Mail Order Disease

Sometimes a story so shocking comes along, I have to share it.  Usually, it’s a case of good shocking. This time, it’s a case of oh-my-gosh-what-are-they-doing shocking.

Pox parties; you may have heard of such a thing. Parents get kids together to play with one another when someone in the group has chicken pox. Chickenpox can be a pretty nasty disease–particularly in adults, but is usually not too bad in children. In fact, for many, it seemed a right of passage to get the pox and the associated fever.  I remember my case of chicken pox, despite it being maybe 25 years ago.

The idea of the pox party is that all kids in a group get chicken pox at the same time, and by getting it as children, they don’t face the wrath that comes with pox in adults. It’s not a bad idea in theory, but we’re not talking about giving everyone soda at the same time so they all crash and take a nap together. We’re talking about an extremely contagious disease being forced upon kids by their parents. If this doesn’t scream human rights violation, I don’t know what does.

Now, what happens when parents don’t know someone with chickenpox? It seems some moms have been linking up through Facebook to find pox across the country. Live disease is being sent through the mail to moms. Of course, not only does no one know the viral load being sent, since these are strangers even the disease itself can’t always be known or trusted. Parents unknowingly getting hepatitis or meningitis through the mail and giving it to their children is just around the corner.

The biggest kicker here: there’s a vaccine for chickenpox. That’s right, a safe and effective way to build immunity to chickenpox is a doctor’s visit away.

What these parents are doing is dangerous, not based on facts, and most likely illegal.

Read more at Mike the Mad Biologist (PG-13 for language) and Aetiology (includes video)

A Little Something To Ponder…

“If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

Isaac Newton

Mole Day — An Explanation

Happy Mole Day!

For many of you, it’s likely you have no idea what a mole is. Sure you know of a mole as a raised piece of skin that’s darker than the surrounding area. You also know a mole as a small underground-dwelling insectivore. It’s possible you even know a mole is a type of spy. There’s even the kind of mole that you put on your food, but that’s pronounced differently. “Mole-ay” sauce, as it’s pronounced, is a dark-red/brown chili-based sauce used in Mexican dishes.

But there’s also the mole used in science. A mole, whose unit is simply mol (mole : mol :: kilogram : kg :: meter : m), is a unit of measure used almost exclusively in chemistry.

A mole (mol) is an amount of substance that contains as many particles* as there are atoms in exactly 12 grams of carbon-12.

*By particles, I mean atoms in a sample (such as C) or molecules in a sample (such as H2O).

So 1 mole of carbon has the same number of “particles” as 1 mole of anything else, be it water, sodium, or gold.

Now what is that number? The short answer is, it isn’t important. lol

The slightly longer answer is 6.02 x 10^23, which is called Avogadro’s number. Yes, it’s a HUGE number.

So if you have 1 mole of Carbon (pure carbon 12), it will weigh exactly 12 grams and will have 6.02 x 10^23 number of carbon atoms in it.

If you had a mole of water, it would have the same number of H2O molecules, but would weigh 18 grams (16 grams for the oxygens and 2 x 1 grams for the hydrogens).

So just as a dozen diamonds (made of carbon) would weigh a different amount as a dozen gallons of water, so does a mol of carbon weigh a different amount than a mol of water!

If at this point, you’ve missed what mole day could be celebrating, I will tell you that today is October 23rd. Otherwise known as 10/23, a magical part of Avogadro’s number. :-) So scientists and numerologists unite! And at 6:02 am and pm, particularly, celebrate.

Rogue Amoebas Killing Swimmers! oh noes

You may have heard that there have been a few deaths from amoebas this summer.  As your friendly neighborhood amoeba, I can tell you that amoebas don’t intend to cause harm. However, sometimes they do. Here’s the lowdown:

When a natural fresh water source, such as a lake, warms up to about 80 F amoebas tend to get quite cozy. And that’s when they start to multiply pretty fast.  If a certain amoeba, Naegleria fowleri, makes its way up your nose, it can cause amoebic meningoencephalitis. Like any “mening” or “encephalitis” this is bad. It usually results in death.

Amoeba don’t want to be in your nose anymore than you want them there, so there a simple way to prevent them from getting in there: hold your nose–or keep it pinched shut.  Particularly when thrashing around in a way that would cause water to go up your nose–like diving bombing into the water.

It’s pretty darn rare to get this little guy in your brain, but it can happen, so have fun but take a little precaution in warm waters.

 

 

Note the article titles below… they seem to suggest these are zombie amoebas! lol

A Little Flicker

Yesterday (not really–at the end of July), we went in for our first ultra-sound. They stuck the thing up there and we saw AmoebaJr. He/She was smaller than they expected–because if you don’t know, they measure a pregnancy by weeks since the beginning of the last cycle. This is because most people don’t know the date of conception. We could see a little flicker on the screen–the heartbeat. The ultrasound tech was able to isolate the heartbeat aurally. 107 bpm. We’re told this is good for the age of the critter but that it will increase as AmoebaJr grows. A couple of printouts later, we go in for “education.” Of course, we’ve been trying to conceive so diet, exercise, medicines–all that–we already have figured out. After we got home and had some dinner, it was time to make a phone call. To the only family members we could trust to keep their mouth shut and the info off of Facebook. The ones that really, really wanted us to have kids but weren’t going to push it, because they’d been there themselves.  Needless to say, they were quite excited. Then today (not really, again), I found out one of my twitter buddies is expecting as well. It’s her second and our first, but we’re due right around the same time. Isn’t that kind of exciting?

Making Babies

This post was written 8 months before we actually made a baby. I anticipated getting pregnant right out of the gate. Not wanting to keep the beautiful flashback from you, I present the story as I wrote it originally.

I’ve been told that the best part of having kids is making them.  I have to admit, there are worse ways to spend 37 seconds an evening.  It’s rare when parents can plan and anticipate making a baby.  MrsAmoebaMike and I have been pretty lucky and between that and some smart decisions on our part, I’m sitting here in early October writing about making babies before I know if one’s been made.

Yesterday we performed an action that may–or may not–have resulted in conception of AmoebaJr.  Planning started a while ago, though.  Here are the highlights…

[[hazy flashback sequence]]

GYN: *excited we’re talking about pregnancy* Have sex every other day from day 10 to day 20 in your cycle.

One of and/or both of us: Okay!

Allergist: You should really be at maintenance dose before you get pregnant.

Mrs AmoebaMike: *counts shots out on calendar*

[[fast forward to late September]]

Mrs AmoebaMike: I’m at maintenance!  This is my last pack of pills. *counts to day 10 of cycle*

[[end flashback]]

So yesterday was day 10 of cycle 1 off pills. *yada yada yada* And now we play the waiting game.  Actually before that, we need to have sex a few more times.  You know, in the interest of doing a thorough job.

Does anyone have any good stories regarding conception and/or finding out about a pregnancy that don’t involve threats or tears of sadness?

Here’s a pregnancy announcement I like: i am… with a nice follow-up. Your turn to share.

How I Found Out

Now that I’ve made the announcement, you want the story.

I was awakened by my wife, which is not uncommon for a weekend morning–I like to sleep. :)

I was still pretty much asleep when she said something like “How’s my daddy-to-be this morning?” That’ll wake you up!

Good news is that we were trying, so I knew it was coming. It wasn’t a shock.

But I believe my response was “I need to go back to sleep.”

lol

That was too big of a life changing moment to process in my state of wake.

Well, that was it. No big show or production. No crying. No yelling. No, “are you sure?”

There’s something to be said for expected pregnancy.

It was a relief in that Mrs AmoebaMike got what she’s been waiting for.

The due date will be shortly after my birthday and unless anyone in the family has a secret they need to share, this will be the first grandkid on my parents’ side and Mrs AmoebaMike’s dad’s side.  Also, the first great-grandkid on my dad’s side and Mrs AmoebaMike’s dad’s side.

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