Monday, July 06, 2015

Alan & Beth Hiking the Inca Trail Videos

Here are the links to some YouTube videos I posted from our trip to Peru. They were shot with a GoPro Silver 4 and edited down to about 20 minutes each. There are broken down by days on the trail and there is an extra one from out days in the Ica desert.

Inca Trail Day 1

Image result for inca trail to machu picchu

Inca Trail Day 2

Inca Trail Day 3

3 days in the desert with Penny Cabrera

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Google University Graduates

For many years I like many other scientists have had to deal with the newly minted Google graduates.
Don't get me wrong, the massive amounts of data that is available now at the touch of a button is nothing less that astounding. Google can be a powerful tool much like PubMed when searching for scientific articles but there is a drawback....just because someone publishes it (book,journal,lecture,blog post,twitter) doesnt make it true. We all still suffer somewhat with our early educational training in school where what we read and were told was known to be true. Now when you read something there is still that default position that "it must be true" as opposed to being a healthy skeptic and asking " can that be true". This leads me into the current internet/and public media battle over "The Food Babe" and her campaign against "Toxins".Image result for the food babe Dont get me wrong here....I'm a firm believer that as a society we are eating the wrong stuff. We now consume a diet heavily tilted towards refined carbohydrates and wage war on saturated fat. This is the opposite of what we should be eating. I personally avoid grain based products and eat lots of meats,fats and  vegetables....mostly what would fall I guess in a Paleo approach to eating. Term it how you wish ,it just feels normal to me. I am concerned about the use of GMO in our food supply for one main reason. Making your product resistant to a herbicide so you can spray your food supply with more herbicide just doesnt seem right to me. It is a brilliant scientific development as well as a great business innovation, but Im not comfortable ingesting herbicides.....even if at "safe" levels. The Food Babe has taken it upon herself to be the gatekeeper for scientific knowledge for a large number of people who follow her blog and book. If the gatekeeper gets it wrong.....then many are set on the wrong path because they have been misinformed. The Food Babe has weighed into the vaccine debate as one of the now growing "Anti-vaxer" community which I fear can lead to a resurgence in diseases we currently have the upper hand on. Looking at what she has written I have problems across the board with statements and conclusions that are drawn and apparently I'm not alone . here is a link someone else who has problems.The Food Babe is full of $%!T

Also here is a link to theImage result for the food babe
  Food Babe website with caution.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Hendra Virus

There has been a serious viral problem in Australia since 1994 but now there is a new problem occurring. There is an anti-vaccination movement that is causing many many problems. Heres a link to a recent article forwarded from a friend in Oz about the problem.

The virus is a flu like disease that can also cause neurologic signs and is highly fatal. It can be spread from horse to humans as well which makes this a serious public health concern for those in the Equine industry ...including Veterinarians. There is a vaccine available but it is expensive and many think that it is unnesessary and as a consequence are putting their horses ,themselves and their Veterinarian at risk. While Hendra isnt a problem in the US it highlights the "anti-vaxer" movements here as well. While we always needs to shine the bright light of scientific rigor on anything we give to our animals and ourselves, we also have to accept the data that disproves certain fears. This point is aimed at the so called link between autism and vaccines. There is NO evidence to even suggest that this exhists. There is however some interesting data emerging suggesting a link between autism and several other diseases and an altered GI microbiome. How this occurs is multifactorial but antibiotic use,C-section delivery and certain pesticides are current targets.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

HPAI (Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza) H5N2 ....something you might want to keep track of

Avian Influenza has been on the radar for quite a while as it has shown transmission from birds to humans and there have been minor outbreaks in several countries in Asia. Influenza virus is typically classified by the 2 major surface antigens H and N . There is a strain currently causing a major problem in the US bird and poultry population that may lead to problems at your grocery store. While infections in people make the news ,infections in chickens and turkeys usually dont. Here is an update on the current outbreak in the US that you should follow.
Heres a link to some data on the latest outbreak

" 7 additional cases of the highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza virus have been confirmed by the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Health Inspection Service (APHIS).  Outbreaks occurred in Iowa at turkey farms in Hamilton County (19,600 birds) and Sac County (42,200 birds).  In Minnesota, outbreaks were reported at turkeys farms in Brown County (39,000 birds), Kandiyohi County (4,000 birds), and Renville County (4,800 birds) and a chicken farm in Renville County (15,000 birds).  Nebraska reported an outbreak in a backyard flock in Dixon County.  To prevent further spread of the disease, all affected premises have been quarantined, and the surviving birds culled. Premises in four counties in Arizona were placed under quarantine Friday (6/12/15) because they had received chicken, quail or pheasant birds or eggs from a farm in Iowa in the week before H5N2 was detected. The Iowa farm is suspected to have shipped similar samples to other parts of the country. Follow up investigation, including laboratory testing, is being conducted."

 While this sounds like a lot of birds (and it is) its still a small percentage of the overall commercial bird population. It still points out that this could be devastating to our domestic poultry production and make your fried chicken dinner more costly than you are used to . Lets hope we can get a handle on its spread or we may be even more thankful for that Turkey this Thanksgiving.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Hurricane Preparedness Seminar

Ill be talking tonight at the Clay County Fairgrounds about Hurricane Preparedness. Here is my Check list and a brief synopsis
Disaster preparedness for horse owners

As Hurricane season is upon us here in Florida it is past time to seriously address the task of preparation. Efforts taken today can save a great deal of anxiety and heartache in the future. Unfortunately, many of us are procrastinators by nature and wait until the news reports of the approaching storm prod us into some form of action. Every year when this happens you find yourself frantically wandering the isles of your local store searching empty shelves for bottled water and batteries with several hundred of your closest friends and neighbors. This doesn’t need to happen. With just a little time and effort now you will find yourself much more prepared and not just another aimless zombie in the golden hoard. Even if you are like me and lack the “organizational gene” you will find that following some simple guidelines can help get you ready for the eventual day when, as they say…. the manure hits the oscillating rotator. By breaking things down into simple check lists you can start getting the things you need and the things you need to get done checked off. You probably already have many of these items and just need to get them together and inventoried.

Here are the disaster preparedness check lists we have for our clients. Some things may apply to your area and others will not and need to be adjusted to your geographical threats. The basics are the same regardless if the threat is a hurricane, wildfire, earthquake or electrical grid failure. I have broken these down into 1. Horses, 2. Farm, 3. Home, and tried to cover the important items and tasks you will need to do. In the need of evacuation many of these things will need to be organized into appropriate “go bags” or “storage bins” so duplication of documents and some supplies may be needed.


Vaccinations- All horses should be vaccinated with Tetanus toxoid yearly. Mosquitoes increase significantly after the hurricane and transmit the Encephalitis viruses; therefore vaccination with Eastern&Western Encephalitis as well as West Nile Virus should be boostered prior to storm season.

Coggins test- Make sure you have a current negative Coggins test and that it doesn’t expire during hurricane season. These are required for interstate transport so have several certified copies for (truck, trailer and important papers folder /scanned copy on a flash drive)

Health Certificate- these are required for transport as well. You can obtain a six month event permit which will allow movement into adjoining states. (Have extra certified copies)

Identification- Make sure your horse has a microchip ID and register the number. Name tags on the halter “may” stay on but usually don’t and won’t help if your horse is stolen or “adopted” after the storm. Identification of horses that have died is extremely difficult after days in storm conditions as they all look the same. Evidence from work done in Louisiana and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina showed that Microchip ID allowed positive identification in >90% of cases. During Hurricane Andrew in Florida it was almost the exact opposite since microchip ID wasn’t required in Florida and was not readily available then. Most of the dead horses were never identified.

Evacuation- Decide early if you are going to evacuate and have a destination prearranged .Contact family members or camp grounds that allow horses. Map out your evacuation route and all alternate roads to get there. Have several maps in each vehicle. Leave at least 72 hours before the storm gets close as roads and bridges will be clogged with traffic and higher winds as the storm approaches may close some bridges to trailer traffic leaving you stranded.

Important documents- keep copies of health records, Coggins test, health certificate, ID numbers and photos in a Ziploc bag. Also, store copies on a portable flash drive to be printed later if needed. Keep spares in each truck and trailer.

If you are not evacuating then it probably safer to turn your horses out in a large open pasture that has VERY few trees, if any. Most injuries occur from collapsed barns and flying debris. Just think about the fact that your barn was probably built to take advantage of the prevailing breeze to keep it cool and most likely done by the lowest bidder. That’s a bad combo with a CAT 3-4 Hurricane.

FARM: (Walk your property, visual inspection.)

Check and repair all fences. Remove any barbed wire.

Clear trees and dead limbs (clear all red maple, it only takes a few wilted leaves to induce renal failure in the horse….and they will eat them).

Remove all debris. This becomes flying projectiles

Store all jumps, tables and chairs in a barn stall roped together.

Get “tie-downs” for trailers, park them in a large open paddock away from trees and power lines. Park trucks and tractor there as well. Make sure they are all fully fueled.

Store feed- 7 day supply stored in water proof containers (1lb /100lbs body weight x 7 days per horse)

Store hay in barn under waterproof tarp and off the ground on pallets

Water supply- 15-20 gal/horse/day. You can fill up troughs, boats,55 gal barrels, swimming pools etc. Bleach can be used to purify contaminated water (8 drops /gal) but horses may not drink it if treated. A hand “pitcher pump” for your well is also valuable with power outages. Dehydration and renal failure is a common source of death in horses after hurricanes.

Generator- 4hp (4000-5000 watts) with gas to last 7 days. This can be done with 4x5 gallon cans using the generator intermittently. Tri fuel options on generators are a great addition.

Extension cords- 4 long 100ft


-Hammers and nails( you need a large and varied supply)

- fencing materials-field fence, fence tape, posts and staples

-chainsaw, spare chain, gas and 2 cycle oil, bar chain oil

-ropes and tow cable, chain with hooks

- Ladders

-wire cutters and long handle pry bar (can still get to supplies if barn collapses)

- roll of black plastic sheeting and staple gun to cover broken windows and roof leaks

- flood light-work light with car adapter (1 million candle power), head lamps for hands free work

-waders or snake boots

Extra halters and ropes- stored in sealed plastic bins

Medical supplies-

-Bandage material (sheet cotton, gauze, telfa pads, vet wrap, duct tape

-wound medication (betadine scrub, Nolvasan solution and ointment, triple antibiotic ointment)

-anti-inflammatory meds (Banamine, Phenylbutazone)

-Sedatives (Acepromazine, Xylazine)

-Antibiotics (Trimethoprim sulfa tablets, Procaine penicillin)

-insect repellant

-syringes and needles

-scissors and knife

-clean towels

Ask your veterinarian for help and dosages on medications that you need, we are there to help and educate.


-water supply, 1 gal/person/day. A “water bob” ($20) can be placed in the bathtub and once filled up holds 100 gallons of water and comes with its own hand pump.

-Food storage, plan on at least 2-3 weeks supply. It could be longer depending upon the level of disruption. The objective is to maintain independence and not be dependent upon rescue or food supplied at refugee centers. Trust me; historically it never works out well for the refugees. Most canned foods are good for at least 2 years. Canned dried storage foods can be good for up to 30 years as are freeze dried foods. These can be set aside in a closet or under a bed in a guest room for a time when needed. Choose foods that you like and fit into your regular diet. You should plan for several meals a day as you do now and shop accordingly. Many online sites and the LDS church provide sources for long term storage food.

-Generator, some form of electricity will greatly help when the lights go out. This will allow you to maintain refrigeration, cooking, lights and connection with the outside world. Gas to keep it running. Be aware of exhaust and fire dangers and keep it well ventilated. Deflate the tires and chain/padlock it to something to prevent theft.

-Solar lights, these outdoor LED lights can be brought indoors at night and provide light for about 6 hours. They are bright enough to use for reading and are much safer than candles and lamps. Once charged the batteries can be disconnected until needed.

-Gas grill, for cooking and boiling water. Keep at least one extra bottle of propane on hand as the grill will get a lot of use.

-Medical supplies, bandage materials, antibiotic ointment, anti-diarrheal meds, anti-inflammatory meds (Advil, Tylenol) , any prescription medications you are currently on. Injuries such as burns and cuts associated with farm accidents should be your focus.

-A small cheap window unit air conditioner, keep stored in the box in a closet. This will provide an unbelievable relief in the hot humid post hurricane power outage (this is why you need a generator). We kept this in our bedroom and slept like a baby with our kids and all our nieces and nephews sleeping on the floor because we had A/C.

-Cash, with power disruptions the banks and ATMs will be non-functional. Having cash on hand will enable you to at least be more flexible.

-Firearms, while it may seem unnecessary to some, you may want to rethink this position. Police protection, phone service and street lights will all be disrupted leaving those in our society that thrive on those conditions to be emboldened. The sound of a generator and lights can send them a signal that you have “stuff”. While much has been written on which guns are best, I tend to think that the best gun is the one you have and are comfortable using. The simplicity of a shotgun with appropriate sized shot is a nice deterrent. Remember that having to defend yourself with a firearm will change your life forever but it may be a price you have to pay to keep your loved ones safe.

I’m sure this could be expanded many fold but keeping it simple is a great way for many to get started. Going over the list every year and adding to it to fit your needs is another way to keep the process of preparation moving forward. Remember to keep some extra supplies for charity as many of your neighbors may not be as well prepared or could be more severely affected by storm damage. Be prepared to help them.

The storm is coming; it’s time to get ready.

Farm & Barn  To Do List
o  -Make sure ALL horses are micro chipped and numbers recorded

o  -Check and repair fences (walk the fence line)

o  Clear trees and limbs

o  -Remove debris

o  -Store jumps/tables/chairs

o  -Examine barn for loose shingles/debris

o  -Move tractor,trucks and trailers into large pasture

o  -Spare fuel, store in trailer or stall, four 5 gallon cans, and all vehicle tanks full

o  -Get tie downs for trucks and trailers

o  -Store feed-7 day supply-in water proof containers

o  -Store hay under tarps in a stall off the ground

o  -Water-15-20 gal/horse/day (fill up boats, 55 gal barrels,pools, troughs)   (Bleach –8 drops/gallon if contaminated)
o  -cut off power to the barn as storm approaches

Farm & Barn Equipment list

o  WATER-Hand pump for well (pitcher pump)

o  WATER-55 gal drums (down spout on barn)

o  WATER-pond,lake,pool,boats,troughs

o  -Generator 4 hp or higher (5000 watt)

o  -Extension cords(50-100 ft)

o  -Tools- hammers/nails

o  Fencing materials –field fence (no barbed wire) fence tape and posts.

o  Chainsaw-extra chain, 2 cycle oil, bar /chain oil/gas

o  Ropes and tow cable, chain with hooks

o  Ladder

o  Wire cutters and pry bar

o  Rolls of black plastic and staple gun, large tarps

o  Flood lights- work light and hand held car plug in type (1 million candle power) Headlamps

o  Waders or snake boots
o  Extra halters and lead ropes (in plastic storage bin)
Medical supplies

o  Wound medications (betadine scrub, nolvasan ointment, triple antibiotic)
o  Bandage material ( sheet cotton, vet wrap, leg wraps, telfa pads, duct tape)

o  Anti-inflammatory meds- Banamine, Bute

o  Sedatives- Acepromazine, Xylazine

o  Antibiotics- SMZ tablets, Procaine Penicillin

o  Insect repellant

o  Syringes and needles
o  Antibiotic eye ointment

Personal supplies
o  -Canned food or MRE’s (some last for 25 years)

o  -WATER-freeze 2 liter bottles (can use to keep your fridge cool) Yeti coolers are great and can keep food cool for days.

o  -WATER- ( a “Water Bob” , place in bathtub, will hold 55 Gallons, cost $20)
o  -WATER- Additional water source, 55 gal drum set up under gutter down spout. Drill and tap with standard spigot.

o  -multiple head lamps, better than flash lights as your hands will be free to work
o  -Generator and extension cords

o  -Gas grill (spare Gas cylinder)

o  -Small cheap A/C unit ($ 100) store in closet

o  -Solar yard lights. Leave out during the day and bring in a night ( no heat and safer than candles and lamps)

o  -Cash- with power out ATM’s and banks won’t be open

o  -Fire arms (if you have a generator everyone will know)
o  (A great deal of looting and theft takes place after   storms)
o  - Personal medical supplies

Important Documents
o  Scan copies (or take digital photos) of all important documents and put them on a flash drive, ie. Health Certificates, Coggins, Microchip ID numbers, photos of horses, registration papers, proof of ownership.
o  Personal papers- marriage certificate, birth certificates, driver’s license, SSN, credit cards
o  Video all of your valuable items for insurance documentation
o  Keep extra flash drives in multiple places ,trailer, glove box, by back door ( be careful if sensitive info on these drives)

Evacuation Plan
o  Know where you are going
o  Notify friends and family (when and where you are going and how to contact you)
o  Plan your route, have maps, extra fuel, how long will you be on the road.
o  Pack supplies/feed and hay
o  Personal supplies, important papers, flash drive,$$$$$$
o  72 hour rule- get out before traffic gets heavy and weather turns bad (bridges close with high winds)
o  Turn off power

Monday, April 13, 2015

Hiking Mt Sanitas Colorado

 On the 4 th day of our Machu Pichu prep we hiked Mt Sanitas in Boulder Colorado. We were tod by friends that if we could do this then we passed the fitness test. Not super high 6800 feet but 1350 elevation gain ( not 135 feet) A great workout.  Here's a Go-pro clip of the hike.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Getting Ready for Machu Pichu

Several years ago Beth came across a list of the 10 greatest hikes in the world. At that time we began contemplating a trek along the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu while we are both still physically fit. As I'm sure you are thinking....just how fit do I need to be and I would guess like me, you have read quite a few blog posts about undertaking this venture. When you watch the clips on YouTube of people on the Inca Trail you will be struck by 2 things (1) a lot of them are not in the best of shape and (2) most of them are wheezing. Since you need to book your trip about 6 months in advance you will have time to get yourself more than ready...Tip #1...start walking now. Beth has already done over 300 miles as we get ready for our trip in two weeks. She has used the "map my Run" app and it will keep track of just how far you have gone. Tip #2....if you are over weight ,remember it will be a lot easier going up and down if you dont have to carry extra weight. I suggest looking into a healthy diet/life change like the Paleo approach. A good place to start is by just giving up processed foods and staying on the lower carbohydrate side of macronutrients. What we have been told for years about what is and is not healthy is mostly reversed and the food pyramid is upside down. I dont want to preach so just shop on the outer isles of the store and stay away from boxed could actually end up saving your life.
  One thing everyone is concerned about is AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) and for good reason. AMS is somewhat unpredictable and your level of fitness doesn't really tell you if you will be affected . Being more fit can make the symptoms more tolerable and recovery easier , you can still get sick if you are not careful. To that end, Beth and I went to Colorado last week to hike at altitude as a self test. We flew to Denver and then met friends in Boulder to hike in the Flat Iron mountains for 4 days and reproduce the distance we will be hiking in Peru. While it is not Dead Woman's Pass (13,900 feet) we did get up to 9,000 ft and did 6-9 miles a day without any significant difficulty.
Here are some signs of AMS to watch out for:
  • Headache
  • Nausea & cramps; Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Disturbed sleep
  • General feeling of malaise
You can find some great info on AMS here at The Travel Doctor
here are some suggestions for helping prevent this from happening to you.
Image result for acute mountain sickness
  • If possible, don't fly or drive to high altitude. Start below 3,000 metres (10,000 feet) and walk up.
  • If you do fly or drive, do not overexert yourself or move higher for the first 24 hours.
  • If you go above 3,000 metres (10,000 feet), only increase your altitude by 300 metres (1,000 feet) per day, and for every 900 metres (3,000 feet) of elevation gained, take a rest day to acclimatize.
  • Climb high and sleep low! You can climb more than 300 metres (1,000 feet) in a day as long as you come back down and sleep at a lower altitude.
  • If you begin to show symptoms of moderate altitude sickness, don't go higher until symptoms decrease.
  • If symptoms increase, go down, down, down!
  • Keep in mind that different people will acclimatize at different rates. Make sure everyone in your party is properly acclimatized before going any higher.
  • Stay properly hydrated. Acclimatization is often accompanied by fluid loss, so you need to drink lots of fluids to remain properly hydrated (at least four to six litres per day). Urine output should be copious and clear to pale yellow.
  • Take it easy and don't overexert yourself when you first get up to altitude. But, light activity during the day is better than sleeping because respiration decreases during sleep, exacerbating the symptoms.
  • Avoid tobacco, alcohol and other depressant drugs including, barbiturates, tranquilizers, sleeping pills and opiates such as dihydro codeine. These further decrease the respiratory drive during sleep resulting in a worsening of symptoms.
  • Eat a high calorie diet while at altitude.
  • Remember: Acclimatization is inhibited by overexertion, dehydration, and alcohol.
We used our trip to Colorado to also test out our gear and cameras. The new GoPro worked great and with the spare battery it should be fine. I also picked up a solar charger that should help as well. 

Here is a link to a YouTube video of our first day hiking in Boulder. It also helped us prepare for snow( shouldnt be any) because we got covered.

I'll post more as the day of departure approaches as well as plenty of tips and video once we get back