One of the most intriguing--and certainly one of the most famous--Bible stories is John 2:1-11: Jesus turns water into wine.  This is said to be the "First Sign"--a miracle that convinced his disciples of his divinity.

Akinori Ito is the CEO of Blest, a Japanese company.  If plastic is just oil, maybe we can simply return it to what it was. So he set out to make a machine that would convert plastic back to oil.  Now, Blest produces the machines in various sizes that can be used for industrial purposes as well as home use.  As Ito puts it, "To make a machine that anyone can use is my dream,” Ito says. “The home is the oil field of the future.”

Miraculous?  Here's the video, complete with English translation.  You can decide for yourself.






I’m mad as hell about the way our elderly population—our parents, relatives, all our senior relatives and friends—are shoved aside, tormented, victimized and abused.  That shoving, tormenting, victimizing and abuse of helpless elders happens most often at home.  Not in nursing homes, although the abuse that happens there frequently captures headlines, but at home, where the family dynamic can camouflage mistreatment.  According to the American Psychological Association

"Most elder abuse and neglect takes place at home. The great majority of older people live on their own or with their spouses, children, siblings, or other relatives--not in institutional settings. When elder abuse happens, family, other household members, and paid caregivers usually are the abusers. Although there are extreme cases of elder abuse, often the abuse is subtle, and the distinction between normal interpersonal stress and abuse is not always easy to discern."

A Great Places reader, who's following the Senior Watchdog blog, shares her story of familial abuse.  We learn from her experience that the impact, the guilt and the shame, can last for decades.

"I can’t remember whether it was sunny or cloudy that August morning when the phone rang.  The only thing I remember for sure is that it was Rachel, my niece, on the line.  Rachel was 50 that year, but she looked at least 80: smoking, drug abuse, and most recently, methamphetamine addiction, had left her toothless and wrinkled.  Her voice was deep and raspy that morning. 'Your sister is back in the hospital, Aunt Edna.' 'Oh no, her heart again?' 'No.  Elaine is in surgery.' 'For what?' 'Aunt Edna, she had a bedsore and they had to operate.'

"My heart sank. I’m a nurse. I know that if it’s necessary to operate on a bedsore, the situation is dangerous. I immediately set out on the four-hour drive to the small-town hospital. When I arrived, my sister was in the intensive care unit, hooked up to IVs and drainage tubes. I looked at the pump discharge from her draining bedsore and realized it was serious.

"For several months I had pleaded with Elaine to go to a nursing home.  She refused: 'You’re not going to talk me into moving into a nursing home. I’ve heard enough horrid stories about those places.' This time, though, she agreed that I could look for one. When I asked whether Rachel had abused her, she turned away from me and whispered, 'No.'  I didn’t believe her. I discovered that the hospital had sent the police to her home to investigate the possibility that Elaine was being abused. Not surprisingly, neither Rachel nor Elaine admitted anything.

"My sister was suffering; the infection in her bedsore was beyond belief. When I got ready to leave, I promised that I’d be back soon, and told her how much I loved her. She said, 'I love you, too, Sis.' Soon after I got home, the hospital administrator called and told me that Elaine had died.

"I know that my sister died of abuse and neglect—not in a nursing facility, but in her own home. Elaine died of Seniorcide. It breaks my heart to say this. I should have been more assertive and taken her to a nursing home. I feel the guilt every day."

We at Great Places
are appalled by how our seniors are victimized--and we won't be quiet when family members abuse infirm seniors. 

The SENIOR WATCHDOG is on the case.  

I’m mad as hell about the way our elderly population—our parents, relatives, all our senior relatives and friends—are shoved aside, tormented, victimized and abused.  Why, you may ask, are we so angry about how our seniors are treated? 

Here’s a recent example:  The State of California provides home care for its elders, yet allows convicted felons to participate in the program.  I’m serious: you can’t make this stuff up.

In-home health care provides services that promote, maintain or restore the health of older adults in their own homes. The assistance may range from cleaning and home maintenance to personal care, including dressing, grooming, meal preparation, bathing, and the like.  In-home care enables seniors to maintain their independence, remain in their homes, receive the care they require, and avoid the trauma of nursing home living.  This sounds pretty good; but what if felons are allowed to be “caregivers?”  That’s the unfortunate situation in California.

The Los Angeles “Times” recently reported that “Scores of people convicted of crimes such as rape, elder abuse and assault with a deadly weapon are permitted to care for some of California’s most vulnerable residents as part of the government’s home health aide program,” including at least 210 of these “caregivers” who were determined to be “unsuitable” to work in the program, yet permitted to begin or continue employment. 

Imagine, if you can, the outrage of a child of an elder participating in this program, living in say, Chile or Vietnam, when she read this article.

Compounding the problem is the fact that privacy laws prevent notification of the “elderly, infirm and disabled clients” that their in-home health aides may be a dangerous felon, such as: 


·        A woman convicted of assault with a deadly weapon, forging drug prescriptions, and selling drugs;

·        A person convicted of welfare fraud, willfully threatening bodily harm, drug possession and two counts of burglary;

·        A man convicted of raping a three-year-old child.


Laura West, a Sacramento prosecutor, reports that she is prosecuting three caregivers for fraud against the system, one of whom has been convicted of armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon; another has committed identify theft; and the third is a drug dealer.  West deadpans:  “Can you do this job if you burned down someone’s house? Yes. Murdered someone? Yes. Raped a three-year-old child? Yes.”


While Governor Schwarzenegger and the California legislature struggle to find a solution for this problem, help is available. offers a free background check for potential in-home healthcare aides. 
The service is available online at the firm’s 

We at Great Places are appalled by how our seniors are victimized--and we won't be quiet when government itself allows infirm seniors to be harmed by its own programs.  The SENIOR WATCHDOG is on the case.   

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