Thursday, August 29, 2013

#77 - Dogs and Iceland

Today I learned that until recently it was against the law to have a pet dog in Iceland!! I can't imagine life with my dogs! They bring so much joy to me!
Happy sunbathing in her dog bed.
Comet co-piloting the car while Demetrius drives.
So why was it illegal to have these adorable, loving creatures as pets in Iceland?

Even though the ban on dog ownership was lifted a few years ago in Iceland, dogs are still banned on most city streets and in apartments.

#76 - Crocodile Tears

Crocodile Tears Print by CuriousArtLab on Etsy, $20

Crocodile tears usually refers to big ole fake tears. These tears are often cried by little ones trying win over their parents. ;)

Where does the term originate? I mean, how often have you seen a crying crocodile? I always thought it was a reference to big tears.

Crocodiles actually cry. It's not an emotional response like we have though. Crocodile sunbathe with their mouths open to keep from overheating. (Like many animals crocodiles don't sweat.) When the crocodile holds its mouth open, it pressurizes its tear ducts and tears start flowing. It's been said that crocodiles weep to lure in their prey because these tears are not an emotional response but are thought to aid in digestion of food.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

#75 - Clarity (aka Invisibility!)

Today I learned about a group at Stanford that have figured out a way to make biological tissues invisble! They don't call it invisible...they use the term "clarity" but basically you can see through the tissue!

You've got to see this! Below is a mouse brain before and then after 2 days of the clarity process in which a gel is placed around the brain to hold its structure and then fats are removed which leave the brain see through! Isn't it cool?!!
Check out this cool youtube video about the process!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

#74 - Redbud Tree aka Judas Tree

I snapped a picture of this beautiful trio of redbud trees during my lunch walk today. Aren't they gorgeous?!

Today I learned an interesting fact about them. They are also called "Judas trees" because it's said that  Judas hanged himself from a redbud tree after betraying Jesus. The flowering redbud is said to "blush with shame". Poor little tree, why should it blush with shame? It did nothing wrong!

Monday, April 15, 2013

#73 - Historic Day in Science and Medicine - Patent a gene? yes or no?

DNA Helix Glass Pendant Necklace by BigHelmetHead on Etsy, $26

Today while chatting with my awesome boss, I learned that today is a historic day in science and medicine! Why??

Today the Supreme court will hear a case to determine whether or not a person or company can patent a gene.

Myriad Genetics is seeking patent for two genes related to hereditary breast cancer - BCRA1 and BCRS2.

My personal view is that this should not happen because there is a law in place that you cannot patent "products of nature". My genes (and your genes) are products of get off Myriad Genetics.

I worry that if we allow companies to patent genes then treatments that would be fairly inexpensive will soon become expensive. Also, where's the limit...if you can patent my genes can you patent other things that are technically MINE?

For more on the topic, click here.

What do you think? Sound off! :)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

#72 - Lake Hillier, Australia

Today I learned there is a lake in Australia that is naturally bubble gum pink! How neat is that! The lake is thought to get its pink color either from the mix of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and sea salt or from bacteria present in the lake. Though the pink color is somewhat freaky, there water is not toxic to humans.

Would you swim in a pink lake? I would love to see it but I'm not so sure I'd get in it! ;)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

#71 - Allergy Testing

Yesterday I had a very new adventure and to be honest, I was scared about it. I know I have allergies. I've had big reactions to horses and rabbits. I also itch like crazy if I sit in grass. But I've never actually been allergy tested. Lately I've been breaking out in hives and so I was sent to have allergy testing since none of the allergy medicines have helped me.

I was afraid I was going to get stabbed with giant needles but the pokes on the back didn't really hurt at all. It was more like a little poke than an injection.The needle must be really short because I even wondered if it was a needle at all or just something that scratched me. This part of the testing didn't cause any bleeding. The poke isn't very deep at all. This test was done on my back instead of my arm.

Everything that tested negative at the low dose on my back was checked again at a higher dose on my arm. To do the higher dose, she had to inject it. This part of the test kinda hurt. It was like getting about 20 TB skin test injections!

Turns out I'm allergic to tons of things...mostly plants and animals but also dust mites and EGGS!  The egg allergy is tragic considering I eat a ton of eggs. :(

Here's my back after testing:

I start allergy shots next week or the week after (depends on when they get my custom shot ready) and hopefully in 6 months or so I'll be feeling much better. :)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

#70 - 10 Facts About Dandelions

Dandelion Watercolor by CKpigments on Etsy, $25

It's spring time and these pesky little flowering weeds will soon be invading gorgeous lawns everywhere!

Besides the fact that they ruin lawns each year, here's 10 cool facts about them:

1. Dandelions originated in Asia where they are used as both food and medicine. 

Heirloom Dandelion Seeds from seedsshop on Etsy, $1.79

2. The plant was brought to the US by the Spanish (New Mexico) and the German (Pennsylvania) for use in nutrition.

3.The word "dandelion" comes from the French name for the plant "dents de lion" which means "teeth of the lion" in reference to the jagged leaves of the plant.

4. On a breezy day, a strong wind can transport the tiny seeds of the plant miles away from the parent dandelion plant.

Dandelion Seed Necklace by ScrappinCop on Etsy, $15

5. Dandelion flowers are photosensitive; they bloom under the morning sun and close in the evening or in dull, gloomy conditions.

6. Dandelion is grown as a crop in Belgium.

7. In Chinese medicine, the dandelion plant has been used for over thousand years in treating various conditions like diabetes, cancers, as well as bacterial and fungal infections.
Dandelion and Nettle Herbal Tea by good4you on Etsy, $14

8. Dandelion is popular for its diuretic properties and it increases urine output.

 9. The entire dandelion plant is edible. (obviously it you're going to eat one, don't eat one that's likely been sprayed with pesticide or peed on by dogs, etc...just a thought)

10.  The dandelion is also an ingredient in root beer.

Root Beer Print by FlyGraphics on Etsy, $15

Friday, March 29, 2013

#69 - 10 Fun Facts About The Smurfs

80's flashback! Who else grew up with the Smurfs?

Smurf Birthday Party Invitations by RepondezSilVousPlait on Esy, $20

10 Fun Facts about The Smurfs:

  1. The word “smurf” was created when the creator, Pierre Culliford (Peyo), couldn’t remember the word for salt. Instead of asking 'Passez-moi le sel', he asked 'Passez-moi le schtroumpf', and the name was born!Schtroumpf became "smurf" in English.
  2. The Smurfs are Belgian. They became very popular worldwide after Hanna-Barbera featured them in the 1980s but they did not originate in the United States. 
    Smurfs La Schtroumpfette  French Comic from RubyLaneVintage on Etsy, $19.99

  3. There are 105 different smurfs. 
    Vintage Lot of '80s Smurfs, Houses &Accessories from PerfectlyPoshVintage on Etsy, $150
  4. Smurfette was created by Gargamel to stir up trouble in the smurf village.In the original series, Smurfette left the village to create peace but the American version has Smurfette staying and becoming a permanent character.
    Vintage Gargamel Figure from CeeGeesAttic on Etsy,  $6
  5. The smurf cartoons have been translated into 30 different languages!
    Spanish Smurfs
  6. The smurfs are “three apples tall”. 
    Smurf Macbook Decal from Ralleyfun on Etsy, $8.80
  7.  The white hats the smurfs wear are called Phrygian hats which are worn as a symbol of liberty. 
    Fleece Smurf Hat by MysticMoor on Etsy, $18
  8. There’s a red Phrygian hat on the seal of the United States Senate. 
  9. When Sony Pictures filmed a Smurf movie in the village of Juzcar in Andalucia, Spain, they used around 1,000 gallons of paint to turn all the houses blue. The promised that at the end of filming, they would repaint all the houses back to their original white, but the townsfolk, in a referendum in 2011, voted to keep them blue as they had boosted tourism to the village from 300 a year to about 80,000.
    Juzcar in Adalucia, Spain
  10. In a UNICEF anti-war advertisement, the smurf village was bombed to extinction with the message "“Don’t let war affect the lives of children.”

Thursday, March 28, 2013

#68 - Dolphin with a Prosthetic Tail

Recycled Dolphin Crayons by LittleDoodlers on Etsy, $7.50

Today while waiting for a doctor appointment, I picked up a magazine in the waiting area. (I was super excited to see that they had Scientific American and not just a bunch of gossip/lose weight without doing anything/housekeeping magazines). Anyways, in Scientific American, I found the coolest article about a dolphin who got a prosthetic tail!

When this dolphin, named Winter, was a baby, she got her tail caught in a crab trap. The trap cut off blood circulation to her tail and her tail basically died. They amputated her tail and she could swim without it. But because dolphins swim up and down and not side to side like fish, her adaptive swimming motion which was fish-like was putting a lot of pressure on her spine.

Winter with her stump tail

Finally, Kevin Carroll heard about Winter and thought "I could make that dolphin a tail." So after much work, he did!

Winter with her prosthetic tail

Dolphin skin is slippery and sensitive so they had to come up with a gel like covering to protect Winter's skin on her stump before they could attach a tail. Kevin Carroll and his team spent much time watching how dolphins swim and creating a tail for Winter.

The trainers at the aquarium where Winter lives trained her to allow the to put her tail on for her!

There's now a movie based on Winter's story called Dolphin Tale.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

#67 - 10 Common Household Items That Can Hurt Our Dog Friends

Most people know that chocolate is poisonous to dogs. However today I learned some other things that are poisonous to dogs that caught me by surprise.

But first, here's a story about how my carelessness turned into a dramatic disaster that could have killed little dog. Fortunately she survived and was fine but it taught me an incredible lesson and I hope you learn from it as well.

One evening I stopped by the grocery store on the way home and while waiting in the checkout line I picked up a pack of gum. When I arrived home from work, the usual 5 minutes of chaos awaited me. The dogs needed out to go to the bathroom, the cat was screaming for food (yes he practically screams - little jerk!), and here I was with groceries hanging off both arms. So I took the groceries to the kitchen and put them on the counter then went to let the dogs out and feed the cat. I unpacked most of the groceries while the dogs were outside and the cat was eating and got all the cold foods put away, etc.

I let the dogs back in and got distracted doing something else. I can't even remember what happened. It could have been something as simple as I went to the restroom myself. A few minutes later, my little dog, Happy, comes through the house smelling weird. It took a second for me to realize she was MINTY...REALLY MINTY! I ran to the kitchen to find that the mint gum I'd bought earlier was in the floor mostly eaten. The cat had batted the gum off the counter and Happy had gladly scarfed it down.

Why does it matter that Happy ate gum? Because the gum had xylitol (a common artificial sweetener) in it. I'd just read right before that happened that xylitol was poisonous to dogs. I didn't know why it was poisonous (or actually if it even was) so I grabbed my phone and called our vet's office to get the on-call vet (of course she'd eat gum when the vets are all gone home for the day!). He told me that xylitol is indeed poisonous to dogs and told me to give Happy hydrogen peroxide (had to hold her down and squirt it in her mouth with a water bottle) until she threw up the gum and to call him back if she didn't throw up and he'd meet me at the vet clinic but also to call him back later if she did throw up to let him know she was ok.

So here I am holding this 25lb dog and squirting hydrogen peroxide down her little throat to make her throw up. It was horrible. By that time, I was in tears and she was gagging. Finally she threw up the gum. I kept giving her peroxide until there was no gum left in her. Fortunately she was fine but that taught me an incredible lesson. Even though the gum was up high where she couldn't reach it, it's so easy for it to get knocked off the counter (especially with a cat in the house!). So now we never leave gum (or anything else that is bad for dogs) out on the counter even for a few minutes.

10 Common Household Items That Are Poisonous To Dogs:

1) Chocolate - this delicious little treat is for humans only! Dogs cannot eliminate the theobromine and caffeine from chocolate as quickly as humans and it can be fatal. For more information, click here.

Chocolate Mustaches by TheChocolateMommy on Etsy, 12 for $15

2) Xylitol - this was the sweetener in the gum that my little dog ate. It causes a drastic drop in blood sugar in dogs and can be fatal.

3) Grapes and Raisins - can cause renal (kidney) failure in dogs

Grapes Watercolor Painting by VickieSueCheek on Etsy, $10

4) Nicotine - need I say more? It's not good for us or our dog friends. For more information, click here.

Vintage Cigarette Lighter from SkyLynx on Etsy, $15

5) Onions, Garlic and Leeks - Both raw and cooked versions can can affect the red blood cells and cause anemia in dogs.

Onion Print by AppetizingArt on Etsy, $15

6) Pennies and Batteries -  The acidic environment in the stomach allows rapid release of the zinc in these items and the zinc can cause anemia as well as liver, kidney and/or heart failure.

1983 Penny Bracelet by christinavitale on Etsy, $26.95

7) Unbaked Bread Dough - the dough can expand in the stomach/intestine creating a blockage. In severe cases, surgery may be required to remove the blockage.

Bread Dough Photography by gildinglilies on Etsy, $20

8) Sage Palm Plants - This is a common house plant and the entire plant is poisonous to dogs. This plant contains cycasin, a chemical poisonous to many animals including humans.  For more information, click here. Here's a blog post from a dog owner whose dog ate some of this plant.

9) Macadamia Nuts - The toxic compound is unknown but the affect of macadamia nuts is to cause locomotory difficulties. Dogs develop a tremor of the skeletal muscles, and weakness or paralysis of the hindquarters. Affected dogs are often unable to rise and are distressed, usually panting.

Macadamia Nut Cookies by KandyKoncepts, 2 dozen for $14

10) Acetaminophen (found in Tylenol and other pain relievers) - This drug interferes with red blood cells and can also cause liver damage in dogs.

Vintage Tylenol Container from metalsk8er6 on Etsy, $6.99

#66 - Rattenberg Austria Uses Mirrors for Winter Sunlight

I'm way behind on my blogging due to my night class. But it ends in two there's going to be some doubled up days coming your way. :) I will get all 365 posts for the year! Anyhoo, today I learned about an Austrian town that gets no/very little sunlight during the winter months because of the surrounding mountains. This town, Rattenberg, Austria, was settled in the 1300s when being secure was more important that sunlight year round.

Rattenberg, Austria

The cool thing that I learned today is that the town has placed large mirrors on the surrounding mountains to direct sunrays into “hot spots” in their town so the residents can have sunlight. 

Sunlight Mirrors in Rattenberg, Austria
As I mentioned before in my vitamin d post, sunlight is important for humans. We need sunlight to make vitamin D. Sunlight also puts us in a better mood due to the release of a neurochemical called serotonin. Sunlight helps us get our daily dose of vitamin D and serotonin. :) 

Serotonin Tank FittdBrandClothing by on Etsy, $24
Most humans today do not get enough sunlight. Our ancestors spent many hours a day outside while we spent most of our lives inside. So kudos to Rattenberg for directing sunlight into their town!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

#65 - Michael Jackson and Naloxone (Narcan)

Last week in my nursing assistant class, I learned why the doctor that was caring for Michael Jackson was convicted of manslaughter. To be honest, I didn't really follow the stuff about Michael Jackson. I'm not really into celebrities and all the drama around them. But this little info shared by our nursing assistant course teacher was interesting.
Michael Jackson Watercolor Print by christydekoning on Etsy, $20

I didn't realize Michael Jackson's doctor, Dr. Conrad Murray, was convicted of manslaughter not because he doped up the star with pain medicine that killed him but because he didn't have the drug that will reverse depressed breathing caused by drug overdose. Naloxone could have reversed the depressed breathing within 2-5 minutes! If the doctor had given Narcan (naloxone) to Michael Jackson he very well may have survived. However, the doctor did not carry the drug and instead Micahel Jackson basically suffocated because the pain medicines depressed his breathing so much that he didn't breathe at all.  What a tragedy that Michael Jackson might still be singing if Dr. Murray had only carried naloxone in his supplies. As the Boy Scouts always say "Be Prepared".

For more information on how naloxone prevents overdose, click here

Monday, March 18, 2013

#64 - Signed Gluten-Free Girl Scout Cookie Petition

This past weekend there were little Girl Scouts everywhere selling cookies as a fundraiser for their troops. I'll probably end up buying some cookies and giving them to my brother since he LOVES thin mints but recently I've began to suspect I'm wheat intolerant so I cannot eat the cookies.

Today I found a petition online while looking through LinkedIn. It's a petition for Girl Scout cookie manufacturers to offer at least one cookie free of the 8 top allergens not only so they can sell those cookies to others but so the little ones with food allergies can enjoy the cookies they are encouraged to sell.

It's so quick and easy to sign the petition. Currently they have 12,180 people who've signed and they need 100,000. Go make your voice heard!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

#63 - Why Crossing Your Legs Might Be Bad For You

Vintage Photo from CassiesTaleVintage on Etsy, $3.29

Many of us women (and men too!) were taught that crossing your legs is the proper way to sit. However, yesterday in my nursing assistant class (more on that later) the instructor was talking about the circulatory system and as side note commented that crossing your legs may cause varicose veins. So, always on the lookout for blog fodder, I scribbled in my notes to check into this.

Reasons To Stop Crossing Your Legs:
  1. Crossing your legs puts pressure on the veins in your leg and may cause the pressure in the veins to increase and bulge – translation it can cause those horrible looking varicose veins and poor circulation in your lower legs.
  2. Crossing your legs can cause lower back pain. Sitting crossed-legged puts pressure on your lower spine.
  3. Sitting with your legs crossed tilts the pelvis and may cause muscle imbalances (especially if you cross your legs with the same one on top each time)
  4. You can look lady-like without crossing your legs and not risk possible adverse effects of sitting unbalanced. In fact, in England queens and princesses do not cross their legs. They cross just their ankles. 
Photograph of Kate Middleton by Samir Hussein/Getty

I've been trying to stop crossing my legs since last night and my goodness, it's nearly impossible! Good luck!