Friday, July 30, 2010

The Fork in the Road


Only rarely does a free photo service provide an image as perfect as the one shown.

My life lately has presented a whole drawer of silverware in the middle of the road. I find myself contemplating a choice of paths almost daily.

Taking one or the other is mutually exclusive. The wrong choice may lead to the wrong destination. It may be an express route, or it could be a long, tiresome detour.

I keep telling myself that life is a journey, not a destination.

Some of these choices belong to me alone. Others involve my family. Some are completely out of my control.

Over the coming months a number of these choices will be revealed. Monday, August 2, the first choice becomes public. I hope you will stroll with me a bit along this new road.

Enjoy the weekend. More to come soon!

Image courtesy of PhotoXpress.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Daughter of Shoe-fari

Today’s post provides a happier note, a wearable yet attractive item for the foot:

Moda Spana QueenQueen by Moda Spana costs $49.95 at DSW. Its 3-inch heel provides a modest bit of lift, and the wrap-across-the-forefoot leaves a peep-toe and a D’Orsay effect on the instep. These beauties are elegant yet practical for most of my workdays.

They come in the metallic shown and in black. 

I promise I will post something besides shoes later this week, but I have to admit this Shoe-fari has been a load of fun!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Shoe-fari: A Pair Not Worth The Ammo

I don’t get peep-toe boots. Being from the midwest, boots are for cold, slushy weather. Leaving the toe open defeats their general purpose.

Add an ugly design that resembles nothing more than a neutral bowling shoe with a heel, and you have something not worth my hard-earned cash. Maybe someone out there can explain the appeal of the Buren to me ($139 at Nine West).

Because I really don’t get it.

Monday, July 26, 2010

More Shoe-fari: Wild Bargain Edition

Today we stalk the great cats, but not just any cougar. No, today we find something closer to a snow leopard:

Embry 2, shown in white leopard, features printed pony hair with leather trim and soles. Its original price was $198, but you can now snatch these up from the Via Spiga shop for $79.

Makes me want to purrrrrrrrr.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Shoe-fari 2010 Part 3

 DSW0710 We continue our footwear adventures with a trip to DSW, my personal favorite store, and one of my favorite brands, Steve Madden.

As I mentioned with Friday’s selection, I have a desire to feel tough, wicked, even bad-ass right now. Friday’s shoe took that desire over the top; today’s version reflects a more subtle take. Kallie ($59.95 at DSW online) restricts the studs to a small platform. This caramel brown version looks more “I mean business” than “I’m going to hurt you.”

As the new fall fashions hit the magazines, I will share more of my finds during Shoe-Fari 2010.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Shoe-fari Continues!

This weekend the Nebraska State Legion Baseball Tournament is in full swing. In turn, this means heat and humidity and catching rays in the bleachers. For your consideration, I present the following shoe:, by Donald J. Pliner, costs $235 at Zappos. These Italian beauties rock several trends that work now and into autumn, including statement hardware and, for the Ocean colored ones shown, bright sandals. When temperatures drop, these will slip over a pair of black tights.

I have to go to a baseball game now, but I’m dreaming of heels even though I’m wearing Fit-Flops!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Shoe-fari for the #sbFAIL Diaspora

As you may have heard, ScienceBlogs had some issues last week. Bloggers have been changing sites faster than I can edit my links. We have finally heard from the pseudonymous goddess who got me hooked, Isis the Scientist:

So, after the events of the last couple weeks, what is the reality of Isis the Scientist?
I've had a lot to consider.  But, after speaking with Adam Bly today, I get the impression that he is still passionate about trying to continue this conversation and I believe that he is engaging with us, the folks who provide content to the site, in good faith.  I think he is vested in seeing this enterprise succeed and in working together collaboratively.  I can only take him at his word, and so On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess will remain at Scienceblogs.  Here, I'll continue to blog about the practice of being a woman in science.  After all, science is culture and all that.  If some of the ideas discussed today with the powers that be come to fruition, this could still be a groundbreaking place to watch.

Just as I have felt the need to have two creative outlets, the goddess has chosen a similar path. However, she still hasn’t blogged any shoes for a couple of weeks. (I know she has been distracted by pepsigate and shitbubbles and all…)

Today I am feeling particularly bad-ass, so I offer these to my online community:

Lorissa, by Sam Edelman, sells for #200.95 at Zappos. They also come in white. My husband would absolutely FREAK about what those studs could do to the carpet floor mats in my car. But they do look tough. Think what you could do to someone with a backward kick! Hmmmm. Maybe my daughter needs a pair…

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Shameless Self Promotion

So today I posted over on about a study that just started up, Open Notes. A perspective on this experiment, based on interviews with participating physicians and patients, is published in Stethoscopethe current Annals of Internal Medicine.

So click on over and tell me what you think. Should patients have unfettered access to their clinic visit notes?

Image courtesy of PhotoXpress.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Seeing the Opportunity in Human Execution

The current issue (16 July) of Science includes an article on mutations that protect from sleeping sickness but promote kidney disease in people of African descent. As a nephrologist, I know this is a BIG STORY. Several press releases have made their way to my editorial in-box about this cool and significant genetic-association study.

I am going to blog about something else in the issue (full article here).

Anatomy sometimes seems like the poor stepchild of the medical school. You have to keep it around, but it lacks the sexy research found in biochemistry or cell biology. When medical schools combine departments to save resources, anatomy often goes under the axe.

Turns out, a lot of what we know about anatomy may be ethically tainted. In the early 20th century, Germany and Austria produced some of the world’s finest scientists in many disciplines (rocket science, anyone?). As the Nazis rose to power, anatomists developed arrangements with executioners to obtain cadavers for dissection, instruction, and research.

In 1938, senior anatomists at the University of Vienna began an unusual arrangement: They worked closely with local Nazi officials to obtain corpses for teaching and research, receiving the bodies of prisoners shot in the Gestapo rifle range or guillotined in Vienna's assize court building. So many corpses were transferred that Viennese authorities ran a special streetcar, dubbed the "Death Transport," between the court and the medical school in the early morning. If the medical school morgue was full, court officials postponed the executions. Viennese physicians secured at least 1337 bodies of Nazi victims this way, according to a report issued by the University of Vienna in 1998.

I have emphasized that one sentence because this degree of coordination between executioners and medical schools amazes me, even given the atrocities of the era.

The article goes on to describe other ethical breakdowns during the Nazi years, including studies by Hermann Stieve on the effect of stress (scheduling of one’s execution) on ovulation and menstruation:

He sent an assistant to Plötzensee to obtain from prison doctors the women's medical histories, as well as data on their menstrual cycles and reactions to the announcement of their execution date. He also persuaded Plötzensee's director to continue conducting executions in the morning, despite the daylight air attacks in Berlin, so tissue samples could be processed the day of the execution.

A sidebar article discusses Pernkopf’s Atlas, considered by many the gold standard of anatomical illustration; however, Pernkopf and his artists were avid Nazis. Many of these dissections and illustrations came from the executions described above.

Should we still use these illustrations given their tainted past?

I say no. The examples shown are gorgeous, no doubt, but I managed to learn enough anatomy to practice medicine via other sources. Today, Amazon lists 41,906 results when I searched “anatomy” in their books section. We can live without Pernkopf.

I encourage everyone to read the original articles by Heather Pringle, author of The Master Plan: Himmler’s Scholars and the Holocaust (2005). 

What are you waiting for? Click those links and READ!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

World’s. Toughest. Pedicure. Period.


Please forgive the photo of my toes, but I had to demonstrate the power of the Axxium pedicure. I had this UV-light-cured gel pedicure done 4 weeks ago today. My nails have grown out, so I will get it re-done this week, but THERE ARE NO CHIPS. I have worn nothing but sandals since having this done, and I was at Walt Disney World on vacation for one of those weeks.

My toes above sport Cajun Shrimp. I haven’t decided where to go next; probably a deep purple-y color.

I tried a manicure which lasted a whole week. Unfortunately, I accidently cut into the polish on a sharp edge while I was doing some kitchen work. Removing this stuff is, well, a bitch. I may keep doing my hands with traditional polish most of the time, and save this procedure for travel.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Joys of Parenting

Photoxpress_1233465Being a mom is never boring, although sometimes I could use a bit less excitement. Even now, with my “baby” scouting out universities for 2011, he can still provide moments that remind me not to take anything too seriously.

Last week I was up to my eyeballs in clinic patients when I realized I had not turned the ringer off on my BlackBerry. I realized this because it was ringing, of course, and my son was calling. Tim is a texter, not a caller, so I answered. If he wanted verbal communication, fire or massive blood loss was probably in progress. The conversation went something like this:

Tim:  “ Mom, I have a hypothetical question.”

Me:  “OK. Make it quick. I am working.”

T:  “Suppose someone cut off my left sideburn. How can I make it look even with the right one?”

M:  “Well, I would cut off the right one even with the left. And what do you mean by ‘hypothetical?’”

T:  “OK, so technically this isn’t a hypothetical question. Is there anything else I could try besides cutting off the right one?”

M:  “Who the hell is cutting your hair?”

T:  “A friend. She, I mean he or she, forgot to put the guard on after cleaning out the clippers and whacked off the sideburn accidently.”

M: “Look, I think you will have to cut the other one off even and let them grow back. Maybe you should go to the barber and get it done. I have patients to see. Talk to you later.”

T:  “OK. Bye, Mom.”

About 30 minutes later he shared his solution with me:

I took the guard off and buzzed my head. I am officially bald.

He also posted the “officially bald” part on his facebook wall. I knew it must be true.

Of course, we have to get senior photos done soon. His father felt doing this just before their college tours may not have been his best idea. I’m hoping they will assume he had chemo recently and come up with more scholarships, but I have always been a dreamer.

It’s only hair. It will grow back. And I have had a great story to share.

Image courtesy of PhotoXpress.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sweating It Out


At left is an artistic rendition of how I spent most of my weekend. See, my son’s American Legion Baseball team, the Deeb Mustangs, lost their first game. They then proceeded through the loser’s bracket, in significant heat, to face another team for the regional/area championship tomorrow.

I have spent much of my weekend hot and sweaty. Not in a good way. Not in a bloggy way.

Tonight, I finally finished a post over at Stream of Thought. I really had planned to do something else here at Golden Thoughts, but I don’t have the energy right now.

Tomorrow night we play a much-favored team at 5pm. If we win that game, we have to beat them again at 8 to win the tournament. No promises for tomorrow, but I will share more Golden Thoughts this week.

Image courtesy of PhotoXpress.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Kidneys Down Under

Yesterday I got distracted here by a bit of nonsense from a member of the Tea Party. I did end up reviewing the IDEAL trial over at my serious, professional blog, Stream of Thought.

The IDEAL trial (Initiating Dialysis Early and Late) is a prospective randomized trial of initiating dialysis in adults early (eGFR 10-15 mL/min) and late (5-7 mL/min). It’s also an Australia and New Zealand study, so I get to use this cool satellite image (click it to see its full-screen glory).

While the study reveals no advantage (or disadvantage) to early initiation of dialysis, only 102 of the 424 patients assigned to the late-start group made it to the target range of eGFR. Yup, 76% of patients started dialysis before planned, presumably because of uremic symptoms. And no analysis of these 102 patients who really waited late is presented.

Click on over to the full post.

And enjoy that cool image.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Distracted By So Much Wrong

I planned to discuss a recent study publication today.

I also considered some sort of tribute to Bastille day. When your dad’s a French historian (who gives you a French name), you grow up celebrating such things.

Then I heard something on the radio. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) passed a resolution calling for the Tea Party movement to expel the racists and bigots in its midst or take responsibility for them.Photoxpress_202893

I am sure we all remember the signs at the demonstrations, and the slurs yelled at people of color, in particular African-American members of congress and President Obama.

The Tea Party response requires some attention:

"I don't recall the NAACP speaking out when George Bush was portrayed as curious George or as the Joker," said Mark Williams, a national spokesman for the Tea Party Express.

I really don’t see that these were racial slurs against George W. Bush. If they somehow disrespect caucasians, I would greatly appreciate an explanation. I thought these characterizations questioned his intelligence and motives, both fair-game for public figures. Unfortunately, Williams goes on to say even more:

"You're dealing with people who are professional race baiters, who make a very good living off this kind of thing. They make more money off of race than any slave trader ever. It's time groups like the NAACP went to the trash heap of history where they belong with all the other vile racist groups that emerged in our history,"

The NAACP is a vile racist group making big bucks?

Nowhere in the response does Williams address the overtly bigoted nature of some Tea Party demonstrators. He never describes their activities as unfortunate or a small minority, nor does he try to deny their existence. Instead, he attacks the NAACP and their lack of response to someone comparing Dubya to the Joker.

You could get the feeling that he condones the sort of behavior the NAACP protests. But I am sure that interpretation makes me some sort of vile racist.

Read/listen to the entire NPR story.

Teacup courtesy of PhotoXpress.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I’m Too Old For This Now

Today brought many good things.
  • YouTube removed the offending still shot from my iGoogle page.
  • Clinic finished early.
  • One of my patients was waiting for a possible transplant when I left.
Pretty woman with flowersThe latter, unfortunately, led to a multitude of pages overnight, leaving me a bit sleep-deprived. I used to be able to stay up 36 hours straight without a problem, back when I was a resident and a new mom. Now, not so much.
The All-Star game is not helping, either. More appears to be happening than in a World Cup match, but not much more.
I am ready to lie back and relax. I will opt out of the flowers in the hair, though. They just seem like too much work.
So goodnight, all. I read an article to blog today, but I just cannot do it justice right now.
Sweet dreams.

Image courtesy of PhotoXpress.

Monday, July 12, 2010


For the last 48 hours, every time I pull up the internet, the YouTube gadget on my iGoogle home page has featured the following image from some World Cup video:

Unfortunate World Cup ImageI really wish this would go away now, since yesterday is impossible.

Now, I have to go see patients. I hope something on rounds can remove this image from my retinas.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Big FAIL

For those of you in the real world, you may not have noticed when the proverbial shit hit the fan at ScienceBlogs last week. Being on vacation, I discovered the controversy a few days late myself, when the flotsam and jetsam started hitting my twitter feed (#sbFAIL if you want to search for comments there).

ScienceBlogs, a subsidiary of SEED Media Group, provides an SciBlogs aggregation of 80 bloggers interested in science and associated issues: working in academia, women in science, science-based medicine, and assorted other topics. I follow a number of blogs there regularly and link to them in the blogroll in the right column.

Some of them may be changing their blog sites soon.

ScienceBlogs provided what I believed was an ideal model of an online “magazine.” Bloggers provided independent content that was fresh, interesting, and (sometimes) controversial. By virtue of the traffic this collection of individuals attracted, ScienceBlogs could get advertising to support the site and its authors. Many of these authors write under pseudonyms [can you call it a pen name in this digital age?], so they could have bias or conflicts of interest we know nothing about. Others could be Googled so we could know their issues. I mean, Google sees everything.

Seems a new blog popped up recently in the health and medicine channels. Food Frontiers turned out to be a paid blog; not ScienceBlogs paying the blogger, but Pepsico paying to post material on the site. Food Frontiers departed abruptly from the ScienceBlogs model. Many bloggers felt it compromised the reputation they had Photoxpress_2311306worked so hard to build for themselves and for their site.

 Many of them fled.

Some of the Sciblings (what the ScienceBloggers call themselves) wrote about the whole mess. One of my favorites was posted by Abel Pharmboy who addressed the way the whole episode could have been approached without the ensuing failure.

And failure is the only word strong enough for this fiasco. The offending blog has now been removed from ScienceBlogs (although it still lives on at the Pepsi website). Stories started circulating about behind-the-scenes issues and complaints (poor technical support and late payments), including other ethical problems with SEED magazine, the parent company. It seems the wall between advertising and content never was particularly strong. As a magazine editor myself, I know the pains we take to keep editorial control isolated from those who sell the ads. SEED allowed those barriers to break on several occasions.

I thought about presenting the ScienceBlogs model to groups to convince them to become blog aggregators. Go out on the web, find the bloggers writing about your area, and invite them to post at your site. The group can generate enough traffic to interest advertisers. Now, I would be hesitant to present ScienceBlogs as anything but a warning to others.

Once your reputation goes down the toilet, it can be almost impossible to scrape it out of the sewer.

I had once applied to write at ScienceBlogs, but they never invited me into their fold. And now I’m pretty glad about that. Could this bias what I’m writing today? Yes- but I’m telling you that. Blogger transparency in practice here.

There is still an air of chaos among the Sciblings, especially those whose choice to stay or go has not yet been made. One thing is for sure: ScienceBlogs is irrevocably changed by this episode. And probably not for the better.

Exit sign image courtesy of PhotoXpress.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

HUS and The Good Life

Today I posted my first disease-specific piece over at Stream of Thought. This post addresses hemolytic uremic syndrome:
Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) flourishes in the summer, for reasons we do not understand. This common cause of acute kidney injury in children also demonstrates geographic hot-spots, and the disorder can reach epidemic rates in July and August.
 Yes, Nebraska seems to be one of the hot-spots.

As promised, I am linking to my “professional” posts from the new site.

The new web site gives me a place to publish all sorts of information about my interests, including save-able/print-able PDF’s (no downloadable files here on PLaneBlogger/Blogspot).

So click on over and enjoy. Oh, and let me know if you have any thoughts for topics or for the website.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Half a Century Later

During my morning ablutions, I listened to my local NPR station per my usual routine (and yes, I am a member of KIOS).  Lynn Neary reported on the 50th anniversary of publication of a favorite book, To Kill A Mockingbird:
Fifty years ago, Harper Lee had the kind of success that most writers only dream about: Shortly after her novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, was published on July 11, 1960, it hit the best-seller lists. In 1961, it won a Pulitzer Prize, and in 1962, it was made into an Academy Award-winning film. It has never gone out of print.
Reading this book is a rite of passage for most adolescents in the US. Mary McDonagh Murphy interviewed writers, journalists, historians, and artists to collect their impressions in her book, Scout, Atticus & Boo. The NPR story also includes thoughts from students who recently read the book.TKAM

Many women identify with feisty Scout. My spouse sees Atticus,  especially in Gregory Peck’s movie portrayal, as the ideal father. In the NPR story, Joanne Gabbin, a professor of English at James Madison University in Virginia, saw her own father and grandfather mirrored in another character:
In Tom Robinson, the African-American man unjustly accused of rape, she saw not a victim, but a hero. He reminded her of her father and grandfather — African-American men who put up with untold humiliation in order to take care of their families.
To Kill A Mockingbird touches so many people in so many ways. For me, it illustrates the power of stories. Statistics may demonstrate racism or sexism or poverty other iniquities, but even with glitzy animated graphics they cannot enthrall us as plot and people do. Stories may be fictional, like To Kill A Mockingbird, or completely true, like The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. In either of these cases, the way we come to know the characters and care about them (even if we hate them) helps the lessons stick.

Beautiful, poetic prose helps as well. NPR includes an excerpt from the book. My own favorite image arises when Scout describes grown ladies dealing with the heat of an Alabama summer. They add layers of talcum powder throughout the day, so by nightfall they resemble a frosted pastry. I am paraphrasing, but that picture embedded in my brain over 30 years ago. Every summer it flits through my neurons again during hot spells.

To Kill A Mockingbird hit bookstores a year before my birth. By the time I read it, much had changed in race relations and our attitudes toward mental illness. We still have progress ahead, since iniquities still plague the world.

But I have faith in the power of stories to help us mend our ways.
Click on the images above to see their source.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Random Thoughts On The World Walt Built

The Lane family vacation ended yesterday, with relatively uneventful flights back to Omaha. Today I am back at work, reviewing my data that no trip goes unpunished. I am still rejecting the null hypothesis on this one…

Our sojourn began 12 days ago with the husband and I attending the scientific sessions of the American Diabetes Association. We then moved to Walt Disney World for 6 days of complete escapism.

The parks were not without dangers. Oh, the fierce beasts in Animal Kingdom remained safely out of reach. No one fell out of rides. No food poisoning either. No, the main danger in theme parks is…



Parents with a child in a stroller (or even pushing the thing empty) seem compelled to use it as a plow in the parks.

We were that couple once. We lugged our son around Walt Disney World when he was 2 years old. He spent, perhaps, 30% of his time in it. Our next trip, when he was 4, did not require the device. He felt “too big” to need a stroller; he could walk!

Last week, I saw kids in strollers who must have been 7 or 8 years of age. Seriously, these children were lapping over the sides of the strollers. Kids that age should be walking! If they are too tired, you need to rest them or leave the park! If they cannot walk for medical reasons, they need a different sort of conveyance that fits them.

Or you just want to use the damn stroller as a weapon.

I wish Magic Kingdom had a special attraction. One you were invited into after super-secret personnel saw a stroller ram your legs or knock your elderly mom down (again). You could enter an area with other adults and beat old strollers into oblivion with baseball bats.

Now that would be magical.

Image courtesy of PhotoXpress.