Residential Space A creative outlet during residency, turned ongoing virtual soap box

CNN sensationalizes TB news story  0

Posted on May 31st, 2007. About News and Politics.

I know this comes as quite a shock, but it is possible that CNN may have sensationalized a news story. Yes, it’s true – please, calm yourselves from the shock.

A man with a drug-resistant form of tuberculosis, who flew internationally this past week – therefore, causing quite a stir as authorities attempt to identify people who may have been exposed. This afternoon, NPR informed me on my drive home that this man flew with his fiancee to Europe to get married. While in Europe, he had a chest x-ray done as part of a workup for a rib injury, and it was discovered incidentally on the film that he had a lung nodule concerning for tuberculosis. A workup revealed that he had the disease – otherwise, at least according to NPR (who seemed to have done a very thorough job of investigating this story) he has been asymptomatic. He was cautioned not to travel, but proceeded to fly back to the US via Canada, and was later detained once he reached Atlanta. He was not sent to Atlanta because the CDC is there – he lives there. What is even more intriguing, his now father-in-law works for the CDC, researching tuberculosis, prompting questions of whether this was the route for exposure to an unusual strain. One of the physicians treating him in Colorado (he has been transferred for further care) was actually on NPR, stating that she expected him to make a full recovery.

So, with this in mind, I’m thinking – okay, it’s probably unlikely that others on the plane contracted the disease from him. He’s asymptomatic – does not have a cough, so it’s likely not going to be transferred to others. Wow, everyone must be breathing a sigh of relief.

Then, I saw this on CNN’s homepage:

“The man infected with potentially fatal tuberculosis is an Atlanta, Georgia, lawyer whose father-in-law works at the Centers for Disease Control.”

Okay – I’m not suggesting that NPR is the perfect, all-knowing, and infallible news agency, or that CNN is totally terrible, but my guess is that CNN has dramatized this a bit. What NPR has reported makes sense – and since he just flew from Europe to North America and no one realized he was sick until after he left the plane, my guess is that he did not appear “potentially fatal” to others. My guess is also that others on the plane are not going to die from being around this man. It does seem that the goal is to instill fear with the “potentially fatal tuberculosis” phrase. ALL tuberculosis is potentially fatal. All INFECTIONS are potentially fatal.

Sometimes I wish the news agencies could report the facts, and leave the editorializing to those of us who can develop our own opinions. Because of coverage such as this, one of my close family members has already expressed her discontent over my travelling to Wisconsin with my baby in August because there are “people with tuberculosis on airplanes.”

A Total Waste  1

Posted on May 30th, 2007. About Ramblings.

My drive home from the VA Hospital on Memorial Day has sparked this particular rant. I stopped at a red light, and sat for two minutes (at least), watching a woman spray the same area on her sidewalk with water from a garden hose. Granted, there were some leaves on the sidewalk, and they were moving somewhat in response to being sprayed with water. I guess it must be WAY more efficient to spray the same patch of concrete for minutes at a time rather than, say, using a tool to manually move the leaves aside within seconds. If only such a tool existed…with a long handle for gripping, and bristles at its base for clearing debris. Alas, people like this poor woman have no choice but to suffer higher water bills while wasting clean water, to keep the sidewalks cleared.


Southern Barbecue Rules!  0

Posted on May 29th, 2007. About Ramblings.

The other point upon which I would like to elaborate from my trip to South Carolina is that the Carolinas produce the greatest barbecue in the nation. And not in the way the fireworks stand in Gaffney, SC is the “world’s largest fireworks store in the world!” as I outlined in a recent post. Truly, barbecue in this region just cannot be beat. Okay, if there was a competition among various regional barbecue styles for “lowest LDL and highest HDL content,” then Carolina barbecue would go down in flames, but in terms of flavor, texture, and most delicious way to cook an unclean animal – wow!

Carolina pork barbecue is not the tangy tomato stuff that comes from Texas. Its base is comprised of the perfect vinegar-mustard blend, giving it punch while also allowing it to seep into the meat at its finest grain. The closest barbecue to this I have found in Seattle is served at the Bourbon and Barbecue Grill in Ballard, but I have not looked extensively. After my recent vacation, though, I may have to look harder as I’m not sure I can wait until my next trip to SC to enjoy it.

So anyway – starting in junior high school, I always looked forward to the track meets and football games at Batesburg-Leesville High School, because it meant a trip to Shealy’s for barbecue beforehand. Shealy’s is an establishment – a pinnacle of Southern cuisine. Basically, you wait in a line, pay for the buffet, pile food onto your plate, and then sit at an indoor picnic table that feels more like a fellowship hall of a small church than a restaurant. Then, the waitresses keep your glass full of sweet tea so that sugar can rival fat content in the food. As my friend Austin said on our recent trip there, “There’s no atmosphere!” It’s true – people just go there to stuff themselves, and it’s awesome.

The food is exquisite, though! Between the pulled pork barbecue (of course, marinated with vinegar and mustard), cream-style corn, and biscuits with gravy sits the one item very difficult to find outside of the region – hash. A big scoop of it over a pile of rice is unbeatable. I was always told it is made from the “remaining parts of the pig.” As long as I may live in Seattle or any other city, I know I was brought up in the South when I am able to scoop mounds of this stuff onto a plate and savour it.

I was so very proud of Evan. For nearly ten years we have been together, and he had never been to Shealy’s, although I had spoken of the place not infrequently. In bringing him there, I was concerned that its reputation may exceed what he would find enjoyable about the food, but he was quite pleased, even returning to the buffet for seconds (and, of course, enjoying sweet tea with the rest of us). I realized that I had not been to Shealy’s in seven years – the most recent time was in 2000, when I was being fitted for a bridesmaid’s dress by a seamstress in Leesville in order to stand in Austin’s wedding.

Here is a plate of Shealy’s barbecue (mine, in this case):


Starting at 11:00 and going clockwise: cream-style corn, pulled pork barbecue, roll, hash over rice, “butterbeans,” and green beans.

And Evan, during his first trip to Shealy’s:


What a trooper!

Views on Gasoline in South Carolina  0

Posted on May 28th, 2007. About Uncategorized.

In my previous blog post, I highlighted some of the stand-out observations from my recent trip to South Carolina. The gasoline issue was worth expounding upon.

  • During the time we were in Charleston, SC, the lowest gasoline prices in the nation could be found in – you guessed it – Charleston, SC. This was clearly stated on the local news channels there, so the locals do actually recognize that they are paying less for gas than the rest of us.
  • Despite my first observation, every night, the local 6:00 news channels devoted an amazing amount of time to “rising gas prices” and how expensive gas has become.
  • After the reporters bemoaned how much gas is costing people of the Lowcountry, they would transition to a segment during which a different journalist would stand in front of a Charleston map, highlighting points where gas could be purchased at the cheapest prices. My friend’s husband calls the segment “The Pump Finder.”
  • There are still gazillions of SUVs and trucks on the roads there! In Columbia and in the upstate, it was even more prominent. We would count the number of compact cars from time to time, and with each sampling the number of trucks/SUVs dramatically overpowered the quantity of compacts (or any other sedans, for that matter).
  • The local radio shows are not encouraging alternative fuels, riding bicycles, or better public transportation, but rather – how to get more oil, ie) drilling in Alaska, or building more refineries. This is what we call – missing the point.

That being said, I was pleased to see Charleston’s mayor, Joe Riley, on a news broadcast, discussing the implementation of bike lanes around the city, including from West Ashley to downtown Charleston (I wanted these during all four years I lived in West Ashley while I was in medical school). Better late than never, I suppose. I was also pleased that Charleston finally passed the 1/2–cent sales tax increase for road and transportation improvement. I voted for it in 2004, but it barely lost at that point. Perhaps enough bicycle enthusiasts have moved to the area now, or maybe enough motorists grew frustrated with puncturing tires on crater-sized potholes and realized they would have to pay to have them fixed.

South Carolina is different!  1

Posted on May 27th, 2007. About Ramblings.

What a vague title, eh?

Evan and I made the journey across the country to South Carolina for one last trip home before the little one arrives in July. There were so many elements to the vacation that are easily blogable. I’ll begin with the prominent differences that struck me when I was back on Southern soil.

  • Billboards: Wow, are there a lot of billboards in the Carolinas! I honestly never recognized this throughout the first 26 years of my life, but after living on the West Coast for two years, it is astonishing to return to the area and to see huge ad after huge ad while driving down an interstate highway. I don’t know what else to say, other than there just do not seem to be that many in the Seattle-area. Even when driving down to Oregon there is the occasional billboard, but still…
  • Superlatives: On these billboards, as well as signs for businesses, the superlatives selected for advertising are hilarious. Examples include: “World’s largest fireworks store in the world!” or “World’s largest fireworks selection in the world!” or “Nation’s largest furniture sale!” or “Nation’s largest home sale” (this sign outside of a pre-fab home center). Just think – you can get all of this near Gaffney, South Carolina.
  • Southern Accents: I used to think that people overstated the intensity of Southern accents, but goodness – it is fun to hear them after living in a fairly accent-less area for two years. I really enjoyed conversing with Carolinians (including several of my good friends!) and appreciating the magnitude of their accents. I wonder if I have lost part of my accent, or if mine was mild initially, but the accents of others sounded unremarkable because I was surrounded by them my entire life. This was a particularly fun part of my trip, though!
  • Heat: During our first full day back in the Palmetto State, we walked around Greenville, SC’s beautiful downtown, and while the temperature was only in the 80s, I was completely overwhelmed by the heat. Perhaps part of this was being 32 weeks pregnant, or perhaps I have lost my ability to acclimate to Carolina heat. This was only May – who knows how I would handle August!
  • Gas Prices: That is to say, they are super low in South Carolina, compared to the rest of the country, yet the outrage is quite high. Stay tuned for a blog post dedicated to this observation, and the reaction of local consumers.
  • Cake frosting: Southerners still use trans-saturated fats in creating their icing, and man, is it oh-so-scrumptious!
  • Barbecue: Carolina barbecue is still the best. More on this in an upcoming post as well. 
  • Iced Tea: I’m grateful this sweet nectar is not available in Seattle, or else I would be in grave danger of becoming diabetic. It is so tempting, and so satisfying!

Jesus Camp  0

Posted on May 13th, 2007. About Entertainment, News and Politics, Ramblings.

Evan and I watched Jesus Camp over the weekend – a documentary featuring children as they experience evangelical camp, during which they are further taught to speak in tongues, that abortion at any stage is murdering innocent babies, and to lay down their lives for the religious beliefs they carry.

I will not elaborate much, because I will fail to adequately describe the situation, but video footage is worth viewing. I think what stands out to me the most is how very isolated these children are. They are home-schooled, and the only other children with whom they associate are the kids at their fundamentalist churches or at their summer camps. They pass around plastic fetuses, but there is no mention of sexual education or how these babies were created. Adults are not teaching children to respect God’s beautiful planet, but they believe Global Warming is a farce.

The part I found the most amusing was the footage of Rev. Ted Haggard preaching at his church in Colorado. Of course, the film was made before we knew what is now known – that Haggard paid a male prostitute for sex and was purchasing drugs (that he never actually used, or so he says). It’s okay, though, because now he has repented, and his church has forgiven him (although not reinstated him as their minister).

So anyhow, after watching these young children dropping to their knees in tears, speaking in tongues, and telling the adult filmmakers what truth really is, I looked at Evan and said, “You know, we really need to have a LOT of children.”

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