February 25, 2007

Protein May Stop Asthma Attacks

An interesting article in BBC News caught my eye regarding asthma. Someone very close to me has asthma and I confess to minimal knowledge of asthma except to see that it causes distress and discomfort and anxiety. I cannot imagine personally dealing with difficulty to get the air we need; for people like me, simply breathing in and out is taken for granted. For someone with asthma, their sleep is interrupted and they carry inhalers and hope they don't catch a cold.

Some of the article in BBC News:

UK researchers found there were low levels of proteins which should act as lung cells' first line of defense.

Writing in Nature Medicine, they say boosting levels of these proteins could protect people with asthma from having an attack because of a cold.

The researchers, from Imperial College and the Medical Research Council Centre in Allergic Mechanisms of Asthma, tested lung cells from people with and without asthma.

It was found that when the people with asthma were infected with a common cold virus, a rhinovirus, their lung cells produced half the usual levels of a type of interferon - a protein with antiviral properties generated by the immune system. The lower the level of the antiviral protein, the more severe the asthma attack.

Uncovering this mechanism could lead to a new way of treating or preventing asthma attacks.

Inhalers could be used to get extra interferon directly to the lungs to help the immune system fight viral infection. It could be given either when the first symptoms of a cold appear, or even throughout winter as a preventative treatment.

Also in BBC News:

Researchers say they have found a way to predict asthma attacks using a mathematic model.

The findings may help asthmatics control their symptoms more effectively and improve the testing of new drugs.

The Nature paper authors were able to predict the likelihood of an asthma attack occurring over the next month by looking at peak flow readings.

These readings give doctors an idea of how well a person's lungs are working - low readings mean poorer function.

The model the international team used is based on processes known as "chaos" which are applied to complex systems, such as the weather, that despite appearing random, actually are not and are dependent on the interaction of many individual components.
It may be possible to determine the risk of a severe attack of asthma in individual subjects, and to use the information to modify their treatment.

The airways become hypersensitive to even apparently minor environmental factors such as small amounts of pollutants or allergens.

An inhaler which is commonly used by asthmatics for relief can increase the instability of lung function, and increase the likelihood of an acute attack if it is used regularly. Regular use of short-acting bronchodilators, or beta agonists, (four times daily with a long night time drug-free interval) increases the risk of asthma episodes.

According to Dr. Paul Enright at Web MD:
"About half of adults with asthma have allergic triggers, but the vast majority have exercise-induced bronchospasm (EIB) when they exercise vigorously in cold or dry air."

February 23, 2007

February 21, 2007

For People Who Still Write With A Pencil

Designers Daniil Rassadin and Alexander Malinovsky have created a palm size eraser, which is fashioned like the well-known Delete Key on a computer keyboard.

Tersumus will be available for sale on July 10. Before June 10 price will be 8.8 US$, after June 10—10.5 US$. The designers claim the eraser will last for years. Maybe if it doesn't get much use it will last a long time.

Personally, I seldom have a need for an eraser, but why not use one that is fun as well as serviceable.

February 17, 2007

February 13, 2007

What To Do When The Toaster Dies

We didn't want to hurt the toaster's feelings, but we had already purchased the replacement and started using it sometimes. Perhaps that was what sped the demise of the old toaster. It gradually toasted less and finally only one side would get toasted. The new toaster would toast a dark beautiful brown in less time than the old toaster would partially toast one side.

We will invite friends and neighbors. One of us will speak about the good job the toaster did for a couple years. And we will go around the group allowing some of the friends who had personal experiences to relate regarding the toaster to share their stories. Then we will partake of an appropriate meal as we all sit and reminisce about the toaster in days gone by. After the visitors have all gone we will bury the toaster in the back yard.

The electric toothbrush is taking a couple days off and the blender and the coffeemaker are huddling on the counter.

It was a hard decision, but we had to pull the plug.

Thanks for a job well done, old toaster.

February 11, 2007

Adrift in the World of Loneliness

Found at African Refugees, this post is one so many of us can relate to. When we are in the midst of these feelings, it is good to remember the last part of this poem. Thanks, Fancy, for writing this caring and insightful poem.

Adrift in the World of Loneliness

"Staring blankly into
The distance, the neophyte finds
Himself adrift; withdrawing
From the society into a world
Of private thoughts and beauty

He stood
In absolute silence, like
A solitary flower
In a shrinking pond; waiting
For the golden dawn

After years of solitude
And melancholy, the spirit
Liberates his memory
Giving him a new life in
The suburb of dreams

© Lawrence T. Udo-Ekpo

February 08, 2007

Part Of The Family

This little dog is part of our family. She is two years old and that is how long she has been with us.

She is a Papillon. And she is smarter than I am. I have to go to work; she gets to stay home.

There is evidence that a dog lives here in every room in the house except where we sleep. She sleeps in her large soft crate at night. She has a few toys, but I have seen dogs with a basket full of toys. Some small dogs bark incessantly, but she only barks occasionally when she hears a strange noise.

This good natured dog brings joy and fun into our home and we are so happy to share our life with her. Her name is Bree.

February 04, 2007

Good Morning, Darlin'

As we start our 18th month together, it's so nice to feel this close, and know your love.

We started one day at a time, moved in together almost a year ago, and just like I wrote in the original message you replied to... they add up.

Here's to a great day, with peace and music and long smoldering glances across the room... or even closer.

February 03, 2007

Remembered And Still Not Repaired

She walked with her head down, inspecting the patches of dried grass and brown cracked earth, avoiding the stickers and broken glass. Since the only shoes she owned were school shoes, she was bare feet and stubbed toes.

She had been sent on the usual errand to the country store for a loaf of bread. She had been told to bring back the change but she had not been told how much change to expect. Rural living meant great distances to walk and the store was a small farmers market frequented by the local residents in the low income area.

Her mind was not on the errand. Tomorrow would be her ninth birthday and a friend from school was coming home from school with her and spending the night. This would be the first time someone spent the night.

She was hoping her father would not drink too much and fight with her mother in front of her friend. What actually happened was more devastating than another family brawl.
The accident scarred the little friend for life, her face so damaged it could not be repaired. There were many things that could not be repaired and there were no more childhood friends.

To Be Continued in a Future Post.

February 02, 2007

Happy Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day grew out of a German superstition
that if a hibernating animal casts a shadow February 2
winter will last another six weeks.
If no shadow is seen, legend says spring will be early.

From Our World:

"Top 10* Reasons to Celebrate Groundhog Day

11. It's on nearly every calendar.
10. Helps relieve cabin fever.
9. Spring or not, it's six weeks till St Urho's Day.
8. Forecast is no less reliable than the National Weather Service.
7. At least one of them critters is bound to see things your way.
6. Valentine's Day is too depressing for romantically challenged people like me.
5. Unlike the Easter bunny, he keeps his dirty paws outside.
4. As they used to say on radio: "The Shadow knows".
3. It's fun to say "Punxsutawney".
2. If a rodent can bring us an early spring, more power to him.
1. In Minnesota, either way we come out ahead.

* I had some math training at a Big Ten conference school, which explains why there are eleven reasons in the list.