I’m getting tired of the Friday night alone gig. I try to avoid whining publicly, but such is life. Eh… not much to do about it. I guess I can just fold some laundry and go to bed. Preferably I would have someone to keep me company but alas, I am alone.

 

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I’ve been diligently (trying) to work on my research presentation that’s coming up in 2 and a half weeks. Mostly right now I’m looking up a lot of background info. Working at home is hard sometimes. Anything and everything can distract me.  Of course, I stumbled upon the cutest thing ever – a geek dating site! I had to take a looksy… It makes sense that just as there are sites out there that match up trendy and fashionable people, there should be one for some of us who care more about nerdy issues like science, anime, Star Wars, comic books, computers, etc… Check this out: www.gk2gk.com

There’s someone for everyone out there. I have to admit, I have a soft-spot for nerds. I care about looks but that’s definitely not the most important on my list. I like when my guy talks about fluid dynamics or triple integration. That’s HAWT. ❤

 


Tomorrow I have to attend a student chapter meeting for a pharmaceutical club at our school, of which I am president. Tomorrow is also Science Share and family night at my kids’ school. They (being my progeny) were rather excited about Science Share. I am a single mom and their father is currently in Iraq (and has been on and off for the last 5 years…). Needless to say, I will not be able to take them due to my obligatory meeting. Of all nights of the month that they could have Science Share, why tomorrow?? It’s frustrating. I can tell a kid no in the blink of an eye when they want to eat out at a restaurant or want the latest, trendy toy. I don’t feel that these things are essential or even beneficial in their life, but to tell them I can’t take them to Science Share is an entirely different disappointment. I don’t even have any family in less than a 2 hour radius that can do me the favor. It’s just one of those things. Tomorrow, instead of exciting science projects, they’ll be sitting silently through an hour of boring ass speaking. At least there’s pizza at the end. Sigh…


People really seem to love looking up food information. Still to this day, my blog post of the YouTube video on how to trim asparagus is one of the most popular amongst my blog entries. I’m thinking about something yummy at the moment so I figured I’d share it. Just so you all know, I’m absolutely fanatical about pumpkin. I think cold weather sucks but I relish the fall and winter months because it’s pumpkin flavored foods galore! Starbucks has a pumpkin spice latte, there’s pumpkin pie coffee creamer, pumpkin eggnog (like drinking a pie!), pumpkin cheesecake…. There are many possibilities. One year I even made pumpkin white chocolate fudge. I got a lot of compliments because it was not only delicious, but unique. Knowing I’m a pumpkin freak, a friend sent me this recipe for tofu pumpkin pie. Tofu is also one of my favorites. =) Being that I have an insane schedule and am exhausted by the time I have long enough to actually prepare a pie, I haven’t made this one yet. It sounds delicious, though!  If one of you out there gets a chance to make it, let me know if you give it the thumbs up:

Ingredients:
1 16-oz. package firm tofu (mine was 14 oz.)
2/3 cup honey
2 egg whites
1 3/4 cups canned or fresh cooked pumpkin
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ginger

Instructions:
Blend tofu in blender/food processor until creamy. Add honey, egg
whites, pumpkin and spices. Blend well. Pour into 9″ unbaked pie
shell. Bake approximately 1 hour in pre- heated 400 degree oven.

The crust was just thinly sliced apples overlapped and then sprinkled
with about 1/4 cup of crushed almonds. Next time I may add some
spices/honey to the apples to make them as flavorful as the pumpkin.
Also I had enough filling left over to fill two ramekins with the
filling and baked those as well, so the pie is really closer to 10
servings than 8.


I attended a conference today for pharmaceutical industry professionals and they were discussing following data trends to minimize “out of spec” analytical test results. For those of you who don’t know much about manufacturing, the quality control department is responsible for conducting analytical testing to ensure product safety and uniformity before it is released for distribution. There are upper and lower specification limits that the data must fall within in order to be approved. Any time results are obtained outside of these limits they are deemed out of specification, or OOS. The FDA requires pharmaceutical companies to launch investigations for such atypical results.

The presenters today talked about ways to minimize OOS results. While there are bound to be inconsistencies at some point, the talks today focused on improving statistical methods for interpreting data. Analysts should not focus on one particular instance where the data is out of spec, but rather use the cumulative sum in order to chart the data and observe trends more clearly. This will allow operators to catch data that is headed outside the acceptable range and perhaps troubleshoot problems that may potentially occur, saving the company time and money in lost product batches or OOS investigations.

Anyway, one of the presenters was explaining how tracking the product from the time sampling occurs until the quality department releases the batch for distribution can help you better understand your process and pinpoint trouble spots. He shared a graphic to illustrate his point and add a little vigor to the presentation that I found to be rather amusing, especially in the lull that occurs right after eating a buffet lunch… It’s a flow chart of the 80’s song, “Total Eclipse of the Heart”. I’ve posted it here for your own nerdy viewing pleasure. 😉

EclipseHeartChart


For my research module at the university I will be studying the hormones leptin and adiponectin. Of course, that’s after I figure out the logistics of the elusive UPLC/MS that no one around me seems to know how to operate. See my previous posting about fucking shit up to read more about that rant.  Anyhow, these adipose derived hormones have a correlation to body mass index. Adiponectin is inversely proportional while leptin is directly proportional to body fat percentage. I’ve been doing some background research involving obesity in general and stumbled upon some interesting facts that make me think about the cultural factors that lead to this condition.

As you can imagine, those living in poverty in underdeveloped countries are not likely to be obese due to lack of food and engagement in heavy manual labor. Here in the U.S. we have government programs to assist lower income families in order to prevent hunger. Researchers conducted a study at Ohio State University’s Center for Human Resource Research spanning 16 years, which compares 6,000 food stamp users to 4,000 non-food stamp users . The study found that the BMI of the food stamp group was 1.15 times higher than the non-food stamp group. The difference was even more apparent amongst women, with the female food stamp users having a BMI that was 1.24 greater. The gap is widest amongst Caucasian women, whose BMIs were 1.96 times greater than African American women.

The researchers conducting the study took into account that obesity is a condition that can be influenced by many factors, so they considered income levels, race, education, race, gender, and county of residence. They also determined the BMI increase before, during, and after receiving food stamps. Even after taking all these factors into account, they determined there to be a clear link between participation in the food stamp program and obesity. Furthermore, they concluded that people participating in the program for longer periods had even higher BMIs.

Unfortunately, good food is generally not affordable. Processed, prepackaged foods loaded with sodium, fat, and preservatives are fairly inexpensive. If I’m grocery shopping I can either buy one loaf of whole grain, natural bread or 4 loaves of white, Wonder bread. I can buy a jar of healthy pasta sauce and a box of whole grain pasta or 5 boxes of mac and cheese. For many needy families the decision is one of quantity and not quality of nutrition. Interestingly enough, there have been “food stamp diet” challenges to bring attention to how difficult it can be to eat healthy on a tight budget. It’s not impossible, but it’s even more problematic for individuals that are not educated regarding nutrition and healthy shopping habits (which many Americans seem to lack). I guess food stamps may be a double-edged sword.

Read the article about the food stamps study here.


Creepy Crawler

09Nov09

virob 1Today, I was sitting in the waiting room at the pediatrician’s office where they usually have segments playing from CNN Health. One that I found extremely interesting was about something called a ViRob, a microrobot created by researchers of the medical robotics lab at the Israeli Institute of Technology (Technion). The ViRob is only 1mm in diameter. It has thin, leg-like extensions which it uses to propel itself through narrow structures. The tiny robot is controlled by external magnetic forces. It’s “legs” allow it to maneuver even through viscous fluids in a strictly forward motion. It is hoped that these robots can be used for targeted drug delivery, the placement of catheters, cameras, etc… There are many possibilities that researchers hope to achieve with this technology.

You know, this kinda blows my mind. The thought that something like this can crawl through your veins is pretty amazing…. but kind of gross and creepy, too. I suppose that it may not be any less dangerous than any other treatment we may use. It’s all unnatural and foreign if you sit and think about it. I guess it doesn’t help that the thing looks like a bug! Nevertheless, it’s quite neat that someone created this. Anyway, here is the clip if you are interested: