Saturday, July 4, 2009

Small wonders

Drat the fact that my camera has dead batteries. I would love to show you what I discovered in my back yard.

I have been lamenting ever since the start of summer that I live on a major road that goes through my small town and we don't have a lawn mower or money to buy one or to pay anyone to cut the grass for us.

Because of this, I have tried to time it so that I am only seen outside after dark so I don't have to see the stares of passersby who gawk at the incredible height of my grass which has now V'd off at the top and gone to seed in all its splendid glory.

I try to spend most of my time behind the privacy fence I once attempted unsuccessfully to scale and ended up hanging by my bra from at rush hour for all to see. That way I have my ... privacy ... with my backyard jungle where the waist-high weeds don't bother me nearly as much.

But, as John so often tells me when his eyes glaze over while listening to one of my stories, I guess I need to GET TO THE POINT!

Well, ok, the point is that the other day I decided the only way this last 10lbs is going to leave my body is if I do something proactive like, I don't know, walking. I decided to walk the inner edge of the privacy fence and maybe the tall grass would actually be beneficial by providing some resistance and making me burn more calories.

I have to be careful where I walk. There are pine cones and dead tree branches hiding in the tall grass waiting to trip me up. So I look down.

Funny thing about that. Looking from my back porch around the yard all I can see are flourishing weeds and tall grass that makes me feel ashamed and embarrassed. But when I waded out in it and began making the circuit around the yard, I found so many hidden treasures that mowing would have never allowed to happen.

All the weeds were in full bloom. There are white flowers, yellow flowers, purple flowers and blue flowers all over my back yard that I never knew were there. After making only one revolution of the yard, I had to go inside and get my 10 year old son to come out and join me for the hunt for the elusive flowers.

Some were flat and oval, some were on stalks that bloomed all the way up the stem. Some were little puff ball shaped things. Some were shaped like bells.

It was incredible. It was beautiful. And I never knew it was out there in my back yard.

And it never would have been if I had a lawn mower or could afford to pay someone to cut the grass.

So, once again I am humbly reminded that there are silver linings to everything and many different ways to view any situation.

I was choosing to be embarrassed and stress over the tall grass. Until my eyes were opened to the beauty cradled beneath.

Don't get me wrong... I still wait until after dark to check the mail.

And I would have run out to buy batteries and capture the beauty to share with you, but as I write this John has gone out and fired up the weed eater and decided to tackle the back yard manned only with that insufficient tool.

Our back yard alone has to be nearly a half acre. And he's gallantly swiping back and forth. Vanquishing the tall green foe.

Obliterating the small wonders within.

I wish he would have done the front yard, but no dice. He says he'd rather have tall grass than have anyone who knows him drive by and catch him trying to weed eat the entire thing.

Oh well, it's like my dad said when he built his house and didn't spend much time on it's outer beauty but made the inside look like something out of Better Homes and Gardens... "I'm not spending my time making it look good for the neighbors - I want it to look good for us."

So the back yard is looking pretty good -- even if the neighbors will never know.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Newly discovered brain cell could be key to MS therapies

The article below was passed to me by a dear friend and it sounds both promising and exciting! Read on...

Newly Discovered Brain Cell Could be Key to Multiple Sclerosis Therapies

Institute researchers have identified a type of cell within the human brain that may be a previously unknown precursor to the stem cells that are capable of promoting growth of new neurons. The discovery could lead to new therapies for neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

Bruce D. Trapp, PhD, Chair of the Institute's Department of Neurosciences and a leading multiple sclerosis researcher, said the cells called beta 4 tubulin (betaT4) are scattered throughout a region of the brain called the subventricular zone. This zone is known to be a source of stem cells capable of regenerating neurons. It is within the cerebrum, the part of the human brain responsible for social interaction, learning, memory, speech and language, and motor functions.

“Strategies for cell replacement to treat neurodegenerative diseases are very attractive and offer therapeutic possibilities. One example is generating the cells needed to replace the myelin that surrounds, protects and nourishes the neurons in the central nervous system. It's the loss of this myelin that causes lesions in multiple sclerosis [MS] brains,” Dr. Trapp said.

Oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs) generate new oligodendrocytes, which are required to produce myelin. “Unfortunately, OPC growth is limited, so MS lesions often don't remyelinate. Stimulating other types of precursor cells shows great potential in promoting oligodendrocyte production and remyelination in MS patients,” Dr. Trapp said.

Dr. Trapp's research points to betaT4 cells as one of the precursor cells needed for remyelination.

The presence of betaT4 cells in the subventricular zone peaks during the later stages of fetal brain development, but decreases shortly after birth – suggesting the cells' role in forming neurons. Researchers also found that the number of betaT4 cells significantly increases in the subventricular zone that borders MS lesions in the white matter of brains.

“In our research, we observed that the myelin generated by a relatively small number of transplanted betaT4 cells exceeded that of another known progenitor cell,” Dr. Trapp said. “It's still not clear if betaT4 cells are true stem cells or primitive precursors to stem cells, and the potential of stem cell therapeutics to treat neurodegenerative disease requires additional studies of stem cells in human brains.

“But we propose that betaT4 cells represent a cellular source for the latter stages of myelination and neural repair in the central nervous system” he said. “They could be a promising new direction for cell replacement therapies for neurodegenerative disease.”

Dr. Trapp's collaborators include Chuanshen Wu, PhD, Ansi Chang, MD, Maria C. Smith, Roy Won, Xinghua Yin, MD, Susan M. Staugaitis, MD, PhD, and Grahame Kidd, PhD, of the Institute's Department of Neurosciences; Dimitri Agamanolis, MD, of the Department of Pathology at Akron Children's Hospital; and Robert H. Miller, PhD, of the Department of Neurosciences at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. The findings appeared in the Journal of Neuroscience ( June 16, 2009). The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Source Article

RIP Billy Mays

He missed his calling and should have been a comedian. I'd have liked to have seen more of him than just the 2 minutes of yelling at me to buy something.

Loved watching "Pitchmen".

Infomercials just won't ever be the same again.

Monday, June 29, 2009

My next move...

Inspired by all the videos floating around out there as a result of Michael Jackson's untimely death, I have decided this is the next thing I'm going to try to accomplish.

I want to go for my visit to the clinical trial checkup and have the neuro performing the EDSS test ask me to walk for him. I just want to see the look on his face when I pull off the Moon Walk.

I'll probably lose points off the mental stability part of the test (with copious notes accompanying the test outlining my Wacko Jacko impersonation). Heck, they may even admit me for further evaluation, or maybe even halt the clinical trial because of this heretofore unknown side effect.

I just want to see their faces.

And between tests, when I have to walk from one office to another... I'm going to say it's the only way I can now walk. BWAHAHAHA!

I'll be lucky if I can do it at all. So far, in preliminary practice sessions in my hardwood floored hallway and stockinged feet, I have been unsuccessful at recreating this move in a smooth, flowing fashion.

First off, I have to put my hands on either wall to my sides in order to maintain my balance in the starting position, which ends up more reminiscent of Daniel about to pull of the Crane kick in Karate Kid.

Maybe I should just practice that. Then when the doc goes to wack me on the knee with his rubber mallet, I can say it was just my hyper reflexes. Not my fault.

I don't know what is driving me to conquer moonwalking at this time in my life when I couldn't do it back in the 80's.

Maybe I do have some mental deficit.

Or maybe I should just get a life. :-)