Sunday, April 29, 2007

Lights, camera... Lights? Spotlight?

Be well, friend. We are all loving you and wishing you the best.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Earth Day 2007

It's Earth Day again. I've been taking stock this morning of my personal habits, and I've practically abandoned many of my green living habits over the last two years. Organic foods? Often, but not really committed anymore. Bottled water? I drank it all the time when I was in massage school. Tasted like crap, but I was expending so much energy... And my car? I cringe. That Buick guzzles gas like, well, like a Buick. When I make my very own car purchase next year, mileage is going to be a major priority!

And, speaking of cars, if (like me) you can't afford a Prius (or can't afford to wait for one), don't feel too bad. Here is a an NPR discussion about how hybrids don't make nearly as much difference as we'd hoped they would. It takes a few years on the road for us to learn these things. I applaud the hybrid owners out there, as this technology needs to be supported, but for right now, we may be better off with fuel efficient small cars.

Areas I do well in: Recycling! My apartment building makes that very easy with a vast assortment of bins parked right next to the dumpster. It's like a refuse party out there. Paper, plastic, glass, metal, all different types. Nothing goes in that big dumspter but.. well, organic material. I just barely crack the lid, toss my garbage in, and exit quickly. I wonder if we don't have a compost pile going in that giant metal box.

Here is a fabulous list of ten things you can do to help the Earth, particularly in regards to saving energy. Maybe there's several you're already doing! Maybe there a tip or two you can apply from now on.

After all... for the time being, this is the only planet we've got.

Top Ten Earth Day Tips
by P.W. McRandle, taken from National Geographic's "The Green Guide."

Eat Right and Shop Well

1) Buy locally and organically grown produce: Otherwise, it can take about a gallon of gas for 30 pounds of food shipped cross-country to reach your shopping cart. Shopping locally saves gas and keeps the air cleaner (for options, see "Oceans").

2) Buy shade-grown coffee and chocolate: Give economic incentives to preserve rain-forest canopies. Try shady chocolate bars (G and I always have a few of these in the house!) ($3.69,; or coffee ($11/12 oz.,; $7.50/12 oz., For more, see "Rain Forests" and product reports at

3) Bring your own bag: Help stem the flood of 100 billion plastic shopping bags Americans toss out every year. (You'll also get a 5 cent discount at Whole Foods stores.) Seabirds and turtles mistake plastic bags for jellyfish and eat them, so recycle at Wal-Mart or check for a place near you. For organic cotton string shopping bags ($5.49), see Also see "Sea Bags" (

Conserve H20

4) This is my favorite one: Don't buy bottled water, which depletes watersheds and streams. Instead, filter tap water and carry in a reusable container. Choose recyclable, easily cleanable options like Nalgene's wide-mouth HDPE bottles ($4.20, and's water filters ($79.95).

(Rants about the corporatization of free natural resources may be read elsewhere on

5) Save water: Install aerating showerheads such as 2.5-gallon-per-minute models available at and (For water-saving toilets, dish and clothes washers by Asko, LG Electronics, Kohler and others, see the Water Saving Appliances Product Report.)

Home Improvements

6) Freshen Surfaces Safely: Choose no-VOC products like Air-Care Coronado ($20/gal., and Tried & True Original Wood Finish ($13.95/pint,).

7) Keep mercury out of our air, water and seafood: Reduce mercury from coal-fired power plants by choosing a green power utility (

In areas without this option, reduce pollution by consuming less energy:

Wash clothes in cold water, which can lower power-plant carbon dioxide output by up to 280 pounds annually.

Let your hair air-dry. A 1,875-watt hair dryer costs roughly $15 a year to run. (I do this!)

Set a timer for the shower lovers in your life, and cut hot, lengthy showers down to five or 10 minutes. You'll save water and energy. (Would I make it to work sooner? Hmmm...)

8) Green Your Spring Cleaning: Keep chlorine bleach out of the environment and your lungs by using plant-based all-purpose cleaners such as Seventh Generation's All-Purpose Free & Clear cleaner ($5.49/32 oz.) or Ecover's Natural Citrus Cleaner and Degreaser ($8.54/16 fl. oz.,

Lawn & Garden

9) Use a reel mower: Mowing for an hour with an old gasoline-powered lawn mower can produce as much air pollution as a 350-mile drive in a car, but a lightweight reel mower only emits clippings ($114.95,

10) Plant a garden with heirloom seeds: Increase biodiversity (and attract butterflies) in your own backyard or window ledge. From www.seedsofchange. com, and

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Estrus, Rabbits, and You: The Endocrinology of Easter

People have often told me that I talk "smart." It's because of my parents. I was born shortly after my mother received her Master's degree, and my father was doing post-doctoral work at UCONN. Mom was going to be a high-school science teacher, and Dad's dissertation had something to do with reproductive endocrinology.

Ever since I was an infant, they've been speaking to me in the same language they used with their peers, be they doctoral candidates, chemists, or professors. At no time was I shown a "choo-choo." I was shown a steam engine, accompanied by an explanation of what made it different from a coal engine or a diesel engine.

I loved them for this. It may sound stuffy, but we had a lot of laughs growing up. As the years progressed, the little science lessons of life grew increasingly detailed and complex. By the time I was in college, Dad and I were discussing the most recent research into the pharmacology of various medicines and their appropriateness in this disease syndrome or that. Invariably we would begin to hypothesize, our imaginations spiraling off into the absurd. I spent a lot of weekends visiting home during college, and Dad was usually the one to shuttle me to and fro. During the 90-minute drives, we'd be laughing so hard our faces would be red and puffy by the time we pulled up to the house.

I emailed my parents a photo of the Easter Eggs I made last night. My father responded this morning with the following email:

You know, of course, that the word, "Easter," comes from the same root as the words, "Estrus," and "Estrous Cycle." The former refers to sexual receptitivty in the female and the latter to the reproductive cycle in some mammals that is similar to the menstral cycle. For example rats and pigs have estrous cycles.

Rabbits, interestingly, do not have either estrous cycles or menstrual cycles. They are induced ovulators. That is, stimulation of the uterine cervix triggers what is known as a neuroendocrine reflex arc. Stimulation of the cervix sents an afferent message to the rabbits's hypothalamus. In turn it releases gonatropic releasing factor which drips on the pituitary gland which releases luteinizing hormone which gets to the ovary and causes ovulation. The viability of the sperm is four days, so there is sufficient time for some of those millions or sperm to find their home.

Humans, of coure, are sponataneous (cyclic) ovulators. However, while I was a graduate student, it was found that primates probably ovulated both ways, induced as well as cyclic. As a matter of fact, we were going to get young married couples to have sex in the lab and measure to see if we could find luteining hormone afterward in increased amonts. We want to pay them, say $100.00 (a lot of money at the time) a piece. Someone accused us of a pun.

Anyway, it is now long established that humans can be induced to ovulate from coitus. This is the reason Vatican Roulette is not always effective as a birth control method.

By the way, the rabbit predates the resurrection as a Spring celebration by millenia.



I called him to thank him for the outstanding analysis, and expressed enthusiasm for the proposed study of increased lutenizing hormones in sexually active humans. Dad mentioned that, sadly, none of his colleagues had done their doctoral dissertation on this study.

I agreed that this was tragic. "They could have gotten class credit for getting laid!"

Happy Spring, everyone. Be sure to celebrate in an appropriate fashion!