Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fighting the Allergens!

Today was a day that Barbie and I have been looking forward to and dreading at the same time. Today was the long awaited scratch test. Barbie was tested to check her sensitivity to 55 environmental allergens. As a supportive husband I took off for an early lunch to join her. I also decided to document the event with some pictures. The first picture was taken less than 3 minutes after the last scratch was made.

Each scratch was made next to a number that was written on Barbie's skin. These numbers were an index for her Doctor to identify what allergen was placed where. The last two scratches were controls. Number 56 was saline, and number 57 was histamine. The next picture was taken roughly 10 minutes into the test. Compared to the first image above, you can already see several more pronounced reactions to some of the scratches.

As the test proceeded, I felt so bad for Barbie because I could tell she really wanted to scratch her arms. She never did, but I wanted to for her. Scratching her arms would have been the worst thing she could have done. Not only would it have made it impossible to determine how much of each reaction was from the allergen and how much was from being scratched, but it would have also spread the allergens from one area of her skin to others. The next picture was just after the 15 minute mark and right before her arms were washed off and cleaned with some liquid Benadryl.

Monday, March 30, 2009

DVD Collection

Have you ever thought about cataloging a personal media collection of yours? A collection of music or movies can be valuable in terms of cost and memories, but it can also be of value to your friends and family who may borrow items.

Last weekend I spent some considerable time cataloging our DVD collection. But, what good is building a collection of you aren't going to share it? For that reason, I have placed a copy of this collection at the URL below. Feel free to take a look and let us know what you think of our collection.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wow, what a surprise

After a long couple weeks at work which included a trip to Atlanta over the weekend, I was back at work in my own office today for the first time in a while. Unfortunately, that meant that today was one of those days which started at 7am and didn't stop until well after 6pm. To my surprise, Barbie had something special planned for me when I got home. She made dinner for us which consisted of several of my favorite things as well as some dishes that I mentioned I wanted to try recently. This was one of the best meals I have ever had at home!
Dinner consisted of New York strip with a bleu cheese walnut butter spread, pancetta wrapped asparagus and smashed fried red potatoes. I cannot tell you how good everything was. What a way to be welcomed home. :-)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Grass Roots Approach To An Economic Stimulus

I saw this sign today while walking down Peachtree Street NW in Atlanta. I rely on my sense of humor as a coping mechanism for stressful situations. Signs like this not only encourage my personal coping mechanism, but they give me comfort in knowing that I am not the only person who uses one.  This sign was not only successful in making me smile, but it was also good enough to make me stop in for lunch. Props to whom ever came up with this idea and the sign to advertise it.

I know that our nation's economy will rebound sometime within the next 5 years. I also agree that one of the keys to making this happen includes the spending of money. I think that advertisements like this one will help foster this type of spending as it acknowledges the predicament that we are all in.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

More Walking The Lawn Info


A continental breakfast will be provided for all graduating students in Robertson Hall (location TBD). When you arrive, we will give you your guest tickets. Each graduating student will receive three tickets for Lawn seating of their guests. All Lawn seating for guests is on a first-come, first-served basis, so while we are eating breakfast, we suggest that your guests make their way to the Lawn to get seats. Ushers will begin collecting tickets and seating guests at 7:30 a.m. All guests should be in their seats by 9:45 a.m. Guests without seats are welcome, but seating will not be available. They may stand behind the reserved seating area on the upper Lawn or watch a live broadcast of the ceremony in one of seven climate-controlled auditoriums nearby – more info at http://www.virginia.edu/majorevents/information.html#remote.

We recommend that you arrive very early (7:30/8:00am) as parking will be very difficult (go to http://www.virginia.edu/majorevents/information.html#parking for more information about parking and shuttles). Please plan to arrive no later than 9:00am, though, because at that time we will start getting folks into their gowns and hoods and getting ready to walk over to our procession rendezvous point.

FINAL EXERCISES - 10 a.m., The Lawn

McIntire graduates assemble for the academic procession promptly at 9:30 a.m. on the west side of the lawn, by Pavilion III in Poe Alley. We will leave Robertson Hall at 9:20am to get there.

McINTIRE CEREMONY12:30 p.m., The Lawn

Immediately after the 10 a.m. ceremony, return as quickly as possible to Robertson Hall. You will be lined up in alphabetical order inside, before proceeding to back out to the Lawn, to walk across the stage and receive your diploma (in the case of the NOVA ’08 students, you’ll receive a blank).

You may invite as many guests as you like to the McIntire ceremony.

Come prepared for the weather and wear comfortable shoes! Graduation Day is notorious for being either the hottest day of the year or cold and drizzly. Please remember to bring a bottle of water, as you will be on the Lawn will get very thirsty. Wear sunscreen even if the sun isn’t shining its brightest – you will be outside for hours.


The severe weather plan will only be used in case of thunder, lightning, high winds, or other conditions that make it unsafe to hold ceremonies outside. Rain alone does not constitute severe weather. If the severe or inclement weather plan is used, announcements will be made no later than 8 a.m. on local radio stations and the University’s home page, www.virginia.edu . If in doubt, call (434) 924-SNOW (924-7669) or (434) 243-SNOW (243-7669).

In the event that weather prevents the Lawn Ceremony from occurring (Severe Weather Plan), the University ceremony will occur at the John Paul Jones Arena at 10:00am; the McIntire Diploma Ceremony will be held in University Hall at 1:30 p.m. In the event that the Lawn Ceremony is held, but all subsequent diploma ceremonies are moved indoors (Inclement Weather Plan), the McIntire Diploma Ceremony will be held in University Hall at 7:00 p.m. and students should report at 6:00 p.m. There will be no parking or guest seating restrictions should we need to go to either alternate plan. The complete inclement weather plan can be viewed here: http://www.virginia.edu/majorevents/ceremony.html.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Things I learned from ninjas in movies

  1. Modern Ninjas are generally six foot-tall white or Asian males, unmarried, who live on islands working as bodyguards for evil, French billionaires.
  2. Guard dogs cannot kill or overpower Ninjas, no matter how large or well-trained.
  3. Ninjas are not only silent — they’re mute from birth. They moonlight as mimes.
  4. Orphaned, white teenagers invariably become better at Ninjitsu than the 80 year-old Japanese masters who taught them.
  5. Ninja clans can hold grudges longer than the Middle East.
  6. Ninjas frequently hold practice sessions in abandoned New York warehouses that somehow still have electricity, but no rat or roach problems.
  7. Ninjas inevitably meet their end fighting in death matches held by their evil, French billionaire bosses.
  8. Despite their secrecy, Ninjas are actually quite easy to encounter or hire.
  9. When it comes to the discriminating, evil French billionaire, an army of Ninjas is the preferred weapon of choice over nuclear weapons, computer viruses, bio-terrorism or rabid Yorkies.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Two Months Away!

I finished the coursework for my graduate degree last September. I received my diploma in the mail a few months later. Now, I have one last event to conclude my University of Virginia experience...walking the lawn.

We received a postcard in the mail today to remind us that this big event is just around the corner. Check out the information on the site below:


Sunday, March 15, 2009

More Bell's Palsy Information

Bell's palsy is named for Sir Charles Bell, a Scottish surgeon who studied the nerve and its innervation of the facial muscles approximately 200 years ago.

The facial nerve controls the muscles that move the eyebrows, close the eyes, and move the mouth and lips. It also controls the tear glands, one of the salivary glands, and the taste buds in the front of the tongue.


Electrochemical signals are relayed between the brain and many facial muscles by 7000 nerve fibers that comprise the facial nerve. When the facial nerve is damaged, as in Bell's palsy, the action of each nerve fiber is disrupted. Because the facial nerve controls several functions, several symptoms occur.

Incidence and Prevalence
Bell's palsy affects about 40,000 people in the United States every year. It affects approximately 1 person in 65 during a lifetime. Worldwide statistics indicate a frequency of about .02% of the population.


Bell's palsy is more commonly seen in young adults, and persons of Japanese descent have a slightly higher incidence of the condition. Bell's palsy is the most common cause of facial paralysis worldwide and one of the most common neurological disorders involving a cranial nerve.


Incidence of Bell's palsy in males and females, as well as in various races, is approximately the same. The severity of the condition (e.g., mild, severe), and the rate of recovery also is equal.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bell's Palsy Part Deux!

2006 was one of the most challenging years of my adult life. This was because of one unexpected, and life perspective changing event. While on a trip to Jacksonville, FL I was diagnosed with Bell's palsy.


One night while having dinner at my friend Mike and Anna's house I realized that a chronic headache was getting worse, my right eye was very dry and that my face felt "strange" when I would smile. As the night progressed, I grabbed a web-browser to see if I could grab any information on what could result in these symptoms. Boy was that a mistake. Everything I found on-line references post-stroke symptoms. So I called my primary care doctor in Virginia immediately. He quickly told me to calm down as it was not stroke related. He said that it sounded like a case of Bell's palsy and that I should visit an Urgent Care or Emergency Room right away to make sure. My doc was correct, and I was given a prescription of pain killers and steroids and instructions to visit my primary care doctor as soon as I got home.


As soon as I got home my primary care doctor and my endocrinologist agreed on the Bell's palsy diagnosis and I had a couple of MRI's taken to verify it. Both doctors also agreed that there was no way to tell what caused this, nor any way to predict how long I would have this condition.


In the end, I received acupuncture treatments twice a week for seven months. After six months others could no longer see the symptoms, but it was more than nine months before I felt "normal" again.


Here I am almost three years exactly later, and I have once again been diagnosed with Bell's palsy. However, this time the symptoms are on the other side of my face. Also, this time I am not alone. In 2006 I would take solace in being very unsocial as I felt I looked strange. This time I have my wife by my side for constant reassurance and encouragement.

What is Bell's palsy?

For anyone who is reading this and hasn't heard of Bell's palsy before, I thought I would share some of my research with you from the last bout with it.


Bell's palsy is a paralysis of the muscles on one side of the face. It usually develops over one to three days, and then slowly improves or completely goes away in one to three months. Most people with Bell's palsy recover, but some are left with weakness on one side of the face. It is most common in adults in their 40s, but it can occur at any age.


What causes Bell's palsy?

It is caused by swelling of the facial nerve. The facial nerve controls muscles on the side of the face, the flow of tears, and the ability to taste. There are two facial nerves, one for each side. Bell's palsy only affects one facial nerve. The exact cause of the swelling is not known, but some doctors think that herpes simplex virus type 1 (the same virus that causes cold sores) may play a role. Other diseases can affect the facial nerve, but these diseases usually have other symptoms that don't occur with Bell's palsy.


How is Bell's palsy treated?

Treatment usually includes steroid pills (such as prednisone) and an antiviral drug; you will usually take these for one to two weeks. If you start taking medicines within three days of the start of your symptoms, the chances of complete recovery are better.

I also found a detailed resource on the American Association of Family Physicians web-site. Please wish us luck as I take this challenge on again. I hope that I will be able to fully recover faster than I did in 2006.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A milestone has been reached

I haven't quite caught up to Barbie (although her car has a couple years of a head start on mine). However, my E hit a milestone today. The big 25!...thousand.

The Sixth Sense from TED

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is an annual conference that defines its mission as "ideas worth spreading". The lectures, also called TED Talks, cover a broad set of topics including science, arts and design, politics, education, culture, business, global issues, technology and development, and entertainment.

Below is a TED Talk from the 2009 conference. In it Mattie Maes provides a demonstration of a new device that she calls the sixth sense. This demo -- from Pattie Maes' lab at MIT, spearheaded by Pranav Mistry -- was the buzz of TED. It's a wearable device with a projector that paves the way for profound interaction with our environment. Imagine "Minority Report" and then some.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Latest Mash-Up

We love mash-ups. All mash-ups. Music, web-sites, cooking...all of them. And we can now add demolition to this list. The Virginia Department of Transportation video tapes all of the large demolition projects that it sponsors. Zack found the video below on http://www.boingboing.net/ which is compilation of these videos with Opera music. This is great!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

10 thoughts to ponder thus far in 2009

Number 10 ~ Life is sexually transmitted.

Number 9 ~ Good health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.

Number 8 ~ Men have two emotions: Hungry and Horny. If you see him without an erection, make him a sandwich.

Number 7 ~ Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day, teach a person to use the internet and they won’t bother you for weeks.

Number 6 ~ Some people are like a Slinky … Not really good for anything, but you still can’t help but smile when you shove them down the stairs.

Number 5 ~ Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.

Number 4 ~ All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to Criticism.

Number 3 ~ Why does a slight tax increase cost you $200.00 and a substantial tax cut saves you $30.00?

Number 2 ~ In the 60s, people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is Weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.

And The Number 1 Thought For 2009 ~ We know exactly where one cow with Mad-cow disease is located among millions and millions of cows in America, but we haven’t got a clue as to where millions of illegal immigrants and terrorists are located. Maybe we should put the Department of Agriculture in charge of Immigration.

Monday, March 9, 2009


I love pranks. I love pranking other people, I love watching pranks, and I honestly even love being pranked. For this reason, I am an avid follower of Amir and Streeter on collegehumor.com. These guys have been participating in an escalating prank war for the past few years that has been very fun to watch.

Last night I saw Amir on Comcast Sports Net as I was flipping channels and saw that he was the most recent victim of the prank war at a University of Maryland basketball game. Enjoy the clip and pranking below:

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Saving Daylight

-- Historical facts on Daylight Saving Time --

1784: Ben Franklin floats idea of daylight-saving time during his time in Paris.

1907: London builder William Willett is the first to seriously push the concept in a pamphlet titled “The Waste of Daylight.” His plan: Advance clocks by 20 minutes each Sunday in April, roll them back by 20 minutes each Sunday in September.

1916: To conserve fuel during World War I, Germany and Austria become the first nations to adopt daylight-saving time.

1918: The United States gets daylight time fever. Congress approves the measure on March 19; it goes into effect 12 days later, on the 31st.

1919: Still a largely agrarian society of early risers, the United States dumps daylight time shortly after World War I ends.

1942: President Franklin Roosevelt revives “War Time” at the start of World War II.

1945: War ends, so does War Time. The option of keeping daylight time is left open to local jurisdictions. This creates a hodge-podge of time zones; according to the Web site WebExhibits.org, at one point the 35-mile drive between Moundsville, W.Va., and Steubenville, Ohio, required seven time changes.

1966: Congress creates a uniform - more or less - daylight time for the United States. States are given the choice of opting out.

1974: In response to Arab oil embargo and resulting fuel crisis, the daylight-saving time Energy Act is passed, pumping clocks ahead by an hour for a 15-month period running from Jan. 6 to April 27, 1975.

1986: Law is passed to begin daylight-saving time at 2 a.m. the first Sunday of April and end it at 2 a.m. the last Sunday of October.

2005: Energy Policy Act of 2005 extends daylight-saving time by four weeks beginning in 2007.

2007: New, extended daylight-saving time went into effect.

-- Did You Know --

- It’s daylight-saving time, not daylight savings time.

- A U.S. Department of Transportation study found that daylight-saving time cuts electricity usage nationwide by about 1 percent a day.

- About 70 countries worldwide observe daylight-saving time. The only major industrialized nations that don’t: Japan, India and China.

- In 1999, a terrorist attack on Israel’s West Bank was thwarted when the terrorists failed to take into account the switch back to standard time. The bomb went off an hour early, killing only the terrorists.

- Data shows violent crime is down 10 percent to 13 percent during daylight-saving time than standard times, according to a study from the U.S. Law Enforcement Assistance Administration.

- Passengers on Amtrak during the traditional “fall back” might experience a delay. Trains cannot leave a station before their scheduled time, so in early November trains will stop at 2 a.m. and wait an hour before resuming. In the spring, trains become an hour behind schedule when time leaps forward an hour, but they keep running to try to make up the difference.

- Daylight-saving time is not observed in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Arizona (except Arizona’s Navajo Nation, which does observe the time change).

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Why do I Twitter?

Why do I Twitter? That is a simple question that doesn't have a simple answer. I blog, obviously, to celebrate the simple and complex things in my life. To me Twittering is nothing more than a micro-blog where in I can send one or two sentence posts.

As with this blog, every once in a while I look back through some old posts the same way some people look through their journals. Blog posts can help me remember what I was doing, going through, or thinking about during a given time. Twitter does the same thing for me but in a more short-term fashion.

However, the scale of Twitter is what makes it fun. I can search for individuals to see what they are posting on Twitter. I can search for items that other users are Twittering or Tweeting about. I can also use my Blackberry with GPS to find other Twitter users who are near me and see what they are Tweeting about (This is kind of fun to do in traffic jams - it's amazing how much information you can find out using this tool).