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God tells me to copy and paste, so you can't stop me. -- Kate

"You know, I could run for governor, but I'm basically a media creation. I've never done anything. I've worked for my dad. I worked in the oil business ..." -- G.W. Bush

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use. -- Galileo Galilei

Monday, October 31, 2005

Every now and then on the news I’ve been hearing about people in Florida complaining about not having enough food and water and that the electricity has not been turned back on yet. People are annoyed, tired and hungry.

Hurricaine Wilma hit a couple of weeks ago, zipped over the state in about a day and really didn’t do much damage in comparison to Katrina/Rita damage. Katrina hit at the end of August-beginning of September. Rita hit the morning of September 24th.


New Orleans battles to recover 10/28/2005

Electricity has been restored to 60% of the city and gas service to only 46%. A boil-water advisory is still in effect for residential neighbourhoods in eastern New Orleans and the devastated Lower Ninth Ward.

Removal of storm debris remains a "major challenge," Nagin said, and garbage pickup has been "spotty at best".

I want to know why the media are covering Florida so much when it’s no where near as bad there as in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Friday, October 28, 2005


I’m a real sucker for this kind of stuff. A guy finds cameras with film still inside. He devlops the film, makes prints and puts them on the internet.

This is why I think the internet is so wonderful.


I'm sure at least some of these people once asked, "I wonder what happened to those pictures Uncle Harry took."

Well, this guy from Massachusetts bought Uncle Harry's camera in 2004. He used a machine to break down the photos into 1's and 0's and put the photos on "the internet" so everyone in the world could see them in an instant.

Yeah, right.

And look! In the picture, it’s President Lincoln!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Felt like adding a picture. This is from the Cape May-Lewes Ferry on a grey 2002 day.

And did you notice that the big empty space is now filled with stuff? Blogger came through and showed me how to fix it. Yeah!! Now there's just a blank space next to the picture. Oh well, one thing at a time. :-)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Yet another reason to stop smoking.

Scientists Study Bone Recovery in Smokers

WASHINGTON - Smokers' broken bones take a lot longer to heal. But scientists now are studying whether giving up cigarettes for even a week or two after a fracture might make the difference between a speedy recovery and months of easy-to-reinjure mushy bones.

"There's a window," predicts orthopedic specialist Michael Zuscik of the University of Rochester.

If he's right, it could dramatically change orthopedic practice for the nation's 48 million smokers.

Bone damage is arguably the least publicized of tobacco's harms.

The first time many smokers ever hear of the problem is if they need spinal fusion, a back operation that surgeons often won't perform unless patients kick the habit — with a urine test to prove they quit. That's because the surgery is far more likely to fail in smokers than nonsmokers.

Smokers who break a leg require 62 percent more time to heal.

Then there's the silent toll smoking can wreak by contributing to bone-thinning osteoporosis.

Yet tobacco's nicotine provokes a powerful addiction; it can take repeated attempts to succeed in quitting. Those who do often use nicotine patches or gum to wean themselves.

Here's the rub: Zuscik's early research suggests nicotine may be a key bone-damaging culprit — and that it does its dirty work almost immediately by affecting stem cells stored in the bone marrow, called mesenchymal stem cells, that move in to begin healing an injured bone.

"The most important steps that occur involving these mesenchymal stem cells happen during the first days and weeks of the healing process," Zuscik explains. "The whole thing is kind of derailed."

Now, armed with a new $1.4 million grant from the Defense Department, Zuscik is out to prove that theory, and whether going cold-turkey for a short time after breaking a bone or undergoing bone surgery might help smokers heal faster.

It's of interest to the military because surveys show up to 34 percent of troops smoke, compared with about 22 percent of the general population, and bone damage, particularly to the arms and legs, is common among soldiers injured in combat.

While the link between smoking and bone harm is clear, no one knows why it occurs, says Dr. Thomas Einhorn, chairman of orthopedic surgery at Boston University. Nicotine may not play the only role; there are lots of toxins in cigarette smoke.

But the Rochester team's theory is plausible, he says. And it's crucial to pursue because if they're right, using nicotine patches or gum immediately after a bone injury would likely be as bad as continuing to smoke.

Stem cells are building blocks for tissue, and the first step toward bone healing is for mesenchymal stem cells to transform into cartilage-forming cells. They build a scaffolding over the fracture, which gradually fills in and hardens into bone. It takes about three months. Stress a healing fracture before then and the still soft cartilage can break again easily, causing lasting pain.

Put nicotine onto those stem cells and they go into overdrive, making an enormous amount of cartilage, Zuscik discovered in tests with mice.

"Too much of a good thing is a bad thing," he explains. "What you end up with, we hypothesize, is a situation where the healing process ends up taking longer."

Nicotine seems to do that by parking in receptors on the stem cells' surface that are intended for acetylcholine, a chemical that helps nerve cells communicate. If the stem cells turn into nerve cells, they'll need those receptors. If they turn into cartilage-forming chondrocytes, the receptors quickly disappear. Zuscik's preliminary data suggests they're gone in a week.

So the nicotine has only a short time to jump into those cellular docking sites. Hence Zuscik's theory that this is a window during which smokers should heal more like nonsmokers if only they could abstain.

It will take a few years of additional animal research before that theory can be tested in smokers, he says, although there's no down side to people trying to kick the habit in hopes it will help heal their bones.

Indeed, there's some indirect evidence that quitting helps: In 2000, Kentucky researchers reviewed the medical records of 357 spinal fusion patients. About three-quarters of both nonsmokers and those who kicked the habit while healing recovered well enough to return to work, compared with just half of the smokers.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

I sure hope the chance of an avian flu pandemic is wrong but the World Health Organization seems to think it’s just a matter of time.

Responding to the avian influenza pandemic threat: recommended strategic actions

As the present situation continues to evolve towards a pandemic (my emphasis), countries, the international community, and WHO have several phase-wise opportunities to intervene, moving from a pre-pandemic situation, through emergence of a pandemic virus, to declaration of a pandemic and its subsequent spread. During the present pre-pandemic phase, interventions aim to reduce the risk that a pandemic virus will emerge and gather better disease intelligence, particularly concerning changes in the behaviour of the virus that signal improved transmissibility. The second opportunity to intervene occurs coincident with the first signal that the virus has improved its transmissibility, and aims to change the early history of the pandemic. The final opportunity occurs after a pandemic has begun. Interventions at this point aim to reduce morbidity, mortality, and social disruption.

. . .

Influenza pandemics have historically taken the world by surprise, giving health services little time to prepare for the abrupt increases in cases and deaths that characterize these events and make them so disruptive. Vaccines – the most important intervention for reducing morbidity and mortality – were available for the 1957 and 1968 pandemic viruses, but arrived too late to have an impact. As a result, great social and economic disruption, as well as loss of life, accompanied the three pandemics of the previous century.

The present situation is markedly different for several reasons. First, the world has been warned in advance. For more than a year, conditions favouring another pandemic have been unfolding in parts of Asia. Warnings that a pandemic may be imminent have come from both changes in the epidemiology of human and animal disease and an expanding geographical presence of the virus, creating further opportunities for human exposure. While neither the timing nor the severity of the next pandemic can be predicted, evidence that the virus is now endemic in bird populations means that the present level of risk will not be easily diminished.

Second, this advance warning has brought an unprecedented opportunity to prepare for a pandemic and develop ways to mitigate its effects. To date, the main preparedness activities undertaken by countries have concentrated on preparing and rehearsing response plans, developing a pandemic vaccine, and securing supplies of antiviral drugs. Because these activities are costly, wealthy countries are presently the best prepared; countries where H5N1 is endemic – and where a pandemic virus is most likely to emerge – lag far behind. More countries now have pandemic preparedness plans: around one fifth of the world’s countries have some form of a response plan, but these vary greatly in comprehensiveness and stage of completion. Access to antiviral drugs and, more importantly, to vaccines remains a major problem because of finite manufacturing capacity as well as costs. Some 23 countries have ordered antiviral drugs for national stockpiles, but the principal manufacturer will not be able to fill all orders for at least another year. Fewer than 10 countries have domestic vaccine companies engaged in work on a pandemic vaccine. A November 2004 WHO consultation reached the stark conclusion that, on present trends, the majority of developing countries would have no access to a vaccine during the first wave of a pandemic and possibly throughout its duration.

. . .

Pandemics are remarkable events in that they affect all parts of the world, regardless of socioeconomic status or standards of health care, hygiene and sanitation. Once international spread begins, each government will understandably make protection of its own population the first priority. The best opportunity for international collaboration – in the interest of all countries – is now, before a pandemic begins.

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