Apr 28, 2012

Pantry Raiding

Once again, I followed some of the advice that my grandma instilled in me. "When you are going away from home for more than a few days, make sure you empty the fridge and leave the home clean. That way when you get back, it all seems new." I went away for a few days so before I left, I made sure I didn't have any food in the fridge that would spoil, and I cleaned up the apartment.

After a 9 hour drive to get back, it was extremely comforting to hit the garage door opener, pull in, and enter a clean apartment, especially with Dozer. What I DIDN'T have on the day I got back, was a plan on what I would have for dinner. So, I engaged yet another thing that grandma instilled in me, "Always have a stock of food on hand, and use it to make a potluck meal." So, I raided the pantry.

As you can see, I took some frozen vegetables and steamed them. I took a can of tomato sauce, added a bunch of Italian herbs, and made a sauce. I made some noodles (grandma made me repeat the saying "I will ALWAYS have noodles in the pantry"). I also had a bag of frozen shrimp that I didn't use in my last making of jambalaya, so I sauteed them in my cast iron skillet.

Then, when they were all done cooking...I drained the noodles, and combined all of the ingredients in a bowl, and dove in. It was AMAZING!!!

This is a recipe that I will make more in the future, but on purpose...not just because I had to raid the pantry. My lesson about all of this is simple...keep the place clean if you are going to be away for a while (you will enjoy coming back again)...keep some stable items in your pantry, and don't be afraid to combine several of them all together into a potluck meal. There are several other pantry raid recipes on the Food & Stuff page above.

Yeah, grandma would be proud...

Apr 27, 2012

Flour for Pasta

As you can tell, I spend a lot of focus on cooking. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents, and learned a lot from them. Refer to the Food & Stuff page for more recipes.

This is a hand powered pasta making machine.
This is the hand powered pasta making machine I use.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
HOWEVER...the point of this entry is because times have changed from what we used when cooking, mainly in the "flour" department. Why is that important? Because I use a lot of flours and yeast when making my pizza dough and pasta. Yes, I still make them from scratch, they might become future entries. I spend more time in the kitchen instead of outside. Sure, I keep a box or two of pasta in the pantry for "quick use," but I prefer to make it from scratch. I use my grandmother's process to make pasta and dough (all by hand, lots of Italian herbs, a wood rolling pin, lots of olive oil), and an Imperia pasta machine. And yes, I still do it all by hand...no plugs involved...

But another reason this is important, is that I am a bit of a "hippie," (yes, I was born before the original Woodstock), and always strive to find healthier ways to live. So, I started looking at the flours and pastas available at the store, and decided to do some research about them, just so I could make healthier choices. It actually surprised me to do some research online (of course), and rather than redo all the typing and food tasting, here are a couple of sites that share the information.
  • This one (click HERE) is a Nutritional Comparison of Whole Grain Pastas
  • This one (click HERE) is a taste test comparison of most of the whole wheat pastas available at most stores
When learning to make pasta with my grandmother, we always used unbleached white flour and durum semolina (1 to 1 ratio). The durum semolina gave the texture and taste that we liked, but the white was less expensive. But, in trying to make healthier decisions, and with the rise of whole grain pasta, I decided to look at it all. I was surprised by the results. Sure, using the durum semolina mixed with white isn't "horrible," but there are better choices available today for pasta and flour. So, where does that leave us?

Basically at the point, where I have to choose the flours that I will use to make healthier pizza and pasta. I think I will always add durum semolina, because it reminds me of Grandma. But in doing some "research" about flour (click HERE), I'm leaning towards using organic white wheat flour with the durum semolina.

I'll let you know how that all turns out...stay tuned.

Apr 26, 2012

Birdcage Liners Have Changed

As I sat here this morning booting up my laptop and HP Tablet, it struck me that times have changed. I'm just glad I've kept up with things, because I've changed too...maybe I'm just getting old... Naw, just learning new ways to keep in touch with the world.

I guess part of it is because I'm old enough to remember one of my first jobs, which was to hand-fold and hand deliver the Pittsburgh Press to my neighbors at the front door. Then once a month, ring the bell and ask them to pay me. I made sure to carry a box of dog treats in my heavy canvas bag so I could make doggy friends all over the neighborhood (and not get bit). Now remember, that was in the 80s so we didn't have iPods or MP3 players yet, but I wore out a LOT of cassette tapes in my Sony Walkman...

Now we fast forward to the early 2000s and a few of the changes I've noticed. Daily newspapers are delivered by adults in cars and put into the mailbox or the newspaper box out by the curb. My weekly free local newspaper is actually delivered by the US Post Office person in my mailbox with the junk mail and bills. Nobody rings a doorbell to collect, they send you a bill and you can pay it online. That must really cut down on the tips and Christmas bonuses that carriers get.

We have to jump to the next chapter of the Blu-Ray to bring us to today. My observation today was that I boot up my laptop and Firefox browser so my email, blog, and Facebook tabs open. I boot up the HP Tablet because my RSS Reader tab is there. All of them are prompting me for my ID and password, so I dutifully enter them so I can get access to my "news." I use the laptop to respond to the 5 email accounts, and "occasionally" log into Facebook. I use the HP Tablet to monitor my 15 subscriptions in Google Reader for my news. I use the tablet because I can walk around with it, sit on the porcelain throne with it, sit on the patio in front of a fire, and walk the dog with it. That is how I get news.

By using the Google Reader, it allows me to subscribe to news channels from all around the world and have one place to check for all of the blog entries that are made. It is efficient and allows me to see "at a glance" what is going on everywhere on Earth. While I strongly encourage you to learn about Reader and RSS subscriptions because it is more efficient, just keep in mind that you'll lose your newspaper.

Apr 17, 2012

Traumatic Brain Injury - Part V - Prevention

Every 16 seconds in the U.S., a person suffers a TBI. This entry is related to how to PREVENT being a statistic. For a traumatic brain injury (TBI), there is no cure, only prevention. What can a person "do" to prevent this? Most things are common sense, but my suggestions focus on falls because they are the biggest cause (see TBI Part II Causes). These suggestions have been collected from various websites and from my own personal experience. Links to all of the other websites appear on the TBI entries I've made (click on the Misc/Brain Dump page above for related posts or the related links at the end of this post).

Falls can occur in nearly ANY part of daily life, and we rarely pay attention to each and every move we make. Here are some common sense things that can help you prevent a fall and possible TBI:
  • Use handrails on stairways and look at the steps when walking 
    • Stop reading the mail or magazine 
    • Look for items that have been left there
  • Provide lighting on stairs for people with poor vision or who have difficulty walking
    • A nightlight at the top or bottom is a good idea at night
  • Sit on safe stools and chairs. 
    • Wobbly chairs collapse, stools tip, throwing you to the floor
  • Do not place obstacles in walking pathways (such as stairs, hallways and traffic patterns)
  • If a cabinet door is open on a cabinet in the kitchen and you drop something on the floor, be careful standing back up or your head may impact against the bottom of the open door
  • Use a mat/rug on bathroom and kitchen floors (near the tub/shower and sinks)
    • Those 2 floors are notorious for getting wet. You do NOT want to slip on one (that is what happened to me). 
    • Trying to get back on your feet isn't easy and you can repeatedly fall, making the injury even worse.
The second largest part of our lives that cause falls, are sports and physical activities. Here are some suggestions focused on them. Most sports (football, baseball, soccer, lacrosse, etc.) have specific requirements for the gear that must be worn to protect the various parts of the body. I am focusing on the points below because they are about helmets, which help prevent TBIs. I'm not here to explain the pros or cons about helmets, simply provide you with some suggestions and information.
  • Always wear a helmet when on a bicycle, motorcycle, scooter, snowmobile, jet-ski
  • State Helmet Laws
    Some Local Helmet Laws
    White states have no known helmet laws

    • Some states have laws about helmets for under 18 age people riding bicycles and this site [link] shows info and has a lot of good links about other issues surrounding helmets. The image to the right is an overview of the states that have known/reported laws.
  • Wear a helmet while skiing, snowboarding, skating and skateboarding
  • Wear a helmet when participating in contact sports
    • Not just in "official" ones, but even during the weekend pick-up games
I mention contact sports in the last bullet because I am a ref for a roller derby league and have been at countless bouts where a skater (or even ref) has been knocked down and hit their head on the floor. Helmets are required to be a competing skater or ref (yes, they sometimes get taken out). Basically what a helmet does in any of the activities mentioned above is PREVENTS a fall from being a severe TBI and reduces it to a mTBI, more commonly known as a concussion.

Overall, use common sense in your daily life and when taking part in any physical activity... your head will thank you.

Related Links

Apr 11, 2012

You Are Driving Wrong - Part II - Steering Methods

In the Part I - Hand Placement of the You Are Driving Wrong series, I discussed where your hands should be placed (9 and 3, not 10 and 2) [link]. This follow up is about 3 steering methods and when to use each type. I'm going to summarize what is on the NHTSA document about Using Efficient Steering Techniques [PDF].

Push/pull Steering - Preferred method
  • Left hand is between 7 and 8 o’clock, right hand between 4 and 5 o’clock.

  • Depending on the direction of the turn, right or left hand pushes the wheel up and the opposite hand slides up, and pulls down.

  • Pulling hand moves down, the other hand returns to the its original position.

  • Reverse the process to bring the vehicle back to the desired path.
  • Hands never cross over the steering wheel, so there is less chance of an injury to the face, hands or arms from an air bag in the event of a crash.

Hand-over-Hand Steering:
  • Use when turning at low speeds with limited visibility at an intersection, when parking, or recovering from a skid.
  • Left hand grasps the wheel between 8 and 9 o’clock and right hand between 3 and 4 o’clock.

  • Depending on the direction of the turn, use the right top third of the wheel to move it to the right and use the left top third of the wheel to move it to the left.

  • One hand grasps the wheel and pushes up, the opposite hand lets go, reaches across the other arm, grasps the wheel and pulls the wheel up, over and down.

  • As wheel is pulled up, the hand that initiated the pushing motion releases the wheel and returns to its original position.
  • Simply reverse the hand-over-hand process to bring the vehicle into your intended path. 

One Hand Steering:
  • Use one hand steering when backing or operating vehicle controls (wipers, flashers, lights, etc).
  • The placement of one hand on the steering wheel is critical to vehicle balance, steering reversals, and potential injury.
  • When reaching for an operating control,  keep the other hand in the normal position of 8-9 o’clock or 3-4 o’clock, depending on steering wheel design.
  • One hand at 12 o’clock is only recommended when backing up and the driver turns in the seat in order to see to the rear.
  • The way the wheel is turned when backing is the direction the vehicle will move to the rear. 

Apr 9, 2012

Italian Irish BBQ Poultry Taco - By Dozer

Dozer in a pensive mood
It's been a while since I took over my buddy's laptop, but  you were due for another thumb-less entry. Yeah, this is Dozer again. I kinda hibernated over the winter, but now that it is spring, I took over his keyboard while he was out on one of his walk-abouts for exercise.

I finally figured out why I actually SMILE when I see him in the kitchen and the light is switched on...cause I know he's about to create yet another Italian Irish BBQ Poultry Dairy Taco... Thank goodness that he cooks based on the philosophy that "food is about the senses...it shouldn't just be about the eyes, but the TASTE needs to be involved..."

Which translate into:
Italian for the spices he grabs from the cupboard
Irish cause it always involves some form of shredded potatoes
BBQ because it involves extra country sauces
Poultry because he uses quite a bit of chicken, eggs, or turkey
Dairy because he NEVER is unable to use home shredded cheese
Taco because it ends up being all wrapped in a tortilla

He'll have to get me some Chapstick© because of how much I lick my lips while watching, and get some Kleenex because my nose goes into overdrive while it is all being created, but he smiles so broadly because he knows that he save the last few bites.... JUST FOR ME. And, he lets me lick the plate.

Yeah, all dogs should wish they could live with my buddy... I can tell he loves me... Read the posts on his Food & Stuff page to find out the delicious things that he's let me sample...

You Are Driving Wrong - Part I - Hand Placement

I'm not a golfer, but after spending so much time with my grandfather as his caddy and what he taught me about driving, I would be remiss to not share "how times change." Under his tutelage, I learned what a driver was to a golfer, but also what a driver (of a vehicle) was as a person. As I prepare to become a mentor to a driver in a few years, I decided to do some "research" about tutoring them. I discovered that I have a lot to teach, but that I'm also doing it wrong myself. I'll cover the point of my entry first, and then add my personal comments.

"Back in the day," I was taught to put my hands at 10 and 2. Meaning, one hand at 10 o'clock and the other at 2 o'clock. It worked with the steering wheel in front of me that would get me home safely every night. But guess what....times changes. Why? Mainly because steering wheels have changed. Now, I need to put my hands at 9 and 3, as explained in a National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) document [PDF]. I suggest you download the document and share it with anyone that you are mentoring behind the wheel.

Image from the MSNBC report site
Okay, your question is "why," but that is because times changes, so have steering wheels. Most steering wheels now contain air bags that deploy when you are in an accident. If it deploys and your hands are at 10 & 2, your arms will be blocking the safety of the bag and they will be forced backwards towards your head. According to a report on MSNBC, the bags inflate at a speed of 150-250 mph. And to quote the report:
Among the injuries the NHTSA reports from improper placement of the hands when an airbag deploys are amputations of fingers or entire hands, traumatic fractures and a particularly stomach-churning injury called "degloving," which — trust us — you definitely don't want to look up.
The bag can also slam your hands directly into your head, causing broken noses and concussions.
Yeah, I'm thinking I don't want to run the risk of any of that happening to my arms and hands. Being in an accident isn't always because YOU did something wrong, it could happen because SOMEONE ELSE caused it. So, in trying to look out for myself, I'm going to start moving my hands to the 9 and 3 position instead of the "old skool" 10 and 2. Not to mention that I've already had a TBI (see related links on the Misc / Brain Dump page) and do NOT want to cause a concussion.

In preparing to mentor a future driver, I've learned some things myself... In fact, Part II of this series will be about how to turn the wheel. Yeah, that's changed too.

Apr 8, 2012

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) - Part IV - Recovery & Rehab

This entry is an overview of what is involved in recovery and rehab for a TBI victim. Chances are that you know someone that has experienced a TBI. Peppered throughout the information are links to sites that contain more details on each topic.

Obviously the medical team will address any physical injuries that require attention. Something to keep in mind about that though, is that a mild TBI (mTBI) or closed head injury may not be diagnosed until well after all of the physical injuries have been tended to. Refer to the TBI Part III - Types for more info about those.

Before recovery/rehab can occur, there has to be a diagnosis of the type or level of TBI has occurred. The victim may be on life saving medical machines, medicated and the evaluation for brain injury will be hard to determine until the victim is physically stable and conscious. Remember, a TBI is not "visually apparent" because it happens inside the head. This is most apparent in a "closed head injury" (explained in TBI Part II).  As explained on one website [click HERE] there are several steps in the "method" of diagnosis:
  • A detailed neurological examination will bring out evidence of brain injury.
  • Brain imaging with CAT scan, MRI, SPECT and PET scan.
  • Cognitive evaluation by a neuropsychologist with formal neuropsychological testing.
  • Evaluations by physical, occupational and speech therapists help clarify the specific deficits of an individual.
Once a diagnosis has been made, a plan for recovery and rehab can be penciled on paper. Of course it will cover any of the physical injuries, but the "length" of the rest of it depends on the individual victim and the success they achieve. It becomes a thought that "only time will tell." For a concussion or mTBI, the victim is typically discharged within a time span of a few hours up to a day after the injury occurs. For more severe types, they may be held in the hospital until they are physically stable and then transferred to a rehab center that specializes in TBIs. For example, I was in 2 different hospitals 2,100 miles from "home" before I was stable enough to transfer to a rehab center that was closer to my house.

So, the question that comes to mind of the family or friend of a TBI victim, is "OMG, what happens at the rehab center?!?!" I'll summarize what can be found on this website [link]. I'm glad you are reading this, but not to be sarcastic, if you are ever checked into a TBI center, you won't remember this or be aware of it until you recover. This is more for the family and friends of a victim. I've highlighted the key points of what happens after the physical things are tended to and the victim is finally in a true TBI center. I've put my personal observations after.

Understanding Traumatic Brain Injury
Similar to the acute care facility, the TBI patient will be cared for by a team of professionals who specialize in the care of trauma victims. Their goals are to:
  1. Stabilize the medical and rehabilitation issues related to brain injury and the other injuries.
  2. Restore lost functional abilities.
  3. Provide adaptive devices or strategies to enhance functional independence.
  4. Begin to analyze with the family and the patient what changes might be required when the person goes home.
Each day, the patient will participate in therapy. Initially, the patient may require staff assistance for even the most simple activities:  brushing teeth, getting out of bed and eating.  The patient also may require staff for safety because there is a risk of falling, eloping (trying to get out of the hospital to go home) or getting hurt. The patient may be confused and forgetful.

The Rehabilitation Team
The Physiatrist is the team leader in the rehabilitation program. The physiatrist is a physician specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation. The physiatrist will assess and prescribe the treatment and direct the team.

The Neuropsychologist will assess patient's changes in thinking and behavior. Changes could include:
  • Poor memory, attention, concentration, decision-making
  • Impulsivity, disorientation
  • Language and communication abilities
  • Inability to speak or understand when spoken to
Many patients are unaware of the changes in the brain and how those changes affect their daily lives.  A patient may not understand what has happened and may be distraught by being away from home.

The Rehabilitation Nurse assists patients with brain injury and chronic illness in attaining maximum optimal health, and adapting to an altered lifestyle. The focus of nursing care is on:
  • Sleep pattern disturbance
  • Impaired verbal communication and comprehension 
The Physical Therapist job is to minimize or overcome paralyzing effects related to the brain injury. PTs will assess:
  • Balance, posture, strength
  • Increased sensation of sensory-motor activities
  • Pain management
The Occupational Therapist assesses functions and potential complications related to the movement of upper extremities, daily living skills, cognition, vision and perception. OTS  help determine the best ways to perform daily living skills including showering, dressing and personal hygiene. The OT also will look at skills to prepare the patient for a return to the home. These skills include:
  • Cooking, grocery shopping
  • Banking, budgeting
  • Readiness for returning to work by assessing prevocational and vocational skills
Now a personal explanation of being released and being allowed to return "home." The victim of a TBI will only be released from the rehab center once they can demonstrate that they are capable of performing all of the above (and more). They will also have to schedule the follow up assessments, to make sure they are progressing down the path of life, and not experiencing a "relapse." It takes months to "recover" from a severe TBI, but years to "rehab."

Personal Observations
You have to go through physical therapy for a few reasons. Your muscles may be weak from being immobile. Second point is because of how your brain is "misfiring." Physical therapy is to get your muscles active again, but also because the damage to your brain means that it doesn't send the signals to the muscles to be active. You will walk A LOT, perform hand/arm/leg exercises, etc. I studied tai chi, qi gong, do yoga, walk my dog about 20 miles per day, and became  a roller derby ref. I stay very active.
Another thing not discussed openly is trying to "elope" or "get away" from where they are. When you become conscious again, and don't know where you are or why you are there, the survival instinct kicks in. You want to "flee." But know, the TBI victim may be restrained to prevent it. It stops more injuries from occurring until the person is able to safely conduct a "normal" demonstration of getting through the day. A lot of TBI victims may spend some time cuffed or strapped to their bed to prevent them from trying to get away until they are conscious enough to understand that they shouldn't.
Another point is related to rehab exercises to regain the ability to communicate. They will track your ability to communicate, but the don't really provide therapy to assist. You have to do it on your own. I suggest playing cards, doing crossword puzzles, sudoku, word finds, read the newspaper, etc. Just letting a TBI victim watch TV or listen to the radio doesn't do it because it doesn't challenge the brain.
I highlighted the rest of the points just to give you a summary of what a TBI victim will be analyzed on before they are "released" to go home. What isn't really "discussed," is what your restrictions will be when released. You may not be allowed to drive, go up the stairs, use hand tools, be alone in the bathroom, go anywhere unsupervised, cook, clean, etc. It all depends on what level of success you have at the rehab center and at follow up appointments, before they begin to remove your restrictions..
Another thing not mentioned in rehab is how some other things in your body may change. They will tell you that your sleep patterns may change (you may need less or more), but they don't tell you that your metabolism and hormone levels may also change. The only way they mention the hormone changes is to say that "you will be more impulsive and/or uninhibited in your expressions of your feelings." Yeah, sorry to say, but THAT affects everyone around you. Same with metabolism. You may need MORE or even maybe LESS meals.

I could probably write a novel about my personal experience and observations, but I just wanted to provide some overviews about traumatic brain injuries and concussions so more people would begin to learn more about them. There are 1.5 million cases every year... that's a LOT. And those are only the counts of the victims that are checked into a hospital. If you receive a concussion, go to the ER, and are released shortly after, you don't count because it isn't reported. So, ask yourself, how many concussions occur that aren't counted in the stats? Hmmm... makes you wonder... Just be careful out there...

Related Links:

Apr 4, 2012

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) - Part III - Types

While this [link] explains the "effects" of a TBI, I feel that it better explains the 2 types (mild & severe) of a TBI, which is why I'm summarizing it and providing some personal observations after that. Yeah, this entry is going to be LONGER than normal because this is what needs to be most understood about TBIs.

Most are unaware of the range of a TBI or its overwhelming nature. TBI is common, and will be overlooked initially when the medical team is focused on saving the person's life. TBIs can be categorized into 2 levels: mild and severe. Let's talk a little about them. For more information, click on the links above.

Understanding Traumatic Brain Injury
A TBI is classified as mild if loss of consciousness, confusion and disorientation is shorter than 30 minutes. The victim may experience headaches, difficulty thinking, memory problems, attention deficits, mood swings and frustration. Even though this type of TBI is called "mild", the effect on the family and the injured person can be devastating. Unfortunately, the family and friends may be the recipients of the frustration of the victim, but they don't realize "why" they are. And, the victim doesn't realize that they are venting on them.

The most common mTBI is a concussion. Even though most sports require pads and helmets, it still occurs. Wearing a helmet helps prevent 60% of mTBIs, but they can still occur. I'll discuss more about helmets in the prevention entry. A key point to understand about a concussion is that the effects can last up to a year or more after the injury.

Common Symptoms of Mild TBI (mTBI):
  • Fatigue, sleep disturbances, memory loss, dizziness/loss of balance 
  • Irritability-emotional disturbances, depression
Other Symptoms Associated with Mild TBI (mTBI):
  • Nausea, loss of smell, sensitivity to light and sounds
  • Mood changes
  • Slowness in thinking
These symptoms may be delayed days or weeks before they show up.  They are subtle & often missed by the injured person, family and doctors. The victim "appears" normal. Family and friends notice changes in behavior before the injured person realizes there "is" an issue.

Frustration at school, work or when performing daily tasks occur. Trust me, I know... I've gone through this and continue to work through it. Unfortunately, it affects those around me too, and I'm not always aware of that until they point it out to me.

Understanding Traumatic Brain Injury
TBIs result in permanent neurobiological damage that can produce lifelong deficits to varying degrees. Severe brain injury is associated with loss of consciousness for more than 30 minutes and memory loss after the injury longer than 24 hours. Survivors may have limited function of arms or legs, abnormal speech or language, loss of thinking ability or emotional problems.

The impact of a moderate to severe brain injury can include difficulties with attention, concentration, being distracted easily and impulsive responses. Other key effects of a severe TBI are:

Speech and Language
  • difficulty speaking and being understood
  • slurred speech
  • speaking very fast or very slow
  • problems reading or writing
  • blurred vision, problems judging distance
  • decrease or loss of hearing, ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • loss or diminished sense of smell
  • Lack of motivation, irritability, aggression
  • Depression
  • Denial/lack of awareness
Another key thing not mentioned on most websites about TBIs is prosopagnasia (commonly called "facial blindness"). This is when a victim cannot recognize someone just by looking at their face. I know I suffer from this because I once spent an half an hour visually "searching" for a family member that had been standing 20 feet away from me the whole time, but I didn't recognize them. Yeah, this will probably be another blog entry.
The abnormal speech & slurred speech occur more often when the victim is tired or stressed. I have had several people approach me and ask me if I was drunk because my speech was slow, slurred, and not easy to understand. No, I hadn't been drinking, but the connections between the brain and the voice are stressed more, so it "sounds" like that I am.
When in a tired, stressed, anxious, or distracted environment, I have been overly impulsive (verbally) to things. A victim can lose their mental "filters" and end up saying or doing things they wouldn't "normally" have done before. It is because the connections between emotions and expression are stressed more than normal, and the person is not performing a mind check before they utter or do something. And when they DO utter them, they probably sound "drunk."
Sometimes there is a disconnect in the brain of a victim because they "know up here" what they are trying to communicate, but the signal never makes it to the tongue. There are times that I know what I am thinking, but the actual words don't come out of my mouth, and that leads to frustration when you have to ask someone what the word is for something as simple as a "doorbell," or "remote control." It leads to more frustration, but also personal embarrassment, which typically leads to even more emotional feelings related to self-esteem.
Sometimes the victim has more of a ROM drive brain but not a RAM drive brain (this is related to memory). I can tell you about things I cooked over a camp fire 2 decades ago, but I can't remember if I had breakfast this morning. Sometimes I wish I could use a PC code of "C:\del *.*" on my brain and just start over.

Part IV will be about recovery & rehab.

Related Links:

Apr 2, 2012

Pepperoni Dot Casserole

The following is my most recent modification of the Polka Dot Macaroni & Cheese Casserole recipe. Why? Because I used my grandmother's advice to "use a recipe as a guideline, and raid your pantry & fridge to find out what you have to use." The ingredients are what I had available, and I have to say that it is was very yummy. I've also given you a list of my other recipes & suggestions based on this.

Pepperoni Dot Cheese Casserole (original)
  • 1 cup dry macaroni
  • 1 can of light kidney beans (drained & rinsed)
  • 11 oz condensed cream of chicken soup (1 can)
  • 24 slices of pepperoni
  • 3 slices of cheese (Muenster because that is what I "had")
  1. Heat toaster oven to 375 F
  2. Macaroni cooks for 8-10 minutes, for last 5 mins, add the drained/rinsed beans to same pot
  3. Drain the macaroni & beans, pour the soup into the pot you used
  4. Add macaroni/bean mixture to pot & mix well using a slotted spatula
  5. Pour mixture into an 8x6x2 greased casserole dish
  6. Bake for 15 mins in toaster oven
  7. Place pepperoni (stacked in 2s) like below
  8. Place the cheese slices over that like below
  9. Bake 10 mins or until mixture is hot and bubbly like below
Stacked pepperoni stacks
Cheese layer
Finished dish
Serves 4-6, depending on how you cut it. Serve it with a tossed salad, some fruit, and a beverage.

Other Recipe Modifications
I recommend using the toaster oven because it helps cut utility costs (click HERE to read it)
I suggest using the slotted spatula to stir the pasta and mixing them because it is one less item you have to wash, since you'll use it to cut the casserole when done.
I mention using the stock pot for cooking the pasta, heating up the beans a little, and mixing in the soup because that reduces the number of pots & bowls that you have to wash, reduces the amount of electricity or gas to fire the stove, and makes things easy peasy.

Apr 1, 2012

A Lifetime of Using Polka Dot Casserole as a Guide

The following is a recipe from the 1970s for Polka Dot Macaroni & Cheese Casserole. By keeping a copy of this and listening to my Grandmother's advice that "recipes are a GUIDELINE and raid your pantry to use what you have," I've also given you a list of my other recipes & suggestions based on this.

Polka Dot Macaroni & Cheese Casserole (original)
    Polka Dot Macaroni & Cheese Casserole
  • 7 oz. macaroni (cooked & drained)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 11 oz cheddar cheese soup (1 can)
  • 2 hot dogs, cut into penny thin slices
  1. Heat oven to 375 F
  2. Spread macaroni in oblong baking dish (10 x 16 x 1 1/2")
  3. Blend milk & Worcestershire sauce with soup in a bowl
  4. Pour over macaroni, stirring to mix well
  5. Arrange hot dog slices on top of macaroni & cheese
  6. Bake 25 mins or until mixture is hot and bubbly
Recent Recipe Modifications
I recommend using the toaster oven because:
  • I'm cooking for myself & the other few "dinner guests" that are here
  • They still all serve 4-6, depending on how you cut it
  • There are STILL leftovers
  • My entry about living in an apartment but trying to cut utility costs (click HERE to read it)
I use an 8x6x2 Pyres casserole dish, because it fits into my toaster oven
Oil or grease the casserole dish before you pour the mixture
My recipes above save cost at the grocery store because you make it more from scratch
There are less "preservatives" and "additives" in my recipes than a boxed meal

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) - Part II - Causes

pie chart of causes of traumatic brain injury
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As I mentioned in my TBI - Part I entry, this second part is about what can cause a traumatic brain injury. First, some facts. Followed by personal observations.

The graph to the right (based on a CDC report) shows that the top 3 causes of a TBI are from car accidents, falls, and struck by/against. According to the CDC (United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), there are approximately 1.5 million people in the U.S. who suffer from a traumatic brain injury each year.  50,000 people die from TBI and 85,000 people suffer long term disabilities.

This is higher than the combined incidence of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and multiple sclerosis.

Brain injuries occur more often than breast cancer or AIDS. One out of every fifty Americans is currently living with disabilities from TBI.

The following information (from HERE), explains the "mechanisms" of the top 2 causes of TBIs. I'm only covering the top 2 because they are the most prevalent. I've highlighted the key points and my personal observations appear below that.
Mechanisms of Injury
These mechanisms are the highest causes of brain injury: Open head Injury, Closed Head Injury, Deceleration Injuries, Chemical/Toxic, Hypoxia, Tumors, Infections and Stroke.
1. Open Head Injury
  • Results from bullet wounds, etc.
  • Largely focal damage
  • Penetration of the skull
  • Effects can be just as serious as closed brain injury
2. Closed Head Injury
  • Resulting from a slip and fall, motor vehicle crashes, etc.
  • Focal damage and diffuse damage to axons
  • Effects tend to be broad (diffuse)
  • No penetration to the skull
Personal Observations:
Some things that aren't mentioned above that were my personal observations about TBIs:
It make sense why "falls" and "traffic accidents" cause TBIs, because the head is prone to striking something hard. What came to mind about the "struck by/against" was mentioned in my TBI Part I entry, that a friend's nephew was playing lacrosse when it happened.
My TBI was in the "falls" category. I was at a work conference and stepped out of the shower because I left my shampoo on the counter. I fell on the wet tile floor... repeatedly... According to the doctors, 6-8 times. My recommendation is to always be safe in the bathroom.
A side thought & some reading on websites confirms that a TBI is part of the Shaken Baby Syndrome. Think about it...when shaking a baby, their brain is bouncing around in there and it kills brain cells when that happens. My recommendation is to not do it.

Related Links: