Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What RA Feels Like

I just made a little animated video about how my rheumatoid arthritis makes me feel. Please watch. Then, please donate.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Siblings Size-up Margins of Safety

Bob and Sarah worked together again (see the announcement of our first collaboration here) on a post over at Medical Law Perspectives: Uncleanable ERCP Duodenoscopes: Manufacturer, Hospital, and Physician Liability?  This time, Bob clarified the comparison of two margins of safety. 

In an editorial published in JAMA last October, William A. Rutala, PhD, MPH, Professor of Medicine, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill; Director, North Carolina Program for Infection Control and Epidemiology; Director, Hospital Epidemiology, Occupational Health and Safety Program Hospital Epidemiology, University of North Carolina Health Care; and David J. Weber, MD, MPH, Professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, stated that the margin of safety associated with cleaning and high-level disinfection of gastrointestinal endoscopes is 0-2 log10. Rutala WA, Weber DJ. Gastrointestinal endoscopes: a need to shift from disinfection to sterilization? JAMA. 2014 Oct 8;312(14):1405-6. PMID: 25291575. Rutala and Weber compared this low margin of safety to the 17 log10 margin of safety associated with cleaning and sterilization of surgical instruments. 

But I had no idea how 2 log10 compared to 17log10. Bob explained that, at best, the margin of safety of endoscope reprocessing is 15 to 17 orders of magnitude less than the margin of safety for reprocessing of surgical instruments. Not 15 to 17 times less. 15 to 17 orders of magnitude less. That is literally over a quadrillion times less. So, the margin of safety associated with the cleaning protocol for duodenoscopes recommended in instructions provided by the manufacturer (Olympus Corporation) and the FDA is over a quadrillion times less than the margin of safety for reprocessing surgical instruments.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Chicken Hunters

I mean, the chickens are hunters. I tried to get some videos of them chasing other birds off their lawn, but it was difficult to catch them in the act.  They mostly acted innocent.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Hollywood Tail

Back on November 1st, we discovered two kittens abandoned in our yard. After a daring rescue, they were cold and flea - infested, but adorable.
Unfortunately, David is allergic to cats. So we had to find them a forever home. We emailed; tweeted; and put flyers up in the Department of English, Comparative Literature, and Linguistics, a known cat person hang out. But there were no takers.
Then our friend Bridget, a recovering cat breeder, stepped in. She fostered the remaining kitten (yes, :( DO NOT TELL OUR CHILD) and nursed it back to health and flea-freedom. Then she found it a forever home with a mom and two sons who just lost their elder cat ... in San Jose, which is over a six hour drive without traffic. In trying to find a ride for the kitten, by then named, Oliver, she contacted a friend who is an animal wrangler in Hollywood. Not only did the animal wrangler volunteer to drive Oliver to San Jose, but she lined up some work for him. 

As it is not kitten season, Oliver was able to command a four digit payday for two days of work. He was the model in a photo shoot for Shutterfly.
Now, Oliver has earned his initial veterinarian visit and neutering fees for his forever family and gas money for his ride up the coast. 
While Oliver's story has a happy ending, please remember that if you find young kittens in a relatively safe area, such as in the grass or on a sidewalk, it’s best to leave them alone. Mom is probably moving her babies or out looking for food. Check out this post from the ASPCA for more information. 

Friday, November 28, 2014


So I invented a new pie this Thanksgiving. 

It uses the Salty Pluff Mud Pie filling from the New York Times wonderful dining section containing a recipe from all fifty states for Thanksgiving.  But instead of a regular pie crust, which I always find at odds with Mud Pie, I made the crust out of NYTCCC dough without the chocolate chips.  I buttered the pie plate, then covered the bottom and sides with about 1/3 inch of dough.  I popped it in the fridge overnight.  Then I baked it in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.
At this point, it looked like there would be no room for filling, but I popped it back into the freezer to chill until the filling was ready and it settled down a bit.  Then I followed the Salty Pluff Mud Pie recipe.

It came out of the pie plate easily and held its shape well. It was AMAZING!  The bottom perimeter of the pie, where the proportion of crust sometimes fails and ruins the whole thing, turned into this caramelized, chocolately, yum.  It was alchemy.
Before serving, I dusted the top with extra fine sea salt, which truly does bring out the flavor of the chocolate, and topped it with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Siblings Study Statistics

It's been pretty quiet here at Gnomicon.  But if you're wondering if we're still up to our usual shenanigans, the answer is yes.  For example, Bob and Sarah just collaborated on a post over at Medical Law Perspectives:
CDC Study Shows Skyrocketing Skin Cancer Costs; What Lawyers Can Learn By Examination and Persuasive Presentation of Statistics.
We even made illustrative bar graphs based on hypothetical data sets.  Yup, the family that critically reviews use of statistics in the public media together stays together.  Or some other catchy adage referring to the Common Core standards for high school math.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

I Might Have Invented a New Cookie

What happens when you volunteer to make cookies for a fundraiser at your kid's daycare and you discover at 10 p.m. that you're 1/2 stick of butter left?  You discover a whole new cookie: peanut butter bacon cookies with banana buttercream frosting.  That title is a mouthful.  How about Elvis Cookies?  Or if the Elvis Presley estate is concerned about that, how about King Cookies?  Salty, fruity, peanuty, bacony goodness.  You don't have to like the sandwich to love this cookie.

King Cookies
Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies
  • 1/2 C unsalted butter
  • 1/2 C cold bacon grease
  • 1 3/4 C crunchy peanut butter
  • 1/2 C PB2
  • 1 C white sugar
  • 1 C packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda
  • Cream together butter, bacon grease, peanut butter, PB2, white sugar, and brown sugar for at least 10 minutes. 
  • Beat in eggs.
    In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add your dries to your wets and mix slowly until totally combined. 
  • Cover and refrigerate overnight, or as long as you can stand to wait.
    When you're ready to bake your cookies, take the dough out of the fridge and let it reach room temperature. 
  • Preheat the oven to 350.  
  • Roll into 1 inch balls and set on baking sheets. Flatten each ball with the palm of your hand to about 5/8 inch thick.  You might have to push the edges back towards the center with your fingers if the edges break.  
  • Bake for about 14 minutes or until cookies begin to brown. Do not over-bake. Take them out and allow them to cool on the cookie sheet.

Banana Buttercream Frosting
  • 1/2 C mashed fresh bananas, not frozen (cold banana will make the butter harden)
    1/8 t citric acid (1/2 t lemon juice could be used as substitutes)
    1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 1/2 C butter
  • 3 1/4 C confectioners' sugar
  • yellow gel paste food coloring (optional)
  • Mash together the banana, citric acid, and vanilla.
  • Cream the butter alone. Add half of the confectioners' sugar 1/2 C at a time, creaming it in completely after each addition.
  • Add the banana mixture. Take some time to cream this in, scraping down the bowl completely a few times to make sure the butter isn't separating and stuck to the side of the bowl.
  • Add the remaining confectioners' sugar 1/2 C at a time, creaming it in completely and scraping down the bowl after each addition.
  • Add the gel paste food coloring until the frosting reaches a shade of yellow that will reassure nonbelievers that this is really banana-flavored.
  • Check that the cookies are no warmer than room-temperature.  If they're at all warm, the frosting will melt and possibly slide off.
  • Frost the the cookies thickly.  The volume of the frosting should equal the volume of the cookie to balance the salty/bacony powerhouse of the cookies with sweet/banana-y awesomeness.
  • Twirl the frosting in the middle to make a little pompadour. Get it?