Category Archives: Science

Followup Drugs

Because everyone enjoyed my last public service announcement, Medical Advice, I figured you might need some advice on, umm, other drug-related issues.  You can thank me later.

It’s later.  Time to thank me.


Filed under Adult Traumas, Bloggin' Buddies, Conspicuous consumption, Criminal Activity, Disgustology, Huh?, Humor, Mental Health, Pets, Science, Stupidity, Wild Beasts

Freedom Industries! and why I ♥ Regulations

It’s the mantra that makes me want to grab the TV remote, smack the person who held it, and change the channel ASAP away from FOX News.


Me?  I  Regulations.  I dote on them.  I support them.

I understand them and why they are there.  I even lecture about them (and not just here on Word Press – people actually pay me money to do so).*  Regulations, I always tell folks, are the IKEA instructions that accompany the bookcase.  They are the “how-tos.”

Laws are enacted in response to our understanding that a problem exists, and we need to change what we do as a country to prevent it from happening again.  At the same time, we hopefully have enough vision to see some of the related problems that might occur and try to prevent them from occurring.  A few examples:

Our current Food and Drug laws, the Food and Drug Act of 1936 and the Food and Drug Act Amendments (commonly known as the Kefauver-Harris Amendments).  The FDCA was first enacted after a manufacturer added antifreeze (without testing its effects on people, animals or using their brains very much at all) to a cough remedy to make it more palatable to the kiddies.  The then-current law didn’t actually say that they couldn’t add antifreeze.  Guess what happened!  105 people died.

Another disaster involving a drug that was tested and tried, thalidomide, was found to cause serious birth defects in the babies born to pregnant women.  It wasn’t ever approved in the US thanks to Dr. Frances Kelsey

Dr. Frances Kelsey.   (Photo from Wikipedia article you should have already linked to and read.)

Dr. Frances Kelsey.
(Photo from Wikipedia article you should have already linked to and read.  What are you waiting for?)

Laws designed to safeguard our waters and land came about mostly in the 1970s after two hundred years of treating our country’s land and water like a sewer.  Diseases were springing up in neighborhoods where chemical companies had dumped chemicals.

Love Canal, where Hooker Chemical buried 21,000 tons of toxic waste! (Google Image)

Love Canal, where Hooker Chemical buried 21,000 tons of toxic waste!
(Google Image)

Our rivers were polluted.  If you fell into the Potomac River when I first moved here in 1979, you had to get a typhoid shot.  The Cuyahoga River in Cleveland burned.

Cuyahoga River Burns (June 22, 1969) (Google Image)

Cuyahoga River Burns (June 22, 1969)
(Google Image)

And so our then-FUNCTIONAL Congress (made up of folks who understood why they were elected and who believed in compromise and who believed in the need for government) passed laws to protect us and our land and our water and our air.  Now, our hazardous materials and hazardous waste are to be carefully monitored under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act.  Under the Clean Water Act.  The Clean Air Act.  And a bunch of others designed to keep you and me safe and keep industry behaving itself.

But laws only say:

 We’re Gonna Fix This Problem

Regulations give us step by step instructions on

How to Fix This Problem

Regulations are very specific.  In order to comply, you must do A,B and C, according to specific instructions.  When regulations are promulgated the agency asks the regulated industry to comment on them, how to make them more manageable, workable, less expensive to follow.  But the regulations cover testing, manufacturing techniques, storage, monitoring, record-keeping, transportation, the works.  Regulations have the force of law.  If a company doesn’t follow them, they are liable for penalties and/or imprisonment.


Regulations protect me.  They protect you.  They protect the United States of America from bad manufacturers.  They penalize the bad ones so that they don’t get away with messing up our planet.  They must be strong enough so that manufacturers fear them and therefore follow them.  Slaps on the wrist are ignored when there is money to be made by ignoring regulations. They must be strong.  (Because remember, there are idiots who would add antifreeze to cough syrup for a buck.)

Regulations are the rules that society agrees to adhere to often in spite of the fact that they are a serious pain in the ass.

Regulations, I say to those still awake in my lectures, are like the IKEA instructions.  The furniture is no good without them.  But they need to be followed.

Take this week’s Freedom Industries leak of 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol, or Crude MCHM, a heavy-duty chemical used in processing coal.  Current estimates are that this leak — from a facility brilliantly located upriver from a water purification plant — contaminated the drinking water of more than 100,000 residents of West Virginia.

Thirsty? (Photo from CNN)

(Photo from CNN)

Freedom Industries has said don’t know when the spill started.  They don’t know how much spilled.  They don’t know whether the stuff that has made the entire area smell like licorice is, in fact, terribly toxic to people or if so, how toxic it is to human health.

They are supposed to know or they didn’t comply with the regulations.

They are supposed to measure the amount in the tanks.  Frequently.

They are supposed to record the amount they add or remove from the tanks.  Every single time they do this.

They are supposed to test.  Frequently.

They are supposed to monitor for leaks.  Frequently.

They are supposed to comply with the regulations.  It seems as if they did not.

They are supposed to make sure that they don’t fucking contaminate the fucking water for a hundred thousand people and possibly, probably more.

And if they didn’t they should go to jail.

I’m betting that they didn’t — that they didn’t follow the regulations.  Time will tell.

Freedom Industries  (Washington Post Image)

Freedom Industries
(Washington Post Image)

Just imagine what the rest of our country, our land, our rivers, our air, would be like if there were no regulations.  And you know, don’t you, that the Republican party is oh-so-determined to cut regulations.  To protect industry.  Not you.  Not me.  Industry.  Like Freedom Industries.

Do me a favor.  Think of Freedom Industries whenever you hear someone bitch about the loss of freedom from regulations.

Think of what we’d lose without regulation.

*   *   *

* From 1980-1989, I analyzed environmental regulations and drafted memos to folks on the steps they needed to comply with the regulations that are designed to keep our land, water and air cleaner.

For the past 10 years, I’ve examined a zillion company documents that show how they comply with their IKEA instructions.

*     *     *

Yeah, I know I said I wouldn’t be around much.  But sometimes I just can’t shut up.


Filed under Climate Change, Conspicuous consumption, Criminal Activity, Disgustology, Elections, GOP, Health and Medicine, History, Huh?, Humor, Hypocrisy, Law, Science, Stupidity, Technology, Voting

Crisis Management

Normally, I am the best person to have around in a crisis.

I keep my head.  I think the problem through.  I react intelligently, organize other helpful responders and do what needs to be done.   Yes, that’s just the sort of person I am in real life.

Generally, I also manage to keep a running humorous commentary which is invaluable to the hoards of folks standing around doing the wrong thing at the wrong time.  Because, let’s face it.  Not everyone handles stressful situations without becoming certifiably stupid.

Of course every rule needs an exception, and this story is no exception to the exception requirement.

*    *     *

It was just after John and I bought a house for Goliath because nobody would rent to a young couple with a gigantic dog.

We were incredibly lucky in buying our first house.  It was a tiny split level cape cod type that defied description.  But it was just right for newlyweds.  The whole inside had been redone – we bought it from a contractor who’d lived there.  The kitchen was new, the paint unmarked.  Everything was bright and clean.  The coral colored carpeting was newly installed and didn’t have a single blemish on it.

It had been a long stressful day at work for me, so after John and I walked Goliath and had dinner, I decided to take a long, hot, relaxing bath.  The one bathroom was on the “second floor” which was four steps up from the living room.   As it turns out, it was my last relaxing bath.  Ever.

So I wasn’t far when John announced from the living room below

“Uh, Lease?  We have a problem.”

John was fairly calm, actually.  Of course that would change.

“What’s the problem?” I said.  The water was still warm and I was just starting to wash away the day.

“The red ball is stuck in Goliath’s mouth.”

Shit!  I thought as I got out of the tub and grabbed my robe.  Why couldn’t he just pull the damn ball out and let me have my bath?  I was a tad annoyed at my new husband at that moment.

I went down the two steps to find John holding Goliath steady, calming him down, even though Goliath was relatively calm.

Goliath turned towards me and I immediately saw what John was talking about.

Goliath’s favorite tease-toy, a hard red rubber ball with a bell inside, was there in his mouth.  But it didn’t look like any big deal.  I looked at John with an I can’t believe you can’t handle this without me look.  John didn’t notice.

Red ball with bell

Still available.  Photo Credit

That ball really was Goliath’s favorite.  He’d pick it up and taunt us when he wanted to play.  He’d wag his tail ferociously, and drop the ball, catching it in his mouth long before we could grab it from him to throw it.  It never hit the floor.  Goliath would drop and catch, drop and catch, drop and catch.  The bell inside would ring and he would wiggle his eyebrows and his back end.  Come on, grab the ball, he was clearly saying.  Let’s play.  But of course, he would never let us.

This time, as I dripped on the new carpet and assessed the situation, I could see that Goliath had caught the ball too far back in his mouth.  He couldn’t drop it again, and the ball’s size was just a little bit smaller than his windpipe.

First I petted Goliath, soothed him, although he wasn’t really terribly upset.  In fact, he was just a little bit confused and uncomfortable.   I looked at John, astonished that he hadn’t just reached into Goliath’s huge mouth full of huge teeth, and pulled out the ball.

So I did.  Or at least I did the first bit — I reached into Goliath’s mouth, firmly placed my thumb and forefinger on the ball, glancing at John to make sure he would know what to do next time.  John and I watched in horror as the dog-slobbery ball slipped out of my fingers, lodging further into his mouth, right at the top of his windpipe, blocking most of his throat.

No longer able to breathe comfortably and no doubt pissed that his Mommy had made things worse for him, Goliath began to panic.  He started running around the house with John and I chasing after him. Trying to catch him, trying to pry the damn ball out of his mouth.

I’ve never felt so helpless.  So terrified.  It was later when I felt like an idiot.

John and I tried everything we could think of – we put the stem of a wooden spoon behind the damn ball and tried to pull it out.  But  it didn’t budge.  The spoon broke, naturally.  We went through a lot of kitchen equipment that night.

Stupidly, in spite of the fact that it hadn’t worked, we kept reaching into his mouth and trying to pull the ball out.  Each time we made it worse and the ball went down further.  With each effort we only made it more difficult for him to breathe, and the more panicked poor Goliath got.

Goliath ran back and forth between the kitchen, the dining room and living room – the three tiny rooms of our tiny little house.  John would catch him as he ran by and try something.  I would catch him on the rebound and try something, anything else.  Poor panicked Goliath raced across the three rooms, a half-dozen times.  And then a half-dozen times again.

Once when he caught Goliath, John reached into Goliath’s mouth behind the ball.  Goliath’s gag reflex, in constant action by that time, led him to clamp down on John’s right index finger.

“Shit!” John shouted as he pulled his hand away from Goliath and let him go.  Blood dripped from John’s hand.

Almost immediately I caught Goliath and did exactly the same thing, only Goliath bit my left pointer finger.  Then it was John’s turn again to be bitten, and Goliath got John’s left middle finger.   Blood was flying all around our new house, our new carpet.  We didn’t really care, though, Goliath’s panic had spread to John and me.

Goliath was going to die.

There was nothing we could do.  My boy would choke to death on that goddam ball in front of us.  And with each movement that Goliath made, the cheerful bell inside of it rang.  Alfred Hitchcock was directing the scene.

Maybe the image of Alfred Hitchcock led me to do what I did next.  Yeah, let’s just assume that that’s what happened. It is the only explanation.

I had to do something or my crazy, psychotic, beloved life-saver of a dog was going to die.  I was about out of ideas, and then I remembered a show John and I had watched on TV just the night before.

I went into the kitchen and took out our largest knife, knowing I had to give my dog a tracheotomy.

At the time, I was not yet a fake medical professional.  I had never done a canine tracheotomy.  I did not, in fact have a clue if dogs have tracheas, and if so, just where Goliath’s might be located.  I didn’t know if it would make a difference if I, ummm, otomied it.

But just the night before, Radar had done a tracheotomy on a wounded soldier on M*A*S*H.  And if Radar O’Reilly, another animal lover, could do it, well, so could I.  Goliath needed me.

Besides he was going to die.  That reality had become crystal clear.  I had to do something.  Something drastic.  And likely messy.

So I took the butcher knife from the kitchen to the living room to perform my surgery there, on the new carpet in the room that was now looked like a crime scene.  My blood and John’s was speckled all over the living room and dining room  rug and smeared onto the walls and door frames.  I stood, knife in hand, and looked around the living room for a clean spot on the rug.

Henkels Butcher KnifeAlso still available here where I got the photo

John had at that time caught Goliath who was still terrified, still panicked, but running out of energy and oxygen.  When John saw me with the knife in my hand and heard my plan, he must have thought

This woman can never get near my (future) children.”

But “Are you nuts?” was all I recall him saying.  Perhaps there were expletives mixed in there, somewhere.  Maybe.

At just that moment, Goliath keeled over.

“Oh my God,” I shouted.  “He’s dead.”  And I began to sob.

“No,” was all John said.  But he started punching Goliath in the stomach, which did not seem like a very respectful thing to do to a dead dog.  To my dead baby.

Out popped the ball.  John, holding tightly to Goliath’s muzzle with his two bleeding hands, breathed into Goliath’s mouth.   Magically, Goliath’s eyes opened.  Goliath took a very deep breath indeed.  So did we.

The Heimlich maneuver.  It works on dogs. 

There’s another thing I should tell you about the Heimlich maneuver.  It’s best to try it before attempting a tracheotomy.

*     *     *

Other Goliath Stories:

For Medicinal Purposes Only

Dogs and Other Nuts

What’s In A Name?


Filed under Dogs, Family, Goliath Stories, Health and Medicine, Hey Doc?, History, Huh?, Humor, Science, Stupidity, Wild Beasts

WHOAH!!!! What happened?!?!

I admit, I’ve been doing a whole lot of this lately


Google Image, I'm sure

Google Image, I’m sure


But I was surprised how in two months during which I did almost no political posts whatsoever, that the world could have possibly gotten its knickers in a such twist.  Gone end-over-end.  Topsy Turvey.  All akimbo.

Two months ago, my company got two projects that would take us four months each to complete.  Both were due in two months.  Both got done.  I’ve been busy.

And I haven’t been paying attention.  I promise not to let that happen again.

Boy did I miss a whole lot.  I heard that they Congressman Issa cleared up that whole Benghazi thing!  And that Russia kept us out of war in Syria!  Somebody let me know if they admitted we’re doomed because of global climate change, ‘kay?

But the thing that has me most confused?

Apparently the country went from one where the GOP, the Republicans were interested in sticking things into women’s vaginas,


Yea, they like to do that.
(Google image)


Into one where it’s the proponents of the Affordable Healthcare Act

aka Obamacare — that want to do that!

Really!  Just look’ee here:



Only this time, they’re not just targeting the womenfolk.  They’re going after all the straight men, too.



Next, they’ll want to force all employees to wash their hands after using the restroom!




*     *     *


What sort of people campaign against people getting checkups?  What sort of people promote such ignorance?  What sort of stupid questions am I asking?  Because we all know the answer:


The Morally Bankrupt GOP (Google Image)

The Morally Bankrupt GOP
(Google Image)



Filed under Campaigning, Climate Change, Conspicuous consumption, Criminal Activity, Elections, Gizmos, Global Warming, Health and Medicine, Huh?, Humor, Hypocrisy, Law, Politics, Science, Stupidity

Of Mice and, ummm, something else with an “M”

Years ago, Miss Barbara on Romper Room taught me to “Turn That Frown Upside Down!” when I was sad or angry.  Of course I was sad and angry every time I watched Romper Room because not once did Miss Barbara see an “Elyse” in her magic mirror.

She should have seen me in that damn mirror.  I was a good kid.  (Google Image)

She should have seen me in that damn mirror. I was a good kid. (Google Image)


Oops.  Sorry.  That isn’t what this post is about.

I’ve actually found over the years that for the normal level of bummed-out-ness, turning my frown upside down (TMFUD) is quite an effective anti-depressant.  It is even more efficacious when combined with a walk and/or singing.  If I TMFUD while walking and singing, I am a happy camper.  (Of course the other folks around me might not be quite so smiley.)

As I got older though, I found that TMFUD was less effective against the bigger things that life threw at me.  I needed something approaching “schadenfreude,” which, as you know, is taking pleasure in others’ misfortune.

Now, I don’t think that I ever really – even to this day – actually take pleasure in someone else’s misfortune.  I’m somewhat nicer than that.

But I do like to look at someone else’s troubles and balance them against my own.  Then I am much more willing to keep my own.  And I feel immensely relieved.

In the early 1980s, neither my sister Judy nor I were, umm, living the high life.  Life was one crisis after another for both of us.  I was sick and poor.  She was a young mother –that wasn’t the bad part — with no education, no prospects, and a shaky relationship with her husband.   She was also poor.

Her problems always seemed worse than mine, and she felt the same way about my troubles.   It made us content with our own struggles.  So, being sisters, we made our respective miseries and misfortunes something of a contest.

I called Jude one day with bad news about the state of my health and she stopped me before I’d gotten the “woe” out in “woe is me.”  Bitch.

“This morning,” Judy announced, “I woke up and went downstairs to make coffee.”  I could picture her standing with one hand on her hip, taking a drag from her cigarette.  “And do you know what happened as I walked across the cold floor in my bare feet?”

I knew it wasn’t going to be good.

“I stepped in mouse intestines — in my bare feet!”  Judy’s cat, Izzy, a prolific hunter, had brought home some spoils for the family.  “Nobody’s should start the day with mouse intestines between their toes.”

Google Image

Google Image

Judy was right — no day should start that way.  And that was when I co-opted the motto for my life:

Life is Good*

* As long as you don’t have mouse intestines between your toes.

I’ve never seen that Tee-shirt in the series.  I think they need to expand.

Anyway, sadly Judy is gone, and I’d kind of forgotten about my motto.

In the last six months while I’ve been under the weather, not having Judy’s misfortunes to compare mine to made feeling crappy much crappier.

But today I stumbled across a story that inspired me, just the way my sister Judy used to.  It made me feel that somebody is worse off than me.  And it made me glad that I have my own troubles, and not this woman’s.

Today I read a story about a woman whose situation makes me squirm.

A story that made me realize that things for me really aren’t so bad.

A story that turned my frown upside down.

It was an article about an unfortunate woman who, while vacationing in Peru, had a bit of bad luck.  A horn of plenty, running over with misfortune.  A veritable ear full of it.

A British woman returned from a holiday in Peru hearing scratching noises inside her head was told she was being attacked by flesh-eating maggots living inside her ear.


They aren't all this cute. (Google image, natch)

They aren’t all this cute.
(Google image, natch)

Those Tee-shirt guys need to snap this motto up fast.  Because really:

Life is good*

*As long as you don’t have flesh-eating maggots inside your ear.

Well, maybe life isn’t so good if you were eating when you read this.  Then, I just bet, life could be better.


Filed under Climate Change, Conspicuous consumption, Family, Health and Medicine, Hey Doc?, Humor, Science

I’ll Take a Free Vaginal Ultrasound!

You probably know that I love me a bargain. Some times, I just can’t resist. Cheap stuff. Buy one get one for 50% off! Two for the price of one! Seventy-two rolls of Charmin!

So when I heard that former Senator Jim DeMint (R-Shouldda Never Let Him Into Guv-ment-SC) talking about free ultrasounds on the TeeVee, well, I decided right then and there that a bargain is a bargain.

I want me an ultrasound.  A vaginal ultrasound.

The fact that I believe in keeping government out of my lady-parts should not get in the way of me getting free stuff.

The fact that I am not pregnant should not stand in the way of me getting free stuff.

The fact that I am post-menopausal should not stand in the way of me getting free stuff.

When something is free, well then I want one. Because it’s a bargain, right? For everybody.  Especially those folks who want to look in my vagina.  I imagine there is quite a line.

What’s everybody complaining about?


Photo courtesy of “” courtesy of Google

Oh.  Maybe that.


Filed under Elections, Health and Medicine, Humor, Hypocrisy, Law, Politics, Science, Stupidity, Voting

The Great And Powerful

Do you ever miss things that are right in front of your nose?  I do.  All the time.  I am possibly the least observant person on the planet.

People are always pointing out little things I missed in books and especially in movies.  Did you know that Spiderman was in the 2003 move The Italian Job?  It’s true!  I wouldn’t make that up.  I can prove it, because it was proven to me.  But I had to watch the movie an additional 4 times before I found it.  You don’t have to do that, although it is a terrific movie.

One picture is worth a thousand words, whatever language this is in.

Apparently mistakes and weird things happen in films a whole lot, and most of us miss them.  Unless someone points it out you can be sure I won’t see it.  I’ve always thought it was because I am an unobservant dope.  But today I found out that I’m not the only one.

Still I’m always been glad that I was never hired to look for stuff.  I’d make a terrible detective because even after I am told who done it, I can’t figure out how or why or really anything else about what happened.  And if there are clues to be seen, well, I’d be more likely to spill coffee on them than solve the case from them.

So I’ve always been incredibly impressed by certain medical health professionals.  The ones who find stuff just by knowing what to look for, what it’s supposed to look like and what just isn’t supposed to be there.  They look and find tiny clues to medical mysteries on your body and mine.  They are the specialist to whom we are all referred at one time or another.  Because they are all seeing.

They are Oz.  OZ:  The “Great and Wonderful” not Dr. Oz the TV star, although I understand your confusion.

You Know Who(Google Image)

You Know Who
(Google Image)

Of course you’ve guessed that I’m talking about radiologists.  Yup, radiologists are rarely seen, and I don’t mean never seen socially.  Nope, they huddle behind protective glass, behind the walls that separate them from the huge machines their med techs stick you into.  Hidden.  I think they play a lot of video games of our guts.

It seems odd that you never get to see him/her, never get to chat.  You can never check their credentials.  Their bedside manner.  Their eyesight.  Still, I never really worried.  In fact, I’ve been mostly impressed by them.  I was especially awed by the radiologist who played video games of me just recently; he knew more about what other doctors had been doing to my body than I did.  At least based on the questions relayed to me by the tech.  Radiologists just notice everything.

Or so I thought.  But sadly, radiologists are just like you and me.  Just like the rest of us, they too suffer from “inattentional blindness” – not seeing stuff that’s right in front of them because they are concentrating on something else.  Yup, even people who get paid the big bucks to pick things out of pictures miss stuff, even when it’s waving right at them.

Click to Enlarge(Photo from the Washington Post)

Click to Enlarge
(Photo from the Washington Post)

According to this article in the Washington Post, a group of researchers tested a group of radiologists to see if they, like the rest of us, miss things while looking for something else.  And they did.

In fact, 20 out of 24 radiologists didn’t notice

that there is a gorilla waving to them

from the top of the right lung of this CT scan image.

Now I will admit that I had a hard time seeing that nice ape.  My excuse is that I can’t tell my right from my left and I was looking at the wrong lung.  I’m really hoping that not too many radiologists are Left-Right challenged as well as inattentionally blind.

But I’m sure my radiologist would notice.  Positive.  I’d bet my life on the fact that my radiologist would realize that there is a gorilla waving to him/her from this CT scan of a pair of lungs.

I also hope that monkeypox doesn’t become too prevalent around here.


Filed under Health and Medicine, Humor, Science