Thursday, April 30, 2009

Swine Flu - what are the chances in The Woodlands?

I consider our risk to be high. This is why.

1. Children are bussed to school. They are very social on the bus, making an ideal place to spread the virus. They will bring home the virus.
2. Classroom and playground are ideal areas to spread the virus.
3. The mall is a good place to spread the flu. Any indoor public areas will be risky.
4. There is a smaller risk in most of our workplaces, but unfortunately some people will go to work even though they have been exposed to the virus at home.
5. Cinco de Mayo will facilitate additional exposures to Mexican nationals, by some people traveling to Mexico and some family members traveling here.
6. We have a higher percentage of Mexican nationals living here than the norm. That causes more frequent traveling to and from Mexico by family. The good thing is that it is not summer yet, but that is right around the corner. Some universities end their school year next week, just in time for the movement of students.
7. Many residents here routinely travel. That mobility exposes our community to risks posed by the confined areas of airplanes.

We can help ourselves by washing our hands frequently. It is already difficult to find face masks and disinfectant hand wipes. If you see any at the store, get them now. Also, I would have over-the-counter fever medicine handy, plenty of jello and other liquid foods. This is like preparing for a hurricane. You may be stuck in your home for a week or so. Parents must be willing to interrupt their work lives.

Go to the doctor only if you must. It would not be good to get exposed at the doctor's office. If you are running fever and it appears that you need to go to the doctor, please go! The biggest risk is secondary infection. You want to take preventative measures to reduce the risk of catching a secondary infection. It is best not to shop by sight when the virus problem becomes more widespread and acute. Shop by knowing what you need and where to get it. have grocery lists instead of spending a lot of time casually buying groceries. Remember that after being exposed, you should avoid going to the grocery store. You can become a carrier or even worse, be infected and about to be bed ridden yourself. Wash your hands while at public places. Change clothes after being at a public place. You may bring the virus into your car.

The flu is not necessarily a disease which will put you in bed. Those who have a mild case are those who spread the disease the most. Going to work with a cold is normal for many people. Don't go to work with the flu! Don't send the children to school with the flu! And don't be overly concerned if a school is closed due to exposures. The schools will be closed to prevent the spread of the disease, but that measure is only precautionary and a practical measure to prevent an epidemic, not indicative or predictive of an epidemic.

This flu outbreak threatens our economy, which is fragile at the moment. A shutdown of services would not be good for the economy. However, expect that this may happen. We are buying time until the summer when there is less of a chance to spread the virus, due to school being out. You might want to rethink any vacation plans in Mexico.

Most of all, do not panic! Don't feel compelled to have a vaccination with something that does not help you ward off this disease. Tamiflu may help in some cases, but it might have a negative effect on your health also. Discuss these issues with your doctor and do what is right for you and your family. There are some prescription treatments available that may reduce the intensity of the disease. This flu is likely to be like a cold that everyone gets at the same time. It is highly contagious but not a severe threat to most people. Babies and the elderly are usually at a higher risk than middle aged people; their immune systems are not as strong and ready to ward off secondary infections. At the time of this writing, it was unclear what the situation is in Mexico. It appears that middle aged people are the majority of deaths. This is puzzling the medical field.

There is an effort to prepare for this as an emergency. Our leadership is being advised of what measures can be taken and what actions are imminent in the interest of public health. This effort is precautionary only, not predicting a disaster!

Related Links
1. US Government Pandemic Flu website
2. Center for Disease Control and Prevention - Swine Flu
3. Who - influenza-like viruses in the United States
4. Texas Department of State Health Services - Swine Flu
5. Channel 11 News - How does the flu test work?
6. UTMB - Pandemic flu and preparations needed

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Woodlands Tea Party - history in the making?

This evening from 5PM to 9PM, the national TEA Party movement will come to The Woodlands at Rob Fleming Park. Directions to Rob Fleming Park is at the bottom of the article on the park. Click here to view the article on the park and get directions (at the end of the article).
Rob Fleming Park

Realizing that there are several political views of this event, I am not establishing a position on it quite yet, just saying that it exists. I went out this morning and asked 13 random Woodlands residents if they knew about it and if so, were they planning to attend? Two residents said they had to work but would if they were not working this evening. Two residents said they knew about it and were attending. Nine did not know about it but now that they know, will attend. All thirteen said they wanted to be there. That was impressive.

Postscript - the event with photos can be found in this article: When The Woodlands Had a Tea Party at Creekside Park

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Notice - Nature Lectures at North Harris College April 20th

My apology for such a late notice. I just received this announcement. On Monday April 20th, there will be the Spring Lyceum Series, a series of presentations on nature. The speakers should be quite interesting. I know and am a student of Kathy Adams Clark; she is well versed on nature photography. Just seeing her photographs is worth attending.

Finding Nature...Finding Us
Connecting People with Nature
Lone Star College-North Harris - Spring Lyceum Series
Monday, April 20, 2009
"After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on – have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear – what remains? Nature remains. "Walt Whitman (1819 - 1892)

Lone Star College-North Harris is proud to present the 2009 Spring Lyceum Series, “Finding Nature...Finding Us.” The goal of the symposium is to create awareness of the ecological wealth in the Houston area and to help connect people with nature through poetry, prose, and photography–as well as the promotion, preservation and protection of our region’s precious remaining environmental resources.

The college is committed to expanding educational opportunities and events to the community and is honored to bring four exceptional presenters including two nationally renown nature authors, Richard Donovan and David Taylor; internationally renown nature photographer, Kathy Adams Clark; and prominent advocate, Rosie Zamora, president and CEO of Houston Wilderness. The day’s events will include individual morning presentations from the authors, an afternoon open-panel discussion and workshops with all four special guests. The symposium will conclude with an evening lecture by Rosie Zamora speaking on enjoying nature in your own backyard and preserving Houston’s wilderness, and a nature photography show and lecture by Kathy Adams Clark.
All presentations are free to the community.
For more information, call 281.618.5425.


KATHY ADAMS CLARK is the owner of KAC Productions. She started the company in 1995 after a career in human resources. Her photos have been published in Birder’s World, Ranger Rick, The New York Times and National Geographic Books.Her photographs appear weekly in the Houston Chronicle to accompany her husband, Gary Clark’s Nature column. Kathy also leads photo tours for Strabo Tours. She speaks frequently at association meetings and nature festivals. In addition, she is past president of the North American Nature Photography Association.

RICHARD M. DONOVAN, author of Paddling the Wild Neches (Texas A & M University Press, 2006), worked in the timber and real estate industry for years, but now volunteers his time to preserve the habitat and way of life that he knew growing up in Zavalla and other parts of east Texas. He is concerned about the damming of rivers, conversion of forests to plantations, and fragmentation of habitat in east Texas. Recently, his chief focus has been to secure protection for the free-flowing reaches of the Neches River, which are threatened by impoundment at Fastrill and Rockland Reservoirs.

Dr. David Taylor is a professor at the University of North Texas. His most recent book Pride of Place: A Contemporary Anthology of Texas Nature Writing (UNT Press, 2006) is a collection of works by fourteen authors including Gary Clark, Stephen Harrigan, Naomi Shihab Nye, John Graves, Roy Bedicheck, and Wyman Meinzer. Their essays explore the uniqueness of Texas nature. All the major regions of the state are there for the reader to explore. ROSIE ZAMORA, President and CEO of Houston Wilderness, which is a broad-based alliance of business, environmental and government interests that act in concert to protect, preserve and promote the unique biodiversity of the region’s precious remaining ecological capital – from bottomland hardwoods and prairie grasslands to pine forests and wetlands – while recognizing the importance of the region’s natural assets to its cultural history, economic vitality and future well-being. Houston Wilderness continues to develop the Sam Houston Trail and Wilderness Preserve, which will ultimately be a 650-mile route of green space through 24 counties surrounding Houston.

Schedule April 20
9:40 to 10:35 a.m. Dr. David Taylor
“Fancy and Fact: Writing Poetry from Nature” Performing Arts Theatre
When writing poetry inspired by the natural world, the poet must encounter nature not only as a subjective writer but also as a naturalist. Quality nature poetry requires a writer to embrace not only an emotional response, but also a thorough objective knowledge of the subject of the poem. Instead of limiting poetry, the more we identify nature accurately, name it correctly, and understand it ecologically, the more we open ourselves to a fuller expression.

10:45 to 11:40 a.m. Richard Donovan
“Paddling Down the Wild Neches” Performing Arts Theatre
The state of Oregon has forty-seven nationally recognized Wild and Scenic Rivers. Texas has only one, a short stretch of the Rio Grande. Should the Neches be the second? From its origins on a sandy hillside in Van Zandt County, the Neches River flows through the heart of East Texas. In its watershed lies some of the wildest country in Texas, tucked amid the remains of one of the finest hardwood forests in the world.

11: 45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Lunch (on your own)
Lone Star College-North Harris has an excellent cafe, which offers a variety of cuisine, located just across the courtyard from the Performing Arts Theatre.


1 to 2 p.m Open Panel Discussion
“Connecting People with Nature”..Performing Arts Theatre
Kathy Adams Clark, Nature Photographer
Richard Donovan, Author and Canoeist
Dr.David Taylor, Author and Poet
Rosie Zamora, President and Advocate for Houston Wilderness

Workshops (Choose two)

2:30 to 3:15 p.m.
Kathy Adams Clark
Photographing Nature..Academic Building, A-126

Richard Donovan
Restoring our Disassociation from the Natural World..Library Building, LB-103

Dr. David Taylor
Writing the Real: A Nature Poetry Workshop..Academic Building, A-167

Rosie Zamora
How to Enjoy Nature in Your Own Backyard...Continuing Ed Building, CE-101

3:30 to 4:15 p.m.

Kathy Adams Clark
Photographing Nature...Academic Building, A-126

Richard Donovan
Restoring our Disassociation from the Natural World..Library Building, LB-103

Dr. David Taylor
“Writing the Real: A Nature Poetry Workshop”..Academic Building, A-167

Rosie Zamora
How to Enjoy Nature in Your Own Backyard...Continuing Ed Building, CE-101

Kathy Adams Clark A-126 : The beauty of nature is all around and easy to photograph. Join Kathy Adams Clark and learn 12 simple tips that will help you capture stunning photographs of nature. These tips apply to the smallest point-and-shoot camera as well as to the most expensive D-SLR camera. Learn how to photograph birds, flowers,insects, and landscapes.

Restoring our Disassociaion from the Natural World by Richard Donovan LB-103
Today people know of the global threats to the environment, but their understanding of the wooded lot down the street or the ditch beside the road is pathetic. For at least two or more generations, nature has become more of an abstraction than a reality. In an age when eggs come from Styrofoam cartons, milk from the dairy case, and hamburger is obtained almost effortlessly from neatly wrapped packages in the supermarket, it is easy to understand this disconnect. Since it is readily apparent that our disassociation from the natural world occurred over several decades, it is understandable that it will require a slow and dedicated process to reacquaint ourselves with the outdoor world. It can be a lot of fun and a life-enriching hobby.

Writing the Real: A Nature Poetry Workshop by Dr. David Taylor A-167
Dr. David Taylor brings his talent and experience as a specialist in environmental literature, along with his Ph.D. in English, to this very unique “hands-on” workshop about writing the real. When writing poetry inspired by the natural world, the poet must encounter nature not only as a subjective writer, but also a naturalist.

How to Enjoy Nature in Your Own Backyard by Rosie Zamora CE-101
The Sam Houston Trail & Wilderness Preserve – Southeast Texas is among the most diverse ecological regions in the United States. Here, ten distinct ecoregions comprise an untapped reservoir of wealth; a unique asset that, if preserved and managed, could benefit us all. Within a two-hour drive of Houston, we have the Piney woods, The Post Oak Savannah, Estuary and Bay Systems, The Columbia Bottomlands and so many more.

Performing Arts Theatre with Rosie Zamora and Kathy Adams Clark

7 to 8:30 p.m.
Rosie Zamora “How to Enjoy Nature in Your Own Backyard”
The care, feeding, and exploring of Houston’s wilderness. Within the Houston Wilderness region we have some of the most beautiful and naturally diverse eco-regions found anywhere in the United States. Within a two-hour drive of Houston, we have the Piney woods, The Post Oak Savannah, Estuary and Bay Systems, The Columbia Bottomlands and so many more. Experience that nature right in your backyard. Please join us as we journey through these natural assets and find out how you and your families can experience Houston Wilderness.

The Sam Houston Trail & Wilderness Preserve – Southeast Texas is among the most diverse ecological regions in the United States. Here, ten distinct ecoregions comprise an untapped reservoir of wealth; a unique asset that, if preserved and managed, could benefit us all. A ribbon of undeveloped land encircling Houston and connecting existing parks, refuges, beaches and waterways will protect portions of our irreplaceable native landscapes. Such a loop, complete with trails, campsites, observation platforms, and boat launches, could decrease repetitive flooding, improve water quality and boost outdoor recreation, ecotourism, and economic growth. Learn about Houston Wilderness ( and its Sam Houston Trail & Wilderness Preserve.

Kathy Adams Clark presents “Celebrate the Earth”
Seeing the beauty and wonders on this earth through a photographer’s lens. “Celebrate the Earth,” takes you on an extraordinary visual venture of our natural world as seen through an artist’s eye and a camera’s lens. For more than a decade, professional nature photographer, Kathy Adams Clark, has captured the splendor of our ecological environment. Come enjoy stunning images that have made it to the pages of National Geographic Books, Birders World, Ranger Rick and New York Times. Learn about Kathy’s discoveries and insights of our natural world, as she shares her travel and photography experiences from Ecuador to Ireland.