Monday, 29 December 2008
Of course this does also mean that you'll have to put up with my wittering a little longer. While I still have your attention though, could the person I promised to lend "My name is light" by Elsa Osorio to please step forward? I've found the book now but can't remember who you were. I hope I can get away with blaming this on Aspall, and would like to assure you that your friendship means a lot to me and I greatly appreciate you as an individual. Whoever you are.
Thursday, 25 December 2008
Ophthalmomyiasis in Hawaii.
Author(s): Kajioka, Eric H N; Nagao, Cherie F K;
Karas, Stefan; Hardman, John M; Navin, James J Source: Hawaii Med J
Volume: 63 Issue: 3 Pages: 78-9
Published: 2004 Mar
Ophthalmomyiasis is the infestation of the eye by fly larvae. Commonlycaused by Oestrus ovis, a female sheep botfly will accidentally deposit her larvae into a human eye, resulting in disease. Prompt recognition and treatment of this condition will improve patient care and reduce potential complications. We report a case of ophthalmomyiasis in a young man from Molokai who was infested while unloading a Christmas tree.
PubMed ID: 15124740
Happy Christmas everyone!
Sunday, 21 December 2008
This has nothing to do with my PhD, but I'm posting it here because it gets the highest readership of any of my blogs*. On my way home on Monday I noticed a group of people outside the Orange Tree Pub, waving banners and shouting. I do like a bit of shouting so I went to see what was going on. It turned out that the British Nazi National Party were having their Christmas party in there. I grabbed a placard and am proud to have played some small part in forcing some of them to spend their Christmas celebrations standing outside the pub in the freezing drizzle, attempting to intimidate us whilst icy water dripped on their shaven heads.
The BNP is, sadly, a legal political party so there's no reason why they shouldn't be able to hold their Christmas party in a pub. However, I doubt that I'm alone in not wanting to drink in the same pub as a bunch of racist wankers, who think that rape is no worse than force-feeding someone chocolate cake and that mixed race people should...actually, I don't have the strength to go on. I shall be writing to the manager of the Orange Tree to explain that I feel this way, and also to Youngs, the chain that owns the pub, and would encourage as many people as possible to do the same. A word of warning though, the manager of the Orange Tree is clearly a BNP sympathiser as they've met there before, so if you do write to the pub it'd be safer not to put a return address – just because we know their addresses doesn't mean they need to know ours.
If you have a receipt to show that you have drunk in a Youngs pub recently, include it with your letter to add weight to your assertion that you won't be drinking there in future. This shouldn't be too difficult for anyone who, like me, is a habitual drunkard** with a confetti of old receipts in her bag, but probably wouldn't be possible for someone like Imogen who I think alphabetises her handbag contents.
The addresses are as follows. There's also a Facebook group.
The Orange Tree:
Roger & Tracey Stearn
45 Kew Road
Young & Co.’s Brewery, P.L.C.
26 Osiers Road
London SW18 1NH
Normal service will resume next week peeps. I know you're missing those flies.
*Six, and my Mum who my Dad prints it out for.
**You can delete this bit before printing Dad.
Friday, 19 December 2008
And while I have no evidence that flies are attracted to coffee cups, I thought this one was rather nice too:
Thursday, 18 December 2008
Dead flies don't come back to life no matter how hard you shake the cage.
At least this means I don't have to come in over Christmas to feed them, but this isn't much consolation for me and even less for the flies.
On a more positive note Imogen has written an interesting blog post which I will respond to when I have a second. I'm flattered but a bit surprised to be described as articulate, as by the time that conversation took place I'd consumed half an orchard's worth of cider and started calling Richard Richmond again.
Saturday, 13 December 2008
As with most oddly shaped countries in Africa, it's because of the way the Europeans went about nicking it- in this case, how the British nicked it from the French, who had in turn already nicked it from the people living there in the first place. Apparently the length of the country is the distance a British navy warship could get up the river Gambia, and the width is the distance the ship could fire a cannon. I was initially sceptical when I heard this, but Wikipedia confirms it so it must be true.
Tuesday, 9 December 2008
Monday, 8 December 2008
Once again, due to our unrivalled ability to breed healthy insects, we have a surplus of Giant Spiny Stick Insects (Eurycantha calcarata). These are currently at the "teenager" stage, so are a perfect size to sneak into the house without frightening your partner/children/parents.
If you are lacking ideas for a Christmas present, how about a nice new pet?! :-)"
Thursday, 4 December 2008
The tear lipid layer is itself divided into two layers (layers are so this season, darling). The inner layer is just one molecule thick but these are rather clever molecules that have one end that dissolves in water and one end that dissolves in fats. This anchors all the fats above making up the tear lipid layer (TLL to its friends) to the vertical eyeball, stopping all the oils from sliding down to the bottom of your eye and leaking out. Which would be strange.
So what’s the point of all this? The TLL reduces the rate of evaporation from the water layer, making it last ten to twenty times as long as it would otherwise. It also reduces surface tension, helping spent tears to drain better, and catches fine dust. It contains antibacterial fatty acids and its high viscosity prevents oils from your skin from getting into your eye. And as if that wasn’t enough to make you appreciate an anatomical structure you didn’t know you had ten minutes ago, it also forms a watertight seal between your eyelids when you close them, compensating for microscopic imperfections where they don’t meet perfectly and so stopping your eyes from drying out when you sleep.
The TLL is secreted by the glands of Meibomius (why is it that only people with daft names get medical discoveries named after them? Is there a duct of Smith?). These are tiny little pin-prick glands on the lip of the eyelid, invisible to the naked eye. There are more of them on the upper eyelid than on the lower, so rather more is secreted on the upper lid margin than on the lower. This is because thanks to gravity the TLL is a little thicker at the bottom than the top, so replenishing it at the top is more of a priority. The ducts of the glands run up the inside of the eyelid, so those on the upper eyelid are longer than those on the lower, helping them secrete more. This probably explains why we blink down, why our upper eyelids are longer than our lower eyelids. I always wondered about this when I was younger, but to be fair I was a bit of a weird kid.
Glands of Meibomius, from: Lozato, P. A., P. J. Pisella, et al. (2001). "Phase lipidique du film lacrymal: physiologie et pathologie." Journal Francais D Ophtalmologie 24(6): 643-658.
Blinking squeezes more of the tear lipid secretions out of the glands, and the physical action of the eyelids smoothes it evenly across the eye, so your TLL is refreshed every time you blink. Like so much else your glands of Meibomius become less efficient as you get older, so the average adult needs to blink approximately every 20 seconds to refresh their TLL but babies can go more than a minute without blinking. This probably explains why they always have such a look of bug-eyed astonishment. If you go too long without blinking the TLL will eventually break up, allowing the water layer to evaporate and so bringing the TLL down into contact with the mucins which, in scientific terminology, buggers everything up. This leads to dry, uncomfortable eyes. So blink more people.
Did I mention incidentally that oxygen can get through the whole tear film to the cells on your cornea? Oxygen can get through the whole thing to the cells on your cornea. Isn’t that cool?
Her glands of Meibomius probably aren't very healthy.
*OK the store part of her website doesn't seem to be up yet. Link to follow