Bubble in the desert

A blog I started whilst on a GE "Bubble" assignment in Nevada. I'm back in Cambridge (UK) now but still miss the desert and my friends out there.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

200th blog entry

Not the best day.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Bird Flu Pandemic

I've been reading a lot about bird flu this week and am surprised at the attitude of some of the authorities as they play it down. I think people would be wise to start to make some basic preparations for what they will do if a flu pandemic breaks out.

One of the most basic things that will happen in the event of a pandemic is that people will not go to work. So, imagine what happens when none of us goes to work. It might we wise to have a few spare tins of food at home, some stored water and a few basics (like a torch and some batteries). No need to go beserk. People in New Zealand are more self sufficient than any other group I have ever met and they routinely have an emergency preparedness kits in the house.

Here are a few things I've jotted down about bird flu today and some useful links.

Bird flu should not just be a concern to people working in poultry, people eating chicken or people in Asia. A human flu pandemic flu stemming from bird flu is a real possibility that we need to be aware of. We've had a bird flu pandemic before.

The 1918 Spanish Flu spread fast, globally, and killed 40 million people. Recent studies of the lungs of people who died and were buried in ice have led to the belief that this flu was also a bird flu. Birds are thought the most likely means of the virus spreading quickly too ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4350050.stm )

These days we have air travel so we will much more effectively spread another pandemic flu. Predictions for a new pandemic are between 2 - 50 million deaths worldwide ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/3422839.stm )

Bird flu has so far affected around 204 people and has killed 113 (http://www.fluwikie.com/pmwiki.php?n=Main.TourLevelI ). Human to human transmission is so far rare among these cases, most have caught the disease directly from birds.

There is a perception that so far only birds have caught the flu. This is incorrect, it has already spread to some mammals including civets, tigers, leopards, domestic cats, ferrets and mice http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4920546.stm . Genetically we are not that different from other mammals.

One of the biggest initial effects of such a flu pandemic are that people don't show up for work. It will not be a case of business as usual. People should be aware of this situation and think it through. There is what seems like good advice online at
http://www.pandemicflu.gov/plan/tab3.html the planning checklist. The Red Cross has some useful Emergency Preparedness guidelines too. Fluwikie also has a useful preparedness guidehttp://www.fluwikie.com/pmwiki.php?n=Consequences.PandemicPreparednessGuides. An interesting article is Preparing for the Coming Influenza Pandemic by Gratton Woodson and is quite a sobering read.

I don't see any need to panic but I think people should start to realize that this is a real threat and start to think about storing a few extra tins of food away, and thinking about storing a little water too.

Running and Cycle racing

I finally managed to run the whole distance with Dennis and Jim today at lunch, a little over 7 miles. On the way back they were chatting easily at 8 minute mile pace and I was struggling a bit. Over the last mile after we left Jim, I said to Dennis not to wait for me and he really didn't - he shot off at about 6:20 pace! I averaged 8:28 pace, not great and it felt hard too. It's awesome to run around here though. Apparently this terrain is called 'Step' not desert, since it has a bit more bush. We saw some big birds flying around, one which we first thought was a Golden Eagle but turned out to be a Red Tailed Hawk (still impressive but very common).

But later we spied a Turkey Vulture, which I had not seen here before. They look a little ugly (my Gran would've hated to see them!) but they were very impressive to see.

The run was probably not ideal preparation for my first ever time trial at Genoa with Alta Alpina. As a complete novice I set off 7th in catgory D. We went 15 seconds apart and I think by the time I cross the line I had just overtaken all the Ds and 3 of the Cs had stuck it to me in impressive style. Very enjoyable but I still am not sure how to ride something like 15 miles quickly. The ride was quite varied but mainly with swoopy hills and wind against to start. Coming back was very quick, I noticed 35mph a few times with the wind behind me. On this quiet country road we had a variety of things to think about, skateboarders in the road going downhill, skateboarders hanging on to a car going up hill (dodgey), fast motorcycles and about 6 flighty deer hangin around at the side of the road. All great fun, and very well organized, a very impressive club and what seems like a friendly crowd, amongst them some pretty serious cyclists.

I wonder what time I did...

Monday, April 17, 2006

Amy keeps feeding me

My blog is a bit out of date but one thing of note this month has been good food. Amy is experimenting with veggie and wheat free cooking on me. Very good experiments too. My favourite has been from Nigel Lawson’s cookbook involving egg plant (aubergine), tomatoes, cheese and all kinds of stuff. Awesome but followed by an awesome wheat free chocolate cake.

I’ve been fed about 3 times recently and each time Amy packs me up with some food for the next night too.

I have attempted to repay this in a small way by introducing them to Marmite, the English yeast spread (Oz version is vegemite). After sampling this delicacy by shoving a finger in the pot Scott said, “I’d rather lick my dog’s ass than eat that”. So, I made a starter for one of the meals, which suffered badly on the appearance scale, but which presented Marmite in its most favourable light – on bread with peanut butter; with Philadelphia cheese; and with lettuce. Well they ate it but I don’t think it will ever become their favourite thing. You could say that I'm probably still in debt!