PokemonGo Valentines Day Event

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Niantics Announced Details of the New Valentine’s Day Bonuses on Wednesday

Pink Pokémon for Valentines Day

The Valentines Day event began yesterday as well…

Details of Valentines Day Event

Niantics Valentines day announcement

Who:  Which Players & Pokémon does this impact the most

  • Pink Pokémon…you’ll find more pink Pokémon in the wild during the event
  • All Pokémon will earn double candy during the event for any candy earning activity…including capturing, transferring, hatching and walking with your buddy.
  • More of the new baby Pink Pokémon including Cleffa, Igglybuff and Smoochum will be hatched from eggs.
  • All players can take advantage of the increased rewards, but those new to the game will probably receive the most benefits since capture rates will be greater and none of the pink Pokémon are all that rare for those players at advanced levels.

What:  What are the Main Benefits of the Valentines Day Event to Players

  • Earning double candy
  • Finding more pink Pokémon and hatching more pink babies
  • Capturing more wild Pokémon via extended duration of Lure Modules (6 hours instead of 1/2 hour)

When:  How long does the event last?

  • It began yesterday Wednesday Feb. 8th at 11:00am PST
  • It ends at 1100am PST on Wednesday, February 15th

Why:   What are the main objectives for the event?

  • Reward regular game players
  • Lure inconsistent players back into action
  • Make it easier to complete Pokedex’es for Pink Pokémon

Strategy Ideas During the Valentine’s Day Event

I’ve may have talked about Pidgey spamming as a strategy in the past, but I’m certain I’ve never really talked about how best to take advantage of that during holiday events. Pidgey spamming is simply transferring large numbers of ‘spamish’ Pokémon back for candy. Most people have built up a huge backlog of Pidgey’s Rattata’s and Spearow’s during the normal course of game play. Saving these transfers for Holiday events like this one can really pay off in candy!  Weedle’s and Caterpie’s can also be considered for this strategy.

In addition, there are a few other good strategies that people can use to assure they gain as many benefits as is humanly possible during any given holiday event.

The two main areas where you’ll incur the most positive benefits from these strategies include increasing your overall trainer level and increasing your arsenal of combat ready Pokémon.

So building up your candy reserves vie transfers, especially for hard to find Pokémon, is a must during the event. If you set a Lucky Egg in motion, and then layer up things like lures and incense…you’ll also catch a ton of great Pokémon, and many more rares than normal…which can lead to your evolving the best of those mons too…ultimately enabling you to level up really quickly. The screenshot below shows one suggested strategy by Rankedboost.com. More can be found at their website or via Google.

Extras:

Here’s a link to Niantics Valentines Day update on their blog

Did you know that Jigglypuff sings an entrancing song known to put people to sleep? You can watch a video of this on YouTube or download an mp3 of Jigglypuff’s song at mediafire.com.

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Please leave me any comments below.

Flu or Food Poisoning…Trying to Answer That Question isn’t Easy

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What is the Norovirus?

Prologue

It turns out I had the Norovirus. I’d never heard of it before! It also turns out that the Norovirus is the main cause of most illnesses with severe gastrointestinal symptoms…who knew? The Center for Diseases and Control has a great video explaining what the Norovirus is. Norovirus is also called ‘the Winter Vomitting Bug.’ I’d never heard that expression either. You can learn more about why it’s called that at the WebMD’s website.



Guess What I’m Doing Right Now?

Introduction

It began as many illnesses do with me wondering if I was coming down with something. But my time spent wondering as I lie in bed during the early morning hours didn’t last long…10 minutes later I had my answer…at least to that first question.

More questions immediately followed. I’ve only had a few instances in my life where I was overtaken by a ‘bug’ so virulent that it was unclear to me if it was food poisoning or the flu…today was one of those days. If I’m wasn’t spending time worshipping the porcelain god…I was either sleeping or trying to figure out if I was contagious. Which of course is always the main reason for determining whether or not one has food poisoning or the stomach flu.

My assumption was this: if I had food poisoning I wasn’t contagious…if it was the flu however, I was.

It Turns Out the Answer to that Question Wasn’t A Simple One

Initially I was encouraged to find a website that clearly stated known symptoms of each. I thought that all I had to do was compare symptoms, side-by-side, and then rule out the least likely candidate. I was so convinced I was onto something that I even made the chart below which would better allow me to make that comparison (because the article listed their symptoms in different orders, making a side-by-side comparison difficult.)

My biggest problem using this approach was that there’s a huge amount of overlap in symptoms. My other big problem was that the time of onset for me had been around 12 hours (I thought.) Neither column really supported that answer.

You see, 12 hours prior to my awakening and feeling like I might die, we had enjoyed a nice dinner at a popular local restaurant. The restaurant, which I’m on the fence about naming, is one that we’d never been able to procure a reservation at before. Our food was excellent! The only red flag was that the restaurant appeared to me to be rather lax regarding matters of hygiene. The reason I say this was because I was surprised when the waitress tossed our silverware right onto the table…which is a big ‘no no’ in the restaurant world.

It turns out that there’s a good reason why restaurants use table linens. A reason that goes beyond that of providing atmosphere. That reason is hygiene or sanitation. The best way to prevent patrons from acquiring the germs of past table guests or even food served previously on those tables, is by providing fresh table linens or placemats…or at a minimum by placing silverware unto a fresh napkin. Because I was shocked to learn that restaurant tabletops are second only to menus in the number of germs they harbor. That alarming fact along with several other surprising ones are revealed in this 2014 Huffington Post article. But the statistic that surprised me the most was the finding that 60% of food preparation workers report for work when they are sick! The importance of that finding can’t be overstated for reasons better explained below.

Surprise #1:  I learned that there is no such thing as the Stomach Flu!  It’s a Myth! 

The reason that the Stomach Flu doesn’t really exist is entirely because of semantics. The word ‘Flu’ is really short for influenza. But the only kind of influenza that exists which impacts people is respiratory influenza. There is no such thing as a stomach influenza with the symptoms that we normally attribute to it. When I made this realization I remembered an old adage I used to use to identify a cold from respiratory flu. The way you can tell them apart is the presence of a fever. If fever is present, it’s influenza…if not, it’s a cold.

Now that we understand that there is no such thing as the stomach flu we need to figure out what there really is. What takes the place of what we’ve called Stomach Flu for so many years?

What we’ve come to think of as the Stomach Flu is really a group of similar conditions which fall under a category that the CDC refers to as infections of the digestive system. The CDC has identified 31 known pathogens from food borne sources that comprise this category.

Surprise #2:  Of the viruses, only the common cold is reported more often than a norovirus infection—also referred to as viral gastroenteritis.

The CDC'S video on Norovirus

The most frequently occurring pathogen is the Norovirus. In fact, Norovirus is so prevalent that…

The first article I read about Norovirus said that it was this virus which most people erroneously referred to as the stomach flu. Because Norovirus is a virus, that led my conclusion that my symptoms fall under the category of illness…as opposed to Food Poisoning. The reason? After all my research I’m pretty certain that Norovirus was what I have, but further reading only caused me to become more confused!

Factors Leading to Even More Confusion

Although Norovirus is the most prevalent of those 31 foodborne pathogens…it isn’t alone in the symptoms it exhibits. In all, those 31 pathogens fall into 3 main categories:  bacteria, parasites and viruses. Below is the CDC’s Chart  (called Table 2 in their report) giving more information for all 31 pathogens (here’s a link to the CDC’s chart since my repeated efforts to splice together a readable copy haven’t been successful!) 

CDC's Table 2

I intended to more closely examine the symptoms of each…but I never even made it that far. Because as I examined the above chart I noticed that it includes things like Salmonella and E. coli…which fall under the broad category of parasites. It was really at this point that I began getting completely confused!  I’ve always believed that Salmonella and E. coli were specific types of food poisoning.

But if food poisoning is a separate malady from viral gastroenteritis (formerly known as the Stomach Flu) why do known food poisoning pathogens appear on this list at all?

It was this Medical News Today article in which I first learned about the Norovirus. In talking about viral gastroenteritis the article states that:

  • Most cases of gastroenteritis are caused by infection with bacteria, viruses, or parasites
  • Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain are typical symptoms of gastroenteritis
  • Gastroenteritis is usually self-limiting, and tests are not usually necessary for a diagnosis
  • The most serious complication of food poisoning and gastroenteritis is dehydration, especially for vulnerable people such as the very young and very old

It’s beginning to sound to me like barring a stool sample test, there is no good way to differentiate between food poisoning and a virus based illness. Yet, contagiousness is still the most worrisome factor for me!

This same article also states that:

The viruses that are most commonly implicated in gastroenteritis are:

  • Rotavirus – more common in children and the most common cause of viral gastroenteritis in children
  • Norovirus – more common in adults

The bacteria that are most commonly implicated in gastroenteritis are:

  • Salmonella
  • Campylobacter
  • Shigella
  • Escherichia coli (especially serotype O157:H7)
  • Clostridium difficile

After a lot more reading I finally began to realize that my main premise…that Food Poisoning isn’t contagious was actually completely wrong!

What Factors Really Determine Whether or Not Food Poisoning or Gastroenteritis is Contagious

Contagiousness it appears, is determined purely by the pathogen type. Viral pathogens lead to contagious illnesses. Bacterial pathogens do not. So if you refer back to the CDC’s large table 2 (shown and linked to) above…those pathogens in the top category are bacterial…therefore they won’t lead to contagious illnesses.  Those in the 2nd main category, parasites, also will lead to noncontagious illnesses. It’s only the 3rd category…the viral pathogens, which will lead to contagious illnesses. The main pathogen here is of course the Norovirus…which is what, after all my reading I concluded was responsible for my symptoms.

A Little More About the Norovirus

In addition to that large study the CDC conducted in 2011, they also publish a lot of great information for the general public. This link is to their main website for the general public describing what the Norovirus is and what you need to know about it. There’s also a helpful video explaining the Norovirus. A few important things everyone should know about the Norovirus include:

Humans are the only host of norovirus, and norovirus has several mechanisms that allow it to spread quickly and easily. 

Norovirus was originally called: Norwalk-like virus or simply NLV

The first NLV outbreak occurred in 1968 among school children in Norwalk, Ohio. The prototype strain responsible for that 1968 outbreak was identified four years later, in 1972. It was the first virus identified that specifically caused gastroenteritis in humans. Albert Z. Kapikian, M.D., a pioneering virologist at the National Institutes of Health was the man who discovered the norovirus and he led a decades-long effort that resulted in the first licensed rotavirus vaccine. People infected with the Norovirus are contagious from the moment that they begin feeling ill until roughly 3 days after their symptoms have subsided. It takes minuscule amounts of the virus…less than 100 particles, to make you sick. Cruise ships and restaurants are two of the most common places to be infected with the virus. The virus can survive some disinfectants, making it hard to kill and can also remain infectious on some hard surfaces like countertops or restaurant tabletops for weeks. Last, the Norovirus is the leading cause of food poisoning!

Norovirus is Food Poisoning…here are a few good reasons to avoid it!

It might not be obvious if you’ve managed to read this far that Norovirus is indeed Food Poisoning!  It wasn’t all that clear to me either…which is exactly the reason that I’m writing this post! But there’s more to the story. I for one want to know how long I can expect to be sick and more importantly how long I have to keep disinfecting everything I touch so my husband doesn’t get this too.

In a nutshell Norovirus usually lasts 2-3 days…which makes sense because I’m almost at the end of day 3 and although I’ve been feeling better I still haven’t been able to eat anything. Tonight I ate some toast (that my husband made for me so I wouldn’t germ up the kitchen) which after 15 minutes of discomfort seems to have agreed with me…yay!  That alone should go a long way towards making me better…at least with the dizziness right?

I’ve read on multiple sites that I’ll continue to be contagious for 3 days after I’m feeling better…which means since it’s Tuesday night now I should be noncontagious by Friday night…geez!  That alone is a really good reason to not want food poisoning!  One blogger who writes for the New York Times wrote a compelling post about the contagious aspects of the virus too…probably when she was too sick to do anything else either!

Perhaps a few more questions will be answered by this table created by Canada’s version of the FDA:

Details about Norovirus

Norovirus Diagnosis

Now that I’ve successfully diagnosed my illness as Norovirus the only thing left for me to do is to reexamine how I might have contracted it and hopefully determine once and for all how contagious I might be.

Investigating the Circumstances Leading to My Food Poisoning

As previously mentioned, the restaurant we dined at doesn’t use table coverings of any kind.  Placemats I now know are intended primarily to protect patrons from foodborn pathogens. While this isn’t entirely unheard of given the new ‘farm to table‘ trend, there is one practice that can go a long way towards mitigating a lot of problems. Wait staff can be instructed to place patrons silverware onto something else. Think of that ‘something’ as a protective barrier between the utensils which come in contact with you and the seemingly hazardous tabletop environment! Something like a napkin or bread and butter plate.

Another practice which would help a lot is to use a bleach based compound when cleaning table surfaces in preparation for their next customers. Since the Norovirus is resistant to many disinfectants, adding bleach to the mix ensures that it’s germs are addressed. Although I suspect that the odor that bleach dispels might not be all that conducive to a fine dining atmosphere…which leads me to suggest to the restaurant in question this idea. That they use a multi-pronged approach. First provide a second napkin solely for the purpose of laying silverware upon, and second consider using placements.

Granted placemats don’t emanate that farm table vibe but there’s a fine line between maintaining a unique atmosphere for your customers and harming them!

To help you with that endeavor I was able to find some cute paper placemats which might work.

Paper placemats to protect patrons from norovirus

The placemats above are from a website called Hester and Cook. Each set is really a tablet of tear-off placemats that run from $.66 to $1 each.

Etsy has a lot of great options. One is a shop called Harper and Diasy that will custom make placemats from kraft paper like those below. Most are $36 for 50.

Paper placemats from Etsy

But was the lack of a protective table covering the only factor that led to my becoming profoundly ill?

I suppose it’s possible given my new realization that tabletop surfaces are 2nd only to menus in terms of the high number of germs they harbor. That possibility is even more likely since many of the ingredients of this restaurant’s most popular dishes are known sources of foodborn pathogens. Ingredients like duck liver, wild mushrooms, soft cheeses, lettuce, oysters and even butter immediately come to mind!

One likely scenario would be that a duck liver dish (for example) was served earlier in the evening or even in the days preceding our visit, and some remnants of it remained on the tabletop surface, which, while not visible to the human eye, contained enough germs (remember only 100 particles is necessary) to infect, my silverware.

Yet, for some inexplicable reason I feel that there’s more to this story. So let’s examine in detail what we each ordered:

In an unusual turn of events Bill and I each ordered the exact same dishes. We both ordered 2 starters (because we were attending a play at the Rep…The Foreigner…afterwards and didn’t want to be late.) For those of you who’ve never heard of this great comedy written by Milwaukee’s own Larry Shue, it’s one of my all time favorites! This was to be our third time experiencing what’s come to be known as one of the 2 greatest plays ever written by Shue…the other The Nerd is also a fabulous comedy!

The starters we ordered were:

  1. Grilled Herb Flat Bread, Burrata, Cranberry Agrodolce, Lettuce, Smoked Almond
  2. Pumpkin Soup, Oyster Mushroom, Creme Fraiche, Black Trumpet Mushroom, Chive

Many of the ingredients in both dishes could have been culprits! In addition, we also shared a bread basket and a dinner salad… the salad included these ingredients…Mixed Greens, Finocchiona, Greenfields Cheese, Apple, Almond, Pickled Pepper

Bill had a beer: New Glarus Moon Man, Pale Ale, New Glarus WI

I had a glass of wine: Pinot Noir, Bishops Peak 2014, San Luis Obispo Country, California

Since we ordered the exact same dishes it’s hard to imagine that one of those would have been responsible for my condition. But after I became very ill I discovered that Bill had never touched the salad that we’d intended upon sharing! So the salad is where I’ll focus my examination.

Here again are the salad’s ingredients:

Mixed Greens, Finocchiona, Greenfields Cheese, Apple, Almond, Pickled Pepper

The mixed greens appear to be a likely culprit. I learned that lettuce is a common carrier of food pathogens. The only way to insure that lettuce doesn’t transmit infectious germs is by proper washing. This requires only water, but washing each lettuce leaf is important. Lettuce greens can become contaminated with E. Coli, Listeria and Salmonella. Surprisingly even a Staph infection may be present if the greens are prepared by someone who’s sick (remember earlier when I discovered that 60% of food workers still go to work even if they’re sick!) Staph infection can also be transmitted by someone preparing food with an open wound on their hands or even if they have a nose or eye infection.

Here’s helpful 3 minute video created by the FDA which shows you everything you need to know about the safe handling of fresh fruits and vegetables…and even what not to buy!

At this point I’m really quite exhausted thinking about all the possibilities…and I’m kind of amazed that I’ve managed to dodge such harrowing consequences for so long…because we like to eat out a lot!

The fact that I’m still feeling the effects of whatever infected me 2 1/2 days later points even more adamantly to Norovirus. I’ve eaten nothing for 21/2 days, have no energy and get dizzy every time I stand up (although I’m clearheaded enough to realize this may be in large part because I’ve eaten nothing in days!) The dizziness could be due to dehydration but my husband made sure I didn’t become dehydrated by getting me Pedialyte.

Right now I really think this thing just needs to run its course. But I really hope that the next time I’m at a restaurant if I happen to clean off my hands using antibacterial wipes after handling the menu, or if I wipe off the salt and pepper shakers or some other frequently handled utensil that others don’t judge me too harshly. Because I wouldn’t wish this upon anyone else and if something as simple as using those would prevent how I’m feeling right now…well…would you really chose to judge me?

But was the lack of a protective table covering the only factor that led to my becoming profoundly ill? I suppose that it's possible given my new realization that tabletop surfaces are 2nd only to menus in terms of the high number of germs they harbor. That possibility is even more likely since many of the ingredients of their popular dishes are known sources of foodborn pathogens. Ingredients like duck liver, wild mushrooms, soft cheeses, lettuce, oysters and even butter immediately come to mind! One likely scenario would be that a duck liver dish (for example) was served earlier in the evening or even in the days preceeding our visit, and some remnants of it remained on the tabletop surface, which, while not visible to the human eye, contained enough germs (remember only 100 particles is necessary) to infect my silverware. Yet, for some inexplicable reason I feel that there's more to this story. So let's examine in detail what we each ordered: In an unusual turn of events Bill and I each ordered the exact same dishes. We both ordered 2 starters (because we were attending a play at the Rep The Foriegner afterwards and didn't want to be late.) For those of you who've never heard of this great comedy written by Milwaukee's own Larry Shue, it's one of my all time favorites! This was to be our third time experiencing what's come to be known as one of the 2 greatest plays ever written by Shue...the other The Nerd is also a fabulous comedy! The starters we ordered were: 1. Grilled Herb Flat Bread, Burrata, Cranberry Agrodolce, Lettuce, Smoked Almond 2. Pumpkin Soup, Oyster Mushroom, Creme Fraiche, Black Trumpet Mushroom, Chive Many of the ingredients in both dishes could have been culprits! In addition, we also shared a bread basket and a dinner salad... the salad included these ingredients...Mixed Greens, Finocchiona, Greenfields Cheese, Apple, Almond, Pickled Pepper Bill had a beer: New Glarus Moon Man, Pale Ale, New Glarus WI I had a glass of wine: Pinot Noir, Bishops Peak 2014, San Luis Obispo Country, California Since we ordered the exact same dishes it's hard to imagine that one of those would have been responsible for my condition. But after I became very ill I discovered that Bill had never touched the salad that we'd intended upon sharing! So the salad is where I'll focus my examination. Here again are the salad's ingredients: Mixed Greens, Finocchiona, Greenfields Cheese, Apple, Almond, Pickled Pepper The mixed greens appear to be a likely culprit. I learned that lettuce is a common carrier of food pathogens. The only way to insure that lettuce doesn't transmit infectious germs is by proper washing. This requires only water, but washing each lettuce leaf is important. Lettuce greens can become contaminated with E. Coli, Listeria and Salmonella. Surprisingly even a Staph infection may be present if the greens are prepared by someone who's sick (remember earlier when I discovered that 60% of food workers still go to work even if they're sick!) Staph infection can also be transmitted by someone preparing food with an open wound on their hands or even if they have a nose or eye infection. Here's helpful 3 minute video created by the FDA which shows you everything you need to know about the safe handling of fresh fruits and vegetables...and even what not to buy! https://youtu.be/WbhudxB3W-M At this point I'm really quite exhausted thinking about all the possibilities...and I'm kind of amazed that I've managed to dodge such harrowing consequences for so long...because we lie to eat out a lot! The fact that I'm still feeling the effects of whatever infected me 2 1/2 days later points even more adamantly to Norovirus. I've eaten nothing for 21/2 days, have no energy and get dizzy every time I stand up (although I'm clear headed enough to realize this may be in large part because I've eaten nothing in days!) The dizzyness could be due to dehydration but my husband made sure I didn't become dehydrated by getting me Pedialyte. Right now I really think this thing just needs to run its course. But I really hope that the next time I'm at a restaurant if I happen to clean off my hands using antibacterial wipes after handling the menu, or if I wipe off the salt and pepper shakers or some other frequently handled utensil that others don't judge me too harshly. Because I wouldn't wish this upon anyone else and if something as simple as using

Further Reading

When the ‘5-Second Rule’ Works

Link to the FDA’s Foodborne Illness Causing Organisms in the United States:  What You Need to Know

Medical News Today’s 5 Home Remedies

Below is another good Foodborn Pathogen Chart…this one was created by the FDA:

FDA's Foodborn pathogen Chart

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New York Times Documentaries

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The New York Times is More Than Just A Newspaper

Last night I ran across a news article about Melania Trump. It was in The NY Times and talked about how she’s speaking out on behalf of her husband to say that the women who’ve claimed that Trump has made advances towards them or groped them are lying. That’s not the man she knows and she doesn’t believe those claims. She said he was the victim of a broad conspiracy. I could only wonder how dense she must be or how desperate Trump must be feeling to resort to using such a pathetic tactic. Within that article was a link to the Access Hollywood video that started the fervor. I’d not seen it before so I watched both that and the rather lame apology video Trump made a few days later to the American public.

As sad as the state of our country’s politics are, they pale in comparison to events occurring in other areas of the world. Places like Swat, a beautiful village in Pakistan which the Taliban have invaded and taken over. Their members continue to reek havoc with the lives of residents living in this beautiful and quaint part of Pakistan. I watched a moving 1/2 hour documentary entitled Class Dismissed:  Malala’s Story about a young Pakistanian girl who desperately wants to return to school and her father who runs a local school. The father daughter team are almost single-handedly fighting a courageous fight against the Taliban to allow females to receive education.

Malala herself is desperate to continue with her education, recently changing her long term career goals from physician to politician. It’s a huge shift, but she recognizes that she can have a more beneficial impact in the later profession by aiding her country in joining the 20th century.


Another very brief video recounted the return of 21 young Nigerian girls to their families. They’d been  kidnapped by Boko Haram and the Swiss government was instrumental in gaining their release. But an estimated 255 girls are still being held and are hoped to be released soon.

The NY Time’s Videos Include Many Short Video Clips as Well as a Lot of Longer Documentaries Too

The documentaries I watched were amazing!  Each story is beautifully produced, insightful and eye opening in some sense. They provides much needed windows into the lives beyond our borders which oftentimes depict struggles much more trying than those of our own current political crisis. Above is a link to the longer documentaries. These vary in length a lot and are they are always preceded by the same increasingly annoying (due to the repetitious nature) AT&T commercial. I only figured out after about the 6th video that you can actually tap to skip the repetitious ad after a predetermined amount of time!

The videos themselves often offer truly fascinating glimpses into lives far beyond our borders and show some of the struggles faced by average people just like you and me.  It’s well worth your time to take a look at some of these if you have a few minutes to spare.

Not All the Documentaries Take Place on Foreign Soil

Below: Kim Souzzis’s Reddit Campaign to raise funds for her own brain’s cryopreservation


One documentary I really loved viewing tonight and which moved me beyond belief was the story of Kim Suozzis. She was a young college student who in 2012 discovered that she had a rare form of brain cancer. Her unique story began during her last year of college. Because she was studying to become a scientist in neurolinguistics and psychology, after she received her diagnosis, she engaged in a compelling journey to look for less obvious solutions which would help her in coming to terms with her undeniable future.

With the end of her life rapidly approaching, she discovered cryogenics. Her creative solution employed a spectacularly successful Reddit campaign in which she raised a large portion of the money she needed to preserve her brain cryogenically. This story follows the last 6 months of her life. We watch her peaceful death with her boyfriend at her side as well as the post death process of her brain’s cryopreservation. The process was lovingly overseen by her incredibly supportive boyfriend, who never ventured far from her side throughout her short, dramatic ordeal.

Since cryogenics was a topic my family had also recently engaged in lengthly discussions about, watching this young woman’s bravery and seeing how the process unfolded was simultaneously  fascinating and heart breaking.

Without doubt I’m sure there are other equally ‘edutaining’ examples of video collections produced by likeminded news sources. As I encounter those I’ll try to remember to add links to them here. Prior to my stumbling upon this New York Times collection I was oblivious to the existence of this content rich genre. My serendipitous enlightenment perfectly captures the essence of why I began my vsatrends website.

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Doors Open Milwaukee | 2016 Highlights & Overview 

Sunny weather & a panorama of Milwaukee
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September 17-18 Marks Milwaukee, WI’s 6th Annual Doors Open Event

Part I In a Series of 3 Posts About Doors Open & Open House

Another beautiful Milwaukee rooftop!

Milwaukee’s Annual Doors Open is One Unique & Distinguishing Event That Sets Our City Apart from All Others

So, What Exactly is Doors Open?

Doors Open is a city-wide event that’s held in just a few select cities in our United States as of 2016. It’s a celebration of sorts…celebrating our city’s architecture and art, but also our history and heritage, as well as all the things in our built environment that we’ve come either to take for granted or ignore…ignore, because we can’t easily find out anything more.

Built environment is a sort of trendy term we use because we can…after all, there are relatively few cities in the entire United States that have been able to pull off hosting a Doors Open event annually (there are only 7 cities as of 2016.) There are however, many more globally.  Canada is the one country that has added more new cities to the Doors Open ranks than any other.  In fact, there are more Doors Open events in Canada than there are in the rest of the world’s countries combined!   Even Detroit, is literally a couple of minute’s drive away from Canada has yet to garner the resources to pull this off…although maybe they haven’t tried that hard because Windsor, which right across the border does hold their own Doors Open festival every year.

We visited a lot of rooftops in 2013

How Canada happened to become the one and only country hosting more DO events than the rest of the world combined is anyone’s guess.  I suspect it had something to do with the fact that Toronto hosted the first Canadian event ever…in fact the first North American event too, way back in the year 2000!   Toronto did this in part because Ontario, which is the province that Toronto belongs to, was influenced in a big way by London’s earlier success in hosting a very similar kind of program…called Open House.

Actually, London’s event was really called Open London.  Open London and Open House were both born from the inspiration of Victoria Thorton, an aficionado of architecture living in London. It was this 1st event that was instrumental in spreading excitement and enthusiasm around the world for an innovative concept which closed the gap between ‘common man’s’ understanding of the mysterious world of architecture.

Doors Open Milwaukee Logo  OK…So Milwaukee’s Special…But What Exactly Is Doors Open Milwaukee…aka DOMKE?

In a nutshell…Milwaukee’s Doors Open Event provides unique opportunities for people to visit buildings that are never usually open to the public. And it’s free!  It’s one of the most fascinating, city-wide celebrations I’ve ever encountered. Well, me and 25,000 other people that is.  For 2 days over a weekend in September each year, roughly 160 unique buildings, business’s and governmental departments open their doors to welcome anyone who’s interested in seeing how they operate and what their space looks like.  Some of the sites tend to change each year, but some overlap multiple years, which is OK, because 2 days just isn’t long enough to visit 165 sites. In fact, you should spend a little time beforehand perusing your options so that you can make a beeline for those which appear to be most interesting to you each year. In addition to the link above, here’s another one which is a PDF of all Milwaukee’s sites this year.

Sunny weather & a panorama of Milwaukee

A Little History About Doors Open

There are only 9 American cities that consistently host this type of event annually, however that list of cities is continuing to grow despite the monumental effort required to make it happen. You’re probably thinking “wait a minute…you said only 7 cities just a few paragraphs up!” And you’d be right…I did. But that’s because there’s another, very similar event called Open House which also is represented in the U.S. The 2 cities which hold Open House events are New York and Chicago.  And they’re events are even larger than Milwaukees!  But part of that larger size is explained by the fact that Open House events also include private homes, whereas Doors Open events do not. Incidentally, you might be interested to know that both Chicago and New York’s events will be help on the same weekend this year…October 15-16th.

It wasn’t until 2011 that Milwaukee, WI came on board with what perhaps has grown into one of the most successful venues for ‘Doors Open’ in the United States. Milwaukee’s idea was originally spark plugged by a retired public librarian, George Wagner after he visited similar events in Toronto and Denver. That first event was widely successful and included 100 buildings. You can read a great indepth article about the inaugural 2011 event from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal’s archives. In 2016 that number has risen to 165 and over 25,000 people (this was last years attendance record) are expected to attend.

The tour we had about how the city’s drawbridges work was
probably one of my favorite experiences.

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Details On This Year’s Event in Milwaukee

This year Doors Open Milwaukee 2016 will be opening their doors to 165 local businesses and buildings. Some of the side events Milwaukee hosts include Doors Open Story Slam a food and entertainment extravaganza with locale story telling and food trucks, Murals in Clark Square which focuses on one unusual neighborhood with a lot of unique locale artisans’ public art on display and Open Archives, a program that allows visitors to examine documents, photographs, rare books and art work in the archive libraries of 7 large public museums.

Advice for Families & Kids      Journal Sentinel's Sept 9th Mews Article 'Doors Open Milwaukee Offers Rare Views of the City'

My kid’s are all grown so I’m relying on other people’s advice here.  Historical Milwaukee has a program just for kids they call Family Passport.  You can download the passport here and kid’s goal is to see as many sites on it as possible. There’s actually another passport they call the Water Passport, it’s a special guide to all of the water focused sites. In 2015 metroparent Milwaukee wrote a family and kid’s guide to DOMKE too.  More recently the Journal Sentinel wrote a news article on September 9th about sites where you can great rare views of the city featuring a beautiful rooftop pool. What kid doesn’t love a rooftop pool?  My last suggestion is to more seriously consider the free tour bus mentioned before, because at their blog they have some great information about where your kids can catch Pokemon during the event.  It sounds like they may be tailoring the route to maximize catching wild Pokemon too!

My husband took this cool reflection shot in 2014

Tips & Tricks

First off it’s good to map out where you want to go and get a brief notion of where and when each site you’re interested in is open.  Most sites are open for the full duration of the events but a select few aren’t.  They may only be open one of the days, or for shorter hours on both days…its up to the site’s owner.  But it’s best to check these details early in the process.  For example, there’s one site my husband and I are really interested in seeing this year called Above View. We understand that they make and will demonstrate aspects of their production process for their exquisite collection of artisan quality ornamental plaster ceiling tiles. That’s a mouthful but we’re super excited to see this place because unique ceilings have always been a ‘thing’ for us!  By visiting Above View’s Building Page at DO Milwaukee we found out a lot more about them…when we should go (Saturday) and what to expect (no photography.)

You’ll want to check out parking information here. So, really, do this OK?  Because it turns out that Brigg’s & Al’s Run will be going on too…and you’ll want to know which streets are closed off for that.  You might even want to consider using Milwaukee Food & City Tours Hop On & Hop Off Sightseeing Bus. This bus is also free and operates both days beginning at 1:00, 2:00 and 3:00…no tickets are needed.  But you might not have run across it at the main event sight.  That’s because information is found for this under the ‘Tours‘ submenu.  There’s a lot more information on Milwaukee’s DOMKE site than there appears to be…so if this is your first time going…its a good idea to peruse the site for a little while.

You can get a lot of this same information and bring it with you in digital form (for possible offline viewing) from their PDF brochure and Guide.  The guide is 31 pages long so it’s a great resource!  There was also a free pullout section in last Sunday’s Milwauke Journal Sentinel newspaper.  You can also visit Historic Milwaukee’s Facebook page for really up-to-date news and some cool extras…like a special SnapChat filter!  When I just did that now to grab this link I found that I’d just missed my chance to pickup 2 tickets to a paid tour by a local celebrity…that special tour has been sold out for months but apparently someone had to cancel!  Oh,  I think I forgot to mention that there are also some additional events hosted by Historic Milwaukee that aren’t necessarily free…but that may be free to their members or to volunteers, or are just simply too priceless to be completely free.

Extras

If you’d like to learn more about these 2 worldwide programs you can do so using this link to Part II of this series.  If you’d just like more resource information or links you can find those at Part III here.  If you like to see some pretty awful videos that I made the first year I attended Doors Open Milwaukee…here are 2 of them…but they really are terrible so I wouldn’t bother!

My Video About Ring the Bell at the Top of City Hall in Milwaukee 

My Video About Pevnick Design’s Graphical Waterfalls at Doors Open Milwaukee 2013

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Ring the Bell Tour at City Hall 2013

Above:  Doors Open 2013 Milwaukee City Hall’s Bell Ringing Tour

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My Dad’s Story “The Wonderful Mayo Clinic”

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The Wonderful Mayo Clinic

Originally appeared at my Dad’s website:

POTPOURRI

Pōt·pöur·rï´ – a confused collection;  a                 miscellaneous mixture;  a medley;  a hotchpotch  ( Webster’s Unabridged)

When one of our daughters was seven years old she suddenly developed a problem with her kidneys that had us become very concerned. Our family physician and other doctors at our local hospital began treating her for acute glomerulonephritis but, as things did not improve and we asked our doctor what the prognosis was and were told that the worst that could happen is that her kidneys would shut down but he didn’t think things would get that bad. When I asked him if we had the knowhow and equipment locally to respond adequately and he said “No”. After some time we spent arguing with him he suggested that, if we were uncomfortable with this, we should try to have her admitted to the Mayo clinic in Rochester, MN. I called the clinic and was advised that I could bring Vicki to them the next day which is what we did after four and one-half drive over to them. A day or two later, her kidneys did shut down and the clinic sprang into action. At one time I counted that seventeen various types of doctors had been involved with her treatment. Her primary doctors were the head of the pediatric unit, Dr. Finkelstein, and another doctor who, at the time, was the leading pediatric surgeon from Austria who specialized in the problem Vicki had.

Instead of using kidney dialysis they decided to use a rather new procedure, peritoneal dialysis. Although she was in very serious condition the procedure worked and, after a couple of weeks of treatment, she was totally cured. Throughout this ordeal Jane and I were continually impressed with the attention and treatment given to us by the clinic personnel and, it was at this time, we made the decision that, if any member of our family ever again suffered a life threatening medical problem, we would take them nowhere else but to Mayo.

Now, a few things to understand about the Mayo Clinic.

The clinic was established in Rochester, MN by two doctors, the Mayo brothers and their father, and grew to be one of the or possibly the best, clinic in the U.S. As a patient there you may find yourself in close contact with former presidents, the richest people in the world, chief executives of major corporations and also farmers from Iowa and truck drivers from Wisconsin. Whichever of these you may belong to, as a patient you will be treated the same. To all their from doctors who head up departments to the janitors, you are respected, listened to and treated in a manner that leaves you feeling you are probably the most important person they have met that day.

I don’t know if it is a historical fact but I understand when the Mayo brothers got started and their new clinic was becoming important to the, at that time, little city of Rochester. They called a town meeting and informed all attendees that henceforth all patients at the clinic were to be treated with care and special attention and, to this day, that seems to be the way the residents of Rochester treat their visitors. During the course of the many years my wife and I have visited the clinic we have experienced the following:

The cost of temporary living near the clinic is very reasonable. Expensive housing and eating can be found but more than adequate facilities are available and moderately priced food services predominate.

You may be rubbing elbows with important, wealthy people and celebrities, One day Jane and I were having lunch at an adjacent restaurant sitting at a table next to former president George W. Bush and one of his sons. Sitting next to them were four secret service guys and a fifth was standing at the restaurant’s entrance. Another time two floors of the hotel we were in was occupied by a Saudi Arabian Sultan accompanied by his three wives and a bunch of children plus a large staff all of whom traveled to and fro in seven stretch limousines, We were in the hotel’s jewelry store when the three wives dressed all in black entered accompanied by a couple of guards and an American woman. They meandered through the store for a while and after leaving I asked the manager what they were doing. “Oh, they were shopping.” She said. “All they would do is point at something they wanted and the American woman from the State Department would make a note of the items and then arrange for them to be paid for by the Sultan.”

On the other hand, there were many times I would be sitting in the clinic’s huge cafeteria and be joined by a farmer from Idaho or a mill worker from Wisconsin.

The Clinic itself is composed of a number of large buildings and a hospital all of which are connected. A tunnel is available connecting them underground so you don’t have to go outside in winter. Also accessible by the tunnel are some hotels and motels. In the tunnel are numerous shops and eating places. Part of the complex is connected by enclosed overhead bridges that also connect to a small mall.

Wherever you go in the clinic you will see volunteers stationed ready to help you find you way around. The hallways are lined with a large collection of valuable art by world known artists totally unprotected. When you have free time you can join tours of the building and docents will identify the art works.

The main clinic building has an immense entry hall in which stands a single grand piano. Throughout the day local people will sit at it and play, sometimes joined by singers.

But the biggest impression is the way patients are treated. A good example was my first experience. In 2003 a local ENT doctor who I had gone to in order to have my hearing checked noticed I had some swollen glands in my neck. This led to a series of tests and examinations by my doctor and others including biopsies with no definite diagnosis being obtained. My patience was finally lost when another biopsy was scheduled but postponed for a week because the pathologist wanted to be present for the biopsy but was going on vacation for a week first.

Later that day I called Mayo’s and asked if I could have an appointment without a reference. A lady told me that could be done but I might have to wait a day or two for an opening to see the proper specialist. But then she asked me why I was calling and, after explaining my experience to date she told me to wait a minute and returned with the question, “Can you be here tomorrow at 2:00 P.M.?” “Absolutely,” was my answer.

Screenshot of Potpourri website home

For more of Dad’s stories visit his website Potpourri

The next day Jane and I drove to Rochester which took about 4 ½ hours mostly through beautiful country scenery. My 2 o’clock started with a short visit with a young oncologist who set me up with a number of tests including a full body CAT scan. At 5:00 we were back in the hotel for a very pleasant and low priced dinner. My morning appointment with the same young Dr, who was a “fellow” at the clinic was at 8:00. Jane and I sat in his office and he had me sit next to him at the computer monitor while he showed me my entire body in great detail and revealed the results of all the tests. He had identified my problem as being Chronic Lymphocytic leukemia, an incurable form of cancer. He could see that both Jane and I were shocked and quickly informed us that I was not in any immediate danger and, although not curable, they had a number of ways it could be treated. He then said he would have his “Boss” talk to us and left to return with an older doctor who seated himself next to me and, at some length, began to describe to me the course that the rest of my life would take. With a pad of blank paper in his hand he said, “Most other people’s lives will take this course.” Then he drew a straight diagonal line dropping from left to right. “Yours will take a different course,” he continued and drew a line from left to right that descended in a series of steps. “Your life will also descend over time in a steeper path but, we will then bring it back when it’s time to do so.” Needless to say, Jane and I were both much relieved and that is exactly what happened. When my cancer had proceeded too far a course of chemo treatment would bring me back to almost normal which has continued for the past 13 years until the chemo treatments were replaced with a “miracle” drug, Imbruvica. At a later date I discovered that the doctor we visited with was the leading hematologist in the U.S. was the head of the Hematology Dept. and also taught at the school.

In all my visits to the clinic I have never had a bad experience. I also discovered over time that, although one would expect the opposite, their charges are less than almost all other medical providers I’ve used around the country. At one time, when part of my chemo treatment was given by the Moffet Cancer center in Tampa, I found their charges were almost double those of Mayo’s. Once they have diagnosed your problem and established a program of treatment they are also amenable and helpful in transferring that course to a site that is more convenient to you.

Another example of Mayo’s superior service was when Jane also had numerous tests performed without local doctors being able to identify her problem. In accordance with our family pact to run to the clinic under such circumstances we did so and, in a couple of days they had diagnosed her as having Charcot Marie Tooth disease, a rather rare neurologic disorder.

I have not experienced the behavior of other noted medical facilities in the country and therefore cannot make comparisons but, as far as I’m concerned, there is no one better than the Mayo Clinic.

If you’d like to read more about my Dad, his website, and how that came about, you might enjoy the story I wrote about him last year called  “I Love My Dad’s Website | He’s Written a Legacy for Family & Friends.”   That story was my most popular post of all time, gaining more readers in it’s first day than most of my posts had (at that point) in 6 month’s time!

A Patient’s Guide to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota | Debunking Myths About Mayo’s

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An Overview for First Time Patients Considering a Visit to Mayo Clinic

IntroductionMayo Scene

Mayo Clinic of Rochester Minnesota is a world renowned medical center in the heart of Midwestern United States. The clinic, begun in 1903 attracts patients from all corners of the world.  Many of the wealthiest and most important world figures visit the small town of Rochester Minnesota for their medical care.

Yet there’s a bit of a perplexing phenomenon surrounding Mayo’s in Rochester. In Spite of, or maybe because of, the fact that Mayo’s is recognized as a world class facility that offers a standard of care second to none in the world, Mayo’s seems to be perceived by many as inaccessible, or as vaguely elitist by regular people. 

These are people who are obviously familiar with the institution, yet who’ve never given serious consideration to actually seeking treatment there for either themselves or someone they’re close to.  The irony is that many of the people I’m referring to live within a 300 hundred mile radius of Rochester (it’s only about a 4 hour car ride away.)   Even more ironic is the fact that there are so many people who live less than 85 miles away in neighboring Minneapolis, which is Rochester’s closest large metropolitan neighbor, who never have considered visiting Mayo’s!

The Kind Of Patients Mayo’s Attracts

Royalty, Presidents, Celebrities, Sports Legends and Regular Joes Too

It is truly ironic to me that ‘Regular Joes’ with close access tend to not avail themselves of the world class resources that are right in front of them while others from much farther away do!  Sheiks, Princes and Presidents from countries like Saudi Arabia and even the United States don’t bat an eye before hopping on a plane when some new symptoms crop up that bother or worry them.  Oftentimes they’ll bring along entire entourages too.  In the Shiek’s or Prince’s cases that entourage might include their entire family, close friends and staff!

It may sound to you like I’m exaggerating, but I assure you that I’m not in the least!  My parents saw George Bush Sr. along with his Secret Service entourage on more than one occasion.  One time Mom even had a nice chat with President Bushes Secret Service detail in the restaurant that they were all dining at (this was maybe 15 years ago.) The SS team was seated close to Mom and Dad’s table.

I myself ended up being the only non-Saudi tenant on my floor of the Marriott (including the floors above and below me too) when I went for a physical in 2013.  I’d scheduled a physical because the department that I really needed to get into wasn’t going to be available for a long time (this is one of my tricks for getting in under tricky circumstances that I cover in more detail further down.)  I ended up staying longer than the 2 days of my initial reservation.

The Saudi Prince had scheduled his appointment more recently than mine.  He asked for several floors and was given the three floors sandwiching the concierge level…which was my floor…with the exception of my room. Worth noting too is I discovered this serendipitously while grabbing some snacks from the great concierge lounge* one night…no one from the Marriott staff ever approached me or requested that I change rooms.

*In case I forget to mention this little detail in the ‘Where To Stay’ section, although the Marriott Hotel that’s directly connected to the Mayo Clinic Subway has higher priced room rates than the other ‘directly connected’ option the Kahler Grand Hotel, by staying on the concierge level I was able to forgo the cost of meals.  At the time I was there complete meals were provided in the lounge daily along with a great spread for cocktail hour.  Except on the weekends.  There were some meals provided then, but less than what was offered during the week.  This for me, was a significant savings in both time and money.

Mayo's in the '60s

Mayo’s in the ’60s

A Little More About Me

Some may be wondering who I am and what my qualifications are for purposes of discussing this topic.  While I was only tangentially connected to the medical profession when many years ago when I worked as a Coopers & Lybrand consultant for the administrative side of very large outpatient medical practices, it’s my experience on the other side of the equation that has given me the necessary credentials to write this post. In that role I’m just an average Midwesterner who became gravely ill as a child. Contrary to what my generally wise and well liked doctor advised, my parents decided to transfer me from our local hospital to one in Rochester Minnesota. They brought me to St. Mary’s hospital which is one of the 2 main hospitals in Rochester that’s primarily affiliated with Mayo’s. By affiliated I mean they are now all under the same corporate umbrella.  Also, in 2014 St. Mary’s was renamed the Mayo Clinic Hospital.

I’ve heard more than my share of stories that are very similar to mine…leading me to wonder why my doctor hesitated to refer me at the time…which, for the sake of thoroughness was 1964. For whatever reasons, many, many doctors are extremely hesitant to refer their own patients to Mayo’s.  I’m not entirely sure why that is. I don’t think that, in this day and age, many doctors fear losing their patients to Mayo’s…that’s just not how they operate. Mayo’s prefers to be used as a resource to aid in patient’s overall success. They prefer to be doing the things they do best, which are oftentimes things like figuring out very complex diagnoses. Once they’ve accomplished their goal they send those patients back home again armed with the information their own doctors need to heal them or treat them successfully.

In My Case I Would Not Be Alive Today if My Parent’s Had Not Acted Against My Doctors Advice By Taking Me to Mayo’s

A few days ago I asked Mom & Dad (who incidentally are now 86 & 90 years old…and yet another tribute to Mayo Clinic.) to relate my story to me once more just to make absolutely certain that I portrayed everything correctly.

 


I learned that my Dad had also begun to write a story about Mayo Clinc on his own website a long time ago, but that he’d never finished it. Upon reading his (and with a little convincing by me) he did recently finish it. So I’m adding this link to his story in his own words.  Although there is some overlap, I think that his version may have wider appeal than my own (if I ever finish it) because he’s just a better writer overall than I am! 

Dad’s story of The Wonderful Mayo Clinic.‘ 

 
Very briefly this is what happened.  At age 7 I suddenly became extremely ill…my kidneys began shutting down. Mom and Dad asked our local hospital and doctors a lot of questions. One was, how likely was it that my kidneys would stop functioning completely and what treatment options would be available to me if that situation arose. My doctor told them this was highly unlikely but if that event did arise they did not have the means to handle it. While they didn’t come right out and say I would die…it was implied.

Mom and Dad decided that even a small chance of this occurring was too much of a chance for them personally to risk. They drove me to Mayo’s within hours of that conversation. But, that worst case scenario did in fact occur. Despite my condition deteriorating so much that a priest was enlisted to confirm me and to give me my last sacraments, I did manage to come back from the brink of death and ultimately I survived. Survived isn’t really the right word though because I didn’t just ‘survive’ I made a complete recovery and I thrived. :-)  It still is hard to think about sometimes.

You can read a lot more about the details of my story here once I’ve completed that post. What my family and I gained from that experience was the reassurance that we had one of the most amazing medical resources available to us whenever we felt that we needed that kind of expertise. Through the years we also learned that, in general, engaging with Mayo’s as a patient early on in a process makes much better sense than leaving that option as a final resolution when all else fails.

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What We Learned:  The Best Way to Engage Mayo’s as a Resource

It probably doesn’t surprise anyone to learn that my experience as a child was a life altering one. Had I not been treated at Mayo’s no one doubts that I would be here today to tell my story. But it wasn’t just life altering for me, it was for my whole family. 

Because my family got to experience first hand the unprecedented and profoundly successful mechanism that places Mayo’s in the enviable position the clinic occupies. It was also life altering because being there allowed us to understand how inclusive and how utterly patient-centric Mayo’s truly is.

It’s taken many, many years for me to come to my current realization that the vast majority of people don’t believe their medical issues are significant enough to warrant seeking the expertise that’s available at Mayo’s. To me that mindset is short sighted at best. Perhaps so many people delude themselves into thinking that life and their own health isn’t as tenuous as I know from first hand experience it is. Nothing should be treated as more important than one’s health and well being.

As I’m writing this I’ve come to the realization that the old adage…’if you’ve got your health, you’ve got everything’ is so much more profound than it appears to be on the surface.

This resonants with me because a lot of people I know are fanatics about eating healthy, exercising, keeping fit, or being attuned to nature and the great outdoors…because in part that’s good for your health.  But then when situations arise in which they have the opportunity to make really good choices about solving difficult health issues they completely drop the ball. They fail to be pro-active in pursuing the best advice medicine has to offer!  The really sad reality is that far too many people choose to ignore logic until they find themselves in situations which have advanced so far that their backs are ‘up against a wall’ and there’s no place left to turn.  That’s when they choose to go to Mayo’s. Mayo’s is their last resort. 

That’s the wrong way to go about it.

Doesn’t it make more sense to stack the deck in your favor as much as possible when it comes to something as important as your health?  Doesn’t it make sense to concentrate your efforts on not letting bad situations become bad in the first place?  If you treat your medical decisions as pro-actively as your efforts to maintain a healthy lifestyle then your giving yourself a fighting chance when the need to fight arises.  And more than likely it will at some point in your life. So having a plan and arming yourself with good information before that need arises seems to me to be the best course of action.  And waiting until there are no really good alternatives left open to you seems to me to be a really bad idea.

So Why Do People Really Wait & Utilize Mayo’s Primarily in ‘Last Resort’ Situations?

Especially when the fact that Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota is almost universally know to be a world class medical facility with proven positive patient outcomes that far surpass all others in the United States, and more likely in the entire world, is indisputable.

To me it seems like there’s a significant perceptual barrier to access by the exact patient population that Mayo’s first set out to serve…the residents of smaller cities, towns and rural upper Midwest.  There seems to be almost an aire of mystique surrounding Mayo’s and the belief that to visit there as a patient one must meet some vaguely defined set of rarely encountered criteria.  Some of those criteria include:

  • That patients should be either extremely wealthy or highly visible as public figures in some manner
  • That individuals need to be experiencing immediate life threatening symptoms or conditions
  • That generally only patients who’ve been previously treated at Mayo’s go there
  • That people should exhaust all other medical avenues before seeking treatment at Mayo’s.
  • That their health insurance won’t cover expenses at a facility like Mayo’s that may be out of network before exhausting other in network alternatives first
  • That in general a world class facility like Mayo’s must be prohibitively expensive
  • That it would be too difficult logistically to arrange for treatment there
  • That because of the distance involved and the need for travel it’s just not a viable alternative

Common Misconceptions About Mayo’s & Why They Are Misconceptions

  • Misconception:  You should only go to Mayo’s for a diagnosis

  • The Truth


While it’s true that the one thing Mayo’s has become known for is diagnosing difficult cases, it’s also true that 
Mayo’s excels in many, many areas of medicine…not just the one involving making accurate diagnoses where others have failed.

But it seems at times Mayo’s other strengths fly somewhat ‘under the radar‘ so that many people may not realize. In my case as a child, my local doctors did diagnose my condition. They were even well equipped to address many aspects of it…but not all of them.  It turned out that what my locale doctors couldn’t do ended up being some of the most important.  

In the broadest sense, Mayo Clinic excels in some of these other areas too, including:

  • US News & World Report ranks Mayo Clinic 1st in the US in Diabetes & Endochrinology, Gastroenterology and GI Surgery, Geriatrics, Gynecology, Nephrology, Neurology and Neurosurgery,  Pulmonology and Urology.
  • US News ranks Mayo’s 2nd in the country in Cardiology and Heart Surgery, ENT, and Orthopedics, and they’re ranked 3rd in cancer, 4th in Rheumatology, 5th in Rehabilitation and ‘high performing’ in Opthamology.

Link to US News & World Report’s current ranking of Mayo Clinic.

  • Misconception:  Mayo’s will be expensive and my insurance won’t cover it

  • The Truth

Your insurance will probably cover it and you will more than likely pay less than if you would have received the same services at home.  I’ll write more about this later…but for now just trust me when I say our insurance is awful and out-of-network for Mayo’s.  The out-of-pocket costs for our most recent visits were $161 for my husbands 2 day Executive Physical. (He had A LOT of tests and the bill total was around $16,000)  I paid $200 out-of-pocket for the week long visit that I refer to several times in this post. (My total bill was $60,000 and insurance paid all but $200.)

Because there are so many different kinds of insurance plans it probably isn’t a bad idea to call your carrier before you go.I forgot to do that and I’m sure my husband didn’t yet we had no issues. I think our plan may be a PPO…but even that is unclear. We have our own plan because my husband owns his small business and he provides coverage for a few employees too.  Our rates our exorbitant and our coverage usually is not great with very high deductibles.  I just about fainted when I saw my bill, but decided to do nothing other than wait.  I used to be a consultant for outpatient billing and insurance computer systems and know that medical providers do not send accounts to collectors unless it’s a last resort…meaning you can wait for pretty long to give your insurance the time necessary to process everything.  Once everything was processed I was again  shocked, but this time in a good way to find out how little I needed to pay personally!

Mayo’s Rochester provides information at their website about insurance coverage and billing and they give telephone numbers to call them and discuss coverage prior to a visit.  You can go to their webpage for those numbers here.

  • Misconception:  Mayo’s Clinic’s locations are all the same in terms of quality, therefore if you live closer to their Arizona or Florida locations, you should go there rather than fly all the way to Minnesota.

  • The Truth

This sadly is not true. Mayo’s Clinic in Rochester Minnesota was the original clinic. Their Arizona and Florida facilities are much newer, with a newer staff and less time under their belt to master what the Rochester location has turned into an art form. No doubt, in time, these locations will get to this level…but they aren’t there yet. In addition Mayo’s has planned other expansion concepts which may or may not be in the works presently…but the same concept holds true.

Many have tried to replicate the success that Mayo’s Rochester enjoys, but to date none have been able to.  This holds true for the Mayo’s umbrella as well.  They aren’t really sure exactly why Rochester is so successful which is why they haven’t been able to replicate that success at their other locations.

So it makes sense that if you are faced with a very difficult, complex, frustrating, or ongoing medical problem that needs the highest level of expertise possible to solve it that you would want the most experienced resources available…the ones with the best proven track record…and that would be the Rochester location.

  • Misconception:  Getting into Mayo’s Clinic is difficult and you have to have  a doctors referral

  • The Truth

That is simply not true. All it takes is a simple phone call to confirm that you can setup your own appointment with no referral needed.  Getting in really isn’t very difficult at all. You just need to call them and talk to someone. One reason that I decided to write this was because I did encounter difficulty getting in a few years back, and I did pretty much everything wrong that one person could do.  So I thought by putting all this information in one place and mentioning what didn’t work for me, that I could hopefully save some other people some of the frustration I experienced.  

Mayo’s does offer an online mechanism for requesting an appointment but that’s all it really is…you’re just submitting a request which is still ultimately scheduled via telephone. They do however offer excellent online medical records and provide a lot of patient information online…they even have an app!

The reason I believe that Mayo’s prefers to talk to potential new patients by phone is so they can explain how things work as well as give them the best possible advice regarding their specific medical needs. Which makes complete sense if you think about it. Be prepared to talk for a while* when you call, because you’ll get their undivided assistance in making the arrangements for and then navigating your visit there.  Also be prepared to wait for a month or two before your actual appointment.  Because there is such high demand for appointments, a couple month wait is standard unless circumstances dictate otherwise.  If there are serious immediate concerns they will work very hard to get patients in as soon as possible.

*Mine and my family’s universal experience has been that unlike traditional medical practices, every personal encounter that you will have at Mayo’s, even those leading up to an actual visit are treated as very important.  You will never be hurried and you’ll never feel as though you needed more time to ask questions…everyone from the highest level doctor on down will bend over backwards to make sure you are well taken care of.

  • Misconception:  Scheduling an appointment in a specific specialty is the best way to request an appointment

  • The Truth

Not necessarily.  Appointments that are requested in specific departments go through a review process to determine whether or not Mayo’s services are the best use of their resources and the best alternative for patients making the request.  This can end up being a lengthy process involving forwarding a lot of medical records and writing out long descriptions of why someone is seeking treatment.  Then there’s a wait that could be several months before you find out whether or not you’ve been accepted.  If you are, then you begin the scheduling process which can also involve a wait for your actual appointment.  If your not accepted you may be uncertain about how to proceed.


This is the exact scenario that I faced several years ago when requesting an appointment with the Neurology department.
 What I learned in the process is invaluable going forward.  Neurology is perhaps the one department at Mayo’s that fields way more requests than they can serve.  There’s a very good chance that you won’t get in if you request an appointment in their department.

What works a lot better if you know that you need to see neurology is to schedule a physical in the Internal Medicine department instead.  That’s what I did when I was rejected.  My appointment date was set about a month in the future.  (The first process for requesting an appointment in Neurology had taken longer than 6 months.) When I arrived I had a complete physical that was more thorough than any I’d ever encountered.  All of my medical concerns were addressed and appointments with additional specialties were scheduled for the following days.  The way these appointments are scheduled and orchestrated is pretty amazing! 

My Internist sent me to a desk with some of my records and after about a 15 minute wait I was giving a schedule with a map and directions for the next 2 days of solid back to back appointments.  Every single appointment was perfectly timed so that I had just enough time to get from one to the next and they even left some time for lunch!  The last appointment on my schedule was with the Internist again.  After I completed all of those and met with my Internist a second time, he decided I needed some more tests and I went through the same process again…but this time just for one additional day.  *Then I met with him a third time to discuss results and where to go from there.

*The one little ‘chink in the armor’ again was with Neurology.  While I had all the neurological tests accomplished without any problems, actually meeting with a neurologist to read my results proved to be more difficult.  Neurology actually wanted me to fly home and come back 2 weeks later!  But I wouldn’t take no for an answer this time! I badgered one of the poor, overworked desk staffers until she let me in on a little known secrets. If I was willing to arrive at 7:00 am each morning and sit patiently waiting for some extra time to appear in someone’s schedule, or for a cancellation to arise, then I could be part of a queued walkin program…I forget what exactly they called this arrangement. But since seeing Neurology  was really my primary reason for being there and I really needed answers, I did exactly that…for 2 or 3 days…I forget the exact details. It turned out that there was a whole group of us patients waiting in this qued arrangement and we’d cover for each other to take breaks, to get food and things like that. I finally got in and once I did the Neurologists I met with couldn’t have been kinder or more helpful. And surprisingly unhurried! So heed my warning.  The Neurology department is the one exception to the rule that Mayo’s functions as an extraordinarily efficient and well-oiled machine!

Δ Δ Δ Δ

If someone from Mayo’s reads this…

please, please…

try to fix this problem!

Δ Δ Δ Δ 

  • Misconception:  If you visit Mayo’s Clinic as a patient, then you’ll need to continue going there for all your medical care going forward for that particular condition.

  • The Truth

    Nothing could be further from the truth…the Doctors at Mayo’s will diagnose your condition and send you back home to your own doctors with a plan.

    I’m not entirely sure why there is a reluctance by so many physicians to refer to Mayo’s. Maybe doctor’s fear that Mayo’s is building their amazing reputation by attracting some of the most difficult medical cases in the world and then keeping those patients to treat…as sort of a reverse ‘creme skimming concept?’  But nothing could be further from the truth.  More than likely it has to do,with the fact that most doctors really do become invested in their patient’s outcomes…and it’s very hard to both let go, as well as to realize and/or admit that you’re infallible.

    Understanding their true intent and mindset is really important to understanding what Mayo’s is all about…so I’ll elaborate a little more here.

    A Little Background About Mayo Clinic

    Mayo's Logo
    The story of how Mayo’s first began is really a somewhat unspectacular story. A young doctor, William Worrall Mayo moved to the area initially because he was asked by Abraham Lincoln to be the local medical examiner for the military during the Civil War.  After the war he liked the area so much that he decided to stay and raise his family there.  Fast forward a few years to when his sons joined him in practice and together they rapidly expanded the size and scope of their practice…an expansion rate which continues to this day.

    The other significant event that is responsible for the core structure of Mayo’s is that right after his first son joined him there was a horrific tornado in Rochester that killed many people and injured many more.  A couple of nuns joined the Mayo’s and several other doctors in treating the injured.  Following that, one very determined nun approached Dr. Mayo Sr. about building a hospital and following an agreement they built St Mary’s hospital together, which became affiliated with the clinic. Shortly thereafter Mayo Sr. retired and several more doctors joined the ranks and together they were the founders of the first integrated group medical practice in the US.

    What set this clinic apart was really just good old Midwestern work ethic and values, an intolerance for mediocrity and a model for an integrated medical practice that would operate more efficiently than any before it.

    One additional key factor was one of the founding fathers, Henry Plummer.  He held an intense interest in technology and set about to utilize ground breaking technological advances in everything from the design of all of the Mayo Clinic buildings to the environmental equipment they used as well as their medical equipment.  Many years later he took on the role of Chief Engineer and dedicated his focus entirely towards making sure that every step of the way they utilized progressive  technology which served their patients far better than any other clinics of the day.  By insuring that risks such as infection were minimized their patient outcomes began to consistently be better year after year.

    At the heart of the practice was the concept of keeping patients needs prioritized above all others.  Just like how really good retailers treat their customers as golden…using the concept that the customer is always right, so too does Mayo’s treat each and every patient as golden…and as deserving of the absolute best level of care that any institution could provide…patient’s needs have always been placed above anything else.

    By projecting that as their message, by creating a unique culture for physicians that promotes a collegiality that de-emphasizes competitiveness, and by pursuing excellence on all fronts including patient care and leading research, Mayo’s ultimately created a phenomenon that to date has been impossible to replicate…even by themselves!

    In 2008 Dartmouth Conducted a Study to Determine Why Mayo’s in Rochester Outperformed All Other Medical Clinics

    Dartmouth conducted a well-known study in 2008 that focused on why Mayo’s in Rochester is so successful, and so far ahead of the curve compared to everyone else. Their main findings confirmed what many suspected all along. That not only were patient outcomes significantly better there than anywhere else in the USA, but that they were also the most efficient in terms of successful outcomes being realized earlier and using fewer resources, resulting in lower costs for both insurers and patients.

    But another interesting result of that study was that while Mayo’s success was generally believed to be unparalleled…that wasn’t true. 2 other programs were also highlighted as having exemplary outcomes with high degrees of patient satisfaction coupled with low costs. The 2 programs that were also singled out for excellence were Intermountain Healthcare (IHC) in Utah and the Sutter System hospitals in Sacramento  (see more at the HealthBeat Blog.com article.)

    What follows ar excerpts from the article referenced above.  Mayo’s founding father, William Worrall Mayo working alongside his sons, William and Charles Mayo, created one of the first group practices in the U.S. back in 1903. So…first, the group practice concept was a new one.  Early on they began attracting some of the finest, most highly skilled providers and researchers in the world to join them. They proved to be a magnet for talent because they offered an environment unlike any other in the US at the time…thanks in part to Dr. Plummer. They focused on collaboration rather than competition (all doctors are salaried and receive the same amount of pay as their peers in their department…regardless of training or seniority…also the salaries tend to be 25% higher than elsewhere) and by striving for success on all fronts…patient satisfaction, economic success (i.e.higest profits to lowest costs) and high satisfaction amongst doctors who believe themselves to hold important roles within an enviable system.

    How did they do It?  By building in factors that removed all competitive mindsets. Doctors are salaried and all doctors within a specialty receive the same pay after their first 3 years. The first 3 years are essentially their training period. If, after 3 years, they don’t seem to embrace the collaborative nature necessary they don’t continue on. Although the Dartmouth study also indicated that most physicians figured that out within their first year there. By removing the usual pay incentives that automatically introduce competition rather than cooperation, the stage is set for collegiality.

    Some More Reasons or Situations to Consider Going to Mayo’s

    • When someone is suffering from an illness or condition that is chronic or becoming chronic because their local doctors can’t pin down exactly what’s going on, they should consider going to Mayo’s Rochester.  Call it a 2nd opinion.
    • When someone is suffering from an acute condition that is life threatening or may quickly become life threatening, and their doctors at home are unable to figure out exactly what it is (and are therefore unable to determine how to treat it,) they need to get to Mayo’s ASAP!
    • When someone does have a diagnosis, but it’s a complicated one in which fine distinctions may make significant differences in how to proceed with treatment…they too should go to Mayo’s.
    • My only rule of thumb is this. If my doctor or a routine test discovers something bad or potentially bad…I’ll have 3 additional tests to diagnose or rule things out.  If, after 3 more visits, which are usually with different specialists, no one is father along to the truth…it’s time for me to go to Mayo’s.  Because usually these appointments have been spread out over several weeks and oftentimes months, and getting into Mayo’s isn’t immediate…so by the time I do make it there and finally obtain a diagnosis…more than likely 6 months have passed.  6 months can be a very long time when it comes to certain things such as cancer or matters of the heart.
    • When you do have a diagnosis but your doctors don’t have a good prognosis for you…it’s time to go to Mayo’s.

    OK I’m not being completely exhaustive here…I’m sure there are more situations that apply…but common sense should rule and once you’ve  read my whole post, you should be equipped with the tools to use the right kind of common sense in making these decisions.  If you’re still confused…do you see a pattern here?  If you or a loved one is suffering for a medical condition or problem that, in spite of everyone’s best efforts, eludes diagnosing, good information for making decisions, or good treatment alternatives…that is precisely when it is the right time to go to Mayo’s.



     The Main Patient Phone #

    (507)538-3260

    for Mayo’s Clinic in Rochester


    When in doubt, call the number above for anything and everything, and you’ll be directed to the right place…but do it during normal business hours.



    Some Useful Phone Numbers for

    New Patients to Mayo’s

    Useful Phone Numbers for New Patients to Mayo's Clinic

    Getting the Lay of the Land

    Mayo’s Subway

    Mayo Clinic in Rochester has created an extremely patient friendly environment to navigate when people are going to appointments in many different specialties.  The most unique aspect is something they call the Subway.

    The Subway isn’t what you’d normally think of when you think of a subway system.  What the Mayo’s subway actually is, is an underground complex of businesses, hotels, restaurants and of course clinics, connected by an underground tunnel system which is really almost a pedestrian urban city center…similar to those found in China, Australia and Hong Kong (and probably more countries too but those are the ones I remember being impressed with during our travels. It’s really so cool you have to see it to believe it!

    The Subway at Mayo Rochester

    Where To Stay

    There are 2 hotels that connected to the subway that I know of for sure. Both have very good access to Mayo Clinic and you can get there o foot within 5-10 minutes without ever stepping foot outdoors…so these 2 are highly desirable in the wintertime.

    In addition to those hotels, there are several more that are connected to the skywalk network….which in turn is connected to the subway.   Further down I’ll attach some maps which should help you identify what those hotels are.

    • The Marriott is where I stayed:
    • 101 1st Avenue SW
    • 1(507)280-6000
    • The Kahler Grand Hotel is where my Dad used to stay for his Lymphoma treatment
    • 20 SW 2nd Street
    • (597)280-6200

    Getting There

    Rochester has its own airport which is easily accessible. Go to the Rochester Airport Site.   At the airport there’s a desk for all local ground transportation.  But you can also get to that information here.

    MAPS:

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

    LINKS:

    An Inside Look at Mayo Clinic 2015

    Here’s a link to a PDF I made with more information and links to both of the hotels above.

    Video Links and Tours

    Mayo’s has out together a lot of really helpful videos helping new patients with every aspect of logistics in getting there and getting around.  There’s even a video about the Rochester airport and their shuttle service.  Here’s a link to the video page.

    Links to A Great Article That Explains the Mayo Culture in More Detail

    HeartBeat Blog’s 2008 Post Looks at Mayo’s from 2 Perspectives…a Returning Physician who Left to Work at Columbia in NY and A DartMouth Study on excellence in healthcare and patient outcomes.


    PLEASE LEAVE ME ANY COMMENTS YOU MAY HAVE

     

    The SEBO Felix Vacuum May Be the Best Vacuum in the World | It’s Most Definitely the Best Vacuum I’ve Ever Owned

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    I Just Updated My Review of My Sebo Felix Vacuum & Shot This…I Can’t Believe it’s Been

     Almost 20 Years Old Because My Sebo Felix is Still Beautiful!

    My 20 year olf Sebo  Felix vacuum

    Introduction

    I love vacuums. Everyone who knows me, knows this. If a friend needs a new vacuum, they seek out my advice.  If a friend learns of a new vacuum entering the US market they rarely ever fail to let me know about it.  And if a friend has a multitude of problems with a vacuum, they generally share that information with me too…which is great.  I’ve become our local clearing house for vacuum cleaner knowledge!

    My SEBO vacuum, which is German made, is one of the main reasons I love vacuums so much.  If you’ve ever owned one you’ll know what I mean!  Vacuuming with the Felix doesn’t feel like a chore because it’s fun!  20 years ago when I first found my SEBO no one in the US appeared to have ever heard of this brand…I certainly hadn’t.  Despite all it’s awesomeness, even now in the year of 2016, this brand still seems to not be well know in the states.

    Currently I’m considering the purchase of a few new vacuums for our home and I decided it’s time to re-analyze the state of the vacuum cleaner market in the USA.

    Why Has No One in the US Ever Heard of the German Vacuum Company Called SEBO?

    I get that 20 years ago when the Internet was in its infancy that dissemination of information was extremely limited.  But by now the Internet has created a new phenomenon…that of a global marketplace. I’m sort of stunned to realize that the brand name SEBO has yet to become a household word here and I’m left to wonder why.

    SEBO’s Main Competition | A Little More Information About Dyson & Miele | One Miele Vacuum that I’m Currently Considering Purchasing

    Maybe it’s because of Dyson?  Dyson is another European model (made in the UK) which was just entering the scene around the same time that SEBO made an entrance onto US soil. But Dyson seemed to dominate our market for a long time. The market was high-end residential vacuums.

    For some unknown reason when Dyson entered the US market they created quite a fury…which resulted in their dominance of that high end marketplace here for what felt like a very long time. One reason I’m so familiar is because I have a Dyson.  My opinion?  It’s OK…actually I guess I’d begrudgingly have say it’s even pretty good. Specifically, it’s very good mechanically but it’s really confusing to use…therefore it rates very low scores for user friendliness.

    My old Dyson vacuum

    My old Dyson vacuum

    The one other brand that I’ve looked at a lot is Miele. I’ve considered acquiring one myself off and on for many years.  Miele is also German.  Miele tends to focus on canister vacuums…this isn’t a form of vacuum that I’ve ever loved.

    Conversely, SEBO tends to focus more on upright vacuums…which have always been my preference.  Granted there is some crossover between the 2…Miele makes a few uprights and Sebo makes a few canisters…but they generally tend to stick to their chosen favorites. I first learned about Miele because I had a cleaning lady who swore by her Miele.

    Right now I’m looking for something that’s versatile. Something that I can use to get behind furniture and also reach way up high with.  That’s why I’m reconsidering the Miele brand.  What my cleaning friend loves so much about her Miele is the extra long hose. She loves that you can even add additional extensions onto that hose to be able to reach almost anywhere.

    But there are a ton of different Miele models to choose from. There are so many  features, and there seems to be a lot of overlap amongst features. It may be this aspect alone which accounts for the fact that the US hasn’t readily adopted this particular brand of vacuum.  More likely it’s that coupled with the fact that most residential consumers in the USA currently don’t purchase canister type vacuums very frequently.

    The many different models can be really confusing.  I spent quite a bit of time trying to make sense of the Miele canister lines. Eventually I pasted together a cheat sheet for myself of the lower priced alternatives which you can see here.  Ultimately, I determined that if I were to get a Miele, it would be this one which is $429 right now on Amazon (my link has my affiliate ID attached.)  The model I’m considering is a compact, very lightweight canister vac that has a sealed HEPA filtration system, lots of tools, a tool carrier, and a combination floor tool for both carpets and hardwood surfaces. It’s a newer model that’s about $200 less than the one that my cleaning lady swears by.

    The Miele Cannister Vacuum I'm Considering | It's called the Quartz

    The Miele Cannister Vacuum I’m Considering | It’s called the Quartz

    What Features I’m Looking for in a New Vacuum Currently

    Vacuum # 1   || A Canister or Backpack Vacuum

    I decided that I need a canister type of vacuum for vacuuming underneath, inside  and around large immovable pieces of furniture like our bed.  It has 2 memory foam extra long twin mattresses which combine to make it a King.  We have allergies to things like dust and dust mites. I cringe when I change the sheets and observe the amount of dust that’s collected in really inaccessible places around where we sleep.

    Initially I’d decided that I’d bite the bullet and get a canister vacuum. But during my research of those I discovered a newer type of vacuum called a backpack vacuum which intrigues me. The backpack vacuums I’ve seen are expensive and relatively big.  It’s their size that causes me to worry. Although they tend to be lightweight for carrying purposes their overall profile is big. I worry about bumping into things while wearing one in my back because I’ve read user reviews that indicate this can be a problem. Yet overall, the mobility features of backpack vacuums are commendable.  Most of the backpack vacuums I’ve seen are essentially canister vacuums which have been slightly redesigned to be worn on one’s back. Here’s an example of one I’m thinking about.

    Photo by Home Floor Experts

    Photo by Home Floor Experts

    Home Floor Experts is a website dedicated to every aspect of maintaining floors beautifully.  They have a nice article about backpack vacuums and overview of the major backpack models available.

    Vacuum # 2    || Probably an Upright Vacuum

    I also need a new vacuum for a different part of our house.  It was while searching for this that I discovered that Amazon now sells my exact SEBO vacuum, which has been my favorite vacuum for so many years.  It sells for about $150 more than what I paid for it 20 years ago…given the rate of inflation this makes sense to me. Since I seriously love this vacuum  I’m going to look at all the pricing for the various models of this same one, and once I find the best color and feature combination for the best price, I’ll come back and add a link to it here.  But for now…here’s the link to my exact vacuum.  I should add that this is an affiliate link, as is the Miele one above.

    Why I’m Testing Out the Amazon Affiliate Program and What It’s All About

    I’m a brand new Amazon affiliate, which is something a lot of bloggers sign up for when they begin to realize that their blog has become a full-time job for them. Sadly, it’s most often an unpaid job which is hard to justify after a few years time. Bloggers are generally told that they need to build up a good reputation and a significant body of work before considering alternatives which would help to earn an income. On average this takes at least 2 years time. I’m at the 2 year mark right now, so I’ve been exploring ways that I could turn this blog along with my other blog vsatips and my YouTube channel into a real occupation going forward. My new affiliate status is my first foray into that realm.
    The Amazon affiliate program works like this for my readers*.  If you were to purchase a product that I supplied a link to, and if that link had my Amazon affiliate ID appended onto it…then I would receive a 4% commission (**usually) of the product’s sale price. That commission would only be earned if the purchase was made within 24 hours and it would be added to an account in my name.  Once the account reached a certain minimum threshold (usually $100 I think) I’d be paid in the form of an Amazon gift certificate. For readers ther’s no downside because the price remains the same. For Amazon there’s a little downside because the commission is taken from their profit. But they encourage use of their program anyway because they expect that overall they will have a greater number of sales as more bloggers recommend products  available on their website. It’s a pretty sweet Win-Win-Win situation for all parties involved!
    I’m going into the detail of how this works not to pressure anyone…that’s actually the furthest thing from  my mind!  Rather I just want to be entirely upfront about it because the whole affiliate program concept is so new to me and because I’ve come to realize that this is one of the primary methods bloggers use to make a living.  Many bloggers are completely upfront about their participation in affiliate programs, but probably an equal number aren’t. While that’s not a bad thing per se, because there’s no harm to anyone, and everyone benefits..personally I believe that complete transparency is an important aspect in my role as a blogger, so I error on the side of caution.  But frankly I don’t think that it is necessary or required that blogger’s to disclose this, so those that don’t aren’t ‘untrustworthy.’
    *It turns out that many popular products and companies today offer affiliate programs for bloggers. I suspect that many established bloggers participate in more than one affiliate partnership.
    **The commission scale at Amazon is complicated…it varies by product category and sales volume. So bloggers with high traffic websites designed exclusively for that purpose actually earn higher percentages because they ‘sell’ more!

    More Information About the SEBO Brand

    I was excited to discover that SEBO now has an American office!  There’s a great video about the company and you can now purchase vacuum cleaners directly from them. They have this interesting ‘try it out’ program where you can try out a vacuum for 30 days then return it if your not completely thrilled (the actual # of days is 45 to allow time for return shipping.)  Here’s a link to their brochure of my vacuum.  SEBO has a YouTube channel and this is a very cool animated video of my vacuum!

    The prices at SEBO’s website are the same as those at Amazon, which shouldn’t surprise me given that SEBO is the seller at Amazon too. They also offer free shipping from their own website.

    One thing I forgot about and just rediscovered in watching their videos, is that the White House uses SEBO vacuums…that’s a pretty awesome endorsement I think!

    My Earlier Blog Post About My SEBO Vacuum

    Just in case it hasn’t become abundantly clear to you yet, I’m really obsessed with vacuums and specifically with my SEBO…which I’ve had for a very long time.  Much longer than I’ve had my WordPress blog.  Rather than rewriting my complete story about SEBO here, I decided it’s better to just link to it.  So here and below are links to my main story about how my obsession with vacuums began, my glowing review and much more detail about my SEBO, as well as a lot of information about the other vacuums I’ve used throughout the the years.

    Source: The SEBO Felix is the Best Vacuum I’ve Ever Owned!!!

    Please Feel Free to Leave Me A Comment or Question