Bring out your dead

Bushfires over Canberra, January 2020. Photographer unknown. ABC News

Beautiful day, 29deg, back ‘o my neck gettin’ damp and sweaty. The title refers to the start of our annual bulk rubbish collection starting tomorrow. I’ve had almost nothing to put out, just a few pieces of old timber. It’s actually good dry jarrah DAR but I’ll never get around to using it. I hope someone takes it and puts it to good use. Otherwise, I’ve got a lot of things I want to get rid of, but they’re not junk.

PS: 6pm, someone has taken the jarrah. That’s good.

I like to drive around and have a look and I was surprised to see a mini motor bike on a pile just up the street. I was tempted to look, but nah.

It’s amazing how many lounge suites go out. They’re in dreadful taste, most of them, so it’s no great loss. I hope they’re being replaced by something better.

_______________________________________________________

That made me think of leather and the leather seats in the Honda MDX. The driver’s seat squab is damaged, with the foam visible on the edge where you slide in. It’s not worth me getting it fixed.

But I was thinking yesterday, it’s very thin leather. Surely Honda could have known that this is the part most prone to damage and used a thicker grade of leather for that part? It seems obvious to me. Black mark, Honda.

_______________________________________________________

I’m co-existing with the insomnia at the moment. I’ve reduced the medication to half and I’m taking it when the GP recommended, just before bed, although I always read for 30-45mins before lights out. It still takes me consistently about 2hrs to get to sleep, but I do fall asleep then and have a reasonable night. Lots of interesting dreams. Dreams loosely related to work still crop up, 21 years since I retired. Like most men, work defined me. My world was occupied by by my occupation, if you get my drift.

________________________________________________________

Watch number 16, or thereabouts. I saw this on Friday and it took me about 10 seconds to decide I wanted it, especially at the price, $269 reduced to $110. Last one, apparently. I just like it. I’ve got another one similar, also Pulsar, but the LCD is much dimmer to save the battery. This one is bright and clear.

Women like rings and things. I like watches.

_________________________________________________

I’ve just found this among my old word processor files from February 2014. It’s worth posting:

There was a fascinating program on SBS about DNA and the genome. I hope it rated well and people watched it. Science documentaries don’t rate very well, I don’t think, and I applaud SBS for showing them at a reasonable time.

A statement was made that I didn’t know about, that humans have evolved lacking the gut enzymes to digest a lot of raw foods. We are evolved to eat cooked food, not grasses and plants and raw meat. Our digestive system needs food to be cooked first before it can break it down for us.

The guy said that if we ate nothing but raw food, we’d starve to death within about three  months.

I find that fascinating. I didn’t know that. Animals evolved to eat nothing but raw foods, but our genome diverged and we don’t make the enzymes required to digest from raw.

We can eat raw food, of course we can, but a lot of it passes straight through undigested. That’s why we call it roughage and fibre, precisely because it goes straight through. It scours out our intestines and bowels as it does, which is useful and good for us in preventing cancer and other nasties, but for food value and nutrition, it’s better cooked.

That puts a whole new perspective on things. I always assumed that raw was better, but it’s not so. And I only learn this 65 years into my life?

The program as a whole also showed fascinating detail about how our genome evolved. We went from being single cells to multiple dividing cells about 2 billion years ago, in an apparently random process that survived because it was advantageous. Two billion years, plus or minus a billion, as one scientist said. In the whole span of “life”, the difference between a billion years and civilised man’s existence (about 10,000 years) is like the thickness of paint on the ceiling, a factor of 10e5.

They also explained (this is recent research) that when chromosomes divide and recombine in the process of cell division, they recombine at specific places along the length of the DNA spiral. There are only four places, and they are characterised by the base pair sequence CCGCCGTATCGTAT (from memory, could be wrong). The relatively random mixing of base pairs occurs along the chromosome, but at these sequence points, things stay the same. Faskinatin’

About 5 years ago I was mystified by DNA, chromosomes, genes and the other terms. Like placing music in context, I didn’t understand the hierarchy, which part was bigger and which were the smaller parts. Now I do know. Quite a lot. In fact, a hell of a lot. Down to the molecular level of the bases.

I was talking to the cardiologist a couple of weeks ago (2014) and showed him my list of medications. I asked about one in particular and whether it would be beneficial for my heart. “Oh, I don’t know that one,” he said. What??! Sure, it’s not for the heart, but it’s hardly obscure. I was not impressed. (It’s Colchicine.)

In 2014 had the Silver Chain nurses (yes, two of them) here re-dressing my leg. I had cellulitis, inflammation and infection of the surface cells. My left leg was a bit swollen and very red raw. It looked bad but it wasn’t restricting me much, just a bit painful and itching.

The second nurse came to do a leg vein ultrasound on the spot, with me lying down on my own bed. That’s what electronics has wrought – a small portable Doppler ultrasound with LCD display. Brilliant.

They were measuring my differential blood pressure, between that in my arm and in my leg, to see how my heart is pumping. Yes, there is a fair difference, 1.41 or 41% difference. That means they needed to wrap my leg in a pressure wrap to try to force the fluid up. I looked like the mummy, all white bandage (on my lower left leg, that is).

It was also wrapped in a wet, gooey zinc bandage to kill the bacteria. I knew it was staphylococcus, and I said, “But it wouldn’t be staph aureus, would it?” Yes, she said, Golden Staph. It lives on the skin. Wow. I thought it was a hospital bug, not found in the wild. In fact, maybe that’s where I got it, in hospital recently?

For the record, genomics big to small: cell; chromosome; DNA strands; genes; base pairs; bases made up of molecules; molecules called A = adenine, C = cytosine, G = guanine, T = thymine (not thiamin, that’s Vitamin B); atoms of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, phosphorus, sodium and potassium, mainly.

Just those four molecules are sufficient to make us, and all living things. Wow.

It would be like saying Shakespeare wrote all his works using an alphabet of only four letters. The difference is that all his works would have taken millions and billions of pages, instead of thousands.

In fact another analogy could be that BCD (binary coded decimal) could have been used. Same deal. Only ten letters allowed. The works could have been written, but it would have taken hundreds of thousands, if not millions of pages. I don’t think the result would have been the same, either.

Actually, take the idea further: all 46 chromosomes make up the instructions to make our body. We’re in the process now of decoding which sections (genes) of those stands of DNA in each chromosome do what.

To me it’s obvious that one day, quite soon in fact, we will be able to decode ALL the genes and therefore have the instruction book literally on paper (not on paper, in a computer file), to build either a human or any part of a human.

“Oh, you need a new heart? OK, it’s this book, pages 2,504,309 to 5,687,334. We’ll get right onto it.” And they would synthesize the molecules, put them together in the right sequences to make the genes (something presently done by mRNA and amino acids), put the genes in a growth medium with the other chemicals needed and within a few days, there would be a heart. Absolutely, I’m not kidding. I reckon within 40 years, easily. All we need is that book. It’s coming, not far away.

What’s allowing this to go so fast? Electronics!

We had the stone age, the iron age, the bronze age, and so on. This is the Electronics Age. Absolutely. All our progress is coming from the knowledge of how to control electrons in wires and that in turn comes from basic physics, science and maths.­ I love it.

________________________________________________

I’m up to series seven, episode 12 of the Big Bang Theory and I’m not tired of it yet. I think I mentioned that I bought Kunal Nayyar’s book, Yes My Accent is Real, but although he tells how he got into the show, he doesn’t say much at all about it. But what he does say is that all the actors loved the scripts and when they were handed out before shooting each episode, they all took them home to read just for the enjoyment. I agree, the dialogue is fantastic, the jokes are really funny and the timing is great.

One thing he says, which I’m not sure whether to believe, is that the laughter track is real, that it’s all shot before a live studio audience. He says sometimes the floor managers had to stop a scene because audience members would see the joke coming and say it prematurely. Sounds plausible. I’m enjoying it anyway.

________________________________________________

I’m in the home stretch of The Salt Path by Raynor Winn, the book I mentioned about the couple walking the south west coastal path from Minehead via Land’s End to Poole in Dorset.

She is a brilliant writer. This could have been a bit boring, just a recitation of day 1, day 2, day 3, and so on, but I have seldom read such lyrical prose. It is very, very uplifting and enjoyable.

At the risk of spoiling, I thought it would be the linear story one long walk to reach Poole, but in fact they break it at one point and go to live on a friend’s farm a couple of hundred miles to the north for the winter. They still work their guts out but it gives them the chance to save up some money, not a lot but not the destitution they were in when they started.

But the wanderlust kicks back in and they go back to the south coast in the summer (she never says which year it is), to Poole, in fact, and start walking again in the reverse direction, west. It’s still 250 miles and a daunting task, but it brings Moth (the husband) back to quite good health again within two weeks, which amazes them. It’s a testament to the benefits of walking as exercise. No doubt about it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s