Thursday, March 31, 2016

Badger Drugs!

Let me just throw this out there to get the ball rolling. I wrote it two years ago. I'm gonna copy and paste. It's not well written. It needs to be updated, and I'm working on that.

Antibiotic resistance is going down, not up

By Shaun Evertson

Western Harvest, May, 2014

Readers may be wondering if that headline is a typo or misprint. It’s not. According to the CDC, in 2005, 190,320 cases of antibiotic resistance were reported in the U.S., causing 29,940 deaths. In 2011 (the most recent year for which data are available), the number of reported cases of antibiotic resistance had fallen to 163,406, with 19,480 associated deaths.

Simple subtraction shows that the number of cases/year has fallen by 26,914 and the number of deaths/year by 10,460 over seven years. The morbidity of antibiotic resistant infection – that is, the percentage of the entire population affected – have gone down even more than the absolute numbers imply, for the total population has grown. In 2005 there were 295 million Americans, in 2011 there were 312 million.

These facts are most certainly not being reported as part of the antibiotic resistance story. Newspapers, television and radio news programs, and an exhaustive list of government agencies consistently, authoritatively and confidently report that antibiotic resistance is a growing epidemic, and that antibiotic resistant superbugs are an existential threat to humanity.

The stories, fact sheets and fact sound-bites which are most commonly (and almost exclusively) reported are false. The story most commonly told is in fact the opposite of reality. Government agencies and the media report a growing epidemic, while the facts reveal extraordinary success in treating and reducing the effects of antibiotic resistance. The data collected by the very agencies reporting the so-called crisis do not support the assertions they make. The mismatch between the data and the commonly reported story is striking.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Food And Drug Administration (FDA), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the White House, both Houses of congress, and every state and local health department and agency are quite busy reporting on the superbug/resistance epidemic. Every single newspaper and news organization in the land is reporting on the superbug/resistance epidemic. Even NASA, the National Weather Service, and the Bureau of Land Management are reporting on the superbug/resistance epidemic.

Most of the reports say something like this: “Antibiotic resistance is one of the world’s most pressing public health problems. The overuse of antibiotics in food animals and the over-prescription of antibiotics in humans has caused the development of antibiotic resistant superbugs which no longer respond to traditional methods of treatment. Antibiotic resistance is now an epidemic.  In the U.S. alone, 23,000 people die each year from superbug infections. If this epidemic is not controlled immediately, antibiotics will soon no longer work and humanity will face unprecedented death and destruction.”

Let’s deconstruct that statement. As to the first sentence, an assertion is made but is not supported by any facts or data. Of the hundreds of similar news stories and dozens of fact sheets read in preparing this story, no data or cited data were found which support the assertion.

In the second sentence, the assertion is that over-prescription of antibiotics is forcing pathogens to evolve into resistant strains. Again, there is no data cited or presented in support of the assertion. Nor are readers likely to find such data in extant news reports or fact sheets. The assertion is based upon the hypothesis that when pathogens are exposed to antibiotics, the weak gems die but the strong germs survive and develop resistance. This is one of the tenets of evolution, and it’s a very intriguing theory. However, when it comes to the development of antibiotic resistance, the numbers do not provide any proof that the theory is true. In fact, those numbers provide good evidence that the antibiotic-exposure-leads-to-antibiotic-resistance theory is unsound.

The third sentence is a bold assertion with no proof. There simply is no superbug epidemic, and the number of antibiotic resistant cases is going down, not up.

The fourth sentence asserts that 23,000 Americans die from superbug infections each year. This oft-repeated number is inflated. There were in fact about 19,500 deaths in 2011. What the assertion does not explain, however, is that in 2005 that number was nearly 30,000. Both deaths and infection rates from these so-called superbugs have been going down each and every year.

The final sentence is not supported by evidence.

The pseudoscience of over-prescription

Leaving aside the question of why, the fact is that government and the media are reporting the opposite of what is actually happening. What makes the reports seem reasonable at first glance is that they are embellished with pseudoscientific jargon which seems like it might be reasonable. In addition, readers tend to believe information from government and media sources. Readers have a hard time imagining that such sources would willfully mislead them.

One example of pseudoscientific jargon is the assertion that exposure to antibiotics is forcing all pathogens to evolve into resistant strains. This assertion sounds good because it is generally in line with the theory of evolution. But evolution is more complex than simple “survival of the fittest.” Exposure to antibiotics does appear to have caused some pathogens to develop resistance, but it has not caused all – or even most – pathogens to do so. The vast majority of disease causing bacteria still respond to first generation antibiotics such as penicillin, sulfa, and tetracycline. Fewer than one percent are completely resistant to first generation antibiotics.

The reader may ask, “Why then does my doctor give me a more sophisticated antibiotic?” Fair question. Today’s new formulations (such as the Z-Pac) are easier to take and are effective against multiple pathogens. It makes sense to use them. But that does not mean that the pathogens being treated are resistant to the older generations of antibiotics.

If the pseudoscientific “survival of the fittest” theory was actually in effect here, then after more than 70 years of antibiotic use and untold trillions of generations of bacterial evolution, no earthly pathogenic bacteria would today be susceptible to first generation antibiotics. In reality, more than 99 percent of pathogens remain susceptible.

The theory and the assertion that over-prescription of antibiotics is causing an epidemic of antibiotic resistance is simply not supported by the evidence.

Given the facts, the assertion that antibiotic resistance is a major public health problem is simply absurd. We’re doing an outstanding job at addressing disease caused by resistant pathogens. That should be the major story. Why is it not?

The pseudoscience of overuse in livestock production

The assertion that overuse of antibiotics in livestock production is causing the development of antibiotic resistance and superbugs is largely based on the same evolutionary forcing hypothesis. As with the over-prescription theory, the evidence does not support that assertion. As in humans, the vast majority of livestock pathogens continue to respond to first generation antibiotics. Newer antibiotic formulations are used for the same reason they are used in humans – they are easier to employ and they treat more diseases.

Furthermore, although some diseases and pathogens affecting livestock are the same pathogens and diseases that affect humans, the vast majority are different. Likewise, while some antibiotics are used in both livestock and humans, the vast majority of animal antibiotics are not used in humans and vice-versa.

There are other factors cited in the livestock-causation theory. One is the use of growth promoting antimicrobials. The theory claims that such antimicrobials apply the same pressure as antibiotics and thus force pathogens to evolve into resistant strains. The evidence, however, disproves this assertion. The rates of antibiotic resistance in livestock pathogens are no different than in humans. Antibiotics are simply not forcing evolutionary development of resistance.

Another assertion is that because of “horizontal gene transfer” between bacterial species, antibiotic resistance can be passed from bacterial species to bacterial species without being evolutionarily forced by exposure to antibiotics. Again, this seems like a sound theory at first glance, however, there is simply no evidence to support the hypothesis. While it’s possible that horizontal transfer could, in theory, increase antibiotic resistance, after more than 70 years of use there should be evidence that his has occurred. Such evidence is simply not there.

An example of misinformation

One of the most widely repeated assertions regarding the livestock-caused theory holds that antibiotic use in livestock is causing an increase in MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. This is the widely-reported “flesh eating bacteria” most readers have heard a lot about.

MRSA is most often contracted in hospitals or medical clinics. In 2011, of the 80,461 cases reported, 63,901 were contracted in the medical arena and 16,560 in the non-medical arena.

Television reporter Katie Couric insisted in a 2010 report that new strains of  MRSA were showing up in hogs and workers on farms in Iowa and Illinois where antibiotics were used. On farms where no antibiotics were used, Couric claimed, no new MRSA strains were discovered.

Dr. H. Scott Hurd, then an Associate Professor of Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine at Iowa State University (who, sadly, passed away in March), responded almost immediately to Couric’s claims.

Hurd noted that the hogs which tested positive for MRSA were not diseased (did not have MRSA infections), but had rather been contaminated by workers who acquired MRSA infections from other humans. Hurd added that the assertion that antibiotic use in hogs was forcing new strains of MRSA to develop was completely misleading. Since hogs are not treated with methicillin, and methicillin has never been used to treat livestock in the U.S., exposure to methicillin could hardly be prompting resistance in these cases.

Couric asserted that “Drug resistant infections have sky-rocketed over the past two decades, killing an estimated 70,000 Americans last year alone. Antibiotic resistance is an emerging health crisis that scientists say is caused not only by the overuse of antibiotics in humans, but in livestock as well.”

Hurd noted that “The drug-resistant infections referred to here have little-to-no relationship to any antibiotic use in animal agriculture…according to the FDA, resistance in food-borne illness is stable to declining over the last several years.”

As we’ve shown previously, Couric overstated the number of deaths (by 50,000) caused by antibiotic resistant infections, and reported that infection rates were “skyrocketing” despite the fact that she had every reason to know that just the opposite was happening.

Couric went on to claim that “the bottom line on antibiotic use is this: no one is really monitoring it.”

To which Hurd replied, “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates antibiotic use in both humans and animals. The FDA inspects the feed mills that produce medicated feed. The agency also evaluates the safety of antibiotics used in animals for human safety. And, the FDA works with the USDA to conduct tests in processing facilities to make sure those regulations for antibiotic use are followed. It’s clearly a highly regulated practice.”

Likewise, in a 2011 report the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production (PCIFAP) asserted that “nearly half” (47 percent) of samples collected from supermarket meat and poultry were contaminated with Staphylococcus aureus, and that 52 percent of those bacteria were resistant to at least three classes of antibiotics. Furthermore, they reported that DNA testing indicated food animals “as the major source” of the contamination.

As it turned out, PCIFAP was fibbing about the source of the contamination. According to Drs. Elizabeth Wagstrom and Peter Davies of the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Population Medicine, the MRSA strains found in the study were human types. The meat was contaminated by workers in the supply chain or by consumers in the supermarkets.

Moreover, according to Dr. Ellin Doyle of the University of Wisconsin's Food Research Institute, Staphylococcus aureus is found in over half of human nasal passages. The incidence of MRSA is much lower – estimates by CDC indicate that only about 1.5 percent of people in the general population carry MRSA. Doyle added that only two foodborne outbreaks of MRSA have been identified, and both were attributed to food handlers contaminating food – not to the food source itself.

Ongoing misinformation

A close reading of news stories and fact sheets claiming an ongoing epidemic of antibiotic resistance reveals several troubling problems with such reporting. Firstly, actual data is rarely cited. When data is cited, close reading of the cited data will show that it does not in fact support the assertions made. Secondly, experts quoted in such stories and fact sheets give opinions about their “fears” of “what might happen,” but they never cite verifiable data, nor do they ever make a factual-based argument which shows that antibiotic resistance is a worsening epidemic.

Such stories argue mightily that something awful is happening. However, no real-world facts, data or evidence are ever produced in support of the argument. Arguments and evidence given in support of the epidemic thesis are invariably irrational, invented, incomplete, and/or out of context.

The misreporting on antibiotic resistance does nothing educate or inform the public. Such misreporting almost certainly causes harm through promoting fear.

Antibiotics are a vital tool in combating disease. They allow humans to survive diseases which were, in many cases, nearly universally fatal less than a century ago. The treatment of infectious disease is today better than it has ever been. The complete and unvarnished story of disease and antibiotic use in America clearly shows that modern medicine is constantly improving. Antibiotics are becoming more effective, and disease is becoming less prevalent.

Those supporting the antibiotic resistance epidemic thesis argue that in animal and human medicine, over-prescription of antibiotics is causing an increase in the development of antibiotic resistant disease pathogens. They cannot, however, support that argument with facts. The morbidity and mortality numbers for disease caused by antibiotic resistance are trending sharply down, and no amount of pseudoscientific posturing can change that fact.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Cradle of Heroes*

*Formerly "Ranger Up"

It was mid-afternoon on a lovely spring day and I was checking cows.

Early spring beautiful. Scattered clouds were only providing accent to the delightfully blue sky. Warm sunshine was bathing the prairie with gentle radiance, feeding photonic energy to grasses, forbs and shrubs, warming the open ground and patiently eroding the still abundant snow drifts left over from last week's not-blizzard.

The cows were scattered across the southeast eighth-section of the northwest quarter, grazing along and turning new grass into bovine flesh, bone and sinew. The herd is within only a few days of the onset of parturition, and much of their nutritional intake is being used to put the finishing touches on the babies that will be joining us momentarily.

As I walked among the cows I was swimming through the kind of sensory delight you only ever find in the early days of spring. Around me the prairie was wakening. The sun's warmth was driving transpiration and the air was heavy with the scent of growing plants, decomposing organic matter, fresh green grass manure, and the tang of melting snow. Birdsong was everywhere, and dominated by the lusty springtime trilling of the Western Meadowlark. Scampering here and there, busily breaking winter-fast and putting their houses in order, Thirteen-Lined Ground Squirrels were out and about, certain proof that spring has really arrived.

As I strode along with a song in my heart and a smile on my face I became aware of a new presence. I felt it before I heard it, a syncopated thumping that was felt long before it was heard. I turned and scanned to the northeast. There! Just above the horizon. A November model Huey. Almost certainly an Air Force bird from the 90th Missile Wing at Warren, out patrolling the Minuteman III facilities scattered across this part of the world.

These Huey's often work in pairs, and I could hear a second one out there somewhere. Finally I found him, holding high as his playmate skimmed low along the Interstate. I watched as they joined up and turned toward KIBM, not much more than a stone's throw from my present location.

Should I? I should! I tramped back to the pickup and headed for the airport. New camera, nice day, let's go take some snaps.
UH-1N from the Mighty 90 near the fuel pits at KIBM Monday.

And now...

As some of you know, I messed this post up by hitting publish when I meant to hit save. As usual in this kind of event, I should have just kept my firetrucking hands inside the firetrucking ride.

I tried to fix it in place, but that worked out about as well as trying to hit save.

Some of us should probably required to have adult supervision when we're driving on the interwebs.


Okay. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Ubi nunc sum? Oh yeah. So there I was, heading on over to the local air patch to grab some pics of a pair of USAF Hueys. I bid the cows adieu and navigated my way out of the pasture, up the lane, and onto the county road. I stopped by the roadside mailbox to pick up the day’s delivery. As I crunched across the graveled road I heard it.

It was an airplane sound for certain, coming from somewhere high and to the west, but it was not a modern aviation sound. Not at all. It was the sound of a reciprocating engine, but very different than the noise made by today’s more-or-less modern, horizontally opposed four- and six-cylinder aero engines. Nor was it the snappy roar of a radial engine. I’d heard the sound before, but not often, and always at airshows. It sounded like a heavy duty sewing machine, clattering loudly through the sky. A grin of delight formed on my face before I even saw the aircraft.

There, rolling in from high key toward the approach end of the northwest-southeast runway, was a vision from the past. Deep blue body, bright yellow wings and tailplane, and an improbably large, red and white horizontally striped rudder. Two tandem open cockpits, fixed landing gear. “US ARMY” in bold black lettering on the wings, along with the pre-1943 American roundel of a white star on a blue circle with a smaller, red circle in the center.

On the nose, just in front of the Ranger (that's where I came up with the former, lame post title) L440-3, six cylinder, air-cooled, inline engine, spun a fixed-pitch wooden Sensenich Bros. propeller. The wooden prop added a waspish snapping sound to the powerful sewing machine clatter of the 200 hp engine.

I was absolutely Gobsmacked. She was a dream. And she was a Fairchild PT-19A “Cornell” primary trainer. She floated in “over the fence” in a seemingly impossible attitude, nose buried and yet wafting along slow as molasses. And she was landing downwind! My heart caught in my throat for a moment, but she was rock steady and completely under control. Moments later she flared and her tires kissed the concrete runway in a perfect three-point attitude. She rolled a bit and turned off onto the taxiway. I slapped myself back into action and dashed back to my pickup, mail forgotten for the moment. As was my plan to take pictures of the Air Force helicopters. Helicopters? Sniff. Ceci pour vos hélicoptères!

The next half-hour was pure delight. I was surprised and pleased to find that the beautiful little trainer belongs to a local pilot. As I visited with him and asked questions, he told me that it was the plan his Dad taught him to fly in, and the same one his Dad -- A WWII USAAF pilot -- had made his last flight in at age 94. The plane had been manufactured in 1943, and countless Army Air Corps/Force flight students had learned to fly in it during the war. The local pilot had brought the plane to Kimball to have an annual airworthiness inspection done.

During the war nearly 6,400 PT-19’s were built, and they served as primary trainers for the US Army (this was long before the Air Force became a separate service), England’s Royal Air Force, and Canada’s Royal Canadian Air Force. In its role as primary trainer, the Cornell served alongside the more numerous Boeing-Stearman “Kaydet.” In later years, the PT-19 became known as the “Cradle of Heroes.”

After I’d snapped a lot of pictures, the pilot apologetically asked me if I could help him push the beautiful aircraft into the hangar. I couldn’t believe my luck! Most people never get to see a PT-19 in person, and of the few who do, they mostly see them in museums, roped-off, static, aloof. But I got to actually lay my hands on this one; got to actually touch a living, breathing, flying treasure of history.

As I grabbed the wingtip hand-hold I couldn’t help but caress the taught, colorful fabric covering the wing. My mind raced, imagining the countless heroes whose hands had been there more than 70 years ago. Men like Bong and McGuire and Gabreski, and women like WASP pilots Evelyn Sharp from Ord, Nebraska, and Ola Rexroat from Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Perhaps not those exact men and women, but without a doubt, this airplane had trained thousands upon thousands of true heroes. And I was touching it!

I know, I know. Far too many exclamation points in there. My journalism professor would not be pleased.

Perhaps you can find a way to forgive me my enthusiasm. Getting to meet and touch this airplane was a very, very happy thing.

Sunday, March 27, 2016



We’ve had a bit of a medical whirlwind at the ranch since the beginning of the new year. As you may have read here, my Mom had her second hip replacement surgery on February 15. That’s gone very well, and she’s already discarded the walker and is getting around quite nicely. The crushing chronic pain of a destroyed hip joint is gone now. The surgeon is very pleased with her progress. What a difference a few weeks have made.

On the morning of Mom's pre-surgery appointment she noticed that Willie had a big lump on her neck.

Willie is a 12 year old miniature Dachshund. She’s a sweet little dog, for those values of sweet achievable by a miniature Dachshund, and she’s part of the family. The lump was very large, about the size of a golf ball, and right on the centerline of her neck, about where you would expect her Adam's apple to be. Mom was afraid it might be a goiter, or enlarged thyroid. I took a quick look and found that the lump was fluctuant and filled with fluid. Most likely it was an abscess.

Now an abscess is nature's way of dealing with an infection. The one Willie had was most likely caused by a sticker or some other tiny foreign object. The body does a number of things in response to the foreign object. It sends in white blood cells to attack the invading object and the bacteria which always comes along for the ride. It also begins to encapsulate the area around the object with a wall of tissue, which eventually forms the body of the abscess. As the cellular battle rages inside the abscess, pus forms and collects, making the abscess grow. Eventually the surface skin over the abscess begins to thin, and at a certain point it ruptures, allowing the pus (which usually contains the offending foreign object) to drain. Over the next few days the ruptured skin heals, the abscess wall is reabsorbed by the body, and the last of the bacteria are slaughtered.

In very many cases it's best to let nature take her course. In fact, if the dog is generally healthy and the dog's human is not OCD enough enough to wash, wax, groom, and completely examine their pet on a daily basis, the dog has most likely dealt with countless abscesses completely unknown to the owner..

Willie's abscess wasn’t tender and didn’t seem to be bothering her. She was perky and didn't have a fever or act sick. Most likely it would resolve on its own, and at that particular point, mucking about with it could have made things worse. We decided to keep an eye on it and headed off to keep mom's surgical appointment. Which we did.

When we returned home Willie's condition had changed. She was now acting droopy and sick. The lump was now nearly the size of a baseball. That's a very big lump on a little dog. She had a fever and was panting and seemed to be in some distress. So a couple of things. The size and location of the abscess coupled with the panting and distress made me think that it was pressing on the trachea and interfering with her breathing. That was the immediate, life-threatening concern. Also, the fever and her general malaise made me think that the bacteria might be winning the battle against her immune system. If that was the case it could kill her nearly as fast as a constricted airway.

A complicating factor was that it was after 6 p.m. on a Friday and our small town doesn't have a puppy emergency room. The airway constriction could potentially kill her before we could call the local vet and arrange to have her meet us at the clinic. I closely examined the abscess and weighed my options. It was pointing and clearly getting ready to open and drain on its own. The main question was whether it would do so before she suffocated. An ancillary concern was the mess it would make somewhere in the house. Not a life-or-death concern, but a factor nonetheless.

There was really nothing for it but to give nature an assist by opening and draining the abscess. Fortunately, I had the knowledge, skills, and tools to do so. During my navy career I'd treated many an abscess. And we all know the close connection between sailors and dogs (keep off the grass!). After leaving the navy I'd graduated to providing medical care to livestock, and I had all of the usual tools of the trade.

So Willie went into the deep sink (small dogs are so much easier to work on than cows) and I scrubbed the site with betadine. I snapped a #20 scalpel blade onto a knife handle and prepared to cut. The abscess was pointing at the perfect location, directly on the midline and at the lowest point. This was the place to stick the knife, for it would not only drain the abscess but would also allow it to drain completely.

I poised my knife and prepared to cut. Extensive practice on lab humans had developed in me a fine surgical muscle memory. A quick but careful stroke opened a 6-7 mm incision, through which the abscess spontaneously (and nearly explosively) drained.

This brought immediate relief to Willie and she went from being very sick to tail-waggingly joyful in an instant. I irrigated the wound with water and peroxide, dabbed away the excess moisture, and put her down on the floor. She immediately scampered to the back door and barked to be let outside. On Monday Dad took her to the vet where she got a "just in case" dose of antibiotic, which she didn't really need. All better!
Not even a scar.
She's nervous about being up high on a very slick surface.


And then there was Red. Red is a three year old Border Collie. Her coloration is the red and white variation (thus her name) rather than the more usual black and white. She’s a crackerjack cow dog with amazing herding instinct and cow-smarts. She’s friendly and docile around people and is very nearly the perfect dog.
Nona and Red
Her fatal flaw is a bit of rambunctious aggressiveness when it comes to defending her territory against strange dogs. Two months ago a trio of strange dogs showed up, Red charged in, and in the resulting donnybrook she drove them off.

But she did not emerge unscathed. She wound up with three puncture wounds on her chest, and they became infected. A trip to the vet saw the wounds cleaned and irrigated and $250 worth of top shelf, long acting antibiotic injected.

All of this I got at second-hand. Red is my Dad's dog and I don't pay all that much attention to her. But I did notice, a couple of weeks later, that she was acting pretty droopy. One evening I scratched her ears and she rolled over for a good belly scratch. I didn't like what I saw. The three punctures were still present and they were all leaking pus. A bit of poking and prodding revealed the presence of an extensive abscess running from the top third of her sternum to about 2-3 cm below the xyphoid process. She also had a fever. She was pretty sick.

This was on a Friday, of course. We were pretty much on our own until the vet clinic opened on Monday. As sick as Red appeared to be I was pretty sure the bacteria were overwhelming her immune system. I wasn't any too sure she'd survive long enough to see the vet.

So. First things first. I had some injectable cow antibiotic, a third generation cephalosporin which would be effective against the most likely bacterial culprits. Now before you call katie couric and loretta lyncher, be advised that this particular antibiotic is also labeled for use in dogs. And be further advised that it was properly prescribed and dispensed by my vet to be used as labeled.

I calculated the dose and gave red a shot. The dose was 0.7 cc and could be repeated every 72 hours as needed.

Then I cleaned her wounds and copiously irrigated the abscess with a water/peroxide solution.
Rolling over for her treatment
It’s been a tough battle for Red. The antibiotic is working but the infection was extensive and the wound channel needed to heal from the inside. This required twice-daily cleaning and irrigation. After two weeks of this the vet switched the antibiotic to an oral amoxicillin.

None of this has been pleasant for Red but she's been very good about it. When I show up with the irrigating syringe she rolls over on her back and lets me get on with the job.
Getting better
As of this morning the wounds are still draining but most of the inflammation is gone and the wound channel has gone from about 60 cc volume to about 5 cc. It's healing from the inside, just as it needs to. She's not completely better, but she will be in another week or so.

Nature is master

Having won one fight with infection, and being on the verge of another victory, it would be easy to start thinking I'm pretty hotel sierra. That would be dangerous, for nature seems to abhor hubris even more than vacuum.

The wise course is to remain humble and keep in mind the fact that despite our scalpels and peroxide and antibiotics, nature is the one in charge. We can do some clever things to assist nature, but we cannot bend nature to our will. She'll often work with us, but she'll never submit.


Here's a reasonably good overview of antibiotics, how they work, and what they're used for. As with most of today's lay articles about antibiotics, this one gets hysterical about antibiotic resistance. Sometime in the next few days I'll delve into antibiotic resistance and provide some factual and non-hysterical detail.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Coffee snob alert

Firstly, the storm passed, as do all storms. It was a typical spring snowstorm, and not the blizzard reported by NWS and the climate experts of the so-called news media.

We got about three inches of snow. It started as rain at about 0300, morphed into light snow and wind about 0500, and continued for about 11 more hours. Yes the blowing snow reduced visibility and covered the roads. No, it wasn't a blizzard. There just wasn't that much snow, or that much blow, you could see to navigate, and the temperature never fell below 28 degrees. Typical spring snow storm. Nothing to get hysterical about.
During. That viz is well over a quarter-mile.

A real blizzard as defined back in the days of reality and before all-in professional victimhood had to include heavy snow and winds in excess of 50 mph producing zero to 50 yards visibility for at least 12 hours. NOAA and NWS have redefined the term blizzard over the last few years, reducing the wind speed to 35 mph, increasing visibility to a quarter-mile, and reducing the duration to three hours. Now everybody who's seen snow has been in a blizzard! Isn't that special? Now everybody can be a victim of a natural disaster and have another ready-made excuse for low self-esteem!

I don't blame NOAA and NWS. They only do what the willfully ignorant and savagely self-victimized allow them to do.
During. Very pretty. Not a blizzard.

Whoops, didn't plan that rant excursion. It just happened. Someone else's fault.

However, when the mild spring snowstorm had passed, it was right pretty out there.
Morning sunshine...from the west? Yep, reflected from a window across the street.
Cool, yes?
The drifts weren't even Nona-tall.
Horned lark and three inches of new snow.


And now, on to the main feature!

Okay, the post title is a false alarm. Just a sloppy hook to lure you in.

I'm not a coffee snob. Don't want to be a coffee snob. I just like to have really good coffee in the morning.

Howsoever, I've been putting up with crap coffee for a lot of years now. Red can columbian. I guess it's always been okay, kindasorta, more or less. It's hot and it tastes like coffee and it's got caffeine in it. Pretty bland though. 

We've got a little coffee-sammich-pizza joint in town called Java Blend. They have really, really good coffee. At least as far as I'm concerned. When I get a cup of joe there, I always get a double espresso. That's how I like my coffee, extra dark and extra coffee-strong.

I prefer, though, to get up in the morning and get coffee down my neck before I leave the humble abode. My preferred ritual is to get up, put the coffee on, conduct morning ablutions, then peruse the email queue whilst sipping a large cuppa.

I've been wondering for some time whether it would be worth the effort and expense to procure beans and a grinder. I used to do that, many moons ago, when I was shacked up with a smokin' hot chick back in my seafarin' days. I liked that coffee very much. Smokin' Hot got the coffee equipment in the settlement though, and I haven't seen a whole bean since.

The idea percolated (heh) for some time. Then a certain confluence of events occurred which seemed to indicate a path forward. First, I watched a bunch of Dances With Wolves clips on the interwebs.

I also began re-reading Nathan Lowell's Quarter Share. And finally, somewhere I stumbled across Black Rifle Coffee Company. So I decided to give it a whirl. I bought a grinder and a new coffee maker and ordered up some beans.

And it worked. Took some trial and error to find the right combination of roast and grind, but eventually I hit the sweet spot. Now I'm enjoying really good coffee every morning. Thinking about procuring an espresso machine.

I like these guys and I like their coffee. I like their gun rights advocacy. So win-win-win in my book. They're pretty funny, too.