Saturday, September 12, 2009

Meetin' n eatin'

There is something special about small rural churches. Our church in Naruna has been around for more than 137 years, with ups and downs in attendance through the decades. Most of the members belong to the same families who settled the area and still reside on family ranches. There are more than a few state designated "Texas Family Heritage Ranches" in Naruna, meaning they have been in the same family and used in agriculture for more than a hundred years.

A church constant over the years is an overwhelming compulsion to eat anytime a group gets together. I think this is true of most churches, and have seen it over and over again as we moved around the world. Of course this eating compulsion works both ways, since attendance is usually the highest on Sundays when there is a "dinner on the grounds" after church services.

One variation of this at our church is to occasionally host a breakfast before Sunday School. Some of the men get up early and cook bacon, eggs, sausage and pancakes for however many people wander in. For some variety, we'll also fry tortillas, potatoes, peppers, & onions so folks can put together breakfast tacos. This is the kind of gathering popular with families since they don't have to feed the kids...all they have to do is get them up and dressed a little early.

The time spent preparing these breakfasts is some of the most productive in enjoying fellowship and getting church business conducted. Formal meetings have their place, but it's hard to stand on protocol when you are flipping pancakes or frying eggs. Of course, there are some problems that go along with feeding folks before church...will they be able to stay awake until the invitation?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Practical Defense against H1N1

Swine Flu! That's all you need to say to start people running for the exits. Our country, and indeed the world, has been teetering on the brink of panic, as gloomy predictions fly all about. Last spring was being forecast to be the worst year since the 1918 pandemic which killed more people than the Great War which was going on at the same time. Not much happened and the scare faded some during the summer months as kids dispersed and went their separate ways. Now that school is starting up, the rhetoric is heating up again. Every governmental agency worth anything has a plan. That none of these plans has been tested and probably won't work doesn't slow down the bureaucrats.

In an effort to inject a modicum of reason and sanity into our preparations for this impending plague, I vowed to conduct my own research. I began by searching the literature for historical methods which have been effective in preventing the spread and propagation of disease-causing organisms. Rather than resorting to high cost vaccines or ineffective antibiotics, I sought readily available natural products.

Sodium chloride, or salt, has been been used throughout history for preserving foods and preventing the growth of pathogens in foods. This has been accomplished through its ability to dehydrate and desiccate organisms, rendering them incapable of growth and reproduction.

Acids can be powerful antibacterial agents. Unfortunately, many acids cannot be used directly by humans because of the same caustic effects which make them so effective in killing microorganisms. I tried several types before hitting on citric acid as one which is strong enough to be effective while not harming the humans we are trying to protect.

Another agent which has proven bactericidal qualities is another well known and readily available product, ethanol. Ethanol is a powerful desiccant which has -cidal qualities when used in a variety of applications. I found through trial and error that ethanol distilled from certain varieties of the agave plant was most effective.

Unfortunately, none of these, by itself, had the desired effects. It was only through a fortuitous accidental combining of these three separate ingredients that the perfect anti-influenza agent was revealed. Even though it was thought by many to be too hazardous to be trialed outside a laboratory setting, I accepted the challenge. Throughout the summer months, I religiously tested this concoction, even knowing the risk was great.
When I survived with minimal ill effects, I expanded my trial, recruiting public spirited individuals who were willing to risk their personal well-being for the greater good of all.
As you can see from these photos of the actual clinical trials, these brave volunteers put the good of mankind ahead of their personal safety, and deserve our gratitude.