Love the Police, Hate the Police

Let’s see what this post does for my popularity.

Recently a local cop was featured in the news for being investigated and charged criminally. Immediately, the public “experts” are running their mouths. Both about this guys presumed guilt, but also how cops, none of them, can be trusted.

Cops are always in the news. For good and for bad. Always. They bring in ratings. And don’t kid yourselves. In this highly competitive 1000 channel world, the news organization with the best story makes the money. Come up with a better, juicier story, and you sell your channel. That’s the bottom line.

What’s the result? When cops make mistakes, being human, they are paraded out in public to be beaten down BEFORE convicted. And their peers, who go to work, stand the line, serve and protect, get pulled into the fray.

Question to ponder. If the UPS or Purolator driver gets charged with DUI, does that mean that all drivers for those companies are drunks? It appears not. Papers don’t even pick that stuff up. Why? Read up. It don’t sell. But make it a scandal, make big inflated claims, and just watch the ratings soar.

Resulting from the media slant (sales), is the public, God love them, sheep being led to the slaughter, believing the hype and running their mouths on social media. Not a clue of what they are posting, retweeting, sharing or otherwise propagating. There seems to be some correlation between a single person being charged or investigated and the integrity of the entire collective population.

Let be honest and ask ourselves. Does any other profession suffer this? If a delivery driver runs over a pedestrian, does every driver get pegged a killer? If a doctor touches a patient in a “bad place”, is every doc a diddler? If a grocery clerk steals, is every store clerk a thief? Nope. Nope. Nope.

Remember one VERY important fact folks. In spite of this, when you’re in need and dial 911, they will arrive to save the day. Every faux corrupt one of them. Guaranteed.

I challenge anyone critical to be honest and assess whether they would survive the scorn and ridicule and general disrespect that “good people” laud upon them? I suspect not.

Be vigilant, have oversight, but be fair. It’s easy to criticize with limited information. The mob mentality runs rampant in social media. One mouthpiece shares their opinion and many pick that up as fact.

Parting thought. Don’t like how the police protect YOU? Feel free to pin on a badge and strap on a vest and gun belt and stand the line. Let’s see how good the view is from the not cheap seats.


Autistic Kids: The Square Peg

I saw this pic on my IG feed this morning:

Its not the first time I have seen this exact pic or read the meme enclosed in it, but it got me to thinking, “How do we prepare our kids for the world that is very much like that hammer in the pic?”

I know a young lad, who has, what I like to refer to as “a touch of Aspergers.” He is delightfully quirky. Intelligent as all can be, funny as f***, and wise well beyond his years. Scarily so.

I often refer to him as a 70 year old trapped in a teen body. Why is that? Cause he has one way of doing things; his way. Heaven help those who don’t play by those rules.

So how does he prepare to head out into that unforgiving world of hammers and round holes? Thats the million dollar question. If you ask the “experts”, they suggest that the world will somehow accommodate him. Wrong. We all know how the world favors the majority.

Its a challenge to slowly get him to accept other opinions, methods, options, strategies. Hes pretty good at once he is “guided” (read, pushed) into trying something new, of assimilating it into his practice. You need to be smart though. Not fool him, as such, but finesse the situation that he wants to try it.

Rest assured, he still has his way of doing things. Sometimes elegant, sometimes awkward, but always his. I envy his ability to be like Sinatra and do it “his way.”

I hope that he will keep exploring with guidance, new ways to tackle problems. But hey, like Huey Lewis sang, “Its Hip To Be Square.”


Praising Older Kids

We have two different sub-generations of children in this house. We have a daughter thats 16, son thats 14 and two sons that are 8 . This brings new adventures as well as new challenges. Like most parenting, not every challenge is anticipated before it happens!

We are very fortunate that our daughter is very mature for her 16 years. She helps out above and beyond, she is opinionated as f***, and very wise. As such, sometimes its hard to remember she is one of the children too and our job of nurturing is not over.

As they get more independant, parents are no longer checking kitbags, writing in journals, asking about marks, at least as much as they used to. Its part of allowing the child more independence, however, it reduces the feedback that every child and every adult needs. (Hmm, Maslow, maybe?)

A few weeks ago, I scolded her about the condition of her bedroom. Lets just say its a “busy” decor. As I was lecturing, per the instructions in the parenting handbook, she put up her hand. As I stopped speaking, she said, “Dad, I don’t do drugs, no booze, and you never have to wonder where I am out running around, so how about we don’t worry about my room?” (I said she was outspoken!)

I had no reply to that. She was correct. I cannot expect perfection, and she is pretty close to the mark. My reply? “You are correct. Thank you for being a great kid. Carry on.”

Today as I was drinking my morning coffee at the counter, I looked across the kitchen and spied this, attached to the fridge:

Funny, we seldom have tests on the fridge. What’s more important that the tests themselves us the mark on each one, 87% and 93%. Grade 11 Physics and Math. I considered myself fairly well off with these subjects in school, but never got marks like that.

I thought to myself, “Did I tell her ‘Good Work’ on those?” Not being able to remember, I assume the answer is no. Bad dad.

So, I write this entry, both to publically (my limited exposure) congratulate her, and to remind other parents, your kids are never too old to praise, never too old to hug, never too old to reward and make feel special. Celebrate the wins, don’t fret the challenges, forget MOST of the losses.

Good work, B! Dad is proud of you.


The Neurological Gluten Connection

Many words have been written of late about gluten this and gluten that, or gluten free and gluten sensitive. In some cases, gluten-free lifestyle has become the new “froo-froo” way to be, which sometimes serves only to weaken the case for those truly suffering from gluten sensitivity and Celiac.

What I am going to write, is by no means a thesis on the topic. Only the ramblings of an observer to someone who suffers from this (legitimately) and has done some reading to better understand this existence.

Most of the research and writing it seems, on the “glutenitis” (as I like to call it), is about the gut disturbances and such. The upset bellies, pain, and of course the unpleasant trips to the loo. Much less seems to be out there about the neurologic aspect to it all.

Much to my own surprise, after 15 years in EMS, I had never seen personally or heard of a case of neurologic dysfunction secondary to gluten exposure. As such, one summer day, when faced with a friend suffering from slurred speech, left sided weakness and accompanied tremors, it “must” be a stroke, or at the very least, a TIA. Well, after a visit from local EMS, a drive in an ambulance, examination, CT and the battery of first line neurologic tests which showed nothing short of a miraculous recovery, the peanut gallery was stumped as to what had happened.

Early in my career, I realized sometimes even better than a thorough physical examination, a complete probing examination of history, both past medical and situational histories, shed a light on the cause of a patient’s presentation. In this case, in the 4-5 days prior to this stroke like presentation was a relatively decent exposure to gluten. in the form of, all things, pepperoni.

I take great interest in this episode, as I may have played a direct part in the exposure, well meaning as it was. Long denied a favorite treat, I thought I had located a source of pepperoni made without any wheat or other gluten sources. My friend, when presented with this seldom treat, indulged. Within short, they determined that in fact, the clerk at the deli was wrong and the pepperoni was indeed made with wheat binders. The inevitable occurred within short, followed by this frightening experience a few days later.

Enough of the story. How does this occur? Well, my friends…

For the purposes of this rant, I am, quite unprofessionally, directly copying, what I read in the article:

“All in Your Head: Ataxia and Untreated Gluten Sensitivity” by Alicia Woodward, GLUTEN FREE AND MORE

Gluten Ataxia

Gluten ataxia, a disorder of the immune system, belongs to the same spectrum of gluten sensitivity as celiac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis. In these conditions, a heightened sensitivity to gluten, the protein in wheat, barley and rye, creates an increased level of allergy-fighting antibodies (specifically, anti gliadin IgG and IgA) that turn on the body and attack it.

Symptoms of gluten sensitivity can be numerous and vary widely from individual to individual. Generally speaking, celiac disease is evidenced in the gut by damage to the small bowel. Dermatitis herpetiformis is evidenced on the skin by an itchy rash. With gluten ataxia, the focus of disease activity is in the brain, specifically the cerebellum, the center that controls coordination and complex movements like walking, speaking and swallowing. Often, the peripheral nerves located outside the spinal cord are also involved, leading to chronic and progressive neuropathy, a disease affecting the nervous system that results in feelings of numbness, tingling or pain.

Ataxia means clumsiness or loss of coordination. Symptoms of gluten sensitivity with neurologic manifestations are slurred speech, loss of coordination in upper and lower limbs, difficulty with normal walking, ocular problems, chronic headaches. It may affect the fingers and hands, the arms or legs, the body, speech or eye movements. In children and young adults, gluten ataxia can also cause developmental delay, diminished muscle tone, learning disorders and ADHD.

Recent studies indicate that gluten ataxia is a common cause of sporadic idiopathic (of unknown origin) ataxia, accounting for up to 40 percent of cases. Yet despite its prevalence, the disease isn’t well known and diagnosis is frequently missed. The reason? Doctors often look for gastrointestinal distress before they will consider the possibility of gluten sensitivity.

“Gluten ataxia is out there but so few of us have seen it—or perhaps recognized it,” Schwarz says. “If you see a patient who has malabsorption problems, they can’t tolerate this or can’t tolerate that, if they have gastrointestinal complaints along with neurologic symptoms, then you order the antibody tests. Yet most patients I see with neurologic manifestations of gluten intolerance don’t have a lot of GI symptoms, if any.”

According to a 2003 study published in Brain, gastrointestinal symptoms are present in only 13 percent of patients with gluten ataxia. “It’s been estimated that for every one patient with celiac disease who presents with GI complaints, there are seven patients with celiac disease who have no GI symptoms …. Only a proportion of patients presenting with neurological dysfunction association with gluten sensitivity will also have GI symptoms.”

The bottom line is that gluten sensitivity can be primarily—and at times exclusively—a neurologic disease.

“This is a disease that’s difficult to diagnose unless you maintain a low threshold of suspicion,” Schwarz says.

The blood panel to screen for gluten ataxia is the same used to ascertain gluten sensitivity. It measures the anti gliadin antibodies (IgG and IgA) circulating in the blood, along with the endomysium and tissue transglutaminase antibodies. “A small bowel biopsy is not needed if symptoms are neurologic and antibodies are positive,” Schwarz says.

“If antibody results come back positive, I’ll send the patient to a gastroenterologist to do a small bowel biopsy to check for classic changes attributable to celiac disease, but even if this is normal, I will still recommend a six-month trial on a gluten-free diet,” Schwarz says.

Research by Dr. Marios Hadjivassiliou and colleagues published in Brain in 2003 states, “…. IgG antigliadin antibodies by definition remain the best diagnostic marker for gluten ataxia.”

Again, I make no claim that this is my work, but thank you Ms. Woodward for explaining it so succinctly.

The most amazing part in the entire clip is the statistic is that the VAST majority of patients with this disease which has been, for me at least a, GI thing, HAVE NO GI complaints!! Who would have thought? Little did I know that is was so much more neurological in nature. I suspect that the general public is in the same boat as this humble observer.

I share this bit of trivia and study to shed light on what is an elusive diagnosis. If you read the entire article, you learn that the patient in that case went to 4 neurologists for a diagnosis that made sense. My friend went to their GP, a neurologist, GI specialist, and finally a rheumatologist before determined that they were not going crazy, but, in fact, suffering from a real thing.

Humbling that this know it all can still be taught something after all these years.

Keep reading, keep asking, keep learning.


Happy Pi Day

Is this a thing? Pi day? How have I not heard of this before?? Well, I did some research (Google, thank you for not making me work too hard for it!), and yep, its a thing.

It is rather fortuitous, because as I was setting up this blog and thinking, “whatever will I write about?”, I knew the Raspberry Pi’s would have to be a common theme, since they form a good portion of my geekdom.

These little gadgets are amazing. For not so much money ($50), they give you a platform to create many wonderful things. So far, I have toyed with the following projects with the Pi:

  • DSTAR Hotspot
  • DSTAR Gateway on a hill far away
  • ADS-B Receiver
  • Torrent Box
  • APRS Transceiver

Some of these projects have lasted (DSTAR, ADS-B, APRS), others have been a been there, done that kind of thing.

The DSTAR projects allow me and fellow hams locally connect to other hams far away, like we are sitting in the next room. What, for generations,used to require stringing antennas across a backyard to the ire of a loving wives that shook their heads at their geek hubbies, we can now do the same with smaller projects that don’t devalue the property value!

So, if you are technically inclined and looking for a fun platform to experiment with, take a look at these machines. And even though I speak of them like a guy who just discovered water, they are not new. Just something new for me to write about!


First hike of 2017

Due to a fundraising endevour which I will write about in a future blog, I’m developing an interest in hiking.

All of my adult fitness interests have always included some form of running. As I age, I question if the pounding of running (which I have never embraced, BTW) is something I want to continue to do.

Hiking offers the fitness. Both mental and physical. Fresh air and outdoors and nature. How can that be bad?

Well, to that end, I grabbed my naive hiking partner, Poppy, and off we went to take a look at late winter on the Centennial and Lahave River trails.

She wasn’t really sure what to think about it at first, but she fell into it like she’s been on the trail her whole life.

We went for almost 50 minutes and about 4.5Km. (Out and back).

Then went home and made a killer supper. Just sayin’