A Very Beaner Birthday

I have a sister.

I have 2 actually but today we are talking about 1. Both my sisters are equally amazing. Geniuses really but what better way to get back to the blogging than by picking on the one who has a birthday.

My sister has a birthday.

It’s not a special milestone birthday but for some reason I’m feeling like it is. Maybe it’s because we don’t get to see each other as often as we like or because we are older and wiser and more mature or some other bullsh**.

Like most siblings we didn’t always get along. She was annoying. I was bossy. She was our mom’s favorite (until the youngest was born. HA). I was a know-it-all. -okay, I still am- But in adulthood I like to think we’ve come into ourselves.

This is Beaner (don’t ask). She’s exactly like our mother: generous, sweet, beautiful, charming and probably the better sister out of all of us. Owns and operates her own business while managing 4 hellions (love you guys). Finds time to host dinners in her big house, listen to my weirdness, and take care of sh**. She’s awesome. She does hard things. She makes me laugh. She’s the Bean! And the following pictures will forever be my favorite because they capture the relationship we have perfectly.

Beaner, I love you. Happy Birthday.


Will you die in an Emergency?

If you have diabetes, heart disease or another chronic illness (like me), your chances are higher.

A 2008 study titled Chronic disease and natural hazards: impact of disasters on diabetic, renal and cardiac patients found that chronic diseases are exacerbated during and immediately following natural disasters (Miller & Arquilla, 2008). That means, if you have diabetes before a disaster strikes your symptoms will probably get worse.

In the regions affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, up to 40% of the people lived with at least one chronic disease like diabetes (Jhung et, al., 2007). Chronic disease can also be heart disease, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPH), cancer, asthma, arthritis, autoimmune diseases and addictions. For more information on chronic diseases in general, visit CDC.gov https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/index.htm

Nationwide 1 in 2 adults has a chronic disease and 1 in 4 have more than 1. What does that have to do with disasters and emergency response? A great deal.

The people (like myself) with chronic disease usually see their symptoms get worse during disasters. This is what that exacerbation word up top means. Sometimes those symptoms get so bad that people end up in the hospital or seeking care for their symptoms. Sometimes, the symptoms are so bad that people die.  A study from Tulane University School of Medicine found that hospital admissions for heart attacks are three times higher in New Orleans up to 10 years post hurricane Katrina (Chronic disease post Hurricane Katrina, 2016). This data was compared to pre-Katrina rates and controlled for typical population factors. In that same study, post-Katrina patients had significantly higher risk factors for heart attacks because their heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure was not being well managed.

Why do these symptoms get worse during disasters?

The first reason is the disaster itself. Earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes, floods, mudslides, tornadoes, even Arizona Haboobs cause major disruptions in the environment and our lives. Haboobs stir up dust that increases symptoms of asthma and COPD (not to mention Valley Fever). Floods expose diabetics to nasty sewage water that can increase the chances of skin infections. So if you outlive the actual disaster and don’t get crushed by the earthquake, you are probably going to have a really hard time managing your asthma and you might die from it.

The second reason is exposure to temperature extremes, lack of food and water and they physical and emotional trauma. Many of the medications we take to control chronic diseases make dealing with extreme temperatures very difficult. A lack of food or water for someone with diabetes usually means low blood sugar and a trip to the emergency room. If that emergency room is unavailable or you are stuck in an inaccessible area, you might die.  The stress of the emergency leads to anxiety, forgetfulness, depression, increased blood pressure and increased exacerbation of chronic disease illness.


The third reason is lack of medications. Many evacuees forget (or don’t have time) to bring their medications with them. In Houston and Florida, many evacuees didn’t even know what medications they took for their conditions. During hurricane Katrina, local and federal responders set up emergency pharmaceutical dispensing areas where evacuees could get over the counter and prescription medications. 73% of the medications dispensed were for chronic care in general with 39% of that being for people with heart disease (Jhung et. all., 2007). So if you survive the tornado itself and you are now trapped in your underground bunker for a week and you didn’t bring your heart medications with you… well you see where I’m going.

What can we do about it?

Be the healthiest version you can be.

I’m not saying you need to be super thin or compete in American Ninja Warrior training. I’m saying, take care of yourself. Manage your chronic condition to the best of your ability. Manage your symptoms well now so that when disaster strikes, you have a greater chance of survival.

  • Take your medication as prescribed
  • Talk to your doctor about everyday management
  • Sign up for Chronic Disease Self-Management Classes http://azlwi.org/
  • Know your nutrition needs and try to live that everyday
  • Find ways to reduce stress: practice meditation, prayer, yoga, whatever appeals to you

Be the preparedest (not a word) version you can be.

I’m not saying you need to build a bunker (unless you live in a tornado infested area). I’m saying, take some time to build an emergency preparedness kit. Prepare for the management of your chronic illness away from home by including:

  • At least a seven day supply of all your medications
  • A cooler with those insta cool packs for medications that need refrigeration
  • A list of medications and dosages you normally take or
  • Empty bottles of your medications stored in your kit
  • Add special equipment for disease monitoring (glucose machine, blood pressure cuff)
  • Instructions on how to take your medication in case you need help with dispensing
  • Over the counter medications you normally take
  • Comfort foods or special diet foods
  • A list of physicians with their contact information
  • A list of facilities with their addresses that you receive regular care at (cancer and dialysis treatment)

Be the championingest (I’m gonna make this work) version you can be.

I’m not saying you need to lead the charge in your neighborhood. I’m saying, since 1 in 2 Americans have a chronic disease, it’s smart to build a network of support:

  • Ask neighbors if they need help building emergency preparedness kits
  • Advocate chronic disease self-management
  • Encourage others to eat for their health and know their nutrition needs
  • Find trustworthy people to help with medication dispensing during emergencies
  • If you have other family members with chronic disease needs, plan together

How I’m going to start

The one thing that really hit home with me was how evacuees didn’t know their own medications. I’m lucky and I only need to take one medication on a regular basis so it’s easy for me to remember the name and dose but I couldn’t tell you the names and doses of medications my family takes. Something with an A? Something that sounds like propanol? That one that causes massive diarrhea? My husband probably doesn’t know what I take. The first thing I’m going to do this weekend is to take our old bottles and put them in the go kit. It’s a first step for me and it can be a first step for you too.

blog post 2

Disclaimer: I’m obviously not a physician of any kind. Just a public health emergency planner who thinks about disasters a lot.

References if you really want them:

Miller, A., and Arquilla, B. (2008). Chronic disease and natural hazards: impact of disasters on diabetic, renal, and cardiac patients. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2008 Mar-Apr;23(2):185-94.

Jhung, M. A., Shehab, N., Rohr-Allegrini, C., Pollock, D. A., Sanchez, R., Guerra, F., & Jernigan, D. B. (2007). Chronic disease and disasters medication demands of Hurricane Katrina evacuees. American Journal Of Preventive Medicine, 33(3), 207-210.

Chronic disease post Hurricane Katrina. (2016). Australian Nursing & Midwifery Journal, 24(6), 15.


Bet you didn’t even know I was on hiatus, did you?

Bet you didn’t even know I had a website/blog that I wasn’t updating, did you?

Bet you didn’t even know I had a website/blog that I kind of forgot about, did you?


Well, I’m still here and my blog is still here and I suppose I should dust it off, polish it up and see how it looks. I haven’t posted since the Buckskin selfie hike and so much has mos def happened.

Like a good pandemic flu, I can make my return…



It Wasn’t my Storm!


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Wash overflowing in Bouse, Arizona

Wash overflowing in Bouse, Arizona

It wasn’t my storm!

The storm wasn’t anywhere near us. It was, in fact, over 35 miles across the dry hot desert hovering over the small town of Quartzsite, Arizona. Quartzsite sits along Interstate 10. It’s that little town you drive through about 10 miles east of the California border. If you were to stop you would find a friendly community of retirees who spend their time exploring the desert, organizing community events, dabbling in politics and prepping for disasters. Maybe that’s why storms always hit Quartzsite but never traveled north to the town I was living in at the time, Parker, Arizona. The storms were testing…

I had just finished putting my kids to bed when I saw the first flash of lightening. Excited, I rushed to the window, expecting to see dark Monsoon clouds looming overhead. Nope. Nothing.

You can’t touch me!

The dark clouds were nothing but a wall of disappointment stretched across the horizon, mocking me. “You can’t touch me.” Sure, they were spewing bright flashes of lightning like an angry mother whose children won’t go to sleep but they were too far away to bring cool relief. With a turned down mouth I settled into my own bed and pouted about the unfairness of how Quartzsite always gets the rain but Parker never gets anything (you have to whine aaaaannnythiiiing like a 5 year old would. It really helps to set the mood).

"You can't touch me," says the cloud.

“You can’t touch me,” says the cloud.








There I was, just about to fall asleep to the sound of my nice, cool air conditioning when I noticed a little flicker of the hall light. Just a little. Just enough to make me think about replacing the bulb in the morning because it was probably just the bulb going out and not the storm (say it with a snicker. It’s fun that way) coming in.

A few minutes later, I wake up to the stifling heat of a low insulated house that’s gone minutes without cool air. It’s like the great desert saw weakness and sucked every last drop of cool conditioned air out of the smallest cracks in my weather proofed doors within seconds. It was hot. It was sticky. I was miserable. Grudgingly I walked to the window, expecting to see the progression of the storm at my doorstep. What? It’s still in Quartzsite? The Monsoon settled over the small town and unleashed its mighty fury without moving. Then why is my power out?

I did the only thing a girl could do, I turned on my scanner and opened Twitter and Facebook to see if there were clues about what was going on. Twitter was quiet and Facebook had a couple of “Why is the power out” posts but the scanner was chirping with activity.

“Yeeeeaaaaah, uuuh, looks like we have a couple of poles down along the 95 (highway connecting Parker to Quartzsite).” “We are getting calls of localized flooding and running washes along Tyson. Can you send someone over to check that out?” “(Fire Department call tones…) Station 33, possible car in a wash, cross streets of Tyson and Wells Rd.” “Dispatch can you notify APS that it looks like 15 poles are down along 95. Half of them are after Tyson Rd and it is completely flooded so let them know accessibility will be an issue.”

You get the picture.

What started out as a disappointing storm for me was turning into a real emergency for the people of Quartzsite. The calls kept coming in. Trailers had damaged roofs, cars had broken windows, travelers were stranded in the night, medical calls, assistance calls; the town of Quartzsite quickly became overwhelmed.

This went on for a couple of hours. I was still hot, I was still sticky but my kids remained asleep and I was safe from flooding and wind, unlike the residents of Quartzsite. I thought of them and what they would wake up to in the next few hours. Not many people outside of Arizona realize how destructive Monsoon storms can be. Microbursts (wind that quickly bursts downwards from a Monsoon cloud) can generate wind speeds higher than 170 mph. The typically hit a small area, less than 2.5 miles in diameter. Anything more than that is a Macroburst. What hit Quartzsite was a Microburst and it dumped a lot of water. I wish I had kept the clippings of the storm damage when I moved from Parker to Phoenix. I remember pictures of trailer roofs being torn off, power poles laying in the street, washes that overflowed into yards and undermined foundations, a car still stuck in a wash, covered in mud and desert debris. Some residents posted pictures on Facebook.

Over the next few days, APS worked long hours to repair the downed poles and restore power to the community. For 48 hours, some parts of the town were without power while I only had to suffer through 12 hours before my power was restored. In Parker, local government agencies got themselves ready to support the town. We thought of shelters, food supplies, games for kids, generators for emergency power for people on medical equipment. The call never came. Why? Because the small community of Quartzsite was prepared. They were resilient! These storms don’t phase them! They already had shelters set up in a couple of churches with back-up generators. Residents with medical needs that required power either self-evacuated or had community help getting to their shelters. They cooked for each other, played games with the kids, entertained and told stories and made plans to clean up after the power was restored and roads were cleared.

I realized the storms don’t come to Quartzsite because the residents are prepared; the residents are prepared BECAUSE THE STORMS COME TO QUARTZSITE!

Talk about an Ah-HA moment (you are probably saying, well duh!). A small community of less than 4,000 people came together to prepare, respond and recover. It didn’t take a major emergency preparedness campaign; it took their own personal experience and community mindedness. First responders, emergency management, public health, public works and town and county officials were freed up to assist with recovery, clean up and mitigation for the next storm.

The residents of Quartzsite taught me a few lessons.

  1. Monsoon storms can be very destructive. Don’t underestimate their power.
  2. Personal preparedness starts with experience. I admit that I am not all that prepared. I still have that “it won’t happen in Arizona” mindset because I’ve never personally been in an emergency that stressed my preparedness supplies (I have about a day or two but often run out of stuff before restocking).
  3. Emergencies don’t have to happen to you directly for you to be affected. If the power restoration took more than 12 hours, I would have been in a pickle.
  4. Community resiliency (ability to bounce back) starts with and is dependent upon community, not government. Yes, governmental agencies play an important role but the community heals faster when it comes together.

Resiliency starts at home with you, me and our community. Next month is Arizona’s Monsoon Awareness Week. Watch for tips on being prepared and increasing your disaster resiliency.


Happy National Public Health Week


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In honor of National Public Health Week, I thought I would highlight some public health campaigns.

I love me a good public health campaign.

Like reeeeeeaaaaallllly love.

Nothing gets me more fist pumped up than a clever, thought provoking, eye opening public health campaign. Except maybe a new crochet pattern. Oh! I love new crochet patterns!!!!!! -Look at all those exclamation points. That’s how much I love new crochet patterns. I love awesome public health campaigns this much !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Unfortunately, not all public health campaigns are clever, thought provoking or relevant. Some are poorly designed, strange and downright offensive. At least to my biased eye.

So, without much more humoristic lead in (actually it’s not that humoristic. Sorry about that) here is Katie’s review of some public health campaigns (mostly ads but some full campaigns as well).

The Good, the Bad and the WTF?

The Good.


2013-2014 Pennsylvania Flu Campaign.

The Good!

This public health campaign from Pennsylvania is excellent. The slogan “Earn Your Stripe!” is followed by a tag line of: myth dispelled, truths dispensed.

What I love about it:

It has a diverse cast of healthcare and administration workers. The audience can easily put themselves in place of one of the characters and see themselves getting a flu shot.

The stripe is the Band-Aid but it conveys a sense of importance and civic duty. What do you think about when you see that slogan with the 5 stars above it? MILITARY! So, by getting the flu shot, you are doing your civic duty for the American people. You too can be a 5 star general with your Band-Aid!

The tag line is great:

myths dispelled, truths dispensed

We all know the myths: the flu shot will give you the flu, the flu shot will make you sick, the flu shot is the government’s way of controlling you, the flu is no big deal.

This campaign wants to give you a flu shot AND the truth! I love it.

What I don’t really like about it but whatever:

The cast is all healthcare centric. Yes, it’s diverse but it’s obviously set in a hospital with hospital workers getting their shots. It sorta limits the audience. It’s totally possible that this was designed for a campaign targeting healthcare workers. I’ve seen campaigns like that before. Also, earn your stripes has been used by Kellogs to promote Tony the Tiger and Frosted Flakes (sugary cereal).

The Bad

obesity campaign

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. This campaign is no longer in use.

What I hate about it:

The poster doesn’t make you think about how you are contributing to childhood obesity, it’s judging you. It’s saying, “you are a terrible parent for making your child fat and they will be doomed to a life of fatness and death!” To the child it is saying, “you are a fat kid and you will be a fat adult. There is no hope for you.” It’s a basic fear and shame tactic that makes me sad.

bad 3

This campaign is no longer being used.

What I sort of like about it:

The kids are unhappy. It’s like they are demanding change. “Hey, parent, I’m not too happy with this situation, let’s do something about it.” I can dig the read warning labels and the overall font style minus the overall message.

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta came to their senses and came out with a new public health campaign that is a lot more actionable. See here: http://www.strong4life.com/pages/LearnAssess/BreakingBadHabits/BreakingBadHabits.aspx

The Good

DrowningInSugar copy

Rethink Your Drink campaign from Santa Clara County.

On a similar note, here is another campaign targeting childhood obesity. Notice the difference?

What I like about it:

Instead of shaming the child and parent, the campaign focuses on facts: sugary drinks contribute to obesity and diabetes, by reducing or eliminating them, you are protecting your child. Good parent! The kid is just as unhappy as the other kids and look at that all those sugary drinks behind her! Save her!!!!!!! Give her water!!!!!!

The ad also has a call to action. Give them water, not sugary drinks.

The Bad

bad ph campaign

Oh look! Another judgment advertisement.

What I hate about it:

As if women did not stress about their looks enough, this photo pokes fun at the lovehandles. Also notice the website, choosetolivebetter.com. By using the word choose, the agency is blaming every woman with a waistline over 32 inches. It’s your fault ladies! Yes, sometimes it is because of excessive eating but sometimes it’s just genetics. Then there is all the science behind the roles poverty, neighborhood design, pollution and schools have in obesity. Let’s just ignore that and focus on shame.

What I love about it:


The WTF? 

bad campaign

This advertisement from France is both awesome and disturbing at the same time.

The kneeling position of the kid shows subservience. The child’s eyes are trusting yet worried.

The hand on the head shows dominance.

The older man, younger boy theme screams that tobacco companies are pedophiles who prey on the weaknesses of the young, exploiting them and forever holding dominance over them.

Which is pretty much the truth but in a very uncomfortable way. Which is why I love it and hate it.

The Good

good campagin

Why I like it:

It’s simple, it’s visual, it’s social and a little viral.

Check this little guy out. This sticker is part of a campaign from the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health. It’s a little bit of gorilla guerilla marketing. Public health graduate students put these stickers on things that represent public health. For example, placing the sticker on a water fountain because clean drinking water is just a little important (John Snow anyone?).

Plus, it lends itself to this meme.


The Good

unexpected ph

City of Chicago’s Unexpected Campaign.

Whoa! What?

A pregnant boy?

Does it make you squemish? Does it make you want to turn away? Does it make you think about teen pregnancy? Good! This is brilliantly done! This particular ad targets teens (especially teen boys) to use protection or wait. I wish it also addressed birth control but it’s a start.

I love that he looks a little ashamed and depressed. You can almost hear sad trumpets playing in the background. Waahhhhh  Waaaah  Waaaaaah

And now….. For the Awesome!!!!

best ph campagin

Zombie preparedness was the accidental marketing campaign of CDC’s Office of Preparedness and Response Director, Dr. Khan. It started as a blog that pointed out if you can prepare for Zombies, you can prepare for anything.

What I love about it:

It’s relevant on so many levels. It’s the perfect mix of opportunities.

With the popularity of AMC’s The Walking Dead, pop culture embracing zombies and the perfect platform to go viral, we are talking about a perfect storm.

Dr. Khan’s blog wasn’t meant to launch a new marketing program, but it did. That’s the beauty of it. It was accidental, organic and relevant. Since then, it has evolved into a full preparedness campaign complete with social media and a novella. What’s novella? A graphic short novel that targets young readers. It harkens back to the origins of The Walking Dead: a comic still in production.


You thought I was done, but I’m not. How could I write about public health campaigns and not include one of the best ones ever! That’s right folks. I’m talking about Riester Robb’s most excellent, award winning, gross out tobacco campaign. Unfortunately, I don’t have a link for this awesome campaign (it’s too old) but many of you in Arizona can still quote this tag line.


Tobacco, tumor causing, teeth staining, smelly, puking habit. (a little tear comes to my eye when I think about it).

Take away:

Marketing public health doesn’t have to be shocking, shameful or blaming. It does need to be clever, thought provoking and relevant. The target market segment should walk away with either awareness or a call to action, not shame and helplessness. There is plenty of marketing science to back me up here. Shaming never works, it drives your audience away, reduces self-esteem and isolates government. Instead of being a partner for change, we become the large figure wagging a condescending finger. “Shame on you!”

Don’t jump forward on a campaign just because it is shocking and you want to shake up your community. Do research your target market, find their motivators and position your product (campaign, ad, whatever) where they will receive it. Build relationships early and become the trusted brand.

Above all, be relevant, step down from the podium and put away your wagging finger.

If all else fails, try a little humor.

should be a campgaing

Actually a T-shirt from Woot.

Winds of Change

I’ve never met Will Humble. I never passed him in the hall of ADHS and stopped to chat about a strategic goal for public health. I never had the opportunity to directly collaborate with him on a grant, public health campaign or new CDC guidance. I never exchanged emails about the difference between rural and urban public health challenges. I never joked with him about the latest public health meme @jgarrow posted. I never knocked on his office door to ask his opinion about the latest statistics from some public health journal. But I feel like I have.

I suppose after hearing someone’s name for 8 years and collaborating on the same projects while on different dimensions, you get to know a person without actually knowing them. Or maybe it’s knowing that Will Humble rose through the ranks of a state agency, all the way to the top, that builds a sense of camaraderie, even when you weren’t comrades. Maybe it’s just the plain fact that his last name is Humble and that leaves you with a sense of understanding. Whatever it is, I feel a kinship to this public health leader and I am a little sad that he is leaving the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Will Humble recently announced that he was stepping down as the director for ADHS. Granted, there was speculation amongst my friends and co-workers as I’m sure there was in the media. Was it because we have a new governor? Is there a sick family member? Is he sick? Is there some turmoil in the agency?

Turns out, the reason was much simpler. Will was quoted in the Arizona Republic, “There’s not an individual or particular reason that I’m leaving,” he said. “The honest truth is I was at the gym last night. I walk out to the parking lot, the breeze is blowing and something came over me and said ‘it’s time’.” The funny thing is, I felt that same breeze and it struck me as a very refreshing breeze. A lively breeze. The kind of breeze that comes with a sunset on a warm May evening in Arizona: cool and warm at the same time. February is not the month for a cool/warm breeze so it stuck with me.

The winds of change. Inspiration came on those winds for Will Humble and I wish him the best, wherever those winds blow him. Maybe, just maybe, those winds will linger in public health a little while longer and we can one day pass each other in the hall, offering nods of concordance, and continue on in our public health ways. Good luck, Will Humble.


Dude, I got the best parking spot today. Right by the elevators in my parking garage. That saved me like 20 feet worth of walking.

Don’t laugh. When the clock says 7:58 and you just pulled into the garage, that 20 feet is an eternity. Suddenly you feel like a Hobbit going on a long adventure, hoping to make it to your meeting with Gandalf only to discover the wizard is running late. Like 2 weeks late because he just had to stick his big nose all up in Sauruman’s business and got himself stranded on top of the tower. But it doesn’t matter in the end because a wizard is never late. He arrives precisely when he means to.

Gah. Freaking wizards.

Not that clever

So, basically, I love my job. That probably doesn’t surprise anyone since I’m doing almost the exact same thing I did in La Paz County. Just less of it. Fewer hats and responsibility. It’s nice to be able to sit down and do one job function all day instead of splitting my time switching back and forth between duties. However, we all know I like chaos so let’s see how long that lasts.

I’ve got this running list of things to accomplish before I consider myself a Phoenician. Yes, John Wright, I used that word. Here is my list so far:

Shop at the Phoenix open air market on Saturdays.

I already do this but I want to be that fully invested hippy that “only” shops at the farmer’s (or is it farmers’) market for veggies and craft goods. Ha. That will probably never happen. I will just end up going for their breakfast burritos.

Join a Gym.

This actually happened. Like, I literally joined a gym. It was amazing. —I think Greg hates all those words.

Drink lots of local craft beers.

Since I joined the gym and mostly gave up beer, this is going to be a problem. I might need to modify this to drink local craft beer and take the “lots of” out. So sad.

Take a spin class.

I have no idea what this is but Phoenician women talk about their spin classes so it must be awesome, right?

Find “my place”

Greg has a place. It’s been his place for like 8 years. I’m totally jealous and I want a place. I just hope I don’t end up liking a place that smells like musty books. Books smell good but musty books smell musty. Well duh. But they smell like musty, moldy things. I’m afraid “my place” will smell like that. “Hey babe, I’m going to my place for a couple of hours. Don’t wait up,” I will say one night. “Just make sure you fabreeze yourself before you come home. I don’t like that musty, moldy smell,” Greg will someday reply. That’s gonna make me sad. Now I have to find a new place.

Get a coach purse

Actually, I’m not going to do this. I just noticed that all the cool girls have one. I’m not mainstream enough for this nonsense. Although I did get new glasses. Coach glasses. They are badass.

161In other news, the kids are adjusting well. The boy’s school is fantastic. Madison is the best district in Phoenix and his school is only a few blocks away. He has a specialized team that works with all his special needs and they love him as much as his Parker team did. How could you not love that curly haired cutie pie?

The girl had a bit of a hard time adjusting at first. We originally enrolled her in North High, the Phoenix Union High School in our district, but with 3,000 kids, she couldn’t find herself. Literally. Greg and I remembered the Madison was opening a brand new high school so one day we checked it out. The principle and staff treated us like royalty and quickly wooed Darbs into enrolling. The school is very hands on, uses a hybrid of traditional and online learning and is very focused on STEM curriculum.

Darby CheerShe ingrained herself immediately. Now, she is Captain of the cheer squad, President of the Future Business Leaders of America, and all around awesome. Engineering is a required class for the students and she mock designed a set of hand weights that women can carry during nighttime walks. Already been done you say? Well her hand weights have switch blades inside. Yeah. Come at me you nighttime stalker, I’ll cut a man!

That’s my update. I thought I would be blogging my Urban adventures but between the new move, a dippy dog, a marriage, the kids and my Master’s program, I’m a bit busy.

Oh, and I got married. But I’m saving that for another entry.


Yes, I’m finally moving.

After almost 14 years with La Paz County Health Department, I am saying goodbye to my wonderful co-workers, colleges and friends and hello to new experiences at Maricopa County Public Health. I’m a huge jumbled mix of emotions: sad, elated, anxious, excited, wondrous. Yeah, I know that’s not the proper use of wondrous but I like saying it.

You know what is another awesome word? Petrichor. Doctor Who fans know what I’m talking about. The rest of you, look it up. It’s a wondrous word.

I will still be working in the realm of public health emergency planning and response, planning for public health emergencies, assisting with training and exercises. OH, that reminds me of a funny meme by emergency management consultant Todd Jasper:

get me that form


The kids are excited to enroll in new schools. Darby’s school actually has dance classes! No more paying for dance lessons. Well, I will probably still do that but, how cool! She is thrilled!

Carsten’s school will have more opportunities for assistance with ADHD and is only a few blocks from the house. Double cool!

My fiance, Greg, is excited as well. After years of prepping, we finally get to make this happen.

Finally, words cannot express how blessed I am to remain in my lifelong career of public health emergency preparedness.

There will probably be more later but right now, I have to find boxes and start packing.

Take More Time


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Take More Time!

Quick! Make a choice. You are walking in a forest near a tree with gnarly, tangled roots when out of the corner of your eye you see… one of those roots slither. What do you do?gnarly tree roots

A. Freeze

B. Jump back

C. Scream

D. Bend down and examine the roots

Answer: According to Risk Guru, David Ropeik, most people choose one of the first 3 answers.

Our brains are wired to make quick choices. We’ve evolved to the top of the food chain because our sympathetic nervous system helped us avoid danger. It goes a little something like this…

You Fight or Flightare walking in a forest near a tree with gnarly, tangled roots when out of the corner of your eye you see one of those roots slither. Your amygdala sends a signal to your hypothalamus which begins a chemical reaction in the body. Your heart rate speeds up, your mouth gets dry, your body gets a surge of adrenaline, and your stomach feels like that dude from Aliens who was implanted with an adorable little alien baby. Everything in your body is preparing you to either run, or stand your ground and fight. It’s pretty awesome and, as David Ropeik explains: our brain is a survival machine built for quick reactions based on emotions, not facts, in order to get us through the dangers of lions and tigers and bears in the dark, oh my! This system worked well for getting us out of danger and to tomorrow but it doesn’t work so well now that we need our brain to rationalize risks.

So here we are, enlightened beings, making too many decisions based on emotions and not facts.

David Ropeik goes on to brilliantly explain concept by using a vaccine example.

Remember HPV vaccine? What was your first response? Let me trigger some memory. “We are pleased to announce the release of new vaccine that will target cervical cancer. It’s given to young girls as early as 11, before they start having sex.” That’s basically what many of you heard. Admit it; you had an emotional reaction, didn’t you?

Your first reaction may be to the word vaccine. Vaccines are created by scientists and many risk studies show that people are adverse to things created by humans and more accepting of things that are natural. Think about it. What is more scary (or risky), coal fired power plants or nuclear? Would you rather get the flu or receive anthrax (weaponized by humans) in the mail? Some of you might even recall the false vaccine/autism study that has been debunked by scientists over and over. Yet it’s easier to espouse it because autism is scary and we don’t know where it comes from.

Your second reaction may be to the words cervical and sex. I’ve heard parents say, “I’m not giving that to my daughter. If these girls would just keep their legs closed and not have sex until marriage, there wouldn’t be a problem.”

We feel first and think second. Our brain jumps to conclusions based on key trigger words and emotions flowing through our sympathetic nervous system. VACCINES!  OH NO!

The problem is that our first reaction, or our first choice, might not be the best or healthiest one. It’s certainly not the most informed one.

So what does David Ropeik suggest? Take more time….

30 minutes        an hour           a day

Just take more time.

Start gathering facts. Not just facts from sources that agree with you but gather information from trustworthy sites. Look up the benefits to having the HPV vaccine from cdc.gov. Look up the prevalence (how many people have it) rates of HPV in your community. Research cervical cancer, treatments and death rates. Make an informed decision, not an emotional one. Use your rational brain. Don’t jump away from that vaccine just because you think it looks dangerous.

Take More Time

Oh, and watch David Ropeik on YouTube. (I have a bit of an academic crush on him.)