Monday, March 30, 2015

The Fecal Transplant Movement

News today of an innovation in the treatment of C. difficile. It’s called a “fecal transplant” and involves inserting a healthy person’s stool inside a sick person’s gut. Health Canada has just issued guidelines in the hope of dissuading do-it-yourselfers.
     That’s directed at the DIY-ers (please, don’t linger over matters of technique) not the procedure itself, for C. difficile is a killer, and any advance is worthy. Solutions arise from unexpected sources: think penicillin from fungus, the crappy glue behind Post-its, or the failed drug that became Viagra.
     So embrace this movement, and amend your transplant donor card today.

Image: Clostridium difficile colonies, Centers for Disease Control

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Sands of Alberta

Back then, we were all more worried about Nuclear Winter than Global Warming, but the biggest issue by far was Acid Rain. To their credit, the folks at Syncrude actually took the time to scrub those particular emissions and had pallets of bright yellow sulphur to show for it.
    On our trip to Fort McMurray, they actually took us through the process of turning tar sand to fuel, beginning to end. Today, of course, this is regarded as one of the dirtiest ways of addressing our energy needs, but let me tell you, the sand it produces is impeccably clean.
Figure 1
My very own personal carbon sink . . . 180 grams of
never-to-be-processed tar sand. Vintage 1978.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Science fiction?

August 16, 2130
HALIFAX — The opening session of the 105th International Summit on Climate Change was interrupted today by Cyclone Mary, which stormed past Security and crashed the conference hall, sweeping dozens of the world’s top climatologists out to the Atlantic.
     “Great way to cover up the truth and silence scientists,” said surviving Summit delegate Dr. Will U. Listen. “It’s a Government plot.”
     “Nonsense!” said Prime Minister Dee Nial, from her office in Fort McMurray. “It’s just a tragic accident. But it does speak to the necessity of reframing the discussion from that of climate change to better weather forecasting.”

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Vinyl Mine

Another day in the vinyl mine, and we’re still following that vein of prog we discovered last month—nothing special really, just layer after layer of second- and third-rate songs packed tightly together around those increasingly rare gems.
     Is it any wonder they all died out? Though thank goodness they did, or there’d be no job for me, no fuel for the ships, and certainly no joy for the scouts who first traced these sounds back to their source, nor the agents who still fight for a chance just to gaze upon the remains of the creatures that produced them.
Detail from The Genealogy of Pop/Rock Music by Reebee Garofalo.

Friday, March 6, 2015

K-Tel Super Gold and other Delights

Although it’s never been rigorously tested, I claim an encyclopaedic knowledge of pop and country music from my salad days, circa 1972-1990. Yet my own vinyl collection was negligible. Even at the discerning age of 13 my albums were so few and nerdy that they nestled comfortably by the parental hi-fi with Marty Robbins, Perry Como and Mantovani. And I knew it. As my Cowsill’s Hair album looked cooler than Gary Lewis and the Playboys it always stayed at the head of the stack. Until I found Pete Townshend and imperial milk crates, then my world changed for the better.

Image from scandinavianconnection on eBay.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Post Apocalypse Bathing

If you turn when taking a shower at my mother’s house, you’ll knock a half-dozen plastic bottles off the shelves that line the lime green tub. Some of these, with congealed goo around their rims, I swear she’s had for over a decade. The seasons of her life are traced through these remedies: No-Frizz banana and egg-enriched conditioner, Relaxing Lavender foam bath, Moisturizing aloe vera body wash, Strawberry and kiwi rinse with colour-fast formula, Body Bounce medicated shampoo for thinning hair. She won’t throw them out; No doubt, goo will be in short supply post apocalypse.

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