Archive for August, 2008

Florida Horse Euthanized for Equine Piroplasmosis

Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson announced Friday that a 7-year-old Manatee County gelding was euthanized after being ill for three weeks. Tests confirmed the presence of equine piroplasmosis, a parasitic blood disorder that causes fever, swelling and often death. Source

Equine Piroplasmosis is present in South and Center America, the Caribbean (including Puerto Rico), Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern and Southern Europe. Only the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, England and Ireland are not considered to be endemic areas.

This disease is a disease of Equidae (horses, donkeys, mules, and zebras), and is caused by two parasitic organisms, Babesia equi and Babesia caballi. Although, Equine Piroplasmosis is primarily transmitted to horses by ticks, this bloodborne disease has been spread mechanically from animal to animal by contaminated needles.

Once infected, an equine can take 7 to 22 days to show signs of illness. Cases of Equine Piroplasmosis can be mild or acute, depending on the virulence of the parasite. Acutely affected equine can have fever, anemia, jaundiced mucous membranes, swollen abdomens, and labored breathing. Equine Piroplasmosis can also cause equine to have roughened hair coats, constipation, and colic. In its milder form, Equine Piroplasmosis causes equine to appear weak and show lack of appetite.

The greatest risk for introduction of this disease is through trading of animals or international equestrian sports, where infected and non-infected animals are in contact. Many disease free countries have the climate suitable for a foreign tick vector, or have ticks which could act as vectors. Source: USDA

This disease has been considered to be eradicated in the United States since 1988. The last known case in Florida was in 1965, 43 years ago. It is very troubling that the horse was *apparently* bitten by a tick carrying piroplasmosis.


Equine piroplasmosis is a tick–borne protozoal infection of horses. Piroplasmosis may be difficult to diagnose, as it can cause variable and nonspecific clinical signs. The symptoms of this disease range from acute fever, inappetence, and malaise, to anemia and jaundice, sudden death, or chronic weight loss and poor exercise tolerance. The disease may be fatal in up to 20% of previously unexposed animals. The tick vectors exist in the United States, and epidemics of piroplasmosis were seen in Florida in the 1960s.

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Oh, Sure, NOW They Look Like Angels….

Little 1-year-old Dylan is finally asleep, his auburn curls touseled, his stuffed kitty clutched close, his long eyelashes grazing his chubby cheeks.  He looks so sweet and innocent lying there.  He certainly doesn’t look like the child that (partially) flushed Meemaw’s hair brush down the toilet.  My cell phone and watch went missing while I was checking the BBQ, and I fear the worst. 

Sleeping beside him is little 4-year-old Jake, a very handsome young man with his straight black hair and olive skin, who is very excited about starting pre-kindergarten next week.  My heart hurts because I will be teaching other people’s precious little children that are starting kindergarten instead of my own little grand cherubs. 

Twenty five years ago, when I was running around getting ready for work in the morning and probably feeding the kids cat food and the cat cereal, then arriving at work with mascara on one eye and baby spit up down my back, I would have never dreamed that, in the future, I would cherish every memory of those days. 

In the meantime, I’m collapsed in Papa’s La-Z-Boy with happy, smiling dinosaurs, blocks, and toy trucks scattered throughout the whole kitchen/dining room area.  I need to clear the kitchen floor so I can wash dishes, but my eyes keep wanting to close.  The kids will be up in a few hours.  I’ll worry about dishes and dinosaurs then.

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Florida’s Revenue Estimates Headed Down Again

Yikes.  Read the reduced estimates here.  Anybody that works for the state, county, or city needs to be aware that more job cuts may be coming.

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Wanted for Cutting Out DJ’s Eyes

If you see Foster Leon, notify police and don’t let him near your eyes.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville police are trying to find a man who they said attacked a disc jockey after an altercation at a bar and cut the man’s eyes out.

Investigators said the DJ was attacked in the early-morning hours of July 5 near Starlite Café. Rescuers. Police found him in the neighborhood because someone driving by saw him lying in the street. They said right away they realized something was very wrong with man’s eyes.

“(It’s) heartbreaking to think something like that would happen here,” said one of the DJ’s co-workesr, Kir Kay.

According to a police report, the DJ had life-threatening injuries and both of his eyes were protruding from his face. Source:

It’s one thing to shoot somebody but cutting his eyes out? That’s one crazy sumbitch right there.

Police have been looking for 30-year-old Foster Leon, who is accused of aggravated battery in the brutal attack.

Anyone with information about Leon’s whereabouts is asked to call Crimestoppers at 866-845-TIPS. Callers can remain anonymous and could be eligible for a cash reward.

Turn the man in, collect your reward, and you won’t have to worry about anybody cutting your eyeballs out. Maybe.

Update: Caught in New Orleans! Guess even the Big Easy doesn’t care to have eyeball gougers running around.

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“How to Make 4 Alternative Fuels at Home. Goodbye, Big Oil?”

…is the name of the article in Popular Mechanics. Hey, I like to be as self-sufficient (within reason) as possible, so I went to check it out!

The automated still (Efuel 100 MicroFueler) which produces ethanol costs roughly $10,000. The ingredients needed are 10 to 14 lbs. of sugar (plus yeast) to produce a gallon of ethanol, and produces 35 gallons per week that can be burned in flex-fuel engines. On to the next one!

The Fuelmeister II produces fuel from vegetable oil mixed with lye and methanol. The price is @$3,000, and can produce 40 gallons of biodiesel that can be used in any diesel engine in 5 hours. If you could sneak around and steal used grease from restaurants, the price per gallon would be fairly low, assuming that you weren’t caught and prosecuted. If you owned a restaurant, now, recycling the vegetable grease to fuel could be a nice little revenue stream out of what was a waste product.

Electricity: $45,000 to make one’s carport electric? Completely outta my reach.

Hydrogen: Not yet ready.

Conclusion: I wouldn’t exactly be digging a grave for big oil anytime soon.

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What Sex Does Your Browser URL History Say You Are?

Mike on Ads has a program that can analyze the probability of your sex based on your browser history. I pressed the button for analysis, and here is my result:

Likelihood of you being FEMALE is 1%
Likelihood of you being MALE is 99%

If I had perused my favorite woodworking and concrete forming sites more recently, I suppose that 1% likelihood of being female would be gone.

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I Can Give Retailers a Clue Why Nobody’s Buying….

My mother and I hit the stores on a clothing-buying expedition last week (yeah, we went to the mall–there’s our problem right there). We walked through store after store, and the results were the same. The colors were UGLY. The garish prints in nasty color combinations were hideous. The styles were unflattering. The materials were “cheap” feeling and poorly constructed, yet expensively priced. Our only purchases were a pair of (on sale) running shoes each.

We stopped at a resale shop on the way home and were able to purchase a few clothes in colors and styles we liked.

If the stores want to buy ugly crap for resale under the guise of “latest fashion”, that’s their prerogative. I’m not going to spend my money on fashions that I don’t like.

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2 Cranes Collapse At Jaxport

While I knew the winds were strong today since I was without electricity for a couple of hours and there were (huge) tree branches and snapped-off trees littering the roads, I didn’t know it was THIS strong:

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Two enormous container cranes on Blount Island tipped over Wednesday afternoon, leaving a pile of twisted metal on the ground and millions of dollars in damages.

The cranes collapsed at about 3:30 p.m., temporarily shutting down most traffic near the port, according to Jacksonville Port Authorities officials. Source:

Those are HUGE cranes that look like they’re holding a tiny child’s block when they’re moving truck-sized containers.

Although Jaxport officials confirmed that strong storms with high winds were moving through the area when the more than 200-feet tall cranes collapsed, the exact cause of the collapses remains under investigation.

“This is one of those events that on appearance to us today is very, very unique, very isolated, and I think in large part driven by what we believe was just wind sheer,” said seaport security director Charles White.

Investigators said they would not know for sure whether wind caused the collapses for a few days as they start removing the fallen cranes.

“They’re always secure because when they’re not working, the brakes are in place. So, they’re always secured on the dock and they’re supposed to withstand a very high wind tolerance,” said terminal director Victoria Robas.

I hope somebody kept the warranty on those things.

UPDATE: Structural engineer arriving today to inspect crane damage. Two were apparently completely destroyed; another one was badly damaged.

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Severe Weather From a Cold Front in Florida–in August?

Yep, you heard me right. There are tornado watches and severe thunderstorm warnings throughout the upper portion of the state of Florida today. This is not for the usual reason for this time of year, a tropical depression, storm, or hurricane. No, it’s because of the interaction between a (very) unseasonal cold front and warm, tropical air.

While I don’t mind at all that the temperature is now 75 degrees instead of 90, I have to wonder what this means for farmers, gardeners, and livestock growers. Will my fall garden have a chance to reach maturity, or will it suffer from an early freeze and untimely demise?

Update: The sky has gone dark, the rain is horizontal, the thunder is constant, large branches are being ripped off of trees, and the electricity is out. I think I’ll leave the office because I’m a little worried about a tree coming through the roof.

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Having a Brain and Using It: Illegal in Massachusetts

MARLBORO— Victor Deeb, the retired chemist who stored hundreds of chemicals in his house, was allowed to return home yesterday after authorities spent three days dismantling his basement laboratory.

None of the materials found at 81 Fremont St. posed a radiological or biological risk, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection. No mercury or poison was found. Some of the compounds are potentially explosive, but no more dangerous than typical household cleaning products.

All potentially hazardous materials were removed from the house, which the Deebs have owned since 1988. A cleanup company, contracted by DEP, is continuing to test the chemicals in a lab.

“Ultimately, they will be disposed of,” said DEP spokesman Joseph M. Ferson, who said the city’s Department of Public Works is making sure nothing seeped into the sewer lines.

Mr. Deeb declined to comment yesterday. Authorities say he has patents pending and had been using his basement as a science lab to conduct experiments, possibly for many years. Read the rest of the story at the Telegram.

So the man, a retired chemist, continued to do the experiments in his house, as he has for many years. He has patents pending on his findings. He’s not running a business. He does not have anything more hazardous than the cleaning products found at the local grocery store and stored in almost every household in America. Yet somehow a government official, who probably barely graduated, has determined that this is illegal and MUST BE STOPPED. His chemicals and equipment were confiscated and will be disposed of.

I wonder how many of those self-righteous people that raided his house and seized his materials have those swirly compact fluorescent light bulbs? Probably all of them, because I’m sure they’re all very concerned about the environment.

Although household CFL bulbs may legally be disposed of with regular trash (in most US states), they are categorized as household hazardous waste. As long as the waste is sent to a modern municipal landfill, the hazard to the environment is limited. However, CFLs should not be sent to an incinerator, which would disperse the mercury into the atmosphere.

For the safety of the community, I believe that those homes with toxic mercury-containing light bulbs should be raided and the CFLs seized. The mercury might end up in the home or water supply in the event of accidental breakage. Apparently if I were a Massachusetts official, I could do that.

Pamela A. Wilderman, Marlboro’s code enforcement officer, said Mr. Deeb was doing scientific research and development in a residential area, which is a violation of zoning laws.

“It is a residential home in a residential neighborhood,” she said. “This is Mr. Deeb’s hobby. He’s still got bunches of ideas. I think Mr. Deeb has crossed a line somewhere. This is not what we would consider to be a customary home occupation. … There are regulations about how much you’re supposed to have, how it’s detained, how it’s disposed of.”

So now the city officials get to decide which hobbies are “appropriate” based on their feelings about the matter. Oh, mercy. Good thing that having a hobby wasn’t illegal when Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell were pottering about in their (home) labs. If you raid somebody’s house and confiscate his property, you better know for sure that there is something illegal, not just because you think it might or should be.

Leather and wool hobbyists, better not call the fire department in the event of a fire if you live in Massachusetts! Yeppers, leather and wool dying materials are chemical and potentially hazardous. What about the potters? Glazes are also potentially hazardous. A peaceful-appearing house with nice people gardening in the front yard might actually be hiding a couple with a potter’s wheel, hundreds of glazes, and a kiln in the garage. Woodworkers, I know you have chemical stains and finishes that could potentially be dangerous in the hands of somebody like, oh, Massachusetts government officials. Gardeners might have chemical fertilizers. Better set up some SWAT raids for that.

“Science is important! Children are not getting enough science in schools! The U.S. is in danger of falling behind scientifically!” we hear periodically from various sources. Perhaps it is because committing science at home is illegal.

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