Meanwhile, on ebay

So ebay, for some reason, conflates ‘Steal’ – the 1995 film with Alfred Molina, with ‘The Steal’, a 2002 film. Due to a moment of idiotdom I ended up with the latter not the former. I’d be more annoyed, but I paid £1.99 for it, so I don’t really find it in my heart to care that much.

It’d been ripped to the media server and has sat for a few weeks waiting for me to be bored enough to watch it. The awesome headache I’ve got right now was enough of a push, so I sat down and watched it. And y’know what? It’s fucking terrible.

It’s got a couple of nice action-y set pieces, and I quite like the premise, but the acting is worse even than I could do and the script… Well, the script makes the fantastic film I wrote and filmed in secondary school look like a oscar worthy piece of genius. I can’t say that I paid it a great deal of attention, it distracted from my headache sufficiently to make it worth the experience, just. But for once in my life I’m actually tempted to delete it from the media server to reclaim the space.


I was wondering why none of the black writers on OITNB called out the whites for having Taystee basically tell another black inmate to stop pulling the race card and then I remembered that the show has no black writers, and that the one POC writer on the staff, a Latino man, left after the first season. How can you make a show about the experiences of women of color in prison and have no women of color (or people of color at all) writing for your show?




Missing link found between brain, immune system — with major disease implications

In a stunning discovery that overturns decades of textbook teaching, researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have determined that the brain is directly connected to the immune system by vessels previously thought not to exist.

That such vessels could have escaped detection when the lymphatic system has been so thoroughly mapped throughout the body is surprising on its own, but the true significance of the discovery lies in the effects it could have on the study and treatment of neurological diseases ranging from autism to Alzheimer’s disease to multiple sclerosis.

“Instead of asking, ‘How do we study the immune response of the brain?,’ ‘Why do multiple sclerosis patients have the immune attacks?,’ now we can approach this mechanistically – because the brain is like every other tissue connected to the peripheral immune system through meningeal lymphatic vessels,” said Jonathan Kipnis, a professor in U.Va.’s Department of Neuroscience and director of U.Va.’s Center for Brain Immunology and Glia. “It changes entirely the way we perceive the neuro-immune interaction. We always perceived it before as something esoteric that can’t be studied. But now we can ask mechanistic questions.“

He added, “We believe that for every neurological disease that has an immune component to it, these vessels may play a major role. [It’s] hard to imagine that these vessels would not be involved in a [neurological] disease with an immune component.”

Kevin Lee, who chairs the Department of Neuroscience, described his reaction to the discovery by Kipnis’ lab: “The first time these guys showed me the basic result, I just said one sentence: ‘They’ll have to change the textbooks.’ There has never been a lymphatic system for the central nervous system, and it was very clear from that first singular observation – and they’ve done many studies since then to bolster the finding – that it will fundamentally change the way people look at the central nervous system’s relationship with the immune system.”

Even Kipnis was skeptical initially. “I really did not believe there are structures in the body that we are not aware of. I thought the body was mapped,” he said. “I thought that these discoveries ended somewhere around the middle of the last century. But apparently they have not.

The discovery was made possible by the work of Antoine Louveau, a postdoctoral fellow in Kipnis’ lab. The vessels were detected after Louveau developed a method to mount a mouse’s meninges – the membranes covering the brain – on a single slide so that they could be examined as a whole. “It was fairly easy, actually,” he said. “There was one trick: We fixed the meninges within the skullcap, so that the tissue is secured in its physiological condition, and then we dissected it. If we had done it the other way around, it wouldn’t have worked.”

After noticing vessel-like patterns in the distribution of immune cells on his slides, he tested for lymphatic vessels and there they were. The impossible existed.

The soft-spoken Louveau recalled the moment: “I called Jony [Kipnis] to the microscope and I said, ‘I think we have something.’”

As to how the brain’s lymphatic vessels managed to escape notice all this time, Kipnis described them as “very well hidden” and noted that they follow a major blood vessel down into the sinuses, an area difficult to image. “It’s so close to the blood vessel, you just miss it,” he said. “If you don’t know what you’re after, you just miss it.

“Live imaging of these vessels was crucial to demonstrate their function, and it would not be possible without collaboration with Tajie Harris,” Kipnis noted. Harris is an assistant professor of neuroscience and a member of the Center for Brain Immunology and Glia. Kipnis also saluted the “phenomenal” surgical skills of Igor Smirnov, a research associate in the Kipnis lab whose work was critical to the imaging success of the study.

The unexpected presence of the lymphatic vessels raises a tremendous number of questions that now need answers, both about the workings of the brain and the diseases that plague it.

For example, take Alzheimer’s disease. “In Alzheimer’s, there are accumulations of big protein chunks in the brain,” Kipnis said. “We think they may be accumulating in the brain because they’re not being efficiently removed by these vessels.” He noted that the vessels look different with age, so the role they play in aging is another avenue to explore.

And there’s an enormous array of other neurological diseases, from autism to multiple sclerosis, that must be reconsidered in light of the presence of something science insisted did not exist.


The lymphatic system map: old (left) and new.


This is really big. This is really big news in medicine and I suspect in mental health as well. Consider the recent discoveries around the association between mental health and the immune system;

There are still so many things we are finding out about the nature of disease and the human body – especially the brain.

Interestingly this agrees with what a lot of non western medical modalities have said for centuries, big stuff

Wow. I might just go chuck my A+P book in the bin, I think I need a new one.

Baby / No Baby update

When you read lesbian baby-making blogs online, you notice something odd. A lot of them just end. They peter our, no explanation. “We’re trying again!” they announce, and then they’re gone. Just not updated anymore.

And you know why. Because people started those blogs with a dream, and then the dream is shattered, and the blog stops. So I’m kinda glad this isn’t a baby making blog, because at least for the time being it’d be over.

We found out yesterday that we’re not eligible for the egg-sharing IVF programme, for a variety of reasons. That puts IVF firmly out of our grasp thanks to the local NHS’s delightfully discriminatory ‘you must try 10 times before we give you a go free’ policy (which for heterosexual couples just means ten months of sex, but for us means somewhere around £14,000 spending money, whilst at the same time potentially losing income due to having to be off work.). We also don’t really have the cash to throw at another 10-15% probability IUI cycle. We could, possibly, scrape it together, but the stress involved would probably lower the chances of it working fairly dramatically.

And so, the baby update is that we don’t have one. And have no idea where to go from here on that front. We’ve seen what adopting older kids is like, and beyond the fact that we want to raise a child from baby-ness, we also both agree we could not do what our friends have done. They are awesome, and their kids are awesome too, but the whole thing has been and is very challenging for them – and I don’t… we don’t want that experience.

Which leaves us here.

you know those days…

…when it seems that you’re touched by incompetence?

So far:
– forgot to charge my phone last night
– forgot laundry detergent
– failed to check when they start serving food at the launderette
– forgot stuff for an appointment
– realised I’d not actually got any change to get a drink (when I was in the process of getting a drink)
– smashed my arm into the car door frame getting in to the car
– smacked Kathryn in the head whilst getting a bag out of the car…

…am now sitting on the sofa trying to decide if I dare try and achieve anything else today.

How do you get out of this kind of an ineptitude rut?

S’not completely stopped me.

One of the many things I despise about allergy season is the tiredness. This is at least partially down to the fact that normally I’d have a lie-in after night-shifts. Not a long one, but a bit of one. And I’d usually sleep until about 8. Unfortunately, in allergy season, not only do I not sleep well, but I wake up around 6:30 feeling sickly. And can’t get back to sleep because I need to take drugs and get upright.

Beyond the irritation of, well, irritation to eyes and nasal passages, it’s irritating because whilst it doesn’t stop me doing things completely, it seems to erode my competence, it also really attacks my patience… and it leads me to want to just sit on the sofa going blurgh.

However, irritating allergies notwithstanding, I’ve managed a fair bit today.

First up I managed to head out and collect a package that turned out to be the HD ‘sports camera’ for our trip to Norway. Which has arrived much more rapidly than expected and looks to work except…the microSD? I’d not actually ordered that yet. So I ordered that today. I also, whilst I was out, picked up a new tip for my soldering iron. Well, technically I picked up tips for both soldering irons, the ‘precision’ one of my dad’s and the ‘not precision’ one of mine. I also did errands, for double plus adulting.

A few days back I managed to put the new socket surrounds on the wall in the kitchen:


I filled and masked it all, and today started hurling paint at the trim. Two more coats and that bit’ll be done… leaving only some little bits of trim in the main kitchen area. That wall looks like it should end up being much neater – the sockets have been hanging out of the wall quite long enough.

I need to move the fridge to get to some of left over bits of trim though, so that’ll be fun. But it may mean I finally get around to turning the door on the fridge ’round so it opens the right way. Heh.

Painting done I nipped out to collect my bike which had gone off to be repaired after the back brake broke. They’ve fixed the brake, but upsettingly, as I mentioned earlier the cable for the rear hub-gear is broken, meaning it’s currently sat out of gear, which makes it ‘tricky’ to use. I’ve ordered a Sturmey-Archer clone cable, which I then just have to work out how to make fit. I have an idea, but it’s not ideal…

I also spread slug pellets around the garden which is AWESOME. We currently have all the berries.


Which I should go out and pick, although I’m feeling a bit ropey right now (see: allergies).

I also rang the company that’s meant to be assessing my transcripts – I checked and they were delivered on the 8th of June – but it still showed the status as ‘waiting for required documents’. Having rung them it can take up to a month for items to start being processed. ARGH.

I am really worried that the potential job will have gone before I even get near a registration.

Anyhow. Lunch was a Hart’s affair, obviously, then I moved on to assembling John’s 7 segment LED display:


My soldering, even with the new iron which actually has a tip that’s tip-y and not chisel-y (I’ve been using the same tip that my dad had on there for…ever), is no-where near as neat as John’s. It’s not terrible, by any means. But it’s not beautiful, but I guess I don’t do it that much.



Ta Da!

If it works, I’ll show you. Of course, to find out if it works will require the Arduino Uno that Kathryn gave me for Xmas, so I’ve opened up the packaging and… downloaded the software.

I also assembled the synthesizer kit that Kathryn gave me for Xmas and had a wee play with it. I think, however, it wants a new battery. As opposed to the one that came out of the garage smoke alarm because it was dead (note to self: buy more 9v batteries).

Anyhow, so I was sat with the Arduino in my lap, and the software on the mac, and, for reasons which remain elusive, my allergies kicked into overdrive and I had to give up. After a festival of sneezing and me finally giving in and throwing the eye-drops in before I eroded the surface of my eye through rubbing, I have given in to sitting because, in all honesty, I feel cack from the allergies and I think I’ve done enough for the day.

In other news, yesterday my Mac died and refused to come on until it’d had the battery removed. Its worrying decent into notworkitude appears to be continuing. My deal with myself is that I might, when I’ve paid off the credit card, consider buying a new (recon/B-grade) laptop. It will not be another apple. Irritating though it is to be the proud owner of Office-for-mac and Photoshop-for-mac, I’m just a bit done with the walled garden. Also, it’s not just-working anymore. If it’s not just-working, what’s the point in paying extra?

So, they fixed the brakes…

…and were very apologetic, because the gear cable, made from unobtainum, broke at the same time.

I may be breaking out the pillar drill and a piece of brass or aluminium to make a BSA -> Sturmey-Archer cable adaptor.