Monthly Archives: September 2012

Cute Animals for Your Monday Blues

As always, here is my weekly post of cute dog pictures.  To see more, just look through the archives or search for “cute dogs.”


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Reason for Slow Posts

As those closest to me know, this has been a rough health year.  I developed asceptic osteo-necrosis from a reaction to asthma medication and had to have my hip, joint and part of my femur replaced.  While they were doing that operation, they found some other stuff.  As soon as I recovered enough from the first surgery, I had the second one ten days ago.  Two days ago I had to go back to the emergency room for some internal bleeding, swelling and pain.  I go back in again Wednesday for more check-up.  Today, the bleeding seems to have stopped and is being absorbed.  The pain has been ridiculous.  Morphine was not even controlling it when they injected me, so they put me on Dilaudid which I am told is six times as strong.  It is keeping the pain down, but also keeping me a bit on the fuzzy side.  Standing for more than five minutes and sitting for more than an hour are still a no-go for now.  Hopefully, this too shall pass in a week or two.  Until then, please accept my apologies for late posts and for delaying my next book.  I am in final edit, but don’t want to complete it on pain meds – probably would have some strange stuff in it lol.  The surgeries were both successful and should be my last for now.  Knock on wood.


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Sarah Schwartz – Well Loved Friend and Family Member Has Passed Beyond

There is a new star in the sky and a new Angel in Heaven.  Lovely, sweet, playful Sarah Schwartz, taken from us at such a young age.  Unfortunately, I knew her only in passing through the cosplay community, fan conventions and Facebook.  To some she went by the moniker Caribean Sera for her cosplay name.  Her great lively spirit was such that it reached out even in those brief moments to let you know she was a truly great soul.  My thoughts and prayers go out to all those who loved her and knew her, that their grief be not too great to bear.  

This post was posted on Facebook, followed by a short post announcing her passing.

Dear Ones 
Sarah has asked me to write these words to let you know what is happening. As you know, Sarah has been fighting a seven year battle with Hodgkins Lymphoma. This cancer has been relentless but so has Sarah, nearly 24 months ago they said she had only weeks to live. You all know how determined she is! 
Sarah has been unable to move on her own and is not eating and her weight is dropping quickly. Over the last two weeks, she had lost some feeling in her hands and feet. She has also shown some signs that she may have had a slight seizure. Many of these things have happened before but not to this extent. She is thankfully not having any pain. The lymph node swelling in her neck has gone down and she is resting well but is unresponsive. We believe she is under the best care possible with Hospice of the Valley and she will remain at home.
As you all know, Sarah has a “warriors spirit” as our pastor Kurt would say, but now is the hard part, she truly has days not weeks. She has chosen not to have artificial life support. Believe me when I tell you that as a mother this is the most difficult and most blessed time in my life. I have been so honored to have such a beautiful and courageous young woman as my daughter. 
Sarah knows that the Lord has the perfect design for her life and she has lived a blessed life. She wants you all to know that she loves you and I want to thank you for your prayers and support. We continue to be amazed at the love we have been given.
God bless to each and all
Love Sandy

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More Ironic Pictures

Back with more ironic pictures.  You can find more similar posts on this site by searching for “irony.”

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Doctor: Injection can ‘cure’ PTSD in veterans

New hope for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) veterans.  As a disabled veteran myself and one who studies military history, this may be the first positive story I have ever seen on the prospects for curing those deep wounds in our fellow soldiers.

reposted from


Published September 21, 2012

A federally-approved injection is offering new hope to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  The injection, which takes approximately 15 minutes to administer, has led to dramatic improvements in some veterans who suffer from the disorder.

With 23,000 soldiers set to withdraw from Afghanistan this year, somewhere between 11 to 20 percent of them will suffer from PTSD, according to estimates from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that typically follows exposure to a traumatic event such as combat, disaster or assault.  Symptoms include nightmares, jumpiness, paranoia, irritability and aggressiveness.  It is often accompanied by depression, substance abuse or other anxiety disorders.

To address the soldiers who aren’t finding relief from standard therapies, Dr. Eugene Lipov,  medical director of Advanced Pain Centers in Chicago, director of pain research at Northwest Community Hospital and medical director of Chicago Medical Innovations, is championing a little-known treatment called Stellate ganglion block (SGB).

According to Lipov, PTSD sufferers who have been administered the block have reported relief from symptoms in as little as 30 minutes.

Lipov has received a waiver from the FDA to perform SGB and is currently recruiting participants for a clinical trial.  SGB, which has also been used in the past to treat depression, schizophrenia, psychosis, and other mental health disorders, is not backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs for treating PTSD in soldiers.

For the treatment, local anesthetic – commonly used in epidurals during labor – is injected into a collection of nerves in the neck known as the stellate ganglion.  These nerves are connected to various parts of the brain, including the amygdala, which are thought to be associated with PTSD.

One theory behind the development of PTSD suggests that when a person is under massive stress, the level of nerve growth factor (NGF) in his or her system increases.  NGF prompts the growth of new sympathetic nerves, which release a hormone called norepinephrine.

Norepinephrine underlies the “fight-or-flight” response in the body and directly increases heart rate and blood pressure.  Researchers such as Lipov believe high levels of NGF in people with PTSD are directly responsible for their heightened sensitivity to environmental stimulus.
SGB essentially “turns off” the NGF activity, leading to the decline of norepinephrine in a person’s system.

“As long as NGF continues to be active it maintains the extra growth of [sympathetic] nerves, or ‘leaves,’” Lipov said.  “NGF is the fertilizer for these leaves, so the procedure takes away the fertilizer.”

“I’ve seen soldiers going 120 miles an hour before the block, and 30 minutes later in the recovery room, they’ll say, ‘I’m chilling now; I’m ok,’” he added.

So far, Lipov has treated 65 patients from 25 states and one person from New Zealand.  The cost of the injection is approximately $1,000 and is fully covered by his non-profit Chicago Medical Innovations.  However, Lipov said in order to keep performing the procedure, the organization needs donations.

Lipov said the procedure works in 70 percent of patients, and they show at least 50 percent improvement in symptoms.

“The most marked improvement is in sleep –the nightmares going away,” he said.

Living with PTSD

For some PTSD sufferers, like Raleigh Showens, 65, of McHenry, Ill., the injection is a last resort measure to find relief – and literally, a matter of life or death.

Showens, who was a MedEvac for 19 months, said while he never saw combat in Vietnam, he witnessed the horrific results.

“I saw the death and destruction, and I was just 19,” Showens said.  “We flew in Easter Sunday of ’67, and we were loading a lot of bodies in…I was sick, and I had a nurse come up, put her arms around me and say, ‘Soldier, you’re going to have to get tough.’”

While Showens learned to block out things he saw during the war, when he returned home a year and a half later, he had trouble re-adjusting to civilian life.

“My family and friends all said, ‘You’re not the same person,’ and it bothered me,” Showens said.  “I could see the difference, too.  I was short-tempered and on edge all the time, but I didn’t know what to do about it.”

Showens turned to alcohol to bury his problems.  The VA also prescribed him various medications to help with his depression and sleeping problems.

Iraq veteran Chris Carlson, 41, from Lombard, Ill., did two tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and reported similar experiences when he came home.

“I started reliving some of the experiences and what I saw,” Carlson said. “I had horrible nightmares and would wake up in cold sweats.  It got worse and worse as time went on.”

Carlson said he would wake up and start drinking alcohol.  “Instead of coffee, I’d be drinking beer first thing in the morning,” he said.

Last resort

Showens lived with his symptoms for more than 40 years until December 2010, when he met Lipov at a political rally.  At the time, Showens was contemplating the idea of committing suicide.

“I was tired of living that way,” he said.  “I was tired of putting my family through it.”

The injection was a last ditch attempt to cure his PTSD.  “If it didn’t work, nobody could look at me and say, ‘You should have tried this, and you didn’t,’” Showens said.  “I didn’t even think about it or hesitate.  What difference would it make? I already had my destiny planned.”

Showens went in for the injection on December 20.  Despite his expectations, within a half hour, he felt relaxed.  But something even more remarkable happened later that night.

“I had had nightmares – pretty much destroyed the house every night since 1968,” Showens said.  “I can honestly say that night was the first time I slept all the way through the night without a nightmare.”

He added when his nightmares returned a week later, he had to go back in for a second injection.  Since then, he’s been living without PTSD symptoms and off medications.

“We don’t know why sometimes it takes more than one block to [relieve PTSD symptoms],” Lipov said.  “I think sometimes the first doesn’t take away enough NGF.  Sometimes, we have to do five or six injections.”

Carlson experienced drastic improvements as well after his first injection.

“I was skeptical,” Carlson said, “Like, a needle in my neck, how will that help me? But immediately I felt so much better physically, mentally and emotionally.”

Carlson ultimately required a second injection, like Showens, but said he has been symptom-free for 10 months.  He has also stopped drinking.

“It’s really hard to explain,” Carlson said.  “I was in this deep depression, hearing things, always looking out windows or under doors…but now all that stuff isn’t affecting me. I just feel so much better.”

Standard therapies

Standard treatments for PTSD include psychological approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy and a class of medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), often used in conjunction with one another.

However, according to Dr. Paula Schnurr, deputy director at the National Center for PTSD, only 30 to 40 percent of patients officially go into remission from these treatments.

The actual remission rates may be higher, according to Schnurr, but it can be difficult to gage success in a rigorous, scientific study.

The VA and Department of Defense fund select experimental treatments for PTSD, not including SGB, which Schnurr said they choose based on evidence supporting the treatments and outcomes of the patients.

“In the field, we’ve got more treatments but also challenges to make them better and more efficient and more effective in patients,” Schnurr said.  “We’re not 100 percent there yet.”

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Cute Dogs with Captions for Monday

All these cute dog pictures have captions to improve your Monday morning pick me up.

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World’s Most Expensive Dog – $1.6 Million

A businessman paid $1.6 million for this rare Red Tibetan Mastiff Hound.  He expects to be able to make a profit off its progeny.

My dogs cost me zero to $90 each depending how I rescued them…

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DNA Storage Advance: Entire Genetics Textbook Encoded In Less Than One Trillionth Of A Gram

DNA used for computer storage!  Amazing new idea.

reposted from SicenceNow

By John Bohannon

When it comes to storing information, hard drives don’t hold a candle to DNA. Our genetic code packs billions of gigabytes into a single gram. A mere milligram of the molecule could encode the complete text of every book in the Library of Congress and have plenty of room to spare. All of this has been mostly theoretical—until now. In a new study, researchers stored an entire genetics textbook in less than a picogram of DNA—one trillionth of a gram—an advance that could revolutionize our ability to save data.

A few teams have tried to write data into the genomes of living cells. But the approach has a couple of disadvantages. First, cells die—not a good way to lose your term paper. They also replicate, introducing new mutations over time that can change the data.

To get around these problems, a team led by George Church, a synthetic biologist at Harvard Medical School in Boston, created a DNA information-archiving system that uses no cells at all. Instead, an inkjet printer embeds short fragments of chemically synthesized DNA onto the surface of a tiny glass chip. To encode a digital file, researchers divide it into tiny blocks of data and convert these data not into the 1s and 0s of typical digital storage media, but rather into DNA’s four-letter alphabet of As, Cs, Gs, and Ts. Each DNA fragment also contains a digital “barcode” that records its location in the original file. Reading the data requires a DNA sequencer and a computer to reassemble all of the fragments in order and convert them back into digital format. The computer also corrects for errors; each block of data is replicated thousands of times so that any chance glitch can be identified and fixed by comparing it to the other copies.

To demonstrate its system in action, the team used the DNA chips to encode a genetics book co-authored by Church. It worked. After converting the book into DNA and translating it back into digital form, the team’s system had a raw error rate of only two errors per million bits, amounting to a few single-letter typos. That is on par with DVDs and far better than magnetic hard drives. And because of their tiny size,DNA chips are now the storage medium with the highest known information density, the researchers report online today in Science.

Don’t replace your flash drive with genetic material just yet, however. The cost of the DNA sequencer and other instruments “currently makes this impractical for general use,” says Daniel Gibson, a synthetic biologist at the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Maryland, “but the field is moving fast and the technology will soon be cheaper, faster, and smaller.” Gibson led the team that created the first completely synthetic genome, which included a “watermark” of extra data encoded into the DNA. The researchers used a three-letter coding system that is less efficient than the Church team’s but has built-in safeguards to prevent living cells from translating the DNA into proteins. “If DNA is going to be used for this purpose, and outside a laboratory setting, then you would want to use DNA sequence that is least likely to be expressed in the environment,” he says. Church disagrees. Unless someone deliberately “subverts” his DNA data-archiving system, he sees little danger.

ScienceNOW, the daily online news service of the journal Science

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If You Like Movie Reviews and Discussions, Check Out




My good friend Hal C F Astell runs the blog site and has an encyclopedic knowledge of films.  Him and I can talk for hours on the topic.  I would suggest you check out the site here:

Here is his brief bio.  Him and his wife just returned from the UK on holiday so he should be refreshed and ready to discuss any of your movie questions.

My Photo

I’m a transplant from the rain and beauty of northern England to the sun and desolation of Phoenix, AZ. I’m also a traveller through the world of film, exploring the medium from many different starting points. Whatever else I am is your opinion.

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Zombies to invade San Diego counter-terrorism summit!



More training for the Zombie Apocalypse – A few days ago I revealed the military was training for the zombie apocalypse, now the Counter-Terrorism Summit in San Diego will have a full simulation of the zombie apocalypse while trapped on an island resort.  Your tax dollars at work!  What do they know that we don’t?  Why can’t they just come to Phoenix ComicCon for the Zombie Walk and train here?  Perhaps the answers are too chilling to know…

reposted from


When zombies and cops and Halloween – oh my — collide.

That’s the thrust of the so-called “zombie apocalypse” component of next month’s annual Counter-Terrorism Summit in San Diego, hosted by security firm HALO Corp. on a 44-acre island in the city’s Mission Bay section. Brad Barker, president of the California-based organization, said hosting the annual event over the Halloween weekend was too much temptation to resist.

“We’ve decided to throw a whimsical spin on a very well-respected training exercise,” Barker told “And in order to have an effective exercise, you have to have a crisis or a threat that makes everyone respond.”

“It’s going to be pretty scary looking.” – Brad Barker, HALO Corp.

In addition to mock terrorism scenarios featuring rural and urban environments, Barker said zombies worthy of Hollywood sets will recreate an emergency that will test how law enforcement officials and first-responders react to crises in real-time while sharing mission critical information.

“They’re going to look like the walking dead,” Barker said of the zombies. “It’s going to be pretty scary looking; this is going to be a real treat.”

The zombies, of course, won’t be real, but Barker said the same techniques, tactics and procedures that state and local authorities will glean from the exercise are very similar to the skills they’ll need when responding to an act of terrorism, natural disaster or pandemic.

“Whatever the catalyst is for a mass casualty event, nobody really cares,” Barker said. “What you’ve got is chaos, mass casualties and a whole lot of confusion. What we’re looking to do is to recreate the chaos.”

The zombie craze received a jolt last year when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unveiled a public service campaign focusing the need to be prepared for major emergencies. Barker said his company just “couldn’t resist the opportunity” to play off of that.

Scheduled guests at the five-day event, which will run from Oct. 29 through Nov. 2, include Retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, Mexico Interior Secretary Alejandro Poire Romero and Deputy Chief Michael Downing, commanding officer of the LAPD’s counter-terrorism unit.

Other events will include intelligence learned from attacks in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the 2008 bombing in Mumbai. But Barker said he expects the zombie recreation to leave attendees speechless.

“It’s going to be a significant event for us,” Barker said. “We’re just having a little bit of fun.”

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