Thursday, 29 January 2015

11:40 – Barbara’s recovery continues apace. She got the staples out yesterday, which helps a lot. She’s still frustrated that she’s not recovering faster, although in terms of recovery speed she’s certainly in the top decile and probably in the top percentile.

I’ve been a prepper since the mid-1960’s. I grew up under the threat of Soviet nuclear attack. I well remember the drills in elementary school, just as Barbara remembers spending the night in a fallout shelter in 1962 with other 2nd-grade students, eating crackers and drinking canned water.

Our basement had two small rooms running across the front of the house. One of those turned into my darkroom. The other was a storage room. My parents never said a word about it, probably because they didn’t want to scare us kids, but that room had a good supply of canned food and water and a stack of heavy planks, concrete blocks, and bags of sand. None of us ever said a word about it, but I figured it out when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade. That stuff was there to allow my dad to construct a shelter easily and quickly if the need arose.

Back around 1965, as a 12-year-old kid I didn’t have the money to stock up on more food and supplies, so I decided the best thing I could do was develop special skills. That’s why I got my amateur radio license, for example. (Sadly, I noticed the other night while watching Jericho that I can no longer copy CW. Each episode begins with a short piece of Morse code. Fifty years ago, I could copy CW at the 13 WPM required for a general class ham license; now I can’t even copy the slow CW on the Jericho opening. Use it or lose it, I guess.) By the time I was 12 years old, I probably knew more about radiation and defensive measures than anyone in town, including the CD people. I’d certainly read and memorized Glasstone’s The Effects of Atomic Weapons.

It was around then that I decided to start accumulating “good to know” information and skills, on the basis that if things ever went to hell I wanted to be able to more than pull my weight. So for the last fifty years or so I’ve been accumulating knowledge and skills toward that end. I wanted to be able to step in as the resident “wizard”.

Some of the things I want to do turn out not to be easy. For example, many post-apocalyptic novels feature a character with diabetes, from Dan Forrester in Lucifer’s Hammer to the protagonist’s young daughter in One Second After. Those characters invariably die when the insulin runs out. I decided back in the 70’s that I couldn’t let that happen if I had anything to say about it, so I learned how to isolate insulin from animal pancreata. So far, so good, but what if I don’t happen to have a sheep or a pig when I need one?

Since the late 70’s, insulin has been produced bio-synthetically. Over the last couple of decades, nearly all insulin has been produced by bio-engineered bacteria or yeast. I’ve been trying to get my hands on specimens of those bacteria or yeast (ideally, yeast, because there are advantages to using a eukaryotic rather than prokaryotic organism.) I’ve exhausted my contacts, and simply can’t find anyone who can get specimens for me. The problem, I’m sure is that no one has preserved specimens of the older, obsolete organisms and the newer ones are probably all under trade-secret or patent protection. I don’t want to go into competition with them. All I want to do is breed a large quantity of them, lyophilize (freeze-dry) the sample, and make up a hundred or a thousand RIA vials of the lyophilized specimen. It still takes a lab and a wizard to isolate actual insulin from the waste products of the microorganisms, but they’ve done 99.9% of the work for you.


41 thoughts on “Thursday, 29 January 2015”

  1. Go Barbara! I am impressed. Definitely not the bon-bon type.

    The Medicare laws are screwy, very screwy. I had a friend get burned by Medicare last year and he ended up paying for his colonoscopy himself, “Don’t make this Medicare mistake”:
    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/dont-medicare-mistake-140000902.html

    Basically, once you turn 65, Medicare owns you.

    For example, many post-apocalyptic novels feature a character with diabetes

    I’m betting that thyroid disease is up next in that order. My daughter takes a combination of Synthroid and Armour (thyroid tissue from a pig) to replace her missing thyroid gland. I know quite a few women who had their thyroids removed in their early years. I know just one guy though and he lost his thyroid gland at 40 due to cancer.

  2. I wonder if our fine gummint has any “prepping” plans to provide these meds. Can we count on FEMA for anything other than old, asbestos filled trailers.

  3. I wonder if our fine gummint has any “prepping” plans to provide these meds.

    Oh I am sure that congress and the senate have allocated plenty for themselves. Of course they would be the least valuable people to have around.

  4. So what are they really spending all the Obamacare money on, “Obamacare program costs $50,000 in taxpayer money for every American who gets health insurance, says bombshell budget report”:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2927348/Obamacare-program-costs-50-000-American-gets-health-insurance-says-bombshell-budget-report.html

    The USA government used to be the model of efficiency in the world. No more, it is rapidly moving to the other extreme.

    My plan of extending Medicare to all citizens in the USA is looking better and better. Will probably be way cheaper in the long run.

  5. Come to find out the “received medical wisdom” is not always the case. Thyroid cancers, like prostate cancers, develop very slowly and usually don’t require intervention.

    If you slaughter a pig, you can remove and dessicate the thyroid quite easily. Done it myself.

  6. Isolating a single protein, purifying it without loss of activity and keeping the product clean enough for safe injection is not easy. Add to that tiny yields, glycosylation variations, testing for consistent dosing, short shelf life, immunogens and so on. It would be a major undertaking to provide insulin for just one person. By the way, I’m a development scientist for a pharmaceutical company producing therapeutic proteins in genetically engineered animals.

    Other medicines, like thyroxine, are cheap and available in “non-pharmaceutical” forms that are just as effective as the fancy pill stuff.

    Some people who are so intimately tied to our modern society’s infrastructure may have a very hard time during a major disruption.

  7. solating a single protein, purifying it without loss of activity and keeping the product clean enough for safe injection is not easy.

    Thanks for another scientific viewpoint. Perhaps you should apply for wizardship for the upcoming Barackalypse. May I move in with you?

  8. [snip] Basically, once you turn 65, Medicare owns you. [snip]

    Is that true if one doesn’t sign up for Medicare? Or is such a sign up automatic with the sign up for Social Security? And is signing up for SS mandatory? My mother loathed being on Medicare, but there was absolutely no other way for her to get health insurance.

  9. By the way, I’m a development scientist for a pharmaceutical company producing therapeutic proteins in genetically engineered animals.

    Sounds like Herceptin. My wife took that weekly for a year in 2005. Supposedly raised her five year survival chances from 45% to 85% (she was part of a huge, 3,000+ women, breast cancer Stage 2b study). That is what we called a no-brainer. Her ten year survival rate has been 100%.

    Is that true if one doesn’t sign up for Medicare? Or is such a sign up automatic with the sign up for Social Security? And is signing up for SS mandatory? My mother loathed being on Medicare, but there was absolutely no other way for her to get health insurance.

    My experience is this: no, no, and yes. My father-in-law signed up for medicare last year at the age of 82. They tried to charge him a late entry fee (several thousand dollars!) but that got forgiven since he is disabled vet. And nothing is automatic as far as I can tell. Especially since Medicare and Social Security have different signup dates. My Dad started taking SS when he was 67 and now wishes that he waited until he was 70 to get more benefit payment.

    And yes, getting a primary provider for health insurance other than Medicare is very difficult once you retire and are 65 or older. Just about requires you to be a union member or retiree from a large company that has not gone bankrupt yet.

  10. Some people who are so intimately tied to our modern society’s infrastructure may have a very hard time during a major disruption.

    Yup. Especially those who eat off their EBT cards.

  11. Cue Twilight Zone theme here…

    …picture, if you will, a national crisis where no one’s EBT or ATM cards work anymore…

    …and if the Grid goes down, no more internet, no more pumping gas, OFD’s well stops pumping wottuh, and HOLY CHIT, no tee-vee and no HGTV Network and no Fox Nooz Nitwits…OMG!!!

  12. Oh man, I have a tough decision to make. Somebody wants to buy the five acre property that I have for sale. I told him six months ago that I would not negotiate a penny off my asking price and he went away. Now he is back and wants to talk tomorrow. He lives about a mile away from the property and wants to build an office building like mine (4,000 ft2 or so) on it for his insurance business. I am ok with anything as long as the building has windows (do I need to explain?).

    I was really not planning on selling the property until they put the new bridge across the river in 2020 or so. I expect the value to double then as properties two miles away on the main road are asking three times as much. I own the property in a Real Estate IRA and really do not want the cash right now. There is no way that I am going back in the stock market so I guess that I would probably buy more vacant properties.

    Plus Verizon cancelled the cell phone tower on my nine acre property due to my neighbor yelling at them. Somehow she got through to the President of Verizon and complained to him personally. Now we are negotiating a cell phone tower on the five acre property. BTW, my nine acre property and five acre property are next to each other but the five acre property has 330 ft of FM road frontage. The nine acre property, where my office and warehouse and ponds are, has only sixty ft of road frontage. You can see my office building and warehouse at:
    https://www.winsim.com/contact.html

    Sigh. I see that Google Maps has screwed up my address on their maps again. This is the third time! The last time they put my office on the railroad tracks.

  13. …picture, if you will, a national crisis where no one’s EBT or ATM cards work anymore…

    You know, this almost happened in October 2008 when the Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. The Fed stepped in and guaranteed all electronic transactions and the financial networks did not shut down. Who knows what will happen next time?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lehman_Brothers#Financial_fallout

    I do know one thing. If those EBT cards stop working for several days then look out! Do not go near Walmarts and supermarkets then.

    And if public confidence in the EBT and ATM cards drops, watch out!
    http://zerohedge.blogspot.com/2009/02/how-world-almost-came-to-end-at-2pm-on.html

    “On Thursday (Sept 18), at 11am the Federal Reserve noticed a tremendous draw-down of money market accounts in the U.S., to the tune of $550 billion was being drawn out in the matter of an hour or two. The Treasury opened up its window to help and pumped a $105 billion in the system and quickly realized that they could not stem the tide. We were having an electronic run on the banks. They decided to close the operation, close down the money accounts and announce a guarantee of $250,000 per account so there wouldn’t be further panic out there.”

    “If they had not done that, their estimation is that by 2pm that afternoon, $5.5 trillion would have been drawn out of the money market system of the U.S., would have collapsed the entire economy of the U.S., and within 24 hours the world economy would have collapsed. It would have been the end of our economic system and our political system as we know it.”

  14. Wallmutts and the supers, plus drug stores, gas stations, etc., will be emptied out in a matter of days in that scenario.

    Then we will see some real problems, or “issues,” or “challenges,” depending on whichever gummint or corporate jargon is employed.

    The mob rage in the cities will be uncontrollable, not without massive military force, and they don’t have enough for all the big cities at the same time.

  15. We never spent much time in my childhood wondering about fallout shelters; they would not have done any good, since my father was in the USAF and we lived in base housing at a SAC base. We would have been a prime target. I remember the night that there was a terribly loud thundering sound, and the phone rang and Dad drove away for several days; the sound was the B-47’s taking off, only a few seconds apart, heading out to their “fail-safe” points or to their dispersal airfields. It was the Cuban missile crisis.

    There were 12 nearby Atlas missile silos, and I understand that there were 13 missiles. Every week, they’d pluck a missile from the silo for maintenance and repair, and drop in the missile that they’d just rebuilt. One week the base had to rebuild one of the bridges on the road leading out, and the missile trailer came right through base housing, and right in front of our house. It took a while; they had to raise the electrical wires for the trailer to go through.

  16. “Perhaps you should apply for wizardship for the upcoming Barackalypse.”

    I won’t even pretend to have the breadth and depth of knowledge of our esteemed host. My day job just happens to be along these lines and I am very familiar with the challenges of protein purification.

    If anyone is interested we don’t use cell culture. Our technology is to express the therapeutic proteins in the milk of transgenic animals. Mammary cells are great little protein factories.

  17. “We would have been a prime target.”

    My family lived in eastern MA and when I was a young kid the teachers hastened to inform us that a nuke dropped on Boston would give peeps in Albany third-degree burns.

    I also remember the Cuban Missile Crisis and the tension in the air, even in our little suburban ‘hood. A year later peeps were out on their lawns and driveways weeping, as we hiked by from an early skool dismissal and the principal’s announcement on the PA.

    More tension at the house, as my little brother, our youngest, was born four days later; he’s now about my height and weight and a cancer survivor. (all four of my siblings are bunged up somehow with physical ailments, as is my wife; I skate with just raving lunacy.)

  18. Barbara… got the staples out yesterday

    Just flashed on this as I read it.
    Funny! I thought you were storing staples.

  19. OFD says on 29 January 2015 at 19:38

    “OFD’s well stops pumping wottuh,”

    This one’s easy. Use a dinky little 12Volt pump, a dinky little 12V auto battery, a real small solar cell VERY STEEPLY SLANTED on the roof of your well-house, and also a Savonius windmill built from a vertical auto axle shaft and bearings, and a four or five gallon drum cut in half, offset and welded, plus an old auto generator. Stand alone electric pump with solar and wind power. Not efficient, but effective.

    In theory. Let me know if you do.

  20. That sounds interesting but we’ll probably spring for an already-assembled pump unit; I don’t have the tools or basic mechanical skillz to do this gig. I suppose it might be smart to acquire them, however. I should also point out that we’re limited somewhat in the amount of sunlight we get here for long periods of the year but have absolutely no shortage of wind, which is howling outside right now, with the usual 40-50-MPH gusts.

  21. Yeah, individual wizardry has its limits. Ultimate survivalism is when you figure out how to bring civilization along with you. I’m still working on that one.

  22. I was 4.5 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, never had any idea it was going on. Later I started worrying about that stuff, in my early teens. I still have nightmares about it.

    When I was about 20 I started getting *very* interested, and started reading widely. Bought a book of readings from Scientific American called Progress in Arms Control?. A friend at uni saw me reading it and asked what it was about. I told him. He gave me this look which I interpreted as “What a strange thing to be interested in.” I’m still interested, have about 20+ books on the subject, but am not as obsessive or worried as I used to be. My family never did any prepping that I’m aware of. I was glad I didn’t live in the Northern Hemisphere.

  23. “My family lived in eastern MA and when I was a young kid the teachers hastened to inform us that a nuke dropped on Boston would give peeps in Albany third-degree burns.”

    Depends on the size of the nuke, but I wouldn’t expect that. Really large nukes aren’t “efficient” anyway, as their “lethality” rises as the 2/3 power of their yield. Most likely Albany (and Springfield and many other places) would not have had to worry about the size of the nuke dropped on Boston. They would have got one or more of their own.

    I’ve read that during the CMC the USAF and USN had Moscow targeted with no less than 170 nukes. Would not have been a good place to be.

  24. Hindsight is always different, but even as a teen I found the idea of “MAD”, well, mad. As in insanely stupid. Why there was such decades-long resistance to actual defense just made no sense. Was the USSR really, really going to start a war if the US actually worked on missile defense? Or vice versa?

    Still, I suppose this insane strategy worked long enough to get the world through the Cold War, so I shouldn’t complain…

  25. The US and Sovs *did* work on missile defence in the Sixties and Seventies. The US had an ABM system protecting, IIRC, the Grand Forks, ND, missile silo fields for *one* day before Congress shut it down in about 1975. I think the Russians still have a system of sorts defending Moscow.

    In the circumstances MAD made perfectly good sense. The US and a bit later the Sovs developed MIRVs to counteract an ABM, which made ABMs of the era almost useless. By making nuclear war unwinable for both sides they effectively prevented it. Only a mad man would use nukes if he forsaw certain annihilation for his country. The biggest risk was procedural errors and false alarms.

  26. Yeah, individual wizardry has its limits. Ultimate survivalism is when you figure out how to bring civilization along with you. I’m still working on that one.

    Me, too. That’s why I’ve always focused on a group. And making sure that women continue to have full rights. Women, after all, keep men civilized.

  27. “…Used mine without problems except for having to pull the pump and pipe out of my well one time…”

    Thanks, Mr. SteveB; this looks good. I’m also checking out the Flo-Jak gear.

    http://flojak.com/

  28. Women, after all, keep men civilized.

    Do you really believe this? I do not understand why the women in the poor areas of the USA are not keeping the men in check. I mean, used to be the women would make the men marry them before putting out. And the guys would be desperate to find a job so they could support their families. Now, the guys are running around shooting everything in sight in the poorer areas of the large cities. Or, is the influence of Sugar Daddy, the federal government, countering the women’s influence?

  29. You’re talking about one small part of one society. I’m talking about civilization. Men built the infrastructure, as they do everything, to please women so they can get laid. (It’s so much nicer when the woman cooperates.) But it’s women who domesticated the wild male H. sapiens. Without women, we’d lack everything from table utensils and soap to civility. I’ve always thought it was interesting how women largely dismiss the importance of what men have given the world. They take stuff like machinery, agriculture, etc. for granted. Conversely, men largely consider what women do (other than the obvious) as unimportant foolishness. The truth is that even if we could have somehow cloned ourselves rather than using sexual reproduction, humanity would be nowhere near where it is now without the contributions of both men and women.

    And, yes, the government screws everything up.

  30. “and soap to civility.”

    “Soap? What’s that?”

    I think he may have wanted a comma between “soap” and “to.”

    “Ah, civilization.”

    That ain’t it. Those peeps are already relegated pretty much to some version of the old freak show/carnival circuits and that’s where they’ll stay; we can’t have them in corporate boardrooms or even serving Big Macs in the drive-thru. Admittedly, some less extreme versions serve the Big Macs, nothing like these creatures.

    If the chit ever blows up bigtime, they make continue to make a living at carnival freak shows but that’s about it. Hope they’re happy.

  31. To get an idea of what a country that left no role for women in public life would be like, look at the state of Islamic countries, especially the stricter ones.

  32. Come to find out the “received medical wisdom” is not always the case. Thyroid cancers, like prostate cancers, develop very slowly and usually don’t require intervention.

    We removed our daughter’s thyroid gland because she had three goiters, each the size of a golf ball. Two of them stuck out of her skin at the base of her throat. They were causing her to have significant difficulty swallowing and moving into the air blockage stage. The surgeon came out of the surgery saying, “good, no cancer” at which point I said, “nobody mentioned cancer to me”.

    We highly suspect that our daughter had Lyme disease even back then (this was nine years ago). There is a known causation between Lyme disease and thyroid problems.

    BTW, both of my grandfathers died of prostate cancer. The one that was 87 does not bother me, it is the one who was 60. It had spread completely throughout his chest and killed off his internal organs in the five years before he died. My grandmother and mother tried to get him to a doctor because he was having such problems but he refused to go until too late.

  33. “To get an idea of what a country that left no role for women in public life would be like, look at the state of Islamic countries, especially the stricter ones.”

    Western countries didn’t have much of a role for them in public life, either, until the 19th and 20th centuries. But none of them were a patch on how bad the contemporary hadji countries are these days on that score.

  34. You’re talking about one small part of one society. I’m talking about civilization.

    True and True. But that small part of our society is the fastest growing segment (my guess based on employment stats). They are 1/6th of the population (based on number of people receiving food stamps). Not good.

  35. “But that small part of our society is the fastest growing segment…”

    Deliberately so, and with malice aforethought.

  36. You get what you pay for. If you pay for women to have children without men around, you’ll get fatherless children. If you pay for people to consume without producing enough to cover their consumption, then you’ll get a reduction in productivity.

  37. There it is. These decisions were taken out of our hands, but the populace meekly went along with them and thought themselves fine moral agents. Sow the wind and reap the fuckin whirlwind.

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