The Next Step

Sep 29 2014 Published by under General Health

So I have been working with my standing desk for some time now. I have gotten comfortable with upright posture for most of my office duties, so I thought I would up my game and add physical activity.

Turns out an under-the-desk treadmill is $600 minimum. I'm not that ready for commitment. One website showed a standard treadmill that you could detach the handrails from, but I am not up for that sort of project.

StepperInstead, I spent $50 for a stair-stepper. It requires no power source. You can buy them at a variety of price points with various bells and whistles, but I went low-tech here. I have it set on the lowest tension.

It does take some time to get used to the stepping while you do stuff. I usually take calls without stepping, but I am able to write this blog post while I'm working my butt.

Only disadvantage I can see is that I am climbing a staircase to heaven but my Fitbit registers it as steps, not stairs. Oh, well, I'm burning extra calories.

So far I'm pretty happy with this investment. For the first time since I moved to Oklahoma I can easily get inm 10,000 steps without setting foot in the gym.

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Forty-Six

Sep 06 2014 Published by under Kidney Function, Life of a Physician

It's been a dry week.

Zer0. Zip. Nada.

Today, the urine output box shows 46 mL overnight.

Less than an ounce, but an important sign of the return of kidney function.

Keep it up, kid.

Urine is golden.

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"Happy" Women's Equality Day

Aug 26 2014 Published by under Feminist Musings

94 years ago, the 19th amendment to the Constitution was ratified, giving women the right to vote. Our fore-mothers fought for this right, believing that without political power any other rights could be denied. They also believed that with political voices we could achieve true equality.

Their belief in the vote sustained them through public humiliation, beatings, starvation, jail, forced feedings, and a number of other indignities.

Despite the passage of nearly a century, women still have not achieved full equality. We make less than 80% of our male counterparts in similar jobs. We are underrepresented in the best -paid careers, and even when we enter those fields we are marginalized. Corporate boards, congress, and other decision-making bodies rarely demonstrate gender equality, despite the evidence that more women in those positions increases profits and other measures of efficacy.

Today we see rights we thought were won under attack. It's time we used that vote, the political voice our ancestors fought for. Learn the issues and make your choices. Run for office, or at least support those you like in whatever way you can.

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"Happy" Women's Equality Day

Aug 26 2014 Published by under Feminist Musings

94 years ago, the 19th amendment to the Constitution was ratified, giving women the right to vote. Our fore-mothers fought for this right, believing that without political power any other rights could be denied. They also believed that with political voices we could achieve true equality.

Their belief in the vote sustained them through public humiliation, beatings, starvation, jail, forced feedings, and a number of other indignities.

Despite the passage of nearly a century, women still have not achieved full equality. We make less than 80% of our male counterparts in similar jobs. We are underrepresented in the best -paid careers, and even when we enter those fields we are marginalized. Corporate boards, congress, and other decision-making bodies rarely demonstrate gender equality, despite the evidence that more women in those positions increases profits and other measures of efficacy.

Today we see rights we thought were won under attack. It's time we used that vote, the political voice our ancestors fought for. Learn the issues and make your choices. Run for office, or at least support those you like in whatever way you can.

No responses yet

What I Am Reading: Blast From My Past

Aug 11 2014 Published by under What I'm Reading

First, Some Background

I come from a family of non-athletes. In high school, my interest in sports mostly involved cute boys playing them. I had to learn about basketball in gym class, but watching my tiny high school football team taught me little about the game.

I then left for Kansas City. As part of the University of Missouri system, my boyfriend, an actual athlete, took me to football games at Mizzou. I began to appreciate the strategy of the game. The Chiefs were pretty bad in the early 1980s, so tickets could be bought at reasonable prices. I loved sitting in that bowl at Arrowhead as part of the crowd in red and gold, even if victory often fell out of reach.

In 1984, that same boyfriend (now my spouse) moved to Chicago to start his residency. The Bears were coming of age that year, especially dominating with their 46 defense. I moved to the Windy City in the summer of 1985, ready to cheer on a new team.

MonstersThe Book

Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football occupied two evenings of my vacation. I could not put this book down, although I do not know if someone without the type of background above would love it as much. The author, Rich Cohen, grew up in Chicago and during his senior year in high school managed to get SuperBowl XX tickets and make his way to New Orleans for this big game. He captures the mood of the city at that time perfectly, and provides great background for those of us (like President Obama) who were new to the way of "Da Bears."

Yes, there is a component of memoir to this text, but also of history. I knew Papa Bear Halas, thanks to his obituaries, had been instrumental in founding the National Football League, but I never realized how much the game owed him. He was the first coach to use the "eye in the sky." One game an assistant took a message to his wife in the stands. He came back to the sidelines in awe of what that view afforded him. What looked like guys grinding it out in the mud took on patterns and logic when seen on high. The next year Halas stationed an assistant at press box level and installed a phone from there to the sideline.

Even after he "retired" from coaching, he often hung around the facilities. One day in the locker room, some players recall him beginning to lecture them on varying strategies depending on where the ball was being played. He divided the field into blue, white, and - wait for it - red zones, the first time anyone can recall the term "red zone" being used.

We learn a lot more about Iron Mike Ditka (other members of the family had simplified the Polish surname to Disco, if you can imagine that) and Buddy Ryan. The latter, of course, brought us that amazing defense that never quit. At the time, I knew these men did not like each other; I never realized how much they disliked each other until reading the book. The details also seal my everlasting admiration of Samurai Mike Singletary, a guy tough enough and smart enough to run that defense.

McMahon salutes authority

McMahon salutes authority

Cohen does not shy away from the aftermath of the game, either. He discusses the difficulties with injuries many of the players continue to have, including Dave Duerson's suicide in 2011 while suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy and Jim McMahon's ongoing issues with mental function. As he finished his interview with the forgetful but still punky QB, he asked the money question: Was it worth it? McMahon said, "I'd do it all again in a heartbeat."

Postlude

I still remember that Sunday morning. I took call overnight in a now gone Chicago hospital that Saturday, caring for sick infants in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). I was anxious to get home because we had friends coming over for the game. All that stood between me and departure were handoff rounds. As we entered the NICU, we were delighted by every infant having a piece of tape (paper or adhesive, as tolerated) with "Rozelle" or a player's name or just "Bears" written across it in marker. Just remembering it brings a smile to my face and makes me want to dance the SuperBowl Shuffle.

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Back to Reality

Mar 19 2014 Published by under Blog Maintenance, Uncategorized

Urologist's ad in bathroom at Traditions Field

Urologist's ad in bathroom at Traditions Field

I have finally returned from a much needed vacation in the sunshine of Florida. We watched six spring training baseball games and saw our daughter. The ad pictured to the right was posted on the back of the bathroom stall doors in Port St. Lucie where the Mets play. My spouse shared that the same practice advertised in the men's room for treatment of erectile dysfunction...something about helping you get to home plate.

Now I must work again. Catching up always challenges me. I have finally learned to do what I can do; the whole backlog does not have to be completed the first day back (even if everyone wants their piece done immediately).

I have some material for posts piling up on my desk, so you should see something science-like in the near future.

In the meantime, I have to see a few patients!

By the way, if you haven't done so yet, go over here and support science education while playing bracketology with Darwin's Balls, our NCAA Basketball group. I have Cinderellas winning a bunch of rounds, so I may be out after the second round!

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Give a Bit of Yourself

Feb 14 2014 Published by under Gadgets, gizmos

$299.95

The best Valentines are personal, especially if you are a Special Snowflake whose descendants will honor you in perpetuity. To this end, you can leave offspring born and unborn your DNA, preserved at room temperature for all time in the DNA Time Capsule:

This is the patented, triple-sealed time capsule that securely stores your genetic fingerprint for use by future generations. Preserving one's DNA in the present enables future scientific advances to reveal any predispositions to disease—currently undetectable by today's methods—a family's genetic makeup may bear. Dispensing with the need for long-term refrigerated storage in a lab, a chemical matrix of dissolvable compounds stabilizes DNA within a blood sample at room temperature (blood provides a higher quality and quantity of DNA than samples taken from cheek swabs), preserving the sample for over 100 years. A blood sample can be taken at your preferred medical facility or using the included kit. Once a sample is secured within the capsule, it can be stored within a home or bank lock box for decades until one's progeny submits it for genetic analysis.

Yup, for just under $300 you can leave your genetic code behind for at least a century! Now I am unclear on why your descendants would want to test your DNA rather than just doing their own ("Look Grandpa could have developed dementia if he hadn't been hit by that train!"). Maybe researchers might want to pinpoint when a mutation occurred in a kindred, but that would be for research not any practical benefit (that I can see) to your future relatives.

Maybe I am missing something that the good folks at Hammacher Schlemmer thought about, but I seriously doubt it. They just have a gizmo to sell, and they hope someone with $300 to spare will buy it.

Personally, I would rather have a giftcard for shoes.

Happy Valentines Day anyway!

 

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Home Filing

Feb 10 2014 Published by under Gadgets, gizmos

I confess; I have high clutter tolerance. As long as scattered objects are not growing mold, and the health department is not breaking down our door, I am fine with some stuff lying about. That does not mean I am immune to the seduction of an organizational system; no, given my love of gadgets and gizmos, devices that promise a neater existence usually find their way into my home.

For example, my husband and I both have stacks of t-shirts. We may come home from work and use one to work-out or do chores. After cleaning up, we may pop on another to relax around Maison Lane. For these uses, a tee can have a few gentle wrinkles, so drawer storage works fine. Unfortunately, we often want a particular shirt to show our support of a sports team or something. These drawers of shirts can become wadded piles of knit fabric after a bit of digging through their contents.

The folding board, my first find, can be seen on television:

My family has already compared me to Sheldon based on ownership of this apparatus; no more snark will be needed, thank you very much. The FlipFold neatly provides t-shirts in a uniform rectangle that easily stacks on a shelf or in a drawer. Many retail stores use it for their display stacks. Even if you do not have the obsessive tendencies to use it regularly, it makes packing for a trip much easier. Tees, polos, and dress shirts can all be managed with this tool.

Of course, when you want a specific shirt out of the drawer, you still have to dig. No matter how neatly folded they were at the start, the shirts end up jumbled after a few weeks. Enter the Pliio(R) filing system:

 

Filed and ready for duty

Filed and ready for duty

Meet my t-shirt drawer. I would not dare post a before shot (even with my clutter tolerance, it was THAT BAD), but now you can clearly see which shirt is which. I pull one out and tuck its Pliio back into the spot. Once laundry day rolls around, I collect my filers and refold the shirts to go back into the drawer.

Neckwear ready for duty

Lined up neatly in a row

I have also used this system with my scarf collection. Even with these thin silky fabrics, the "fold" created by the Pliio is soft and leaves little in the way of a crease; pull the scarf off, and it is ready to wear. These scarves in a basket are far less tempting to my cat than hanging from the usual scarf racks.

My light-weight knit yoga pants can be folded easily around these filers. They will not accommodate heavier items like sweaters or sweats.

Pliio folders can be purchased at Bed Bath and Beyond and at Amazon. A ten-pack costs about $20. That seems a small price to pay for this much neatness.

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The Real Problem with Marie Curie

Nov 18 2013 Published by under [Science in Society]

So hot...like radioactive...

The internet went all a-twitter over the weekend about a video posted by Joe Hanson (@jtotheizzoe) in which he imagines the scientist bobble-heads in his collection joining him for Thanksgiving dinner. In it, the Einstein bobble-head repeatedly makes sexual advances toward the Curie figure, assaulting her at the end of the piece.  Certainly tasteless, even with bobble-heads, especially given recent events in the world of online science communication. Sophomoric? Certainly. Criminal? Hardly.

This video is part of Hanson's work for PBS Digital Studios, an ongoing series called It's Okay to be Smart. I am still unclear what this video had to do with Thanksgiving, being smart, or anything else, other than an excuse to play with bobble-heads. An apology eventually appeared, but the video remains on the internet. I wish PBS would take it down, but they haven't. There have been calls to fire Hanson. That seems a bit over-the-top to me, but then I watch Family Guy.

Then it came out that Joe Hanson will be moderating a session at Science Online in 2014. Moderaters were selected weeks ago; those in control could not have anticipated this unfortunate turn of events. At this point I tweeted a tongue-in-cheek suggestion that we dress up as Curie and beat the snot out of him at his session. I imagined a group of 20 bobble-head look-alikes coming at him...well, my attempt at humor also bombed. Repeated tweets have called for a serious, non-violent response.

It's kind of like TSA began running twitter: "Do not joke about weapons on the plane" or violence at the unconference.

What I would like to point out is the real problem here: Marie Curie is the only female bobble-head! In that setting, gender becomes the most obvious characteristic of the bobble-head. Why should the male bobble-heads consider her scientific accomplishments when she is merely the token woman? Clearly, her only raison d'etre must be her sex! In real life, such tokenism contibutes to an environment that permits marginalization of women (and other minorities) and likely contibutes to harassment. Does that excuse Einstein's douchebaggery? Hell no - dudes (even resin bobble-heads) should be able to keep their pants on and zipped! But the dynamics would have been different had Rosalind Franklin, Gerty Cori, and Linda Buck bobble-heads joined the party. Why can't I buy bobble-heads of these Nobel laureates? It's like Marie Curie is the only woman scientist ever!

So perhaps we should all step back and take a deep breath. We have an episode here that illustrates a lot of issues that lead to a hostile environment for women in science. No one has been physically harmed, although good taste was violated. Let's use this episode to learn and grow, rather than blame and shame.

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Why I Will Be There: #Scio14

Nov 15 2013 Published by under [Information&Communication]

Thursday I did something I have never done before; I sat at my computer waiting for 2:00 pm CST when I could start clicking the link for Science Online Together 2014. All went well for me, and I will be returning to Raleigh in February for another round of the unconference.

Some have recently made clear their intentions to not be at the upcoming gathering (see here and here). Several factors entered into my alternate decision.

I came to Science Online at a different point in my journey from many others. I had scaled the rarified heights of academia to become a tenured full professor. As I embarked on a new journey, to create a news magazine for the American Society of Nephrology, I needed to learn about new-fangled things like blogging and Facebook and Twitter. Science Online 2011, my virgin year, gave me insights into the interactions possible between academic and popular media, as well as the potential interplay of Web 2.0 content and the dead tree media of my youth. That was the last really "small" Science Online, with our venue at Sigma Xi bursting with energy. I felt like I met most of the attendees at some point in time, and I learned a lot that has been put to work in my professional life. Sessions on narrative structure and writing tools have enriched my work as well. I now give talks to faculty about ways to get writing done, much of which is information intially gathered via Science Online sessions. I have recruited several articles for ASN Kidney News from Science Online participants. The magazine also hires journalists for events, so some of these are paying gigs for the freelancers in the crowd!

I also have a guilty secret. One of the reasons I love academic medicine is my love of writing. Had I not been a doctor, I likely would have majored in English and ultimately gone on to an advanced writing degree of some sort. Most academics do not understand this attitude; they hate the writing, even while acknowledging its role in their success. Attending Science Online was like visiting the Mother Ship. All of these people who liked science and writing existed! I was not alone! I also love it now when my husband likes a book, and I can say I have met the author.

Like all meetings, Science Online is not just about work. Evenings include a lot of chatting and networking (and often drinking), just like those at my professional meetings. If anything, I attend more sessions at Science Online than at "real science" meetings, simply because the unconference venue is not adjacent to the hotel. Once you are there, you may as well be in a discussion session since you can't run back to your room and "work on your paper" (AKA chill out with Diet Coke and a novel or daytime TV).

This will be my fourth Science Online, and I see the meeting at a crossroads. First, the venue (North Carolina State University McKimmon Center) and participants expanded in 2012 and 2013. Many of these participants remain unfamiliar to me; the meeting has already crossed the "intimacy" line (and not in the slimey sense of the word; you know what I'm talking about). Also, last year the informal organizational group became a real entity with a dot-com web site. Spin-off conferences, in a variety of locales and on selected topics, sprung up in 2013 as well. The people and concept of Science Online are evolving, and growing pains are inevitable. Will Science Online become a more formal organization with a bigger, more professional conference? Or will it step back and downsize into several smaller gatherings in an attempt to maintain the "community" feel?

I do not know which way things will go, but I plan to make my opinions known. If things proceed in a direction I do not like, I may be writing one of those "Why I'm Not" posts next year. In the meantime, I know I have achieved things I would not have without the Science Online experience. I will be there in 2014, for the learning and the party - just like every other meeting I attend.

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