Sunday, September 20, 2020

Service of Gratitude for Dad and Other Body Donors UC Davis Medical School

Followers of the Blog know that on Thanksgiving Day last year, my 91 year old father passed away.  He and mom many years ago told us kids that they had signed papers to donate their bodies to UC Davis Medical School to assist in the teaching of new doctors.  When they moved to the Kansas City area in 1992, they changed the donation to a Kansas City area Medical School...then back to UC Davis when they moved back to the Sacramento area.  We did not know until his death that UC Davis holds an annual Service of Gratitude for the donors.  We have been hanging around here in the HOT, SMOKY Northern California Central Valley for this program.  About six weeks ago we learned that due to COVID, the service would be it could be watched anywhere you have an Internet connection.  But we also knew that viewing this with family, especially with mom, was the best way to watch it, so we stuck out the smoke and heat and remained parked in Sandy and Arny's backyard.

The service was held on Facebook Live.  It lasted just over an hour, and we watched it in the comfort of Arny and Sandy's house, with my computer hooked up to their large flat screen TV.  Mom, Euleda (Arny's mom who is 97 years old), Arny, Sandy, Patti, Marcia and I watched the service, along with Bubba, Parker (Patti's dog) and little Indy who learned to sit still for about 10 minutes of it.  We did not have any program information, although now that it is over we could ask for a program.  This young man (above) was the MC for the event.  He is one of the students in the school, and he did a great job.  And YES, with COVID and with it being a medical school, they ALL wore masks except for the bugler who played TAPS.  The first few minutes of the broadcast included pictures of some of the donors, including dad's picture at the top of this post.

In recognition of the Veterans who were donors, and they said that there were many of them, they have a small color guard to present the flag.  They presented one flag to one of the students who is a Veteran who accepted it on behalf of all the families of Veterans.  Each family can ask for a flag of their own, and I think mom will be calling them up asking for one.  The Military Honors was a very moving part of the ceremony.

A few students of the school gave short talks about the importance of the Body Donor program, the impact that it has had on them, and the final speaker (last picture above) was the head of the Gross Anatomy Department.  (Note: Gross anatomy, also called topographical anatomy, is the study of anatomy at the macroscopic level. The term gross distinguishes it from other areas of anatomical study, including histology, which is the microscopic study of anatomy typically with a microscope.)  The last item on the program was the reading of the first names, alphabetically, of the donors.  WOW, who would have known that they had so many donors...somewhere between 150-160 people!  

Overall the program was very enjoyable, although it would have been better in person.  There were a few times the live service stalled for a few seconds.  When the final speaker spoke, it stalled and when it restarted about 10 seconds later, it skipped about a minute of his talk.  The good thing, the service is on Facebook and can be seen anytime by anyone who wants to.  A link to the UC Davis body donor program can be found here, along with a link to the Facebook post of the program.

Earlier in the week I met my oldest son Michael (who lives in Sacramento) and daughter Stephanie (who lives in Salt Lake City) over at mom's place.  Mom lives in an Assisted Living Facility, and cannot have visitors inside the facility.  Luckily for us, she has a outside apartment with a balcony, and we can sit/stand along the small roadway that circles the facility, and she can easily see us while safely up on her balcony.  My sisters do her laundry for her, and that gets handed down to us, and either returned over the rail or given to staff at the front desk.  Due to COVID, I had not seen Michael since we arrived, and Stephanie came for a visit to her brother and sister-in-law's house a little over a week ago. 

We are grateful that the Assisted Living Facility allowed her out for this special occasion today, although now she is suppose to quarantine in her apartment until her test for COVID comes back.  

After the service we had a lunch of BBQ Tri-Tip steak, Mashed Cauliflower, Corn on the Cob, Marshmallow Salad, and Deviled Eggs.  The good thing, we had LOTS of leftovers, so when Marcia and I head out on Wednesday, we will have plenty of travel food to go along with us.  We will be taking a northern route to Florida, and will take a month or so to get there.  More on that trip as I start publishing on a regular basis again once our travels start.


Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Up In Smoke (Or Is It 'Out With Smoke')

Note: All pictures, maps and video in this post are from various sources found on the Internet

Eight days ago a lot of heat lightening went through Central California and started numerous fires.  The SCU Lightning Complex (Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Joaquin, and Stanislaus Counties) currently at 363,772 acres and 15% contained, the LNU Lightning Complex (Napa, Sonoma, Lake, Yolo, and Solano Counties) currently at 352,913 acres and 27% contained, and the CZU Lightning Complex (Santa Cruz and San Mateo Counties) currently at 78,869 acres and 17% contained fires, all started that night.  All take on the name "Complex" because they were many fires close to each other from which, for the most part, the smaller fires each joined into one larger fire.  The picture above is of the LNU fire as it crossed over I-80 near Vacaville and Fairfield, between Sacramento and San Francisco.  These fires, along with the many other fires which have hit California this year, have been devastating.

Stats from Cal Fire Website 4:30 pm, Tuesday, August 25th

About 10 days ago I happened to look at the Cal Fire website to see just how many fires and acres there had been so far.  I remember the acreage was around 350,000 acres.  Eight days later, 1.2 million more acres have 'gone up in smoke', growing to 1.5 million acres.  Or, as I suggest in the title, 'Out With Smoke'.  I say that because the smoke does go up...but then it goes out...and then it falls low to the ground...and with 1.2 million acres burning, that is a lot of smoke!

I think with the smoke this thick, people would be wearing masks even if there was not a pandemic taking place right now.  At times, the air is just thick with smoke.

This map from the Cal Fire Website shows some of the current fires.  It does not include house fires, localized fields which catch fire in cities and towns, and it does not show all of the National Forest/National Park fires...but it does show the major fires and most fires which fall under Cal Fire's jurisdiction.  

The above two pictures are from the Cal Fire Website showing the CZU fire.  What I like about the Cal Fire map is that you can get very close on the map and see the perimeter of the fire zone.  On May 1st-4th of 2018 we went over to Felton to visit my cousin Richard.  He and his wife Marci operate the Daybreak Camp there.  They were evacuated last Thursday in the middle of the night.  Thank goodness this camp, and much of Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park have not burnt up.  Another thing to remember is that just because an area is within the 'red zone', it does not mean that everything within is totally burned up...that won't be known until people can get in and examine the entire burn zone.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the Big Basin State Park just north of Rich and Marci's has been devastated.  Anyone who has visited these great Redwoods in California have probably heard that they are very hardy and have survived many forest fires.  The following is a quote from the "Outsider" website about the Big Basin State Park:

The California fires continue burning. Reports now say that Big Basin, the state’s oldest redwood tree park, is engulfed in flames. Century old trees in the park may be lost forever.

“We are devastated to report that Big Basin State Park, as we have known it, loved it, and cherished it for generations, is gone,” Sempervirens Fund, an organization working for redwoods protection, wrote in a post to their website on Friday.  

Let's hope that as they get in there that they find that many of the trees actually survived...but I am sure it won't be the same.  I remember upon my visits to various Redwood Parks is that fires bring new, future growth within the Redwoods.  But the results of new growth won't be very visible for many, many years.  Fingers are crossed that Great Basin is not as bad as people think. 

Note: After my post I found this article:  

Big Basin Redwoods survive fires: Photos show what California's oldest park looks like now


Cal Fire's main airport is right near where we are at here at Sandy and Arny's house.  We hear planes and helicopters coming and going all day long.  Although there are many smaller airports from which smaller planes and helicopters use to fight the fires, large airports are needed for the large planes.  The helicopters we hear are typically large ones carrying machinery and supplies to varous fires. The second picture above is the 747 Supertanker dropping a load a few days ago, most likely for the LNU fire.  The Supertanker can drop nearly 20,000 gallons of fire retardant or water in one load.  Normally it breaks the drop up into 2 or 3 passes.  It can take off, drop its load a couple of hundred miles away, and land again in just about an hour.  45 minutes later, it can be up in the air again. 

Above is a 9-10 minute video of the Supertanker in action.  It is an amazing plane.  Although you can't see it in the video, it actually follows a smaller plane as it nears the drop zone since it flies so low to the ground that the pilots can't see where they are going.  The small plane acts as a spotter to let them know when to dump, when to stop the dump, and warn them of stuff such as electrical lines and cell towers.

Above is air quality for yesterday.  As a kid I remember they would burn the rice fields to the west of Sacramento, and the smoke from these fires would be intense, but the smoke would not last long since they burned on a windy day...once the field was burned, the smoke would blow through.  The rice fields were burned after harvest to dispose of the left over straw and to control disease and pest problems that can carry over between crops...which is rarely done any more.  With today's wildfires we have ash falling on cars, sidewalks, windows...just about anywhere and everywhere.  The air quality this past week is the worst I have ever seen.  The only good thing is that the heavy smoke has kept the temperatures down by 5-10 degrees.

I see from some of the blogs I follow that the smoke has reached other places, such as Montana, the Dakotas, Utah and Colorado, and places beyond.  I smile when I see pictures because it is nothing we are facing here.  
We sure are thankful for all the Cal Fire Fire Workers, and the many Fire Workers who have come from throughout the state and from other states to fight these fires.  Heroes, just plain HEROES! 

Note:  When they talk about a fire being contained, it is defined as follows:
The status of a wildfire suppression action signifying that a control line has been completed around the fire, and any associated spot fires, which can reasonably be expected to stop the fire's spread.
Although the fires are far from full containment, much of the boundary growth has stopped.  Within the 'Red Zone' there are still many hot spots, and wind will cause them to flare up, causing more smoke.  So far, the winds have not blown up the fire to where the boundaries have grown over the past few days.