Friday, March 28, 2014

Octopus Love

Wednesday I had an EKG. Part of the check-in process was a discussion of my allergies. Pertinent to the occasion is my allergy to medical adhesive. If you haven't had an EKG, the electrodes clip on to adhesive pads which are stuck on to the upper and lower chest and belly, and on each shin.

The question was raised as to whether paper medical tape  produces the same reaction. It's supposed to be hypoallergenic. Maybe the paper is, but it still has adhesive or it wouldn't work. Duh! At any rate, EKGs come with their own set kind pf stick-on patches, so the discussion was pretty pointless.

When it was over, the nurse assisting me produced, at my request, alcohol wipes to help remove the adhesive remaining on my skin. At this point it is invisible, other than from two patches which leave behind a gooey rubber cement-like residue. I might note that one site of this goo was found that evening after I was undressing, begging the question of how is it possible to miss the stuff?

Now my idea of the removal procedure was apparently much different from my nurse's idea. I figure you remove one pad and wipe with alcohol while you still know where it was, then do the next, wipe, do the next, etc. Perhaps she has never had to deal with allergies, as her idea was to pull them all off and then wipe here and there where they may or may not have been, but reasonably close, I'm sure.

I wasn't feeling particularly confrontational at the time, so I didn't do more than observe her with mild - very mild - amusement. So far at least this one is a very mild allergy, so long as the adhesive is only left on for a short time. Several days of the stuff produces skin blisters which pull off with the tape which produced them. She managed not to find the patches on my shins, so when I was dressing I pulled them off and wiped them down my way. They left no marks.

When I was getting ready for bed, I checked myself out in the mirror. There they were, pretty red patches all over my chest and belly from the adhesive that was not removed from my skin. They got treated right away, now that I knew where to find them, but the red marks are still there, and experience tells me they will be for a few days yet, leaving me looking like I've been well loved by an octopus.

It's just a bit odd, not the least because this octopus has square suckers.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Garcinia Cambogia Fraud

You may recall my Feb. 28 post "Internet Shopper". I told you I was going to order some thing and give it a try. I did, and 3 weeks was enough to not only end the trial but report back on it as a fraud.

Garcinia Cambogia is advertised as a plant product that makes - not just helps - you lose weight. It changes how your liver metabolizes fats and sugars, and does come with warnings about possible side effects to the liver.

Sounds like strong stuff, eh?

As I previously stated, I read the literature, and ordered the brand that was tested to be the most pure and the best formulation to produce results. I took it exactly as ordered. As this was a test, I also weighed in before taking the first pill, just out of the shower in the morning. My weight has been stable for months, but higher than desired. But note the stable part of that sentence.

I was immediately flooded with information on line about dieting, food choices, stopping eating after 8PM, etc. Guys, I already know all that stuff. On top of that, I exercise strict carb counting and measure portions when I pack my cooler for work each morning. Besides, if the stuff works as advertised, I should be able to continue eating as normal and still see weight loss.

I followed all the instructions. After two weeks, I weighed in again, and again, just out of the shower. The difference was 5 pounds.


I went on another week. Maybe there was an aberration. Now the difference was 10 pounds, and again a GAIN in weight.

I stopped taking it Saturday. What I find most interesting is that Saturday night the auction boss took us all to a buffet where I was unable to resist seconds, though trying to keep it veggie-heavy and avoid anything battered. Sunday was the baptism, food provided afterwards, and there were a few choices which didn't include carbs, but I still went for the (smallest) brownie I could find for dessert.

When I weighed in this morning, I'd lost two pounds.

I can only conclude it works exactly the opposite as claimed, and claim it to be a fraud. I'll be applying for my refund as soon as I get a few minutes to drop off the remainder at a post office.

Saturday, March 22, 2014



The new mirror is on. I hadn't realized how much I depended on it. We're told in our defensive driving classes to keep looking at all your mirrors to be aware of traffic around you, but I didn't know how thoroughly I'd internalized that until I kept bumping up against seeing a black thing instead of a view of approaching traffic.

It's lack brought me awareness of another lack. The need to keep looking way back over my shoulder brought awareness that all signs of my neck sprain from the December accident are gone. Not an inkling. And without any twinges, all but forgotten.

There's another lack: the dealership washed my car before returning it to me, so there's a wonderful lack of dirt plus lack of a bill for the carwash I planned on before this weekend for going to Serenity's baptism and trying to keep my clothes clean.

But there's still no lack of stupid out there. On the way in to the metro yesterday, on Hwy. 8 where there are just two lanes total, I noticed the oncoming car flashing its lights at me. Or so I thought. I had my lights on, and not high beams, so I wondered what the other driver's issue was.  Had I had my mirror already, I'd have known that an impatient driver behind me, not content with the speed limit, had decided to pass me and some others, since it wasn't the car in my rear-view mirror, putting (him?) right down the center of the highway between both our cars.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Mission Impossible X2

I don't normally fall in love with the packages I deliver. So I never thought it would be difficult to turn one over. But today it was impossible to avoid falling in love. The package needed to be dropped off at the airport on its way to California. The cargo? A German Shepard puppy about 10 weeks old.

The other task I had wasn't quite impossible. Just close. But it might have been.

I committed to going to Serenity's baptism on Sunday. Steve can't make it, and in fact hasn't even seen her yet, so I'm going and plan to get a couple pictures. I'm not sure what all the etiquette is for these things, other than general respect during the service and good manners during the reception, including not bothering to mention my own strong lack of religious views. Color me agnostic regarding faith, with my belief centering around the idea that The Church has a lot to answer for. So for sure that's going to stay out of the discussion Sunday.

But I did decide to look for a baptism card. I wasn't sure there even was such a thing. I've gotten cards for birthdays, weddings, funerals, graduations, holidays, wedding and baby showers. Never for a baptism. In about 5 double-sided aisles of greeting cards, I did finally find them. All 6. That includes the ones which use the word christening instead of baptism.

The impossible part? Finding a baptism card that wasn't so religious it made me want to barf. I'm sure you appreciate the irony. But I did finally settle on one which addressed the joy the baby brings and the duties of the parents, and managed to mention God only once.

It's a bonus that it's pink.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Yeay! Spring is starting! YeeeHaaaa!



Where, exactly?

You Know Who You Are

Somewhere out there, you know who you are. Or at least I hope you do, that you weren't too drunk or high to remember. If you get up this morning scratching your head wondering what happened, you might still be smart enough to figure out I wasn't a deer.

I don't know what your problem was. Drunk? High? Texting? Ignorance and inexperience? Can't see well enough to drive at night and in the snow? On the phone? Fiddling with your radio? I may never know. I'm not sure it matters. I just hope you've figured out how dangerous you are. Next time you may not be so lucky. Nor I.

ABS brakes, being relatively new to me, still unnerve me when I hit slick spots. I suppose they are better than sliding all over the place, but they still freak me out when that pedal jumps around under my foot. When that happened last night as I was leaving the nursing home from my last stop, finally heading home, it was a warning to me to take it really slow for those 30 miles or so.

I tend to comply.

The roads had been fine up until just past the Minnesota border. They were wet but none of the snow had started to accumulate yet. I knew I was driving into it since it was visible in the air and the system that had already dumped 7" on Mora was much closer than it had been to me all day. And even with daylight savings, it was late enough to be getting dark. I had visibility until the drop in Luck, WI, but coming back out to the car it was full dark and half an inch now covered the road. Even at parking lot speed, the ABS system engaged at the exit to the street.

Once on Wisconsin Hwy. 35, I was keeping my speed mostly between 30 and 35, sometimes slower. It was worth a chuckle when I hit the speed zone in Milltown and saw I'd have to accelerate before needing to worry about it. I'd already picked up a tailgater a few miles back, but there was no easy and safe place to pull over until town. That one dropped off, to be replaced by another before I'd left town. There were several places where I could have been passed had the other driver been so inclined, but rather than following too close, there were no other indications of his/her possible impatience.

I tend to hang right when I drive. This particular highway has rumble strips cut into the shoulders and the center line. They were occasionally visible where the snow hadn't quite filled in the spaces, but mostly I heard them as I literally ran across them. It's good they were there since the shoulder only extended a couple of feet past it, with a sharp drop into a (mostly) shallow ditch. I'm guessing the long-gone driver ahead of me had something of the same problem, as I was following the double line of their tracks as well as I could. There wasn't a lot of southbound traffic but plenty of northbound, as the opposite lane of tracks was darker than the set I was following.

I can only guess that the oncoming car had crossed the center rumble strip and was confused/distracted/stupid enough not to realize which strip it was and which set of tires had hit it. It was definitely over into my lane, making no effort to return to its own side. I'm being generous here, because as already noted, the proper tracks northbound were much more visible than southbound.

I'm not feeling very generous, however.

I first noticed that the oncoming headlights were a bit obnoxious. I waited for the driver to turn them down, but they weren't high beams. I tried flicking my vision away from looking directly at them, trying to maintain what I could of my night vision. I realized the issue was the other car was too close, knew there was no more shoulder to move onto. Honking is never my first reaction, and on slick roads can startle the other driver into doing something even more stupid than what was already in the works. All this was in the part second I had to fully react before impact.

It sounded like a big rock had hit the car and it was past. That fast. That lucky. Bless breakaway side mirrors. That's all it hit. With my speed at about 30, even if the other vehicle was doing the same it made the impact happen at about 60mph. Yep, damn lucky! I didn't feel a thing. No bump. No push. No slowing.  Had I been deaf, I might not know anything had happened. Well, until I tried to use that mirror.

Should I stop? I had eased off the gas, but knew not to reactively hit the brakes given road conditions and my tailgater. Who, by the way, was still in place behind me, so presumably not also hit. A check in the rearview showed no sign of the other car, and if it hadn't stopped, and given the dangerous road, I saw no real need to stop either. I rethought that several times on the way home, but what was the alternative? Pull over and become a road hazard? And what exactly was there to report? A smashed mirror? An idiot driver whose tracks would have long disappeared by the time an official vehicle could show up? The most prudent course seemed to be continuing slowly and get home safely before the roads got any worse.

What was left of the mirror was folded parallel to the car door. After getting home, I checked it and it still moves as it should. Of course it's a bit shredded, the bit that's left, and the cover and mirror are both gone. It does give an interesting view of the internal workings, what moves, where wires go. I think I'm going to leave it folded as the jagged pieces might catch the passer-by in a parking lot if it's sticking out.

I saw no damage to the mount, at least not by the house lights last night. Nor was there any visible body damage, reinforcing my feeling no actual impact. A new unpainted mirror assembly can be gotten on-line for about $200, so higher in person with tax, plus labor and paint. Well under my deductible, meaning all out of my pocket.

I'll have some phone calls to make this morning, which is fine with me, since it gives the roads a chance to clear a bit before I get out on them. I imagine there's another driver somewhere in Wisconsin who's also researching a mirror replacement. I can't imagine what else might have impacted right there and only there.

I have a slim hope that the other driver has learned something to improve his/her own driving.  Yes, you know who you are. I also hope that maybe my tiny bit of damage was enough to keep my tailgater safe, or perhaps even the idiot who caused it, by correcting his/her driving habits and spurring a course correction.

And I hope my own lesson learned wasn't to just stay off the roads and quit driving. It's tempting. I could instead take that "good" luck and check my lottery ticket.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Reactions: Pothole Fatality

Recent news reports informed us of a pothole fatality in Minneapolis. A motorcyclist hit the pothole and lost his life in the ensuing accident. Time and location were given in the first reports: 10:30 PM on 394.

Yes, it was a tragedy, but I found my reactions to the event changing as, bit by bit, further details dribbled out. First reactions were pity for the biker and tsk-tsk-ing the state of our roads after this ugly winter.

When they announced, sans name, that he was from New York, there was some relief that it wouldn't have been anybody that I knew personally. It wasn't a stretch to guess that was so initially, as the folks I know who ride motorcycles were unlikely to be out in that part of the metro at that time of evening. They would be tucked in bed preparing for another work day, or still out of state avoiding winter. It was just a personal relief to have it confirmed.

But then it got more interesting. Reports from witnesses indicated a "high rate of speed" was involved, varying in reports from 100 to 120 mph.  I found myself annoyed at the rider for his recklessness, for being responsible for his own death rather than blaming whatever pothole he'd hit. It was insane to travel at that speed in a time of year where potholes were ubiquitous, nevermind the possibility of sudden ice or sand on the roads, all at a time of day when it was too dark to see them clearly even at normal freeway speeds. Even so, he likely wasn't creative enough to actually win a Darwin Award for his demise.

Yes, that does come to mind.

The final tidbit of information (to date) was that there was a second motorcycle involved. Spectators said they might have been racing. The second individual sped away and has not yet come forward to give witness or explanation, or possibly render aid. Now my annoyance grew to outright anger at the carelessness or worse. Was alcohol involved? Drugs? A fight or rivalry, friendly or otherwise? A "simple" overload of testosterone? I hope the second driver is found and charged for his/her part of the accident We may never know about any chemical impairment, but we do know about speeding and leaving the scene. Even if the second driver didn't see why his/her speeding partner dropped off, it was all over the news for days.

I now want not only explanation, but justice, i.e., punishment. This was not an innert pothole trapping the unwary or foolish, this was a death with culpability.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Winter Misery Index: Incomplete

You may have heard of the economic misery index. But there is also a winter misery index, developed by state climatologist Pete Boulay, showing that this has been our worst winter in 30 years.

Heck, we knew that.

However, I think his index needs a bit of refining. While it measures cold highs and lows, both snowfalls and days where the ground is covered by more than 11" of snow, as just some of the things it awards points for, true winter misery is more subtle than that.  Some love the cold for freezing lakes, enabling them to drive out to their favorite fishing spot. Some folks love snow for the recreation, so the index to be a measure of inconvenience/hazard rather than simple numbers. Here are my suggestions for modifying the index. You will note that some things affect the individual, not the whole. But that's what misery is really about, isn't it?

How many days were schools closed due to cold or snow? Double points if any needed to be made up by extra days in the school calender. Triple points of it caused a parent to lose work.
How many days of work did you lose due to winter conditions?
How many rush hours were you stuck in traffic?
How many times did it snow while the temperatures were too cold for salt to clear the road?
How many days were roads and sidewalks covered by ice, making both walking and driving treacherous?
How many snowfalls were on top of ice, hiding it and making it impossible to tell where to put your feet safely?
How many times did you fall?
How many accidents were there system-wide per rush hour?
How many injuries and fatalities were caused by driving on snow and/or ice?
How many days were snowbanks at corners too tall to see over without driving halfway out into cross traffic?
How many days was street parking reduced a lane due to narrowing streets by piles of snow with nowhere else to go?
How many times was your car towed to the impound lot due to parking restrictions?
If you are a business owner, how many days did loss of parking spaces due to snow piles result in loss of income?
How many fires and carbon monoxide poisonings were caused by faulty or supplemental heating in homes and apartments? Add points per fatality.
How many roofs were caved in by snow?
How many days did roof "Ice Dams" make the news headlines?
How many days were there widespread power outages caused by icy tree limbs or ice-caused accidents taking out power lines?
How many hospital admissions for frostbite and shoveling-related heart attacks? Add points for deaths and amputations.
How many people froze to death outside? Make it ten points for children. Add a point for each day since a disappearance it took for a body to be found due to snow cover.
How many days were the mobility-impaired kept housebound?
How many miles of roads/streets were left with more than 100 potholes? Two points for each rim ruined, 5 for each accident caused, 10 for a fatality, double for any happening before Feb. 15.

I'm sure I could go on, but frankly, it's Saturday morning, I'm cozy sitting in my jammies with my feet up and under a very warm blanket, and I don't absolutely have to go anywhere this whole weekend. I'm just not feeling miserable enough to continue.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Petless. For Now.

This time it was Paul's turn to take his pet for that last trip to the vet. Her name was Midnight, who we lovingly and derisively referred to as the cat-tard. Deprived, abandoned, and rescued, kept carefully inside for the next 13 years, she was both a source of love and amusement.

She was a source of exasperation as well, too stupid to learn to avoid being underfoot. My morning rush to the bathroom was more often than not interrupted by her positioning herself right on my direct path. For her it was merely the warmest spot in the house, right by the heat vent. We also learned to watch out step to avoid the results of her bulimia. She'd overeat, likely a reaction to her kittenhood, and then barf. If we were lucky, it'd be on a hard surface in range of the dogs. They appreciated it way more than we did.

She was unusually tolerant of being handled, for a cat, allowing herself to be held upside down to let her belly be rubbed. You can define upside down as having her back horizontal or vertical. Either one was fine. Before I got my allergy diagnosis she spent most evenings on my bed. I'd pet her briefly before falling asleep, and spend the next several minutes keeping my arms out of reach of being bitten, her way of demanding more petting. These last few years she was mostly shut out, but I relented these last few weeks.

Until, that is, she could no longer jump up on the bed.

She basically quit eating. We don't know why. She'd always had a pot belly. We noticed it had disappeared after we noticed that her spine was getting sharper, ribs were easier to feel, and what once was fat was now hollow. What bulged now hung. We began taking extra special care of her, petting her, putting her in warm places, lifting her onto the bed and helping her down again when she got too weak finally. We offered canned food. She licked a bit of milky sauce off the top and ignored the rest. We offered half-and-half. She lapped up a teaspoonful and again ignored the rest.

It was finally time. Paul was home from work, his usual day off. He was able to schedule an appointment, take her in.

Now the house is quiet. No dogs bark at the door, no cat yowls while prowling.  It's me, Paul, and electronics. It will change. On Easter I'll be back from Arizona with Steve and Fred. We'll hear toenails on the floor again, wagging tail slapping against whatever it can reach and maybe knock over. Fred may even offer up that rare deep "Woof". Steve, of course, will offer up more noise.

Watching Snow Melt

I know, it sounds deadly dull. May as well watch grass grow. Ahh, if only there were grass to watch right now. Sighhhhh....

But there is plenty of snow still, and I was parked yesterday with a big bank of it a few inches in front of my car. It was only mid morning, but still warm enough for melting. I dragged out my Kindle and started trying to read. Something out of the corner of my eye kept distracting me. Finally I put it down to see what it was.

Little bits of the bank kept dropping, just enough for a now-it's-here-now-it's-not flash of motion. I wasn't actually watching the snow melt. From the side the dripping was hidden inside the snow bank. But bits kept getting undercut as their support melted, and they dropped.

Never having actually thought about it before, I simply assumed an even melt and a smooth top surface. But that's not how it happened. Fantastic shapes were being left behind, resembling those tiny sea horses which look like a twig full of leaves. If they stuck up above the bank enough, drips were visible from their low points. While I kept waiting for those to fail and fall, others bits were dropping away quite regularly, at a frequency of about 1-2 per second over the area directly in front of my car. I never managed to be looking right at one as it fell, just caught the motion while I looked somewhere else. I found myself wishing someone, somewhere (well, right here, actually)  had a video camera capable of shooting a frame every few seconds and putting it together in a movie to accent the drama.

But since I neither have one of those nor know someone who does, I'll just settle for it melting away. Soon, please.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Getting Into Prison

I'm talking about getting in by choice here, the kind where you can get out the same way.

Mostly for me that means a job connection, and that's usually medical. I have delivered meds for some inmate to most of the prisons, even some jails, in the area. Sometimes this means via the front door. It may mean a stop at the first guard desk, passing meds and paperwork via a drawer which was the only access past bullet-proof (I assume: very thick) glass.

Occasionally it has meant delivering boxes of something other than meds, and this has meant clearing the security to get into the dock area. At the Oak Park Heights maximum security prison, there's an intercom outside a tall gate topped with razor wire. But that's only a single gate. Others have double gates, where you drive past one, wait for it to close, and then the other one opens. Shakopee has no fences, just a guard shack and a lift bar across your lane. Perhaps women are considered less dangerous?

Whichever prison, and however I access it, they all have one thing in common: intimidation. I find myself hyper-aware of my need to "seem" innocent, to subvert my personality to erase any hint of humor during my "on campus" time. Nearly always the prison staff is polite, even friendly. I still have absolutely no wish to offend any one of them in any manner whatsoever. My only feeling of protection is my uniform. Its anonymity is my friend. After all these years, I am growing more comfortable with the situation, but it has never felt normal. Even in a facility housing the most dangerous of inmates, I have never encountered one, and they have never been what I've found intimidating. Even if I had, the simple and ubiquitous rule of keeping cars locked seemed adequate protection.

There is another way to get into prison, and that is as a visitor. I have two kinds of experiences with that. Let me tell you right out that I will in no way identify the person I was visiting, nor the facilities.

The first was a county facility. This one was fairly easy to get into, but the visit was limited to phones on either side of a glass wall. Security consisted of filling out information in a log book, about one  line worth, and showing ID. Somebody checked the ID and returned it later. I'm sure some people were weeded out during the process, were they foolish enough to show up with the wrong kind of criminal history.

This would have been an evening visit on a week day. Every so often a few of us were allowed past a locked door, told which place to sit to wait for "our" inmate to be called up to the visitors area. I don't recall a time limit, but the situation itself worked to limit the visit. There's only so much visiting that can be done under those circumstances. Access in and out seemed to depend on staff availability, requiring two to be available at the same time. Out was a bit easier, if memory serves: always reassuring.

The second was a state facility. Access had to be planned for well in advance. First was filling out a form and mailing it in. It included my identification, as well as my reason for wanting to visit. Apparently not just anybody was allowed in. After all that was checked out, I received a letter letting me know that I was added to the inmates list of approved visitors. I was also told how I could and could not behave during the visit, what I could or couldn't bring ( always dropped off at the front desk, never handed directly to the inmate), and was even given a dress code I needed to follow. Some parts of that were logical: dressing modestly, for example, in a facility where no sexual activity was allowed, at lest officially. Why flaunt what they couldn't have? Other things were head-scratchers: why no flip flops? It's not like they could be used as weapons.

This was never an impulse visit, stopping by after work. It had to be planned for, at least partly because these visits were in-person, sitting around a table. No glass walls. Touching was allowed, although always under the watchful eyes of two security guards. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Entry was into a large comfortable lobby. Restrooms were available, and it was wise to use them before the visit, for there was no further access while the visit lasted. After signing in at the guard station and turning over your driver's license, you were to remove outerwear, cell phones, purses or wallets, and pocket contents and lock them away. Your key was kept with your license by the guard until your exit. Any gifts for the inmate were left with the guard for inspection and, if you followed their rules, later sent on. If you brought, say, a CD of DVD, it would be watched in its entirety first.

Once all that was taken care of, and your ID and signature matched to the approved list, you passed through a metal detector. Glasses, belt buckles, and other small items might trip it, but generally returned to the visitor. Your hand was then stamped just  like in a nightclub, not for reentry, but to prove you were the individual allowed out. To be sure, after stamping you put you hand under the UV light to make sure it stuck. This might be another reason for no inside access to restrooms.

Finally all clear, you were allowed, with a guard, to pass through the first locked door, down a small hallway until it closed, then through a second door. You were led to the visitors room, also locked. Your inmate was allowed in via a locked door on a different side of the room. Usually it was a 2-3 minute wait for them to arrive.

Waiting gives you time to observe the room. Scattered round tables with chairs fill the inside. Usually a few are occupied. A bookshelf containing board games sits along one wall. Tiny pencils are allowed for keeping score where appropriate. A guard desk holding two guards at all times sits along one wall, slightly elevated for visibility. Artwork and signs with facility rules line the walls. At the facility I visited, we were informed that some indefinite time in the future, a pop machine had been approved for use, though I wondered how visitors could use it if money had to stay outside.

Visits could be lengthy, usually by families rather than individual visitors, and were in person. Touching was allowed. One could hug or hand-hold if appropriate. If you ran out of conversation, there were always the games. You couldn't bring in pictures with you to show how much somebody had grown or a latest hairstyle, but they could have been dropped off earlier for the inmate to see after your visit.

There happened to be a lockdown for an inmate count while I was there. Announcements were made that it would happen in x minutes, so people could relocate as necessary. The head count matched, so after 5-10 minutes the announcement came through that it was over and movement allowed again. The inmate had to leave the visitor area for meals, giving a natural end to the visit. I'm not sure what adjustments would be made if visits overlapped mealtimes.

Leaving had to be announced to the guards ahead of time, so that your escort had time to arrive. Three locked doors, a hand scan, and you were out in public space again, ready to clear out your locker, get back your ID and anything your inmate wanted to send home with you, visit the restroom, and best of all, go home. No matter how awful the weather may have turned, fresh air never felt so good.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Who Do You Believe?

OK, "whom". Whatever.

Last Valentine's Day there was a duplex fire in Minneapolis. It started on the second floor. The residents were a widowed father and his seven children. When wakened, he gabbed two of his children and jumped out the window. The stairs were fully involved by then, preventing him from returning to rescue the other five, although he tried.  Those five children died. The two daughters he rescued are recovering. He himself was just recently released from the hospital, and the funeral was finally held, with a lot of community support.

Information about the cause is dribbling out in pieces. The duplex was recently updated with regards to some fire regulations, and was relicensed by the city. The cause has not been determined, though a lot of indications point to a space heater in the living room which had been used for several days. It now looks like a melted puddle of metal.

The father reports his living space was cold. Radiators were not working, and in order to help keep his family warm, he used both the space heater and kept the oven on. The kids were still bundled up while spending time at home.

The father says he complained to the landlord about the lack of heat. The landlord says he never heard about it. He says/he says.

Whom do you believe?