Monday, March 23, 2009

Stories Of the Tour Unfold Booking Agents

My brother forwarded a collection of images of outstanding test failures. I liked this one very much. It reminded me of the Little Prince's drawing that was not a hat. Physics, you see, must be full of elephants we can't see.

Last week, I had an appointment with a sports medicine specialist because regular doctors have different goals than I do. For instance, I believe I should be able to dance until I turn a gilded 100, though medical professionals regard this as evidence of a fantasy-prone personality. It's hard to convince doctors you, as the user of your body, might know something about what's wrong with it, but I managed with the sports medicine specialist. He was very serious about the narrowing of channels and calcification, radiating pain and "bone remodeling" - in fact, he was so serious that when he mentioned the hip joints appeared impact damaged I didn't make a joke. I didn't make a joke about going back to my first love, the trampoline - or being one. I passed up the line about going from speed dating to carbon dating. I even kept my trap shut when I wondered if my hip joints could be replaced with Slinkys. I smiled a lot and made an appointment for physical therapy.


Friday, November 28, 2008

Look Into the Eyes Of the Sun

Holy crap! Cheeseburgers ate your memory!
LONDON (Reuters) - Mice fed junk food for nine months showed signs of developing the abnormal brain tangles strongly associated with Alzheimer's disease, a Swedish researcher said on Friday.

The findings, which come from a series of published papers by a researcher at Sweden's Karolinska Institutet, show how a diet rich in fat, sugar and cholesterol could increase the risk of the most common type of dementia.

If this study was commissioned by the Lutefisk Growers Association to get us to eat that mess, they can just forget it.
"On examining the brains of these mice, we found a chemical change not unlike that found in the Alzheimer brain," Susanne Akterin, a researcher at the Karolinska Institutet's Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, who led the study, said in a statement.

"We now suspect that a high intake of fat and cholesterol in combination with genetic factors ... can adversely affect several brain substances, which can be a contributory factor in the development of Alzheimer's."

Alzheimer's disease is incurable and is the most common form of dementia among older people. It affects the regions of the brain involving thought, memory and language.

If only I knew what we were talking about. Hey, does anyone smell french fries?
While the most advanced drugs have focused on removing clumps of beta amyloid protein that forms plaques in the brain, researchers are also now looking at therapies to address the toxic tangles caused by an abnormal build-up of the protein tau.

In her research, Akterin focused on a gene variant called apoE4, found in 15 to 20 percent of people and which is a known risk factor for Alzheimer's. The gene is involved in the transport of cholesterol.

Bacon macrames brains? That lends new meaning to the phrase, "I'm feeling crafty."
She studied mice genetically engineered to mimic the effect of the variant gene in humans, and which were fed a diet rich in fat, sugar and cholesterol for nine months - meals representing the nutritional content of fast food.

...After which the mice guest-judged on Iron Chef America.
These mice showed chemical changes in their brains, indicating an abnormal build-up of the protein tau as well as signs that cholesterol in food reduced levels of another protein called Arc involved in memory storage, Akterin said.

"All in all, the results give some indication of how Alzheimer's can be prevented, but more research in this field needs to be done before proper advice can be passed on to the general public," she said.

The report concluded: Subsequently, the mice demanded fois gras but immediately forgot and locked themselves in the bathroom.

Fortunately, grocery stores now sell really good veggie and lentil burgers, to improve your recollection.


Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Dolphin Blogging:

Do Birds Suddenly Appear Edition

Horoscopically speak, I'm not allowed to lie about anything, even the smallest thing, so I'm breaking down and telling you a few stupid truths. To advance the plot, you understand.

Perhaps you've noticed I've been a bit circumspect lately, more so than one might expect over filmy deposits left by my shampoo and dull, lifeless hair. Thing is: two members of my extended family are undergoing cancer treatment, which worked out less fabulously last time than we might have liked. Plus, there's not a lot I can do besides call up one household and leave amusing messages, which I try to do now two or three times a week, and Heaven help me when someone answers the phone.

Sick Relative: Hello?
Tata: Did you know lips do not exfoliate and you must help them?
Sick Relative: Domenica, it's always nice to hear you speak in tongues.

In that house, a whole lot of things snapped into fast-forward after the diagnosis, like that one of my cousins planned a wedding in eight weeks to land taffeta-side down minutes before Thanksgiving. Because. Because why? Because. We are going to gussy up, overeat, throw rice and take pictures, got that? You should immediately buy a case of Orville Redenbacher. This has positively awesome comic potential.

On the other side of the family, Pete's sister Maggie was diagnosed out in Arizona with a cancer similar to the one that killed her mother. Maggie has been friends with my sister Daria since before either of them could say the words "I'm telling!" and my mother is a cancer survivor, so this is no laughing matter. Well, it wasn't until Maggie started chemo and Pete and I mailed her whole family a variety of silly hats from the toy store for when, as her toddler said, "We all lose our hair."

It was going pretty well until Maggie's last chemo appointment this week. She was sitting in the waiting room, talking to other patients. One said he'd been getting chemo for two years, and she heard a few other things that didn't make sense. Maggie's a doctor of pharmacy. She calculated a few calculations and realized she'd been given the wrong dosages, so had other patients and who knows how many people are dead now. But instead of collapsing into a heap like a mere mortal, Maggie called one of her other best friends, a Manhattan malpractice attorney.

Perhaps, wherever you are, you hear a distant whooooooooshing sound coming from Arizona, as doctors and facilities rush to cover their asses. I wish them well. There's no hope for them.

Speaking of hope - you knew there were animals here someplace - NOAA continues to hope the dolphins in the Navesink River will winter glamorously at the Jersey Shore.
NOAA’s Fisheries Service today announced a monitoring plan for 12 bottlenose dolphins in the Shrewsbury and Navesink rivers. The agency also announced that there will be no effort to force the dolphins out of the area at this time.

Monitoring by NOAA dolphin researchers over the past week revealed no indications of stress, illness, or feeding problems. They identified 12 individuals moving easily from the Navesink to the Shrewsbury in two groups.

“These animals are in typical habitat, food is present, and we have no reason to believe they are stressed,” said Teri Rowles, director of NOAA’s National Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Program. “We’re not going to interfere in what appears to be a completely natural phenomenon, especially when doing so carries a high risk of harming healthy animals.”

NOAA consulted with a number of experts on the condition and behavior of these animals in this habitat and determined the conditions of the estuary are well within those tolerated by bottlenose dolphins.

There is also general agreement that efforts to move the animals from the area by luring, chasing, or catching them for relocation would be difficult, potentially dangerous for the animals and people, and not likely to succeed.

That sounds really rational, doesn't it? I read the article a few times and the most striking aspect of the language is the attempt throughout to shut down any avenue of discussion. If we were children talking about toys, that might make sense, but we're not. Dolphins have frozen in the Navesink before, and if you're in New Jersey, I don't have to tell you it's been freaking cold for the past few weeks. If you're not in New Jersey, it's been freaking cold for the past few weeks. It's just a matter of time now until the rivers clog with ice.

There's a website with beee-yootiful photographs of the dolphins, and helpful contact information.
If are not satisfied with the NOAA decision, share your thoughts via a respectful email or phone call. They seem very willing to discuss the matter with anyone who asks.

David.Gouveia: or (978) 281-9505
Teri Frady: or (508) 495-2239

Contact Governor Corzine with a respectful email and share your thoughts:

1. Just click here.

2. Choose “Natural Resources” from the drop down menu & click “continue”

3. On the next page choose “Fish, Game & Wildlife” from the drop down menu and fill out the form.

You can also contact Governor Corzine by writing to:

The Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 001
Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0001
PH: (609) 777-2500

It can't hurt to talk about it. Please give them a call.

Some speculate that construction on that big bridge at Highlands keeps the pod from migrating out to sea. Pete and I saw that site a few weeks back, and even on a Sunday it was loud and confusing. I hated seeing that, since twenty-five years ago, the foot of that bridge, then crumbling and untraveled, was where I went for peace and quiet. But that wasn't so important, it was just another strange dead end for me on the day Pete and I scattered the one-sixth of Dad's ashes in my possession into the thundering waves at Point Pleasant. Since Dad and I said everything to each other when he was still alive and he smirks in my dreams now and then wearing his usual European underwear, there wasn't much to say as the powder that used to be Dad fell into the churning spray and foam and flew on the wind. I had chosen Point Pleasant because his grandfather had had a giant house on the ocean, where many of Dad's favorite childhood memories were set, where I know currents cross the Atlantic and warm the northern coasts. So there was only one thing to say that was new at all.

Tata: 'Bye, Dad. Be free. Hey! Now you can summer in Europe!

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