Friday, November 21, 2014


I like the way Dr. Tom Frieden, CDC Director  (Center for Disease Control), answered the first questions we asked. His clear, calm, teacher-like way of taking his time, giving reasons and details about why Ebola would not cause an epidemic in America, were comforting.

The media attacked him, and since then, have blamed Friedan for not warning us that there would be other cases in the United States, also for not insisting that travel to and from Africa be banned.

Meanwhile, parents have been pulling kids out of schools, politicians have grabbed onto our Ebola fears, and are constantly telling-selling us that the Obama administration is indecisive, inefficient, and not protecting us.

Recently, there was a six page spread in Time Magazine -- Dr. Freiden's background and resume, along with 12 answers to the questions many of us are asking since the Ebola scare began -- with answers by highly qualified, scientific medical experts.

1. What went wrong at the CDC?  Ebola was, and still is, a new problem; the CDC explained what it knew about this deadly contagious disease, based on what information it had -- information that now is constantly being updated.

2. Could the virus (that is mutating) become airborne?  No. Ebola can't survive without a fluid (saliva, sweat, blood, feces, vomit).

3. Who quarantines a patient?  What about his legal rights? State and Federal Agencies are required to protect public health and can issue a quarantine; the burden rests with  public health officials to show sufficient justification while being as nonrestrictive  as possible.  Under federal law, a hospital cannot disclose patients' names; if an individual violates a formal quarantine order, it can be treated as a criminal offence.

4. What about experimental drugs and vaccines? None are as yet approved by the FDA; two are being tested and test results will be disclosed in December.

5. Can I get sick if I touch surfaces that were in contact with Ebola?  There is only one confirmed case of person with Ebola, who touched an Ebola patient's blanket. One should avoid touching surfaces that have been in contact with fluids from Ebola victims.

6. Should the U.S. ban travel to and from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea? Homeland Security said that stopping visas will increase the risk of infected travelers circumventing the current restrictions, and finding their way to the U.S. Instead, airline companies are ordered to ticket all travelers from these countries to one of the 5 designated airports with quarantine stations.

7. If you survive Ebola can you get it again? There is no record of survivors getting it again. The article explains that the Ebola virus is similar to Chicken Pox which makes antibodies and produces immune cells that can destroy the virus.

8. How likely is a major outbreak outside of West Africa? Slim, though countries bordering infected areas are at risk, since these countries are not equipped to manage infectious diseases.

9. How do hospitals dispose of Ebola patient's body fluids? Anything that comes in contact with the patient must be sterilized, generally with steam sterilization and/or incinerated. In some states, waste is stored in watertight containers that are carted away by contractors; fecal waste is flushed, treated with chlorine and bleach, and disposed of as hazardous waste. This varies by state; a full article could be devoted to this.

10. What's the next Ebola?  There's still Bird flu (it might be worse than Ebola.) and MERS, (Middle. Respiratory Syndrome). No vaccines have been developed.

11. Why are people freaking out? In the world's history, there have been many cases of people misunderstanding infectious disease, such as the Black Death in Europe in 1300. The Ebola frenzy seems more akin to how we grappled with HIV/AIDs in the 1980s. People generally respond in two ways -- a quick gut feeling, or more reflective thinking based on information. Though we know that flu can contribute to the death of thousands, and heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US, we are more likely to worry that we might contract this disease that has affected only a handful of people outside West Africa.

12. Is there anything I can do to help? Organizations in the stricken countries need money; Doctors Without Borders,  (Médecins Sans Frontières or MSF) and the Red cross needs money;  CDC needs donations for protective equipment, ready-to-eat meals, generators, vehicles, and motorcycles. These organization are not recruiting trainees because they would need extensive training; health care workers with experience can volunteer through USAID. Donations of $10 or more can be made to WHO (World Health Organization) by texting EBOLA 27722 which supports relief efforts in West Africa.

Here's a link to Time's "ANSWERS TO EBOLA'S HARD QUESTIONS: I have pared down some of the overlong answers; the article was helpful, but there are still "iffy" elements. Because Ebola is relatively new, CDC experts are currently gathering detailed information, making predictions as well as conjecturing, based on what is happening right now. Their answers suggest that these experts feel that knowledge, plus facts and experience, are the teachers. They are telling-selling us that decisions based on fear, create panic and chaos.

What we can do right now is learn and share what we learn, with friends and acquaintances -- near, as well as far away neighbors.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Emily Frankel remembers her delight as she looked down and saw John Cullum coming up the four flights of stairs that lead to her top floor loft. She's very surprised when John describes a completely different scene.

How and why that first visit, their first date, became him staying there--the two of them living together ever since that first date--it's a story John and Emily haven't told anyone even though it's a sweet romantic story they cherish.

Saturday, November 15, 2014


Have you thought, every so often, about writing a book?

The idea of writing a book floats in the air like a magic carpet. Golly, just about everyone I know has thought, at one time or another, I ought to write a book.

Aside from a huge desire to visit the kingdom of fame, before you write your book, you need to figure out what you want to write about.

Is it something important you want to SAY to the world?  Or a life story, an amazing adventure -- a love story, passion, addiction, compulsion -- whatever -- grab a pencil and paper and scrawl some words that remind you of various possibilities.

Hey, this could take weeks! You could use the fortuity of having read this blog, and make the list today.

After you eeny-meeny-mini-moe for awhile, pick an idea, and write the first sentence of your book. Just do it. Don't fuss over the first sentence, write it and keep writing for ten minutes.

You're on the magic carpet. It's scary, the world is rushing by above you and below you, and you could lose your balance, but it's the beginning of a marvelous ride.

Don't re-read what you wrote just now. Don't try to share it with a loved one.

I am strongly -- loudly -- advising you, do not get involved with who'll read it or whom you'll read it to, or things like punctuation, spelling, or getting it published. Just keep going at whatever pace fits in with your life.

Selling it -- the 10, 50, or 1000 pages, or whatever you have created, is opening a whole new can of peas. Trying to get your book published can smother you -- divert you from working on the next page, and the next page of your book.

Wait till you're nearing the end of your story. It's a feeling like you're out of gas, sort of sleepy, not excited, aware of books, books, books languishing on shelves, titles in ads, authors talking about books on TV -- that is the time to Google, and investigate "Help You Get Published" links, that will tell you, step by step, what you have to do to get people to read what you wrote.

Realty: It took me about two years for me to get the manuscripts for my six books into an ebook format and get them published.  I spent $5000 on formatting, and creating a website). Right now, after two years online, I have earned about $300.  (You can format and make a website yourself; I could afford to buy help -- my successful actor-husband supports me in a style to which I am happily accustomed.)

This is how I feel sometimes as I read about other authors and their best-seller books, as I am trying to sell mine.

Even do, it's a uniquely fabulous adventure! I'm proud of me! I'm delighted I did it!

My advice:

Just get on the carpet, get going, do it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Have you ever ridden in a driverless car? The idea has always seemed unreal, but today, the passengers in that car could be me and my husband.

Some partly "quasi" driverless "autonomous" cars date back to the 1920s and the 1930s. At the 1939 World's Fair, a street intersection in the City of the Future had autonomous cars. Since the 80's, significant advances have been made in technology and autonomous vehicles are being developed by Mercedes-Benz, General Motors, Nissan, Toyota, Audi, Volvo, as well as in Germany, Switzerland, and Google's project farm, in Frisco.

Google's Self-Driving Car project created the robotic vehicle "Stanley," winning a $2 million prize from the U. S. Department of Defense. Meanwhile, Nevada, Florida, and California have passed laws permitting the operation of autonomous cars.

Currently, Google is working on a Toyota Prius that will have neither steering wheel nor pedals -- just  $150,000 in equipment including a $70,000 radar system, with a range finder that enables the vehicle to generate 3D maps that can be combined with other high-resolution maps of the world, and produce data that allow it to drive itself (or utilize computation from remote computer farms in the area.)
The Google test group is composed of ten cars, (six Toyota Prius, one Audi, and three Lexus' -- each car operates with a Google engineer in the passenger seat. They are being tested on San Francisco's steep hairpin turns, city traffic, on the Golden Gate Bridge, and around Lake Tahoe. The cars drive at the speed limit stored on its maps; they maintain their distance from other vehicles using sensors; the group has done over 700,000 accident-free miles. Though Google says it has no immediate plans to manufacture cars, it plans to develop a business which would market the system and the data behind it to automobile manufacturers.

"No immediate plans"-- hah -- that  means it's going to happen very soon.

I think I'd be nervous, traveling in a car without a driver, but this video tells  me it's going to be fun, safer than driving, and very convenient.