May 29, 2006

Normally I Don't Post Pictures Like This

Yes, this is the inside of our refridgerator. I took pictures after I cleaned it out. I didn't get to the door shelves. But, I ended up tossing out about two thirds of what was in there. And then, I removed the shelves, washed them and also cleaned out the inside of the 'fridge. Found a few missing plates. They were wrapped in Saran wrap with some mysterious goo on them. Yuck! I hope it stays this way for awhile.

Posted by Valkyre at 08:08 PM | Comments (2)

May 25, 2006

Maybe I Should Quit Reading the Newspaper

Sometimes I think that life would be more pleasant if I just stop reading the newspaper, or watching the news. Stories like the following make me sick to my stomach. This is from today's Los Angeles Times:

Abused 6-Month-Old Boy Dies

By Lance Pugmire, Times Staff Writer
May 25, 2006

A 6-month-old boy found severely beaten in Ontario this week died Tuesday night, and the boy's mother faces a charge of assault on a child resulting in death, authorities said.

Martha Castro, 28, of Bell Gardens is accused of fracturing her son's skull; Ontario police said she also may have sexually abused the infant.

"There have been no other arrests, and no other suspects pinpointed," said Cpl. Jeff Higbee. "Right now, it's pretty much coming down to her."

Robert Castro died after suffering numerous injuries, including broken ribs, according to police and the San Bernardino County coroner's office.

Police said the boy probably suffered brain damage. The baby also had suffered "extensive sexual abuse," police said.

Higbee said the baby's condition was extremely disturbing to officers who were first called to the scene in the 700 block of North Virginia Avenue.

The baby was treated by paramedics after someone at the home of Castro's boyfriend in Ontario reported that the baby had been injured in a fall. Medical personnel summoned police after seeing the baby's injuries.

An autopsy is scheduled for later this week, a coroner's spokeswoman said. Castro is due to be arraigned today in San Bernardino County Superior Court in Rancho Cucamonga.

Posted by Valkyre at 10:20 PM | Comments (0)

May 22, 2006

So Far, So Good

Barbaro's surgery was successful and they are giving him a 50-50 chance:

From yesterdays Los Angeles Times:

Barbaro Surgery Successful, but Derby Winner Isn't Out of the Woods Yet

From Associated Press
8:54 PM PDT, May 21, 2006

Barbaro underwent more than five hours of surgery Sunday to repair rear leg bones he'd broken in the Preakness, calmly awoke from anesthesia and "practically jogged back to his stall" for something to eat.

His survival, however, is still 50-50.

Despite the huge first step on the road to recovery, Dr. Dean Richardson said the Kentucky Derby winner's fate still came down to "a coin toss."

"Right now he's very happy," Richardson said after the surgery at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center for Large Animals. "He's eating, he's doing very good. But I've been doing this too long to know that day one is the end of things."

The strapping 3-year-old colt sustained "life-threatening injuries" Saturday when he broke bones above and below his right rear ankle at the start of the Preakness Stakes. His surgery began around 1 p.m. Sunday, and it wasn't until some eight hours later that Richardson and trainer Michael Matz emerged to announce that all had gone well.

"From the last time I saw him to now was a big relief," said a visibly fatigued Matz. "They did an excellent job. It's just an amazing thing to see him walk in like that.

"I feel much more comfortable now. I feel at least he has a chance."

Unbeaten and a serious contender for the Triple Crown, Barbaro broke down Saturday only a few hundred yards into the 1 3-16-mile Preakness in Baltimore. The record crowd of 118,402 watched in shock as Barbaro veered sideways, his right leg flaring out grotesquely. Jockey Edgar Prado pulled the powerful colt to a halt, jumped off and awaited medical assistance.

Barbaro sustained a broken cannon bone above the ankle, a broken sesamoid bone behind the ankle and a broken long pastern bone below the ankle. The fetlock joint -- the ankle -- was dislocated.

Richardson said the pastern bone was shattered in "20-plus pieces."

The bones were put in place to fuse the joint by inserting a plate and 23 screws to repair damage so severe that most horses would not be able to survive it.

When he came out of surgery, Barbaro was lifted by sling and placed on a raft in a pool so he could calmly awake from the anesthetic.

Richardson said the horse "practically jogged back to his stall" and was wearing a cast from just below the hock to the hoof.

"He's a real genuine athlete, there's no doubt about it," Richardson said. "Even the way he woke up from anesthesia, he was very much the athlete waking up from general anesthesia."

Richardson again stressed that Barbaro had many hurdles to clear.

"Horses with this type of injury are very, very susceptible to lots of other problems, including infection at the site," he said.

Horses are frequently euthanized after serious leg injuries because circulation problems and deadly disease can arise if they can't distribute weight evenly -- and lying down for long periods can cause internal problems, making immobilization or elevation impossible.

Richardson said he expects Barbaro to remain at the center for several weeks, but "it wouldn't surprise me if he's here much longer than that."

Tucked away on a sprawling, lush 650-acre campus in Chester County, the New Bolton Center is widely considered the top hospital for horses in the mid-Atlantic region. It is renowned for its specialized care, especially on animals needing complicated surgery on bone injuries.

Roses, other assorted flowers and cards from fans and admirers expressing well wishes were delivered to the center Sunday and displayed in the lobby. One sign said "Be Well Barbaro." Two apples and five carrots, some of a horse's favorite snacks, lay next to the flowers.

The breaks in the colt's leg occurred as a result of an "athletic injury," said Corinne Sweeney, a veterinarian and the hospital's executive director.

"It's an injury associated with the rigors of high performance," she said. "They were designed as athletes and they are elite athletes, thus they incur injuries associated with performance. The frame sometimes plays a role, absolutely."

Barbara Dallap, a clinician at the center, was present when Barbaro arrived at the center Saturday night.

"When we unloaded him, he was placed in intensive care and we stabilized him overnight," Dallap said. "He was very brave and well behaved under the situation and was comfortable overnight."

Barbaro's injury came a year after Afleet Alex's brush with catastrophe at the Preakness. Turning for home, the horse was bumped by another and nearly knocked to his knees before gathering himself and going on to win.

Thoroughbreds have broken down in the past in big races: In the 1993 Preakness, Union City broke down and was euthanized; in the 1993 Belmont Stakes, Preakness winner Prairie Bayou broke down; in the 1999 Belmont Stakes, with Charismatic trying to win the Triple Crown, he was pulled up while finishing third with a fractured ankle; Go For Wand broke down in the stretch of the 1990 Breeders' Cup Distaff and was euthanized; and in 1975, the great Ruffian broke down in a match race with Foolish Pleasure. She was operated on, but was later euthanized.

Posted by Valkyre at 05:46 AM | Comments (0)

May 21, 2006

An Interview With the Vet

I've been looking all over the internet to see if there is any update on Barbaro, who was injured yesterday in the Preakness. I haven't been really able to find anything. I did find an interview with the veternarian who treat him at the track from the official Preakness site:


MODERATOR ERIC WING: We are joined by Dr. Larry Bramlage, the on call veterinarian today representing the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP). Dr. Bramlage thanks for coming down to speak to us.

Could you give us an update on the condition of Barbaro?

DR. BRAMLAGE: At this point he's been x-rayed so we know the injury, he has a fracture both above and below the ankle. Dr. Dan Dreyfuss is his attending veterinarian who took the radiographs.

The way that practical happens is they break the one above the ankle first, and they have so much energy and adrenaline that they try to keep running. It would be very much analogous to someone twisting their ankle badly and fracturing their ankle. They can stay in bed. Tried to keep running and he broke the bone just below the ankle because of the instability of the scenario.

The problems that brings up are two-fold. One, there are significant danger to the blood supply to the lower limb. That's the one you worry about the most as far as this being a life-threatening injury, but equally as important is that's an injury that you or I would be put in bed for six weeks before we were allowed to walk on it, and that's impossible to do with a horse.

So it's going to take some sort of major stabilizing surgery. The preliminary word was he was going to go to the University of Pennsylvania for treatment, but there's a couple of steps to take care of before that.

First of all, he didn't get a chance to run the race, so he is still full of energy. So they've tranquilized him and settled him down in the stall, and then you have to stabilize the limb in some fashion for transport so that he doesn't do additional damage to it while he's hauled up there.

So there's some major hurdles here. This is a significant injury, and there are at least a couple of things that it are very life-threatening for him. His career is over. This will be it for him as a racehorse.

Under the best of circumstances, we're looking go try to save him as a stallion.

Q. Just to confirm, Dr. Bramlage, is it the right hind ankle?

DR. BRAMLAGE: The right hind ankle. And the fractures are fracture of the bone just above and a serious fracture of the bone just below the ankle.

Q. Now, you said this was a touchy situation at best and that surgery was in the offing provided he could get that far. Best case scenario, when would he have this surgery in?

DR. BRAMLAGE: Well, that's somewhat depends on him. If you have your choice, you would like to settle the horse down, get him used to the fact that he has a fracture. He becomes a much better patient for anesthesia and recovery from anesthesia, which as everyone knows is a major obstacle for a horse like that for an animal of 1200 pounds.

But in some instances, the fracture is unstable enough that you'll take some intermediate route. We try not to take them immediately to the operating table because we know with a horse physiology and their psyche, especially, as I said in this scenario, he didn't get a chance to expend these energies.

He's still full of energy that they have to somehow deal with that psychological aspects of getting him under control and then taking him and make him a good patient for surgery and the anesthesia because this surgery will take some hours when they reconstruct him.

Q. Dr. Bramlage, Gary Stevens mentioned on the telecast before the race started that he seemed particularly revved up. Later he broke through the gate, and I presume he was vet checked after came back around before he was permitted to reenter the starting gate?

A Right.

Q. Could that, that pent-up energy in anyway have served as the foundation for this kind of trying to do too much, or is it just a total fluke in the same way that this could happen to any horse at any moment?

DR. BRAMLAGE: Any horse, any person. You know, why does a football player turn their ankle, break their tibia? Why does a basketball player blow out their knee. It's all of this excitement and energy certainly but that energy doesn't predispose the fact that he's going to have an injury. It has to be some sort of, you know, bad step, load the thing unevenly.

As everyone knows, they have six times our body weight and have about the same amount of ground surface as you or I do and those really elegantly built lower legs are very vulnerable to twisting it as just exactly the wrong ankle and create the fracture.

Q. Dr. Bramlage, before it was apparent to nay of us laymen that something was amiss, Edgar Prado was already in the process of pulling him up.

To what degree does the quickness of Prado's actions improve Barbaro's chances over the next 24, 48 hours?

DR. BRAMLAGE: Well, that relates to what I mentioned about the blood supply. The more steps he takes on an unstable limb, the more damage it's going to do to the blood supply.

Horses only have two relatively small arteries to that part of the leg and so it's critical that the horse get pulled up before they damage those too badly.

Edgar Prado probably knew something was wrong when that first fracture happened but the horse doesn't likely know that. They don't sense even in the end if Edgar had let him go he probably would have tried to chase him around the field because it doesn't hurt initially with all that adrenaline rush especially when you tear the covering of the bone where the -- where all nerve supply is.

The horse feels relatively nothing until the in inflammation set it. Edgar was probably more aware that he was injured than the horse was.

Q. Any questions from down here for Dr. Bramlage before we bring in the winning connection I'll repeat again for the benefit of those upstairs in the press box.

Could you attempt to clarify Dr. Bramlage when in your estimation the first fracture occurred? Was it after he broke through the starting gate, the actual running of the race? I mean after the real running of the race could it have happened earlier?

DR. BRAMLAGE: No, it couldn't have happened earlier because he broke out of the gate and was going whenever his action began to -- when Edgar felt something was wrong so this happened sometime after he was going in the what, the first future long or so.

At around that time and then it took him another hundred yards to get him slowed down. So, in my opinion, this had nothing to do with him breaking through the gate as far as a cause and effect of the fracture in his leg. He wouldn't have been able to go around the gate, get back in and break like he did.

Q. Alright. Well, Dr. Bramlage, we thank you very much for taking the time to explain the situation so professionally and I'm sure we all wish the best for Barbaro and thanks again for your information.
THE WITNESS: You're welcome.

Posted by Valkyre at 05:25 PM | Comments (0)

May 20, 2006

There Will Be No Triple Crown Winner This Year

Barbaro, winner of the Kentuck Derby and the favorite in today's Preakness, was severly injured. He may have to be euthanized.

From today's Los Angeles Times:

Bernardini Wins Preakness; Barbaro Is Hurt

Favorite fractures his right hind leg twice early in race, putting the Kentucky Derby winner's survival in jeopardy.

By Robyn Norwood, Times Staff Writer
6:23 PM PDT, May 20, 2006

BALTIMORE -- Barbaro, the imposing dark-bay colt many believed was the best hope for a Triple Crown in a generation, broke down Saturday with two fractures in his right hind leg shortly after the start of the Preakness Stakes and will not race again, with his survival in doubt.

The Kentucky Derby winner broke through the gate before the start, then returned for the official start, only to suffer an initial fracture above the ankle about 100 yards into the race, and a devastating second fracture below the ankle before he could be pulled up.

"No chance he will race again. No chance," said Dr. Larry Bramlage, the on-call veterinarian at Pimlico Race Course who is an equine surgeon in Lexington, Ky.

The crucial issue for Barbaro's survival, which could be determined in a matter of hours or ultimately in the coming months, is whether there is sufficient blood supply in the leg for the injury to be repaired and heal.

"If a horse has no blood supply and no chance to repair the injury, in that case euthanasia [is the option,] Bramlage said. "This is a very serious injury."

Bernardini, a well-bred son of A.P. Indy who had run only three races, went on to win the Preakness by 561/47 lengths in 1 minute 54.65 seconds 1:54.65, but the eyes of much of the record crowd of 118,402 at Pimlico Race Course were on Barbaro. An equine ambulance raced to him, with some spectators crying out emotionally for veterinarians not to euthanize the horse on the track. Trainer Michael Matz, one of the heroes among the passengers of a 1989 United Airlines crash near Sioux City, Iowa, that killed 112 people, clambered from his box seat and went onto the track.

Barbaro, kicking his hind leg, was loaded into the ambulance and taken to the barn, where he remained for about an hour after the race as he was treated and sedated. He was taken away by ambulance, with a police escort helping the ambulance maneuver through the traffic outside the gates.

The horse was taken to George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals at New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pa., not far from the Philadelphia-area home of owners Gretchen and Roy Jackson, where surgeons would begin to assess Saturday night whether he was fit to have surgery.

"It's sad. We expected being beaten, yes. We didn't expect this," said Gretchen Jackson, whose horse had inspired hopes of the first sweep of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes since Affirmed did it in 1978.

"I'm sure [people] are sorry," Jackson said. "You had to love him."

Bramlage said Barbaro's false start had nothing to do with the injury, and that he appeared to return to the gate in good order. Jockey Edgar Prado said the horse was "feeling good" before the race.

"When he went to the gate, he was feeling super and I felt like he was in the best condition for this race. He actually tried to buck me off a couple of times," Prado said. "He just touched the front of the doors of the gate and went right though it.

"During the race, he took a bad step and I can't really tell you what happened. I heard a noise about a hundred yards into the race and pulled him right up."

Matz left to accompany the horse for the trip, but his wife, D.D. Alexander Matz, spoke to reporters.

"Barbaro acted like the true champion he is, and hopefully he'll get the best care possible and he'll be all right," she said. Nick Zito, trainer of Hemingway's Key, third behind Bernardini and Sweetnorthernsaint, spoke for horsemen.

"The whole story is this," Zito said. "Let's just hope Barbaro lives."

Posted by Valkyre at 10:59 PM | Comments (3)

May 08, 2006

Lillian Asplund, 99; Last U.S. Survivor of Titanic's Sinking

Lillian Asplund, 99; Last U.S. Survivor of Titanic's Sinking

Article here:

From Times Staff and Wire Reports
May 8, 2006

Lillian Gertrud Asplund, the last American survivor of the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, has died. She was 99.

She was just 5 when she lost her father and three brothers — including her fraternal twin — when the luxury liner hailed as "practically unsinkable" went down.

Asplund died Saturday at her home in Shrewsbury, Mass., said Ronald E. Johnson of Nordgren Memorial Chapel in Worcester, Mass.

Her mother, Selma, and another brother, Felix, who was 3, survived the Titanic's sinking off Newfoundland in the early morning of April 15, 1912.

Asplund was the last Titanic survivor with actual memories of the event, but she shunned publicity and rarely spoke about the tragedy in the North Atlantic.

For much of her life, Asplund said, she was haunted by the faces of her doomed family members who peered over the rail at her after she was passed into a descending lifeboat, according to the website .

Among the more than 700 who survived, the two who are still alive were too young to remember the disaster. Barbara Dainton and Eliza Millvena Dean, both of England, were less than a year old when the jewel of the White Star Line struck an iceberg.

More than 1,500 people died on the maiden voyage of the ocean liner whose sinking has long gripped the public's imagination. That is partly because many prominent and wealthy passengers were on board, including Benjamin Guggenheim, who sipped brandy and smoked cigars with his valet while the ship went down.

Mainly, it is because its owners had arrogantly trumpeted the ship, billed as a technological marvel, as "unsinkable." In the end, the vaunted network of watertight compartments had not been built high enough.

The Asplund family had boarded the Titanic in Southampton, England, as third-class passengers. They were on their way back to Worcester from their ancestral homeland, Sweden, where they had spent several years.

After the ship struck the iceberg, the family went to the ship's upper deck, Asplund's mother recalled in an interview with the Worcester Telegram & Gazette shortly after returning to Massachusetts.

"I could see the icebergs for a great distance around," she said. "It was cold and the little ones were cuddling close to one another and trying to keep from under the feet of the many excited people…. My little girl, Lillie, accompanied me, and my husband said, 'Go ahead, we will get into one of the other boats.' He smiled as he said it."

Rescued by the steamship Carpathia, the surviving Asplunds were taken to a New York City hospital before returning to Worcester to live with Selma Asplund's sister.

Because the family lost all of its possessions and life savings of $700 on the Titanic, the city of Worcester held a fundraiser and benefit that brought in about $2,000 for them.

In 1951, the family moved to Shrewsbury.

Asplund never married. She worked at various secretarial jobs. She retired early to care for her mother, who was said to have never recovered from the tragedy.

Selma Asplund was about 90 when she died on the 52nd anniversary of the sinking in 1964. Felix Asplund died in 1983 at 73.

Posted by Valkyre at 11:29 PM | Comments (0)

May 07, 2006

Finally Caught Up

I finally finished book number 6 in the Harry Potter series and am sitting here twiddling my thumbs waiting for the next. Book number 6 left a lot of questions to be answered. J.K Rowlings insists that there will only be 7 books in the series, so I hope that any loose ends will be tied up in the next book.

Posted by Valkyre at 06:45 PM | Comments (0)

May 02, 2006

Trying to Get Back Into the Routine

When we first got our dog Pepper, Mike and I used to be pretty good about taking daily walks. Even when it started to get dark earlier, we would still go. I could remember walking into different neighborhoods and looking at the different Christmas displays during the winter months. And then, back in 2003, I got my job. I think we maybe took a couple of more walks with her and then just quit, due to lack of time. But now, I'm managing to get to work earlier and get home earlier. And we've now started taking the dogs for a walk. (We have three dogs now.) It's nice getting back into that routine. It's good for us, and it's good for the dogs. They've been getting a little chunky themselves. Hopefully, we can keep this up.

Posted by Valkyre at 07:57 PM | Comments (0)