Category Archives: Science

Only I Would Call It “Poop Week”

In May 2012, about a year after I started blogging, I came out of the closet here on FiftyFourAndAHalf.  Out of the water closet that is.  I fessed up.

I posted this:

My life is shitty.

No, no, no.  I can’t say that, they’ll think I’m suicidal.

My life is in the toilet.

Ditto.

Saturday, May 19th is World IBD Day.  World Irritable Bowel Disease Day.

That’s it!

Recently I learned about this, umm, holiday.  It is a very personal one for me.  Way more personal than I want to admit.  But of course it’s not my fault.   I blame my sister, Judy.

You see, some time in the late sixties Judy pasted a picture on the front of the medicine cabinet above the toilet in our one bathroom.

*

Little did I know at whatever tender age I was that that picture would illustrate my life.  Because in 1972, not long after it went up, I found out that I had ulcerative colitis.  An inflammatory bowel disease.  The bloody flux.  I was in and out of the bathroom and the hospital for much of my teens and early 20s.  What a blast!

Long story short, it ended up that I didn’t have colitis!  But we only found that out when a bunch of men (led by Dr. Herbert Hoover) came at me with knives, removed my large intestine and reorganized my plumbing.  That was when they found out that I really had Crohn’s Disease.

Crohn’s Disease, is, well, worse.  Partly because I can’t for the life of me spell it.  But also because it means I still spend way too much time in the bathroom (although I am very well read).  Oh, and it can affect the entire rest of your body.  Trust me when I say it’s nasty, and that there is no cure.  I would be delighted if that were to change in my lifetime.

*****

Fast forward to now, today, December 7, 2016.  Today ends Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week.  There will be a Thunderclap of posts, and tweets, blogs, and Facebook postings to call attention to Crohn’s and Colitis — to Irritable Bowel Disease — diseases that are often “invisible.” Because unless a person goes onto the Internet and proclaims that their life is in the toilet, well, nobody knows.  Unless perhaps if they are in the next stall.

In all seriousness, 1.6 million people in the U.S. alone suffer from Crohn’s or colitis.  These diagnoses are life changing — they cramp not just your gut, but your life.  Your life really does revolve around the toilet.

So I have a favor to ask of you guys.

You’ve all been wonderful, supportive friends, who have laughed with me about my poop problems.  I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Or maybe just from my bottom.

But here is the favor.

I have been working with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America to get member of the House of Representatives to join the Congressional Crohn’s and Colitis Caucus.  These Representatives will, hopefully, help direct funding into research towards a cure.  To, in fact, get me (and 1,599,999 others) off the pot.

Please send an email to your Congressman/woman (you can find their information here:  http://www.house.gov/representatives/) and ask them to join the Caucus.  In fact, just cut and paste this into the email/form:

PLEASE JOIN THE CONGRESSIONAL CROHN’S & COLITIS CAUCUS!

Led by Representatives Ander Crenshaw (R-FL-4) and Nita Lowey (D-NY-17), the Congressional Crohn’s & Colitis Caucus is a bipartisan group of Members of Congress dedicated to educating their colleagues and the American public on Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The Caucus works together to raise awareness, support IBD medical research, and protect patient access to care. The Caucus also works to assert the patient perspective in regulatory decision-making, including the development of a biosimilar regulatory pathway. To join or to learn more information, please contact Matthew Moore in Rep. Crenshaw’s office (matthew.moore@mail.house.gov; 202-225-2501), or Dana Miller in Rep. Lowey’s office (dana.miller@mail.house.gov; 202-225-6506).

Thanks.  You guys are the best.

be-idvisible

 

 

 

 

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How to Find A Lost Civilization

It may surprise you to know, but once I dreamed of being an archeologist.  It’s true!  That was before the Indiana Jones movies, too.  It was before I knew I was destined to become a great actress.  Oh, and before bowel disease.

Once I developed bowel disease, my dreams changed.  Tromping around the desert searching for a toilet and artifacts (in that order) didn’t seem like a great career path.  And until today, well, I believed I was right.  But I just realized I was wrong.  (I was right that I would be wandering the desert looking for a place to poop, though.  So I wasn’t completely wrong.)

You see, today’s Washington Post reports that Clifford Coulthard, while looking for a place to go, stumbled onto an absolutely amazing discovery:

“Nature called, and Cliff walked up this creek bed into this gorge and found this amazing spring surrounded by rock art,” archaeologist Giles Hamm told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. “A man getting out of the car to go to the toilet led to the discovery of one of the most important sites in Australian prehistory.”

Profile view of Warratyi Rock Shelter elevated above local stream catchment. (Giles Hamm) as printed in the Washington Post article linked to earlier.

Profile view of Warratyi Rock Shelter elevated above local stream catchment. (Giles Hamm) as printed in the Washington Post article linked to earlier.

as a friend of mine once said, “Civilization all comes down to where you put your poop.”

Think of the discoveries I could have made over the nearly 45 years I’ve been pooping too much!

Shit!

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For Kids

Another reason to vote for Hillary.  The Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Here, you’ll need this.

hanky

Societies are judged by what they do for their most vulnerable.

My thanks to Crooks and Liars.com who showed me this video.

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I Will Register

This election depends on me.

But it also depends on you.

My most important job this year is to vote. Yours too.

Will you be able to?  Are you registered to vote?  Or will you feel as foolish as Donald Trump’s kids who weren’t registered to vote in the primaries

I’m registered.  I just double checked, because a lot of monkey business has been going on.  I wanted to be sure.

You can register or check to make sure you’re still registered. here:

I WILL VOTE.COM

You can do this from your living room.  Your office.  Your phone while waiting in line at the grocery store.

Do it today.

Vote

Elections Matter.

Don’t let Donald Trump sit in the Oval Office.

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I Found My Donor!

Well, it’s been a while since I discussed the topic that is near and dear to my, ummm, heart.

Poop transplants!  — The ultimate solution to my Crohn’s disease woes.

OK, it’s nearer to my hiney, but you can’t claim you weren’t expecting that.

Earlier today I was discussing my future poop transplant with my boss.  (It’s true, I have no pride what so ever.)  She’s very interested in the idea.  She wants me healthy, of course, but really, I think she wants to see what happens from a scientific perspective.  And, frankly, I can’t blame her.  I want to know what’ll happen from a scientific point of view, too.  And from the perspective of a toilet paper consumer.

You may recall that  I’ve mentioned that you have to be very choosy when choosing a poop donor.  If the donor is fat, or depressed, or psychotic, well, the recipient can become fat, or depressed or psychotic.  I haven’t researched what happens if you choose someone immature, though.  Perhaps I should.

Anyway, the issue was on my mind tonight when I began reading the news. And I found my donor!

He is young and healthy, albeit a little younger than I was thinking of;  he’s living in Florida with his mother.  In fact, it was his mom who brought him to my attention.  Well, and to the attention of people with a deep seated interest in poop.

One day Katy Vasquez discovered that the Lord moves in mysterious ways.  And goes into mysterious places.  Because, You see, one day when she was changing his diaper, she saw this sign that things were going to get better.:

Halla-Poo-Yah

This picture was taken by my donor’s mom, Katy Vasques, and posted to Facebook and the Huffington Post (where I saw it).

It’s Holy Shit!  What more could I ask for from a donor?

HALLA-POO-YAH!

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Scientific studies

A good part of my job is to look at scientific studies and figure out if they represent good science.  You’d think they’d hire an actual scientist to do that, but, really it’s not necessary.  There are a handful of rules good science follows, and then there is a lot of common sense involved.  I can follow rules, and I am bogged down with common sense, so I am fairly good at analyzing a fair percentage of them.  If the studies look at science that is over my head, or if it involves statistics, I give it to somebody else.

It turns out, I’m not the only non-scientist who looks at scientific studies!  I’m not even the only funny non-scientist who does.

On Sunday, John Oliver took a look on Last Week Tonight.

For the entire version, which Word Press won’t let me post because it’s too long, click on this link.

And don’t believe everything you read.  Or hear.

 

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Unusually quiet

You may have noticed that I’ve been unusually quiet about politics lately.

Ever since Donald Trump stopped being funny, well, my heart hasn’t been in it.

I will tell you that I miss candidate Barack Obama.  He inspired me, beginning before he was a candidate — when he made his 2004 speech to the 2004 Democratic Convention, I turned to John and said “Can we have him?”  In 2006, John and I spent our 20th wedding anniversary listening to the future president speak.  And in 2008 and 2012, we both worked for Obama’s election and re-election.

Hillary?  Bernie?  Eh.

In February I wrote that I’d decided to vote for Hillary:

Philosophically, I’m really in Bernie’s camp.  I’d love government-sponsored healthcare.  I’d love to make college free.  I would love to erase income inequality.

But I’m a pragmatist.

Even if Bernie could get elected (and I don’t agree with pundits that claim he can’t), well, I spent 10 years watching the sausage mill that is our government.  And I simply don’t think Bernie can do it.

Hillary Clinton has my vote because I think she will be a good president.  Because she’s smart and capable.  Because she knows the system inside, outside and upside and downside.

I didn’t know at the time that I would ever be quoting myself.

But this morning, courtesy of the Daily Kos, I found someone much funnier than I agreed with me.

John Hodgman.

You probably remember Hodgman from the Daily Show — the straight man.  Monday, in advance of the New York Primary,  he came out for Hillary for precisely the reasons I decided to support her.  He is much funnier, though.

I think her ambition is, and has long been, to be the President of the United States, like everyone else in the race, and also to make policy.

I think it’s reasonable to say based on her career that she likes making policy.

Moreover, I think she wants to make the best policy possible in an antagonistic-by-design political process that she has known and wrestled with for decades, and keep that policy in place.

Moreover, I think she wants to make policy that I largely agree with.

And I think she can do it.

Moreover, I think she can beat Trump.

At least I hope so.  New Zealand is so far away.

Hillary Aliens landing

Besides.  She has the aliens on her side.  Photo spotted at Daily Kos.  But my feet were on the ground.  Or actually on the coffee table, if you must know.

 

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