Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Meditating on Blue San Juan de Fuca

In need of calming down in these emotionally taxing times, 
I imagine the beach, the water, the waves licking my toes, 
the way my feet sink deeper into the cool sand, 
watching the ripple of the tide coming in, going out, 
the way the water connects us all, one body, one time.

This work by Judith van Praag writing as well as photograph is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Confidentiality Disclaimer at End of Email

This morning I received an email addressed to me about about a patient's intake.  Since I have been corresponding with the sender I opened the email. The salutation was directed at the person who received a Cc, in other words a copy of the email directed at me. Clearly the message was not for me, but it could be that the sender had made a mistake, intending to copy me on the message she turned around addressee 1 and 2.

How does that happen, I wondered and checked similarities in name. There were none, unless you consider my name has a P, and so does the copied addressee. Yet, in fact, my name was spelled Vanpraag, so the P was not exposed the way it is in Van Praag.

So I read the email and scrolled down to see more. The original sender doesn't use a disclaimer, but the addressee does.The first is a supplier of medical, and physical aids equipment, the second a representative of a hospital's rehabilitation center. The latter's sign-off includes a disclaimer, that the material in the email is confidential and only meant for the recipient. Unfortunate wording since I am the recipient, even though not the intended one.

My curiosity was triggered, naturally I'll reply to all, and do what's further requested in the disclaimer, "to let the sender know and destroy the email and attachments".
Oh, yes, the attached PDF contained all personal information about the patient whose name I won't disclose. To be honest I did scan the documents to see if there was mention of a patient whom I do represent, but that was not the case.

I have no intention to use the received data. With an overload of information that comes my way on a daily basis the name of the person in the care of the two correspondents has already been deleted from my memory bank. Still, I'm concerned. Making a booboo is easily done. And what if. What if the message really is seen by people who shouldn't?

Is it a good idea to send confidential material by email? The author of the blog Clinical Lawyer discusses the value of a disclaimer, and what it really means for patient and caregiver (or any other supplier of services to a client or patient).

So if most email isn’t secure, and confidential information shouldn’t be sent via email, why bother including a warning that confidential information sent to the wrong address should be destroyed? Isn’t it pointless? Well, sort of. But there are some good reasons why people choose to do so:
One possibility is that people are actually sending confidential information via unsecured email. Bad idea (see above).
Another possibility is that they don’t intend to send confidential information via email, but in the event that they make a mistake and do transmit confidential information they want to make sure that they have some sort of instruction in case the message strays. Again, it’s just not a good idea to send confidential information via email at any time.
I highly recommend reading the whole blog post, it's enlightening.
As for the emails —yes, a thread was sent growing and growing without either sender or recipient noticing my name as the main addressee— I will reply to all addressed and send them a link of the Clinical Lawyer blog.

Conclusion: f snail mail is too slow to for your liking, use a courier service, or FAX confidential material. Do make sure beforehand that the FAX machine is not located next to the water fountain or in the common room.

This work by Judith van Praag is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Friday, June 27, 2014

Gardening Restores Trust in Nature

Judith's P-Patch Landscape as Queen Anne Message Board 
The founder of DONA (Doulas of North America) Penny Simkin likened the effects of a traumatic delivery to PTSD

New in Seattle, a year after the death of our baby daughter during a vaginal breech delivery, I was seeing a Chinese doctor who stated I needed to start gardening. Planting seeds, seeing them germinate and growing into plants would restore my trust in nature, she said. 

I planted green beans in a pot outside our apartment door, and signed up for a plot at the P-Patch (after Picardo Farms) gardens in our neighborhood. The first months I could do nothing but sift soil, removing stones and pebbles. My husband had to come with me and made me plant the seeds in his presence, because I could not do so on my own.

That first year my fear of failure was immense, but the seedlings pushed through the topsoil and grew into flowers and after a 3-week vacation the radishes had grown the size of tennis balls, the flowers blossomed that summer, and bit-by-bit my trust in possibilities returned. And inspired by our harvest I started painting again, albeit at first just to make signs for the composting area, the above P-Patch landscape, and Russian kale.

This work by Judith van Praag is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Discovery of Nephew on Facebook and GiveForward

Click for Twitter ...
Right off the bat Jordan Howell, my new Facebook friend (and nephew by marriage) sent me the link to Everything is Peachy. Talk about a thorough introduction to someone you've never met before. Initially the aim of Danish Mumtaz and Przemyslaw Budziszewski, fellow students of Jordan's at the RTF department of the University of North Texas at Denton was to make a documentary about students with disabilities. After hearing Jordan's story, they decided to focus on just him; no wonder, there's been enough drama in his life for a feature film.
Jordan fulfilled his need for an extra credit that last semester before his graduation by participating as producer. He supplied the questions and answers that made up the story; the others were responsible for the filming, sound, post-production and editing.

Click for Updates to be Read on the GiveForward Site.

During our chats on Facebook I learned that Jordan, who was diagnosed with Friedreich's Ataxia at age twelve, wants to spread awareness of FA, and where better to do that than Online? However, he only had a phone with Internet connection.
We figured a laptop would be good, but he needed more hardware, and speech recognition software.
A friend told me about GiveForward, an internet platform that helps people raise funds for friends and loved ones. So I set up a site called the Jordan Howell Wheelchair + Tech Fund.

While I was at it, I asked Jordan what else he needed. A new manual wheelchair, he said.
1500 Crunches a day may account for extreme abs, using the manual wheelchair will help him maintain his arm strength.

GiveForward makes it easy for people to donate money, becoming a team member is easy as well, and just showing support is done by merely hitting a button with a heart on the site, and/ or sharing the link on Facebook.  The more people learn about Jordan's needs and his wish to spread awareness for Friedreich's Ataxia aka #FA the better.

Making a donation on the GiveForward site is safe, and it would be such an affirmative boost for Jordan, and for other sponsors to literally see the amount of money raised!

However:If you're reluctant to make a donation on Online, you can make a donation by writing a check. Send an email to jhowell175 at gmail dot com to receive his snail mail address.

And for future reference, bookmark The Jordan Howell Project blog, and sign up for email notices while you're there. What you see is only the beginning.
There's more to come once Jordan has full access to the Internet with the right equipment.

this work by Judith van Praag is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Resolve iPhone Battery Drainage Problem.

My iPhone has been on life support for a few weeks. 
I'm not kidding, I've been traveling with the charger cord and plugging in where ever I sit down, and again in the car using the cigaret lighter thingy. 

Last Thursday I started deleting Apps, videos and photos hoping that would make a difference, but it didn't. After a lively Meetup of Greater Seattle Women Who Write I forgot I had plugged the phone into an outlet on the floor board, and left my phone where it was, behind the wicker furniture at the  Hotel on The Corner of Bitter and Sweet. 

Knowing that Jan Johnson, the owner of the legendary Panama Hotel would have spotted it, I didn't worry, and indeed, when I returned on Friday morning, my Otter clad phone was at the counter of the Coffee/Tea house to pick up my well charged phone. By the time I returned to the house, three hours later, the red low battery sign was on again.

Not good, not normal, Google what's up, I told myself.

The answer appeared on the screen with the first try.

Go to Settings -> General -> Restrictions.
Enable Restrictions.
Disable Restrictions. 

That worked, like a charm.

Pity of all those Apps, movies and photos?
Not really, call it Spring Cleaning.

This work by Judith van Praag is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Radio Broadcast Professional Weaves Story Holocaust Survivor and 2G Together in Must-Read Book

And No More SorrowAnd No More Sorrow by Liliane Pelzman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The author, Liliane Pelzman, is a radio broadcasting professional, and her training must have influenced the persistence with which she was able to interview her mother over time. That she brought this project to fruition proves both her love for her mother, and her dedication to reporting on our times, and the past that shapes us.

Each chapter starts with a snippet of a telephone conversation between mother and daughter. Three things become clear right off the bat: the mother is in pain, the daughter can't be with her all the time, and they are both fixated on WWII; they share an interest in books and films that cover the Holocaust.
These short conversations are followed by subtle reflections of the daughter on what has been known as the Second Generation Holocaust Syndrome since the mid-to-late 1970s.

What happened to Sonja, the author's mother, just before, during, and after WWII, is told from a close third person point of view. The reader is in Sonja's head, accompanies her as she falls in love, as she's deported to concentration camps, lives in degrading circumstances, loses the love of her live, survives the war by a hair, remarries and builds a new life on the ruins of the old.

Holocaust survivors didn't readily (and some still don't) accept the notion that their children would be suffering from their [parents'] war and camp experiences. Survivors talked, or didn't talk about the war. Within one family it was possible to have one parent who spilled memories constantly, while the other kept mum, in another family the pact between the parents could be —not to ever mention the monstrosities they had experienced. Either way, the children are affected; whether through the telling of stories, or by silence, the feelings related to the Holocaust are transmitted as though by osmosis.

Liliane Pelzman's mother is unaware that she talked about her experiences to her children. Liliane, not wanting to hear the stories as a child, escapes Post-WWII Amsterdam at sixteen.
It isn't until she hears Holocaust deniers on American radio, that she decides her mother's story needs to be told. Asking the questions she could not ask before, help her to get to know her mother, and the answers clarify the nature of Liliane's own fears, and sensitivities experienced as an adult.

And No More Sorrow is a heroic love story, a close account of the ordeal suffered by Sonja during WWII, as well as the story of her daughter Liliane.

Children of Holocaust Survivors did not experience the monstrous events first hand, but they live with the emotions of second hand fear. Everyday events may trigger responses in members of the Second Generation, that seem out of proportion. Inadvertently they've been outfitted with an extra dosage of the flight or fight hormone.

With And No More Sorrow Liliane Pelzman tell the story of surviving generations of the Holocaust.

This book is a must-read for those interested in the history and aftermath of WWII in the Netherlands, and first person accounts of concentration camps.

View all my reviews
This work by Judith van Praag is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Forget about The Tulip Eaters - The Dutch Ate Bulbs in the Hunger Winter

Elliott Bay Books, one of my favorite local Indie bookstores sends out a weekly email with reading suggestions. The emails usually come with ads in the margin and footnote; I thought I was able to ignore. Last November however a picture of a white tulip, pulled out of the soil, dirt still attached to the bulb and hairy roots attracted my attention.
The title The Tulip Eaters, and the author's Dutch family name Van Heugten drew me in further.
My moniker is Dutchess Abroad, what can I say?
  The Tulip Eaters
They did not eat tulips, they ate the bulbs. That was my first thought seeing the pretty cover picture of The Tulip Eaters. I know, because I'm from the Netherlands, and raised on WWII literature. The subject has captured my attention my whole life. Was the title an indication of the number of inconsistencies a reader could expect in book? I told myself I shouldn't judge the book by its cover, and read on, red pen in hand.

Let me share right of the bat: The florid writing is uneven. It's almost as if there's more than one writer involved. The close third person narrative (used for the point of view of the protagonist, and three antagonists) is unrealistic. The characters (especially the Jewish Isaac, Ariel, Amarisa and Dirk) are unbelievable, cartoonish, two-dimensional.
Historical facts about food distribution, concentration camps, and Nazi rules concerning Jewish and gentile citizens are mangled. The WWII timeline isn't honored, and on top of that the book's own timeline is inconsistent.

- The last round-ups of Dutch Jews happened in the late summer of 1944.
- Anne Frank and family members were deported on the last train to the east in Sept. 1944.
- Amsterdam was liberated on the 5th of May, 1945.
- By April of 1945 there were most definitely no more deportations.
- Jews deported to Theresienstadt had to memorize their numbers, they were not tattooed on their arms.

Get my point? The above renders the plot line of the book completely lame. Yes, there were still shootings at the very end of the war, and even after May 5th the Nazis killed people in a wild shooting on the Dam Square in Amsterdam, but there were no more deportations. And Henny Rosen was not deported.

Why did I read on? To find out if things could get worse, and they did.

The book's anti-hero Ariel, the only character who undergoes change, he shows remorse in the end for kidnapping his cousin's daughter, shares thoughts about his aunt Amarisa in chapter 10: "God, it wasn’t just having to tell her [about Isaac's death], a filthy rich diamond merchant, as cold and calculation in business as she was in life."
Later on in chapter 18: "… She shook her bony finger at him. 'Don't forget I know important people in this city. Judges, Cabinet ministers —they've all bought diamonds from me. All it would take is one phone call and you'd go to jail. And never see Rose again.'
"Ariel knew all she said was true. Amsterdam was the largest diamond center in the world. She had been in the trade for almost forty years and had forged relationships with people in high places."

This, gentle reader, spells conspiracy theory.

Stories about the Holocaust need to be addressed with care. Fictionalizing history, the reports of survivors and victims has long been frowned upon. And now that we do have plenty of novels about the subject to choose from, I still know a child of survivors who agonizes over the point of view she uses for her personal story. She fears an account written in third person would suggest fictionalization of the truth, which could give Holocaust deniers ammunition. This book is the equivalent of a well stocked armory.

Design 50 Guilders bank note: Ootje Oxenaar click on jpg 
The sad state of affairs in the publishing business is that editors these days only pay attention to typos, syntax and other grammatical mistakes. Forget developmental editing; continuity, plot line, and fact checking. This book is filled with mistakes that could easily have been corrected if someone had made the effort.

For instance: Nora spots a yellow/gold bank note in the dead man's pocket and identifies it as a 25-guilder bill —in reality that would've been red, the 50-guilders bill designed by Ootje Oxinaar shows the luminous sunflower in yellow and gold.

There may be a reason for Nora's parents to claim she was born in Houston on May 15, 1945, and that they didn't share her real birthday on May 1st in Amsterdam. Although you wonder how they got away with lying about her birth in the U.S. But to have Anneke share in a letter that she discovered she was pregnant at the end of the war? Did she suffer immediate conception and full gestation all at once?

For readers who like to follow the footsteps of a characters in a book: there's no tram from Schiphol to Amsterdam, and there's no nunnery on the isle of Schiermonnikoog.

There are plenty more notes where the above came from, but this is how far I want to go with this report. Each time I tell someone about this book I say "The Onion Readers", probably because I nearly cried in frustration, and because the message contained within the thriller/romance novel bookends stinks.

Reading the book was no pleasure. So why did I finish the whole book? So I could enter a review on the GoodReads site. Why bother? a friend said, who reads these kind of books anyway?
Well he'd be surprised.

Estimated sales of Romance novels for 2013 is $1.350 billion. According to Romance Industry Statistics published on the site of Romance Writers of America the genre makes up the largest share of the U.S. consumer market, and generated $1.438 billion of sales in 2012. In 2008 74.8 million people read a least one romance novel. 

Books such as The Tulip Eaters are not reviewed by well regarded reviewers, they're given stars by readers who receive free copies from the publisher. Those readers are so thankful for the freebies they wouldn't dare pan the book. They give 3 or 4 or even 5 stars because they don't want the author, nor the publisher to think that they dint appreciate that wonderful package that came in the mail. 

Initially I wanted to stay mum, thinking that even negative attention was attention that could drive sales up —especially when books are given away for free, or sold for 99 cents. That is, until I realized that in today's market *stars* matter. I would have preferred to just say what was wrong with The Tulip Eaters, but that's not possible, you have to give at least 1 star. So there you have it. One star. 

View all my reviews

This work by Judith van Praag is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Bluetooth Keyboard turns Touch Pad into Word Processor with WWW for Octogenarian

My wonderful friend Jean turned 89 on Sunday. I've learned many things from her since we met in 1985, when I was not yet 30, she thirty years older than I.  We hit it of right away. She's been a textile designer is a photographer, a painter, and a practicing clown. She's an inspiration, with her zest for life, her interest in the Arts, in politics, and trying to create The Winning Recipe for salad dressing.

Her eagerness to always learn something new is quite amazing for a woman her age, but, she never got into using a computer. Which is a pity, for hr loved ones can't share photos with her Online. Last night she told me she finally got herself an iPad, plus a subscription to the One On One assistance at the Apple Store, where she will go with ACCESS or public transportation.

How I wish I was there to help her, to show her some tricks. I can only imagine how mind boggling the possibilities of the touch pad are for someone who has used a computer at the most as a word processor, a keyboard with a monitor.

To have the World Wide Web on your finger tips is one thing, to see what you just discovered disappear by inadvertently touching the pad, could be a major turn off. A reason not to embark on that great adventure.

Finding a present for someone who has everything she could possibly want can be difficult, but do I have the gift for this octogenarian firecracker! A Bluetooth keyboard (with case) will turn her newly acquired tool into something that appears to be much more like her word processor of yore.

This work by Judith van Praag is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Difference Between an Ache and a Pain

A year and a half ago I suffered from an inexplicable pain in my mouth. Not a toothache mind you, but who am I to say so when visiting the dentist?
May 2014 be filled with sweet surprises
and no aches nor pains.

Luckily the dentist agreed, there was no obvious reason for the agony I experienced.
X-rays showed the root of the molar in question was fine, I had no cavities either.
Yet, touching the tooth triggered an electric pain, as though the nerves were exposed.

Perhaps the relief of the crown on the molar needed to be reduced?
The dentist on duty took off the downward peaks or stalactites, still, the pain persisted.
The assistant of the DDS suggested my pain could be allergy related.
"Take a Benadryl when you go to bed," she said, "It'll help your sinuses."
The dentist recommended I'd treat the pain like a chronic headache, with pain killers.

Tooth pain or no tooth pain, I nearly bit off a girlfriend's head when she expressed doubt.
"A root canal isn't such a big deal, perhaps you should see another dentist."
I took a Benadryl, slept well, felt relief, the weather changed, and the pain left.

A pattern occurred, whenever I had a cold, 
or sinus trouble, my tooth hurt.

Last month, on Thanksgiving, I caught a bad cold, and the pain in my molar returned with a vengeance. This time the place where jaw and cheek meet was swollen, and extremely painful to the touch. I emailed my DDS, and his assistant suggested I'd see an ENT specialist since they hadn't been able to find something. Someone should take a look, she said.

The ENT doc shone a light in my nostrils, concluded they were a bit white, looked in my throat, but refused to look at the swollen spot. "I'm not a dentist," he said, and prescribed a nasal spray.
He told me I'd feel a difference in a week and that I needed to use the spray for 30 days.
I was reluctant to use the cortisone steroid spray, wouldn't steaming with chamomile do the trick?
But, after looking up Online how the spray could reach the Maxillary sinus through my nostril, I succumbed. The ENT doc was correct, after a week the pain lessened.

After a year and a half, I had a diagnosis, which in effect wasn't that different from what the assistant of the dentist suggested. My ENT doc may not have wanted to look at my tooth, I sure am glad the dental team considered my sinuses to cause the problem, and that they didn't decide for a root canal, especially since I wasn't suffering from a tooth ache, I felt pain.

Hooray for caregivers who have an ear for language, and understand:

There's a difference between an ache and a pain.

This work by Judith van Praag is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License