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Going Viral

October 23, 2014

I am worried. Aren’t you?

We’ve been so strong as a people, and as a nation, for so long, we feel invulnerable much of the time.

But the latest Ebola crisis seems to be getting dangerously close to home, and I am worried.

 

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Do you remember the movie Jurassic Park?  It was a 1993 movie by Steven Spielberg written by Michael Crichton about scientists who extract dinosaur DNA from fossilized amber and begin to regenerate dinosaurs on an island, then try to make the island into a wildlife habitat that people can visit like a zoo.  While the premise of regenerating a species of dinosaurs from dinosaur DNA is unlikely, though scientifically possible, the most memorable, relevant and scary part of the movie to me surrounded the conversation with Jeff Goldblum’s character Dr. Ian Malcolm who explained “life — finds a way”.

The Ebola virus is a life form and it is a deadly one at that. The Ebola virus is programmed genetically to survive and thrive like any other life form. It survives on in living cells and seeks them out, inhabits them, often destroys them, then seeks out more of them, reproducing and spreading from organism to organism along the way.

ebolavirus

Don’t “Mickey Mouse” around with Ebola – this is a gravely serious health threat to us all

The World Health Organization (WHO) is working on protocols to contain and treat or cure Ebola.  They have been somewhat successful in the treatment of Ebola, less successful with the cure of Ebola, and apparently not very successful in the containment of Ebola as the virus has recently been reported to have transferred from Africa where it originated, showing up in America in multiple places and already claiming lives here in America.

For those who downplay the risk saying that it is under control, I am reminded of the other words of the fictitious Dr. Malcolm from Jurassic Park who said: “the kind of control you’re attempting is not possible. If there’s one thing the history of evolution has taught us, it’s that life will not be contained. Life breaks free. It expands to new territories. It crashes through barriers. Painfully, maybe even…dangerously”.

According to the information I have found, case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks, with the latest outbreak at about 70%.  You don’t want to get this virus as your chances of survival are not very good.

So the key is avoiding the virus. But as we’ve seen recently in the news, it is very hard to contain.  With the incubation period being 2 to 21 days, a person can have the Ebola virus for up to 3 weeks before they show any symptoms.  That is why containment is almost impossible.

Can you tell me all the people you’ve been in contact with for the past 3 weeks?  Can all the people that you’ve been in contact with in the past 3 weeks do the same?  And by the time it is identified, how many people have all been exposed to people who have been exposed to people who have the virus?

The potential for a deadly pandemic is great.

Even if, as the WHO reports, “Humans are not infectious until they develop symptoms”, early symptoms are very similar to other viral infections and failing to treat these symptoms “as if” they were Ebola could expose family members, health care professionals and every other person an infected person comes in contact with to become infected with the deadly virus too. Even if Ebola is not the next epidemic or pandemic of the world, something else could be.  We all need to take health symptoms and disease control measures extremely seriously, and cautiously keep sick individuals quarantined from the general population, not send them to school or work where they can expose others, and get prompt medical diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

I DON’T want to stir up a panic.

I DO want to raise up an urgent alarm encouraging everyone to seek information on this virus and share it with everyone they know.  Everyone.

 

Recognize the symptoms:

First symptoms are the sudden onset of fever fatigue, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, symptoms of impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding (e.g. oozing from the gums, blood in the stools). Laboratory findings include low white blood cell and platelet counts and elevated liver enzymes.

If you or someone you know has any of these symptoms, treat them seriously “as if” they were Ebola, and take every precaution to prevent and control the possible spread of the virus.

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Prevention and control:

The WHO advises that “community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks. Raising awareness of risk factors for Ebola infection and protective measures that individuals can take is an effective way to reduce human transmission”.

 

“Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks. Raising awareness of risk factors for Ebola infection and protective measures that individuals can take is an effective way to reduce human transmission.”

- World Health Organization (WHO)

 

That is why I am writing this article, sharing it with you, and asking you to do the same with others you know.

Risk reduction measures include identifying people who have symptoms, or may have been in contact with someone infected with Ebola, quarantining and monitoring their health and the health of anyone they have been in contacts for 21 days.

It is very important to exercise good hygiene and maintain a clean environment. Gloves and appropriate personal protective equipment like surgical masks should be worn when taking care of ill patients at home. Regular hand washing is required after visiting patients in hospital, as well as after taking care of patients at home.

Notify your doctor if you or a family member has any symptoms. The doctor can evaluate your exposure level and any symptoms and consult with public  health authorities to determine if actions are needed.

Health-care workers have historically been infected while treating patients with suspected or confirmed Ebola virus at times. The virus is highly contagious.

People remain infectious as long as their blood and body fluids, including semen and breast milk, contain the virus. Men who have recovered from the disease can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery from illness.

 

There are no approved Ebola vaccines. And even if there were, would you want to be among the first to try them?

 

We need to get this information  about Ebola symptoms and transmission prevention measures to EVERYONE if we are going to have a chance to contain and avoid this deadly virus from infiltrating  our communities.  

Getting the information in this story to your family and friends, so they can get it to their family and friends, and they can get it to theirs, (and so on) and keep this deadly threat contained as much as possible is, literally, a matter of life and death.

Share this article with others and make it “go viral” to educate everyone we can before Ebola has a chance to spread to your community.  You can click on the Email or Facebook buttons below this article to share it with others.

Hopefully, with good community engagement and communications, we can all be working together wisely to limit the spread of this deadly virus in America.

 

For more information on Ebola from the World Health Organization (WHO) web site: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/

Center for Disease Control’s About Ebola: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/index.html

For a video with more information about how Ebola spreads: http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2014/oct/22/ebola-virus-how-it-spreads-video

 

Double Vision

October 20, 2014

Have you ever had double vision?   Have you ever done a double take?  Have you ever seen double?

If so, then check this fun article out … and on the double.

Did you know that there is an idiom section in the freedictionary.com?  Click here for the section on the word “double”.

The dictionary can define the word “double”, but it can’t tell you all the ways to use it in speech.  The word “double” is used for all kinds of expressions like the ones above and others in this article.

Your technology can give you all kinds of abilities like a phone, camera, video camera, and applications, but it can’t tell you all the ways you can use them.  Most people use their iPhone for conventional purposes like talking to people on their phone, texting and playing games.  I like to find more creative ways of applying all these capabilities.

Here is one fun video I created recently using my iPhone and various iPhone apps.  It is a fun example of what is possible with modern technology and a little imagination.

 

Do you feel double crossed?  Or did you double over in laughter?

No stunt doubles were harmed or even used in the making of this video.  It was just me and a little trick photography using a combination of apps on my iPhone and a little ingenuity.

I share this for your entertainment, and maybe your enlightenment.

Life can seem boring and constraining at times.  We tend to see things a certain way based on years of living under a set of beliefs and experiences and habits.

But sometimes our beliefs, experience or habits are limiting or keeping us from seeing what is possible and getting to our full potential.

We can find the possibilities particularly when we are open to the possibilities, or better yet – looking for the possibilities.

I recently began an endeavor to be a cartoonist and started Ed Novick Comics.  Until recently, I never imagined I would be making comics.  I have very limited artistic ability. But using the talents I do have, and tools that I recently discovered, I imagined the possibilities and am now doing something new and fun.

Are you bored?  Do you feel stuck in life?  Do you feel constrained by the conventional of ‘what is’?

Use your imagination.  That is what God gave it to you for!   Brainstorm.  Get creative.  Think outside the box.  Learn something new.  Grow in a new direction.     Read about new things.  Take a class.  Share ideas.  Explore the possibilities.  Think of what could be.

Do something different.  Get involved.  Volunteer to do something new for a good cause.  Join a club or organization.  Meet someone new.   Try something you’ve never done before.  Pursue your dreams.

We all have many talents and abilities.  But are we using them fully?  Are there ways we can use them more fully and more satisfyingly?

I can tell you about imagination, and maybe inspire you to use your imagination, but I can’t tell you what to imagine or dream about.  That is for you to discover on your own.  God will send the thoughts when you are ready for them.  Then it will be up to you to do something about them.

Don’t be stuck or bored or complacent with ‘what is’.

See what is…then use your mind to think creatively about what could be…and then do something to make it so.

It will feel great and maybe even double your pleasure, double your possibilities and double your fun in life.

 

 

 

 

Who Is Ed Novick’s Celebrity Look-Alike?

October 17, 2014

They say that everyone has a doppleganger….someone in the world who looks just like them.

I haven’t found mine yet.  Or have I?

I looked up “doppleganger” on the web and found various web sites.

One of the web sites I found was Picadillo’s Celebrity Look-Alike generator.  You upload a picture and it compares your photo to those of celebrities and returns various celebrities that look like you.

I uploaded two separate photos…a recent one of me and a younger one of me used on this blog.  Here were the results.

 

celebrity lookalike

 

celebrity lookalike2

What do you think? Do any of them look like me?

Someone once told me that I looked like Stanley Tucci.  I didn’t know who he was at the time so I looked him up on the web.  Maybe I look like him a little.  At lease we share a similar hairline.

tucci

 

So…Who do you think is my celebrity look-alike?  One of these?  Or someone else?

Now’s your chance to vote.   If you have other ideas about who I might look like, leave them in the comments section below.

 

 

 

Zephyrgarten

October 16, 2014

Once upon a time, there was a wonderful place named Zephyrgarten.  Zephyrgarten was my family’s home.

When I bought my first house in Aurora, IL, I was moved to give it a name.  I imagine I was a little jealous of wealthy people who named their homes.  Elvis had Graceland.  Thomas Jefferson had Monticello.  The Ewings of Dallas had Southfork.  Even my great-aunt had a property in Indiana they called Twin Eagle Ranch, and I had often heard about my great-uncle who owned some property that my mom picnicked at as a child that he called Shady Rest. Why couldn’t I name my humble home in Aurora?

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We began to think about a name and not long after the name Zephyrgarten came to mind.  Zephyrgarten literally means “Garden of the West Wind”.  In college we had a teacher that taught literature and covered Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey. He captivated with the descriptions of Greek history, myth and literature.  Zephyr was the God of the west wind, the winds that brought about Spring and Summer.  I took the class in the Spring semester and soon came to experience zephyrs when Winter was chased away by the most delightfully warm winds of Spring that would race through your hair and caress your skin with warmth.  Our home in Aurora, which was out west from where we grew up, was purchased in the Spring and was where we were going to raise our children, so the concept of kindergarten (literally, “kid or children garden”) evolved to the name we chose: Zephyrgarten – Garden of the West Wind.

It worked for us and we delighted in the name and our time with our young, growing family there.  We had one child, then another, then another…our family was blooming.

Zephyrgarten was a brand new house with light sky-blue siding on a big lot with nice back yard. Inside we had a nice family room where for a brief while we built a big cardboard fort that we would crawl around and play in with our oldest child, Cody, and we would gate off the dining room and called it CodyWorld – it was like a playpen, only much larger and full of toys for Cody to play in safely. In subsequent years as Tess and Canyon were born to our family we started a garden in one corner of the back yard and built a swing set and fort for the kids in the other.

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Cody and Tess on a kiddie swing set in the back yard at Zephyrgarten

 

One year we decided to have a picnic event for family and friends at a nearby forest preserve and we called the event “ZephyrFest”.  ZephyrFest was wonderful fun for our friends and family and we made some wonderful memories from several years of picnics.  You can read more about ZephyrFest at http://ednovick.wordpress.com/2013/05/26/zephyrfest-somewhere-between-earth-and-heaven/.

Sadly, times got very tough for several reasons, and we had to sell and leave Zephyrgarten.  It is now a memory.

But remnants of Zephyrgarten memories still remain.

I did a web search for the unique word “Zephyrgarten” that I coined and some of the work I did in the Zephyrgarten name 15 years ago still was accessible out there … Zephyrgarten …. Zephyrgarten Home Page … Zephyrgarten Poetry Post….and the Zephyrgarten Christmas radio station I created on Pandora can still be accessed to bring you some of the most wonderful Christmas music from artists I love, so save it to your favorites and enjoy it this coming holiday season.

I also found the Zephyrgarten logo I created many years ago, that some of you might remember, featuring a wispy-curly blue lettering on a spring green field with a heart growing in it.  It represented the elements where the name came was derived from: blue skies, breezes, spring greenery, growth and love.  You can even still purchase merchandise with the original Zephyrgarten logo on it at the Zephyrgarten Store that I created many years ago.

zephyrgarten

 

I used to print greeting cards with the Zephyrgarten Greetings name, logo and “Home Is Where The Heart Is” tagline on the back of them, and some of you may still have one of those in a drawer somewhere.

Zephyrgarten is gone, but not forgotten. It lives on in the memories of those who lived and visited there, as well as places it still graces on the internet, including now, this story.

I wish I could say the Zephyrgarten story has a ‘happily ever after’ ending.  Sadly, it does not. Neither did King Arthur’s Camelot.  Putting my faith in God that it ends as it should is about the best I can do for now.

For today, I’ll just cherish the happy memories I have of Zephyrgarten, and find the beauty and hope I can in making a new home and new dreams.

 

The Bald And The Beautiful

October 14, 2014

There is a TV soap opera on CBS entitled, “The Bold And The Beautiful”, but for today I’m going to borrow the title and amend slightly to “The Bald And The Beautiful”.  Today is Bald And Free Day according to the Holiday Insights web site, a day that honors those of us with a beautiful hair-free head.  That includes me.

Don’t let the photo at the top of my blog fool you.  That photo was from a more youthful time 20 years ago.  I looked good in a tux and had a full head of hair then.  To quote Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, “That was a pretty good day”.  Or so it seemed at the time.

But the years have relieved me of the hair on the top of my head, and the stresses, burdens and costs that come with it, and today I look like this….noble, handsome, statuesque … and bald. (By the way, I’m the hair-free genius on the right, with the other being a statue of the great, but hair-burdened genius Thomas Jefferson. )

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There are lots of theories about why I and other people are bald.  Some say it is genetics.   Some say it is from too much testosterone.  Some say it is the result of stress.   While all of these may be true, I like to think that mine are from many years of blessings – it is traditional to lay one’s hands on a person’s head when giving them a blessing, so I imagine God has been doing that to me for years and the friction over the blessing path has rubbed off the hair on the top of my head.  Or, maybe it’s just my head’s way of feeling free, shedding the burden of the covering and going streaking. Whichever the case, it’s not so bad.

I celebrate my hair-free head, and even reflect it in my Ed Novick Comics.  I could add hair to my comic image, but then it wouldn’t be me.  I think the most beautiful art reflects real life.

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Here are some ways you can celebrate today:

  1. No Bald Jokes – zero tolerance for them – speak out against anyone who tries to tell them and depreciate a person with no hair.  The bald have no control over their hair loss, and besides, that is the way God made them.
  2. If you are a beautiful woman, it is good luck to kiss a bald man (at least it would be good luck for the bald man).

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That’s pretty much all I can think of, but those things would be very nice.

If you still have time after celebrating the bald today, you might also try celebrating another holiday today… National Dessert Day. Splurge and enjoy a yummy dessert treat today. I just might indulge in a yummy apple pie, a blueberry pumpkin muffin or a low-cal kiss from one of the aforementioned beautiful women….or may really splurge and indulge in them all.

Whichever ways you choose to celebrate today, definitely do celebrate today…after all, these are The Good Old Days.

 

 

We Are The Champions

October 12, 2014

Thirty years ago this month, I was a freshman in college at Lewis University. I wanted to play intramural flag football, but didn’t know many people at my new school who did. I signed up as an independent and waited for a team needing players to contact me. The call soon came and I was contacted by one of the leaders of a team called, as I recall, the Bruise Brothers.

The Bruise Brothers called a practice down behind Ryan Hall. I went and met my new teammates who lived in Ryan Hall. I soon learned that the team was primarily made up of young men who lived in Ryan Hall because they were novitiate Christian Brothers and that is where the novitiates lived. Ryan Hall was a nice quiet building for the men to live in Christian community, study and pray. They were very nice and welcoming to me.

We practiced on the field behind Ryan Hall. That field is now a woman’s softball field at Lewis, but at that time was a wide open large field perfect for football.

While practicing I saw another building to the east of the fields and Ryan Hall. I asked my teammates what that building was and they told me it was Cody Hall, a building where some of the Christian Brothers lived. I remember thinking to myself, after having just toured Ryan Hall, “that seems like it would be a great place to live”.

We went on to have a very good season. I played wide receiver. I was a very good quarterback, but the team already had a very good quarterback, so I filled the wide receiver role. I believe we won all but two games, and we went on to win the Bronze Division championship.

The night we won the championship we went back to Ryan Hall and celebrated. I remember the song “We Are The Champions” by the band Queen being played loudly over and over while we sang along. We were very excited and proud of our achievement.

Two years later I had applied to be a Resident Assistant (R.A.) in the dormitories. I was selected and hired to be an R.A.. The university had the prior year converted Ryan Hall from a novitiate brothers residence to a dormitory housing women. And this year I had learned that they were converting Cody Hall to be a dormitory too, housing men on two lower floors and women on the third floor And, to my good fortune, I was assigned to be an R.A. In Cody Hall, the same place I had thought two years earlier would be a great place to live. I was one of the first two R.A.s at Cody Hall. So, whether Cody Hall would be a great place to live was largely up to me.

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Entrance to Cody Hall

One of the things I did right away that year was to form a Cody Hall flag football team. We called ourselves the Cody Cardinals. We had a great bunch of young men and good athletes living there. That year I was our team quarterback. And we too went on to win the Bronze Division championship with an exciting finish that came down to the last play of the game. We were very proud of our achievement. Our success helped bond the young men living in Cody Hall as friends.

My time at Cody Hall over the next 2 1/2 years was some of the best times of my life. My R.A. Job was one of my favorite jobs in my life. And the friends I made there are still some of my best friends in life.

There is something wonderfully special about winning a championship and being a champion. I’ve had the opportunity a handful of times playing baseball and flag football. You never forget it, and it bonds you to those you do it with.

Unfortunately I’ve lost touch with the men of Ryan Hall who I won that first championship with. I could probably track down one or two of them through mutual friends if I wanted to, but most of them I will probably never see again.

Fortunately, I am still friends with many of the Cody Cardinals. I count some of them among my best friends. One was my brother, Michael. There was also my friends Vernon, Keith, Jim and Bill who I’m still close to. Others were Derek, Joe, Lloyd, Eric, Dominick and a couple of others.

We are all still champions. We always will be. And we reminisce about just that from time to time when we get together because, well…we are the champions!

 

P.S. When my firstborn son came along many years later, Cody’s mom (who had been an R.A. at Ryan Hall) and I named our son “Cody Ryan Novick” after the Cody Hall and Ryan Hall buildings we lived in when we met. And Cody Ryan…why, he’s a winner too.

The Family Treasure

October 10, 2014

When my grandmother, Gladys DiGuido, passed away nearly eleven years ago, we lost  one of  the most beautiful people I’ve ever known.

I was granted the honor of giving the eulogy at her funeral mass.   I loved my grandmother dearly and I had done some reflecting on what I learned from her over the years about what was important in life, and I wanted to share it with the family and friends that gathered to celebrate her life.

When the services were over and we laid her body to final rest, the family had to go about the business of dividing her property.  Gladys had 8 children, 7 of which survived her.  Fortunately, they learned the lesson from her that “family” is a sacred treasure, and there were few disputes over who got what. Her house recently sold finally, 10 years later.

Still, some of the things were one-of-a-kind, and it had to be decided just who got what.

One of the most prized family treasures was grandma’s collections of photographs.  She had pictures going back decades…over a century, really, as some of the photos were of her own ancestry (and my grandfather’s) going back to her own grandmother (my great-great grandmother).

I was saddened to think that those photos would be split off among family members and lost to some the family descendants that did not get the photos.

I asked for permission to be able to scan the photos and make digital copies of many of the old photos so that I could save them on DVD and make DVD copies to give to all of Gladys’s kids and grand-kids so they would all have them as a keepsake for their own records and to give to their descendants. I gift-rapped the DVD’s I had made and gave  one to each of the aunts, uncles and cousins on Christmas day 2004, a year after grandma died.  The aunts, uncles and cousins who received the DVDs seemed so happy and thankful to receive them.  I was full of joy to be able to give it to them.  The work of scanning the photos and burning many copies onto DVD’s for the dozens of family members was a labor of love.

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Photo of the DVD of the Gladys DiGuido Family Photo Album

 

 

Grandma was a treasure.  Scratch that — Grandma IS a treasure.  She lives on in the minds, hearts and DNA of dozens of descendants who love her still and always will, as well as most surely with The Lord in heaven where we will see her again one day.

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Gladys’ 18 year old portrait photograph

Grandma, your kids and grand-kids are still loving each other as we always have because that is what we learned from you.  Many of us saw each other at a family wedding recently and we had a great time together.  We still get together whenever we can to reminisce and share love and laughs.  Thank you for keeping us together and loving us so richly when you were with us.  And thank you for taking and preserving so many great photos.  The photos are priceless.  But the family love we share, thanks to you, a wonderful treasure.  We love and miss you.

 

 

 

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My blog is a satire for all with stories, adventures, and opinions based on facts with minimal evidence and maximum wit. In short, a chronicle of my life. I hope you enjoy perusing my random banter, hilarious adventures, short stories with imaginative characters and hidden meanings, my unique wit, interests in pop culture and oddball opinions.

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