Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Motorcycle Moments

A non-food related entry while killing time before Iftaar :-) As the weather cools, even slightly, we are seeing more cyclists hitting the roads. Be safe out there.

There are some very very clever people on U-Tube:

Leader of the Pack

From that all time need-for-speed movie, Top Gun:

October 7, 2007 Posted by | Adventure, Entertainment, Humor, Mating Behavior, Music | 6 Comments

Why The Appendix?

A few years ago, Adventure Man was getting all set to cross the Sahara with a camel caravan, until he read the disclaimers and warnings, including a small item that in one of the previous crossings, a traveller had a sudden bout of appendicitus and was left, alone in the desert, to die, because there was nothing else that could be done. He chose not to go!

CNN News has published an article on scientist’s discovering the use of the appendix:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Some scientists think they have figured out the real job of the troublesome and seemingly useless appendix: It produces and protects good germs for your gut.

That’s the theory from surgeons and immunologists at Duke University Medical School, published online in a scientific journal this week.

For generations the appendix has been dismissed as superfluous. Doctors figured it had no function. Surgeons removed them routinely. People live fine without them.

And when infected the appendix can turn deadly. It gets inflamed quickly and some people die if it isn’t removed in time. Two years ago, 321,000 Americans were hospitalized with appendicitis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The function of the appendix seems related to the massive amount of bacteria populating the human digestive system, according to the study in the Journal of Theoretical Biology. There are more bacteria than human cells in the typical body. Most are good and help digest food.

But sometimes the flora of bacteria in the intestines die or are purged. Diseases such as cholera or amoebic dysentery would clear the gut of useful bacteria. The appendix’s job is to reboot the digestive system in that case.

You can read the rest of the article Here.

October 7, 2007 Posted by | Adventure, Africa, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Health Issues, Hygiene, Living Conditions, News | 2 Comments

Picoult and My Sister’s Keeper

I don’t know where I got the idea that Jodi Picoult wrote girly books, maybe because when you go to a bookstore there are so many of them? I just assumed they were romance and passed right by until several months ago, in a small used book store, I found one that was in the book club section, and those are usually pretty good reads. I bought it, but put off reading it, assuming it was an easy read, maybe I would read it on an airplane one day.

For some reason I moved it up, maybe I had heard a review or something. It moved to the bedside group, the “in line for immediate reading” group. At a time when we were particularly busy, I finished my other book and this was next, and I thought “Oh well, yes we are busy, but this will be light reading.”

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

This book, My Sister’s Keeper, is not light reading. It is a book a lot like We Need To Talk About Kevin one of the most terrifying and unforgettable books I have ever read. It is a book about motherhood, and parenting and tough choices. It is a book about how sometimes your entire life is yanked, and all the focus is on one area, to the detriment of others. It is a particularly tough book if you are a mother.

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The main character, Anna, was conceived so that her stem cells, from the umbilical cord, will be used to help her sister, Kate, who has leukemia. Family life is chaotic, to say the least, as the vigilant parents’ attention is constantly on Kate, who suffers frequent relapses.

Picoult uses the voices of Anna, Kate, Jessie – the brother, a pyromaniac, Brian (the father), Sara (the mother), Campbell (Anna’s lawyer) and Jesse (Anna’s guardian ad litem) to tell the story.

Anna has approached Campbell, a lawyer, to achieve medical emancipation. She loves her sister, she has shared a room and her entire life with her sister, she has given stem cells, she has given bone marrow, she has been through several medical procedures to keep her sister’s cancer in remission, but at 13, she balks when expected to give one of her kidneys is a last ditch attempt that even the doctors have little expectation will succeed. She hires a lawyer.

Sara is a mother you would love to hate. You would love to grab her by the shoulders and say “Pay attention! You have THREE children, and two of them need your attention, too!” but something holds you back, and that something is the serious doubt you have about how you would handle the same situation. In extreme circumstances, people make the best choices they can, and when you are in extreme circumstances day after day, things start to fray, and then they start to fall apart. This family is past the fraying part, and we hold our breaths hoping they won’t fall apart.

It’s not a hard read because of the technical terms; this is a book where a 13 year old knows all the vocabulary of cancer, and we learn it, too. It flows naturally in the book.

Kate has acute promyelocytic leukemia. Actually, that’s not quite true – right now she doesn’t have it, but it’s hibernating under her skin like a bear, until it decides to roar again. She was diagnosed when she was two; she’s sixteen now. Molecular relapse and granulocyte and portacath – these words are part of my vocabulary, even though I’ll never find them on any SAT. I’m an allogeneic donor – a perfect sibling match. When Kate needs leukocytes or stem cells or bone marrow to fool her body into thinking it’s healthy, I’m the one who provides them. Nearly every time Kate’s been hospitalized, I wind up there, too.

None of which means anything except that you shouldn’t believe what you hear about me, least of all that which I tell you about myself.

Aha! We are reading a book with an unreliable main character!

It is a hard read because we all have families, and we all face tough decisions. There is a part of us that says “thank God we are not in this situation” and another part that says “there but for the grace of God . . . ” It is a tough book because we don’t know who we will become when life-changing circumstances hit us, we don’t know what choices we would make, because we are afraid, and because we don’t want to find out.

There are some surprises, though, and you will want to keep reading. There is a lot of love here, in the cracks between the tragedies. My Sister’s Keeper has three sets of sisters, and a lot of focus on that very special relationship. The men, too, come off well at the end.

Not an easy read, but a book that will stay in your heart for a long time.

October 7, 2007 Posted by | Books, Family Issues, Fiction, Friends & Friendship, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Relationships, Technical Issue, Women's Issues | 10 Comments

   

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