Friday, 7 April 2017

08:41 – A bit of excitement this morning. At 0558, Barbara’s phone rang. She announced that the call was from the 508 area code, so we assumed it was a spam call. A minute or so later, her phone chirped to indicate new voice mail. She was checking it when my phone rang, and it was also a 508 area code. Barbara announced that her call was from LifeLine. We’re both on the responder list for Bonnie Tedder, our 89-year-old next door neighbor. So we immediately got dressed and headed over to Bonnie’s house.

When we got there, Barbara found Bonnie had been trying to get out of bed but couldn’t make it. She was upset and confused and unable to move. Barbara did what she could to calm Bonnie while I called 911. A sheriff’s deputy showed up a few minutes later, soon followed by EMS. Barbara’s initial diagnosis was dehydration and a possible UTI, which EMS agreed with.

While Barbara and the EMT’s were getting Bonnie ready to transport, I stood out in the kitchen talking to the deputy. I asked him how many deputies the Sheriff had. A dozen total to cover the whole county 24×7. That’s anything from one to three on duty at any given time, to cover almost 250 square miles of territory. When he told me that, I was surprised at just how quickly he’d responded.

While all this was going on, Barbara called Gene, Bonnie’s nephew, to let him and his wife know what was going on. They said they’d head over to the hospital to meet the ambulance. The EMT’s got Bonnie on the gurney and covered her up well. It was about freezing out with winds gusting to 60 MPH.

Once the ambulance left for the hospital, Barbara stripped Bonnie’s bed, we locked up, and then we headed back home to a very puzzled Colin, who couldn’t figure out what was going on.


Barbara forwarded me an email yesterday about the Alleghany County Ham Radio Club holding license training sessions at the library starting later this month. I called the contact number and had a long talk with Sam Burgiss, the contact guy. I signed up for the training sessions, although I probably don’t really need to take them to pass the Technician and General Class exams.

He said the local club was eager to get more members. It’s not a traditional ham club, he said. There aren’t any dues, any officers, or even any by-laws. It’s just a casual group.

I asked if they had an ARES group, or possibly RACES. He said they didn’t, yet, but that one of the county commissioners was an active ham and interested in getting an ARES group going to support local emergency management.

I told him a bit about my background and that I’d been a ham operator back when dinosaurs roamed the earth in the mid- to late-60’s. He said that was great, because they needed experienced operators as Elmers for the younger people in their club. That surprised me. Ham radio is one of those hobbies that I think of as being mostly older and retired people, but he said they had quite a few young people. The thought of myself as an old hand is a bit intimidating. I consider myself a newbie, but I’ll be happy to do what I can.


With the continuing discussion about Keystone Meats, I’ve now gotten several emails from people who are concerned that the 28-ounce size is too large for them to use at one time. Keystone lists all of their 28-ounce cans as 14 servings, but a 2-ounce serving seems a bit small to me. A 3- or 4-ounce serving size is more common, which yields 7 to 9 servings per can. So what do you do if there’s meat left over?

In normal times, obviously, you can just do what we do. If you intend to use the left-over meat soon, refrigerate it. Otherwise, freeze it. But in abnormal times, you may not have electricity and for most people that means no refrigerator or freezer. The solution is pretty simple: put the left-over meat in a ziplock bag, squeeze out as much air as possible, seal the bag, and toss it into a pot of boiling water. Boil the bag for at least a couple minutes, or until the meat is heated through, turn off the heat, and allow the bag to cool in the water bath. All of the bacteria in the bag are dead, and the meat should be fine sitting on the counter at room temperature for a fair while.

The only issue is that boiling is not hot enough to kill Clostridium spores, which are common in soil everywhere, and probably in your kitchen as well. The upshot is that once the bag cools, those spores may germinate and produce billions of Clostridium bacteria, which in turn produce botulism toxin. For that reason, you want to make sure to re-cook that meat very thoroughly before using it. Boiling does kill the bacteria and destroys the toxin, so the food will be safe to eat once it’s thoroughly recooked.

* * * * *