In Which She Reports In And Goes Overboard With The Links
But on the other butt cheek, after the first several hours or after the first day if it is a very good conference, you realize why you were so very eager to get away from learning by lecture and so gleefully dived into trial by fire.
So, it was with a combination of up front eagerness and yet lurking tedium that I hopped in the car early Wednesday morning and headed south to the First Annual Agricultural Occupational Health Training Conference.
It's always good to go with a buddy to sit in the back with, eat meals with and make snide remarks to. I was fortunate to have at my side, C, one of the two nurse practitioners in the occupational med clinic that I am to lead at some point in the hopefully far-distant future. In addition to being a fun person to hang with (and a damn good practitioner), C had lived in Springfield, IL, where the conference was held and theoretically could co-pilot me through the roads with the help of the set of Internet directions, which feel that having the correct information 95% of the time will get you an "A".
We respectfully disagree and point out that substituting a "left" for a "right" will, in fact, lead one way the hell off in the wrong direction and get one rather hopelessly lost.
But, we made it, thanks to leaving extra-early, along with the other 30-40 of us, to the small building that is the administrative offices and classroom space of the School of Nursing for Southern Illinois University. As an added bonus, they served lunch before hand! As a special added bonus, the lunch was not only edible but really quite good, with brownies (very small but tasty) at the end. Charles and I often shake our heads over the difference between the fare of the education conference and the medical conference. I definitely chose the right field.
I settled in for the duration of the afternoon, prepared to enjoy the first 15 minutes of the novelty of sitting and having someone blither at me rather than being the one to blither for a change. And, damn, if the whole afternoon had me with my attention riveted to the speakers. I mean, really, hardly a daydream of wandering the shops or taking a nap. Unheard of. I mean honest-to-God, chin in hand, elbow on the table, eyes blinking less than usual, attention riveted on the speaker for the whole 2 +1/2 days. And the stuff I learned: The various risks of old vs new tractors (here's a hint--a covered cab WITH a roll-bar is a handy thing if you are fool enough to operate such a machine. Also--mowing the ditch with your beast of a tractor? Bad idea. They tend to roll over when used at a 45 degree angle (duh) and the odds of surviving a tractor rolling over on you? 25%. And your health benefits as a farmer? Oh, let's all laugh at your $10,000 deductible unless you're lucky enough to have a spouse with an outside job with insurance. ) And silos? "Silo" is the Russian word for "Certain Death Should You Venture Inside What With The Silo Gas And The Sucking Down Into The Grain Where Death Awaits You In Less Than 2 Minutes Plus Your Rotting Buried Corpse Won't Make The Grain More Nutritious For The Cattle And Will Be A Burden On Your Family So Don't Be A Stupid Git And Stay The Hell Out Of The Damn Thing". We won't mention the multiple deaths as a result in unsafe exposure to the manure pits under the CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) where the hydrogen sulfide gas waits for you to succumb in 4 (yes 4) seconds and then pick off your buddies as they try one by one to rescue you. Bad that. No matter how you feel about such factory farming practices, I think we can all agree that it's best that the humans don't die, yes?
Oh, and the amputations and mutilations! 3 solid hours on this topic the second day, spanning lunch, with picture after picture, enlarged on the projection screen, of the most horrendous injuries and what to do. Oh, and the auger accidents. Seemed that 2 out of every 3 horrific injuries was due to the various damn augers catching a piece of clothing and pulling the human into the enormous machine. The lucky only lost body parts (which are sometimes re-attached, if not too mangled and are able to be retrieved and brought in with the rest of their owners within 4-6 hours). My favorite was the guy who lost 1/2 his hand (the distal 1/2 with all the fingers) that they fashioned a working limb with his two 2nd toes as transplanted digits that worked as a sort of a pincers so he could grip a bit with them.
I've the pictures in the syllabus. I've all the pictures in the syllabus. You know, just in case I need help with dieting some day.
And the Anabaptists? (The religious groups including the Amish, the Mennonites and the Brethren) Seems that while they don't have the tractor and auger injuries (as they don't have tractors and mechanized augers), they've got plenty of problems, what with being kicked and trammeled by the livestock they use in place of the wicked machinery, and, yes, the damn silos, and their natural distrust of modern anything. So that's what's up with the Anabaptists. Nice folk but leery.
And then! After the first 1/2 day, (which started out with us all going around the room and introducing ourselves, the horror!) we then all re-convened at a rather good bed-and-breakfast for no-bed-and-dinner and cocktails and appetizers and conversation and damn if we didn't come together and become friendly and start to chat together as acquaintances and not just isolated, anonymous strangers at a conference. C and I fell in with a nurse from Missouri and a Veterinarian from Illinois and ended up having dinner and walking around the town the next night together as well as walking the mile to the conference together the next morning, all gabbing like old friends.
They even had us all sign the official First Poster of the Red Barn AND had us all assemble for a group photo. As C said, "I think they'll be having us back for a 10 year reunion." It felt like that.
And it was good.
And it was so very interesting.
And we get to go to Part 2 in a few weeks.
And we can't bloody wait.
And why can't all the conferences be like this?