Friday, April 24, 2009

"Dying for a hamburger"

What a fascinating and highly readable book--when was the last time you raced through a non-fiction treatise?

Dr. Waldman and Ms. Lamb have written a winner, and I'm sorry to see it buried in the Amazon stacks without notice or acclaim. I don't even remember how I stumbled on this title but I'm glad I did. In the process of explaining how a hamburger may permanently alter your brain--for the worse--the authors take the reader through the history of cognition and aging as found in scientific textbooks, philosophy, and literature to prove that losing your marbles through the years is a relatively new phenomenon.

Then they move on to cannibalism, horrific neurodegenerative diseases, the germ theory of disease, the biology of prions, the evolving nature of the human diet, the complex relationship of humans to cattle, the meat-packing industry, and international food standards.

Consider the elegance of their explanation of misfolded proteins (the biological basis of neurodegenerative diseases) as seen in the common egg white:

"Imagine a large bowl of raw egg whites. These whites are made of a protein called albumin, which is folded in a unique way.. Because of its shape, this protein is a translucent liquid and can be dissolved in water, Now place a tiny amount of the egg whites in boiling water, where it cooks immediately. The protein is still albumin, but now it is a solid instead of a liquid...there is no way that the cooked egg whites can be made to revert to their uncooked state. All these changes happen because the protein is now folded in a different manner."

Want to better understand how you might possibly cook your brains with a misguided modern diet and the inattention of those to whom we entrust our food supply? Order one of Amazon's bargain-priced, used copies--this book is great food for thought.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Well maybe a backhoe...

Power Point slide at a continuing medical education conference I attended today:

"A Tough Road to Hoe"

Ho, ho, ho. Maybe the lecturer was too young to know her way down a row.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Were both our oars in the water?

I went out to lunch today with the mother of my daughter's boyfriend (if there's not a word for such a person in relationship to oneself, there should be!). She was in town for a convention, and it was high time that we bonded. We had a lovely talk over salmon salads and several cups of coffee.

After lunch, next agenda item was a trip to the art museum, but first stop was an urgent visit to the restroom there. While I was finishing up my business in the stall, I heard a woman singing. As we were the only ones in the room, I thought "Good lord she's singing in a public restroom." Simultaneous thoughts included "Are we old enough for that sort of thing?" and "That's something my mother would've done."

As I came out, H had a funny smile on her face and asked "Did you hear that?"

"You mean the singing?" I answered. "I thought it was you."

As I said this, I stuck my hands beneath the motion-activated faucet and it began to sing 'Row, row, row your boat' in a deep baritone. H stuck her hands back under the stream in her sink and a woman's voice chimed in, singing in a round along with the man in mine.

I kid you not. The sinks in the Denver Art Museum sing. And H and I bonded in a menopause moment of laughter.