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Over Easy: Do you know anything about Morgellons?

5:23 am in Uncategorized by Crane-Station

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Good morning:

I am covering for Crane Station this morning.

I write today to encourage discussion and to solicit ideas regarding a vexing problem that Crane and I have been dealing with for the past week. During a routine house cleaning session, she discovered several fungus-like growths on kitchen counters and cabinets. When she first saw them, she thought they were bread crumbs or spilled food. However, they seemed to be attached to the surface and had to be pried loose. She got a closer look, saw black and white hair-like fibers and whitish larvae and thought she was dealing with some type of insect. I disagreed and told her That I thought it was a fungus.

After that discovery, we began noticing similar clumps all over the apartment, as if they had spontaneously sprouted into existence in the blink of an eye.

Then they began to appear on her hands, arms and face.

Anti-fungal ointment keeps the outbreak from spreading and gradually reduces the size of each infected site, but the stuff spreads quickly and appears to tunnel into the skin.

No, this is not a joke.

We’ve never heard of this thing, so we’ve spent a lot of time on the internet attempting to identify it. With the exception of it spreading to object, the symptoms are similar to Morgellons.

However, the CDC published a paper last year reporting the results of an extensive multi-year study of Morgellons and they concluded that it’s a delusional parasitosis. In other words, it’s an imagined condition.

That’s not helpful and it isn’t going to heal the open sores on her skin.

Have any of you heard about the raging controversy regarding Morgellons or have any experience with it?

We are searching for clues.

Crane and I have been up all night and she just went to sleep about 30 minutes ago.

Therefore, I will be hosting this Over Easy.

She will stop by later.


Over Easy: The Lavender Ribbon

4:00 am in Uncategorized by Crane-Station

This is a story from the Great Depression, as told by Letty Owings, age 88. It is a true account of country school and community.

A one room schoolhouse in the forest.

Photo: James Davidson / Flickr

In rural Missouri during the Great Depression of the 1930s, each elementary school was different. Rather than fit into any pattern, the one-house schools were community governed, and each community had a social stratification. Mine was a mining-farming community, and the farmers lorded it over the miners, even though, in some cases, the miners made more money.

There was supposed to be a county school superintendent, but there was never any factual supervision because the superintendent only visited maybe once a year. Each community had its own clerk, and the school board, which consisted of a half a dozen farmers, decided who was hired in the schools.

The school was supposed to be in session for eight months, but this never happened, because the kids were needed on the farm to work. Usually the school session ended in April, and kids would begin farm work at sunrise.

The school had no electricity, plumbing, or central heat. There was a coal stove in the floor, and if you got too close to it, you roasted. If you got too far, you froze. There were 42-46 kids in the class at any given time, often sharing seats. The room smelled. Impetigo and bronchitis were common and chronic. Kids had sores and coughed all the time. We all shared one dipper, in a cistern. The toilet was an outhouse that was built when the school was built. We sometimes had a Sears Catalog to use in the toilet, but often not. The toilet was never cleaned, because there was no real way to get water to it.

We were not grossly unhappy as school kids. We didn’t know anything else. We did not see ourselves as different compared to others. There was nothing to compare to. There was no radio, TV or newspaper. Nobody ever thought about poverty. It may seem unbelievable to us today, but back then, we never saw anything else. We were six miles from the closest paved road.

It was a stratified society with the miners at the bottom. The miners were often known to drink and beat their wives, but they went to work in what were nothing more than tunnels in the ground. There were no safety regulations, just tunnels. Kids were sent in, and injuries were common.

I rode with my dad, who was a farmer, on a horse, through the community, to record the names of kids who were supposed to be in school. Often, the miners took to the woods when we showed up, or claimed they did not have any children. We knew they did. Many of the homes had no flooring, and one family had buried their dead twins in the floor of the house. The level of humanity was beyond what we can imagine today. We did not think anything about it. Life and death was just all a part of life.

There was no playground at the school, but sometimes the kids had a rope to play with, or, if a kid got a set of jacks for Christmas, we shared those. Tablets cost a nickel and pencils were scarce, so most kids went without. When a pencil got down to the nub, we attached a stick to it. Lunch might be a syrup bucket or an occasional boiled egg and home made bread, but certainly no butter. Kids were often hungry.

The library was an old bookcase in the back, with mainly old agriculture books; the school board decided to have them instead of encyclopedias. Teachers were only required to have some kind of schooling for one year, it didn’t matter what kind of schooling, and there was no certification for teachers. When I was five, I started school, but, the teacher was mean, so I left school and returned in the second grade, which was okay because I could already read.

There were four of us in school who stayed together: Norman, Betty, Pete and I. School kids were constantly in and out of school, with the miners sort of in the shadows, but the four of us stuck together. Norman and I were related. We met when we were both five; his father had gone blind. Betty’s father was a mine superintendent and an alcoholic, and Pete’s mom and dad ran a store in a clapboard shack that they lived in back of. The four of us were inseparable.

The men in the community often went to the pasture to play baseball on Sundays during the Depression, and the kids would go to watch. One Sunday, one of the men hit a ball and then he threw the bat. The bat hit Pete. Pete developed meningitis, and we were never allowed to see him when he got sick. The men would ride on horses around the community to report on Pete’s condition, and we heard of the seizures that would twist his spine. Back then we called them “fits.” There was no medication.

Pete died in August. He was eight years old, and his death affected the whole community. It affected me because we had played together.We had lost somebody, and it was traumatic when there were so few people that we were close to.

I wanted so much to give a gift to Pete.

My mother gave me a nickel to buy a gift. I went to Hicks Store and bought a lavender ribbon. My sister and I picked some day lillies, and we tied the ribbon around them, real pretty.

There was no funeral and the kids were not allowed near the grave. We gave the lillies with the lavender ribbon to somebody to put on the grave, and we stood on the hillside to watch. They were the only flowers Pete had.

Now there were three of us.


note: On short notice I took a trip to Seattle, so I am at my parent’s home. There are many people in and out, so it has been difficult to complete a new essay; hence the repost.

I have been out of touch with news of any sort, so forgive me if you prefer news over history, and speak up! Any topics are welcome at Over Easy!

My parents are both here so if anyone has questions about that era,just ask or comment, and they can answer.

Over Easy: Breaking down the Michael Dunn indictment

4:04 am in Uncategorized by Crane-Station

by Frederick Leatherman Thursday, July 25, 2013. I am still awaiting parts for my non-working computer, so I cannot research, post or comment yet. Fred and I are passing this one back and forth.

Breaking down the Michael Dunn indictment

Dodge Durango

Dunn is charged with murdering an unarmed teenager parked with friends in a Dodge Durango.

A grand jury returned a five-count indictment last December against Michael Dunn for shooting into a red Dodge Durango killing Jordan Davis, an unarmed black 17-year-old male. Dunn is a 46-year-old white male.

The shooting occurred in the parking lot of a gas station and convenience store in Jacksonville, FL on November 23, 2012. Four black male teenagers were sitting in the Durango listening to music when Dunn drove up and parked next to them on the passenger side. Jordan Davis was sitting in the back seat of the Durango on the passenger side with his window down.

After Dunn’s girlfriend entered the store to purchase wine and potato chips, Dunn complained about the volume of the music and told the teenagers to turn it down. After someone in the front seat turned it down, Jordan Davis objected and the person turned up the volume back up.

Dunn and Davis started arguing. After stating, “you’re not going to talk to me like that,” Dunn pulled out a 9 millimeter semiautomatic handgun and started squeezing off shots into the Durango, hitting Davis multiple times, killing him.

Dunn got out of his car and kept firing as the driver of the Durango backed out of the parking place and sped away.

Dunn fired 8 shots. Fortunately, no one else was injured.

After hearing the shots, Dunn’s girlfriend rushed back to the vehicle and got in leaving the bottle of wine, potato chips, and the money to pay for them on the counter.

A few minutes later, after Dunn peeled out of the parking lot, the teenagers in the red Dodge Durango, who had stopped in a nearby parking lot to check on Jordan and assess the damage to the vehicle, called 911 and returned to the scene to wait for the police and the ambulance to arrive.

The teenagers were unarmed and the police did not find any weapons in their vehicle. Police also searched the route they had taken and the area where they briefly stopped. They did not find any weapons.

The indictment alleges in Count 1 that Michael Dunn committed first degree premeditated murder when he shot and killed Jordan Davis. Dunn has admitted the shooting but claims that he acted in self-defense.

Here is the Florida Supreme Court jury instruction for first degree premeditated murder:

To prove the crime of First Degree Premeditated Murder, the State must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

1. (Victim) is dead.

2. The death was caused by the criminal act of (defendant).

3. There was a premeditated killing of (victim).

An “act” includes a series of related actions arising from and performed pursuant to a single design or purpose.

“Killing with premeditation” is killing after consciously deciding to do so. The decision must be present in the mind at the time of the killing. The law does not fix the exact period of time that must pass between the formation of the premeditated intent to kill and the killing. The period of time must be long enough to allow reflection by the defendant. The premeditated intent to kill must be formed before the killing.

The question of premeditation is a question of fact to be determined by you from the evidence. It will be sufficient proof of premeditation if the circumstances of the killing and the conduct of the accused convince you beyond a reasonable doubt of the existence of premeditation at the time of the killing.

(Transferred intent. Give if applicable.)

If a person has a premeditated design to kill one person and in attempting to kill that person actually kills another person, the killing is premeditated.

Counts 2-4 each allege that Michael Dunn, while acting with premeditated intent to kill each of the other three teenagers, attempted to kill them by shooting into the vehicle.

The Florida Supreme Court jury instruction for attempted first degree premeditated murder provides:

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Over Easy: First Line Last Line

5:09 am in Uncategorized by Crane-Station

Woman writing in journal

The hardest part of writing is making yourself sit down to write.

Of the many first blog post lines I have ever read, I think that yesterday’s Over Easy first line was one of the best:

Yesterday I was up against a wall.

After reading that first line, I had to read the post, because I could not help but wonder what this author was experiencing. Turns out Kris was facing a bit of writer’s block:

Suffering from a bit of writer’s block even. I could not come up with a topic for today’s post that stirred my passion as an activist, a person, a parent… anything. My only semi-solid thought was a post about gun control, but it seems like such a large and complex issue.

By coincidence, I was in the same position over the weekend, so I decided to share a few writing tips that I have learned, and invite others to share as well.

Keep this fun site in mind as well, because it impossible not to learn and enjoy while you visit.

I was in this position because I have been researching my legal case, and writing an ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim (11.42 in Kentucky) against my trial lawyer. I was experiencing writer’s block for online essays, because I have been doing formulaic legal writing for the past month.

To get out of the legal writing mindset and return to the fun of writing, I phoned my retired-English-teacher elderly mother over the weekend and asked her to reflect on the worst of the worst that she observed in writing over the years, and with that in mind, share her handful of key writing tips for anyone covering any topics. My mother, Letty Owings, is 88 years old, and here is what she offers:

1. Begin with whatever you begin with.

If you are writing about your recent trip to Hawaii, for example, do not begin with “We decided to go to Hawaii,” because you obviously decided to go to Hawaii or you wouldn’t have gone there! Letty uses the Christmas letter as an example of where one might see unnecessary overstatements of the obvious: “This year has gone by so fast. Here it is Christmas and I don’t have anything ready.” The year obviously went by, or else it wouldn’t be Christmas!

2. Be careful with adverbs.

The adverb “very” is terrible, according to Letty. For effective embellishment, replace the adverb “very” with an adjective. For example, rather than say “very hot,” say “scorching” and leave it at that. Do not be tempted to turn scorching into an adverb by saying “scorching hot,” because the adverb diminishes. Also, anything that ends in an -ly is an adverb that can diminish through unnecessary overstatement and redundancy. For example, a “brutally horrific murder” is a murder, and what murder is nice and polite? Are not all murders horrific? A better way to embellish would be to say, “She was tortured and bludgeoned.”

3.The Dreaded “It”

The dummy subject ‘it,’ followed by the ‘be’ word ‘very’ can kill, especially at a post beginning. While sometimes the only or best word at the time, rather than say: “it was a very horrific scene with marbles in the aisle,” try, “When I ran to an exit, I slipped in marbles and fell on my back.”

4. Omit Omit Omit

As Strunk and White insist in their classic Elements of style, OMIT needless words, making cuts and edits, thus allowing meaning, rather than overwriting. Growing up with my mother, she red-penned my writing and deleted my thesaurus enhanced writing. Oh the shouting, crying, vows never to write again, but rather leave home and submit my sophomoric screeds to caring folks who were, for the most part, more interested in weed that in essays.

What are your favorite first lines, from fiction or nonfiction? I offer two, for hooks that one cannot avoid but reading on:

This is what happened, — “The Mist,” by Stephen King.


We were somewhere around Barstow when the drugs began to kick in. — Hunter S. Thompson

Share your writing tips, secrets, marketing techniques, style, where to get ideas, share some concepts, or anything else bout blogging/ news linking, as well you your experience with writer’s block! Improv/warmup ideas, anything on writing of on any topic, please join!

Also, what first lines last lines are memorable for you?

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Over Easy: Decorah Eagles 2013 and Arctic Updates

4:57 am in Uncategorized by Crane-Station

The Decorah Eagles

A bald eagle

The Decorah Eagles use the Wi-Fi in their auxiliary nest to check in on the Over Easy thread.

Although the Decorah Bald Eagle Livecam is up and running, we may not be able to watch the Decorah pair this season because they have built an auxiliary nest that is outside the camera’s view. “That’s what eagles do,” said Bob Anderson, of the Raptor Resource Project. “They build auxiliary nests.”

They pair will choose one of the nests in the next couple of weeks. More here, where Raptor Resource adds, “We would really like Mom and Dad to use the nest they have occupied for so long, but we cannot and will not interfere if they decide to use the new nest. As we said in an earlier post on intervention, their lives are a gift we have been privileged to share. We can only hope we’ll get another chance in 2013.”

Last season was both joyful and heartbreaking for the Decorah Eagles. The pair, together since 2007 and using a nest 80 feet high near a fish hatchery in Decorah, Iowa, had three chicks last year, D12, D13 and D14. Tragically, D12 and D14 were both electrocuted. The body of the oldest eaglet (D12) was found in July, 2012. D14, the only eaglet fitted with a transmitter was found in November, 2012, when the transmitter showed no movement.

“Unfortunately, a federal study done in the 1990s identified impact injuries, poisoning, gunshot and electrocution as the top four sources of bald eagle mortality,” said Anderson. D14′s body will be sent to the National Eagle Repository, where his feathers and other parts will be distributed for use in Native American religious ceremonies. Eaglet D13′s whereabouts are unknown.

Some efforts to advocate for bird safe power poles and protect eagles and other birds from electrocution:

Raptor Resource Project Blog Bird Safe Power Poles

Avian Power Line Interaction Committee (APLIC)

How Protection Devices Work

Raptor Resource Project Blog (with Annual Report for 2012 and updates for all of the birds)

The Arctic

You may want to come back when you have 15 minutes, and watch this haunting but informative short film, to understand some history about climate change and Geopolitics – North from Studiocanoe on Vimeo:

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Over Easy: 5 Basic Arctic Geopolitics Resources

5:03 am in Uncategorized by Crane-Station

A map of the arctic circle

Over Easy gets chilly in the Arctic.

Arctic policy rhetoric is changing as the climate changes. Arctic geopolitics involves people and cultures, environment and ecology, zones and laws, agreements and alliances, shipping and industry, climate science, and even a donut hole. What sites can we consult to gain a basic understanding of this broad topic and follow the developments?

Aleksander Schilbach* (bio below) is currently defending a graduate thesis titled The Arctic Asia-Pacific Dimension for the University of Washington, Jackson School of International Studies: Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies Program. He recommends the following basic resources, for information and news about the Arctic region and Arctic (High North) geopolitics:

1. The Arctic Council Website.

The Arctic Council “is a high-level intergovernmental forum to promote cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States.” This website is a good starting point for getting to know the Arctic indigenous peoples and their languages and cultures, as well as the climates and environment, oceans and biodiversity. Learn about monitoring and conservation programs and anything else of general interest.

There are eight countries in the Arctic Council:

Denmark (representing also the dependencies of Greenland and Faeroes)
United States

Five of these member countries have Arctic coastlines: Russia, the United States, Canada, Norway and Denmark (via Greenland).

Two major polar shipping routes are the Northwest Passage and the Northern Sea Route.

Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, Chair of the Arctic Council’s call for decisive action to combat climate change by reducing global emissions is here.

2. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. (document also here in full-text)

The Law of the Sea Convention (1982) defines the rights and responsibilities of nations in their use of the world’s oceans, establishing guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of marine natural resources. Wiki has the list of countries that have or have not signed this treaty.

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (mentioned yesterday in Fatster’s News Roundup) is an intergovernmental organization created by the mandate of the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea.

3. Geopolitics in the High North.

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