Archive for the ‘Man Made Indirect’ Category

Hug Your Kids

A toddler in the UK fell onto a pencil and had it lodged in her brain through the eye socket. Fortunately the eye was not damaged and the pencil was removed in a four hour operation. Forget running with scissors, this is a pencil! I know the pen is mightier than the sword but I think in this case, the child is very lucky to not be dead or permanently disabled. The child’s mother is a nursery nurse and knew enough to not try and remove the pencil. I can only begin to imagine her distress and the distress of the child. Keeping the kid from grabbing at the pencil would have been a job and a half. I have five girls, including one who is 2 and I know how we felt when she caught her toe in the treadmill and lost some skin.

I have also been dead and brought back to life by the skill of a surgical team made up of dedicated professionals like the one that saved this little girl’s life. Those people don’t accept almost, nearly or close enough. They go for 100% each and every time they scrub up. If anyone deserves to make $75 million dollars a year like Tom Cruise allegedly did in 2011, it is people like these and not actors and artists,no matter how talented. Definitely not politicians and certainly not people who inherit their wealth through the exploitation of the resources and mineral wealth that belongs to the nation.

Let’s keep things in perspective, people. Next time you watch some asinine un-reality show, think of the people who are really talented, really dedicated and really making a difference to the quality of all our lives. We can’t all be surgeons and theatre nurses, ambulance officers and even hospital catering and cleaners as all play a vital part. But we can be aware that losing weight, fixing up old houses, dancing singing, cooking and behaving badly on camera are not the pinnacles of human achievement.

Go home, hug your kids, hope they never need brain surgery and try and keep them away from the glass toilet in the lounge room. Remember, just because they call it ‘free-to-air’ doesn’t mean it is worth airing.

Cocaine In Textbook

A US university student bought a second hand text book for a course she was taking about terrorism and when she opened it a packet of white powder fell out. Her first thought was it was anthrax but the local police tested the contents and declared them to be about $400 worth of cocaine. what if it had been anthrax? What if the book mix up led to her meeting the intended recipient one dark night?

The probability of anything bad happening is pretty low but not zero. Where do you think Hollywood screenwriters get their ideas from? Real life. Then they glam them up but the original story is usually based on something they read about in the press, like this story. If you don’t want to be the subject of a screen adaptation, what do you do? There is no simple answer to that because as I said, the odds of it happening to you are pretty slim. This woman did the right thing. She carefully took the packet to the police station. I would have called the police and asked them then and there to come and collect it. If she had been stopped and searched for whatever reason enroute, telling the judge you ‘found it’ and were on your way to hand it in might not work. Especially in the USA with their draconian drug laws and zero tolerance to letting their corporate prisons miss out on one more profit center.

Teachers Can’t Count

The simple precaution of counting heads before leaving a venue would have prevented a 5 year old boy being left in the toilets of a restaurant while on a school excursion last month. Fortunately the little lad had the presence of mind to find his way to his grandparents home fairly nearby. What if he hadn’t been able to do that? What if he had been injured crossing the several roads and the rail crossing he needed to navigate to get there? No wonder he feels he was not important enough to be missed…

No teacher does this on purpose, but then that is the meaning of the word negligence. Whoever was in charge of the trip neglected to make sure they had all the students with them when they left to head back to school. How? How could this happen? Who was in charge? Are they still in their job?

It is simply not good enough. I accept teachers have considerable responsibility yet to be fair, they do earn a good wicket so they are compensated and if they are not happy they can take their education and experience elsewhere. Children deserve our very best efforts at all times, even the naughty ones. This has not been the case here. It is, in a word, a disgrace.

Suicide By Ambulance?

In the US they have a name for those people who take a gun and menace the public hoping the police will be forced to shoot them: Suicide By Cop. I wonder if the recent tragic accident in Sydney of a woman stepping into the path of an ambulance is a new phenomena, Suicide By Ambo?

One wonders if she were deaf, blind, drugged, drunk or just unlucky and not paying attention? Or did she do it on purpose? I know train drivers are often on stress leave because people deliberately leap in front of their trains. It is a fairly sure way of getting the job done although nothing is certain nowadays (as the man who jumped off the 39th floor of a building in New York found out).

I have always felt suicide to be selfish, not painless as the theme to M.A.S.H. claims. But as the song says, the choice is up to you, take it or leave it.

Some suicides go to great lengths to make sure they don’t leave a mess for others to clean up. Too many simply don’t care and they have no thought for the trauma they will cause loved ones, emergency service workers, whoever finds their corpse or the drivers of trains, buses and trucks. And now ambulances.

If it were a suicide, we have to wonder why? Why do so many of our citizens feel the need to opt out well before their time? Teen suicide is a major problem, particularly in the rural areas of our country.  Experts say suicide is really a cry for help and usually not the first time the victim has attempted it. Our poor record of treating the mentally ill, more as criminals than patients, often is a factor in suicide. Suicides are not reported in the media except for murder-suicides where the murderer takes their own life, all too often after killing their own family members.

I was told the reason for the media blackout is to prevent copy-cat suicides or encouraging others to kill themselves after reading about it in the newspapers or hearing it on the radio. I have news for the media, it is not making any difference, is it? People still do it just as they still smoke cigarettes even without cigarettes being advertised on television since 1976 and in other media for more than a decade. Nowadays you can’t even see a pack on the shelf yet it hasn’t stopped smokers, nor has the massive tax hikes to the price. Nor does keeping quiet stop people committing suicide.

I think we need to report each and every suicide. We need to give the reasons as best we can find them and do so in words that discourage rather than encourage. We could show others feeling depressed enough to want to die that there are options, people they can talk to, light at the end of the tunnel.

On the other hand, surely the right to die is the last human right ‘They’ can take from us. It is already illegal, I’m surprised they don;t make it a capital offence. We refuse the terminally ill the right to die with dignity and insist they suffer on, I won’t call it living. I think we have it all wrong. We need to help those who want to die to do so with dignity and free of pain. Anyone who wants to suicide can go through the process and in doing so I am sure we would provide a safety net that would catch so many of those who currently fall through societies cracks. We would assist the terminally ill to pass on peacefully and everyone involved, from staff to patients to relatives would be better off.

Of course to do that we need a radical rethink of our attitudes to death, euthanasia and life. Maybe one day.

“There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide…. I see many people die because they judge that life is not worth living. I see others paradoxically getting killed for the ideas or illusions that give them a reason for living (what is called a reason for living is also an excellent reason for dying)….” Albert Camus, “The Myth Of Sisyphus” 1942, Libraire Gallimard, Paris.

If you or someone you know seems cut off, alone, desperate and suicidal, PLEASE talk to some one. Get help.

Lifeline  13 11 14

Proof It Is A Cruel, Unfair World #1

OK, now we expect weird things to come out of the United States, especially California but sometimes the cringe factor is great enough for me to feel like making a comment. Here we have this woman, an heiress (which means she did nothing do earn the money other than be genetically fortunate) who dies leaving US$3 million to her dog. She also leaves her mansion and US$27 million to her staff so they can look after the dog for the rest of its life. Methinks it will be a shorter one than the average Chihuahua could expect. Unless the mansion life is so good they keep the poor pooch on a life support machine two decades from now. Meanwhile they still have the twenty seven mill to share.

Along comes the estranged son (why are they always estranged? Is there any family in the US that isn’t dysfunctional?) and he is upset about the measly million mommy left him and will contest the will. He reckons the staff manipulated mommy into making the will she did. Gee, do you think?

My point is that nobody deserves to have thirty million clams to waste on their dog and employees when there are far more deserving causes in the world. Surely just in the next town there would have to be a poor family with a very ill child screaming for money for medical treatment in that country where unless you are employed (with benefits!) or rich for goodness sake don;t get sick. Without money in the world’s richest nation you are a nobody. In fact you are to be feared for the risk you pose to the hard earned dollars of the ones fortunate enough never to have known bad luck or poverty.

Sorry, I love the US, its my favourite vacation destination. I have many American friends who are generous to a fault but overall there is no way I would want to be a part of that society. There were some good ideas at the start but in the past 234 years they have gone off the rails. But it is not ‘Americans’ as such but the fact that the society allowed the free expression of human nature long before others have thrown off the chains of decency and good manners.

We see it more and more in Europe and in the emerging economies of India and China where new money is making massive paradigm shifts in the social psyche. People in China, used to the idea the State will provide find that with the improved material wealth of a capitalist economy comes the insecurity and the have and have not factor multiplied far greater than when it was just the party apparatchiks that enjoyed the perks of good living. The bottom line is we have men going postal and murdering dozens in kindegartens then killing themselves because they can’t cope with change.

The USA had its century, the 20th, Great Britain arguably the 19th. Now China, India, Russia and Brazil among others will have theirs. Whereas these countries were once either lawless or ruled with an iron fist, they will see increased crime as the gap between the haves and the have nots widens, just as it will in the US as more and more people join the have nots. One result of this could be a change in the social order  with people banding together and demanding a fairer distribution of the riches. In some countries this will happen peacefully, in others after much bloodshed. In the interim, we will start to read of behaviour akin to the deceased heiress happening in countries where until recently people still knew (and many still do) the pain of going to bed hungry at night. Every night. Actually there are plenty in the USA tonight who will fall asleep with empty bellies. But not the chihuahua in Florida.

There Are Reasons Why We Have Rules

The recent tragic loss of 10 Australians in a plane crash in west Africa underlines the old rule about not putting all your eggs in the one basket. In this case the ‘eggs’ were the entire board of Sundance Mining. This company is now effectively leaderless for however long and that will affect all the employees, their families and the towns that rely on the mining operations of Sundance. Store owners, teachers, medical providers, bus drivers and council workers servicing mining communities in various ways will all feel the repercussions of this tragedy.

Why did they all fly in the one plane? This is a ‘rule’ that all major and most minor corporations as well as governments and the military adhere to. You spread the risk. In this case the corporate jet used by the big boss was incapable of landing at the airstrip of the mining project in the Congo they were going to see. Apparently the only suitable aircraft available in the Cameroons from where they departed was the CASA 212 that crashed, killing all on board as far as we know at this time. So everybody got on the one plane and the end result is a leaderless corporation and a dozen grief stricken families.

There is also an insurance company or two somewhere that is girding its loins for the massive payouts. No doubt these executives and the plane itself were heavily insured and already some loss adjuster is scrabbling for reasons to deny as many claims as they can. That is afterall what insurance companies really do, take your money and hope they can wriggle away if you ever make a claim.

So once again we have a situation where a decision that might have seemed like a good idea at the time has turned sour. The thing is, despite the fact nobody expected the Spanish Inquisition, it happened. Nobody on that plane expected to end up dead before arriving at their destination either but  sadly that happened. There are reasons why we have rules such as not letting the entire board of a corporation fly in the same aircraft. There are reasons why we impose restrictions and limits on people and they are usually because somewhere in history tragedy has occurred when these limits and restraints are ignored. Not every time, but often enough.

The Gangs All Here… Well Not Quite

There is a story this week from the UK of a Grandmother (45) forgetting her 11 year old grandson was sleeping in the front room when the house caught fire. She saved her four greyhounds but only remembered her grandson after she was safely outside. So too were her 16 year old son and her 28 year old daughter and mother to the still sleeping lad. Fortunately the Fire Brigade rescued the boy. The media of course beat up the story about how she remembered her dogs but not her grandson and left the tut-tutting to the readers and viewers. Of course we would never do anything like that, would we?

The Single Storey Layout Is What We Have

Afterall, the woman had her first child when she was 17 and she had hers when she was the same age so teenage pregnancy and a love of greyhounds obviously rank the woman in the minds of many. In the USA we would be thinking white trailer trash and here in Oz it is ‘Bogan’ time. Funny how we are quick to all too often judge people by socio-economic steretypes based on a few clues given by an increasingly less professional and skilled cadre of journalists writing our opinions and news for us.

They did have a smoke alarm but the batteries were flat. In New South Wales our Fire Brigade advises we change them on the same day every year. I can’t recall if it is 1 April or 1 August. I would think the former is rather apt. It matters not to me as I change the smoke alarm in our bedroom on my birthday and the ones in the kid’s roms on the birthday of the eldest in each room. The one in the hall is neutralized at present as it is poorly positioned and gives too many false alarms.

The cause of the fire in teh UK that had the granny gathering up the grey hounds was a toaster. The other morning we had a close call with out toaster when it was set to high by one of the toddlers the night before. Somehow they had gotten past the kiddy gate and into the kitchen area and adjusted the knob on the toaster. Next morning the eldest is making her breakfast toast and while the toast smoked and burnt for some time, she did nothing but stand and stare. Then she came and reported this to me. I was on the throne at the time and didn’t realise the severity of the situation as the smoke had not made it to the bedroom smoke alarms.

When I entered the kitchen-living room area the place was so full of thick smoke I had to open every window and door I could, then set an electric fan up in the kitchen to blow the smoke out the nearest window. The toast was charcoal and the heat had smudged the cupboard above the toaster and made the wood of the door very warm tot he touch. Not much longer and the place would have gone up. We have fire extinguishers but far better never to have to use them I feel.

It took an hour for the smoke and smell to leave and it was still hanging around later in the day to some extent. It was one of those accidents that can happen to anyone especially with small kids around and we have two of them under 4. I can appreciate the grandmother forgetting her grandson was staying with her and I also wonder why the media picked on her? No mention of the mother of the boy, her daughter who was also there and fled the flames without her child. The youngest son of the grandmother, a lad of 16 was also there and helped her round up the greyhounds (greyhounds in the house and four of them? The mind boggles) so he could have remembered his nephew was sleeping there that morning.

But a fair apportioning of responsibility is not news, is it? Accepting in critical situations people often act irrationally or in ways that in hindsight, far from the maddening crowd of the moment seem incredulous and even ridiculous. But these things happen and we are all easily distracted at different times by different things. Today I let go of the stroller to help a woman retrieve a dropped baby bottle. I forgot the stroller was on a slope and the brake was not on. I gave no mind to the stroller or my baby in it as my attention was focused on helping the woman retrieve her bottle. As I stepped away from the stroller it could easily have rolled down the slope and over the edge of the nearby stairs and sent my child crashing to the floor five or six steps down. Easily done and in hindsight easily avoided but it happened. I accept it did, am grateful there were no consequences and will learn from the mistake. At least it wasn’t on a railway platform with a train pulling in.

So spare a little compassion for those caught up in these tragic calamitous events and don’t be too quick to judge as one day it could easily be you. 20/20 hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Pointless Pit Bulls

Once again, those unnecessary animals, pit bulls, have struck. This time at Cable Beach, Broome. Tourists enjoying a sunset camel ride along the beach were hurt when uncontrolled pit bulls attacked the camels they were riding. One tourist fell off as the camel tried to escape the vicious dogs and was injured in the fall, including suffering fractured bones. Nice way to end your holiday. Of course the arrogant owner assured the camel train operator before the dogs went off that they were fine. Yeah, right!

Last month in the USA a baby was bitten by a pit bull while the parents of the baby and owners of the dog were in another room. Perhaps the parents were, as one pro-pit bull commenter stated, in the other room taking drugs but that doesn’t change the fact the dogs are dangerous. There is a lot of well deserved animosity against these dog breeds and their owners. The dogs are bred purely for fighting after all yet the owners are forever apologising or claiming it was the fault of the victim, not a pit bull and so on.

In Germany this past week two Staffordshire Bull Terriers tore apart a 3 year old toddler. When the great-grandmother of the child  came to her rescue the animals turned on her. The baby is dead, the great-grandmother is in a serious condition in hospital.  The two victims were visiting the toddler’s aunt who owned the dogs. She lived in a remote village and had not registered the animals on the dangerous breeds register.

If you Google ‘pit bulls baby’ you get hit after tragic hit about these animals and other similar breeds attacking people of all ages. The real reason owners want them is to make up for their own insecurities and feelings of inferiority. Like middle aged men and sports cars they are little more than a penis substitute. I owned Rottweilers for years and they are beautiful yet very powerful animals. I trained mine and never had a problem with them for the decade or so I owned them. The main reason I bought a Rotty was because I had been told they do need exercise but, if you live in an apartment as I did and don’t have a yard for them to run around in, they are happy to stay at your feet. Mine were, so much so that whenever the ‘phone rang my boy would spring up and hit the gas lever on my office chair and I would go hurtling down to just above floor level! So I know about big dogs.

In the Army I worked with German Shepherds and other large breeds as bomb detection dogs and security dogs (the two are very different animals and trained for different jobs). I personally like Staffies and such but the pure fighting breeds like American Pit Bulls and such have no place in a civilized society. Especially not an urban one.

A Trip To The Tutt Might Be The Death Of You

A Trip To The Toilet And A Trip In The Toilet Can Be Life Threatening

We have a lot of faith in our medical professionals and for the most part it is faith well founded. They are well trained, dedicated and they do work hard. I have yet to meet one who would knowingly harm anyone. That kind of attitude simply doesn’t make it through the many years of study and training to become a Registered Nurse (3 year degree) or a doctor (at least 6 or 7 years).

Yet too often we hear of people suffering because they were incorrectly diagnosed or treated. In a recent tragic case in the UK a woman died after surgery to remove a foreign object from her buttocks failed. It was the third operation she had undergone to remove what was found to be a 15cm piece of a toilet brush handle. Apparently some years before she had fallen in a friend’s bathroom and the item had inserted itself into her buttock flesh.

Subsequent examinations including x-rays failed to identify the cause of her pain and she was sent home with some pain killers and orders to rest. By the time she was correctly diagnosed the matter had become far more serious and life threatening. In the end, it killed her.

In 1985 I was sharing a terrace house in Paddington with a mate and his girlfriend. One morning they had both left for work early and I was getting ready to go to my own place of employment. As I stepped from the shower I slipped and sprawled forward, my right arm instinctively shooting out to break my fall. While it did stop me from smashing my face into the toilet seat, my arm shot down the bowl and became trapped behind the U-bend.

I was now naked, cold, wet, on my own and stuck in the toilet. I faced at least nine hours before anyone would come home and find me. If they couldn’t retrieve my arm from the porcelain grip of the lav, they would have to call for help. I could just imagine the jokes thrown around the muster room at the local fire station at my expense.

This was a potentially serious and possibly life threatening situation. As I said, I was cold and wet, on my knees on a cold tiled floor and it was mid winter. I could suffer hypothermia and while I might not die in the 8 or 9 hours I would have to wait for help, I wouldn’t be very well when it arrived. If it arrived. I just then remembered both of my flatmates were meeting me for drinks and a movie after work. If I didn’t turn up they would figure I had changed my mind and they wouldn’t be home until nearly midnight. It was now not even 8am. I had to save myself.

I wondered if I could rip the toilet bowl out of the floor and pull it from the wall and drag it to where I could get a hammer and smash it open. I weighed up how much it would cost me to repair and replace the toilet and cistern, not to mention any damage if the pipes burst and decided I needed to try some other, cheaper and less final options first.

I thought of trying to reach the shampoo bottle on the floor with my foot and maybe using it as a lubricant but it was beyond my reach. I then got very frustrated and angry, braced myself against he bowl with my free arm and pulled with all my strength. Next thing I’m flying back through the air to land on my butt with a sore and red marked arm held triumphantly aloft! I was free and no one need ever know my embarrassing secret of near death down a toilet bowl.

As funny as that situation ended up, it could have been as tragic as the UK lady who died from injuries suffered when she tripped in the toilet. What is even sadder is that the lady did try to seek help and she did it more than once and at more than one hospital, yet she still paid with her life.

So even if you seek medical help you might still suffer. You might be mis-diagnosed or even turned away and your concerns played down. This is where you MUST listen to your inner voice. Twenty five years ago I had severe headaches for several days. I knew, I just instinctively knew these were not migraine headaches. I knew it was more serious than that and I was right. I was suffering from an attack of Viral Meningitis. At first I had also been sent home from hospital with instructions to take some pain killers and go to bed but I knew that wouldn’t do the trick so I returned and insisted on a more thorough examination. I had to stand up for myself.

That is what you must do. Be polite, be respectful but be firm that if you believe you are not getting the treatment you need, then keep looking until you do get it. Your life could literally depend upon it.

Situational Awareness Saves Lives

Recently in the USA a man was killed when a light aircraft making an unpowered emergency landing on a beach struck him while he was out jogging. He had an MP3 playing through ear pieces so there was no chance he could hear the whooshing through the air of the gliding aircraft. The pilot survived but no doubt will suffer to the end of his life over this accident.

Engineless planes make very little sound as they glide to earth. Perhaps a little more noise than actual purpose designed gliders but this crash was exacerbated by the fact the propeller of the aircraft had fallen off and the pilot’s vision was minimal due to an oil spray on the cockpit windscreen. Like most tragedies it wasn’t one, single event that led to the death of the jogger, a man with a three year old child. It was a series of often unrelated and by themselves fairly benign events that, combined, turned a hairy escape for a pilot into a tragic loss for someone else’s family.

The aircraft had an oil leak that covered the pilot’s windscreen, he also lost power and the propeller. The man was listening to an MP3 and running with his back to the approaching aircraft. One would presume there were few people on the beach at the time as nobody seems to have warned the runner of what was coming along behind him. Even if they had, would he have taken any notice let alone heard them?

What are the odds of going for a run on a beach and being hit by a crash landing light aircraft? How do you manage that risk? The only sensible advice I can offer is to never fixate on what is in front of you but to regularly scan 360 degrees and keep your finger on the pulse of everything around you, that’s awareness at work.

Recent Posts