Posted by: erinserb | June 25, 2014

Our Crazy World of Elements…Actinium to Zinc

Parsons, Paul, and Gail Dixon.  The Periodic Table – A Visual Guide to the Elements. 

New York:  Random House,  2014. Print.

If someone were ever curious about the vast world of chemistry, physics and the cosmos, they would be very well served with this outstanding work.

To realize how user-friendly this work is, I was finished with well over 200 pages of the known 118 elements – not all created equal by the way-  in approximately 3 days…any other book I have read regarding the elements took at least twice as long and completely lost me after the first, say, 10 elements.  The subject is pretty straightforward – the examination of each element, with the necessary scientific information of Atomic Numbers, Atomic Weights, half-lives, and all of the usual suspects listed in a Chemistry book.

This book  goes one further, mainly because it is entertaining and high visual.  An explanation of the Periodic Table is introduced with easy to follow explanations of the rows and periods which beautifully follow a pattern.  The lesser known elements, e.g.  Tantalum, Radon, Technetium, etc. are also explained not using arcane scientific jargon.  The reader gets a sense of how such a table was constructed, and how the elements fit into certain spaces by measuring their Atomic numbers.  The photography of the elements is also exceptional, with each element depicted in a way that both an experienced scientist or a novice could appreciate.

Because of the unique readability of this book, it only increases the interest of those who are truly interested in science and how these elements basically hold the universe together.

Now, if only I can understand Basic Math through Quantum Mechanics – only then will I feel a complete sense of my “oneness” with the universe :-)

Verdict – recommended reading for those interested in science and the curious souls at heart.

 

Posted by: erinserb | June 4, 2014

The “re-birth” of 2145 Hillsgate Court

Back in January, I posted a blog about the “death” of a home on an adjacent street near our home.  The “death” of 2145 Hillsgate Court was a tragedy, but today as I was going into work, I decided to go by the house; I expected it to be still be boarded up and lifeless.  There is good news though!  The house was in the process of being restored, and workmen were buzzing about and starting the rebuilding process.

This house is kind of like life itself, and the quality called – resiliency!  The family could have chosen many options, but perhaps with their faith, they chose to rebuild.   Their decision will not bring the house back to its former condition – perhaps it will be even better, or perhaps not.

One thing that will not change is their love for their property, their love for their each other, their friends, and their love of life.

So here’s  to 2145 Hillsgate Court – maybe by any other name 2145 Mainstreet, America – there is hope in their future, and this brings hope to ours.

 

 

Posted by: erinserb | January 31, 2014

The death of 2145 Hillsgate Ct. – or maybe not!

Early the other morning, my wife and I were awakened to several fire engines, police units, and EMS.  We looked out our back window and there it was 3 doors down and on another street – a house was burning.  Fortunately, no one was home, nor did the fire spread to other homes on that street.

Something about a house on fire is so eerie and other worldly; you see fires on television, but you cannot know or experience it as it happens – the reality of it all!  Which leads me to the next day, as I was leaving for work, I went down and drove by the house.  It hadn’t been boarded up yet, so you could see the “gutting of the interior”; no life, no joy, no laughing, no happiness, all those things were taken from that family in a matter of a minutes.  A picture ran in the local paper of a fireman collecting important books, documents, and probably the most important thing – pictures.

I’ve seen people rebound from house fires; as a matter of fact, we have had now 3 of them in our neighborhood since we moved in 22+ years ago.  Each time, the family involved restored their “home”.  All I can say is that I believe that this family will do the same; once you’ve seen total destruction of your precious place, all you can do is have faith for to live for  better times.

The fire may have taken away physical things, but it cannot take away, the life, the joy, the laughing, the happiness, the love – for these are timeless.  It is those qualities which will, I believe, rebuild and restore the home at 2145 Hillsgate Ct.

 

Posted by: erinserb | October 22, 2013

A sad sign of the time!

Amidst all of the hype and excitement of this year’s World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals, another nasty reminder rears its ugly head – the issue of security.

It is something we have to live with in 21st century America (or for that matter, the world).  Magnetometers, radiation detectors, bomb sniffing police dogs, ad nauseam!   After the tragedy which defined the Boston Marathon in April of this year, I believe no major sporting event will ever be the same.

As a matter of fact, our local football team  instituted a decree (now an NFL policy) which restricts women bringing in their handbags, and they must settle for demeaning clear plastic shopping bags to insure that all of the contents are visible – that plus a frisk/pat-down and 50 cents will get you a cup of coffee –  not Starbucks even.

Our modern lives (and the extreme security) has been defined by 9/11.  In essence, we put into place a series of paranoid preparations, and somehow we lose sight of our humanity and somehow, the decency and respect that should be afforded all citizens.  Remember, so we can be safe, you are considered “suspect” before being proven innocent by the authorities at the gate.   Don’t get me wrong, I cherish having security even if it means some delays, or some humiliating precautions.

Does this guarantee us of a safe future, not to say enjoying a game or activity?  Nothing is a guarantee in this day and age…..or is it?  You be the judge; I am going to stay home and enjoy the games, simply for the fact that I can’t afford tickets :-)  Go Cardinals, beat the Sox!

Posted by: erinserb | October 19, 2013

St. Louis Cardinals – 2013 National League Champions

The baseball gods were with the home team last night; and I think my home team has broken out of their shell!  Baseball, although a kid’s game, is somehow different here in old St. Lou, and that is what is unique about the Cardinals.   Dispatching the Dodgers was only the beginning, and I have quite a good feeling that whomever they face, that team is going have to do their best to beat this team, whose logo “the birds on the bat” is timeless.  Go Cardinals!!!

Posted by: erinserb | May 9, 2013

I’ll have a cup of java and a stick of gum too!

There are few companies that show restraint when it comes to public health, at least none of the companies I’ve read or heard about.

Wrigley is a special company, because it is synonymous with chewing gum in our Americana mind-set.  Only after a few days of its introduction, their new product, Alert, has been been temporarily suspended from the market due to concerns about the amount/levels of caffeine.

Why get wired with a cup of coffee when you can just chomp on a piece of gum?  Well, there is probably a good reason: can you imagine chewing a couple of sticks of Alert with your favorite cup of “joe”, or with that shot of Five Hour Energy or Red Bull.  Don’t get me wrong, I love coffee and need some caffeine at various times of the day.  You’re probably thinking, “what a hypocrite”!

I believe Wrigley has, perhaps set a good precendent for more companies to think about the health concerns of a product versus the profit aspect.

I will ponder over this as I go to the break room and get a refill on my afternoon cup of coffee. :-)

 

Posted by: erinserb | May 7, 2013

Polio – an American Story

Oshinsky, Dave M. Polio: An American Story. New York: Oxford Press. 2006

This is hopefully the start of book reviews, which I will often post on FB as well. 

If ever there was a source that one wanted to know about the scourge of Polio, what it meant for generations who knew it as a nightware and public health dread, one should read this book.

Polio, for those of a younger generation, was perhaps one of the most frightening diseases known to man.   Its formation as a communicable disease can be traced back to ancient times, but up until the early 20th century, it was “off the map” as being a disease of the magnitude as say, tuberculosis, cholera, diptheria, etc.

What seems to be a paradox is that polio actually started to become more prevalent during the years leading up to the mid-20th century.  If one thinks that polio was an illness associated with poor sanitation and squalid living conditions, this book explains that this theory became quite the contrary.  Polio became a disease that struck more in middle-class America where sanitation and hygiene had actually improved.

The book covers the most significant people who were polio victims, primarily President Franklin D. Roosevelt.   Because of President Roosevelt being stricken, and also the virulent and sudden nature of onset and outcome, polio started to become public health enemy #1.   The author details the extensive fund-raising, and the eventual creation of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (which polio was often referred as).

If those are interested in the drama of medicine and vaccines, you will not be disappointed.  The competition was fierce to find an “effective and safe” vaccine.   Both Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin are presented as bitter rivals, because each approached their vaccine to immunize the public in different ways.   Salk, who is probably better known, used the method of the “killed virus” vaccine, while Sabin believed in a weakened live vaccine.

When viewed from our 21st century lens, much of the work on creating a vaccine will seem primitive, but our human nature and many of our successes and pitfalls are timeless.  That is why this book is a good and easy read because it involves all things which make us “very human”.

 

Posted by: erinserb | August 14, 2012

Olympic moments

It is bittersweet to see the XXXth Summer Olympiad  end, but it is probably a good thing for nearly all who want to get back to their regularly scheduled TV programs and adhering to their healthy bed times.

The Olympics afford those who are not even “into” athletics, a chance to dream about achieving potentials which aren’t usually thought, going for the Gold to be one.  Although the Games have the proverbial controversy, be it dope testing, unfair officiating, jingoistic fervor, etc., it still seems we watch.  Sometimes we watch it live, but more often than not, we watch tape delays because that is the way NBC does it.  Maybe for the Games of Rio 2016, we will watch more live programming because Rio is only 2 hours ahead of Easter Daylight Time, but I digress.

My Olympic moment came unexpectedly and will be forever burned into my memory.  It was 1994 and St. Louis proudly hosted the U.S. Olympic Festival - a yearly offering for a lucky city to participate in a mini-Olympics.  This festival is no longer held, probably due to the cost. 

I was attending Washington University in St. Louis in the final year of my Master’s program.  Wash. U. hosted some events, as they did in the 1904 Olympic Games, which were a second-rate event in the shadow of that year’s World’s Fair.  As I walked outside of the old Prince Hall, I noticed an all but empty Francis Field, where most of the track and field events were held back then, both in 1904 and 1994.  The sky was beautifully amber as the sun was setting.  I noticed a cauldron of fire, and it was the Olympic Flame, lit specifically for the Festival in 1994.

There was nary a soul but me and the Flame against the beautiful backdrop; a Flame that indicated that at one time, the World came to St. Louis for the Fair, and oh yes, the Olympiad too!  As I got closer to the Flame, I could hear the rush of the gas jets providing the fuel.  In that moment, someone who was and is a lover of all things Olympic, had a shiver go down his spine.  I spent a few moments next to the Flame; I didn’t want to leave it, but all things must go on….and London 2012 went on, the inheritor of that and all the flames that have burned since and in the future.

Posted by: erinserb | February 9, 2012

Gene Cards (4)

In searching for genetic testing for certain conditions (specially major depression), I came across a good site – Gene Cards (r).  If you take a known gene, linked to a potential genetic defect – such as the NTRK3 gene (via a simple Google search), you will be given the option to link to this website.  It has gene maps, information for testing, research.  Perhaps the most important link is to NCBI and PubMed – where articles are FREE – free is good :-)

May all your genetic searches be as pleasant!

Posted by: erinserb | February 8, 2012

Community Conversation: Copyright and Social Media

As a throwback to my old Horizon/Wimba days at University of Alabama, I wanted to comment on the most recent webinar provided by The Center for Intellectual Property, University of Maryland University College.  It felt good to be “back in the Wimba saddle” again. 

It has been particularly rewarding to be a member of CIP, as I attended my first webinar (titled) Copyright and Social Media – a lecture by Jeannette Carmadella, JD.   The information is so timely to the nexus of the meeting of copyright and social media.  I have a particular interest in the relationship of YouTube and copyright infringement.  Basically, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, allows social media sites like YouTube to temporarily allow copyrightable material.  If the owner of the video claims copyright, YouTube must take down the video (cease and desist).   Maybe that is why some videos go viral – temporarily.  If the owner doesn’t claim copyright, we can enjoy lots of music videos, goofy and campy videos,  and egghead lectures for a long time :-)

I also found out that it is within Fair Use and the Copyright Laws to comment on an article (on just about anything), as long as I attribute to the source and/or hyperlink to it.  I was sweating bullets there for a minute, because I have done the very same thing here many times.

So I will continue to “comment and blog away”, even if anyone doesn’t listen. 

I (hopefully) wish to pursue a copyright certification via CIP; then I can be a downright and outright outrageous blogger of copyright do’s and don’ts.

Older Posts »

Categories

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.