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What do you want?

Hello, Internet!

I recently started a new blog series on Sh*t My Cat Does. Honestly, it’s rekindled my love for blogging. I’m planning to keep up this new series, but you know, this blog is called Misfit Musing: A blog about everything in general and nothing in particular.  I’m thinking it’s time for more meat in this creative sandwich.

In the past, I have had a series on food, an odd news segment, several articles on depression and mental health, poetry and other oddball topics.

What do YOU want to read about?

I’m a researcher at heart so I’m not afraid to dig into a subject! I love multimedia blogging so I’ll be happy to include videos, links to all kinds of  interesting content, and of course, photos.

Please leave a comment and feel free to follow this blog to see where it goes!

 

Another Shooting

In the headlines this morning, two are dead after a shooting at a supermarket in Pennsylvania. The story from the Star Tribune is very brief, as this event occurred only minutes ago.

Apparently, the shooting occurred inside a supermarket in Philipsburg and is suspected to be a murder-suicide.

Trooper Matthew Reifer with state police in Clearfield said someone called 911 shortly after 10 a.m. to say there had been a shooting. Two people were found dead when police arrived, and no one answered the phone at the store later this morning.

Another source, The Republic out of Columbus, Indiana, offered a bit more information, but the matter is still under investigation.

According to The Republic, state police spokeswoman Maria Finn said the shooting was not random, and the two people were believed to be related. Apparently, their identities have been established, but will not be released until their next-of-kin are notified.

A manager from another store in the same shopping complex reported that squad cars filled the parking lot and that her store was on lockdown.

Apparently, a police officer had come in to tell staff and shoppers that several people had been shot nearby.

Emergency dispatchers said the scene was secure.

My first issue with this situation comes from some inconsistencies between sources. Some sources claim the shooting occurred at “County Market,” while others name the location as “Country Market.”

Secondly, I don’t know if shootings are actually occurring more frequently lately, or if it only seems that way due to media coverage.

That’s all the information I have so far, from sources such as The Washington Post, Fox News, The Associated Press, and ABC News.

At any rate, that’s what’s happening this morning. Another shooting.

Misfit News 3-14-13

Sorry for missing last week. I may not have posted, but the good thing is… Weird news doesn’t stop when I do!

Here’s the first headline that caught my eye this week:

Couple Accused Of Sticking Razor Blades In Doughnuts

I’m sure you’re probably asking, “why?”

Well, apparently they wanted to get some money (and internal bleeding?) out of the deal.

A couple in Draper, Utah, may get a taste of jail after being arrested for allegedly sticking broken razor blades in doughnuts in hopes of getting a settlement from a grocery store.

donuts+razor+blades

Carol Lee Leazer-Hardman, 39, and Michael Condor, 35, were arrested for filing a false police report after allegedly sticking the razor bits into doughnuts they purchased at a Smith’s Food and Drug store and then actually eating the blade-filled pastries, KSL-TV reported.

Hardman and Condor, who worked at a nearby Dollar Tree, were also charged with aggravated assault after allegedly letting one of their co-workers bite into one of their doughnuts knowing that there were razor blade pieces inside, according to MSNnow.

The couple made the claim last Wednesday. While the doughnuts were not made in the Smith’s bakery, rather they were sold in sealed, tamper-proof packaging and shipped from out of state, the items were immediately removed from the store shelvespending an investigation, KSL-TV reported.

Draper Police Sgt. Chad Carpenter said that as detectives looked at the evidence, it became clear that “things weren’t adding up,” and that the suspects had purposely eaten fingernail- to thumbnail-sized pieces of broken razor blades, according to the Deseret News.

Hospital X-rays revealed several blades in the stomachs of Hardman and Condor, according to a probable cause statement.

Police said Condor admitted that the two had planted the metal in the doughnuts so they could get a settlement from the store, KUTV-TV reported.

That’s the story from Huff Post.

This next story from National Geographic is a bit dated (November 2012), but the content is still plenty relevant. And weird.

What Lives in Your Belly Button? Study Finds “Rain Forest” of Species

Say what?

belly-button-biodiversity_61192_600x450

Rob Dunn and his team of ecologists aren’t your average navel gazers. They’re professional navel gazers, thank you very much, and their new study details the microbial contents of 60 volunteers’ belly buttons.  The upshot? Belly buttons, it turns out, are a lot like rain forests.

The whole thing started about two years ago. An undergrad’s only-in-a-biology-lab idea—sampling colleague’s navel bacteria for a holiday card—struck a chord with the North Carolina State University team, which had adopted a new focus on citizen science.

What better way to get the public interested in science than by showing them their skin‘s own thriving ecosystems? “And belly buttons are just ridiculous enough to appeal to almost everyone,” Dunn added.

What’s more, given the belly button’s status as one of the body’s most rarely scrubbed crannies, it offered researchers a chance to study as close to a pristine microbial landscape as is possible on the modern human.

So in early 2011 the team set up shop at the ScienceOnline science communicators’ conference and at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. The researchers handed out swabs to 60 intrigued, if grossed out, volunteers. Back to the lab, the scientists examined the genetic makeup of their bacterial loot.

The Belly Button Biodiversity project had officially begun.

Welcome to the Jungle

From 60 belly buttons, the team found 2,368 bacterial species, 1,458 of which may be new to science.

Some belly buttons harbored as few as 29 species and some as many as 107, although most had around 67. Ninety-two percent of the bacteria types showed up on fewer than 10 percent of subjects—in fact, most of the time, they appeared in only a single subject.

One science writer, for instance, apparently harbored a bacterium that had previously been found only in soil from Japan—where he has never been.

Another, more fragrant individual, who hadn’t washed in several years, hosted two species of so-called extremophile bacteria that typically thrive in ice caps and thermal vents.

(Also see “Armpits Are ‘Rain Forests’ for Bacteria, Skin Map Shows.”)

Despite the diversity, themes emerged.

Even though not a single strain showed up in each subject, eight species were present on more than 70 percent of the subjects. And whenever these species appeared, they did so in huge numbers.

“That makes the belly button a lot like rain forests,” Dunn said. In any given forest, he explained, the spectrum of flora might vary, but an ecologist can count on a certain few dominant tree types.

“The idea that some aspects of our bodies are like a rain forest—to me it’s quite beautiful,” he added. “And it makes sense to me as an ecologist. I understand what steps to take next; I can see how that works.”

(Related: “Men’s Offices Have More Bacteria, Study Finds.”)

Method to the Madness?

But predicting which species might like to call the human body home is only the first step. To make the knowledge useful, scientists need to know why these bacteria show up.

“We’re all like the guys before Darwin who went out and brought this stuff on the ship and said, Check out this bird that’s totally weird—this has got to be important!

“They were still so far from understanding the big picture,” Dunn said. “That’s where we are.”

(Related: “Drug-Resistant Bacteria Found in Four-Million-Year-Old Cave.”)

Hoping to answer those broader questions, Dunn’s team is already working on several hundred more navels—soon to be 600. They’ll use those new samples to start testing the correlation of the navel dwellers with everything from subjects’ places of birth to the makeups of their immune systems.

Making connections such as these could help shed light on the ties between our bacterial hosts and their effects on health. Researchers believe that microbes—not just in the belly button but in every nook and cranny of the human body—are involved in everything from immune function to acne to skin softness. The potential boon to medicine is enormous but out of reach until scientists can clarify what the microbes are doing in the first place, and why they’re there.

In the meantime, the lab has kicked off pilot studies for their next citizen-science spectacular: Armpit-pa-looza.

The new Belly Button Biodiversity project study was published November 7 by the journal PLOS ONE. Note: The subject of this story, Rob Dunn, is occasionally hired to write freelance articles for National Geographic magazine, which is affiliated with National Geographic News.

So you’re telling me that there are people out there that think eating razor blades is worth a shot at some monetary gain, and meanwhile, there are scientists out there checking out belly button bacteria?

Well, it doesn’t take a scientist to figure out who’s getting the better deal here.

That’s all for this week. Hopefully you’ve had your fill of Misfit News for awhile.I’m heading to Dallas next week! Spring break, and all. Who knows? Maybe I’ll come back with some Misfit News of my own.

Toodles.

Misfit News 2-21-13

If you think fish are quiet pets, don’t own a plainfin midshipman.

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This week’s first story has this headline:

‘Singing’ Fish Hums to Attract Mates

This story, posted on LiveScience.com on Tuesday, explores a type of fish that can be found in waters from Santa Montica, California all the way up to Alaska. It gets its name “midshipman” from the prey-attracting photophores on its body that resemble the buttons on a naval officer’s uniform.

Here’s the rest of the story by LiveScience Staff Writer Tanya Lewis:

It sounds like the drone of a guitar amplifier, but it’s actually the amorous serenade of a fish called the plainfin midshipman. During the summer, this sonorous sea creature hums to attract females to its rocky seafloor love nest.

“It sounds like a drone of bees or maybe even the chanting of monks,” neurobiologist Andrew Bass, who has studied these fish extensively, told LiveScience.

The hum is so loud that for years, houseboat owners in Sausalito, Calif., complained it was disrupting their sleep and drowning out conversations. Theories circulated about what was making the strange noise — sewage pumps? Military experiments? Submarines? Ultimately, scientists discovered that the plainfin midshipman (Porichthys notatus) was causing all the buzz.

To make their humming sounds, the fish use the gas-filled bladder that keeps them buoyant. When the fish contracts muscles on the sides of the bladder, the muscles vibrate against the wall of the bladder, which in turn vibrates the surrounding water. The result is something that sounds like a monotone didgeridoo.

And it gets even weirder: There are actually two kinds of male midshipman. There are the “singing males” that hum to attract the ladies. And then there are “sneaker males” that don’t sing, but instead sneak into the singers’ nests and fertilize the eggs a female has laid there. (Like many fish, midshipman reproduce by fertilizing eggs outside the body.)

The fish don’t just make noise to entice a female. The males make growling and grunting sounds too, to defend their nests from intruding males.

The bizarre humming of the midshipman isn’t really that unusual, according to Bass. “Sound production is extremely widespread among fishes,” Bass said. Reports of fish vocalizing date back to the time of Aristotle, he added.

These fish also show seasonal changes in hearing — both males and females hear better during the summer. This makes them good models for studying human hearing loss, scientists say.

And here’s a video of the sounds. Weird!

Sticking to the scientific side of things, I found this gem of a headline on NPR.org:

‘Robogut’ Makes Synthetic Poop To Treat Stubborn Infections

Umm… Ew.

“RePOOPulate” is the name of this stool substitute.

You know what, though? I don’t think I can explain it. So, without further ado, the article by Michaeleen Doucleff:

Last summer, we learned about fake poop made from soybeans that The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation used to test high-tech commodes at their toilet fair.

Now, we’ve come across another type of artificial poop, and it’s being created to help people with really bad cases of diarrhea.

This synthetic stool isn’t made of soybeans, but instead, it’s a mixture containing 33 different types of bacteria. And, oh yeah, doctors create the stuff in something called the “Robogut” — a mechanical device that mimics the conditions in your colon.

Doctors in Ontario, Canada, developed the synthetic stool — which they call RePOOPulate — to treat people sick with infections fromClostridium difficile, bacterium that can cause serious, persistent bouts of diarrhea. The germ can take hold after people are treated with antibiotics for other infections.

The Robogut, developed at the University of Guelph, can grow up a whole the bacteria that thrive in your gut. Many of these bugs won't grow in any other laboratory in the world.

The Robogut, developed at the University of Guelph, can grow up a whole the bacteria that thrive in your gut. Many of these bugs won’t grow in any other laboratory in the world.

The researchers report in the current issue of Microbiome that the treatment with synthetic poop successfully cured two people of their infections.

Normal bacteria in your gut help protect against toxic pathogens, saysDr. Elaine Petrof, an infectious disease specialist at Kingston General Hospital, who led the study. “When you’re sick and take antibiotics, you knock out the innocent bystanders, too.” That messes up the ecosystem in your gut.

Most people can repopulate the good bacteria naturally, but in some cases, C. difficile, which is resistant to many antibiotics, takes over. The bacteria make a nasty toxin that can make people get really sick.

Taking more antibiotics usually wipes out C. difficile. But in some cases, Petrof says, the pathogen just keeps coming back. “It becomes a vicious cycle because the antibiotics keep killing the good bacteria.”

That’s where the RePOOPulate could be helpful. The idea is to load up the patient’s GI tract with a bunch of the good bacteria so they push C. difficile out of the way.

To do that, Petrof and her team took a stool sample from a healthy, 40-year-old woman, who hadn’t taken antibiotics in 10 years.

Microbiologist Emma Allen-Vercoe, who invented the Robogut, grew the bacteria from her stool and then sequenced the bugs’ DNA to figure which species were present.

A stool substitute, called RePOOPulate, aims to replace dangerous pathogens in the gut with a healthy community of bacteria.

Courtesy of Matthew Manor/KGH

Using her clinical experience, Petrof selected 33 bacteria that she knew were healthy. The result was an opaque mixture of bacteria, which Allen-Vercoe describes as a “vanilla milkshake.” Really.

Petrof then put the bacterial cocktail into the intestines of the two patients during colonoscopies.

The new bacteria slowly grew in the patients’ guts and pushed out the toxicC. difficile. Both patients eventually stopped having diarrhea, and the transplanted bacteria were still present six months after the procedure.

Petrof refers to the bacteria elixir as a probiotic, but she says it’s far from the kind you pick up at Whole Foods.

“Most probiotics are lab-extracted strains of bacteria, which are used in the dairy industry,” she says. They aren’t built to live in your gut, so they tend to just pass right through you after you take them, she says.

In contrast, the bacteria in the RePOOPulate mixture have evolved to thrive in our gastrointestinal tracts. “That’s where they normally live,” she says.

Plus, the mixture is a whole community of bacteria that live together in an ecosystem. “When you take antibiotics, it’s kind of like stripping out the Amazon forest in your gut,” she tells Shots. “We’re putting the whole ecosystem back in.”

Gastroenterologist Darrell Pardi, who wasn’t involved in the study, says the treatments is just one of several recentexamples of doctors trying to develop a cleaner version of a fecal transplant. In that procedure, doctors take a stool sample from a healthy person and transplant it into the GI tract of a patient with C. difficile.

Fecal transplants aren’t approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and there are only a few reports out there showing how effective they are. “But they’ve gotten quite common in the past few years,” says Pardi, who’s studies experimental treatments for C. difficile at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

“More and more practitioners in the U.S. are doing fecal transplants, in both large and small centers,” he tells Shots. “Our center has done 16 since September. Our success rate is similar to what’s been reported, about 80 to 95 percent.”

But fecal transplants have a few problems, Pardi says. Each transplant requires a unique donor, so it’s expensive. And, doctors really don’t know which bacteria are getting moved between people.

A pure culture of bacteria, like RePOOPulate, could be safer and more reproducible, Pardi says.

“A fecal transplant is like taking a sledgehammer to kill C. difficile: It puts millions of bacteria into the patient,” Pardi tells Shots. “There’s tremendous enthusiasm now for finding what the key components of that hammer are.”

What will they come up with next?

YAY, SCIENCE!

Misfit News 2-7-13

Odd news never goes away. That’s why I’m excited to bring you week 2 of this Misfit News section!

Since it’s spirit week at Northwestern Oklahoma State University, I thought this first story would be very timely (and scary) to share.

Here’s the headline from Yahoo! News:

Two California students lose fingers in tug-of-war

tugowar

The story by Reuters reporter Dan Whitcomb was posted on Tuesday. The two students involved in the accident were from a Los Angeles-area high school at which spirit week activities were taking place, namely a group tug-of-war contest on that day.

Here’s the rest of the story:

A boy and a girl from South El Monte High School were rushed to a local trauma center on Monday afternoon after their fingers were cut off during the tug-of-war at lunchtime, fire and school district officials said.

The students have undergone surgery to reattach the severed digits, El Monte Union High School District Superintendent Nick Salerno said.

“I’m a dad too, and my heart goes out to these kids and their families. To me the whole thing is unbelievable,” Salerno told Reuters. “I’ve been in tug-of-wars myself, more than I can even count, and I’ve never heard anything like this.”

Salerno said the two teens, who have not been identified by authorities, were both student athletes participating in annual activities designed to boost school spirit and participation.

“The activity that day was tug-of-war. Unfortunately the rope broke and both students had some fingers severed,” he said, adding that he had no further details on how the injuries occurred.

A spokesman for Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center said both students were listed in stable condition. He declined to elaborate on their condition or the outcome of the surgery.

Salerno said the school district had provided counseling for students at South El Monte High School, which serves about 1,500 students in El Monte, a city of about 115,000 people in the San Gabriel Valley north of Los Angeles.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Steve Orlofsky, Cynthia Johnston and Leslie Adler)

Yikes. This isn’t a humorous story by any means, but it is odd. No one expects to enter into a friendly competition and lose appendages.

This next story is definitely an interesting one. First, I’ll ask you, what’s the best way to generate interest in your local library? You offer pole dancing lessons, of course!

Here’s the headline:

Library offers pole dancing class

pole-party1books

It certainly caught my attention. This story on UPI.com posted Wednesday explains a  Scottish library’s efforts to encourage more visitors.

DALKEITH, Scotland, Feb. 6 (UPI) — A Scottish library used pole dancing classes as part of a daylong event designed to drum up interest in the facility.

The Mayfield Library in Dalkeith hosted a pole dancing class Saturday with teacher Nikki Clark as part of Love Your Library Day, which also featured table tennis with books instead of paddles, head massages and Scottish country dancing, STV reported Wednesday.

“Love Your Library Day is a marvelous opportunity for us all to celebrate the hugely important role libraries play in the heart of our local community,” said Bob Constable of Midlothian Council. “The pole fitness session is a fun and interesting way of encouraging more people into our libraries, trying out all the services on offer and ultimately borrowing more books.”

Well, I guess if it caught my attention, it probably caught the attention of several others, too. Hm.

There’s plenty more misfit news where that came from… Come back next week for more. Hit the “follow” button for updates when I post!

Here’s the thing…

I often have ideas for ramblings, rants, projects, and fun stuff I’d like to blog about. The problem is, there is no way I can make a separate blog for every little fleeting spark of imagination that finds its way into my brain. So, I decided to create a blog that will allow me to dump all my musings into it without being categorized and totally uniform.

School projects, angry opinions, happy hoopla, and everything that I can’t find a fit for elsewhere will (hopefully) make an appearance in this nifty little blog.

Feel free to submit your own misfit musings in the comments. Maybe we can have a healthy debate or a fun little chat!

Ready or not, here it comes…

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