Ill but probably not sick with West Nile

What a vacation week this has been. Two fun-filled days with appointments at my local VA clinic and the Michael E. DeBakey VAMC in Houston. To top it all off, to paraphrase my Daddy, I feel like I been dragged through Hell hanging on a sack of crap and the sack busted.

What’s wrong with me? Ask 10 doctors and I bet you would get 10 different diagnoses. I’ve had slight fever, on and off, chills, various lower GI complaints, and just a general malaise. And no General Malaise wasn’t an infantry commander for the Confederacy. Malaise also isn’t the South Pacific nation with its capital in Kuala Lumpur.

I fear my problem is West Nile Virus. That is because I was swarmed a week or so ago by mosquitoes over in Orange County, Texas, near the border with Louisiana. I was in a lady’s yard on business. She invited me to sit down outside her mobile home and we commenced to be pounced upon by mosquitoes like a duck on a June bug. Oooh. That hurts me just thinking about it. Crunch!

Since then I began carrying  a can of Off in my business car but have yet to need it. But it has been quite some time since I was eaten alive by those contrary little bastards as I was that day. I am paranoid about West Nile because it can be quite uncomfortable and make one pretty sick. It can even kill you. The latter is enough to make you want to have a can of DEET spray in a holster on a Sam Browne belt. “Excuse me, ma’am, Mosquito Police.” In this area of Texas we have “mosquito districts” that are part of the county government. They are not as the word, literally applied would indicate, districts that are explicitly set aside for mosquitoes. I wish such districts existed as I would be certain not to visit. Actually, they are called “mosquito control districts.”

As I have mention a number of times before on this page the district in my county flies over in a couple of planes, usually it a Beechcraft King Air — if I am not mistaken. It is a twin-engine turboprop plane used as a “cropless duster”  that could probably blow the skivvies off a skinny gal 100 feet or so below on terra firma. The district also uses trucks that spray. The aforementioned Orange County also has spray planes and trucks. These brave pilots and ground sprayers, as well as those who test areas for mosquitoes, do as much as they can to get rid of these disease-carrying menaces. This area of the Gulf Coast has seen all types of mosquito-borne illnesses over time ranging from malaria and full-blown yellow fever. The latter reportedly killed about 100 people in the Jefferson County during an 1862 epidemic. West Nile has showed up here as well including some cases this year. No deaths have been reported so far but WNV has killed here before.

I probably don’t have West Nile. It’s probably no more than some kind of stomach disruption or IBS (I Bite Sheep). I don’t know. I do know to be vigilant and pretty much slather oneself with mosquito repellent, at least here where I live. Mosquito spray doesn’t always smell all that hot, but usually it’s at least better than Brut and most times will keep the skeeters at bay.

Bad days are still bad but ice is cool

Let’s talk about something else. Let’s not talk about what happened at that theater in Aurora, Colo., or the guy who made himself look like a poor imitation of Carrot Top.

I say that not to be a “happy news” type. I have reported enough bad news in my life. I have seen enough bad news to boot. I have my opinions on guns. Like Chris Wall’s great song, “Give me Jack Daniels whiskey and something to shoot.” Take it whatever way you want.

Let’s not talk about Penn State. Or State Pen for that matter.

As I rode back from training with my cohorts on Friday we digested the bad news out of Aurora and spoke of many other subjects such as high school football which is on the horizon in our area. It’s not life. It’s a part of life. That is just as Penn State football should be held in thought.

Let’s not even talk about the idiot leader of Syria. He has warned that he will use chemical and biological weapons if his country is attacked. Real weapons of mass destruction — not the imaginary kind that had our nation’s armed forces subjected to death and destruction in Iraq — has no business in this day and age. Some might make the same argument about the ability to possess so-called “assault rifles” but I said I wouldn’t speak of this topic.

What does that leave me to speak of on this day of topics of which I shall not speak?


Ice, baby, ice.

My fridge makes ice like a homma domma. I have six ice trays and have yet to run short of ice since living in my tiny, tiny extended stay hotel/apartment for almost a month now. There is a lot to be said for not running short of ice, especially when a bag a day was not unusual during past times. Happy days are here again.

Ice. Is having plenty of ice a major reason for celebration in days of such darkness? Well, partially it is. But it certainly helps put an ice lover in a loving mood. Ice plus water on a hot day makes for a drink like no other. Ice can keep bottles of pop or Gatorade or beer at just the right temperature. One must also realize that a vodka tonic without ice is like a day without sunshine, or a screwdriver without orange juice, if you are so disposed.

Ice is frozen water. It is such simplicity. It is such good over evil. I would be happy to talk about ice all day but I happen to be enjoying an iced drink at the moment.

Something stinks in here!

Below is the only known photo of the elusive EFD.

I plucked a previously inert Webcam program this afternoon to record my very first attempt at injecting myself intramuscularly with B-12. Don’t worry, it’s prescribed for anemia. I didn’t know I had anemia, but hey the VA just loads you up with medicine that you can’t really afford.

The shot didn’t hurt but I doubt it did much good because I couldn’t get enough medicine injected. I guess I will go by the VA clinic on my day off tomorrow and get more great tips. The video wasn’t riveting, it was 6 minutes long, it may be useful to me in learning from mistakes. My neurologist says I will be shooting myself in the arm each month for approximately, the rest of my life. I have to give myself a shot every day for a week. Then once a week for five weeks, then I can slack off to monthly. Meanwhile, enjoy the photo. The mask was a visual effect with the program, known as  Cyber Link You Cam.

Pentagon details hypersonic ass hauling

You don’t hear the term “haul ass” too much these days.

During my younger days my Dad and brothers liked to used the term and its associated forms: “Hauling ass,” “hauled ass” somewhat but not as much as haul ass and hauling ass.

We certainly weren’t talking about actually hauling asses. Perhaps hauling a jackass would fit in the category.

“A local man was injured Saturday morning in a two-vehicle accident on Route 12. Police say Joe Blow was hauling ass when he struck a guava tree. The jackass walked away unharmed but could not be located.”

Ummm, I don’t know just doesn’t seem to work as well as just saying: “He was hauling ass when he hit a guava tree which resulted in Blow’s injury and losing his ass.”

Oh, in case I forget it completely, by “hauling ass” I mean going fast by some method or the other. There was also the joke about a man so large that if he had to haul ass he’d have to make two trips. Not so funny once you get fat enough to have your ass hauled on two trips.

What brings the topic up is that the Pentagon has released information about its experimental unmanned flight last summer of the Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2.) An artist conception of the vehicle released by the military shows something that would sure as shooting your your right, first toe off would pass for some kind of genuine unidentified flying object. Except it couldn’t be a UFO if somebody could identify it, which someone can — the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), to be exact.

An artist conception of the military's Falcon HTV-2 Ass Hauler.

The HTV was supposed to fly for about a half-hour after being launched on top of a rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., before crashing into the Pacific near Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands. Instead, the vehicle peeled like a promiscuous pear and crashed after only nine minutes of flight. Nevertheless, DARPA said the drone reached speeds of about 13,000 mph, or about 20 times the speed of sound. That is why they call it “hypersonic,” because it was meant to travel more than five times the speed of sound. HTV-2, the first one also crashed early, did surpass Mach 5 and then some.

DARPA said this was the last test flight of HTV-2. If so, why didn’t they call it “HTV-The Finale?” Or “HTV-Into the Deep?”

What DARPA didn’t say was that the speedy ship was definitely hauling ass, at least in my siblings and Dad’s terminology, and mine as well. And it only made one trip.


Satellites or noses: Plenty of poo-poohing when it comes to finding penguins

Yes, it is true North Korea couldn’t launch rockets if its people’s lives depended on it. For that, we should be thankful.

But an even greater reason for joy is that scientists have discovered that twice as many emperor penguins exist in Antarctica. These scientists used satellites to track penguin guano. The latter term is what BBC refers to as “penguin poo.” The scientists from the UK, U.S. and Australia say about 600,000 of the flightless birds, which are the tallest and heaviest of the species, exist way down South.

The emperor has no clothes? Well, they seem pretty well dressed for life in a guano factory. Wikimedia Commons photo


The satellite tracking of the penguin crap will help scientists determine the health of the emperor population, which modeling indicates, could decline if warming starts melting the sea ice on the edges of Antarctica, the BBC report said.

It is good to know that hunting emperor scat from outer space is paying off in keeping watch over our melting planet. Is it a coincidence that spurs this headline today on Google News?

Auroras Seen on Uranus For First Time

Which inevitably raises the question — yes it’s childish as hell — “Is it Your ANUS or YOUR an us?”

To which is quickly answered: “Is its whose anus?”

But I really question whether satellites are needed at all to track Scatman Penguin. You see, I know for a fact that penguin feces smells, well, like s**t. I mean, it smells really, really foul. That’s foul, not fowl. I viewed a bunch of pigeons once when my friend Ross and I visited the Dallas World Aquarium a few years ago. No, I’m not sure what penguins have to do with aquariums either, especially when they are part of an outdoor exhibit. But, I mean, thank heavens they are outdoors. I would hate to be cooped up in a room with a bunch of penguin poo.

Well, that is it. I am confused but I started with penguin guano and end with penguin guano. Call it by whatever name one likes, it still smells like penguin s**t and at least for such a discovery, one needs no satellite, just a halfway decent schnoz.