Dopesick – by Beth Macy (2018)


It’s a problem that seems new, but is actually an old one – addiction to painkillers. The author goes back to trace the history of morphine, heroin and other painkillers in our society. She wrote of Civil War soldiers heavily addicted to morphine, laudanum (opium in alcohol) being given to adults as well as children, and drugstores selling heroin without a prescription. In 1920, Congress finally made it illegal to sell opiates over the counter. But these popular painkillers had gotten such a foothold that it was impossible to get rid of them.

The majority of the book focuses on the present-day, with an emphasis on heroin and Oxycontin. What is really sickening is the way the pharmaceutical company that patented Oxi pushed their pills. They lied when they said it wasn’t addictive, and gave doctors all kinds of financial rewards if they could get their patients to take it. Once people got started on it, they couldn’t stop taking it. Every time they would try to stop, they faced nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, pain in their bones, sweats, anxiety and depression. They called it “dopesick”.

The author spent much time talking with people who were addicted to Oxi and heroin, parents who had spent years trying to help their children break a drug addiction, and an imprisoned drug dealer. Their accounts were heart-breaking. After a while, I found the stories so depressing that I had to stop reading.

So now here we are – 2018 – with the government having declared a “War On Opioids”. Pretty much every state in the U.S. now only allows you to have a week or less of pain medication, some as little as five days. As terrible as the stories in this book are, it is also terrible to see ordinary people whose bodies are permanently damaged by disease or crushing accident to be unable to get relief from their lifelong injuries. They are now stigmatized when they ask for relief, and must jump through hoops to get even weak pain pills. The only winners here seem to be the pharmaceutical companies who have gotten rich by pushing one medication after another at the doctors and the general public. Given the misery of lives lost to addiction, would it have better for opioid painkillers to have never been discovered?


WearEver Pans

I first discovered WearEver pans back in 1998. While out for a walk, I passed by a garage sale and stopped for a look. A small pan, just the right size for cooking oatmeal for one, caught my eye, and I bought it for 25 cents. It was perfect! It was not likely to burn anything as the metal was quite thick, but if something did stick to the bottom you could easily scrub it clean with an SOS metal pad. Why don’t they make pans like this anymore? I thought. Over the following year, I bought half a dozen old WearEver pans of varying sizes at thrift stores and off e-bay. They all outlasted my newer non-stick pans.

Yesterday I decided to make a pot of homemade pea soup. After starting up the soup on the stove, I wandered downstairs to take care of laundry, and got sidetracked by other things. About an hour later an unpleasant odor reached my nose. Rushing upstairs, I found the remains of my pea soup.

2018-10-18 WearEver pan a burnt

I yanked the pan off the burner and put it over the sink. What a mess! My first thought was to chuck the whole thing in the garbage bin after it cooled, but I couldn’t resist trying to save the pan. There was a good half-inch of totally blackened stuff on the bottom, and it wasn’t any better along the sides.

2018-10-18 WearEver pan b burnt

After pouring boiling water into it and letting it soak, I was able to scrape away the debris, then get the last of the black stuff off with an SOS pad. This is what it looked like when I got done:

2018-10-18 WearEver pan c clean

Wow – the WearEver pan really lives up to its name! There are still WearEver pans sold, but the new ones I have seen at the store all have the non-stick coating, which eventually flakes off. (I bought one new; it did not last.) If you are able to get your hands on the older-style pans, buy them and hang on to them!

Some WearEver trivia:

– WearEver started selling cookware back in 1903. It was sold door-to-door, and customers loved it!

– Because they were so indestructible, the United States Marine Corps started using their cooking utensils as in 1912.

– By the 1940s, WearEver accounted for about 40% of all pans bought in the US.

– During World War II, WearEver shifted from selling to the public to selling to the military. But people loved WearEver cookware so much that they prepaid for cookware that would be delivered to their homes after the war was done.



Animal Testing: Lifesaving Research Vs. Animal Welfare – by Lois Sepahban (2015)

animal testing

Lois Sepahban is an author who primarily writes books for elementary students about various science and history topics. They tend to be short books, often 32 pages. The books are written simply enough that almost anyone can understand them, and are a good starting point for many subjects.

This title caught my eye simply because it’s not something we think about very often. The medications, vaccines, and cosmetics we use without thinking are all available to us because they were were first tested on animals for safety. Half of the book points out the positives of using animals in lab testing, the other half of the book points out the negatives of using animals in lab testing. It leaves the reader to form their own opinion, and move on to more detailed research on the subject if they want.

After the Great Flood, which is recorded in the Bible, God told Noah that it was okay to eat meat as well as plants. “Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.”  Genesis 9:3, NIV version

But holding animals captive for the purpose of running tests is a different subject, one there is not a specific answer to in the Bible. Perhaps the most thoughtful statement in the book was: “Scientists argue that animals are close enough to humans for experiments
to work. But if so, then perhaps they are close enough to humans for
animal experiments to be unethical.”

The Power of a $20 Bill

20 dollar bill

On Saturday, someone gave me a $20 bill because they appreciated something I had done for them. I said it was unnecessary, they insisted, so I accepted it. Less than an hour later, I stopped at the local library to pick up a few holds that had come in. Turns out the library was having a used book sale, which is irresistible to a person such as myself.

In the space of about ten minutes, I had a stack of items to buy – nine non-fiction books, two biographies, ten fiction books, four classic science-fiction magazines, and four DVDs. All were in excellent condition.  The total cost – $19.50!

Later in the day I sat down to analyze the value of the book sale purchases. Most of them had the price either on the dust cover or on the book itself. Amazon’s website supplied the prices for the few that did not have the price posted. Here’s what I found:

Non-fiction books:      $139.42
Biographies:                     35.95
Fiction:                            176.91
Magazines:                         6.75
DVDs:                                 37.41
Total original value:  $396.44

That is approximately a 95% off sale! So if buying books new at the bookstore is out of your budget range, keep your eye out for library book-sales. You just never know what you might find for $20 or under.





Can’t Wait To Get To Heaven – by Fannie Flagg (2006)

Can't Wait To Get To Heaven

Elner just wanted to make some fig preserves for a neighbor. So she got out the ladder, as she had hundreds of times, and started picking figs from the tree in her yard. So what if she was in her 80’s, and her hyper-anxious daughter Norma had forbidden the climbing of ladders? Elner would just grab the figs, put the ladder away, and no one would be the wiser. But unbeknownst to Elner, she had leaned the ladder against a wasps’ nest, and the enraged critters poured out of their home to protect what was theirs.

So the story begins with the death of Elner. You might think this is a sad tale about an unfortunate death, but somehow the author managed to turn it into humorous, joy-filled recollections of the myriad of people whose lives crossed paths with Elner. She never dreamed that the times she listened to people’s hurts and encouraged them made such a difference in their lives. When Elner dies, a huge hole is left in the little community of Elmwood Springs.

If you are looking for a serious book on death, or are upset by books where the religious doctrines of the author are different from your own, this book might not be your cup of tea. But I truly enjoyed the light-hearted, humorous flavor of this novel. I also loved the way the author reminds us that the kindnesses we show to those the Lord puts in our lives do not go unnoticed.

The Power Of Choice

binge drinking
(photo courtesy of

After yesterday’s confirmation of Brett Cavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court, people are either elated at this decision or deflated – depending on whether they believe Brett Cavanaugh sexually attacked women in his youth.

The problem is, of course, that decades have gone by since the incidents. There is no way to absolutely prove guilt. Any physical evidence is long gone. So what you have left is memories. And the people remembering – or trying to remember what happened, were all drunk at the time. I can imagine Cavanaugh as a young man, totally plastered and trying to prove how manly he was, with alcohol erasing any inhibitions, attempting to force a young woman into sex. Maybe he was so drunk he honestly can’t remember it. Sadly, the woman could remember the event even through the haze of alcohol, and is still emotionally affected.

This is a scenario that has been happening over and over for decades, centuries, and thousands of years. The victims tend to be women, although men and children have been victims as well. The thought that keeps coming to my mind is how often the attacks involve excessive alcohol. It’s like a broken record that never stops! There’s really nothing good that comes from hard partying, whether you’re 13, 30, or 130. Getting drunk paves the way for spousal abuse, drunk driving, unwanted diseases, sexual assault, unplanned pregnancy, and alcohol addiction.

It saddens me that so many people feel that they have to drink alcohol in large quantities to feel accepted or to fit in. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with NOT wanting to take a drink! Why can’t people come together to watch football or celebrate a wedding or just relax after work without alcohol?

We can’t really do anything about the appointment of a supreme court judge. It’s beyond our control. What we can control are our own decisions. Dare to be the person that politely declines an alcoholic drink. Dare to be someone who passes on the frat party. Decide to have a “dry” wedding reception. Go to a sports event and skip the beer. Be the person to suggest an alternative to an evening at the bar. You don’t have to consume alcohol to enjoy life…

The Third Twin – by Ken Follett (1996)

The Third Twin

Do individuals become criminals because of something in their DNA, or because of their life experiences and environment? That is the question that the main character, Jeannie Ferrami, is asking. To find the answer, she looks for identical twins who have been raised separately. She finds Steve, a normal college student, and his twin brother Wayne, who is a serial rapist serving time. While Jeannie is doing her research, a close friend of hers is raped, and Steve is arrested for the crime. But is he actually the criminal?

This novel was written when in vitro fertilization was not as common, and personal computers still used floppy discs. Biotechnology was a novelty mostly confined to the scientific world. The book is a bio-tech thriller, but because the average person now knows so much more about the subject, there was not a whole lot of suspense. I knew almost immediately what had happened – no need to flip to the last chapter. So although the book was very popular when it first came out in 1996, and was made into a movie for television the following year, this is a novel whose time has come and gone.