Few Effective Tips For Repairing RAID 5

Repairing a Dell RAID 5 can be done manually. As long as you are knowledgeable and skilful when you’re dealing with Dell PowerEdge Servers, it should not be difficult to retrieve all the lost files. You can start by searching a number of Dell PowerEdge specific guides and sources like this one. Simply follow the steps on how repair RAID 5 is done and you will be able to successfully recover the data stored in the disks. If you cannot successfully do this repair manually, be ready to obtain the services of a computer technician. This technician will check the condition of the computer, particularly the redundant array of inexpensive disks. After assessing everything, he will conduct tests that will be beneficial in the retrieval of lost files.


The success of file retrieval will depend solely on how expert the technician is. This is the reason why you have to choose a computer technician that is proven to be an expert. Take time to find the right person for the RAID repair. As much as possible, you should also ask recommendations from other people who have tried repairing their damaged RAID. If this cannot be done, better search online and read a number of reviews or feedbacks about the repair RAID 5.

With And Without Repair RAID 5 Array, Where Would Your Computer Be?

What if the incident of file infection or file corruption happens? What will you do to your hard drive without repair RAID 5 array? This article will make you realize how important the parity stripe is for the RAID 5. Without the repair for RAID hard drives, your hard drive with corrupted files will no longer be usable. We need to scan and fix it with the proper tools. We need to make sure that the tools we will use for the hard drive is the compatible one for it. Why? Because if it is compatible then we will not need to worry about the repair tool touching what it’s not supposed to.

With the proper repair tools for a Dell RAID hard drive array, there is nothing you have to worry about. Sometimes when you run a fix for a hard drive that is not compatible with your hard drive, the files tend to get more corrupted. This is why choose only what your hard drive needs. Choose the right repair tools and not ones that can possibly damage your hard drive.

Which Anti Aging Product Should I Trust?

aapsitWhen choosing the right anti aging cream product, do not easily believe in television advertisements. What can really tell you how good a product is when there is an actual customer who is at 45 of her age but looks like she is 25 because of her face. Her face will tell you how good the product is that she uses. Anti aging creams are effective and easy to use. Just leave them on your face or soak them on your face in the night and rinse your face first thing in the morning. After months of use, a good anti aging cream’s effects will be visible. That is one way on how you can tell a product is good. However, it takes a while for the effect to be visible.

The best way how to tell the product is good is by reading the testimonials about it. In the internet, just search for the name of the product and look for testimonials. The testimonials will tell you what the first effects of the product are and how long the effect becomes visible. There are a lot of users for sure. A single product always has at least two thousand consumers.

Want To Look Younger?

How do best wrinkle creams work? Basically, wrinkle cream works to make the user look younger and it prevents wrinkles from showing on their face. Some wrinkle creams actually contain sun screen for those who want to wear it outside rather than using it before going to bed. Yes, the sun is one of the causes for skin aging.

Is there such thing as the best wrinkle creams? Some of the over-the-counter anti wrinkle creams do not work better than those that are prescribed by real doctors. The ones that are prescribed by doctors are better because doctors trust them or else they would not be prescribing it to their patients. Although there are many users, many of the anti wrinkle creams are not proven to give positive stable effects.

What are the best wrinkle creams? The anti wrinkle cream that are most sought out are the ones that are prescribed by doctors. Yes, it will not be cheap but the doctors would not be prescribing it for no reason. The ones that are prescribed by the doctors have been scientific proven to work rather than the ones that you see in markets. Trust the doctors; they know what they are prescribing you.

Winning Women!

wwthe rapist might have thought he’d gotten away with the vicious crime. Although he was serving time for robbery, the cops had never nailed him for an earlier offense, a 1994 attack on a teenage girl. And after seven years, he might have thought they never would.

Wrong. On March 9, 2001, Lori Gaglione, a detective in the Milwaukee police department’s sexual assault unit, got a call from the crime lab linking that man to the rape. The call also proved that, thanks to an ingenious program Gaglione had developed, the police could nab many more creeps who think they’ve gotten away with rape. “They can’t hide!” says the elated 17-year veteran of the force.

Gaglione’s program combines high-tech science with shrewd legal maneuvering. When a woman is sexually assaulted, specially trained nurses or doctors prepare a rape kit, collecting any evidence–blood, semen, pubic hair samples–that the attacker has left behind. The crime lab can then analyze that evidence for DNA–the genetic coding we carry in every cell of our bodies. When a victim can pick out her attacker from mug shots or provide enough of a description for the cops to track him down, that suspect’s DNA is compared to the evidence from the rape kit. If there is a match, the police know they have their man: With the exception of identical twins, no two people on earth have the same DNA.

What happens, though, when detectives can’t find anyone matching the victim’s description? Or a woman is so terrified that she can’t remember what her attacker looked like? Then the case goes into an “inactive” file. If her attacker later gets picked up on another sexual assault, detectives can dig out the rape kit and check to see whether the guy is also a match for the old crime.

Cases didn’t stay inactive forever, however. After six years (for sexual assault crimes), they were being taken off the books and closed. “I hated that,” Gaglione says. “But without an outstanding arrest warrant, there was nothing I could do about it.” Or was there? In 1999 Gaglione pushed for local prosecutors to issue “John Doe” warrants in unsolved cases of sexual assault. These warrants would go out not under a suspect’s name but under his DNA profile. Once a warrant was issued, the case could not be closed.

“Lori really pressed me to do this,” acknowledges Milwaukee Assistant District Attorney Norm Gahn, who finally agreed to try the plan. Now any suspect charged with a felony in Wisconsin is required to give a skin scraping for testing, and his DNA is checked against outstanding John Doe genetic profile warrants. Because sex criminals tend to be repeat offenders, it’s likely that many will be nailed by their own DNA.

That’s what happened to the rapist last March–the department’s first success under the new program. Arrested in 1996 on a robbery charge, the man gave a DNA sample that allegedly matches him to a particularly vicious case: A 15-year-old girl had been kidnapped at gunpoint from a city bus stop and violently assaulted (charges are pending). “I can’t tell you how satisfying it was to bring closure for this woman–and for all victims,” Gaglione says. “They can feel safe again.”

Mother of a six-year-old son and pregnant with her second child, Gaglione was working undercover in narcotics when she met her husband, Donald, a police lieutenant. But it’s her current investigative work that she finds most rewarding. “I love to see a case through from beginning to end,” Gaglione says. Now that her John Doe warrants are getting results–and are being adopted in police departments around the country–she’s sure to see the end of many more cases.

Homemaker to the troops

Ann M. Testa Colonel, United States Air Force

As budgets shrink, military housing has become severely dilapidated. When Ann Testa arrived as commander at Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu in 1997, she learned that it could take up to 30 years for the government to ante up any renovation money. “Active-duty people work their hearts out for the Air Force, yet their spouses and children live in substandard housing,” Testa says. “I felt we had to do something.” That “something” was to organize more than 400 volunteers, most of them base residents, to renovate homes themselves. Testa herself joined in–”sometimes laying tile, sometimes delivering pizza to the people who were working.” During her two-year tenure at the base, the volunteers totally renovated 337 homes and improved another 1,753 kitchens and bathrooms.

Disease detective

Myra Ching-Lee Epidemiological Specialist, Department of Health, State of Hawaii

Speed is critical when health officials are dealing with an outbreak of an infectious disease. A day or two can mean the difference between life and death, especially for the most vulnerable members of a population–the very young and the very old. It is that gap that Myra Ching-Lee has closed in Hawaii. Her sophisticated electronic monitoring system, seven years in development, allows doctors, laboratories, and hospitals to alert public health authorities immediately to potentially devastating illnesses, replacing a haphazard system of handwritten, manually transmitted reports. “Such substantial improvements in … reporting could enhance disease-control measures,” noted the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association.

Giving parents a voice

Elaine Zimmerman Executive Director, Connecticut Commission on Children

Providing services for families is important. But training parents to become effective advocates for their children ultimately helps more kids. That’s why Elaine Zimmerman founded the Parent Leadership Institute, which invites parents to learn the intricacies of government policy-making as well as writing and advocacy skills. Signs of the school’s success: Two mothers have earned seats on the city council in Stamford, Connecticut; another took on her local government when it violated its city charter by closing a school.

Nimble negotiator

Marcia de Braga Nevada State Assemblywoman

mdbFor nearly a century, fights over the rights to water from the Truckee River have divided Nevada residents. Farmers, ranchers, federal officials, utility managers, and municipal leaders have all been pitted against each other, spawning thousands of lawsuits. “I felt it just had to be settled,” says Assemblywoman Marcia de Braga. With humor, tact, and extraordinary patience, she brought all the parties to the table–and kept them there–as she hammered out a settlement that compensated groups and individuals for past grievances and allocated water rights for the future. It was an accomplishment the Reno Gazette-Journal summarized in just one word: “miracle.”

Assault on abuse

Margaret W. Patten Colonel, Baltimore Police Department

When, in 1990, Baltimore officials asked for a police representative to the new city task force on domestic violence, the chief chose Margaret Patten. “I’m sure he was thinking, `We can’t put a man in there, so let’s send Patten,’” says the officer, who is known for her wry humor as well as her work on behalf of abused women. Patten’s approach has been comprehensive, including officer training to guide victims to help and most recently, recognition that police need to follow up on incidents of animal abuse–often a warning of family violence to come. “We need to pay attention to any sign that things are not right in a home,” Patten says. “If we get in there early, we can do some good.”

Health champion

Nancy Cobb Director of Policy and Planning for Indiana’s Family and Social Services Program

Congress created the State Children’s Health Insurance Program in 1997, enabling states to offer health coverage to the working poor. These families often fall between the cracks because they earn too much to qualify for Medicaid yet not enough to afford private insurance. But while some states have not enrolled a single child in the program, Nancy Cobb saw to it that Indiana enrolled kids by the thousands. Her secrets: aggressive marketing “anywhere eligible families might be found,” she says, and enlisting community groups, doctors, and hospitals to help families apply. “Nancy is simply tireless on behalf of children,” Cobb’s supervisor notes.

Teens’ angel

Paulette Irons Louisiana state senator

When Paulette Irons campaigns to reduce teen pregnancy, she knows better than most what is at stake. Irons gave birth to her own daughter at age 16, and though she managed to graduate third in her high school class and go on to college, law school, and a career in government, she knows what young unmarried mothers are up against. “My history could have been a negative in my career,” Irons says, “but I decided to make it an asset.” She conducted Louisiana’s first significant study of teen pregnancy and has drawn numerous groups–from churches to the media–into creative efforts to help. Since her campaign began, Louisiana has moved from forty-ninth in the United States in the number of teen births to a still-sobering but improved (“and still improving,” Irons says) forty-second. She is also succeeding in her other favorite cause: encouraging women to enter public service. She herself defeated the Louisiana political machine to win office, and today her recruitment efforts have doubled the number of women in the state legislature.

Clearing the air for kids

Martha M. Escutia California state senator

Children are far more vulnerable than adults to many toxins, scientists say. Yet most states still set environmental standards based on what is safe for the average, 180-pound adult male. Not California. In 1996, when students at an elementary school near a chrome-plating plant fell ill, State Senator Martha Escutia decided the standards had to be changed. Today, she laughs at her naivete: “I thought it would be pretty easy to get the bill passed. It seemed common sense to me.” But business groups leaned hard on legislators to stop the effort. Escutia garnered her own support, including that of the state chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. When the Children’s Environmental Health Act finally passed last year, Escutia was thrilled. “This is the most important work I’ve done in the state legislature,” she says, “the thing I am proudest of.”

Women’s history channeler

Diane Allen New Jersey state senator

To read most history books, you would think that only men developed our nation. “The women’s stories haven’t been told,” says State Senator Diane Allen, who in 1997 spearheaded legislation to form a Women’s Heritage Trail, commemorating the contributions of women to New Jersey’s history. The trail will note key sites such as Paulsdale, birthplace of Alice Paul, the author of the first Equal Rights Amendment proposal, and a founder of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage. When completed, the trail will serve researchers, students, and tourists. The fight for funding was tough. “Most of the key committee chairs weren’t too interested in women’s history,” notes Allen, a five-year veteran of the New Jersey legislature. But she stuck to her bipartisan game plan (Allen, a Republican, swept her last election in a district that votes three to one Democrat), and in late 1999 the legislation for funding the trail became law. “Now the residents of New Jersey will know the other half of their history,” says Allen, who’s earned a place in women’s history herself.

Kelly Air Force Base And The Shocking Truth

kafiN THE HILL COUNTRY NORTH OF SAN Antonio, where the Texas flats give way to rocky bluffs of mesquite scrub, juniper, and live oak, Marco and Pauline Waterreus found their dream house. It was a roomy, wood-beamed ranch with horse sheds in back–the ideal place to put down roots with their four freckle-faced boys and growing menagerie of goats, horses, dogs, cats, hamsters, bunnies, and fish. Now that they were settled, Marco was preparing to leave his civilian job at Kelly Air Force Base and expand his own business as an architectural landscaper. He and Pauline were in love, and life was good. That was in January 1996.

A year later, their dream was history.

One day in November while tinkering with his lawn mower, Marco had trouble loosening a bolt with his left hand. Two months later, he started to limp. Pauline, a nurse, made an appointment with a neurologist.

Three weeks of MRIs, EMGs, and blood tests followed. But Marco felt fine and itched to get back to his routine. Nothing prepared him for the news to come. In February–on the day before Valentine’s Day–the doctor was brief and clinical as he gave the diagnosis: Marco had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.

Like most people, Marco and Pauline knew nothing about the disease. “What do we do next?” Marco asked. Before backing awkwardly out of the room, the neurologist ran through a quick explanation of the disease, saying there was no known cause or cure and suggesting that they read up on it.

Pauline remembers every detail of that night. She cooked dinner (pork chops), and then she and Marco took to the Internet to research ALS. Before long, they came to an awful realization: What they’d received that day wasn’t a diagnosis. It was a death sentence.

ALS is a rare, devastating condition, often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, after the Yankee slugger who died of it at age 37 in 1941. ALS attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control muscle movement; as these nerves, called motor neurons, shut down and die, victims lose more and more of their ability to move. The paralysis spreads through the arms, legs, face, and throat, eventually causing loss of speech and the ability to swallow. All the while, the patient’s mind is unaffected, so he literally becomes trapped in his own body. Death comes when the chest muscles can no longer force air in and out of the respiratory tract or when food becomes trapped in the lungs, causing aspiration pneumonia–usually two to five years after the disease is diagnosed.

“I remember speaking to my sister on the phone the next day,” Marco recalls, “looking tearfully at the beautiful red roses I had bought for my wife for Valentine’s Day.” Because he can no longer speak or move, he communicates with the aid of a robotic computer voice that’s controlled by an infrared light in his eyeglasses: “At thirty-six, I realized that I was going to die, leaving behind a wife and four young boys. My world was turned upside down.”


A month after getting the diagnosis, Marco and Pauline stumbled on some information that would bring a perplexing new twist to their struggle. The couple attended a support group run by the South Texas Chapter of the ALS Association (ALSA) in San Antonio. There, Marco met Kim Johnson, then 45, also an ALS patient, and discovered that he, too, had worked at Kelly Air Force Base, the huge 85-year-old complex that had provided military maintenance and support from World War I through the Gulf War. What’s more, Kim had been stationed in the same building where Marco was a financial officer–Building 171.

Two men from Kelly with ALS might have been a coincidence. But Marco and Kim weren’t the only ones. In the fall of 2000, the number of known cases from the base had climbed to 16. That’s when a nagging question began to spread through the community: Could there be a link between the air force base and ALS? As the word got out, Kelly workers with ALS seemed to turn up everywhere. By December of last year, there were 39 cases; this spring, that number skyrocketed to 83. As this story went to press, the South Texas Chapter of ALSA was in the process of verifying 15 more potential victims. Now medical experts around the country are concerned, saying this is an extremely high incidence of a rare disease that typically affects two out of 100,000 people in the United States each year. Even more baffling, while ALS commonly strikes people in their 50s or 60s, many Kelly patients were in their 30s and 40s when they were diagnosed.

The victims and their families aren’t sure who or what is to blame, but many believe strongly that the Air Force owes them an explanation. “I’m angry. I feel like my daughter’s life was robbed,” says Aida Etien, whose daughter, Barbara Crawford, 55, has been given only months to live. “I don’t know if it was the water. But something happened at Kelly because so many of them got this disease.”


For decades, South Texans had considered Kelly Air Force Base a good neighbor. The base employed some 25,000 people, many of them civilians, providing high-paying jobs to a financially depressed community. But in recent years, San Antonians have been shocked to discover that Kelly was also a big-time polluter, unleashing toxic solvents, jet fuels, paints, and other hazardous chemicals into the ground and air. The civilian workers who spent time on the base witnessed a variety of horrors: open drain-valves that poured thousands of gallons of black solvents into the gravel; the removal of asbestos from Building 171 while people worked at their desks, shielded only by loose plastic sheeting; rats and wild cats running through the rafters; radioactive waste signs on the base’s golf course. “Actually, I think a lot of things were probably contaminated at Kelly,” says Kim Johnson’s wife, Val, who, like her husband, worked as a contracting officer at Kelly.

ALS isn’t the only health crisis linked to the old Kelly airfield. In recent years, high rates of liver cancer, kidney cancer, leukemia, and birth defects have been reported among people living in neighboring zip codes. No fewer than 18,000 households sit above a slow-moving plume of Kelly-contaminated groundwater. The 12-mile-square cauldron of poisonous chemicals was discovered in 1988 when the city was digging a sewer trench about a mile from Kelly. Workers were overcome by noxious fumes from a pool of degreasing agents and paint-removing solvents oozing eastward from the base.

This month, Kelly is closing down–not because of the pollution, but because of nationwide military cutbacks. And as the Air Force evacuates, San Antonio community leaders are in the process of converting the 100-plus buildings on the base into a business park. At the same time, in response to pleas from families, politicians, and the ALS Association, the Air Force has launched a $5 million epidemiological study, scheduled for completion this fall. The main question: Can what is going on at Kelly be defined as a “cluster”–that is, did the 83 known ALS victims get sick because they were exposed to a common trigger? Perhaps the most famous cluster was Love Canal, in Niagara County, New York–where high rates of cancer were traced to a toxic dumping ground during the late 1970s, and the whole community was shut down.

But proving a true cluster is tricky. “You always have to consider whether you have a statistical fluke,” explains Stanley Appel, M.D., director of the Muscular Dystrophy Association/ALS Center at Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston. It took the military 25 years to finally make payments to veterans suffering from illnesses linked to Agent Orange, a defoliant used during the Vietnam War. And debate is still swirling around Gulf War Syndrome, a series of illnesses thought to be caused by an experimental anti-nerve gas drug used in the Persian Gulf conflict in 1991.


unAt Kelly, the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, the Texas Department of Health, and the South Texas Chapter of ALSA are all working with a team of Air Force scientists spearheaded by Lt. Col. Kenneth Cox, M.D. “There are many questions to be answered before any sort of cause-and-effect connection can be made between ALS and Kelly AFB,” Lt. Col. Cox insisted recently.

In December, when the count of Kelly ALS patients stood at 39, Lt. Col. Cox said the situation would only be significant if the total reached 43 or more. Now that the number has nearly doubled, he still downplays the gravity of the situation. “We have more cases, but a different time frame,” he says, meaning that over half the cases date back more than 20 years (and at least one of the known Kelly workers with ALS came to the base as early as 1938). Spreading the number of cases over six decades reduces their overall impact.

Still, 32 of the 83 identified ALS sufferers worked at Kelly from 1980 on, which provides a sizable, contained group for researchers to study. There is also the matter of Building 171, where at least 17 of the 83 victims worked. “That is a huge building that housed about 2,500 people with many different work histories,” Lt. Col. Cox maintains. “We don’t know that it has any bearing.” In fact, he says, “If they gave me a nice corner office with windows, I’d be glad to work in Building 171.”

Many people in the San Antonio community believe the military may not be able–or willing–to see the obvious. Oil its editorial page, the local Express-News flatly accused the Air Force of “statistical double-talk” when confronting the growing number of ALS cases. Indeed, Texas Congressman Ciro D. Rodriguez and other community leaders have expressed skepticism that the Air Force can investigate itself objectively. As a result, the Air Force has invited ALSA to bring in three independent scientists to review its work. In addition, Rep. Rodriguez has convinced the Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry (an arm of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Atlanta) to conduct an independent study, which should be completed by the end of the summer.

The Greater Kelly Development Authority, a nonprofit organization overseeing leasing of the space to new tenants, also commissioned its own study of potential hazards in Building 171, partly in response to concerns from employees at Lockheed-Martin, which has moved into the structure. Its findings: Building 171 is “cleaner” than the average home or office–though the study’s authors have recommended that the building be retested periodically.


ALS has been baffling researchers for more than a century. Robert G. Feldman, M.D., a neurology professor at Boston University, spent almost two decades studying a troubling group of ALS cases in Middleborough, Massachusetts. Over the last 30 years the disease has killed some 24 people who lived within a six-block radius in the relatively small town of 22,000. But after years of research and theories about two plants dumping toxic chemicals into the groundwater nearby, Dr. Feldman was unable to determine if the 24 cases of ALS had a common cause. And it remains to be seen whether the Veterans Administration, now investigating a higher rate of ALS among Gulf War veterans, will be able to find a single trigger.

Even if scientists trace a common thread to Kelly, one major question will still need to be answered: What activates the disease? Not everyone exposed to contaminants at Kelly came down with ALS. “It’s what we call the `two-hits’ theory,” Baylor University’s Dr. Appel explains. “Some people must have a susceptibility to the disease. If you’re exposed to a possible trigger–whether it’s a toxin, a virus, or a trauma–and you don’t have the susceptibility, then you aren’t going to get it. You need both hits in order to get ALS.”


Marco Waterreus may never learn why he developed ALS. He does realize, however, that his time is running out. His muscle function will never come back, and his lung capacity is dropping dangerously low. “The boys know their dad’s going to die,” Pauline says. “We were riding along the other day, and they were talking about when Dad gets sicker. One of them said, `Well even if there’s a cure, it’s too late for Dad.’ It’s on their minds.

“I have fleeting moments of being upset about how things turned out,” Pauline adds. “It can seem unfair. But we just try to be a family and value every day together.”

As his wife speaks, Marco struggles to compose a message on his computer. Eventually he nods to the simple statement he has written: “My hope is that my experience can save even one person. Because this disease doesn’t just affect that person. It affects everybody in that person’s life.”

RELATED ARTICLE: Beating the odds.

ELIZABETH LEBLANC loves to draw wild tigers–elaborate sketches that show a talent beyond her 11 years. The maturity in her brown eyes also belies her age. Elizabeth and her sisters, Katherine, 14, and Christine, 16, have had to grow up quickly during their mother’s long bout with ALS. “Sometimes I ask God, `Why did you have to pick my mom?’” Elizabeth says. “When I see other moms playing with their kids, I wish we could too. But then I’m just happy that she’s alive.”

In 1989, Mary Rose LeBlanc was three months pregnant with Elizabeth when she started tripping over air and experiencing bone-tired exhaustion. A few months after her daughter was born, Mary Rose learned she had ALS. She was just 35. “The doctors said her chances were very poor,” her husband, Robert, recalls.

At the time, Mary Rose was on medical leave from her lob at Kelly, where she and Robert worked as electronics engineers. Determined to beat the odds, she consulted a nutritionist who recommended a strict holistic diet, high doses of vitamin C, and a daily regimen of lemon-water to flush out her liver. (Doctors don’t advise anyone to try this unproven therapy.) “Within two weeks, Rose’s energy came back,” Robert says. “We went from looking at grave sites to talking about her going back to work.” In fact, Mary Rose did return to work–at Lackland Air Force Base–for ten more years.

Although Mary Rose is in a wheelchair, the progression of her disease has been blessedly slow. Robert, who now works at Lackland, serves as a Girl Scout leader, attends PTA meetings, and transports the girls to cello and violin lessons. “The kids give us a reason for going on.” he says. “It’s heartbreaking to think of them being without a mom.” In a nearby chair, Mary Rose looks as if she’d like to touch her husband’s arm, but she can’t. Instead she simply smiles. “We try to set an example and never give up,” she says.

RELATED ARTICLE: Lost pleasures.

ITS STARTED ON KIM JOHNSON’S annual ski trip to Lake Tahoe in February 1995, when he fell on the slopes and had trouble getting up. Back home, he saw his doctor, who thought he might have a pinched nerve. Then, two months later, he couldn’t cut the fingernails on his right hand. In July, a neurologist gave Kim and his wife, Val, the worst possible news. “I think you have ALS,” he said. “And there’s not much you can do for it.”

“We left the office in shock,” Val remembers. “We walked to our car and just stood there and hugged each other.” Together, Kim and Val had led a fastpaced, fun-filled life, even when their daughter Tracie, now 28, was small. They golfed, played softball, traveled, and socialized with a wide circle of friends.

Slowly, all those pleasures have been lost. Still, Kim and Val are coping with ALS far better than most. It’s been six years since his diagnosis and Kim, now 49, has outlived the two- to five-year span he was told he had. He’s one of the lucky ones: The couple’s exhaustive research has led them to the best treatments available, and between insurance coverage and their own savings, they’ve managed to buy whatever equipment they need to make Kim as comfortable as possible, including a motorized Swedish-made wheelchair and an air-circulating mattress, which prevents bed sores.

Still, there is one aspect of the disease that equipment can’t help. “The worst is not being able to express myself.” Kim writes on his computer, which he operates with the frail strength remaining in his right hand. “I try to adapt. My philosophy is not to dwell on things I can no longer do and to enjoy what I still can. I try not to have down days. But I do have down moments.”

RELATED ARTICLE: Learning how to die.

TONY CORTINAS was the kind of man who could do it all. He held down two jobs for nearly 30 years–as a sanitary engineer for the City of San Antonio (eventually being promoted to supervisor) and as a member of the Texas Air National Guard, at Kelly Air Force Base. Four nights out of seven, he played softball. At home, he was an attentive dad to his daughters, Laura and Alma. He and his wife, Alicia, talked of retirement, dreaming of long, lazy fishing trips at their retreat on the Texas Gulf Coast.

Now, instead of trolling for trout in the Gulf, Alicia spends her days caring for Tony. Since being diagnosed with ALS in 1997, he has lost the use of his arms and hands and, at 54, is showing signs of advanced ALS: respiratory problems, frequent choking, nearly unintelligible speech. “I cried for a year and a half,” Alicia says. “I’d go into the closet because I didn’t want him to see me. Now we laugh. What else are we going to do?” Like dozens of other ALS patients who once worked at Kelly. Tony believes his illness may be related to his former job. He was a heavy equipment operator at a city landfill, where the base sent barrels of cast-off chemicals to be buried. Sometimes the barrels would explode and the chemicals would eat the paint off machinery. “There were no guidelines as long as the government was paying,” he says. “We used to joke: `Be careful you don’t retire too late.’ Because it seemed everyone was dying when it came time for retirement.”

The love of his family has helped. Sixteen-year-old Laura is especially close to her father; she wears a pin made from the Lou Gehrig postage stamp issued in 1989, in memory of the Yankee great who died of the disease. “My friends understand,” she says. “They always ask how my dad–and mom–are doing.”

For Alma, age 31, who is raising her own family a block away, her father’s illness has deepened their relationship. “The other day, my dad asked me, `Did I teach you everything you need to know?’” she says, her voice cracking. “I told him, `Yes, Daddy, but I didn’t think that would include teaching me how to die.’”

RELATED ARTICLE: Helping those with ALS.

When ALS patients in San Antonio come to neurologist Carlayne Jackson, M.D., for a second opinion, she tries to give them hope. “My biggest hurdle is that they are first told they have two to five years to live,” says Dr. Jackson, director of the South Texas ALS Clinic at Reedes Rehabilitation Center at University Hospital in San Antonio. She shows them that there are things they can do to make their lives easier or even buy valuable time.

Physical and occupational therapy can help a person adjust when he starts to lose motor skills. As the disease progresses, a small, portable device–called the Bi-Pap–helps the patient breathe; a feeding tube keeps him nourished when he can no longer swallow; and equipment such as a Hoyer lift helps family members move the patient from wheelchair to bed.

Unfortunately, there is still only one FDA-approved drug, Rilutek, which can help slow the disease. But creatine, the amino acid supplement made famous by home-run king Mark McGwire, and stem cell proteins show promise. Both seem to improve the health of motor neurons in lab mice.

“Research right now is quite exciting, but we have to make sure we do all the right tests carefully,” cautions Lucie Bruijn, Ph.D., science director and vice president for the ALS Association. “But while we’re moving fast in scientific terms, patients are desperate and want results today.”

RELATED ARTICLE: Tragedy times free.

BARBARA CRAWFORD is bedridden. But her long days on a tilted hospital bed in her mother’s den are far from quiet. Her faithful cockatiel, Petie, carries on at full throttle, especially when a visitor leans in too close to his mistress. “He is very protective,” Barbara says.

Just nine months after being told she has ALS, Barbara, 55, is declining quickly. She is disarmingly open about it: She has written her obituary, planned her memorial service, and pledged her body to the University of Texas Health Science Center for research.

For Barbara, a widow, the ALS diagnosis is just one in a string of military-related tragedies. Barbara and her twin sister, Carol, were born in the Kelly hospital–their father, an air force lieutenant, was killed on a secret training mission in 1945, before they were born. In 1983, Clyde, her husband of 17 years, was stricken with fast-moving small-cell cancer. He was a Vietnam veteran and a civilian worker at Lackland Air Force Base (also in San Antonio). Barbara nursed him until he died a year later at age 56. Then she took a job at Kelly, where she worked in the medical clinic for two years. While she never had direct contact with chemicals used at the base, she often encountered workers with contaminated clothes that would make her skin itch.

Ironically, in January–nearly 20 years after her husband’s death–Barbara was notified that his cancer had been linked to Agent Orange, a defoliant used in Vietnam. She is now eligible for substantial compensation from the U.S. military. Yet, for Barbara, the money is a case of too little, too late. It can’t buy back what she longs for now–her husband, her independence, and her life. “It’s very frustrating to need someone to feed you or scratch your nose,” she says. But she hopes that the gains made with Agent Orange will allow scientists to move more quickly with their studies of possible links between ALS and Kelly. “I want them to find out what is causing this, take responsibility, and clean it up,” she says. “And I hope that by studying us, researchers will be able to create a drug cocktail that could make ALS a chronic rather than terminal condition.”

Those Cats Are Sneaky!

tcasCats have quietly crept into the number one spot as America’s favorite companion animal: In the past decade, they have come to outnumber dogs 66 to 58 million, according to the ASPCA. So why, when so many of us choose these amiable creatures to be our “best friend,” do many others-perhaps as many as one in four–continue to regard the cat with suspicion?

Ailurophobia, an actual fear of cats, is caused by an early traumatic experience involving a cat and requires therapy to overcome. But that differs from the general distrust and even disdain for cats that some people harbor.

Folk beliefs about felines are centuries old, rooted in a lack of understanding of the natural universe: A cat in a room with a dying or dead person will steal that person’s soul. If a cat sits with its back to the door, it will rain. It’s bad luck to cut a cat’s whiskers. A cat crying at night means witches are tormenting it.

But cats are not alone among animals associated with once-inexplicable phenomena. In the Salem witch trials of 1692, for example, men and women accused of witchcraft were said to be in league with Satan by working through “familiars,” which could include small birds, snakes, and goats, as well as cats. With our ever-growing knowledge of animal behavior, we’ve accepted most of these animals for what they are. But cats (and snakes, too) have maintained their mystery.

Part of the reason may be that over the millennia cats have kept their essence. Recent fossil evidence has shown that cats teamed up with humans as long as eight thousand years ago, in early agrarian settlements where rodents were plentiful. The African wildcats that first stepped into the lives of these Neolithic peoples differed from today’s cats only in their slightly larger size, though domestication has softened their temperaments.

Cats quickly became integral to agrarian societies. The reverence for cats in ancient Egypt is well documented: Killing a cat was a capital crime; when a cat died, its owners shaved their eyebrows to publicize their grief; Bastet, goddess of the home, took the form of a cat; and cat mummies and cemeteries abounded. Other cultures found the cat to be a powerful symbol as well–Freya, Norse goddess of fertility, Hecate, Greek queen of the Underworld, and Artemis, goddess of the moon and the hunt, among others, were associated with cats. The cat remained closely linked to the forces of the earth and the deities that were thought to govern nature.

caWhile Christianity was building strength in Europe, paganism existed alongside the new beliefs for centuries, and the awe of Mother Earth clung on. Spirits, good and evil, and other mystical and magical phenomena were still widely accepted as reality, and cats were among the animals used in sorcery practices. To convince converts, the church attributed negative qualities to the deities of non-Christian cultures, turning old religious symbols on their heads in order to demolish old faiths. Thus the ancient world’s kinship with the cat was portrayed as a form of devil worship. (Hinduism and Buddhism, and later Islam, by contrast, have managed to maintain friendly relations with the cat through the ages.)

Outcasts of society–most notably women considered unsuitable for marriage and childbearing–welcomed the ostracized cats as companions. Blame for natural disasters, illness, stormy weather, or any other misfortune landed easily on these societal pariahs.

Late in the 15th century, a decree from Pope Innocent VIII condemned cats outright as witches’ familiars and made owning one a capital offense. The war on witchcraft intensified over the next 200 years, sending millions of cats, not to mention humans, to their deaths. Not until the mid-l8th and 19th centuries did reason prevail, and cats, at last, were received back into the laps of enlightened, loving humans.

Today science has overtaken superstition. We know that cats’ eyes glow in the dark not because they are possessed by demons, but because a light-reflecting mechanism behind their retinas enhances their vision in the semidarkness, when prey are most likely to venture out. Cats’ eyes don’t wax and wane with the changing phases of the moon or the tides; their pupils contract with light. For a black cat to lie alongside a sick person doesn’t foretell death; rather it provides the sufferer with physical and mental relief.

For the most part, we’ve come full circle, appreciating the cat for its affectionate, sometimes saucy personality and not merely for its abilities in the barn. Just to be on the safe side, though, it’s still a good idea to keep your cat indoors on Halloween. There seems to be something lurking deep within us, some hangover from our long-buried past, that keeps a sliver of those ancient feats and superstitions alive in the dark of that night–and prevents some among us from ever being able to relax completely in the company of cats.

Making A Marriage Better With The “Fib”


have a theory: If women didn’t fib to their husbands, I Love Lucy never could have existed. The loose-with-the-truth, always-in-a-jam redhead lied to her husband, Ricky, about everything from how much she paid for her hats to the ploys she and Ethel devised to meet certain celebrities.

As a marital strategist, Lucy was on to something. Though the Ten Commandments are definitive on the topic of lying, you will notice there is nothing in the marriage vows, at least not in so many words, that precludes occasional straying from the straight and factual. It’s a good thing too. Just as a car needs gas to run, I think the best marriages hum along very nicely on love, caring, consideration, mutual respect, and the well-timed whopper.

Of course, we’re not talking about the sort of lies that would guarantee you a chat with Sally Jessy. In other words, no “I was at the grocery store” when you were at the Motel 6; no “I bought the dress with my bonus check” when your real source of funds was the mortgage payment.

Such felonious fibbing aside, it seems to me there is wiggle room in the misdemeanor zone. It’s all about intent. If your motive is an unselfish desire to promote harmony in the home, can you really be taken to task for violations of veracity? What follows are the basic rules of harmless truth-stretching.

1. What they can’t hear, they can’t object to

My husband, Michael, claims I don’t tell him things. He’s absolutely right. If the sin of omission had a varsity squad, I’d be its captain. But I never admit that. Instead, I claim that I did tell him, but he was so preoccupied–mowing the front lawn, singing in the shower, or watching our stocks sink on CNN–that he obviously doesn’t remember.

For example, I know my husband is going to react as a vampire to garlic when I announce I’ve accepted a dinner date with a couple he loathes (but who could be a good business contact for me) or that a child with the same last name as his wedged a nacho chip into the keypad of his computer (again). Obviously, my husband is going to discover the Dorito in the Dell next time he logs on, and he’s going to find out about dinner with the Dreaded Ones when the baby-sitter shows up on Thursday at 7:00 P.M. My response to his demand, “Why didn’t you tell me?” is, “Oh, Sweetie, I did. Don’t you remember? You were in the living room, watching the baseball game …” Deceptive? Undoubtedly. So treat this ploy as you would fine wine, indulging rarely but with gusto.

2. It doesn’t count if it’s cash

You know how it doesn’t count in your daily calories if you devour a slice of cake straight from the box? (That same slice would be applied directly to your derriere had you eaten it properly, off a plate.) Well, there are those of us who believe that money isn’t really spent if it’s kept off the charge plate. I have plenty of friends who earn respectable salaries and don’t need spousal permission to shop. They simply prefer to keep their husbands in the dark about the high cost of “girl maintenance” (leg waxing, manicures, streaking). My concerns on this issue are twofold. If my husband knew I spent $60 on a haircut, he would be sure to point out that the money could have been more profitably spent on pruning shears. Worse, if he knew what I was really paying, I’m afraid he’d wonder why I don’t look a whole lot better.

3. Better kind than cruel

ffDid Lucy ever lie to make Ricky feel better about himself? I don’t think so–but I do recommend that kind of in-family fibbing. For example, my husband is loving–or maybe lying–enough to say the appropriate thing when I ask if a certain dress makes my hips look too big (“Your hips are so small, you’d need a magnifying glass to make them look big. Now let’s go.”) or if wrinkles are appearing around my eyes (“They’re not wrinkles. They’re laugh lines. Now let’s go.”). So, naturally, I want to return the favor. No, he didn’t babble too long at his boss’s party about the fight we’re having with our plumber. And no, his hair isn’t thinning on top.

I’m not alone in my mendacity. My friend Kate’s husband, Ron, would never be mistaken for Fred Astaire. He doesn’t trip the light fantastic; he just trips. Still, Ron fancies himself quite masterful at the mambo. “We were at a wedding recently,” Kate says, “and when the music started, I tried to steer him to the buffet or at the very least the back of the dance floor. But Ron grabbed my hand and moved us right to the center. All I could do was pray he wouldn’t go for the dip. Afterward, he said, `Pretty good for a forty-year-old, huh?’ And I thought, Why tell him the truth? Here is a man who’s actually willing to get out there and dance. So I just said, `Incredible,’ and silently thanked my lucky stars we’re invited to weddings no more than once a year.”

4. Timing is everything

My husband is the sort who likes to get to the airport two or three hours early. I, on the other hand, a believer in the aerobic benefit of hurtling down endless corridors with a 20-pound suitcase in each hand, like to get to the gate with no more than two or three minutes to spare. Therefore, I’ll tell him that an 8:00 A.M. flight is actually 9:00 A.M. Thus, we leave our house at six in the morning, which, although far from ideal, is certainly better than heading out at five. Now, I know that sooner or later my husband is going to wise up. But until then, the sky is the limit.

5. Premarital fibs are forgiven

No woman should be called on the carpet, years later, for any misrepresentations she may have committed in order to land her guy in the first place. My friend Linda, who met her future mate on a blind date, felt a lie coming on as soon as her friends described the guy they had in store for her. “They told me he was cute, funny, and thirty-six,” she says. Linda herself was cute, funny–and 45. “We met, and the drink turned into dinner. He called the next morning at nine for a second date and in the same conversation kind of casually asked, `Do you mind if I ask how old you are?’ I had never lied about my age before, but this time I felt I had to lie or lose. I could tell he was already a little intimidated by me–the places I’d been, my fashion sense. I figured my being older would be another strike against me, so I said, `Thirty-six.’ Mark immediately apologized for the question, saying, `When I first saw you, I thought you were younger than me, but when I heard about all you’d done in your life, I thought maybe you were older.’”

After they had been dating for a while, Linda knew she had to confess. “I remember we were standing in the kitchen, and I got very stern. I said, `I have something serious to tell you,’ and I came clean. He laughed and said, `It’s not important.’ But then he had to tell his mother, and her response was, `Oh, she’s almost my age.’” They’ve just celebrated their sixth wedding anniversary, and Linda still can’t stand her mother-in-law–proving that when it comes to family harmony, truth-telling is oh so overrated.

Family Farming Succeeds Even Today

ffsWhen I was growing up, a half dozen farms surrounded my family’s fruit orchards. Now all of those families have ceased farming except ours and one other. The neighborhood children have grown up and dispersed; few have anything to do with agriculture. “I wanted to farm like my grandfather and dad,” one of 4 neighbor’s sons once told me, “but not at the same prices they were getting 30 years ago!”

In the middle of America’s current agricultural crisis–in which less than one percent of the population works full time to grow our corn, wheat, fruits, and vegetables–it is proving difficult for many of the nation’s family farmers to survive, at least in their traditional role as food producers. The age-old remedies for disastrous farm prices–collective price-setting associations, national fraternal organizations like the Grange, and crop-sales cooperatives-have come up short, not that they were ever overly effective anyway.

Historically, neither regional cooperatives nor national farmers’ unions have ever been united enough to restrict harvests in an effort to increase prices. American farmers have traditionally felt that the proposition of cutting back production to increase profits runs against the grain, especially in a world economy, where another farmer somewhere else always stands ready to fill the gap in supply and demand.

While no guarantee exists that the returns farmers receive for their harvests will rise in the next decade, there is a real likelihood that supermarket prices for food will continue to climb. Are there any solutions to this dilemma? For small farmers who have no off-farm income and little chance of becoming large-scale shippers, one answer may be to search out ways to remove the “middleman” and market their harvests directly to the consumer. But how can the small family farmer succeed in a sophisticated global marketplace, where a few corporate superstores can drive prices down by buying food in bulk and at the lowest cost, regardless of where it was harvested and where it will eventually be sold?

ffstSome farmers, at least, have found ways to compete successfully: Today roughly 10 percent of the fresh produce served on dinner tables every evening in California is purchased directly from the farmer who grew it. There are almost 3,000 farmers’ markets across the nation, and more than 100,000 small farms that sell produce through them. Consumers there are not just well-to-do suburbanites, either: More than $100 million in USDA food stamps are redeemed each year at these markets. In theory, profits earned at these alfresco venues should be manna for farmers: Though a broker will pay a farmer little more than $7 for a 23-pound box of just-picked Thompson seedless grapes, for example, the farmer who sells the fruit by the pound at a local market can frequently garner upwards of $30 for the same box of grapes.

After years of selling my family’s plums, peaches, and grapes at farmers’ markets in Santa Cruz and Monterey, I know firsthand that these retail opportunities can be both a boon to and a headache for farmers. To compete in the new world of American farming, my family and farmers like us box and pack our just-picked produce, load it in a truck, leave out properties before dawn on market day, and sometimes drive more than 200 miles to a distant city–then unload, set up our tables, and sell the fresh fruits and vegetables to local shoppers for five to six hours. Afterward, we’ll drive back home, resume farming, and in a day or so repeat the process. To survive, we have learned to combine the roles of truckers, distributors, and marketers, all the while retaining our primary job: producing food.

Of course, there are problems with farmers’ markets. Farmers who grow cotton, wheat, soybeans, and other grains that require processing have few opportunities to sell directly to urban shoppers. And farm stands operated by people who pose as farmers, but actually buy their produce from others, corrupt the original intent of these grassroots farmer-to-consumer exchanges. Megafarms sometimes send salespeople in the guise of farmers to between 60 and 100 markets a week, thereby turning friendly farmer emporiums into corporate commodities outlets where the family farmer cannot compete.

But for all its abuse, direct sales can offer enormous advantages to both farmers and consumers. Having been picked ripe from the vine, bush, or tree just hours before sale, fruits and vegetables sold at farmers’ markets are plump, juicy, and fresh. Growing more flavorful heirloom varieties of apples, peaches, and tomatoes that taste wonderful but bruise too easily to ship any distance makes sense if you have an established seasonal outlet for your harvest. These tasty, perfectly ripe varieties lure buyers back to fresh produce by giving them the chance to experience the flavor and texture of regional fruits and vegetables picked when nature intended, not when they need to be shipped. By buying directly from the grower, shoppers pay less for better-quality produce, develop relationships with local farmers, become aware of the seasonal cycles of farming, and come to empathize with the challenges farmers face. The result? Stereotypes shatter, and cultural connections are forged.

In the next decade, small family farmers must find ways to move a larger percentage of their harvests directly to consumers. Mail-order sales, via E-commerce, may be one answer.

Although the Internet often initially intimidates farmers, they soon realize it can be an efficient, cost-effective way to market their produce to local homes and restaurants. This retail opportunity frequently gives farmers the incentive they need to diversify their crops and offer off-season farm specialties like dried fruits and jams, syrups, and cured olives and spices.

And rather than fighting their new suburban neighbors over issues of dust, noise, and spray as in the past, many family farmers are turning to interactive farms and “agrotourism.” These farmers increase their profits and community profile by inviting urban consumers to visit farms where they can pick their own fruit and vegetables, gather pumpkins at Halloween, cut their own Christmas trees, interact with barnyard animals, and browse through on-site country stores.

Although farmers sometimes begrudge the seeming “sellout” of their traditional farming practices and the accompanying invasion of privacy, those without the luxury of inherited wealth or off-farm capital must find niches for themselves-by specializing, diversifying, and actively pursuing opportunities in farmers’ markets, organic co-ops, and direct delivery services. And by selling directly to the growing legions of urbanites, family farmers will earn trusted allies in the fight to help America’s small family farms survive.