Saturday, August 25, 2012


Just the anticipation of spending a week in the always magnificent Montana Beartooths is enough to charge anybody’s batteries.  Our annual trip this last week to Big Sky went without too many incidents and afforded us the opportunity for yet another huge payoff – the chance refresh ourselves by relaxing in a pristine environment and then realizing once again that we aren’t alone.
This year offered some expected challenges including the extended heat and drought which like Texas in 2011 has affected the northern Plains and sparked what has been a brutal Western wildfire season – 62 active fires while we were in Montana.  We were elated at an early though timely Fall cold front that broke the heat and brought welcome relief via showers for a day ushering in nightly lows in the upper 30’s and lower 40‘s.     

You think, time to open all the windows and let all that cool air nod us off to sleep?  Well, not really as the reports of bears scavenging in the area during the late evening and early morning hours motivated us to just crack the bedroom windows and stop-look-listen before we exited our home.  Another local Red Lodge resident offered that a large sow and her cub ran not ten feet from her while she walked her dog on the Red Lodge Golf Course.  She noted that her dog remained uncommonly silent...  Some touristas had apparently failed to use the Red Lodge mandated bear-proof herbie curbies opting to dutifully put their garbage bags on the streets for pickup.  At least one bear that evening had a real smorgasbord…

Now, we can deal with the bears and truly understand that this is their land.  After all, we are the visitors… We just have to be respectful, careful and understand that premise – forever and a day. We noted the reports of another Grizzly recently sighted just south of Red Lodge while earlier in the summer Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials reported that a young grizzly was euthanized after killing some sheep and cattle near Red Lodge.

While our barely cracked but still open windows offered some protection against the local fauna they allowed smoke and the smell of burning Idaho timber to curl its way into the home though luckily that really only lasted one evening.  It did remind us of our place in this environment and our charge to be responsible stewards of the land.  Fire officials estimate that dozens of the fires for this and for several years were started by “target shooting” and the use of steel jacketed bullets that throw off sparks when they hit rocks.  Utah State Fire Marshal Brent Halladay has commented  re. steel bullets that, "you might as well just go up there and strike a match." That’s good enough for us…

So, we played, ate, visited with good Friends and even planted some more bushes around the house including one magnificent purple barberry and several of the yellow-blooming Potentilla “jackmanii” – finishing off the great work and generosity of visiting Friends. Then we topped off our work with a visit to Absarokee, Montana and the Dew Drop Inn where we feasted on some great burgers and their now famous Huckleberry shakes. And if you haven’t had Huckleberry ice cream from Scoops in Red Lodge, then add that to your bucket list…
While the Huckleberry isn’t the Montana state fruit (Idaho claims that honor) it seems to thrive in the high elevations of Big Sky Country, the Pacific Northwest and Canada.  With apologies, the Huckleberry looks a little like a blueberry though with a distinctive sweet taste and a slight tartness that only magnifies its uniqueness.  Folks have tried to grow the fruit commercially with little success.  This cottage industry finds Huckleberry enthusiasts competing with Black Bears and Grizzlies for this little gem in mostly in our national forests and parks. Yes, the bears win every time.

I have seen Huckleberry ice cream, shakes, sundaes, etc. along with preserves/jam, syrup, salad dressing, soda even lip gloss, soap and shampoo with flecks of real berries. We even noted that the Great Northern Brewing Company, a craft brewery in Whitefish, Montana which features Wild Huckleberry Wheat, a lager beer flavored with Huckleberry juice. They say it’s great and try as I might to buy some; it was sold out wherever I went.  So, the possibilities are endless…

It seems that some Canadians trying to cash in on the Huckleberry mania in the lower 48 have been secreting Canadian blueberries labeled as Huckleberries across the border to unsuspecting Yankee tourists.  Indignant Montana lawmakers passed a law in 2007 making it a misdemeanor to label a product “Huckleberry” if it contains any other fruit. It would certainly appear that along with Flathead Cherries, the Huckleberry is an integral part of Montana's identity.

After a few days of pondering some of the more pressing problems of our Montana Domain and enjoying that environment including some more Huckleberry ice cream, we prepared for the trip back to Dallas via Billings/Salt Lake City.  Thanks to my Weather Channel app we noted the severe thunderstorms in and around our scheduled flight into DFW.  Gads and memories of that terrible Delta L1011 crash in August 1985 while trying to land in a storm that generated huge wind shears.  Well, an already long layover in Salt Lake turned into a six plus hour mandated delay which included some tarmac time. We had no problem with Caution, Caution and more Caution.
Salt Lake was shrouded with clouds of what looked like heavy fog but turned out to be more of that smoke from western wild fires. It literally blanketed the area once again punctuating the dire situation out west.

While delayed, our flights were just fine noting that many other flights into DFW had been cancelled.  One Delta agent thanked me for keeping them apprised of the weather in Dallas – seems that the weather screen on their monitor was out at their gate?  The Delta Captain asked to see my handheld and then thanked me – ah – Al Roker for a few hours…  Guess they could have been patronizing me, but it did not appear so.

We were lucky though we landed very late evening at DFW along with many of the other delayed flights.  It was a madhouse as we hit the baggage claim areas all at the same time causing lots of confusion and huge transportation backups to all the parking areas.  You would think they would have anticipated the predictable weather delays and managed the situation better – they didn’t.   

We finally got back to far north Dallas and all the hullabaloo about the continuing and accelerating West Nile Virus which by our return had prompted a state of emergency and the start of the first aerial spraying in over fifty years in Dallas.  Yea, our neighborhood got it twice and we appreciated that effort.  Kudos to the State of Texas, Governor Perry, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings,  Director of Dallas County Health and Human Services Zach Thompson (Hurrah!) and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins who declared a state of emergency and facilitated this very appropriate response.  Having said that, it’s not over yet and we need to remain ever vigilant.

Good to be home… but, if I could just find some Huckleberry ice cream…


Ned Buxton

PS.  No bug or spider bites that we can find this year though the wife of a good Friend was recently bitten by a brown recluse spider in their home here in Texas.  Please be careful… NB

Saturday, August 11, 2012


From the 1960’s on, one of my idols and inspiration was track & field and football icon Bob Hayes who won the 1964 Olympic Gold Medal in the 100 meter dash in world record time (10.06 seconds) followed by a second Gold Medal in that now famous 4 x 100 meter relay, and his come from behind victory which also produced a new World Record (39.06 seconds).  Hayes was the first human ever to run under ten seconds for the 100 meters.  Hayes then in Hall of Fame fashion played wide receiver and kick returner for eleven outstanding seasons with the Dallas Cowboys.  His enshrinement in the Cowboy’s Ring of Honor by itself is testament to his great career and contributions to the world of sport.

We need note that Hayes 10.6 second world record time in the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics is now mediocre and has been eclipsed by scores of runners.  The first seven finishers in the London Summer Olympics all bested Hayes 1964 100 meter record with the winning mark by Usain St. Leo Bolt (defending his gold medal from the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics) at 9.63 seconds (new Olympic record) even to the seventh place finisher at 9.98 seconds. 

When I saw Usain Bolt demolish his competition in both the 100 and 200 meter dash (an all Jamaican show) I felt the spirit of Bob Hayes tugging at me and then disappointment which turned to annoyance when Bolt put on his usual victory histrionics and his now famous “To Di World” pose (above).  I personally think it undignified and not in keeping with the Olympic Spirit, a sentiment shared by International Olympic Committee (IOC) Chief Jacques Rogge who accused Bolt of “showboating” and “lacking respect” when he first pointed at the sky in 2008.  An unflappable Bolt has continued to celebrate his many victories with the same gesture which is now being copied around the world by the likes of Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson (one of Bolt’s sponsors), Prince Harry and many others. The International Track and Field Federation came around to his dramatics even to the sponsorship of a contest to see who can do the “bolt” – the best? OK…

This post was initially intended as a Bolt Roast of the first order.  I had all my knives sharpened and word guns loaded ready for a Bolt evisceration.  Something happened to change all that, however, and was proof again that you can’t judge a book by its cover, however superficially nauseating it may appear.  So, what changed my opinion?

While, no doubt, Bolt is consummately full of himself and as one sports blogger put it, “flamboyant, brash and cocky” and lacking any real humility, he is still the best at what he does – perhaps even the best, ever at least until the “next great” comes along.  Even as I was composing my Bolt Rant, Bolt’s recent interview by a TV reporter with the Spanish news network, TVE, was being run on NBC.  The reporter either ignored or wasn't aware that the American national anthem was about to begin for America’s Sanya Richards-Ross who had just won the gold medal for her victory in the women’s 400 meters.  When Bolt realized that the American Anthem was about to be played, he tried to put off the reporter who still tried to continue her interview.  Bolt took control, indicating they were going to pause for a moment, turned around and with respect honored Richards-Ross’ victory and the US National Anthem.  The ceremony completed, Bolt turned back around and finished the interview.  What a show of class!  That’s what turned me around.  Then we start checking around and then learned of Bolt’s considerable charitable activities… Defused I was left with nothing better to do than compare Bolt with my hero Bullet Bob Hayes.  So here we go…

We are not original in our effort to compare Bolt with Hayes noting at least two other folks in the blogosphere who recently pondered the same question  - what would be the outcome of a race between Bullet Bob Hayes in his prime in 1964 and Lightning Bolt on the 100 meter track in 2012?

Let’s ponder physical statistics.  Bob Hayes was about 5’ 11” in height and weighed a little over 190 lbs.  Like Bolt he was a strong and muscular figure of a man, just smaller.  Though we have not seen his personal measurements we have made a calculated guess that his inseam was around 30 inches.  Bolt is 6’ 5” in height and weighs somewhere between 190 and 210 pounds and at this time.  We have seen estimates on his inseam anywhere from 36 to 40 inches, or more.

Let’s go a little further.  Bob Hayes, in his 1964 Tokyo dash ran 48 strides (some say 47.50 strides).  Bolt ran 41 strides in the 100 meters in London so it may all come down to the physics of flexibility and stride length and angle.  Bolt’s Jamaican teammate Yohan Blake took 46 steps in that same 100 meter race claiming silver with his 9.75 seconds dash.  Do the math.

Many tall athletes, however muscular, have great difficulty in the sprints and Bolt, contrary to Hayes and Blake can be slow coming out of the blocks.  But, once he builds up his steam and gets everything going in the same direction, well, we have seen the results…

Aside from the distinctive physical differences between the two athletes there were other factors that separate these two great athletes.  First of all, the track back in Hayes time was made of cinder which was a coarse, porous surface and as in Bullet Bob’s 1964 Olympic race, his lane had already been chewed up by a 20k race walk the day before. That surface is patently inferior to today’s scientifically crafted synthetic surfaces designed to optimize athletic performance.  The new tracks give a predictable extra “bounce” to the runners which they use to their advantage.  Most folks who have raced on both cinder and on synthetic all-weather tracks report much improved times on the synthetic tracks.  Ironically, the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics were the last to use a cinder track. 

Hayes was also running with borrowed spikes.  Both those aspects are significant not even considering today’s modern and highly efficient training procedures and an entourage that includes nutritionists, sports scientists, support staff and groupies - all epidemic in modern sports. Bob Hayes was also an amateur in the true sense of the sport while Bolt has been a professional (Puma, Virgin, Visa, et al.) since 2004 earning millions of dollars, Euros, pounds, etc.
Yes, they are apples and oranges and like the old Ruth and Aaron debates they occupied different eras with whole different paradigms. We really can’t logically compare the two though I will surmise the results of a head to head meeting of the two.

Anyone who watched Bolt’s Olympic qualifying trials up to the finals of the 100m knows that he cruised to easy victories in all races, only exerting himself as required.  Indeed, his winning time in the Olympics at 9.63 seconds may be an Olympic record but it’s not the World Record.  Bolt holds that distinction by running a 9.57 second 100m in Berlin in 2009.

Retired American sprinter Michael Johnson with four gold medals to his credit believes Bolt can improve on his 100 meters world record of 9.58 to 9.4 seconds.  We think so too but note he is going to have to clean up his technique, stop his showboating and find someone who can push him to that level.

As for a head-to-head with Hayes? We think that Bolt who is consummately concerned with his “living legend” (his words) status would finally have the motivation to best Hayes who sports authorities speculate may have had a 9.7 in him.  In a world where differences are now measured in the thousandths of a second it may have all come down to heart though the physics and math and a “finally” inspired Bolt would have his shot at ultimate celebrity – at least until the next phenom arrives on the scene.

Some say that Bolt – if he has those soft hands and the will to play American football – might be an NFL prospect.  But before Jerry Jones gets out his checkbook he needs to ask himself if he wants an already historically ego-plagued Cowboy franchise cursed with a personality that makes TO look like a rank amateur.  We are also assured that the only football that Bolt would want to play would be for his favorite team, Manchester United who has apparently offered him a trial.

God bless Bob Hayes and Usain Bolt and allow Bolt some genuine humility. He may just develop that if he tries to play football…


Ned Buxton

Thursday, August 9, 2012


In a recent post we continued to raise the alarm about the West Nile Virus (WNV) and its seemingly disparate (why us?), horrific impact on the Dallas/Fort Worth area including the only deaths (10) in the US.  We mentioned some easy steps you can take to minimize your exposure to this terrible virus including building bat habitat.  What in God’s name were we thinking?  Well, we’re using Mother Nature in the most sensible way to combat WNV and its insidious carrier, the mosquito.

A reminder of the effectiveness of bats came this last Fourth of July when we invited Friends over, shared some adult beverages and watched the incredible Addison, Texas Kaboom Town fireworks display – one of the best shows in our nation.  Music for the display is broadcast over a local radio station so we turn on our boom box, set up west facing chairs in the deserted street along with many of our neighbors and then enjoy the show.
As it turned out the fireworks weren’t the only show.  At dusk the skies were filled with bats swooping hither and yon feasting on insects and we hopefully surmised – mostly mosquitos. We already had anti mosquito lamps burning and with all liberally doused with mosquito repellant (Yes, lots of DEET) we felt OK.  But, the bats were the unexpected kicker, stars of the show, like little guardians watching over us.

If you aren’t convinced yet, let’s put things in perspective.  Austin, Texas is home to the largest urban bat colony in North America (an estimated 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats) that can be viewed from the Congress Avenue Bridge when they swoop into the Texas skies each evening. They consume some 10,000 to 30,000 pounds of insects every night.  The world's largest colony of bats is located in Bracken Bat Cave, northeast of San Antonio.  Each night, those 20 million Mexican free-tail bats devour 200 tons of insects. The positive impact on Texas agriculture is immeasurable.

For you and me in our neighborhoods where a bat census hasn’t happened, we can go by the law of averages.  One bat can consume up to 1,200 mosquito-sized insects every hour with each bat usually eating from 6,000 to 8,000 insects each night. That translates to 50% or more of their body weight each Dallas evening. As Mother Earth News assures, “Natural insect control is their specialty.” It just makes good sense to harness and even encourage that natural instinct for our benefit.

For us here in Dallas and north Texas our guardian is the Little Brown Bat.  It’s apparent that there is plenty of bat habitat in our neighborhood though just where that is – we aren’t exactly sure though probably in our trees.  We can help bolster those populations by building what I’m calling bat boxes or roosts/shelters/houses like I did at my last two homes in Georgia.  They are simple to construct and they work. Many bird specialty shops or big box stores like WalMart or Internet retailers like sell them.  Some of the manufacturers include Heartwood, BestNest, Audubon and Coveside among many others.  If you want to commit even further in your support for bat conservation you can buy bat houses or kits direct from the Organization for Bat Conservation (OBC) and from their web site  I like the Heartwood Victorian Bat House painted dark red as pictured above but it all depends on your taste and probably the color of your house. I hope my bats like Victorian as much as I do….OK, they probably don’t care.
If you are going to build that better bat house, we recommend guidance from one of my favorite Internet sites, the Mother Earth News which is as they say, “the original guide to living wisely.”   They have proved that since 1970. We heartily recommend them.  Mother Earth News offers the following advice for building that Better Bat House.

“A bat house in your backyard, or several around your garden or farm, will provide bats with a place to live. The bats will repay you by eating your insect pests. To attract and keep bats artificial shelters must simulate the bat's natural habitat through style and location.

Bat houses should be made of exterior plywood or rough cedar. The inside of the house should have grooves every quarter inch, or polyethylene plastic mesh on the front and back of the house. The house should be at least 2 feet tall and 16 inches wide with a three-quarter to one inch opening. Use galvanized screws to assemble the house, and caulk it to keep the bats warm and dry. Adding a ceiling at the top of the house just below the roof and leaving a quarter-inch space about 6 inches from the bottom opening will create needed temperature variation. Be sure to leave a 4 to 6 inch area below the opening to serve as a landing spot. You can increase your chances of attracting bats by using a dark brown or black, non-toxic, water-based exterior paint or stain on the outside of the house to make the inside warmer for maternity colonies raising young (do not paint the interior).

Placement of the house is critical. Bat houses should be at least 12 feet off the ground, face south or southeast, and receive at least six hours of direct sun each day. The house should face an open area with at least 20 feet of clearance, so the bats can come and go with ease. Bat houses can be mounted on poles, garages, barns, chimneys, and trees. Be aware, however, that houses on trees are harder for bats to find and will take longer to become occupied if leaves obscure the house.”

Credible plans to build bat houses can be found on many Internet sites to include the OBC site at and also at the National Wildlife Fund site at 

So what about these so-called bat removal services?  Well, if you have bats in the attic or walls of your home, you have a problem and need to call a responsible animal/wildlife control and removal service.  Remember since bats are environmentally beneficial they are protected by both State of Texas and Federal law. In short, you can’t remove them by killing them hence the necessity to call licensed wildlife control professionals. Folks like that can humanely exit (they call it bat exclusion) those animals from your home and even find alternate digs for them.

If you are just concerned because you’ve noticed bats on your property and not properly educated yet, were alarmed?   Don’t worry about it.  Have a Bat Party and invite all your Friends over to celebrate and thank our natural sky guardians. And, if you really have to go outside, remember, lightly colored, tightly woven long sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, hat and slather on plenty of repellent containing DEET.  Oh yes, shoes…

While bats are interesting and beneficial animals, we need note that they can spread rabies. If you find an injured, sick, or dead bat, do NOT touch it.  Notify your local animal control agency or local health department and they will send someone out to retrieve the deceased. Before you cop to a “told you so”, the last real palpable (barely) outbreak of rabies in Dallas was several cases in 2009.  In addition, once bats contract rabies, they die soon thereafter.  With less than half of 1% of the almost 1,000 different species of bats with rabies, you are much more likely to contract rabies from an unvaccinated dog or cat.

Sidebar:  While walking the dog again this morning I met an elderly gentleman (I guess in his 70’s) wearing a hat, t-shirt, shorts and sneakers.  He stopped his walk/jog to say hello whereupon we exchanged pleasantries. I asked him if he was aware that there was WNV in the neighborhood?  He responded yes and then offered that his wife had been haranguing him about his failure to take any precautions against WNV.  He then offered that mosquitos just don’t bother him.  I wanted to retort that it only took one interested and infected mosquito though he just smiled and continued on his journey.  We wish him well…


Ned Buxton

Sunday, August 5, 2012


This morning we watched Glasgow’s own Andy Murray surprisingly demolish the always composed, gracious, classy and number one ranked (longest ever) tennis player in the world from Switzerland, Roger Federer, 6-2, 6-1, 6-4. Federer commented after the match of Murray, “"He did play very well. He was better, much better than I was... he deserved this.”  The special significance of this arse-whupping (er, victory) was that it happened at home on the occasion of the London 2012 Summer Olympics and just one month after Wimbledon where on this very Centre Court, an ultimately bitterly disappointed and emotional Murray lost to Federer in the Wimbledon final 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4. I even saw some newspaper clippings that characterized Murray as a loser and incompetent?

Before we think this Olympic victory too much of a miracle or a fluke, Murray is the fourth ranked player in the world and now has 9-8 won-loss record versus Federer (  Having said that, Murray has never won a Grand Slam Tournament in his career.  But he is young and now has his future solidly in front of him.     

We noted the huge contrast in styles with Murray the scrambler reminding me of a certain cairn terrier I know doing battle against a bigger sleeker, sophisticated greyhound with an even keener prey instinct. I noted one beautiful, absolutely textbook drop volley and several blistering passing shots for winners by Murray.  He was extraordinary this afternoon as he served himself to victory in the final set - with two match ending aces, one for match point and another spectacular final bullet clocked at 131 mph.  God, it was beautiful… the icing on the cake.

There is another story here as Murray understandably and naturally identifies himself as both Scottish and British and proclaims that he is comfortable and proud to wear both shirts. Indeed, the British flag incorporates the saltire of Scotland.  We also need note that Murray admits to some distant English blood and that his Lady Friend is English.  Big deal, though It did not escape the attention of the media that many in the stands were waving Scottish flags and sporting Scottish flag tattoos bringing back memories of an ill-advised Murray joke and retort about England several years ago.  Apparently some feel Andy vacillates back and forth between being Scottish or British as it pleases him though losing Wimbledon made him more acceptable and palatable as a “Brit”.

Hannah Beech, of Time Magazine ( counters, however, by commenting as follows, “A joke here in London goes like this: When Andy Murray wins, he’s British. When he loses he’s a Scot. Tennis, after all, was invented by the English. On Aug. 5, Murray was proudly, indisputably British.” So, we ask - what is Andy now?

Well, he had to go and win the Olympic Gold for the British and then drape himself in the British flag and sing God Save the Queen.  I watched the ceremony on YouTube and he did sing much of the song.  How will that play at home in Glasgow or even at 10 Downing Street who raised the Scottish flag in support of Murray’s drive for the Gold Medal?   Probably OK. In a real reach some journalists and politicos have speculated that a Murray victory either at Wimbledon or at the London Olympics might even seal a successful vote for Scottish Independence. Probably not

All this speculation about Murray’s influence on the upcoming vote (autumn, 2014) for Scottish Independence prompts our opinion.  Despite what Murray may have accomplished in the Olympics, the enthusiasm and drive for Scottish independence appears to be waning as many Scots have come to the conclusion that they have it made by staying right where they are.  They can have it both ways in that they have semi-independence with their own restored Parliament, yet continued support from London. 

There is also an undeniable great affection for the Queen, especially so, as most in Great Britain and Scotland celebrate her Diamond Jubilee.  Even as the greatest egalitarians, Scots still mostly support The Monarchy.  The Royal Family especially since King George IV and Queen Victoria (granddaughter of George III) has demonstrated a great respect and sincere affection for Scotland, witness their continuing sojourns to Balmoral.  And how about Prince William’s attendance and matriculation from Scotland’s oldest university, St Andrews?  And, yes, he fell in love with fellow student Kate Middleton who despite her most recent humble genealogy is reputed to be a descendant of Scotland’s great hero Robert the Bruce though unfortunately, also of the incompetent Edward II of England, who was sent packing “homeward tae think again” by none other than Robert the Bruce after the disastrous English defeat at the Battle of Bannockburn.
Now, while we haven’t seen any corroborating genealogical evidence of this Bruce Connection we are assured by my own New England Historic Genealogical Society that Kate is a distant cousin of America’s first president, George Washington and other famous Americans. This may not prompt any greater affection by the Scots but may be interesting cocktail party banter and probably nothing more.  With yet another finger in the Scottish bridie is Anne, Princess Royal, Patron of the Scottish Rugby Union and apparently one who knows how to belt out Flower of Scotland with the rest of us.  There are other historical connections, some real - some contrived.  It does appear that a lot of this new found affection is a respect for the persons of Kate and William who certainly appear to be the real deal.  We think so as they are bright, responsible, mature, well-educated folks with their heads firmly in the 21st century but with an appreciation and sensitivity for history and Scotland’s place in that domain.

So what does all this have to do with Andy Murray?  Well, absolutely nothing including his tennis victory over Federer.  We, including this writer, are always making connections (or responding to them) as others have done before us.  In this case we can celebrate a courageous victory where the stars and planets were all aligned and a great heroic story is unfolding in the person of one Andy Murray.  Let us not burden him with any more obnoxious prattle.  By the way, Murray commented that he was buoyed up and motivated by the enthusiastic support of the British crowds.  He is today a Scot and British…

Perhaps Andy might consider wearing something other than his orange Adidas sneaks though the folks at Auburn University probably think it OK.  Guess he will be renegotiating his contract with the Royal Bank of Scotland?

Well done, Andy!


Ned Buxton

Friday, August 3, 2012


We really don’t think that enough people are taking this whole West Nile Virus (WNV) outbreak in north Texas serious enough.  Do and think what you want, but the folks especially in and around Dallas, Texas need to be vigilant, now more than ever before.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the person of Roger Nasci, Chief of the CDC branch that tracks insect-borne diseases (the Arboviral Diseases Branch of the Vector-Borne Diseases Division), assures us that the situation is serious and we haven’t seen the end of it.  In fact, the height of WNV infections is in August and September and continues through October, so we are still climbing that mountain.  Dallas has already eclipsed the WNV record of 2004 and with the season just starting, the overall prognosis is not good. So, why are so many Texans copping the old Alfred E. Neuman, “What, Me Worry?” line? We don’t have a clue save an abject, stubborn ignorance or arrogance or likely a combination of the two.

North Texas now reports 254 WNV Human cases and six deaths (only ones in the US).  If you aren’t impressed yet – as of Thursday August 2, 2012 Dallas County is reporting 115 human cases of WNV and five confirmed deaths. In order to put this in perspective as of 7/21/12 there were 75 Human WNV cases in Dallas, Tarrant, Collin and Denton Counties combined with two reported deaths in Dallas County. 

We just don’t get it when the WNV topic invariably comes up and you get the, “It can’t happen to me” or “It’s just too hot to wear long sleeves.” rationalizations thrown back at you. As we advised in a recent post, let’s not hyperventilate about WNV, but let’s not be stupid and invite illness either.  The CDC and the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) encourages us to adopt several easy and really unremarkable practices in order to reduce the risk of exposure.  They are: eliminate standing water (especially in those flower pot saucers, bird baths and roof gutters) and other obvious mosquito breeding areas around our homes; make sure that all door, porch and window screens are in good condition; reduce outdoor activity during evening/dusk to dawn hours; if you must be outdoors during those times, cover exposed skin as much as possible (tightly woven, light colored long sleeved shirts and pants), use a mosquito repellent that contains DEET and lastly build bat habitat (more later in another post - seriously) and let Mother Nature help you/us.
Our zip code of 75248 has several confirmed cases of West Nile so we know it’s here.  We have been spraying in and around the house and that has helped considerably.  Now is the time for neighbors to help neighbors.  We encourage you to offer your assistance to those either without the resources or the ability to spray and protect themselves.  We have several in our neighborhood who have been spraying and advising folks of the dangers of West Nile. Please do your part…
Given our ongoing 106+ degree Texas heat, tonight I moved some of our potted plants to nearby sprinklers so at least they will have a chance to survive.  Yes, I had a hat on, light colored long sleeved shirt with collar up, long pants, socks and I applied a hell of a lot of DEET.
And if you haven’t already bought your favorite brand of mosquito repellant then you better fly to the store if it’s not already too late.  Call ahead as many retailers are reporting that their stocks have sold out.  There are already stories of folks traveling fifty or more miles just to buy bug dope.  Guess some folks have finally gotten the message…

And if you are headed our way, bring an awareness, a sense of caution and your smarts with you unlike the guy walking his dog at 6:30 this morning wearing a black form fitting t-shirt, black short shorts (cute?) and deck shoes. Real bright, not.


Ned Buxton