Saturday, January 28, 2006

Why I cannot give blood...

I would like everyone to know that I cannot give blood. The American Red Cross will not take it. They don't want it, and this upsets me.

Why can I not give blood, you ask?

Is it because I am sick?: No.

Is it because I have do not have enough iron in my blood?: No.

Is it because I have an incurable disease?: No.

Have I gotten a tattoo within the last 12 months?: No.

Why then?

Answer: I can not give blood because I have, since 1980, lived in the United Kingdom for a total time that adds up to 3 months, and lived in Europe for a total time that adds up to 6 months.

Ah, of course! That makes total sense!

Oh, wait! What?!

That's right, people! I cannot give blood until they...

    A) ...Figure out if I have MAD COW.

    B) ...Learn - beyond a shadow of a doubt - how MAD COW is transmitted from the bovine population to humans.

    C) ...Find a cure for MAD COW (at least for people).


I love that the government is, in a matter of speaking, waiting for me to loose my mind. A very reassuring feeling, let me tell you.

Now it is important to note the following:

    1) I studied in London for six months in the year 2000 (but left the county almost half a year before the MAD COW epidemic unfolded).

    2) I also studied in Italy for an additional three months immediately following my coursework in London. Thus, my total time on the continent of Europe was just over nine months.

    3) I stopped eating beef in either 1994 or 1995, and I still have yet to reintroduce it to my digestive system. Therefore, in 2000, while I was studying in the U.K. I was not eating anything MAD or COW. I still don't, and have no immediate plans to start anytime soon, either.

    4) If you flew to London, got off the plane, went to dinner, ate a huge steak every night for a week during the peak of the MAD COW epidemic, got back on a plane and flew home - you can STILL give blood today.

    5) My brother interned on a safari ranch in South Africa for three months. He can still give blood.

Apparently, it may take up to SEVEN YEARS for symptoms of the disease to present themselves after exposure to a MAD COW. So, theoretically, I may get sick in the next year or two (again, it is always nice to know that I may or may not develop an incurable disease that will literately eat holes in my brain at one point or another in the very near future). However, I'm guessing that even after the seven years of "quarantine" (assuming, of course, that I haven't developed symptoms of MAD COW) I still won't be able to give blood. After all, 1980 was 26 years ago, so it seems ridiculous to think that my blood donor status will change any time soon!

Now, don't get me wrong, I am all for keeping the blood supply safe and disease-free. I appreciate that not just anyone can donate blood, and that there are additional tests administered on the blood (after the initial screening of the donor) before the blood is ever deemed safe-enough to be utilized.

It is just that there always seems to be a shortage of blood in hospitals and blood banks around the country. I cannot help but think of the thousands - if not millions - of people that cannot give blood because they have lived in Europe, of all places.

Plus, it's not like MAD COW hasn't been discovered in the U.S.

It was in December, 2003.

Not to mention the deer and elk version of MAD COW (I think it is called something like "Chronic Wasting Disease") which is supposedly widespread in the Western U.S. and Canada.

So, why aren't we quarantining the blood of all Americans?

Oh, wait. That's right. It would be unrealistic.

But is it really...?

Medically speaking, MAD COW can be transmitted to any animal with a brain - not just to bovine and human populations. The disease has been detected in everything from sheep to deer to pigs to even cats and dogs.

Plus, there is enough scientific evidence to suggest that - in order to get MAD COW - you have physically consume part of an infected animal or its bodily excretions. So, it really has nothing to do with living in the U.K. or Europe. The Red Cross should be much more concerned with what people were eating when they were over there in the first place! Again, if you flew into Gatwick or Heathrow in January, 2001 (at the height of the British MAD COW epidemic) and ate a huge steak during your lay-over - you can still give blood!

MAD COW is a serious disease, but I - personally - do not think that any headway is being made by quarantining the blood of individuals purely because they've traveled to abroad to other "first-world countries" and lived there. The disease, if contracted by a human, is almost always fatal in the first eighteen months after exposure. Yet, people like me cannot donate blood if we've spent more than a fourth of a year in Europe in the past 26 years.

I'm sorry. I find that be rather ridiculous.

And this is coming from the daughter of a cattle rancher, by the way. Just because I do not eat beef (or, for that matter, dear, pigs, sheep, dogs or cats), doesn't mean that I don't have a lot at steak here (pun intended).

I just want to do my part to help people, and it bothers me that the Red Cross is waiting for me to turn into this:

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Two recycling bins down...

Why I think that blue plastic bags are a bad idea:

More trash.

There just has to be a better way.

Of course, this would be a non-issue if both of my recycling bins hadn't mysteriously disappeared.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A note on working late...

Last night I worked late.

And by "late" I mean it was going on 10 PM when I finally left the building.

Anyway, the museum where I work has a very small staff. So, the last one there at night is in charge of locking up the employee entrance and turning on the alarm.

Last night that person was me.

Normally, being the last one in the building doesn't really bother me - especially now that the scary doll exhibit has been packed up and sent away (I really don't like dolls. They freak me out and remind me of every CHUCKIE movie trailer that I've ever seen). Last night was no different - that is until it came time to actually leave the safety of the museum and venture outside to my car.

See, the problem is that I work in an area of Dallas that is not necessarily known for it' I have actually stopped watching the evening news (except for the weather) because I'm tired of hearing about yet another murder-shooting-mugging-WHATEVER down near the museum. I much prefer to feign ignorance about the crime statistics surrounding where I work. It is the one case where denial is actually working for me (or so I tell myself).

My mother has instituted a similar strategy at her house. I call it the "don't ask, don't tell" policy and it applies to me when I work alone at the museum after dark. In her mind, if she doesn't know about it, then it is not really happening. Ignorance may really be bliss, after all (or, at least, worry free).

Anyway, back to last night...

I packed up my stuff and headed down the hall towards the employee entrance. Once I got there I gently unlocked the door and opened it just enough to stick my head out and look around.

I do this for one reason, and one reason alone: RR said so.

RR has instructed me countless times to always open the employee door and peek out before actually leaving the building. Why? ask? Well, it is all in an effort to spot a potential murderer-rapist-kidnapper before he or she is able to kill, rape and/or bag the peeker (in this particular situation: me). I admit that this is a (somewhat) silly thing to do - mainly because I don't believe that anyone is actually waiting outside the door to simply jump out and randomly attack me. Not that it couldn't happen, mind you. I just think that it is statistically improbable. But, I do peek know...just incase.

Last night when I opened the door, I heard a very loud *CRACK!* I don't know who or what it was, nor do I pretend to know where it came from. Upon hearing the Loud Sound of Indeterminable Origin (LSIO, for short) I jumped back inside the building and pulled the door closed (and by "pulled", I really mean "pulllllllllllllllllled" because there is no shutting that door in a way that resembles anything fast, speedy or moderately swift).

Anyway, I got the stupid door closed and then I just...well, stood there. Because when you hear something all you can really do is wait to hear something again. And THAT does you no good, because you are still in the museum and you don't really want to find out what it is like to, say, sleep there. So, when you don't hear something again after a few minutes it becomes clear that you are going to have to make a decision:

1. Spend the night.
2. Attempt the "door peek" for a second time and pray for no sound this time around.

I opted for option number two.

So, I gathered up all my nerve and slowly unlocked and reopened the employee door. And...and...and...and...well, nothing.

Nothing happens.


I close the door and *sigh*. Now what? It LOOKS safe, but there was that sound a little while ago. Do you really want to risk life and limb for a chance to leave work (this really wasn't a question, because - again - there was NO way I was going to sleep anywhere near the museum. Not a viable option, if you ask me).

So, what do I do?

What DO I do?

Well, Trevor is in class up in Plano. He gets out at 10, but I don't really want to wait in the hallway for him to make the 45 minute drive down here. Especially since my something was probably...well...nothing.

I can't call my parents - that would violate the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Which leaves me with...what, exactly?

Oh, wait! I know! I'll call RR!

To be honest, I called RR knowing perfectly well that she would NOT answer. The twins have a strict no-cell-phone-after-they-are-both-home rule, so I was confident that it would go straight to voicemail.

And, you know what? did!


No rings, no nothing. Just the cheerful, "Leave a message" coming from RR's cell phone voicemail.

So, I did just that...I left a message.

I left a message as I walked from the museum to my car...rambling on about nothing every step of the way.

Why? ask?

Well, let me explain. The plan was perfectly simple. If I was attacked by what ever caused the earlier LSIO, then I could describe - at least in fragmented detail - what my attacker looked like.

Plus, the very leaving of the message guaranteed that a specific time frame would be established by the local law enforcement in the event of my abduction, near-fatal wounding or tragic slaying.

See...perfect plan.

So, I got to my car safely (it was very anticlimactic, really. The most exciting thing that happened on the way to my car was that a security guard in a golf cart drove by at a swift 3 miles an hour).

Then I hung up the phone and drove home.

It wasn't until I got back to my house that I actually stopped to think that maybe...just maybe...RR would be upset that I had done what I had done - utilizing her cell phone answering machine in such an unorthodox way.

But I needn't have been so concerned. Apparently, RR calls and leaves similar messages on JLR's answering machine when she is leaving work late at night. I guess great minds really do think alike.

Who knew?!

The End...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Random Question (take two)...

Grammy Pammy informed me this afternoon that a puppy is "whelped" (as opposed to "pupped").

Which leads me to my next question:

If a horse is "foaled"...

...and a dog is "whelped"...

...does that mean that a cat is "mewed"?!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Random Question...

When discussing the birthdate/year of a horse, you always say something like, "That horse was foaled back in 1995".

So, WHY can't I say that my dog was pupped in 2003?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Walking in Fields of Gold...

My father is a cattle-rancher, so I did a fair share of my growing up on a ranch in the central Texas hill country.

Trevor and I spent a week down there over the New Year's holiday with the three dogs ("Gypsy Kitty", "Alley Cat" and "Dolly Dog"), and it was a welcomed retreat from hectic city life. We went on daily "hikes" around the ranch; stopping every once in a while to let the dogs splash around in one of the stock ponds that still (surprising enough) had water in it.

We took a lot of pictures during these afternoon walks, and captured many a beautiful sunset. It seemed a shame to not share the images with everyone - especially now that the holidays are over and we are all back to the daily grind. I hope the pictures convey the same sense of peace and relaxation that I felt in taking them.

~ Enjoy! ~

~ The End ~

Thursday, January 05, 2006

For Mr. Pop's and Charles...

My sister has a turtle named Mr. Pops, which she acquired a little over a year ago while she was a student at THIS SCHOOL.

Well, actually, I should say that my sister had a turtle named Mr. Pops. Mr. Pops died last Thursday. I am told that he went peacefully in his sleep.

If you read my sister's blog you already know that we had a memorial service, and it was well attended. We buried him underneath the big oak tree in my father's front yard (don't tell the Highland Park police). My aunt brought her Bible and read a prayer, I was selected to read a poem, my father helped with the "burial", my sister cried, and the three dogs watched from the car (I have it on good authority that Gypsy Kitty prayed for the recently deceased).

It was a beautiful service for a loving member of the family (even if he was just a turtle).

Anyway, Mr. Pops shared his plastic habitat with a hippo named Charles. Mr. Pops and Charles are very close (I'm using the present tense on purpose because we buried Charles-the-hippo with Mr. Pops). Charles, you see, was never a really-real hippo. He was, in reality, a toy hippo - a zoo replica, if you will. But Mr. Pops always thought of Charles as being a really-real hippo (much in the same way that the Velvetine Rabbit was a really-real bunny). They were best friends and roommates, and it makes us all feel better to know that Charles accompanied Mr. Pops on his journey over the rainbow. I don't think that anyone would want it any other way.

As a tribute to Mr. Pops and Charles I would like to offer the following story about another turtle-hippo friendship:

NAIROBI (AFP) - A baby hippopotamus that survived the tsunami waves on the Kenyan coast has formed a strong bond with a giant male century-old tortoise, in an animal facility in the port city of Mombassa, officials said.

The hippopotamus, nicknamed Owen and weighing about 300 kilograms (650 pounds), was swept down Sabaki River into the Indian Ocean, then forced back to shore when tsunami waves struck the Kenyan coast on December 26, before wildlife rangers rescued him.

"It is incredible. A-less-than-a-year-old hippo has adopted a male tortoise, about a century old, and the tortoise seems to be very happy with being a 'mother'," ecologist Paula Kahumbu, who is in charge of Lafarge Park, told AFP.

"After it was swept and lost its mother, the hippo was traumatized. It had to look for something to be a surrogate mother. Fortunately, it landed on the tortoise and established a strong bond. They swim, eat and sleep together," the ecologist added. "The hippo follows the tortoise exactly the way it follows its mother. If somebody approaches the tortoise, the hippo becomes aggressive, as if protecting its biological mother," Kahumbu added.

"The hippo is a young baby, he was left at a very tender age and by nature, hippos are social animals that like to stay with their mothers for four years," he explained.

I love that we live in a world where turtles and hippos - both great big and very, very small - can not only coexist, but live side-by-side like family.

So, goodbye Mr. Pops and Charles! Your legacy lives on and we will never-ever forget you!

~ RIP ~


~ 2004-2005 ~