What to do with Unused Medications

It happens to many of us. You open a cupboard or medicine cabinet and realize there are medications that are no longer used or have expired. If the medications are a year old or longer then they have lost their potency. How do you get rid of them safely? Here are a few tips:

  • The safest way to dispose of medications is through the DEA-registered ‘Take Back’ program. Collection sites are at local hospitals and clinics. Visit the DEA’s website for possible mail-in options or call 1-800-882-9539.
  • Check the fda.org for a list of safe disposal by flushing medications.
  • Before throwing the medications away, check the label to see if that drug has specific disposal instructions. Failure to do so could cause harm to others.
  • If all else fails, throw the medications in the trash mixed with kitty litter or dirt. This reduces the chance of animals or children ingesting them.
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Bright Red Sun

I woke up this morning to the smell of a fire. The sun was bright red and the air smoky. Ashes covered my deck. As I looked around, ashes were falling from the sky. I turned on the news and found out 410 hwy. was closed because of firefighters containing a fire at Crystal Mountain area. There was already a forest fire in Cle Elum. The wind carried the smoke and ash over the mountains and into Auburn and surrounding areas.

This has been the driest summer Washington has ever had.

1897 Women’s Survival Kit

The following suggestions were made to women in order to survive in the Klondike. The women that were strong and stubborn that followed their husbands, fathers and brothers in the fever for gold complied this survival kit.  I found it interesting and I decided to share it.

Women must be properly clothed and equipped for the trip to the interior. The most important item is proper footwear. Some women have worn shoes that are three times larger than one’s foot. It is not necessary. Get a shoe that fits. If the sole is not very heavy, have an extra one added. Moccasins can be purchased from the Indians. The tall bicycle shoe with extra sole would make an excellent walking shoe. A pair of rubbers fitted to these might come in handy during the rainy season. A woman should start out with these items:

  • 1 pair house slippers
  • 1 pair knitted slippers
  • 1 pair heavy soled walking shoes
  • 1 pair Arctics
  • 1 pair felt boots
  • 1 pair German socks
  • 1 pair heavy gum boots
  • 1 pair ice creepers
  • 3 pair heavy wool stockings
  • 3 pair summer stockings

A ready-sewed tick would be nice to have, for it can be filled with dried moss and makes a good pioneer mattress. Also 1 feather pillow, 1 rubber blanket, 1 piece of canvas, and 3 or 4 wool blankets would make a snug bed. Some people have tried sleeping bags and have been disappointed in them. A piece of canvas 5 x 14 feet can take its place. Fold half of the canvas on the ground, place your bedding on it, and draw the other half over you. Thus you are protected from the dampness and the wind. If you are caught in a blizzard without a tent, you can stretch the canvas over a pole and have a temporary tent.

In the way of wearing apparel, a woman can get by in comfort with these items:

  • 1 good dress
  • 1 suit heavy mackinaw, waist, and bloomers
  • 1 summer suit
  • 3 short skirts of heavy duck or denim to wear over bloomers
  • 3 suits winter underwear
  • 3 suits summer underwear
  • 1 chamois undervest
  • 1 long sack nightdress made of flannel or elderdown
  • 1 cotton nightdress
  • 2 pair Arctic mittens
  • 1 pair heavy wool gloves
  • 1 cap
  • 1 Arctic hood
  • 1 hat with brim broad enough to hold mosquito netting away from face
  • 1 summer dress
  • 3 aprons
  • 2 wrappers
  • 2 shirt waists
  • snow glasses
  • summer gloves to protect from mosquitoes
  • satchel

When an Alaskan outfit is packed down in a canvas bag, it takes too long to search for what you need. Try using 3 canvas bags instead. One can be used for the bedding, another for the wearing apparel, and the last for foot wear. It makes unpacking and repacking unnecessary.

A good-sized mess box with a hinge cover and lock, containing enough food for the trip will be a great convenience and avoids the extra work of opening sacks and boxes at every camp. Some camp sites have commissary departments to purchase items such as butter and evaporated eggs. These items are useful in your mess box:

  • flour
  • bacon
  • salt
  • yeast
  • pepper
  • rice
  • beans
  • sugar
  • cornmeal
  • dried fruits
  • baking powder
  • condensed cream
  • beef extract
  • pilot bread
  • canned meats
  • chocolate

I wonder how those women carried all those belongings, don’t you?IMG_0848

 

 

Aurora’s Light Show

How does the sky light up like this? Earth has magnetic field lines, similar to a bar magnet, that emanates from the north and the south poles creating a layer called magnetosphere. This magnetic field shields the planet from most of the solar wind that sweeps past it. This field is strongest and thickest at mid-latitudes, near the equator and weakest at the poles. As charged particles are funneled downward along magnetic field lines, protons and electrons collide with atoms and molecules of gas in Earth’s atmosphere between 40 and 240 miles above the ground. Collisions change the internal energy states of atmospheric atoms and molecules to higher levels of energy. As they relax back to normal states, they release energy in the form of light, thus the aurora.

The Fearsome Grizzlies

Grizzly bears, also known as brown bears, are often seen this time of year in Alaska, because of the abundance of berries and the salmon spawning. They also occur in Asia, Canada, some places in Europe, and of course in some zoos. Alaska contains 98% of the USA population of brown bears.

How can you distinguish a black bear from a grizzly? Color is not reliable in differentiating these bears because both species have color phases. The grizzly is usually larger, has a prominent shoulder hump, and longer claws. The grizzly uses his claws for digging roots or excavating burrows of small mammals. The bone structure and the muscles of the hump able the grizzly to dig and attain bursts of speed necessary for capture of moose or caribou for food.

Except for females with offspring and breeding animals, bears are typically solitary creatures. The exception is when food sources are concentrated, such as streams where the bears catch salmon. All bears should be treated with respect and safely observed from a distance of at least 100 yards. Mother bears are protective of their young. Bears also protect their food source, such as buried carcasses of moose and caribou. When I visited Denali Park, a bus driver told me a story about one of his friends that had gone hiking there on his own. The man came across some grizzly cubs and backed up slowly. However, mother bear spotted him and charged him. Now he did the usual things of making noise and raising his hands, but mother bear still came at him. He dropped to the ground and played dead. ( Usually, if nothing else works, playing dead does, but not in this poor man’s case. ) Mother bear roared in his face first, then she bit his knee, and raked her claws down his thigh. Even though he was in pain and blood pouring down his leg, he kept still. Mother bear grumbled at her cubs and left the man there. He didn’t know how long he had lied there, before he got up, and limped back to the road. He flagged a car down and was taken to a clinic for first aid. The man figured mother bear was teaching her cubs a lesson, don’t mess with humans.

At any rate, grizzlies are magnificent creatures and deserve respect. At least in Alaska, the bears have room to roam and the Dept. of Fish and Game is responsible for managing the bears too. It is equally our responsibility to recognize that not only bears, but wildlife in general need sufficient amounts of habitat to continue to thrive.

 

Precious Gold

During the Klondike Gold Rush, gold was used as currency. It was eliminated from common coinage in 1933, yet gold is well used in today’s world that the average person doesn’t realize.

Gold is a heavy, yellow metallic chemical element. It has the greatest density of any mineral and because of its high density, it collects in streams as placer gold. Miners collected the gold nuggets and gold dust in pans, rockers, and sluice boxes. Pure gold is a soft metal that scratches, bends, and breaks easily. Therefore, gold is often mixed with other metals for use in jewelry.

Gold is reflective and is an excellent conductor of electricity. It can be drawn or molded into wire or threads. It doesn’t tarnish, rust, or dissolve in water and most acids. Due to this nature, gold is now used in many technical fields. Did you know that gold is used in the trigger deployment system of airbags in cars? Auto manufacturers use gold to dry paint on their cars. Gold-plated connectors operate in a car’s engine to withstand high temperatures and corrosive environment under a car’s engine hood.

Many aircraft use gold-coated acrylic windows in cockpits to help the windows stay clear of frost and fogging. The reflectability of gold helps keep the cockpit cool on hot runways. It also maintains the heat of the cabin while in flight at high, cold altitudes. Did you know that Air Force One uses gold reflectors to confuse an incoming missile’s heat-seeking signal? It makes it difficult for the guidance system to focus on its target. Gold protects the onboard computers in the Galileo space probe. It is used in satellites and the space shuttle’s electronic circuitry.

A telephone’s mouthpiece has a transmitter that contains gold in the diaphragm. Telephone jacks and connecting cords also use gold for contacts. Gold is the best material to use in microcircuits of electronic equipment. Did you know that gold is used in medical monitoring equipment?

Wouldn’t those miners of yesterday be surprised how precious gold has become? I found this information interesting.

The Nasty Aegypti Mosquito

Many of us have heard about the Zika Virus on the news, but might not understand how serious it is, especially those who live in the NW states. I recently took an updated nursing course on the subject and I was amazed at what this little bugger can cause. The potential for a localized outbreak of the Zika Virus in the USA is significant given the level of travel exposure, opportunities of migration, and the prevalence of mosquitoes along the southern rim of the country. As of December 2016, cases of the Zika Virus within the USA have been reported in returning travelers and in women having intimate sexual contact with men infected while traveling to regions with ongoing mosquito transmission. Zika has migrated out of Africa and Asia into the Americas over the past two decades.

Primarily, the Zika Virus is often asymptomatic. However, infection during pregnancy is often complicated by transmission of the virus to the developing fetus. The results are arrested neurological development, microcephaly, and related congenital anomalies. There is also evidence linking the Zika infection with post-infectious Guillain-Barre syndrome. Guillain-Barre is an acute, progressive syndrome characterized by flaccid paralysis and often triggered by infection. Most patients recover after many weeks, but often require respiratory ventilation support and management of complications. Microcephaly is a rare pediatric disorder in which the growth of the fetal brain size is unexpectedly small for a given stage of development. Zika is characterized by headache, conjunctivitis, a pruritic rash, mild weakness, and mild fever, lasting three to six days. In the course of acute infection during pregnancy, the virus can be transmitted across the placenta to the developing fetus.

In the past, the aegypti mosquito thrived on nonhuman hosts. It has adapted to an urban habitat and shows a preference for the human host over mammals. It flourishes in impoverished crowded areas without piped water, inadequate trash disposal, and ineffective barrier protections such as screen doors. A single female deposits its eggs at multiple sites. It takes advantage of stagnant water sources, pet bowls, cemetery vases, and tires. Adult mosquitoes of both sexes feed on nectar and fruit. Females require blood protein to fully develop their eggs. Only the female bites. The aegypti mosquito is an aggressive daytime biting mosquito and feeds in the hours of dawn and dusk. They are stealth feeders and approach their victims from behind and bites on ankles and elbows. This mosquito is a sip feeder in that it bites multiple humans in the course of its blood meal. The female prefers shady areas for rest and is adept at hiding under beds and in closets to later emerge for a nocturnal feed. Of public concern is if this vicious feeder emerges with a second vector with a potential for widespread outbreak in other parts of the country.

The full spectrum by which Zika is transmitted sexually is not yet known. It has been detected in saliva, urine, semen, and breast milk. Studies are underway to determine the incidence, duration, and pattern of virus shedding in men with and without symptomatic Zika infection. For now, the CDC recommends that men diagnosed with Zika consider using condoms or abstaining from sex for six months following the infection. There isn’t any effective antiviral therapy as of yet for the Zika infection. The general recommendations for pregnant women in the USA are:

  • all pregnant women should be assessed for possible Zika Virus exposure at each prenatal visit
  • Advised not to travel to an area active with Zika
  • If the pregnant woman must travel, follow strict steps to avoid mosquito bites and prevent sexual transmission during the trip
  • Have partner use condoms or other barrier methods to prevent infection during the woman’s pregnancy
  • cover exposed areas of skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants
  • use insect repellents registered with the EPA and contains DEET, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Sleep in screened areas and air-conditioned rooms
  • use mosquito netting over strollers, carriers, and cribs of infants younger than two months of age.

Virologists anticipate it will take several years to bring a Zika vaccine to implementation.

 

Promote A Healthier Ocean

We are all responsible to keep our waters free from pollution.  The majority of the world is surrounded by water, yet how many times have humans endangered the ocean with their carelessness? And it’s not just oil spills and toxic waste from ships. What we do on land also affects the ocean and it doesn’t have an endless capacity to absorb waste. Chemicals, weed killers, and fertilizers from lawns, gardens, and farms run-off into drains and eventually into our water. Did you know that nitrogen and phosphorous rob ocean waters of light and oxygen as well as harm coral reef ecosystems?

How we engage with ocean life also impacts whether our activities are positive or negative towards them. Be aware that there is life under the water when you are driving your boat. Those propellers injure countless dolphins, whales, seals, and other sea life.  Speeding can damage the wake and cause plants to tear as well as erode shorelines. Retrieve all fishing gear, lines, and lures. Seabirds, fish, and sea animals can get entangled or hurt from these items left behind. And if you’re not concerned about their safety, think about divers and swimmers out there that could get entangled as well. Also pick up your garbage. Wildlife will ingest anything. When you haul your boat from the water, rinse it off to remove hitchhiking organisms.

Don’t use the toilet as a trash can which can lead to overloaded septic and sewer systems. Remember that everything flows downstream and release into our waterways. If you love life and the ocean, then help promote a healthy future for our waterways. Remember we are all responsible.