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 a 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.

Posted by: erinserb | November 18, 2011

Ruining Baseball – one step at a time.

I love baseball, perhaps my favorite sport, next to all the others – Jai Alai need not apply!

Baseball will add two more wild card playoff teams, one in each league.  Also, the Houston Astros will move from the NL Central to the AL West.  It gets worse though!

There will be an expansion of inter-league play to 30 games, and yes folks, the potential for the National League to finally “adopt” the dreaded designated hitter (DH).  It could get worse – switching to aluminum bats, psychedelic laser shows and robot assisted bat and ball boys.

Seriously though, it is about one thing – MONEY!!!  Bud Selig is all for “fans loving the games”, but let’s be honest; all these cosmetic changes have the inglorious underpinnings of the mad dash for profit.  It is why games that are long scheduled for the daytime end up being turned into night games to “accommodate” national TV audiences.

To the average baseball Joe, these changes are probably innocuous, but to those who truly care about America’s pastime, it is as painful as an 18 inning game.

Posted by: erinserb | September 7, 2011

9/11; enough already!

It was a horrible day, 9/11/2001; such a low time in American history.  We have paid dearly in the loss of the victims, and families of the victims whose lives will never be the same again.

We’ve also paid dearly with a War on Terrorism, which perverted itself to an invasion of two countries, 5,000 American troops dead, countless others maimed on both sides, at least a trillion dollars spent ad nauseam.   Oh, and remember the tax cuts that didn’t pay for these wars either…good job George Bush and his ilk.

I am a U.S. Navy veteran from a different era – think post Vietnam era in the late 1970’s.  We were not at war then, but we had a different type of war – the Cold War, in which we were always a “hair trigger” from WWIII.    These things seemed sterile to us at the time, i.e. how many missiles did the Soviet’s have, what did we have, Mutally Assured Destruction etc.  We didn’t seem to go on and on about that time in our history – though the outcomes would have made 9/11 seem like a small popgun incident.

I am tired of hearing about 9/11!  Why?  Because it is thrown at us from all angles; just turn on your television or pick up a magazine; anyone for that matter.  It was a day that all of us will remember, including where we were at and what we were doing.   10 year anniversaries deserve to be remembered with dignity and discretion – none of that exists with 9/11; it will always hang around our generational neck.

Why don’t we remember the “never again another Vietnam”?  It has just been playing out over the last 10 years, but the record keeps playing over and over again….just like 9/11.  Let’s celebrate our accomplishments and build our nation back up with innovative programs to get people back to work.  I doubt many people who are jobless think much about 9/11 or terrorism, they just want their lives and liberties back again.

Posted by: erinserb | September 6, 2011


Yesterday, my father-in-law had a mild stroke.  He is doing well in the hospital, and they’ve run the various high-tech tests, such as CT/MRI/and echo cardiogram.

Stroke, it seems, is much more common than we think, but the good thing is how quickly (if help is available) they can be addressed and effects can be offset.

The doctor’s are saying that he will be fine, he has no slurring – at least today – of his speech and is in one of the best places for neuroscience care here in St. Louis.

I believe they are pointing to the much more common type of stroke, that which involves a clot in a vein/artery in the brain.   Symptoms vary on the area of the brain which has been affected.

So we are just waiting, particularly for the results of the MRI.  I believe he is at the “out-of-the-woods” stage, but there must be constant monitoring.  The brain has a remarkable way of compensating after trauma such as a stroke.

Now if they could just give him a little peace and quiet, he’ll be okay – think no vital signs being taken at 2:00 a.m. 🙂

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