Sunday Scribblings #61: Simple

Nothing in life is simple.

A solitary drop of water upon the surface of a puddle will send forth waves, thereby impacting the entire surface of the puddle. A small pebble that already breaks the surface of that water will cause the ripples to bounce off of it, thereby becoming a contributor to the ripple effect as the waves rebound upon themselves.

Simple action can change the world. A simple sneeze can broadcast millions of tiny bacteria to a new host. A simple word can tear apart souls, rend egos, uplift spirits, quiet a squalling baby, arouse a lover, or seal another’s fate.

I offer you this week’s
Sunday Scribblings: #61 - Simple topic as a paradigm of simple chaos theory, with the topic itself as a catalyst. How many entries will there be for this subject? How many will be analogous? How many shall be dynamically disparate (not “desperate”, dear Readers! lol) from each other? The topic is the drop of water and we are the pebble. As we browse other's entries, our own comments contribute to the ripples already in motion.

Simplicity begets intricacy.


Sunday Scribblings #60: Mask

She heard the rumble of the engine as she jostled on a hard plastic cushion. A stern face seemed to float above her and she tried to speak but her words would not come. He quickly pried one eyelid fully open, and a flash of light momentarily blinded her. The air tasted coppery and stale, and her tongue rubbed around on her teeth like fat sausage thumping in a diminutive bowl.

The motion ceased and doors flung open. She felt herself rise and heard an abrupt snap as the gurney’s support and wheels clicked into place. The night sky sparkled briefly overhead before being replaced by the harsh glare of halcyon bulbs recessed into heavy concrete. The empty night sounds gave way to an explosion of activity as she rolled into the emergency room.

Her head, restrained by a cervical collar, could not turn to observe anything, nor would her eyes track; she was limited to survey the cold ceiling and the various equipment affixed there. Her ears could clearly hear agitated voices chanting away in a secret language of terminology and data. Another face appeared above her, and soft, brown eyes peered deeply into hers for a fraction of a second. Dizziness overcame her and she felt herself floating towards the ceiling. The voices became more disconcerted. A blur of plastic filled her vision. She could feel something cold touching her skin. The sudden, dry scent of unfamiliar air filled her nostrils, but her mind knew no more.

One heartbeat and an eon later, she awoke to the strange sound of a machine. It frightened her. Her mind tried to process the events leading up to this moment but it recalled only the haze of the ambulance. She soon realized the whine of the machine matched the breaths in her throat. A subdued ping announced her heart rate. The slow hum declared a blood pressure cuff was inflating somewhere on her body. Her eyes, taped shut, could not look around. She felt no pain. She felt nothing. She could move nothing.

Realization dawned on her. It was only a few drinks. The drive home from prom wouldn’t be so long. This was a dream, wasn’t it? She tried to pinch herself with dead arms. She fought to scream out or even shed a tear. Her body would not respond. She was trapped in her own mind; her slack face was a mask incapable of showing emotion.

Prevent Teenage Drunk Driving Accidents

Volunteer to help organize a fun, alcohol-free post-prom party at your local high school.

Write a letter to local supermarkets and liquor stores stating that you will not patronize any establishment caught selling liquor to minors. Get as many people as you can to sign the petition.

If you or someone you love has been affected by a drunk-driving accident,
share your story to inspire others.

If you are the parent of a teenager, download a copy of the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) brochure "
Underage Drinking: You Can Prevent It When They're Under Your Influence." E-mail ten other parents of teenagers, encouraging them to do the same.

Download copies of the MADD brochure "Underage Drinking: You're Stronger Than You Think" for every member of your church's youth group. Include with it a copy of "The Drunk Driving Poem."

Download a copy of the Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) "Contract for Life," a fair, two-way agreement in which teenagers promise to call for a safe ride home if they should find themselves in a potentially destructive situation. In return, parents agree to withhold discussion about the situation until a later, calmer time. Copy the contract for distribution at the next meeting of your local high school's parents' association.


The Commencement of Summer......

The official commencement of summer kicks off when our Doberman/Labrador mix crawls into the tub for her daily nap.

The Golden Compass - Erasmus

A friend turned me on to this movie!

Sunday Scribbling #59 - Second Chance

Sunday Scribblings: #59 - Second Chance

I used Sammi as a subject for Sunday Scribblings #21 Greyhound's Voice. It is as it implies – the plight of the racer and salvation of adoption as seen through the eyes of our rescued dog. This is a reincarnation of a topic that pleas with animal lovers everywhere to offer greyhounds a second chance.

Most people are not familiar with greyhounds.

This is a greyhound:

More specifically, that is a retired racer.

Retired racers are rather docile and prefer to spend their days lounging about on anything soft. They will make themselves comfortable on your bed, your couch, a quilt you set on the floor for them, or a casually discarded article of clothing.

The average retired racer does not retire. Many kennels euthanize these animals. Disreputable kennels simply fire a single round into their skulls while the trusting dog stands there expecting food or a soothing word. Large batches are sold for laboratory experimentation (yes, dear Readers, they still take perfectly innocent and viable dogs and drop acidic chemicals into their eyes, flood their bodies with poisons, or mutilate them with stimulated cancers in order to ascertain whether or not we “Civilized” human beings have safe products to use.)

Autrice, you are being brutal!

Am I? Yes. One single paragraph to jolt your sensibilities is not nearly as painful as what many greyhounds endure. These dogs are seen as disposable. Their sole purpose is to make money; once their racing time is over, they are nothing but a drain on profit. Forgive me for being so blunt but I am an advocate for the abolishment of greyhound racing.

Save a life, dear Readers! Adopt a retired racer! You will find yourself the proud owner of a very noble pet whilst giving a greyhound a well-deserved second chance.

Please enjoy these pictures of our spoiled boy:


US and International Adoption

Greyhound Adoption Program Adopt a Greyhound National Greyhound Adoption Program
Colorado Greyhound Adoption Virginia Greyhound Adoption
The Greyhound Rescue Society of Texas, IncGreyhound Rescue of New EnglandAdopt a Greyhound Greyhound Rescue in the UKLake Erie Greyhound RescueArizona Greyhound RescueThe Greyhound Adoption Center Greyhound Rescue of New YorkGreyhound Rescue AustinGreyhound Rescue and Adoptions of Tampa BayGreyHeart Greyhound Rescue and Adoption of MichiganGreyhound Pets of America Richmond VirginiaGreyhound Pets of America - RichmondFriends of Retired GreyhoundsGreyhound Rescue of IdahoGreyhound Rescue SocietyGreyhound Rescue WalesGreyhound Pets of America - Michigan ChapterFriends of Retired GreyhoundsRocky Mountain Greyhound Adoption, Inc.Greyhound Pets of America - WisconsinGreyhound Rescue and Rehabilitation OrganizationCentral Virginia GreyhoundsCarolina Greyhound ConnectionWings for GreyhoundsGreyhound Lovers of Hamilton-WentworthNational Greyhound Adoption ProgramGreyhound Rescue Foundation of TennesseeRacing Home Greyhound AdoptionArizona Greyhound Rescue

Wine Country Greyhound AdoptionPO Box 8490, Santa Rosa, CA 95407 (1-800-WC-GREYS)Colorado Greyhound AdoptionRecycled Racers Greyhound Adoption of ColoradoColorado Greyhound Companions, Inc.

Greyhound Racing Facts The Humane Society of the United States

Stop Greyhound Abuse - Signatures and Stop Greyhound Abuse Petition

Save The Greyhound Dogs! Inc.

Greyhound Neglect & Abuse (very shocking.)

Greyhound Abuse Media Cases (several links.)


Better Half, Cardio Caths, and Healing

For some of you, this will be an update; the rest of you, unfortunately, have not heard any of the news yet.

Better Half returned home from the Pittsburgh VAMC on Thursday afternoon after a nearly weeklong stay on the CCU floor, where he endured a chemical stress test (which he failed) and a cardio cath (which he passed with flying colours.)

My sweet man was put through a lot but is finally able to rest easy this weekend. We still can not ascertain what the origin of his persistent cough and accompanying chest pains is, but we can rest assured that it has nothing to do with his heart.

Better Half is an odd breed. Whilst some people might bitch and moan in hospitals, he tends to put on a brave front and (as he puts it) “combat gravity with levity.” The 3rd floor nursing team certainly enjoyed his good spirits, as did his doctors.

My week was a ball of wicked stress, not surprisingly. I spent most of it commuting or standing stoic vigil at his bedside. (The dogs suffered for it as they were locked up for nine-hour stretches.)

I am pleased to say that Better Half is doing well today. His cath was three days ago so some discomfort today was expected. He helped me putter about the yard (I mowed the grass and planted a willow tree.) We spent most of today outside simply enjoying the fine spring weather and the birds that frequent our numerous feeders. He must still take things at an easy pace (he has been napping repeatedly) and I am ready for a vacation myself!

My apologies to those dear Readers who did not receive much in the way of email from me.


A Few Local Images of Spring


SS #58: Ocean - Phytoplankton

I am captivated by oceanographic studies. Scripps has released some exciting news this week pertaining to the genetic makeup of two species of phytoplankton.

Dr. Brian Palenik is a brilliant man. He is part of the Marine Biology Research Division over at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (UC, San Diego.) He and his graduate student (Sonya Dyhrman) have put a vast amount of time and energy into their current project, which is “identifying protein markers which are indicative of phosphate stress in two model phytoplankton species.” He goes on to state, “Antibody probes to these markers may be used to monitor the physiology of natural phytoplankton populations. Such measures of phytoplankton physiology are critical to understanding the dynamic and toxin production of harmful algal blooms.”

Whilst this may sound uninteresting to the average (non-scientific) reader, I assure you that his project is tantamount to increasing our awareness of the importance of balance as it pertains to planetary life as a whole (for it is our oceans that set the stage for weather, climate, etc.)

Without further ado, I give you the good news:

An international team of scientists led by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and the Department of Energy's (DOE) Joint Genome Institute has peered into the genetic makeup of two species of phytoplankton, the tiny plants key in global photosynthesis and carbon cycling, and come away with surprising results about evolutionary engineering and new ideas about the role that a poorly understood chemical element may play in the world's oceans.

For several years, Scripps Oceanography's Brian Palenik and his collaborators, including scientists from France, Belgium and Germany, have been analyzing and annotating an organism called Ostreococcus. At one micron it is the smallest known phytoplankton and one of the smallest of all the eukaryotes, organisms with specialized internal cell structures that include plants and animals. A teaspoon of seawater taken off the Scripps Oceanography Pier typically contains more than 100,000 eukaryotic phytoplankton, which are found throughout the world's oceans. Phytoplankton are responsible for nearly half of the planet's photosynthesis.

Advances in genomics have allowed scientists to begin digging deeply into a long-standing biological puzzle concerning the mechanisms behind the divergent genomes of related photosynthetic phytoplankton species. The international team's work, published in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first comparison of the genetic makeup of two closely related eukaryotic phytoplankton and the mechanisms that make them biologically similar and distinct.

"Through our research we've been trying to understand Ostreococcus' role in marine ecosystems," said Palenik, who indicated Ostreococcus cells contain nearly five times the DNA of comparably sized organisms such as cyanobacteria. "Genomics has taught us that you can learn much more when you can do a comparison.. The first genome is exciting but the second genome is even more exciting because you can suddenly compare organisms and see what each is doing differently and what they are doing the same."

The researchers' comparison of Ostreococcus lucimarinus (recently sequenced by the DOE's Joint Genome Institute) and Ostreococcus tauri yielded several surprising results, including the documentation of a "new" chromosome differing between the species. Another chromosome appeared somewhat different between the species and the researchers believe it may serve as a gene transfer "trash can" where foreign DNA is integrated. Yet another difference was the identification of a chromosome featuring the same-albeit rearranged-genes in the two species. The researchers hypothesize that this chromosome may be related to sexual functions because the rearrangements are enough to prevent sex between the species.

"These are pretty remarkable differences that we didn't expect," said Palenik, a professor in the Marine Biology Research Division at Scripps. "We would expect the DNA to change slowly and see a small number of differences between the two species as they slowly evolve... This is the case for much of the genome. From a future applied perspective, from our comparison we are learning the tricks nature has used to 'engineer' an extremely small eukaryotic cell. This may have future applications in bioengineering."

Another important finding described in the paper is the prominent role that the element selenium plays in Ostreococcus. Humans require selenium in small amounts and most people have roughly 25 selenium proteins. Tiny Ostreococcus organisms were shown to have up to 21 selenium proteins, an enormous number relative to their small genome and microscopic size.

Palenik believes this may be because selenium enzymes are some 10- to 50-times more efficient than similar enzymes that don't use selenium. Based on their size, such efficiency is important to help conserve resources such as nitrogen.

"We may need to think more about how selenium helps drive the health of the oceans," said Palenik. "It's a nutrient element that we don't understand very well and now we have evidence of a group of organisms that clearly use it intensively. We may need to think about how this is affecting primary production in the oceans."

Future research by Palenik and his colleagues will involve a third Ostreococcus organism, which will lead to further comparisons and evolutionary evaluations.

"Genomic comparisons are exciting because they allow us not to just document the diversity of the ocean but to start to understand the processes behind that diversity and see all of the changes in the evolution of two species," said Palenik.

SOURCE: May 1, 2007 SCRIPPS Institution of Oceanography (reprinted here for discussion purposes only.)

(Photograph: Dr. Brian Palenik)

For further information, please visit Scripps Genome Center: Scripps Genome Center: Our Services: Genomes: Ostreococcus lucimarinus