Chronic Pain - The Experience

This is for you out there that are in chronic pain..

An endless expedition up Mt. Everest in a blizzard. No glorious photo-op moment at the top. No way anyone can understand your herculean efforts in this impossible mission. An honest person, you find yourself lying everyday. "How are you?" "Fine". You shield those around you from what you are going through, not wanting to spread the misery. You compartmentalize the pain (Spock-like) as much as is humanly possible, but sometimes it overwhelms you.

NASA May Aim for Manned Mission to Mars by 2033

(Slate) Yesterday, the head of a NASA study group examining the feasibility of a mission to Mars said that the agency has set a working goal of a 2033 landing. Nature News Blog’s Eric Hand calls it “the first articulation I’ve seen of a specific, shared date for the key goal of both the human and robotic sides.”..  more

How To Pick Up Girls!

Found this book at a yard sale. Teaches you how to pick up girls.

It features interviews with 25 actual girls.
You'll notice these girls don't look so happy.From 1970, surely the same techniques would work today. I wonder if the author suggests using the cologne Sex Panther..
The kinda disturbing part is I looked this up on Amazon and there's an updated version of the book, from the same author. How old would this guy be now?! Wouldn't he be at least 70? (actual girl's finger in photo on left)

Tony Musk

I'm sure a bunch of you are aware of SpaceX's mission to the International Space Station. Saw an article comparing the owner Elon Musk to a real life Tony Stark. So, I decided to whip out Photoshop. Voila:

Alright Elon, if you're out there. Iron Man suit. Get on it.
Triple.    Dog.    Dare.

Tired of Playing Ze Game!

Mrs. Madeline Kahn. Some of my best friends of the female persuasion love quoting this. It's awesome. "I'm soooo tired.. I've been with thousands of men, again and again..coming and going ..going and coming.. and always too soon" :^) :^)   Gotta love Mel Brooks

I'm One of the Only Living Adults in the World with Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis almost always kills before a person reaches adulthood. You wouldn't be able to tell that I have a killer genetic condition by looking at me. I have an almost impossible genetic mutation of this already rare condition where my lung damage is mild. Has Johns Hopkins and NIH scratching their heads. They told me they would "learn more from me, than I would from them". They said I would probably have a normal lifespan. 
I spent my childhood trying to tell my parents and doctors that something was wrong with my lungs and they said everything was normal. Doctors said lung xrays were normal. I remember thinking that maybe the xrays weren't sensitive enough to see what was wrong. My dad, a tough military man in the south, would tell me to quit my whining, and I did. I kept the observations of abnormal sensations to myself. Dad so wanted me to be good at sports. Would yell at me "You aren't even trying!" when I'd have to stop because my lungs were on fire or because I would feel suddenly dangerously dehydrated. (20+ years later, I would learn that cf can cause sudden potentially fatal dehydration. Really? No sh!t..) Despite what authority figures were telling me, I knew I had to be very careful and sensitive to the important signals my body was giving me. 

When I got older I was trying to figure out if my odd symptoms and the lung issues were connected or separate issues. I knew that since doctors couldn't figure anything out, I was in constant risk of being labeled a hypochondriac, which would add yet another obstacle to figuring out a seemingly impossible puzzle. I got misdiagnosed multiple times. At one point I saw notes from a specialist (a nephrologist) to my family doctor suggesting that I might have psychogenic polydipsia - a mental disorder where I imagined I was dehydrated and was engaging in excessive water intake. Nice, huh? This particular nephrologist got frustrated with me and announced that he "had REAL sick people to deal with." 

I diagnosed myself specifically with cf years before the doctors did. I'd had a variety of strange symptoms, lung issues, pleurisy (strange for a 30 year old), low vitamin D. Throughout my life my colds almost always turned into lung infections that wouldn't go away until I took antibiotics. Common with cf. This and many other signs pointed me to the possibility of cystic fibrosis. I asked my family doctor what he thought about cf. He chuckled and said I'd have "clubbed fingers" and would've been long dead before age 35. At the time I accepted this, but he was wrong.  Since then, I've encountered many doctors who think the same way.

The variety of emotions that I felt when they verified years later that I did indeed have cf - I can't even begin to describe. No doctor made the brilliant diagnosis. A doctor stumbled on it by accident. My wife and I weren't conceiving. A fertility doctor discovered that there were no sperm in my semen. From an exam of my testicles he said I had 'bilateral absence of the vasa deferentia'. In English, I was missing the tubes that deliver sperm, I basically had a natural vasectomy. There's one main reason a male is missing the vasa deferentia - cystic fibrosis. Then the tests started, but I didn't need them... I knew. I'd always known. A quick and easy sweat test showed my sweat was extra salty, another major sign of cf. A test my family doctor could've easily run years before if I'd just been more stubborn, but doctors hate it when you diagnose yourself. You're supposed to let the experts do their jobs, right? This seems to be a frequent pattern in my life. Having a contrary opinion to experts, but being the polite southern boy dutifully listening and obeying, only to be burned in the end. I think it may be time to start believing in myself a lot more. I've always tried to avoid coming off as arrogant, maybe it's time to stop worrying so much about what people think. The genetic test showed exactly which cf gene mutations I had. They were going to do a test for 300 genes but I pushed for the "complete" gene test (around 2500 mutations) with the assumption that at least one mutation would be an extremely rare one. I was correct. The smaller test would not have caught the second almost unheard of mutation. I even had to pay out of pocket for the extensive gene test, I think it was a couple grand (will verify this info). Hopkins lung CT (more sensitive than a lung xray) picked up the minor lung damage. When I was a kid and thought the lung xrays didn't have good enough resolution, I was right. Simultaneously an ego boost and a nightmare all wrapped in one. As a kid, I'd ID'd what was wrong, but just didn't have the technical name. A bone density scan showed that I had minor bone density issues, another cf symptom. I also highly suspected that my mom had had this atypical cystic fibrosis. She'd died years before, age 67, from respiratory failure. They'd thought she had some atypical form of asthma, and had been on a nebulizer machine for years. I asked the Johns Hopkins doctors "my mom had it too didn't she?" They nodded, and said almost certainly. With women with mild cf it was even harder to diagnose because they don't have the natural vasectomy to give it away. They told me to never smoke, because it would accelerate the cf and be a guaranteed death sentence. Advice my mom could've used because she would smoke from time to time when she got stressed out. If the doctors had accurately diagnosed her, she'd probably still be alive today.

Being a real life case from House is the sh!ts. Especially since nobody like Greg House actually exists to save you. Trust me....  I've looked.

[This is a stub. Will be writing more about cystic fibrosis, my unusual case, and medical mysteries here soon.]

"Hey there little fella.."

I'm standing at urinal next to this older guy. He says "Hey there little fella..". Sounds really creepy. I'm paralyzed. I look up, realize he's reading this.

Someone had created this to try to decrease the amount of urine spray on floor.

Users Tripping Over an Ancient Usability Problem

Guy came to me at work today, desperate. He said he often couldn't open files that were emailed to him. He said he'd change the file name. Right away I figured out that he was changing the whole file name including the file extension, so the computer couldn't figure out which program to use to open the file. I renamed the file so it had '.pdf' at the end and his file opened. He was so relieved and thanked me over and over. Seems like a simple thing to us computer types. The guy called me a genius, but many of my techie friends would probably think unkind things about someone making such a simple mistake. Thing is, they'd be wrong. This is an example of a technical solution that was made a long time ago, and forcing non-technical types to jump through hoops that they shouldn't. Thing is this is really silly when you think about it. When you rename a file you really shouldn't be able to change a file's type. You shouldn't be able to rename MyPuppy.jpg into MyPuppy.doc, it's a Jpeg image not a Word doc. It doesn't make sense and it's wrong. It's a legacy issue that we've just accepted, it's a huge usability no-no and it's flat out wrong. As computers are becoming more and more embraced by the non techie public at large this kind of thing will be less and less acceptable.

Instructions For Co-Pilots

What I Learned in Europe

On my first European backpacking trip, I learned that they really frown on you exploding cars in France. 'Don't blow up your cars S.V.P.' Just noticed, apparently they also hate trumpets.

Prediction about Prometheus Movie


Ok, so I'm going to take a stab at predicting the main idea behind Prometheus from seeing the trailer. I seem to be pretty good at this lately, figuring out the "surprise/twist" of a movie just from a trailer.. so here goes..

It appears there are some advanced "engineer aliens" that have something to do with human evolution. I think the xenomorphs, the cuddly aliens that we've all come to know and love, were also bio-engineered by the "engineer" aliens as kind of a failsafe. As you may have picked up on, hidden behind the horror action stuff, there's a running thread thoughout the Aliens movies that humans in a lot of ways are kind of worse than the xenomorphs. The xenomorphs are perfect killing machines, true, but are basically animals. Humans (corporations) do all kinds of twisted horrible things trying to control the xenomorphs, trying to get people impregnated by the xenomorphs so they can study them / use them as a weapon, creating suffering clones of Ripley, etc. In the movies the androids are shown as nicer than the humans. This is what the writers are saying, not me, 'kay? :^)

So, the engineers have created the xenomorphs as a failsafe against the spread of humans, spreading like a cancer into the universe. To keep them from spreading and destroying after ruining the Earth. Kind of like if you engineered a failsafe in case a disease got out of a lab. Hitting the big red button to incinerate the room after the disease escaped quarantine. You can see this line of thinking in the Matrix movies..and I'm sure many other pieces of sci-fi that I'm too lazy to think about, google right now. In the trailer, it looks like the engineers have left maps to the planet in the movie. I think the way the failsafe is supposed to work is the xenomorphs infest the humans on the planet and would track back to the source (Earth) cleansing the human population.

And as a cover-my-ass move, I'll offer a alternative theory. The xenomorphs were bioengineered by the engineer aliens as a bioweapon either in a war amongst their kind or other aliens (is the space jockey one of the engineers or another race? dunno). The xenomorph weapon got out of control, as weapons of mass destruction are prone to do and wiped out the creators. In this theory, I'm not sure how humans factor in.. maybe our creators were reaching out to us at some point.. maybe trying to offer us a warning of what was happening to them..

Of course, they might try to make an analogy to the original story of Prometheus:
..a champion of mankind (a sect of the engineer aliens) who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to the mortals (took high alien technology and used it help seed human civilization and help it advance.. Mayans, Egyptians.. you know the whole Battlestar Gallactica idea). Zeus then punished him for his crime by having him bound to a rock while a great eagle ate his liver every day only to have it grow back to be eaten again the next day (The rest of the alien "engineers"punish the "rebel sect" that has been helping us by setting the xenomorphs loose to eat everybody.. rebel aliens and us  :^)

Ok, I guess that's three theories, sorry. The shotgun approach is probably cheating..

My Wife and I Have Been Offered a New Prototype DNA Test for Our Pregnancy

Doctors here in Northern Virginia offered to give us a prototype DNA test for my wife's pregnancy (10 weeks into the pregnancy). This is a brand new technology that detects chromosome issues such as Down's Syndrome and Edwards/Trisomy 18. Currently tests such as amniocentesis and the CVS test are used to detect these issues. Our OBGYN says this new test may replace those older tests within 5 years or so. Because they are invasive, amnio and cvs carry some risk of miscarriage. This new test analyzes fetal DNA in the mother's blood and therefore is virtually risk free.

We used IVF (In vitro fertilisationin order to get pregnant. I have an incredibly bizarre mild form of cystic fibrosis. Normally people with CF die before reaching adulthood. I'm 40. Johns Hopkins is still scratching their heads. As my wife always suspected, I'm a mutant. CF in mild cases causes males to not develop the vasa deferentia tubes that deliver sperm, so I essentially had a natural vasectomy. My wife does not have CF, and isn't a carrier, so there's no increased chance of our child having it. Also, it looks like they are closing in on a cure. The doctors had to extract sperm from my testicles using a needle (called a testicular aspiration). Men out there, I can tell you - needles in the balls is not a fun thing at all. After being extracted, the sperm was then cryogenically frozen (ala Han Solo :^) ).  The fertility doctors also gave us the option to cryogenically freeze embryos. I expressed concern over potential birth defects because of this and was surprised to learn that cryogenically frozen embryos tend to have *LESS* of a chance of birth defects. I hypothesized that maybe only the stronger survive the freezing process. Researched this and indeed this appears to be the likely reason.

All of this genetic testing has me thinking about various science fiction, e.g. Gattaca lately, whether in the near future it will be used for "designer babies". I used to have this "let nature do what nature's going to do" way of thinking in regards to genetic engineering. Lately, I'm not so sure. Is it so much to ask to want a healthy child?

My previous post about genetic testing, etc.

It Exists! MIT Creates Tech For Moving Files Across Devices With A Swipe

Swÿp--pronounced “swipe”--lets users drag files from one device to another by swiping their finger. And it isn’t just a cool idea. It’s reality. More>

Scientists "switch off" brain cell death in mice

(Reuters) - Scientists have figured out how to stop brain cell death in mice with brain disease and say their discovery deepens understanding of the mechanisms of human neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. More>

Beautiful Images Of Earth, Taken From A Satellite 450 Miles Up

( The U.S. Geological Survey curates the most remarkable satellite imagery, and offers it for sale. More>

Nearly 150 Companies Show Interest in the Tech Love Boat

( "Blueseed is a Silicon Valley company that plans on launching a cruise ship 30 minutes from the coast of California, housing startup entrepreneurs from around the world. These startuppers won't need to bother with U.S. visas, because the ship will be in international waters. They'll have to pay tax to whatever country they're incorporated in, though. So far, 146 startups said they'd like to come to the ship."  More>

Oozing Super-Earth: Images of Alien Planet 55 Cancri e

( Oozing Super-Earth: Images of Alien Planet 55 Cancri e. Photos from NASA. The alien planet 55 Cancri e is a rocky planet that orbits perilously close to its host star. More>

Manjoo: "2011 Was a Terrible Year for Tech"

(Slate) All our devices got more complicated. And they won’t get simpler anytime soon. More>

Will Gattaca Come True?

As someone who's having to use IVF to have a child, I've seen first hand how this science is advancing, and I've been wondering about this movie quite a bit lately, and if people will be having designer babies - Eddie

(Slate) Noninvasive, early fetal tests for sex, paternity, and chromosomal conditions will change pregnancy dramatically—and raise tricky ethical questions. More> 

Pattern: Sci-fi tech and stories coming true.

Update: New post: My Wife and I Have Been Offered a New Prototype DNA Test for Our Pregnancy

Brain Scans Give Glimpse of How Your Dog Thinks

(Wired Science) Brain scans of dogs could give researchers a new tool for studying what happens in the mind of man’s best friend.
“I think it could open a whole new type of research on cognition,” said neuroscientist Greg Berns of Emory University, lead author on a dog-scanning study that will be published in Public Library of Science One.
Berns described the initial findings, in which brain regions expected to become active in anticipation of reward did just that, as a proof-of-concept to show that studying a dog inside a functional magnetic resonance imager was logistically feasible. More>

Scientists Solve Mystery of Ireland's Moving Boulders

( "How has a 78-ton boulder traveled 130 meters inland from the sea since 1991? Live Science reports that geologists have puzzled for years over the mysterious boulders that litter the desolate coastline of Ireland's Aran Islands that somehow move on their own when no one is looking. The sizes of the boulders in the formations range 'from merely impressive to mind-bogglingly stupendous,' writes geoscientist Rónadh Cox. more>

Crowdsourcing Game Helps Diagnose Infectious Diseases

( Researchers at UCLA have created an online crowdsourcing game designed to let players help doctors in key areas of the world speed the lengthy process of distinguishing malaria-infected red blood cells from healthy ones. So far, those playing the game have collectively been able to accurately diagnose malaria-infected blood cells within 1.25% of the accuracy of a pathologist performing the same task. More>

Terry Gilliam (of Monty Python) Talks Apps, iPad and Interactivity

(thguardian) Film director and Monty Python star on why 'there's no way of being a Luddite any more' when it comes to technology... more

Deranged Concept Art for Charles Darwin Themed Mardi Gras Parade

( In 1873, Mardi Gras revelers from the Mistick Krewe of Comus — unversed in this newfangled evolutionary theory and angry at the Northern interlopers — dressed up as the "missing links" between animals, plants, and humans. Therefore, you had frightening human-grape and human-corn hybrids running around and fauna bearing the faces of Ulysses S. Grant, other hated politicians, and Darwin himself...more

Mayan Artwork Uncovered In A Guatemalan Forest

( Archaeologists working in one of the most impenetrable rain forests in Guatemala have stumbled on a remarkable discovery: a room full of wall paintings and numerical calculations.

The buried room apparently was a workshop used by scribes or astronomers working for a Mayan king. The paintings depict the king and members of his court. The numbers mark important periods in the Maya calendar... more

12 Dozen Places To Educate Yourself Online For Free

( MIT OpenCourseWareTufts OpenCourseWareHarvard MedicalKhan AcademyOpen Yale CoursesHowStuffWorks Science, dozens more..

The Man Who Makes the Future: Wired Icon Marc Andreessen

( He’s not a household name like Gates, Jobs, or Zuckerberg. His face isn’t known to millions. But during his remarkable 20-year career, no one has done more than Marc Andreessen to change the way we communicate. At 22, he invented Mosaic, the first graphical web browser—an innovation that is perhaps more responsible than any other for popularizing the Internet and bringing it into hundreds of millions of homes... more

Why We Should All Learn to Hack

(BBC) Owning a computer once went hand in hand with understanding exactly how it worked. That may have changed but Tom Chatfield says it's time to reclaim the past... more

Eddie: Have seen this reoccurring idea, that to control ones future, people should learn to program rather than just settle for what's been programmed for them (revisit/clarify this idea..)

How Does the Brain Secrete Morality?

( “The brain secretes thought as the liver secretes bile,” asserted 18th century French physiologist Pierre Cabanis. The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies convened a conference of neuroscientists and philosophers to ponder how our brains secrete thoughts about ethics and morality... more

12 Baffling Medical Conditions

(ABC News) Giant limbs and random lumps of fat. Music-induced seizures. Persistent sexual arousal syndrome. They are conditions that have not made an indelible mark in the tomes of medicine. Bring them up in front of a physician and in some cases you may get little more than a blank stare. But they exist, sometimes as a rare disorder, sometimes as a disorder that falls between many medical specialties, and sometimes as an extreme form of a normal bodily function that most people experience every day... more

Maglevs: The floating future of trains?

(BBC News Future) They have been promised for decades, but is it now finally the time for magnetic levitation (maglev) trains to hit the mainstream?  ... more

Tweet Test 1

Va Tech researcher wants to turn 550 Apple computers in college’s math lab into a supercomputer.