones are set for individual departments and these other tones preempt the beeping tones. The pertinent voice information follows from the dispatcher as to the nature of the call and the address of the scene, and any other important information we may need.  Again, is the scene safe? Are the Deputies en route?
Usually I am asleep.... AND THEN,  the tones go off !  It blasts me out of bed, literally!!!  I jump out of bed immediately, heart pounding, and  not just because of getting a call. It is because I am literally so startled by the very loud sound it makes, even though I have heard it so very many times before. I begin to recover and I take a deep breath and jump into any needed clothing, gear, and footwear. I start thinking and analyzing what I hear from Dispatch. I grab my reflective coat, my keys and drive to the station as rapidly as I see fit by the information I already know.

I usually call on a portable radio that I am enroute to the station or scene, especially if there is any variation of what I was originally supposed to do. For example, I may go to the scene instead of picking up the ambulance.  This is usually for the reason that I could actually be passing the scene of an accident while  going to get the ambulance. In most cases, stopping would be the right thing to do. In cases where I have absolutely no equipment or radio that may be the absolute wrong thing as that could confuse the flow of the ways things are supposed to go.
Things do not always go as planned, personally or otherwise. For example, I have been caught in the shower too many times over the years when the tones go off. It is always at the worst point of the shower that this has happened. It is usually when your hair is full of shampoo. That means you are at the point of no return and you have to do a crappy job of rinsing. It also means that you can skip the towel....there is just no time... and force your clothes on a wet body. Putting on a sports bra on a wet body is one of the most difficult jobs I have ever I grit my teeth and jump around, and starting to sweat. Block that picture from your mind, although very true to the situation.

And my hair! I have to rip a brush through it. If it is cold enough, I have had my hair freeze solid when wet.  Plus not a bit of makeup,  and a general unkempt look,no time for that... maybe even bad breath from sleeping.... that is usually the time when you are the star and expected to take total care of the patient.  Those times make it so very hard to be on your "A game".  We try to carry mints, but we forget to refill them every now and then. Hope they are unconscious or they soon will be.  Hah!
The movies and TV shows depict it as being such a glamorous job.
All the men and women never have anything visually out of place, not even one hair.  They always have crisp uniforms and look fresh. That is not at all how it is in real life. Sometimes we are stuck on a call for several hours,  such as a standby for a structure fire.  The ambulance crew may be out in the rig for several hours. We possibly can catch a nap in our bunker gear and hope the chief has called for port-o-potties when we are there for so many hours. If not, we are SOL. If we are really lucky, a truck arrives with coffee and Gatorade and awesome little pound cakes and other great snacks. We love that truck ! And we love the people who come out to set all that up for us.

WE never know what is to be encountered.  All that is known is what the dispatcher tells.  All the dispatcher knows is what they have been told by someone else on a phone.  Things can get misconstrued, or the patients can mislead. I am not saying that is the norm.                                

CALL 911!!!!!  

WE have to be very vigilant as some stupid move or mistake on someone's part could fade all our lives as emergency personnel. Many of us have sustained injuries ourselves through falls, slipping on ice, pulling muscles, getting hit by vehicles, getting hit by people, getting burns, inhaling bad fumes, stuck with needles, and many more maladies that are encountered. I have personally been stuck with a few needles, fallen backward off the back of an ambulance and injured my tailbone. There are so many things that have happened. They are always unpredictable things.
Our patients that we encounter have endless amounts of ailments. I never thought there could be so many problems with people. We never know what will happen until we see for ourselves.  I have so many pictures in my head that haunt me until this very day.  Sometimes I replay these scenes in my head for years.

One day I made a mistake and said that I thought I had mostly seen "everything".   WRONG.  The very next call after I said this, a poor woman was sunbathing in the park and sleeping all nice and comfy. THEN, a BIG radio controlled helicopter stalled in air and fell right out of the sky. There was a remote control helicopter meet going on at that same park.  It silently fell out of the air on her and sliced her diagonally from right shoulder to left hip with a big gaping blade laceration. WHAT THE HELL! She was transported and had to have multiple sutures. I will never ever say again that I have seen it all!
I have come across hangings, rollover accidents involving children,
teenagers ejected from vehicles and found to be dead, overdoses,
gunshots to the head and other body parts from suicide, pedestrians hit with brain matter on the road, motorcycle accidents that have hit head on with automobiles, and school bus accidents with children injured. I have seen limbs severed and found them in unusual spots away from the bodies.  I have seen a child scalped from a motor vehicle crash. I have seen a woman so strung out that she perceived herself to be having orgasms all the way to the hospital. (I want some of that which she took!) I have seen a child on the back of a motorcycle fly backwards over an estimated 150 feet and land with a severely broken pelvis so his legs appeared to be spread and twisted over his head from thigh with both feet over head.  So many more tales to tell. I haven't even touched on some of the more gruesome ones.
On the flip side, a call may come over the air for a woman bleeding.
Well... that could mean a number of things, but that is all the dispatcher had for us. The people hung up the phone! So off we go
having not a clue if she is about to deliver a baby, or has misused a chainsaw, or has a knife impaled in he chest.  We arrive on scene
and find her sitting in a chair. She stated she scratched a mole and it would not stop bleeding. I smiled and took care of her with a little pressure and a band-aid, but deep down I am thinking to my self...."wth... it is 3 AM and I am out of my warm bed on this cold night for your stupid bleeding mole.  I have to type in a seven page report besides!!! This sucks!!! "  But I politely take care of her, swearing under my breath, have her sign a release, and clear the scene....along with the engine, the chief in his car, and the paramedic response vehicle, and the ambulance that I responded in. She won't get a bill for this, because there was no transport.  BUT the taxpayers will be paying that bill!
Back to my warm bed and praying for the Pager God to let us all rest for a few more hours.

"Fed puts 10 Midwestern cities under microscope"

From JSOnline:

"Not all Midwest cities fell into that category. Racine was among the 'Fading Cities' in the 2012 version — cities with erosion in both manufacturing jobs and measures of well-being."

 .          .         .          .          .

"'Racine was once a booming manufacturing community,' the chapter devoted to that community says. But manufacturing's percentage of jobs fell from 49% in 1970 to 24% in 2010."

Read more:

Wildflowers Pt 2!

I know it has been awhile since I have posted more pictures of my wildflowers I am sorry. It has been a busy month for us with Drew's bird migration, my daughter and her doctors appointments and my own doctor appointments for my knee and back.

On Mother's Day Drew took me out looking for some of my wildflowers. We went to Sanders Park in Mount Pleasant Wi., Prichard Park in Racine Wi. and Evans Park in Mount Pleasant Wi.. We found a lot of wildflowers at Sanders Park, no wildflowers at Prichard Park and the same wildflowers at Evans Park. Then when we came home Drew cooked out on the grill, no not his chicken wings but we had steak and chicken kabobs.

Here are the wildflowers that we did get pictures of:

This is a Large-Flowered Trillium in some places it was like a bed of them. Kk I know how much you like this flower.

This is a Large-Flowered Bellwort. 

                                                             This is a Lanceleaf Trillium.

                                                              This is a Wood Anemone.

                                                             This is a Wood Violet.

                                                          This is a Common Blue Violet.

                                                              This is a Shooting Star.

                                                             This is a Bulbous Buttercup.

                     This is a Grape Hyacinth. This one was really hard for me to find to identify.
I hope that everyone enjoys the pictures because I do enjoy going out and finding the wildflowers to share with everyone. This is just the start of all the wildflowers coming up and more pictures to keep coming. 

Dear Madame Zoltar

Madame Zoltar is off on another one of her jaunts to exotic locales.

She hopes to return next week.

Open Blog - Wednesday

Um, no thanks.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

"Stick it to the ticket!"

From Racine County Corruption:

"An editorial from RCC!

"Schmaling and Hanranhan, get your heads out of each other’s posterior"

Read more:

"Some Bar Owners Locking Their Doors After Robberies"

From Racine County Eye:

By Denise Lockwood in Business · May 18, 2014

"In response to a number of armed robberies in Racine, several bar owners have started to lock their doors at night to control who comes inside.

"Over the past several months, several gas stations, bars, convenience stores and other businesses have been robbed at gunpoint.

"Carrine J. Fenkl, who owns the Cham Tap, 2511 Durand Ave., said she started locking her doors after her bar was robbed in the early morning hours on Thursday."

Read more:

Open Blog - Tuesday

Rah! Rah! Rah!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Epic Migration

My birding vacation has come to a closing... Tomorrow morning I wake up to the sights and sounds of heavy machinery instead of chirping birds and fresh air. I have no regrets, for I witnessed a migration of epic proportions. This was beyond my wildest dreams!

I couldn't pick a better week to be off! Storms pushed the cold air masses to the north and opened the floodgates for the migrants. Last week Saturday morning started off with a walk at Colonial Park in the early morning hours. Migration had been a slow start already. That was the vibe when I walked down the first trail past the first bridge. I had seen a few warblers, some woodpeckers, nothing major. By the time I made it to the second bridge, it hit! BAM! A wave off warblers hit the forest and flooded it with song! Chestnut Sided, Magnolia, Bay Breasted, Wilson's, Yellow Rumped, Blackburnian and 12 other species of warblers fell before my binoculars like a slideshow. I had no time to pick my camera! Three hours later and more sightings of tanagers, vireos, orioles and others, I walked out the park with 65 species for that morning. A personal best outing since Harrington Beach last summer.

That afternoon, Tender Heart and I set out to drive through Bong in Kenosha Co. Another great outing! Many of the typical prairie species had returned. Eastern Kingbirds, Orchid Orioles, Savannah Sparrows, Eastern Meadowlark (shown singing below), Eastern Towhees as well as others. Even saw my first ever Tuffed Titmouse! Finished that outing with 62 species... A great day!

During the duration of the week off, I spent my time birding locally with visits to Myers Park where I seen this (see below) beautiful breeding plumaged Black Bellied Plover, Soras, Green Herons, Great Blue Herons, American Pipits as well as many gulls and terns

North Beach can be another hot spot for migrating shorebirds... Yeah, I saw the huge flocks of staging Ring Billed and Herring Gulls hanging nearby flocks of Caspian, Fornster's and Common Terns. The highlights were the Sanderlings, Semipalmated Plovers, Willets and this endangered Piping Plover that skittered past me! (see below)

We also made visits to Smolenski Park, River Bend, Shoop Park, Grant Park in South Milwaukee, Chiwaukee Prairie in Kenosha Co. Many species where seen! Among those highlights were this vagrant specie, a Northern Mockingbird (see below) at the lighthouse.

This migration was getting HOT, in reality, the water was just boiling in the pressure cooker.... Tender Heart and I learned this the "fun" way at Horicon Marsh last Saturday. Our slow drive down the shoulder on Hwy 49 proved quiet save for some Canada Goose, Mallard, Redhead Ducks, some Sandhill Cranes, a couple a Northern Harriers hunting and a Bald Eagle.

Turned into the Auto Tour & Trails, the pressure cooker EXPLODED! A beautiful Scarlet Tanager greeted us with a pose (see below). This was a good sign of things to come....

Some Great Egrets flew in the greet us. Saw Black Terns flying around, doing their flying acrobats with Barn and Tree Swallows over the marshes. Bobolinks, Eastern Kingbirds, Eastern Wood Peewees and phoebes were in the fields. The absolute highlight was a warbler fallout we saw.... Starting with Cape May Warblers (see below)

This Blackburnian Warbler...

Magnolia Warbler...

Blackpoll Warbler....

We have never seen many warblers at one time before! Instead of looking up the trees and getting a "warbler neck", we were getting a warbler whiplash! They were at eye level, flying past us, landing just a couple of feet from us and giving us great views. Three hours later, we left the Auto Tour & Trails seeing 20 species of warblers and finished with 81 species total! My personal best day of bird watching!

The show wasn't over yet! The encore was getting started! Heading towards Dike Road in the middle of Horicon we saw an endangered Whooping Crane! (see below). Talk about luck!

 During our three hour drive down the gravelly Dike Road we saw some more warblers, more Canada Goose (with goslings), more Redhead Ducks, coots, a couple of American Bitterns snaking away through high reeds and great views of American White Pelicans floating around.... (see below)

All in all, this was a great week to a view migration. I'm glad that I took the time off of work to see all this. Think I'm going to do this again next year!

Secret for Longevity

 Interview  with 101 year-old Hattie Mae MacDonald of Feague,  Kentucky

Reporter:  Can you give us some  health tips for reaching the age of 101?
Hattie:   For better digestion I drink beer.
In the case of appetite loss  I drink white wine. 
For low blood pressure I drink Red  Wine. 

In the case of high blood pressure I drink scotch.  

And when I have a cold I drink Schnapps.
Reporter:  When do you drink water?
Hattie:   I've never been that sick!
Always knew there was a good reason to drink!!!!!

Local Loyalty - JW & Sons

Welcome back!
Today, I want to introduce you to 

JW & Sons has been in business since the early 70's.
If you are thinking of building a new home, or garage, 
or just want to put an addition or deck on your house, 
please give JW & Sons a call. 
They're local, always have been, always will be. 
Started by dad, Jerry, and now owned by son Jeremy since 2006, 
the longevity of the business says a lot about them. 
 The owner is very hands on, and you would be dealing directly
with the top guy, who I can, and will happily vouch for.
I can attest to how quickly Jeremy corresponds, returns emails or calls. 
He's always connected, always available.
Check out their website for pictures of work they've done. 

Ways to reach them - 
email -
phone - 262-497-6634

As always, the 'trick question' 's 3 words he chose - 
1. Honest
2. Caring
3. Respected

If you are in need, I hope you'll give Jeremy a call, 
and as always, please tell him you saw it here!!

Open Blog - Monday

Have a good day.