Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thoughts on EBOLA

Thoughts on Ebola

On cue, we run across the valley, across a creek, and then into bushes. We stay close. Never looking back. I am fifteen and I run like I have never ran before. As we go further into the bushes, it gets darker and darker. Together we move as one, for we cannot see ahead. The moon provides some light when we are in the open, but most of the time in the bushes it was pitch dark. We stop and lie down on the desert ground to rest. It gets colder. A baby cries close by..."

I try to run away, but the sound of the baby crying draws me. I crawl toward the sound and find the mother lying motionless, not breathing. The moonlight shines bright on the helpless child's innocent eyes looking at me. I look at her mother. I close the mother's eyes, grab her carryall and lift the child into my arms. If I leave her she is certain to die. I run with the others toward the wagon that take us to a wagon that takes us to a garage. Everyone smiles, because we have made the crossing! I think, I am safe now from the gangs and rapists that roam the streets of my home in Guatemala. My family has pooled their savings so that I might make it to my cousins in America. 

We make no noise. I remember that the child's mother joined us late. Her eyes were bright and her face was flushed. Nerves? Excitement? 

I quietly ask around. No one claims to have known the mother or the child.  To leave the child would mean its death. I am afraid to ask the Coyote or trust him with the child. Her crying endangers them all and he would just as soon abandon her to the desert animals, I know. The carry all has no diapers for the baby. Another mother shares diapers with me. The little girl opens her eyes and smiles at me. I scrounge through the carryall and find a bottle though I only have water to give her. I cannot abandon the baby!

An older woman holds the child for me to dispose of the diaper. The coyote throws the diaper back at me. They are to leave no sign. I pick up the diaper and put it into the carryall. There is nowhere to wash my hands. The coyote touches each individual and pushes them into different groups. Together, but apart, he  takes us to the San Diego airport for a flight to Los Angeles. The coyote directs me and others in my group to a cab. The child cries and throws up. I comfort the child who falls asleep. A coyote assistant takes us to a nice neighborhood with fine homes and large yards. 

From there, he once again divides the group. Overnight buses, trucks and cars transport members of the group to different parts of the country. I find my family living in Alabama. They see the sick child. They are concerned. 

"We are all in America illegally. If we go to the hospital with the sick child, will we be deported?" I ask. I do not want to go back.

My family work hard in construction or plants trees or picks fruit. I brought this upon us. We decide that I will take the child to the small rural hospital in Alabama.

I go to the restroom and change the baby's diaper once more. "They will take care of you here, little one," I whisper. I put the dirty diaper in the pail. I take the child into the emergency room and then I go to prepare myself some coffee to fill my empty stomach filling it with sugar. I look back into the room. No one is watching. I slip out of the waiting room and run into the dark and several blocks over. I climb into the waiting car. 

I have done all I could for the child. I am safe. The child is safe. I am so exhausted that my eyes ache. The coffee did not sit well on my stomach. But I smile and laugh. I have made it. I kiss my cousin and her children. 

A nurse comes out to register the woman who was just there. She finds the child. 

The child is dehydrated. They take the child into the emergency room and call all social services to aid the child.  A young mother walks in with her child. She puts her diaper bag on the floor where the young woman stood preparing the coffee. She touches the same carafe. She walks with her child by the hand to where the infant was found. She places the diaper bag on the entry counter. Her child falls to the floor. She lifts him in her arms and places him on the entry counter, signs in then goes to her seat. 

As Business Insider reports, "EBOLA preys on our human need to touch and care for the sick, which is why much of its spread is to caregivers and healthcare workers.
"The mechanism Ebola exploits is far more insidious," as Benjamin Hale wrote in Slate. "This virus preys on care and love, piggybacking on the deepest, most distinctively human virtues."
That's why the virus strikes children, their parents, families, and communities. All it takes is one small slipup, one uncalculated act of humanity, and the disease spreads even further.

In this simple scenario, who all is now contaminated? Has that hospital developed a secure isolation unit and invested in protective gear for nurses and health care workers? How carefully is the baby's specimen taken to the lab or does it go through a pneumatic tube loosing the virus onto the sides of the tube and potentially onto other specimens that those in the lab come into contact with? The young woman touched the doors, the coffee machine, her shoes carry the virus into the room. 

How many others eventually come into contact with the baby, the young woman and the vehicles in which they rode? Will the child go immediately into foster care? 

How secure is the water system? Will the sewage from flushing toilets be treated sufficiently so that the virus does not get into the water supply? Will all possibly contaminated materials be properly taken care of?

The hospital waiting room could just as easily have been a fast food restaurant, bus station, or grocery store.

As I think these thoughts, I cannot help but wonder about the economic repercussions and the way we live life thinking about potential spread of this deadly disease. Although Ebola spreads less easily than a cold, because it isn't airborne, the Ebola virus is far more persistent.

Like cold germs, Ebola virus particles survive on dry surfaces, like doorknobs and countertops, for several hours. But unlike a cold virus, which primarily infects the respiratory tract, Ebola can also live in bodily fluids like blood and saliva for several days at room temperature.
Doctors have found Ebola in the semen of men who have survived the virus up to three months after they recover.

The bill for the average Ebola patient treated in the US is a lofty $1,000 per hour. In West Africa, where that sort of money isn't available, most patients simply go home to die. Is our for profit health care prepared for such an onslaught?

As I wrote the scenario above, I realized that the disease cannot be contained in Texas. 

So, what can we do to protect ourselves and our families. Hand sanitizers — along with chlorine, heat, direct sunlight, soaps and detergents — can kill Ebola living outside of a host, according to Doctors Without Borders and numerous reports. Washing hands with soap and water immediately after contact with potentially affected areas, objects or persons is effective. When soap is not available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says waterless alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol is a good substitute.

For those who want something stronger, Bill Horan, president of Operation Blessing, a non-profit humanitarian organization, told the Washington Post chlorine is most effective. “Soap and water is better than nothing, but chlorine and water is what will kill the virus and stop the spread of Ebola,” Horan said last week. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Note from Robert Sweet of the National Right to Read Foundation

I wanted to share this wonderful email that I received today from Robert Sweet of the National Right to Read Foundation ( He is commenting upon the Opinion part of my website:  This note brings the wonderful gift of encouragement!


This is Bob Sweet…President of The National Right to Read Foundation.  I just found your website and posted it on  Thank you for your clear thinking and fact based writing on the “politics’ of education, and other relevant topics.  Yes, I have been tempted many times to head to my garden and pull weeds too!  And, I do not blame you one bit for feeling so overwhelmed and discouraged about making change. I have been on the front lines for many decades myself, and even though I too am discouraged, and weary I trudge on because each child we rescue in our efforts is worth every bit of "blood, sweat and tears.”  At the moment my wife Joy and I are in Murrieta, CA to resent the Patrick Groff Teacher of the Year Award to a young lady who is a kindergarten teacher here.  She too was a “casualty” of the upside down reading practices when she was in elementary school.  He Mom called our office and both my wife and I spoke with her, between the sobs and tears being shed in frustration for her daughter.  After battling the school system for a long time, with no avail at that time anyway, she pulled her daughter out of school and taught her to read at home…using phonics of course….duh!  Now, her daughter is a kindergarten teacher in the very school system that could not teach her to read.  I visited her classroom a few months ago and the NRRF Board and I decided to choose her as our “Teacher of the Year for 2014.”  I will be presenting it to her in a couple of hours…and, even though the school district is still lost in the morass of “politics” and poor education policy like Common Core and “leveled reading”  (same old same old) there are glimmers of light that are beginning to shine through, and this young lady is one of them.  The news reporters will likely be there today…and certainly the children in Ashlee’s classroom will be proficient readers at the end of the school year.

I want to thank you for including so much valuable information about the lack of proper reading instruction on your website, and for your willingness to engage in the battle against illiteracy.  The value of even a few students who succeed is worth the effort.  God bless you.



P.S. Dr. Patrick Groff was my mentor and friend and served on the NRRF Board for almost 30 years.  At the request of his son Christopher I spoke at Pat’s memorial service last April.  He was 90 when he passed away.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Seriously Southern Entertainment comes to Wakefield

 Life brings all sorts of surprises on this journey that we take. Oh, the Places You'll Go! The Things you will See! This weekend was one of those.

Beri (Sarge) Platz and his partner, Steve Webb, of Seriously Southern Entertainment gathered with a stellar group  to film a proposal for a reality show. I never dreamed something like this was even on the radar!

Mrs. Alabama, Rebecca Suggs, is participating with us in this excellent adventure. It just so happens that her husband, Paul, is an avid deer hunter. So he helped Col. Thomas Rushing, co-owner of Wakefield plant deer plots.

Mrs. Alabama had a look of shock at some of the guys rocking their moves during her session at The Wakefield Plantation! .....yes there was a twerk involved and Nascar racer Garrett was involved...

Hattie Ray, taught by her grandmother like most great Southern cooks, kept everyone well fed. She's the star and czar of the kitchen at Wakefield.

In the evening, we gathered around the grand piano for another great Southern tradition, song and music. I sang and David Ethridge played the piano. 

Beri Platz and his crew were fantastic to work with. 

Now, what kind of production could have assembled this diverse group together? 

Stay tuned... 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Behavior models attitudes and beliefs

"The protest at a busy intersection near Littleton marked a continuation of demonstrations that began Friday with a sick out from teachers upset over issues including the plan to focus on material that promotes patriotism and respect for authority."

Read more here:

Years ago educators discovered that manipulating behavior molded attitudes and beliefs (Pavlov). That was when education shifted from Traditional to Progressive. Desks were shifted to having desks face (co-operative learning) with teachers as the "guide on the side," making the group Alpha, from having desks in lines (Individualism) with teachers as the Authority in the classroom. History became Social Studies and thematic education (taking issues in education from which to extract writing, literature, science, events, whole to part, a.k.a Whole Language as a movement). This supplanted the traditional method used for thousands of years utilizing chronology in developing a formative understanding of our past and a foundational, sequential understanding of science, Math and English -- skill upon skill, part to whole.

Many teachers love teaching those controversial topics that undermine patriotism by focusing on the most negative events in our history -- the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki for example rather than developing an understanding of what led up to that event. Perhaps it fits their world view. Traditionalists among us discovered that teaching had become a subversive activity and suddenly traditionalists were outside the wagons that circled to defend the new status quo. Now students tell teachers what they need to know and the result is that we have developed a nation of self-confident, arrogant, entitled, extremely dangerous ignoramuses.

Who do you think encouraged the civic participation of those students skipping school to protest? Apparently the teachers on a "sick out" approved (and probably motivated) their actions. (Values free education? There are very definitely values being molded here. Just not those of the concerned, conservative parents.) District representative spokeswoman, Lynne Setzer, (administration?) said, "We're going to allow students to make their concerns heard."

What are these children and teachers protesting? A plan to focus class material on topics that promote patriotism and respect for authority while discouraging civil disorder. Please note the location here -- LITTLETON.

Remember what happened there? Perhaps we now have a clue why. When you continually focus on the negative, what does that do to the psyche of children while developing a Lord of the Flies mentality that children should rule? Reminds me of the Bible warning: "As a man thinketh, so is he." Traditionally there was a community standards committee that evaluated curricular and reading material. That went by the wayside when we paid the fox to enter the henhouse and rewrite the bylaws of the school boards to fit the Outcome Based Education agenda.

I started thinking about this again recently when I began a study of Southern manners. When a parent teaches a child to stand when an adult enters the room, say yes ma'am/sir, no ma'am/sir, please and thank you, to give up a seat on a bus or in the living room to a guest or elder, that a young man should stand should a woman comes to a table in a restaurant and continue to stand until that woman leaves, and to bow his head when grace is said, that parent has begun modeling the attitudes and beliefs of that child. The child is taught respect for authority and his elders, as well as self-discipline. Behavior models attitudes and beliefs.

Sorry folks, the blood of this old teacher and grandmother of five boils when I see what has happened to my profession and the minds and behavior of our children. And what my friends currently sincerely trying to teach are up against.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Book Launch for Mint Julep Mysteries will be held at Wakefield Plantation, Furman, Wilcox County, Alabama in December

Book launch for the Mint Julep Mysteries, including Wakefield Plantation: History and Cookbook of one Southern family will be held AT WAKEFIELD PLANTATION
the inspiration for the setting of the series) in Furman, Wilcox County, Alabama in December. More information to come.

An excerpt from Mint Juleps and Murder, a novel that is both fun and serious:
That was our last practice before Sadie Summer arrived for the Charity Revue. I asked Ruby what the money was being raised for and Miss Ruby told me it was for the homeless, hopeless, helpless and hungry. I was glad. That was such a sad, sad sight seeing women with their children by the hand both wearing the knapsack that identified them as having recently been housed by a Rescue Mission and provided with free toiletries. I couldn’t help but put myself in those women’s shoes and think of being alone, homeless and with no resources with little ones trusting me to take care of them.
There was little time left for us to practice because we would be taping our food preparation segments for our guest Diamond Lagnappe.  But tonight we were to go with our Five O’clock Somewhere group to the Cypress Ridge Dinner Club. I did not succumb to the temptation of giving our group the name of the acronym FOCS for fear someone might take it a step further and refer to us as the FOCS which could then be taken a step further by some wit who might refer to us as a bunch of Old FOCS, to which I think we might take umbrage.
We got back to the Big House and who should be sitting on our back steps but the anesthesiologist for my colonoscopy, Dr. Gavin Crenshaw. It had been such a long time since I had seen him that I nearly leapt into his arms. At the sight of that good-looking man, Faye Lynne had immediately transformed into her version of Elizabeth Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof-- sultry, sensuous--and dangerous.
It was wasted. Wasted, I tell you! He only had eyes for me.
“I knew I had been away from you too long,” he said. “You’ve just been wasting away you’ve been pining for me so much.”
“Sorry, handsome. Truth is Ruby T made me start jogging,” I said.
We had talked frequently in the time we had been separated, but he’d been busy with his medical responsibilities and his daughters, one had a new baby, and I had been running like a house afire preparing shows and getting used to the celebrity of being a hit show on the Dishing It Network.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

GLOW (Give. Love. Observe. Wonder.) A revolutionary concept for a mundane walker

I have an idea that I want to share with you. I wonder if there is anyone out there who also believes this concept might really work and who knows someone who could build a prototype for this concept.

GLOW (Give. Love. Observe. Wonder.)
If so contact me at:  334.701.6578
The GLOW system is targeted toward a demographic that Wharton MBA, Marti Barletta founder of The TrendSight Group, calls “ PrimeTime Women” whom she says “win the trifecta: they are the largest segment of women, they are the highest spending segment of women, and they are the fastest growing segment of women…From ages 45 to 65, individuals experience more life transitions than at any other time in their lives. This translates to BIG opportunity for marketers and retailers to win the hearts, minds and business of PrimeTime Women, THE Boomer big spenders.” (
 These women are accustomed to personalizing everything. Even if they are not buying the walker for themselves, they may be called upon to purchase walkers for relatives. Those now available often seem depressing and institutional.
 Having dealt with aging parents myself as well as contemplating my own future, I envision a new product for this very discriminating consumer.
  1. Constructed of a hard plastic with the capacity to light up like a glow stick in different colors: pink, lime, clear, blue, purple, etc. This light would guide the user through dark rooms without turning on a room light that might bother someone else.
  2. Liquid personalized with individual interests with floaters: dogs or cats of all varieties, purses, high heels, etc. and for men pointers, deer, quail, etc.
  3. Height of the walker determined by the push of a pneumatic button for different activities whether standing or sitting
  4. Lock for rollers on the walker.
  5. Plastic roughened on the handle so that one does not slip.
  6. Bar to hang accessories, washrag and towel when going into a shower.
  7. Potential for GPS with an available AP like those for finding lost IPhones to find potentially lost people
In addition there could be a line of accessories to hang on the walker co-ordinated with the Walker in Dorothy Draper style (Greenbrier inspired) colors and fabrics. All could be special ordered and personalized. For example:
1.     A removable handbag
2.     Eyeglasses case
3.     Medicine carrier
4.     A desk to fit onto walker on which to prop book or IPad or eat a meal. Pneumatic capabilities of the walker adjusts to different needs.
5.     Vinyl lined bag for toiletries needed in shower
6.     Towels to match walker
Gowns (Lanz-like flannel and cotton), Robes and House shoes to match walker
7.     The sky is the limit
I continue to become more and more excited about this concept. I think of how difficult it has always been to come up with an idea for something to purchase for birthdays and holidays for older friends and relatives. It is possible to extend the concept from simple products to lifestyle. We could publish a GLOW magazine featuring different members of the GLOW family, sponsor GLOW cruises and trips, feature GLOW bridge groups (which extends the product line to bridge and score cards, etc.), Wine groups, Culinary groups including Lunch and Supper Clubs, Book clubs, etc.), publish romance and mystery short stories and novels for this category of reader, a currently untapped audience.
 This demographic is determined to keep their brains as active as possible, continue being involved with their families (grandchildren would LOVE these products that make Mimi and Poppy more upbeat), and keep involved in living life regardless of physical challenges.
 I am confident this is a concept that will sell. With the logo of a glow worm or lightning bug the product comes with a positive message – let your light shine wherever you are. Both product and purchaser bring a happy glow with them wherever they go. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hunters snag 1000 pound alligator and Wakefield Plantation: history and cookbook has a recipe!

Wakefield Plantation: History and Cookbook of one Southern family Wakefield is very close to Camden, Alabama. It's a good thing we included a recipe for cooking alligator in our cookbook!

Alligator and Andouille Sauce Piquante
Pounds Alligator Meat
Cajun Seasoning
1/4 Cup Olive Oil + 1 Tsp.
1 1/4 Pounds Andouille Sausage -- diced
1 10 Oz Can Tomato Sauce
1/3 Cup Margarine
1/3 Cup Dark Roux
1/4 Cup Chicken Base
4 Cups Spanish onion -- chopped
1 Cup Bell Pepper -- chopped
1 Cup Celery -- chopped
1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
2 Tablespoons Jalapeno Pepper -- diced
1 Teaspoon Sugar
2 Tablespoons Garlic -- chopped
3 Cups Fresh Mushrooms -- sliced
2 Quarts Water
1/2 Cup Green Onion Bottoms -- chopped
1/2 Cup Parsley -- chopped
3 Cups Rice Bran -- cooked
Rub both sides of alligator meat with Cajun seasoning and
Cut into 1 inch by 1-inch pieces.
If possible, allow to marinate overnight. Brown alligator
in olive oil over high heat.
Remove from pot.
Sauté Andouille in same oil for 5 minutes and remove
from pot. Pour tomato sauce into pot with remaining oil.
Stir sauce over high heat until it is very brown, burned.
Keep stirring until a thick ball of paste forms.
Add margarine, roux, chicken base, onions, bell pepper,
celery, cayenne pepper, jalapeno peppers and sugar.
Sauté until onions are clear.
Return alligator and Andouille to pot.
Add garlic, mushrooms and 3 cups of water.
Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium heat.
Cook for 1 hour, adding water as needed.
Once alligator is tender, add green onions and parsley.
Cornstarch mixture may be added to thicken gravy.
Serve over hot cooked rice.
NOTES: Regular sausage may be substituted for Andouille.