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More Bad EMS

This is getting very concerning. It seems that at least once a week I’m reading a story about a disastrous EMS incident. Sadly, I could rename this blog “The Journal of Iatrogenic Medicine” and have plenty of material.

This is a story from down in Texas right next to Austin.

 

Pflugerville widow struggling with support year after husband died of medical negligence

In the autopsy report, pathologist Satish Chundru said Samerigo received a cricothyroidotomy, an incision through the skin on the throat, that he did not need. It also said that after Samerigo received two doses of the nerve-blocking agent midazolam intranasally, he could have only survived if an airway was established. When one was not established, it compromised his heart and led to his death, according to the report.

Keep in mind that this is a non medical publication, however that description is a bit confusing, at least to me. The description of the cricothyroidotomy is correct, but the description of Midazolam is confusing. Midazolam, better known as Versed is a drug somewhat similar to Valium. It’s has somewhat different effects, but a nerve block is not one that I ever knew about.

It is used for procedural sedation, anesthesia, seizures, and acute behavioral emergencies. So, I don’t know Mr. Samerigo actually received Midazolam or received a neuromuscular blocking drug of the type to induce chemical paralysis during surgery or other procedures requiring that.

Although I know what a cricothyroidotomy is and have done one, I don’t know why or even where in the patient contact that was done. In reference to the airway, that is what a cricothyroidotomy is supposed to provide. It is also not the first type of airway that I’d consider UNLESS the patient had either severe facial injuries or his jaw was clenched so tightly that an oral airway couldn’t be placed. Even then, I’d consider a nasal airway before a surgical airway.

The Texas Department of State Health Services investigated the 2023 incident and found that the paramedic, Hiram Edmundo Ortega, violated state codes related to providing emergency medical services. On Sept. 13, the department sent Ortega a notice of intent to revoke his license.

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is pretty aggressive in investigating and disciplining EMS practitioners. If you read the state codes linked above you’ll see that there are a lot of things for which EMS practitioners can be disciplined. It’s not a surprise that they decided to revoke Mr. Ortega’s license.

The article then goes on to cite a lot of recent difficulty with EMS in Pflugerville. I’m not going to quote any of that, but you should definitely read it.

Just to help you out in many parts of Texas outside of major cities voters agree to create Emergency Services Districts (ESD). An ESD is a government entity, but operates independently. So, although they call themselves the Pflugerville Fire Department, they are not a city agency. PFD doesn’t provide transport, they provide first response. They then hand off the patient to whoever the transporting service. At one time it was Austin/Travis County EMS, but there were complaints that ATCEMS had long response times. The ESD known as Pflugerville Fire Department tried it’s hand at running an ambulance service, but the taxpayer complained about the cost and the ESD opted to contract with a private service.

For a very short time, they used Acadian Ambulance Service, however there were complaints (again) that Acadian took too long to respond. The city of Pflugerville also complained about the cost.

The ESD then contracted with Allegiance Mobile Health, which while not nearly as big as Acadian has widespread operations in Texas. There website says that they provide 9-1-1 services to a variety of  cities, counties, and other places in Texas.

Allow me to editorialize on EMS in general, not specifically this case.

EMS is expensive to operate. While a top quality ambulance for emergency responses can cost over $250,000.00 if fully equipped that’s not the most expensive part of the operation. Neither is additional equipment or supplies. Or insurance, for that matter.

The most expensive part of an EMS system in paying EMTs and paramedics to work on those ambulances. The work is not easy and EMS has a high burnout rate. Even without that people often leave to find jobs that pay more, they like better, or give them more time off. Or some combination of those.

EMS system operators will cut corners where they can. One of those is on paying their EMTs and paramedics. To have a good service you need to have good care providers. To have good care providers who will hang around for a while you need to pay them well and give them benefits. If you don’t you’ll have a lot of turn over and a lot of inexperienced care providers in critical roles.

Low pay is common in the private service industry, along with poor benefits, and a hard schedule. There is a lot of turnover as providers look at better job options in and out of EMS.

There is no good and cheap EMS. You can have good EMS, but it will cost you. You can have cheap EMS, but it will likely end up costing you even more.

Sadly, that’s a lesson that is only learned the hard way and all too often the lesson doesn’t stick.

The Big, Rotten Apple

2

So, our trip to New York City.

We went for friends son’s wedding. The bride is from NYC and so that’s where the wedding was. We had been invited well before we knew that we were going to be able to make the move from the northeast to Texas. Although it probably wouldn’t have made a difference as they are good friends, it was small wedding, and were happy they invited us.

We flew out of Austin to Dallas Fort Worth and then to LaGuardia. No direct flights from Austin to LaGuardia that fit our schedule as we were invited to the rehearsal dinner as well.

We breezed through TSA in Austin and didn’t need to go through TSA at DFW. No, they came to us for a “random” ID and boarding pass check. Not us specifically, but everyone on the plane. Six TSA officers and two plainclothes DHS officers. Some people were “randomly” stopped a second time just beyond the entry to the Jetway.

We made it to LGA on time and took an Uber to the hotel. 10 miles, 35 minutes, $65.00 plus tip. It’s New York City, so that’s to be expected. Of course Uber costs more because NYC makes Uber drivers get cab driver’s licenses.

The hotel was nice, but the rooms were about the size of a large walk in closet. As a friend joked, it’s so small that you have to go outside to change your mind.

I went out to get a cup of coffee and on the way back walked by a pile of laundry and a guy sleeping on an army cot under about three blankets. I know from working with a lot of homeless people that some of them just refuse to go into shelters, but this seemed a bit extreme. Sleeping on the sidewalk in Manhattan on an army cot.

My wife and I had the same impression of the city. It’s dirty, noisy, even the high end buildings look like they need a pressure washing. Traffic is a mess as the city has turned traffic lanes into bike lanes. Roads have one lane for motor vehicles, one for bikes, and one for buses. Then people wonder why traffic doesn’t move. Bikes and scooters are everywhere. Frankly and bluntly, it’s like some Third World shit hole.

No one seems to speak English and there are few, if any, native New Yorkers in Manhattan. I don’t know where they are, but they aren’t there.

There are police, but not a lot of them. I haven’t been in NYC for years, but before the Plandemic there were cops walking beats all over the place. Not now. Now there are one or two police cars sitting on the side of the road with their lights on and two officers sitting in side.

Something else I noticed was jaywalking. Pedestrians in NYC used to obey the no crossing lights, but that seems to have gone out the window.

One thing I will say is that the food in NYC is very good. The rehearsal dinner was great, the breakfast I had the next morning in a hole in the wall restaurant was tasty and not expensive. I was lucky to find a seat in the restaurant as it was a tiny place with five or six two seat tables. A lot of people were sitting outside in the 35 degree temperature eating in little huts (for lack of a better term) with three walls and no heat. In what is supposed to be the most sophisticated city on the planet.

The wedding was a lot of fun. We got to talk to friends we haven’t seen since we moved and don’t quite know when we’ll see them again. My oldest friend and his wife were also invited and we got to see them as well. Plans were made for them to come down to Texas for a visit in the spring.

Sunday morning we got up, got dressed, packed and took another Uber ride to the airport. We once again breezed through TSA and headed for our gate. We were early, but I prefer to
arrive early rather than miss a flight. We had breakfast and sat down to wait. The gate agent announced that they were looking for two people to sit in the emergency exit row. Normally they
charge extra for that, so Mrs. EMS Artifact went up and volunteered us. For some odd reason we got the window and aisle seats and were separated by a passenger who paid for the center seat.

When we were called to board, once again we had a “random” extra, bonus, screening from the TSA. This time they also wanted to see peoples laptops and tablets. They also had a bonus canine, which I surmise was an explosive sniffing dog. They once again gave extra screening to some people for no obvious reason.

That slowed down the boarding process and we ended up pushing back from the gate about 15 minutes late. The weather was cold with snow/rain falling intermittently, so we went to the de icing station. Twice. Then we waited some more. All told, we were about an hour late in taking off.

As a result, we were going to miss our connecting flight in Dallas. I kept checking the airline app to see what our options were and all of a sudden it became moot because our connecting flight was now delayed. By four hours. Great. More sitting around an airport.

We landed in Dallas about the time we were originally scheduled to land in Austin and landed in Austin about the time I had planned to be in bed at home. The bonus was that we got a free upgrade to First Class. Of course being a forty five minute flight we got no drinks or snacks, but the seats were comfortable.

All in all, I can’t see a reason that I will ever go to New York City again. It offers me nothing that I want and everything that I don’t.

I have one more trip planned to the northeast, but I don’t have the exact dates picked out yet. After that, I’ll be content to be home in Texas.

Not How To EMS

This is not a new EMS incident, it actually goes back to 2019. The article I am linking to is from December 2021. Well, the main article I am linking to is from 2021. There are other articles as well.

He is the link from EMS1 that covers much of the story of that fateful days events,

State board cites 7 Kan. responders for failing to transport patient to hospital

This is a fairly long article, but it’s well worth reading.

The Kansas Board of Emergency Medical Services has proposed disciplining seven Wichita-area emergency responders for failing to take a suicide victim to a hospital five minutes away, even though he had a pulse and labored breathing.

Instead, the man — who had shot himself in the head — was covered with a white sheet and taken to hospice where he died more than 10 1/2 hours after the shooting.

Ahh, if it was only that simple. They didn’t immediately take him to hospice. Actually they NEVER should have taken him anywhere but an Emergency Department.

In my career, especially at the beginning, we often transported patients that we knew had no chance of survival. It was just the way of the world even though we didn’t like doing it and the hospitals didn’t like us having to do it. That finally started to change in the late 1980s in my system and continues to evolve even though I am long (eleven years now) retired.

The patient was left on the floor of his downtown Wichita apartment for five hours. At times, he appeared to be in pain, “moaning loudly,” the order says.

The “Bring Out Your Dead” scene in Month Python and The Holy Grail was supposed to be comedy, not a how to film.

A review by the Sedgwick County Medical Society found the patient was handled properly. Sedgwick County and Wichita government agencies have hired an attorney to defend their employees’ conduct.

On what planet is it proper to leave a suffering person on the floor for five hours?

The voice of sanity is heard,

Article found here, State board asks for probe of EMS leader after man left to die in Wichita apartment

But the Kansas Board of Emergency Medical Services, which licenses EMTs and paramedics across the state, says the patient was not given proper care. If a patient is breathing or has a heart beat, EMS protocol is to transport the person to an emergency room.

 

Well, yeah. Maybe, just maybe, the Sedgewick County Medical Society is trying to cover for a member. Believe me, if they could find a way to toss the EMS providers under the ambulance to protect Gallagher, they would do it.

Think it can’t get worse? Think again,

Two months after the call, Sedgwick County consolidated its EMS services and the Office of the Medical Director, placing Gallagher, a physician, as the top official in the county’s EMS system.

Two months after this debacle, Gallagher was promoted to EMS director.

I’ll stop quoting parts of the article as the reader might think I’m making this up or misquoting what the article says. I’m not.

Two years later, Gallagher was removed as medical director.

Sedgwick County removes EMS director Dr. John Gallagher

I had some bad bosses over the years, but this one takes the cake.

Eventually the County paid Dr. Gallagher to go away. We used to call this “addition by subtraction” at work.

EMS Director Dr. John Gallagher resigns; Sedgwick County to pay him $85,000

Money well spent I say.

There is no news article about what happened to the seven providers that the state cited. The only hint is that an eighth provider, a supervisor, was also being charged with something.

Whatever their fates, this was an EMS failure at all levels from field provider to medical director.

It’s definitely not the way to do EMS.

I know that the featured image is more than a bit harsh, but there is plenty of fail here to go around.

2023 in Review

Each year since 2019 seems to have been worse than the one before it.

2020 featured a not very severe virus that was used as an excuse to make much of the world prisoners in their own homes. That in turn lead to riots that were intended to, and did, change the course of a Presidential election.

That election was, shall we say, of dubious honesty. We ended up with a corrupt moron sitting in the Oval Office with someone else pulling the strings.

2021 continued the silliness with even more ridiculous efforts to end the not so serious pandemic plandemic. The spring insanity was the government in the form of the senile fool in the Oval Office telling us that if we took the magic shot of undetermined efficacy we could all go back to our normal way of living.

A lie.

The fake insurrection was used as an excuse to attack the freedoms we’ve enjoyed for 250 years.

On a personal note, both of our lovely cats and my Mother in Law passed away. While all were difficult the death of our first cat in the spring was particularly painful as the veterinary hospital wouldn’t allow us to come to be with him in his last moments. There was no reason for that other than our state’s health department imposing more stringent rules on veterinary facilities than human medical facilities. I never understood that and it still makes me mad.

Despite my spry 102 year old Mother in Law not being very ill, we couldn’t visit her for the 10 days she was in the hospital. She was cleared of COVID and release to a rehabilitation facility where she got very ill very quickly. Despite the best efforts of a pretty good hospital, she lingered for a week and then died. At least we got to visit her even though she wasn’t conscious.

Simultaneously our other cat got very ill and I decided to spend more money that was reasonable to keep her alive so that my wife didn’t have to deal with both of them dying at the same time.

Family things made that a teeth grinding process.

2022 continued to the suckage of the two years before. Nothing specific, but of course inflation, shortages of everything due to shipping problems across the globe, and the increasing division in this country made things worse.

Mrs. EMS Artifact was responsible for settling her mothers affairs and again that was a teeth grinding affair thanks to her sister.

During the course of the year I accelerated my efforts to get our house in saleable condition. I’d been doing that starting a couple of years after I retired, but I did more in 2022 as the agreement that Mrs. EMS Artifact and I came to was that once her mothers estate was settled we’d put the house on the market and move south. There were multiple reasons to move south, among them family, weather, politics, and finances.

2023 came and in some ways it’s been both the best and worst post COVID year.

The year started with a minor car crash that put me in a rental car for a month. I was lucky because the body shop I use was quoting 2-3 months due to the difficulty in getting parts. I’ve done enough business with the owner over the years that he squeezed my truck in and got it fixed.

In the middle of January, my best friend of over 40 years died. Not suddenly, but slowly from Dementia and other medical issues. The Dementia and other issues worked together to make his illness untreatable and his ordeal over three years.

For some, maybe much, I blame the COVID response. His Dementia was first diagnosed in late 2019 and when COVID came along the hysterical response delayed routine medical care for months and months. As his condition worsened, he became more difficult to deal with. At some points I was the only person he’d listen to and at some points he wouldn’t listen even to me.

It was very difficult for all of us to watch him die by degrees.

In May a long time co worker died after a long illness. Not unexpected, but another co worker cheated out of a well deserved retirement.

In late June a friend of about twenty years died. His death was unexpected by everyone but him. He knew he had a terminal illnesses, but didn’t want to burden anyone with his problems. His funeral took place while my wife and I were out of state, so we missed the chance to say goodbye.

Things seem to have started turning around in late Summer, but not without a few hiccups. In September we completed preparations to put our house in the Northeast up for sale. We also flew down to Texas to look at properties. We found a house we liked and at the same time we had an acceptable offer for our house.

We committed to the house in Texas with a seven day opt out. Which worked out as our “buyer” turned out to be a nut case and she backed out at the last possible minute. So, we had to back out of our house.

It looked like we’d be stuck in the Northeast forever, but our realtors both there and in Texas did yeoman’s work and getting our house back on the market and sold, as well as finding another house in Texas.

All of this shortened our timeline for moving by almost a month. We head to be out of our house before the end of October, but couldn’t close on the house in Texas until right before Thanksgiving. We spent a frantic month packing up Forty-Three years of living and getting it on the moving truck and then into storage.

Then we lived in hotels for almost a month. Hotels are nice, but you don’t want to live in one for a month with only a week’s worth of clothing and belongings. At least we didn’t.

November passed and we moved into our new home. That went pretty smoothly, except for the part where we needed a section of sewer line replaced because of a tree root that insisted on breaking into it.

We had Thanksgiving with our daughter and her boyfriend. We keep hoping that something will happen along those lines, but of course we have no control over that.

Side note to any Dads reading this who happen to have cute little daughters. After they turn about 12, you will have NO control over their lives. None, even if you think you do. Instill good values in them when they are in the single digits and you’ll be fine.

Anyway, we’re now on the verge of 2024. I’m back to what passes for work, we’re getting comfortable in our new state, county, city, and house.

I can only hope that 2024 turns out to be a better year than were the previous three.

 

Being Tested

2

Texas seems to be testing me to see if I’m worthy to live in the state.

First, before we bought our house I got what I refer to as a “Welcome to Texas Sinus Infection.” Just note that I never get sinus infections and even when I have a cold it passes pretty quickly. Mrs. EMS Artifact says that all my years in EMS have given me a strong immune system. Maybe, but it’s also probably the fact that I work out frequently, eat properly (for the most part) and watch my weight.

Anyway this whatever it was made me miserable enough to go to urgent care not once, but twice. The first time got me a prescription for cough medicine and some suggestions on how to get through the next few days. After the next few days and I was worse, I went back to urgent care and got antibiotics and a steroid. In the interim I had a nose bleed that almost caused me to go to an Emergency Department, but fortunately stopped before that.

In due course I got better and we proceeded to buy our house and move in.

Move in day came and I had to use the bathroom. Flushing the toilet resulted in nothing happening. Well nothing good. I went on line and found a local plumber. He came out and cleared the line, but told me it was likely that the lovely Live Oak in the front yard had invaded the pipe via the roots boring through the PVC. He dropped a camera down and sure enough there were pieces of root sticking through the PVC. The prospect of having to call the plumber at random intervals to clear that obstruction was not viable, so we paid to have that section of soil pipe dug out and replaced.

We also had a refill valve replaced because of what my wife refers to as a “Toilet Ghost.” The tank would partially refill at random. The usual cause of this is a bad seal on the flush valve, but in our case the fill valve also needed replacement.

Side note: We never met the sellers of our house as that’s not done at closings any more. We only met the buyers of our house because they wanted to come over and do some measuring before the closing. Elsewise, we wouldn’t have met them.

My post move in impression is that the sellers were not all that much interested in routine maintenance. Which is not to say that they knew about the root problem and didn’t tell us. Those things aren’t predictable. Still, I’ve been doing a lot of little repairs that are not all that much different than what I did to our old house before we put it on the market and even after we had a deal to sell. Just the way I was raised, I guess.

One of the things that they didn’t take care of was the water softener system. As in it never worked in the five years they owned the house. Apparently the original owner didn’t do anything about it either. Our section of Texas has the hardest water in America. Yay us. Which means that water softeners are pretty much a requirement unless you like to buy new appliances every five years or so. We don’t, so we are having the plumbers come back sometime in the next few weeks to install a new system with a ten year guarantee. Hopefully that will save our four year old water heater and less than four year old dishwasher and washing machine.

So, that brings us up to Sunday. Which happened to be my birthday. I decided to move one of the very nice recliners we moved with us to my new “TV room.” Forgetting that I was no longer 40 years old (or close) I decided to move it without partially disassembling it.

Mistake.

I felt a pop in my left bicep followed by a burning pain. At which point I decided to disassemble th chair into it’s three components. I was able to move everything and get the chair back together.

My bicep was another question. Being quasi medical, I self diagnosed and decided that Tylenol was in order for the pain. Truthfully, there was no sense in going to urgent care or a free standing Emergency Department because that’s pretty much what they would do. Plus, before a surgeon could look at it the swelling had to subside.

In the mean time, I selected a new Primary Care Provider and signed up with his office. My only source of information was on line reviews of him. They were uniformly excellent and because he deals with a lot of older people he has a lot of experience with things that afflict older people.

While talking to his scheduler I mentioned my arm and she suggested a visit to an urgent care affiliated with the hospital with which he is affiliated. That way I could get my problem into the system and get a referral to an orthopedic surgeon.

So, today I went to the urgent care facility and was examined by a very nice and competent Nurse Practitioner. The good news is that it’s “only” a bicep muscle tear and not a tendon separation. Which means that the surgery is much less extensive as are the recovery and whatever rehab I might need. She ordered an ultrasound of my bicep and sent in the request for a referral to an orthopedic surgeon affiliated with the same hospital.

The doctor who was overseeing the urgent care center advised that I’d be better off foregoing my three times a week rowing machine sessions as that could cause scar tissue to form and make the surgery that much harder. Great. I’ll have to develop some other exercises for my forearms and shoulders.

Also on the good side I was successful in navigating the Texas process for registering motor vehicles and was able to obtain license plates for both of our vehicles. That’s important because Texas will not issue drivers license if you don’t have a vehicle registered or can prove that you don’t have a vehicle. After that Mrs. EMS Artifact and I found a state drivers license office that isn’t booked into next year and got our licenses.

Why the rush? Because you need a Texas drivers license to file for property tax exemptions. Who doesn’t love property tax exemptions?

While talking about the differences in how things are done in Texas versus our old state I joked that Texas is like a whole different state. Mrs. EMS Artifact said, only half joking, that it’s more like a different country.

Which ever it is, I sure hope that it likes me enough to let me stay.

Settled

2

The moving truck was here first thing on Tuesday. Which right now seems about a year ago. Driver and two helpers were very efficient, pleasant, and helpful.

I let them do their thing while I dealt with a serious issue. Our main sewer line clogged and nothing would flush away. I went on line and found a local plumbing company. The lady on the phone was very pleasant and helpful. She found a crew finishing up a job nearby and promised to send them along. About half an hour later a plumber and his helper showed up.

I explained the problem and they got right to work. This area had clean out access outside the house, which is nice. It took the crew about 20 minutes to get things, uh, flowing again. They then offered the option of dropping a camera into the line to see if they could find the cause. Truth is, the plumber had a really good idea of what was going on because as we say, it wasn’t his first big job. Sure enough one of the pretty oak trees in the front yard had bored it’s way through the sewer line in search of water.

Great.

The plumber wrote up the estimate and sent it back to the office for approval and forwarding to me. Not a pleasant surprise, but I came to find out that this is not uncommon even in this neighborhood. I think that I’ll have the tree removed unless the HOA objects, which they shouldn’t since I’ll still meet the one tree requirement. I just have to find a landscaping company to do the work.

Two things that all home owners find out pretty quickly. With a house there is ALWAYS something that needs to be done. Home owners, at least the all the ones I know have an assortment of tools, develop some pretty good handy man skills, have a lot of spare screws, bolts, nuts, and other assorted hardware around the house. They also have a “Rolodex.” Even if these days it’s kept in a smart phone. For some reason, a reliable plumber who won’t over charge and will show up is always at the top of the list. An electrician is sort of a distant second as at least in my case I can change outlets, switches, lights, and even in the past ran Romex and installed new outlets where there was none before.

I have to add a handy man to the list even though for the past forty three years I was mostly my own handy man. My oldest friend was my helper and when he needed to do a job I was his. He is of course 2,000+ miles away, so not an option. He’s going to be impossible to replace. Growing up we lived five minutes from each other. We went to different colleges, but when we graduated we returned for a short while to our respective childhood homes.

In due time, we both got married and for a few years we saw each other less. Then my wife and bought a house. A couple of years later my friend and his wife bought a house in the same time. Once again we were about five minutes from each other.

Our daughters coined the term “Heterosexual Life Partners” and as funny as that sounds, it’s true.

All of which is to explain why I need a handy man to do things that my friend and I used to tackle together.

I’ll have to find a lawn company, hopefully one that can also get rid of that pesky tree. I have no intention of dropping a tree on my house by accident.

On the good side, I don’t need a guy to clear my driveway of snow. I sold my snow blower to a friend and I was very happy to wave goodbye to it. I gave away assorted shovels, driveway markers, ice scrapers, and other snow tools to a friends son in law. Again, we were both happy.

Back to moving in. Everything is unloaded, but there is still a lot to unpack. I think my wife is going to end up donating a lot of stuff to Goodwill. Despite my suggestion, she over packed and we still have about 40 boxes of the original 140 that were packed. My office is still a mess as I’m awaiting delivery of a new to me office desk. I was hesitant to buy an expensive desk, but my wife insisted it was a good deal. So, I’ll have a nice office when it’s done. And a separate TV room to relax in, but I won’t bore you with that story.

This weeks tasks include registering our vehicles in Texas and getting our drivers licenses. The latter is important because there are significant discount to property taxes we’re eligible for, however you need to prove residency and the only way to do that is with a drivers license or state ID. Oh, we’ll need those licenses in order to vote too. And we intend to vote.

Texas requires vehicles to be registered before being eligible to get a drivers license or declare that you don’t own any vehicles. There’s a process, of course.

We’re getting used to doing things differently. Doesn’t matter if we think those ways are better or worse, because we don’t expect Texas to change how they do things. I really hate the people who start out their “welcome” with some advice not to try to bring out old state ways. Yeah, I get that part and don’t know Mrs. Kravitz to tell me.

Other than that we’re getting used to no snow, warm to hot as Hades weather throughout the years. H-E-B, and everything else that goes along with living in Texas.

I miss my friends, but modern technology allows me to stay in touch.

In another week I’ll start doing what passes for work. Another thing I’ll have to figure out is how to do it all remotely. Not exactly rocket science, but just different.

Just note that the featured picture is not our house, it’s just a house picture I picked at random.

Settling In, Sort Of

2

My last post was way to long ago, but we’ve been busy. We finally were able to depart our former state on November 8. The trip to Texas took about five days and included a side trip to visit my son, lovely daughter in law, and grand kids in South Carolina. There were some items I left with him for safe keeping until we are actually in our new home.

Speaking of which, we finally got to visit the house in person on Monday. It was less than ideal committing to this purchase via the Internet, but we just didn’t have the time to get down to the Texas before our seven day option expired.

Fortunately our realtor is very good, used a very thorough home inspector, and our daughter’s boyfriend is familiar with construction as he’s an engineer.

We weren’t disappointed. Mrs. EMS Artifact loved the kitchen, master bedroom, master bathroom, and her gigantic walk in closet even more in person than she did on line. While all of those are very nice, I was more interested in the garage where my workshop will be. And the 10′ x 12′ wooden shed out back. Which I’ll put to use for various things besides storage.

One of the guest bedrooms will become my office and I’m actually eager to get back to work, although that won’t be until our belongings arrive and are in the house. Which hopefully will be before the end of the month.

We aren’t sitting around the hotel just waiting. There is a lot to do and much of it different than how they were done in our former state. Some of this I knew, other parts are a learning experience.

It was easy setting up the gas and electrical services. Electrical service is unregulated in Texas and that means that multiple companies broker electricity at various prices. There is only one company that actually generates power, no one can buy directly from them, hence the brokers.

There were at least a dozen providers offering electricity to our area. I picked the one that I thought offered the best deal. Of course customers can change brokers every year or two as contracts expire.

We’re going to be in a “propane community” which means that there are huge propane tanks buried in an obscure part of the development and we all buy from the company that owns the tanks and propane. Not a lot different than how Natural Gas is bought in our former state.

Internet and Cable were similar although there were several options. I decided against cord cutting and stuck with a traditional cable company. Same set up as our old one, but with a different large indifferent provider.

Water was the last utility on the list. Well, technically water/sewer/trash. In our new city there are three separate water providers, however which one you use depends on where you live. Again, different than what we are used to. When I say “different” I’m pointing out a fact, not offering an opinion.

Of all of the services we’re signing up for, the city utility department was the most persnickety. We had to prove that we’re the actual buyers, submit ID, fill out a form, and agree to a “soft” credit check. I was told years ago that the two most important things in Texas are land and water. It sure seems that way because the city expects people to pay for their water on time and no excuses. I will say that the lady in the office couldn’t have been more helpful. She signed us up and recommended that we use direct deposit from our checking account to avoid the 4% surcharge for using a credit card.

Today I signed up for two “TX Tags.” These are for use on the several toll roads in the area. It’s not mandatory to use those roads, but there are times when it’s faster. Plus I inadvertently got on to one today and can only imagine how many surcharges I’ll get on that two mile journey.

Once we own the new house we also have to file for the county Homestead and Senior Citizen tax exemptions. Something that our old state didn’t have and which we kind of like. Well, we really like to be honest.

The house is not perfect, but everything that it needs is normal wear and tear for it’s age. It’s bigger than our old house by about 400 square feet and it’s all on one level. Forty Three years of four sets of stairs was more than enough.

Once my tools get here, I’ll start on the minor stuff and start looking for someone to do the work I can’t do. That includes a new roof, which is number one on the list. It doesn’t leak, but it’s nearing end of life. Then we need to get the HVAC serviced, but that will actually be first as it’s easier and less expensive. Then we’re going to get a whole house generator. This area is not immune to power outages and I am definitely not going to sit in 100 degree weather without electricity.

We have decent punch list from the home inspection, much of what I can do myself.

So, that’s what has kept me from blogging for several weeks. It’s actually a bit exhausting learning all of these new things, and I expect that while not as tiring as packing, we’ll be spending time unpacking things and figuring out where to put them. Sort of like Christmas every day was we open boxes and remember what we actually put in them.

More later.

A New Beginning

2

Our house sale is finally complete. It was a rocky road, but it worked out fine in the end. Not only that, but after our first buyer backed out suddenly, we re listed the house and got a better buyer.

Better as in no bullshit, and she waived the home inspection. That was in large part because the one the first buyer paid for showed nothing that wasn’t bullshit. That buyer was nuts and would have been a PITA to deal with.

Plus the second buyer needed to be out of her house by the end of this week so she paid us a nice premium for our efforts to get out and close early. Packing and getting the moving company in to remove what’s going south with us was perhaps the most stressful thing I’ve ever done.

There was a lot of packing, sorting, selling, giving to friends, and throwing out to be done. It’s amazing what you can accumulate in Forty Three years.

So that’s good news.

Better news is that we made and had an offer accepted yesterday evening. I’ll be somewhat vague about the location, but it’s in Williamson County, TX. Close enough to Austin to be able to go there when we want or need to. Far enough and outside of Travis County so that the Left Wing nuttery is not an issue.

It’s going to be different dealing with an HOA, but the one we’ll be in is older and less intrusive from what I’ve seen.

The house is bigger than what we have now, and more importantly is a single level. No more stairs for us. Forty Three years of climbing three levels of stairs to get around the house was enough.

We’re still in our soon to be former home state for a week or maybe two and then we’ll be driving down to our new town. We can’t close until after Thanksgiving, but we’ll be in Texas for the holiday.

We have something to be thankful for, that’s for sure.

I’ll try to get back to somewhat normal blogging, including the attempted invasion of Israel by Paleostinian terrorist thugs. Hamas is the army of Gaza, but my guess is everyone who lives their supports them to some extent.

More later.

Gaza as Tet

The attack and slaughter of civilians by Hamas terrorists last weekend has drawn a lot of analogies to previous sneak attacks. Most observers have used either the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, or the Terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 as examples.

I don’t think either of those are fitting examples. Rather, I think the Tet Offensive of January 1968 is a more accurate comparison.

Briefly from Wikipedia,

The offensive was launched prematurely in the early morning hours of 30 January in large parts of the I and II Corps Tactical Zones of South Vietnam. This early attack allowed allied forces some time to prepare defensive measures. When the main operation began during the early morning hours of 31 January, the offensive was countrywide; eventually more than 80,000 PAVN/VC troops struck more than 100 towns and cities, including 36 of 44 provincial capitals, five of the six autonomous cities, 72 of 245 district towns, and the southern capital.[20] The offensive was the largest military operation conducted by either side up to that point in the war.

Hanoi had launched the offensive in the belief that it would trigger a popular uprising leading to the collapse of the South Vietnamese government. Although the initial attacks stunned the allies, causing them to lose control of several cities temporarily, they quickly regrouped, beat back the attacks, and inflicted heavy casualties on PAVN/VC forces. The popular uprising anticipated by Hanoi never happened. During the Battle of Huế, intense fighting lasted for a month, resulting in the destruction of the city. During their occupation, the PAVN/VC executed thousands of people in the Massacre at Huế. Around the U.S. combat base at Khe Sanh, fighting continued for two more months.

Keep in mind that this is from Wikipedia, so vet it carefully. Still, the broad outlines are accurate.

Sound familiar? I take exception to the use of “execution” as that implies that there was a judicial process to decide who would be put to death. Murder is what that was, pure and simple.

Just as Hamas started out their terror attack by slaughtering civilians at a music festival, the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army slaughtered people who could cause them no harm.

Unlike the NVA and VC, Hamas took civilian hostages for the specific purpose of trading them for prisoners held by Israel. They also took them for the purpose of rape and murder, although I’ve read they murderer and then raped some of the victims. Big heroes.

Apparently Jewish infants were so much of a threat that Hamas members decided to murder them and decapitate many of them. Doesn’t appear to be a legitimate military objective, but what do I know.

The difference here is that the Israeli military recovered much more quickly and is now ready to go on the offensive. At which point the weak kneed pacifist crowd started calling for restraint on the part of Israel. Probably not going to happen.

Like Tet, the media is lying about what happened and what’s happening. This was not a justified attack by the “Palestinian” people. In fact, there is no such thing. The ancestors of the “Palestinians” were offered full Israeli citizenship and the offer to live within the borders of the new nation. Instead they initiated and lost a war of extermination. They’ve subsisted in refugee camps ever since.

Other Arab nations are refusing to let them settle in their territory and most of the assistance they give is in the form of weapons and ammunition. Many of the Palestinians in Gaze had jobs in Israel, but that’s done now.

It’s pretty widely accepted, other than by the Biden Administration, that this operation was funded, supported, and planned by Iran as part of it’s plan to eradicate Israel. As with Tet, it also allowed Iran to set the stage for Israel to eliminate most of Hamas. In 1968, part of the NVA plan to was eliminate the Viet Cong as an effective fighting force and allow North Vietnam to take control of the war.

Revolutionaries like the VC and Hamas are problematic once their usefulness to the states sponsoring them is finished. Rather than kill them themselves, it’s more effective to allow the enemy to do it for you.

Cynical, huh?

As with Tet, the expected widening revolution has not materialized. At least not yet. Don’t be too surprised is some of the “widows and orphans” seeking refuge in Europe and the US are infiltrating with the intent of causing mischief once they are inside the host nations. Interestingly pictures of those refugees include a lot of images of young men of military age traveling alone.

Odd, isn’t it?

Egypt is closing it’s passages from Gaza into their country. There is some information that Israel has blown up infrastructure in those areas as well. It seems that Israel doesn’t want Hamas terrorists to escape to fight another day.

This is far from over, it’s just beginning in fact. Gaza will be reduced to rubble and many civilians will suffer. Civilians always suffer war, especially when one side hides among them and uses hospitals, schools, and religious institutions as shelters and armories.

As with Tet, the reality is far different than the reality. Hamas will be destroyed in the end, but they’ll likely be portrayed as the victims when in fact they were the perpetrators.

Don’t be fooled.

… I’m going to Texas

Back in August I posed that Mrs. EMS Artifact and I have decided to move out of state. Specifically to Texas, which will be the fruition of a long time desire.

In the earlier post I listed a lot of what we did to make the house saleable at a good price. In mid September, the house went live on the market place.

Below is some of what happened after that. Things are moving so quickly that from when I started this post until today a lot more has happened.

Anyway the moving update.

We had the place sold two weeks ago at a bit over asking price. The P&S was pending inspection which should have gone quickly. Should have. Turns out that the buyer is, well, nucking futs. After three visits, her totally crooked home inspector found her that out that she had clearly been looking for. Why she changed her mind, I neither know or care.

The immediate effect was that we had to pull our offer on beautiful house in the suburbs of Austin.

My wife and I were in a panic, and not a mild one. If we couldn’t disprove what her home inspector said was the issue, we’d be stuck until next year trying to figure out if there was a real issue. After two days, no one could figure out what he was saying and the report he sent us had no standard range of values. A friend who is an experienced environmental health and safety engineer said he’d never seen anything like the report in over a dozen years in the field.

Our realtor decided to go ahead and relist with the bogus report disclosed. That was exactly a week after the deal blew up. A wasted week as we couldn’t continue looking for a new house.

House was listed Friday, realtor called me Saturday morning that she had multiple showings scheduled with the first in about an hour. I woke up Mrs. Too Old and we executed our “Abandon Ship” drill. I went out for breakfast with a friend and she did something. We met later in the day and then drove around for a few hours until the “All Clear” was sounded.

We got two good offers. In fact, they were several thousand more than crazy broad had offered. Plus one of them had rock solid financing and was waiving the home inspection. Deal.

There was only one problem. The buyers have to be out of there house by the end of October. We now have three weeks to complete six weeks of moving, cleaning, packing, disposing of 43 years of accumulated crap. The Yard Sale idea went right out the window.

The P&S is signed, we have a closing date, we have notified our moving company. Now we just need to find a new place to live. 2,100 miles away.

That search starts with a couple of Facetime showings with our TX realtor. Unfortunately, someone else fell in love with the house that we wanted, but actually there are others just like it in the same area.

We looked at a couple with our realtor via Face Time. One looked beautiful from the outside and had a very well set up office space. At least it looked beautiful in the realty posting on line. When our realtor went out in person iPhone in hand it was a different story. There were several indicators that there is likely possible foundation damage that will need to be repaired. Mrs. EMSArtifact and I have decided that we don’t want a “project” or “handyman special.” We want a house that needs nothing more than maybe some interior painting.

Yesterday we looked at another house. It was in better condition than the first, but has carpet that needs to be replaced with different flooring, many rooms need painting, and as it sits is only worth $10,000 less than the asking price.

We’ll keep looking as new houses come on the market in that area every day or so.

Meanwhile the packing, sort, tossing, donating, and giving way continues. It’s amazing how much crap you end up accumulating in forty three years. Things that were important to us turn out to be of limited of no value to anyone else. We had plans of a moving sale, but the hard truth is that the few hundred dollars we might realize from that are outweighed by a full day of not being able to pack, sort, toss, …

We’re giving a lot of tools and other items to friends and neighbors who will put them to good use. Clothes are going to a charity organization, as is some food.

Oddly no one seems to want furniture. Maybe because it’s hard to move, but I’d think that someone could use furniture that is in good condition.

We decided to have our movers come and pack up Mrs. EMS Artifact’s kitchen. Hopefully during that process she we realize that we don’t have to feed a family of four and will reduce what we move. Hopefully.

We’re going to technically be “homeless” for a few weeks, but we’ll be living in a Homewood Suites hotel not far from our old place. Once we take care of a few obligations up here, it’s off to Texas.