August 29, 2009

My Ted Kennedy Story

February 1975. I'm a kid sitting at the Brodie Mtn. ski lodge in Massachusetts with an un-set just-broken right ankle. The first aid people had misdiagnosed my injury, slapped an Ace bandage on me, and sent me on my way. Since the ankle isn't immobilized, I can move my foot, which causes great pain. I've got the foot propped up on a table. I'm waiting for the rest of my group to finish their day of skiing (no cell phones that day), & feeling sorry for myself.

All of a sudden, Senator Ted Kennedy and his son, Ted Jr., walk by. Teddy Jr., not much older than me, is on crutches with 1 leg. It's a little over a year since Teddy lost his right leg to cancer. He's going skiing on the remaining leg, using those poles with the little skis at the bottom.

Talk about changing your state of mind. I learned a few lessons in that moment. Lesson 1: there's always someone in more misfortune than you. Lesson 2: sometimes, the less fortunate person is someone who you thought was more fortunate than you. Lesson 3: if someone's misfortune doesn't stop them, don't let yours stop you. Lesson 4: quit whining.

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August 14, 2009

My Earthquake Kit

While others obsess over phony health care protests, we in Southern California have a genuine health concern: earthquakes. Scientists predict that there is more than a 99 percent chance that a major earthquake will strike California within the next 30 years. I have felt at least four earthquakes in less than three years in Southern California and, in contrast to the reactions of many jaded natives, I do not find them amusing. Accordingly, I have done something to prepare for the next big earthquake.

In addition to the supplies I keep in my home -- water, canned food, candles, flashlights, hand-crank radio, simple plug-in telephone (note that cordless phones that require electricity will not work if the power goes out, even if the telephone lines still work), I have purchased a separate "earthquake kit" for my car. The kit arrived the other day from Emergency Essentials. I was most impressed with the very secure packaging in which the kit arrived. The list of the kit's contents can be found here.

Since the emergency kit seemed to be short on food, I also ordered a bunch of military-style Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) from the same company. Chicken and dumplings, mmmm. I also tossed in a jar of peanut butter, and will add some food bars and other snacks. My theory is that, in most cases. I will need no more than 3 days' worth of food and water for a couple of people (although I have considerably more water than that) before some help arrives. Emergency Essentials' website even contains a chart indicating how long the MREs can be expected to last in various temperatures. Even in the trunk of my car in California summers, I can expect the MREs not to expire for more than 4 years.

Hopefully, I will throw out many sets of expiring MREs before ever having to use them!

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