Saturday, April 30, 2016

She Like Freaked Out!

So I'm in Minnesota again for the weekend.  I just dropped Sean off kn Spring Grove, MN for a family thing with his daughters and I'm headed back to Rochester but stopped at a coffee shop that I've seen advertised off the highway and have always wanted to try but it's too far off the highway so - I was passing by and stopped and have been sitting sipping coffee and reason my Bible and getting caught up on life.  And midway through a pair of teenage girls came in, sat down and counted out all their change, literally counted out change - too cute!  And went up and plopped it all down and are sharing a little meal and some frappe latte whatevers that teenage girls get.  And they're sitting their chatting like two teenage girls do and I can't help but laugh - but then had to cringe a little because I'm wondering if sometimes I sound like a teenage girl.  

Girl one "and Carrie was totally like "no way" and then Becky found out and she fah-reeked out!  And she was totally like so mad and then she totally like left the room and I was totally like whatever!
Girl two "no way!  Seriously so like ree-dick-u-lus!"
And then more fast talking with like and totally thrown in and I'm not really understanding it all - but it's like totally hilarious!:). And thus I end with my teenage girl/Alison impersonation!:)..:(

So the drive to Spring Grove was a little over an hour and beautiful but - Ahhh!  It's beautiful rolling hills and little rivers and green grass and bluffs and - all of a sudden you notice - no one lives here but this one person and maybe 15 minutes away another house.  

And as we drove we saw a bald eagle flying around - well he was picking at a dead animal carcass and I had to yell at him because he represents our country and it was very unregal and disgusting for a country mascot that he was eating a dead deer off the road.  C'mon!  We're all about hard work - go out and chase your dinner down like a real American eagle would do!  

Ah but then I realized this area is very very Norwegian - flags and ancestry research and all so - he's probably one of those carcass eating, unnoble Norwegian Eagles!  Disgusting!...

He was so ashamed - he flew away!

A dreary but awesome day to spend with friends and practically family:). I'm headed back to Melisssa now!!  

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Last Day - I'll Just Give It Away

Ok I started this post yesterday but then I found out I have some brilliant secret readers!  Thank you for making yourself known:). I thought I had two loud and proud readers and a hidden one in a different country and that's all.  And I was ok with that!  But now it's nice knowing I write for a few others!

So my brilliant reader and friend has guessed correctly!  Or as they would say here "Si si seƱora!"

San Antonio, Texas!
Remember the Alamo.... No that's really a question.. Remember the Alamo?:)

And then the Riverwalk which I've actually discovered this trip runs way longer than just the Riverwalk area!
There's strolling guitarists!

Tex-Mex food!

And just overall beautiful weather!
But way too many people in the downtown tourist area!

Ok and a bad bird problem!  You sit on the Riverwalk to eat and this is what happens... The doof at the table next to you keeps on feeding the ducks so you have them sitting at your feet staring at you...

And then people walk away from their table and the pigeons attack it!

The conference just finished and I'm grabbing a bite and then headed to the airport to fly home.

A great conference this year!  I actually learned a lot.. A lot of great speakers and topics!  I think I definitely to home with more knowledge than I came with which is, let's face it, a very good thing!

Adios San Antonio!

Oh - and this post is in memory of my one faithful reader who never figured out how to actually comment on my blog itself but always commented in person!  My cousin Debbie!  It makes me so sad knowing I have one less, not only reader, but personal fan!  As of three weeks ago, we lost our family support and friend.  We miss her!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Don't Eat That Deer!

Another day in .... I'm beginning to think that perhaps I haven't given enough clues, my one loyal reader hasn't tried to guess!:). So we'll try again. 

This morning I got up earlier than I normally would have for this conference because they had an early bird presentation at 7 that I was pretty much totally excited to hear!  It was called "An Updated Primer On Wasting Diseases:   Humans, Animals and Ecosystem Health".  Sounds complicated and tedious?  Maybe - but not!  It was a lecture by a Dr who is doing studies on the migration of prion diseases in wildlife, but she also focussed some on prion diseases in humans.  In case you're not sure about prions diseases or TSE (transmissible spongiform encepholethopies), they're the cause of scrapie and mad cow disease and - in humans, CJD (Crutzfeld-Jakob Disease). Oh and the most interesting prion disease, Kuru, or the laughing disease (people literally laugh themselves to death!)

I know enough about prion diseases to know if you get them you're toast.  It's a neurodegenerative disease specifically but they've found it can actually be found all over the body.  Prion proteins are actually found in everyone's brains.  They're very common.  But when one gets a infected by this abnormal pathogenic agent, they cause these prion proteins to fold over themselves.  Once this happens its only a matter of months to about a year until you die from it.  The good thing is that in humans, it's when tissue matter comes into contact with tissue matter.  So kuru for instance, started because there were these tribal people that would eat the brains of their dead relatives in order to get intelligence or wealth - and instead they got kuru!  

Most cases of CJD (or vCJD) that have happened (I think according to CDC about 255 cases world wide) come from iatrogenic methods or medical methods. Brain surgery, corneal transplants, etc.  And bring it down to my base level...
When someone has, most primarily, any type of neurological procedure, that's when the risk comes.  Any patient suspected with CJD that has a procedure, those sets then have to be handled comptely differently.  In fact, they're usually just disposed of.  But - you can't just throw them away or incinerate them.  There's a specific way to handle them before you incinerate them in order to inactivate the prions and - it's a really harsh and time consuming way.  There's usually always certain ratios of sodium hypochlorite or sodium hydroxide  that have to be used and then agressive temperatures of steam heat used for extended periods of time.  And, for instance, one of the speakers yesterday was from England and he said when they have suspected cases, the instrument sets are put in certain containers and then transported to a level 3 military storage facility.  Crazy!

So that's human prion diseases, but then animal diseases such as scrapies dates back about 600 years ago!  And now the U.S. Has been the first to report CWD, Chronic Wasting Disease.  And slowly other countries are showing it like Canada and most recently Norway.  CWD has progressively and aggressively affected wildlife specifically through deer and elk.

It affects their brains but they've found the disease carries into tissue and their antlers and their organs.  And as the disease spreads they've found that it can infect other animals that eat the dead carcasses of CWD animals.  And now, the researches who are based in WI and see this disease spreading rapidly through the state, have concern with humans who might ingest deer, better known as venison.  See, my life long hatred of venison is well founded!:)

Ok I'll stop with my blog classroom... But all that to say, if you're reading this and you have a forkful of deer... STOP!  

And that's all I'll say on the matter:)

Ok back to where I am.
They just finished building a trail along the river that runs down here.  Well i think it was finished in 2013, but I've never had a chance to walk or run it before so to me they just finished it.  So this morning I had some free time and the sun was hidden behind the clouds and so I went run/exploring this trail.  It's called Mission something or other and was really pretty! There's this really strong, sweet smelling flower all over down here, I know the smell but can't place it.  Anyways, it was floating all over the air.  And then there are these ridiculously chirping birds who are way too happy for morning!  There were about three levels of the river that I passed, it would just flow into this massive waterfall and then the landscape would dip down about 5-10 feet.  It was relatively quiet this morning and enjoyable. 

I got back and showered and then walked down the river area to find some late morning breakfast.
Heuvos rancheros!  A little more help in the guessing game!

And I sat by the river
Terrified that the birds that were swarming the patio were going to attack me!  I felt like Tippi Hedron!
Hey!  He ordered wheat toast!
He was sitting on my purse and must be camera shy because he flew away when I went to take a picture!
They literally took off with my precious sugar in the raw packet!:(

Well!  Off to more intriguing sessions like "The War On Biofilm"! And "Flexible and Semi Rigid Endoscopes"... And so many more!:). This year is actually turning out to be an interesting presentation year!

Ok!  Back to walk along the river... And keep trying to guess where I am!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Fiesta Time!

Ok it's another episode of "guess where Alison is this week"!

So first of all, I'm headed to my destination and I stop at my favorite airport food, Frontera Grill.  I'm in line to order and there's this little rack with jellies and sauces you can buy.  I see "cherry" which I love and I pick it up... Sweet:)
They're Balaton cherries ... It's my Hungary!  Lake Balaton is the area where everyone spends summer.. And they grow all the grapes and such for wines.  And now I know they grow cherries there too!

And then I have a connecting flight and so at my stop I picked up a travel magazine and I'm flipping through and...
A whole article on Budapest and how it's up and coming with its transportation system.  So fun to read and see some of my favorite places getting due credit!

So now on to where I am.
I got in at about 10 pm or so last night.  I call Uber and he picks me up and we go zipping towards the downtown and as soon as we get off the highway to go to my hotel - BAM - complete standstill!  Tons of people walking, pushing baby strollers, kids holding and waving brightly lighted banners and little sticks with multi colored lights flashing, music pounding, horns being honked.  And then my Uber driver says, well you're just in time for the end of the parade.  What parade?  It's Fiesta week and it ends with a 9pm parade downtown.

We're inching along until all of a sudden we stop - and we don't move.  5,10, 15 minutes.  And then I finally look at my gps and I see the hotel isn't far so I tell him I'll just walk.  I get out and all these streets are baracaded and people are yelling and laughing and walking.  And I'm in the middle of the remnants of a tsunami of garbage!
They know how to Fiesta down here!

I woke up in the morning to clean streets and quiet, calm of the morning!
This might be the give away... But mornings here can be so peaceful, especially after the crazy evenings!

And my last share... The hotel im staying at has this beautiful courtyard - and a very sharp mascot!

So handsome!
Almost as handsome as ...
But not quite... :)

Good night from ...... !??!!!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Something To Ponder

Quick catch up on the past few weeks...
What has NOT happened...

So two weeks ago, on a Friday afternoon, my cousin Debbie passed away suddenly and unexpectedly.  She was one of those people who I think everyone loved and she loved just about everyone.

As a family, we always get together for holidays and birthdays.  But Debbie was the one that would just call or text on a Wednesday and say "hey, everyone come of for dinner on Saturday night".  She just liked us being together as a family.

Theres a little part of me thats scared of how our life as a family will change now that she's gone.  We maybe won't get together as much.  I don't know - but I guess I can be the one to make sure we do get together.  I'll never be the initiator of laughter like Debbie, but I can at least get the laughter together!

So two Wednesdays ago, we were all attending a funeral.
And then two days later, we were all in Kansas for my nieces wedding.

My pastor has been preaching through Ecclesiastes and I have to say this has been one of those times in life where you really stop and see life for what it is.  Theres birth, theres life and theres death.  And everything in between the birth and the death is a gift!  There are times of work and just doing what you have to do, and then there are times of sorrow and grieving, and then God gives you those times to enjoy.  And I have to admit that I feel particularly blessed that God has given me so much family to enjoy all those good times with!

And then tonight, Sunday night, theres a church around the corner from my house that hosted Olive Lefield as a speaker.  Olive Lefield was actually Olive Fleming who was married to Pete Fleming, one of the men who were killed by the Auca Indians in the jungles of Ecuador in the 1950s.

It was a little breath taking to sit and listen to this woman who had interacted with these legends in the Christian faith and who had interacted with the Indians who became legends of the Christian faith.

If you don't know the story, first a Wikipedia link thats actually correct :)

And a quick recap.  In the 1950s there were five missionary couples that went to Ecuador to reach the natives who lived in the jungles.  The ones who had never heard of Christ.  They had a plane and they had a basic plan - but they had no clue what God's plan was!

They found made contact with a remote group of Indians called the Auca Indians.  They made several trips over their area in the jungle and from their plane they dropped gifts.  And then finally one of the times they landed.  And they waited and there came out three Indians, a man and two women, and they communicated the best they could and they made friendly contact.
They then left but were so excited that now they had made friendly contact and so they planned to go back to make contact again.
They did return and basically as soon as they landed, the Aucas ambushed them and killed them all.

What struck me tonight is - those five men who were killed that day in 1955 never once had a chance to do what they actually had prayed and hoped to do - share the Gospel with the Auca Indians.

However, at least three of the wives of the men who were killed actually went back into the jungles to those Auca Indians and not only forgave them, but loved them enough to share the Gospel with them.  And whats even more amazing is God used those deaths to bring a good number of the Auca Indians to faith in Christ!  So - five men gave their lives to show the forgiveness of Christ in the love their wives showed for their killers.

Now the men who killed the five missionaries, including Olive Lefields husband Pete Fleming, all of those Indians have become believers and are considered grandfather the missionaries grandchildren.  They share a love of Christ and a love for each other.

It was just this amazing revelation tonight - how God uses things that seem hopeless and futile, for his glory and for our good and for the love of Christ!  Bad becomes good.  Hated become loved.  Frightened become forgiven.  Hopeless become hopeful.
Olive and Pete Fleming - only married for 18 months before Pete was killed by the Auca Indians

Friday, April 15, 2016

At Peace

It's been a long two weeks....

But there's nothing quite so peaceful and soul enthralling as driving through the Minnesotan farmlands and then watching the sun rise over the Mississippi at 6 in the morning all the while listening to YoYo Ma's American Collection Theme and thinking about all the good stuff and good people in your life.

It's gonna be a good Friday whatever happens!