Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Yes DKA Can Kill...

This story gave me shivers. Yes, diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) can kill. My son nearly died from it, and so did Barb Marche's (story below... just scroll a bit).

It's not uncommon for children newly diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes to end up in serious DKA. It's not the norm, but if the child had numerous MISdiagnoses as my son did, it happens. This is how little Jonathan Cooper ended up in a coma where he had a stroke.

The type of story I am about to share is less common. Whenever I read a story like this I wonder if there is something there I don't know. DKA does take awhile to develop.

Woman to serve 5 years in jail in daughter's death
Mom pleaded guilty to felonies in neglect of 11-month-old.

By Katie Merlie
March 28, 2007

NOBLESVILLE -- A former Noblesville woman was sentenced to spend five years in jail Tuesday morning after pleading guilty to charges stemming from the death of her 11-month-old daughter.

Hamilton County Superior Court 2 Judge Daniel Pfleging sentenced Amber Shanklin, 27, to eight years in the Indiana Department of Correction, with one year to be served in the Hamilton County Community Corrections' work-release program and two on probation. She also was credited for 304 days after spending 152 days in jail.

Shanklin, whose most-recent address was in the 90 block of South Brinton Street in Cicero, pleaded guilty on March 7 to neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injury, a Class B felony. Another Class A felony of the same charge had been dismissed.

Sentencing for Shanklin's crime was supposed to be April 3, but her attorney, Andy Barker, said the court date was moved up because Shanklin is due to have her third child in two weeks.

In court documents, Noblesville Police Detective Mark Cruea stated that Shanklin's friend called for an ambulance on the morning of May 17, saying she discovered a dead baby girl in a home in the 1500 block of South 16th Street. Shanklin lived in the home with her brother, Jeremy Clonch.

Paramedics found Hallie Shanklin, who was described as lifeless and thin, in her bed.

Cruea said the girl was pronounced dead at Riverview Hospital.

Throughout the investigation, Cruea said, Shanklin and Clonch's friends described frightening scenes at the home on 16th Street.

The infant reportedly was spanked repeatedly and yelled at for screaming and crying. Court documents say Shanklin and Clonch were overheard talking about how they wish they could smother her or that she would just die so they wouldn't "have to put up with this (crying) anymore."

Hallie was diagnosed in December 2005 with Type 1 juvenile diabetes, and doctors ordered her mother to keep daily track of the child's glucose levels, give her insulin and closely watch her food intake.

Friends of the brother and sister told police that on May 16 they saw Shanklin put the crying child to bed. They never saw Hallie alive again.

Shanklin was arrested Oct. 26 on a warrant and has been in the Hamilton County Jail since.

This story is just troubling on so many levels.

The child ended up in serious DKA and starving to death. Just like people did before there was insulin.

There are no words.

Monday, March 26, 2007

I <3 Eddie Izzard

Just because he is so darned cute.

Well, and the comic genius thing. Yeah, there's that. But at the mo', I love Eddie Izzard because he is bringing to life a forgotten part of our culture--the Travellers who live in the Southern part of the United States. Izzard's new series, "The Riches," is about a group of modern-day Travellers who, well, travel the countryside in a battered RV before settling into a McMansion in suburbia... and taking on the identities of the home's deceased occupants.


Minnie Driver is also stunning, edgy, and sexy, as the drug-and-Nyquil addicted mum in the series. The kids are great too. The casting in this show is spectacular.


The Travellers featured in the series travel the Louisiana area mainly. They are descended from the Irish Travellers about whom I write in my current novel--the travelling vagabonds who take in the faery changeling, Tink. Travellers are not Gypsies. The Gypsies are of Romany descent and are not Irish. The Travellers are of Irish blood, though some Irish would not have you think so. They are also known, in a somewhat pejorative sense, as Tinkers. There are other names for them that aren't so nice. I won't pollute this blog with this sort of hate speech but if you Google Irish Traveller slang you will find them.

Some of these Irish Travellers came to America during the potato famine. They continued their travelling lifestyle in the USA.

Non-Travellers are "buffers." This is a corruption of the word "buffoon." This makes me a buffer. I'm OK with that. I will forever be a buffer. However, I have IMMENSE respect for the Travellers. I have read quite a bit about the Traveller culture and have studied bits and pieces of their secret language, the Shelta. The Shelta is not Gaelic. The Shelta is a secret "thieves' cant" that is a practically dead language. It took me about a month even to find a source for this language. I am currently inhaling anything to do with Travellers, either in the USA, Ireland or England.

Why I love "The Riches":

It's sexy. "Fake it like a buffer." Say no more! Eddie Izzard is nice to look at too. It's that bad boy look that captures me.

It is dark and violent. Self explanatory.

It is funny. I mean, c'mon, this is Eddie Izzard here.

It is inspiring. I do not necessarily get a lot of research out of this show since it is about an entirely different era of Travellers, not to mention they are living in a different country. But is it ever hot. When I watch this program, it makes me want to write.

Eddie Izzard is nice to look at.

See, he is going to rip you off, but you won't really care, because of the fact that he is such glorious eye candy.

"The Riches" is on FX at 10 PM PST. *HIGHLY* recommended!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Painful St. Patty's Memory

Many thanks to Barb Marche of Diabetes Advocacy for this poignant St. Patty's story. Barb does a tremendous of work in the juvenile diabetes community in her native country of Canada. She helps people fight for their children's rights in schools, helps them find information about the disease, and lobbies with politicians. Please stop by her site for more information. Barb also has a store on her site that you can visit.

Barb's son was diagnosed exactly seven years ago. I am pleased to welcome her as my guest today. Her story hits me at the core. Our son, too, was very very ill when he was diagnosed. I truly remember the terror of which Barb speaks. Take it away, Barb.


March 17th , St. Patrick’s Day. A day of green beer and pots of gold. March 17th --the day my son barely clung to life. The day prayers were said from one end of this continent to the other for my baby. He was a baby. He was 2 years old and weighed 11 kg. He was dying and all we could do was watch and will him back to life.

My son hadn’t been hit by a car. He hadn’t fallen in the house. He was hit by something far more fatal. My son had Type 1 diabetes and no one realized it. At that time, his symptoms were attributed to an ear infection, cutting teeth, the flu. I was his mother but they were the doctors. They were the professionals. They knew best.

There are moments in everyone’s lives that you remember every single detail. March 17, 2000 is one of those days. Liam still wasn’t feeling well. He was soaking his diapers as fast as I could put them on him. He was strong enough to open the fridge and drink a litre of apple juice but he couldn’t even talk. All he could do was lay in my arms and sleep. We had an appointment to see our family doctor. We had already been to the ER and were sent home with antibiotics.

Our appointment was in the afternoon. I went and got my hair cut. I stopped by the drug store and bought baby food hoping that he would keep that down. Finally we headed to the doctor’s office. Liam was still asleep. His breathing was raspy. His body was cold. I was getting scared. As we waited in the reception, a woman told the staff to take Liam before anyone. His body was so lifeless. The staff was scared. We were scared.

The doctor came in the room and only looked at Liam. He said words like diabetes, ketoacidosis, chest x-ray and get to the hospital now. They were waiting for us at the hospital. They drew blood from his lifeless form. I held him up as they did a chest x-ray. We went back to our doctor to wait for the results. It didn’t take long.

I was brought into his office and he looked as scared as I felt. He told me to take my son and to get to the hospital in the next town as fast as I could. He told me that they would be waiting for me but there was no time to waste. We wasted no time. There was a snow storm but we were an ad for Jeep. I willed Liam to live the entire one hour trip there. I was dropped at the front door and ran for the reception area. The woman couldn’t do his paperwork fast enough for me. I was terrified.

She finally brought us up to the Peds floor and they looked at him. No one looked positive. They took his little body and put in on a baby scale to weigh him. The doctor arrived and quickly moved him into ICU. We were terrified. We were asked to leave the room as they put a heart line in our baby. Words flew around us but some reverberated-- 12 hours. That was our time frame. If he could make it the next 12 hours without having a heart attack or a brain hemmorage he would live. After 12 hours the doctor would look for brain damage and kidney damage.

I stayed by his side, praying, willing him to live. Liam’s father stayed with our other son on the couch outside. Everyone knew how serious this was. I called one person—my mom. I told her to call anyone else. My sister inlaw called the hospital and found out how serious things were. Our doctor called too--every day we later learnt. The lab people called. Everyone was pulling for my baby.

It took two weeks for him to return to himself. He couldn’t walk. If he fell over, he was too weak to get back up. He was the picture of skin literally hauled over bones. He was my baby but it was the ugliest thing I had ever seen.

To look at him now, you would never know that this had happened. For me it was yesterday. For Liam? It was a lifetime ago. In 7 years he has lanced his finger and tested his blood over 25,550 times. He received over 6180 injections of insulin over a 3 year period and for the past four years has changed his infusion set over 400 times. He has elevated cholesterol at the ripe old age of 9. He has known the word carbohydrate since he was 3. He knows how his body reacts to exercise. He can make his insulin pump sing. He calls it “his life”.

His pump allows him to go to birthday parties on his own and give his own insulin. His pump allows him to graze at events without having a needle every time he opens his mouth.

We have come a long way. When Liam was first diagnosed we used Humalog and HumalinN. We were cutting edge. His meter took 30 seconds to count down and the drop of blood had to be the size of his finger. Seven years later we are blessed to have an insulin pump that offers him his freedom. We have meters that give him a reading in 5 seconds and take a pin drop of blood.

All this has cost us. In dollars and cents…We have spent over $26,000 in test strips, close to $4000 in insulin, $6000 for an insulin pump, $7000 in infusion sets for his pump, $500 in insulin cartridges, and more for things like numbing cream, foods, bandages, tape and glucose tablets. For seven years, we have spent over $44,000 to keep our son alive. In January I will need to purchase a new insulin pump for him. There is no insurance coverage and no provincial help for me. I will look to pay for this myself. His father will help but burdened with such a high cost has asked if it's worth it?

It is worth it--to see my son run and play with others; to see him not have to stop and eat at specific times; to see him not need Mom around for every injection; to see him lead as normal a life as a child with diabetes can is definitely worth it. It's worth not sleeping at night because I have to test his blood glucose levels. It's worth the financial strain. It's worth the emotional turmoil. It's worth the fights to protect his rights. It's worth the time spent educating and advocating. It's worth it all because he is alive today!

Thank you so much, Barb, for your candid story. Comments welcome!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Library Circulation Notice~We Are Now Going To Kill You

Looks like a job for SUPER MOM!

Unfortunately, I am not her.

Our library sends out these little emails when your books are late. Now that my kids have library cards, and signed on with my email address, I am getting these memoes from the library EVERY DAY about overdue books. We have NO FREAKIN' IDEA where these books are, or who wrote them, or if they even exist.

Lately I have an impending sense of doom when I receive a bulletin titled "Library Circulation Notice." I am afraid to even open them. I suppose the time will soon come to turn the house upside down, find the errant books, then crack into the piggy bank to pay off the fines. ARGH. You would think if I can organize the plot of a book, I could at least keep track of a physical book. NOPE.

Anyway, let's rewelcome the Super Mom who began it all... Melanie Lynne Hauser. Do Super Mom's powers include finding lost library books? Melanie, I sense another sequel...

I hosted Melanie recently when she sent me her delicious ARC, along with some Swiffer stuff. (The Swiffer mop makes a cameo in the book.) Now it is Girlfriends Cyber Circuit time, and that means book image, interview, etcetera!


Hailing from the Hoosier state (where she grew up in the shadow of the Indianapolis 500 racetrack), Melanie Lynne Hauser is a late bloomer who is just now figuring out what she wants to be when she grows up. Having tried her hand at telemarketing, candy striping for a nursing home (where it was suggested she not return, after she mistook the men's plastic urinals for water bottles and put ice in them) and acting under her maiden name, Melanie Miller (Most Academy Award-Worthy Performance: The title role, complete with bear costume, in the gut-wrenching exploration of good touch/bad touch entitled "What's the Matter, Little Bear?"), she put everything on hold in order to marry, have two children, and spend her time making sure they didn't stick their fingers in electrical sockets. (Both the husband, and the children.)

However, the children grew up. (Although occasionally she still has to make sure they don't stick their fingers in electrical sockets. They are, after all, boys.) After moving to the Chicago area, Melanie put in a brave couple of years with the PTA. She drove her sons to soccer practices, track meets, music lessons and orthodontist appointments. In short, she was in training to become Super Mom.

At an age when many women throw themselves back into their careers after raising their children, Melanie looked around and realized she never had one in the first place. After deciding she wasn't creative enough to start her own business (like all those women on Oprah), she turned to the one thing she did know: Books. A bookworm from the time she was able to form words, Melanie realized that what she really wanted to do was write books. So she wrote one. It stank. She buried it out in her backyard, next to the compost heap. She wrote another book. It didn't stink quite so much; in fact it got her not one, but two literary agents. Still, nobody wanted to publish it. She wrote another book. It stank the least of all, and led her to her current, wonderful literary agent, but still it went unpublished. Then she wrote CONFESSIONS OF SUPER MOM. So far, nobody has said that it stinks. In fact, so many people like it that the sequel, SUPER MOM SAVES THE WORLD will published by NAL in early 2007. And finally, at long last, Melanie has a career. (And old men in nursing homes everywhere breathe a huge sigh of relief.)


At the end of a long day at work, saving the world, you'd think Super Mom would get a break. But no. She still has to do battle with a foe more terrifying than the most dastardly of super villains - teenagers.

It's six months after the Horrible Swiffer Accident that left her a superhero, and Birdie Lee is still adjusting. For starters, she's hearing voices and having lustful thoughts about Mr. Clean. Then there's the fact that her daughter is suddenly sporting a bright pink streak in her hair, courtesy of her new friend Vienna (and if recent history has taught us anything, we all know that a girl named after a foreign city is going to be trouble). Birdie's son is experiencing his first case of puppy love, her nerdy scientist love interest has just proposed marriage, and her annoying ex-husband is suddenly less annoying. Which can only mean he's up to no good.

But things get even more sinister when her hometown of Astro Park gets Little League fever in a big way. Rabid parents, performance-enhancing Gatorade and a domed stadium on shaky - potentially explosive - ground are just the beginning of Super Mom's problems; throw in a ticked off school janitor and a corrupt mayor, and Super Mom has her hands full.

Read SUPER MOM SAVES THE WORLD to find out how one woman - one mother - struggles to keep her teenagers in tow with one hand while saving her hometown from disaster with the other. While trying to find time for herself amidst the very real, very messy job of blending families as she plans her marriage to her very own Super Man.

"CONFESSIONS OF SUPER MOM is a delightful read. Smart, zany, and touching, it is the perfect remedy for overwhelmed mothers everywhere."
--Karen Quinn, author of THE IVY CHRONICLES

"Like its title character, this debut novel has a secret's unexpectedly poignant and packs an emotional punch..."
- Publishers Weekly

"Forget the laundry, forget the dishes. Escape into the world of Super Mom for a few hours…you'll be glad you did. Melanie Lynne Hauser's quirky characters sparkle brightly as a newly Swiffered floor, and her writing shines like freshly polished glass."

"Hauser sparkles in her debut...Birdie juggles her home life with her two children, fights crime with Swiffer-like speed and embarks on a new romance."
-- Romantic Times (Four Stars)

"Looking for something TOTALLY different than all the rest of the books on the shelves? This is the perfect escape using romance, laugh out loud moments...!"
-- Madison McGraw,

"Who needs the speeding bullets, locomotives, and tall buildings - with wit, humor and some sage motherly advice, Melanie Lynne Hauser finally gives readers a true hero for our time - Super Mom."
--Jennifer O'Connell, author of OFF THE RECORD

"From the book's very first page you find yourself grinning...never has there been a more loveable, down-to-earth superhero...with wit, humor and some age-old motherly advice, this book gives the reader a true-to-life hero, helping every mom find the Super Mom inside!"

"What a delightful debut! Super Mom is funny, sexy, heroic, and touching. Melanie Lynne Hauser has penned a chic, witty celebration of motherhood, and it moves faster than a speeding bullet. I can't wait for the next adventure..."

-- JA Konrath, author of BLOODY MARY, a Lt. Jack Daniels Thriller

"Never has there been a more appealingly down-to-earth heroine or a superhero with more enviable powers. Moms everywhere will wish they could be like the Super Mom of Melanie Lynne Hauser's charming, funny, and heartfelt novel…and will ultimately realize they already are."

--Pamela Redmond Satran, author of BABES IN CAPTIVITY

"…fun twist on the superhero tale comes packaged with a socially responsible message…"

-- Booklist

"Melanie Lynne Hauser is funny. "Confessions of Super Mom" overflows with laugh-out-loud and read-out-loud moments. Hauser also is an astute critic of our overly high expectations of moms and our abysmally low standards for our culture and its leaders."

-- Knight Ridder


1. How did you get this idea for this book? Please describe how the book grew from a glimmer of an idea into a whole novel.

This was different for me, in that the sequel was part of the original two-book deal for CONFESSIONS OF SUPER MOM. So I had to write a book, before I had that moment of inspiration for it. It took some false starts, to tell the truth. But in remembering to keep Super Mom's real issues close to home, close to the heart of working women and mothers everywhere, I finally found the inspiration I needed to write this. It's just a continuation of the first book - the next step in her life as a superhero and as a mother. The villains are more trouble - as are the teenagers. And the relationships. And underneath it all is the realization that she's being taken for granted by her family and her town, despite all she does for them. Yet in the end, she learns to rise above it all - metaphorically and maybe literally.

2. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Just love the writing, but learn to let go of it when it's finished so you can love the next one, too. The ability to constantly reinvent yourself, continue to think up new stories and write them, is the one thing you really need in this business. You can't get too attached or bogged down in the failure - or success - of any one project.

3. What's your writing day like? Any tips or tricks for getting organized?

When I first started writing I felt it was important to always write at the same place, same time, every day. It helped me develop good, strong habits. Now, though, I can write in bits and pieces, anywhere, anytime. And that's important, I think, when you're still raising children or working at a day job. So first - keep to a regular schedule. THEN, you can mix it up.

4. What's been the most exciting thing about publishing? The most frustrating?

Definitely, the first time you hold the finished copy of your book, fresh from the publisher. It's a magical moment, and it should be. The most frustrating? Everything else about publishing! So much of it is out of the author's hands. And there's always rejection, no matter where you are in your career. You have to learn to love it for the writing, and not for the need for validation by an industry that is, I'm afraid, currently very flawed.

5. Do you think you might write a follow-up to this book? If not, what else is in the works?

Probably not another Super Mom book; I love where this book ends, where Birdie and Carl end up. Currently I'm working on something completely different; a World War II spy caper, probably for the young adult audience. I'm loving the espionage angle, but also, I'm so interested in exploring what life was like for the class of '42; one moment planning pep rallies and dances, the next, wondering if they'll join the Marines or Navy. I think roles had to have shifted, dramatically, between girls and boys - because normally in the high school years, it seems that the girls mature faster, have the upper hand socially. Yet how did all that change when it was the boys who were suddenly faced with going off to war? I'm so interesting in exploring all that - and yet, having fun with Nazi spies!

Thank you so much, Melanie! Melanie's book is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your local indy bookseller.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Lightly Carbonated

Thing 1 (looking at fizzy energy drink she is not allowed to have): "Hm, it looks pretty good to me."

Thing 2: "The label says lightly carbonated."

Thing 1 (studies label more): "Yeah, it only has one carb!"

Ah, life as a sibling of a diabetic... :)

Sunday, March 04, 2007

A Very Special Place

I have been blessed to find a very, very special place in the city of San Francisco. Oh, it is a place I have known about for a very long time. They are always in the news for the good, charitable work they do. But for whatever reason, I never walked in the doors until recently.

If you know me, you know I am not a Bible-thumping maniac. Really. However, I do have a Higher Power that works in my life. And I know everyone does, whether they call it God, Allah, Spirit of the Shining Waters, Goddess, Jesus, or even Howard. They do, even if they choose not to acknowledge its presence at all. Still, I do not rush around trying to convert others to my point of view or claiming I have "the one true way." Yet I am a very spiritual person.

Glide Memorial Methodist Church in San Francisco has got to be, for ME, the most amazing place to get in touch with my own Higher Power. Here is a page about all the work Glide does--from housing to food, from health care to counseling, from recovery to family services and employment training.

You might have heard of Glide due to the story of Chris Gardner, portrayed in THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS (Will Smith). Glide was the place that provided housing to Chris and his son. There are scenes shot in Glide during the service.

Although the film is interesting, my son said yesterday: "It wasn't an accurate description of what it's really like at a Glide service." "Why?" I asked. "Because the people in the movie all looked sad. At the real service, everyone is happy." He's right, too. Sunday service is a lot more like this:

Image from Glide's website

Kids are so perceptive! He also said he loves Glide because you can stand up and shout right in the middle of church... and because there's a saxophone player every week as part of the band. (My son plays too.) Yes, Glide is special all right.

Who is welcome at Glide? All are welcome. Rich, poor, white, black, Latino, Asian, Native American, Christian, Muslim, Jew, gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, Democrat, Socialist, Anarchist, the list goes on and on; they will even take Republicans and Athiests!! :) Any and all are welcome at Glide! It is a living embodiment of the quote from Paul's letter to the Galatians:
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Simply put, Glide is an amazing place. It's not just the music, not just the smiles, not just the vibrant preaching by the wonderful pastoral staff-

Rev Cecil Williams

Pastor Douglass Fitch


Or the amazing music of the Glide Ensemble (among the best gospel music in the nation):

Or the work done by the amazing foundation...

Janice Mirikitani, President of the Glide Foundation

Or the incredible open arms.

No, there is something even MORE.

Each time I have been to Glide has brought me to tears. Each time! I could go to Glide everyday of the week. It's a wonderful, wonderful place. To me, Glide is a miracle that is all about UNCONDITIONAL LOVE AND ACCEPTANCE. That is not easy to come by in our world!

If you are ever in the Bay Area, please do yourself a favor and check out Glide. (There was a large group yesterday all the way from Hamburg, Germany!) You will have to get there at least 30 minutes early to get a seat. I guarantee you it will be unlike any Sunday service you have ever attended.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Aye... 'Tis True

I'm very shy lately about this sort of thing (would rather hide in my writing lair with pots of coffee and lavender incense!) but it's been announced on Publishers Marketplace and a bunch of people have asked me about it, so there's no hiding now:

Martha O'Connor's TINK, a reimagining of Tinker Bell from Peter Pan as a fierce Gaelic faerie born as a changeling to a band of 19th-century gypsies, to Peternelle van Arsdale at Putnam, in a pre-empt, for publication in late 2008 or early 2009, by Mary Evans at Mary Evans (NA).

Yes, it is true. My latest book sold! It happened over vacation, four days after my agent submitted the book. I spoke to a number of insightful, enthusiastic editors at great publishers and was really, really flattered by all the interest. Any of these would have presented a wonderful opportunity, but the book could go to only one of them. The way it all ended was, Putnam made a pre-empt and we accepted. :) <--Me

I'm thrilled to be working with the magnificent Peternelle van Arsdale - who completely "gets" this book - and I can't wait to see how this journey unfolds.

More on the genesis of this book later. Do you ever feel as if your characters are speaking to you? This has been more like a haunting. It's a thrill though. Tink is a great gal, and I consider her a dear friend... though she does have lots and lots of dark secrets... almost as many as I do, lol :)


Friday, March 02, 2007

4.2 Near Lafayette

Yesterday evening a 4.2 earthquake struck Lafayette, CA about 35 miles from our house. It was a relatively unknown fault called the Reliez Valley Fault. I was at home and Phil and the kids were in the car, driving home from the bookstore.

As often happens during less intense earthquakes, the people in the car did NOT feel a thing.

However, I was sitting at home, watching The Office. It is my favorite program, even though it was a repeat.

All at once I felt a swoop, like the end of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride (and I oughta know, I rode it twice on our trip).

Just a nice, gentle rock. But the thing was, I was no longer at Disneyland. Hm.

Since a truck had been backing up outside (I heard the beeps) my first thought was that the truck had hit something so hard it had vibrated our house. (I later realized that was sort of a dumb thought since I had not heard a crash at all!) The chandelier waved a bit. Hm. Stranger still. This all happened in about two seconds. Suddenly there was another tremor and I realized: EARTHQUAKE!

I became scared there would be another jolt and so I rushed over to the doorframe between the dining room and kitchen and stood there. I had been told that that is the safest place to stand in a quake.

As it turns out, this was wrong too. Here's a link to an article by builder, Don Pearson, about why the doorway may NOT be the safest place, and may actually put you in MORE peril.

The USGS states in their booklet, "Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country," that this myth originated when many people owned old, unreinforced adobe structures with wooden doorframes. After an earthquake, these doorways were often the only part of the structure left standing. However, this was true back in the early days of our state. This is no longer the case for most of us so the rule of thumb is DROP, COVER, AND HOLD ON!

After about thirty seconds, nothing more happened, so I went and sat back down again, feeling stupid and not entirely sure it even WAS a quake until I saw the news.

Not everyone felt a calm, gentle, "ride-like" quake. Lots of people felt jolts and heard 'pops.' As for damages, the worst I heard was some guy's 200-gallon aquarium fell from the wall and shattered, ruining his floor and killing his fish. You know, at least it was not this.

(That, of course, is I-880 after Loma Prieta)

A relatively small quake like this is a great reminder though.

Do you know this "relatively unknown" fault passes right under BART?

Are you prepared for a quake that cuts you off from humanity for an unspecified time?

Are you prepared to be cut off for AT LEAST 72 hours in case of an earthquake?

Do you have a fully stocked kit of survival supplies, food and water?

How about your car? Are both cars stocked with emergency supplies?

If you are like me, you don't like to think about this stuff. You don't really want to go to Target and one by one pick out survival supplies. It's a very freaky feeling. Here is my advice.

Go to Google, look up "earthquake kit," and order a kit for your family. Here is where we got ours. Yes, it will be more expensive. But you will NOT have to worry again. And you will be sure you have all right stuff, like a space blanket, water purifier, and other stuff you are just not going to find at Target.

Then, each time you go to the store for the next three times, pick up two gallons of water and a family pack of granola bars. Put them next to the earthquake kit.

Now you're done.

With one important caveat.

If you have someone in your family with diabetes, keep prescriptions filled at all times. You may want to do what I do. After seeing Katrina I began to hoard expired insulin. I now have a giant Ziploc of expired insulin on my fridge carefully marked when the bottle expired. In a horrid lengthy emergency, we SHOULD have enough insulin to get by... but JUST IN CASE, we have this less-than-potent insulin. While it is not approved for use after it expires, you can bet it would be better than nothing.

Also, please make sure you purchase a Frio kit. We may be without power for 72 hours or more after a major earthquake. Please get a kit to keep your insulin cold. All you need is water to activate the kit. They are great for vacations and car trips too!

Everyone, stay safe and secure! Do what the Girl Scouts do, BE PREPARED!


Thursday, March 01, 2007

A Super Mom & Super Product!

Hi all,
Well, we've returned from our vacation to Disneyland--'twas quite fun. I'll tell you all about it later. For now, though, I wanted to tell you about a book I read in one night--and that was with AMERICAN IDOL in the background competing for my attention, so those of you who know me, know it must have been a really special book.

Melanie Lynne Hauser has been my friend for a long time. She is one of the most caring, understanding, thoughtful and splendid people I know. To add to that, Mel is a really talented writer. Her book CONFESSIONS OF SUPER MOM made a super splash in publishing and was picked up for film as well. In the book, Birdie Lee, an ordinary mom from the Kansas town of Astro Park, has a Horrible Swiffer Accident and becomes a super hero! Have you ever heard such an interesting concept?

Now Melanie's sequel, SUPER MOM SAVES THE WORLD, has come out! Melanie was kind enough to send me a copy of the book as well as a Swiffer Dust Brush.

I'm going to do a full interview with Melanie later in March (she is a member of the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit, too), but I wanted to share a little about it now.

At the end of a long day at work, saving the world, you'd think Super Mom would get a break. But no. She still has to do battle with a foe more terrifying than the most dastardly of super villains - teenagers.

It's six months after the Horrible Swiffer Accident that left her a superhero, and Birdie Lee is still adjusting. For starters, she's hearing voices and having lustful thoughts about Mr. Clean. Then there's the fact that her daughter is suddenly sporting a bright pink streak in her hair, courtesy of her new friend Vienna (and if recent history has taught us anything, we all know that a girl named after a foreign city is going to be trouble). Birdie's son is experiencing his first case of puppy love, her nerdy scientist love interest has just proposed marriage, and her annoying ex-husband is suddenly less annoying. Which can only mean he's up to no good.

But things get even more sinister when her hometown of Astro Park gets Little League fever in a big way. Rabid parents, performance-enhancing Gatorade and a domed stadium on shaky - potentially explosive - ground are just the beginning of Super Mom's problems; throw in a ticked off school janitor and a corrupt mayor, and Super Mom has her hands full.

Read SUPER MOM SAVES THE WORLD to find out how one woman - one mother - struggles to keep her teenagers in tow with one hand while saving her hometown from disaster with the other. While trying to find time for herself amidst the very real, very messy job of blending families as she plans her marriage to her very own Super Man.
I could not stop turning the pages on this clever book. It's not every day someone can build such a well-paced farce around the ideas of super heroes and cleaning products. I highly recommend you pick up this novel! Watch for special appearances from the Mr. Clean Man and the Brawny Lumberjack. You'll also learn about Batman and Robin's deepest psychological secrets, thanks to Birdie's best friend Carrie, undercover psychiatrist to the superheroes. There is a chuckle a minute in this fun novel and I think anyone who's raised kids will be nodding in sympathy at Birdie's situation.

Read the first chapter here.

As for the product, Melanie sent me the one Swiffer item I do not have--the Swiffer Dust Brush. Swiffer also makes the CarpetFlick-- great for spot cleaning on area rugs or a quick tidying of a mess--and the WetJet, which I use for my regular cleaning.

The WetJet has an ingenious design that allows you to spray just the amount of cleaning fluid that you need onto the floor--then wipe it up with a cleaning pad. This is a great concept and makes cleaning so easy. No big old bucket needed! I must confess that I, myself, risked a Horrible Swiffer Accident by jerry-rigging the WetJet. You see, I prefer to use natural cleaning supplies such as distilled water, vinegar, and essential lemon oil. I am not going to say anything more than the fact that my project involved a drill bit and an old (VERY OLD! hee hee hee) wine cork.

I do not recommend that YOU do this unless you wish to void the warranty and risk turning into a superhero like Birdie did. Still, those of us who are granola-eating, Whole-Foods-Shopping, Birkenstock-wearing, hot-tubbing Marin County types, tend not to care for chemical cleaners like that which is found in the WetJet reservoir. What else are we going to do?

This brings me to my only suggestion to improve this great product--I wish Procter and Gamble would make an alternative Swiffer refill for those of us who do not like chemicals. Maybe they could partner with Mrs. Meyers CLEAN DAY (who makes all my favorite commercial cleaners, biodegradable, cruelty-free, aromatherapeutic, and all-natural) and have her create some all natural refills.

This would be a win-win-win all around. Procter and Gamble makes money off people like me who are now buying refills, Mrs. Meyers makes money with the partnership, and the environment wins too. Procter and Gamble does not even have to pay me for that idea.

As for the Dust Brush!

I have not gotten the chance to use it yet, but I can already see how it will have about 100 uses in my house. I can use it to clean blinds, furniture, the dining room chandelier, on top of the fridge, even silk plants. And... NO HARSH DUSTING CHEMICALS NEEDED!

The dust brushes are disposable, but if you do not like disposable items for environmental reasons, it would not be hard to sew a washable refill. Or, if you are not creative that way, if you go to eBay and type in Swiffer, you will find a lot of washable refills for all the Swiffer products (except the CarpetFlick--that would be hard to make since the refill is basically a sticky piece of plastic tape). And there is another idea for a product Swiffer themselves could make. I am sure they could find a suitable washable cloth that would meet their high standards and still be re-usable. Procter & Gamble creates such great products, I think that if they offered a pro-environment option for people they could really get some even better publicity.

Anyway, this Swiffer duster looks like it will be great for day to day or even weekly dusting. We really don't need to polish furniture more than once a month at the most, unless there is a spill. The best thing to polish wood is a mixture of a few drops of olive oil and about 1/4 cup of vinegar. Soak a cloth with this and polish the furniture. In between--this dust brush might be a good option for you.

THANK YOU SO MUCH, Melanie, for sending me this great and definitely NOT disposable book. :) And thank you to Procter and Gamble for offering me the chance to try their brand new product.