Pastimes That Make You Smarter

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #166

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #166

… The solemn procession stops nearest the lone freshly dug hole around, below the shade giving branches of a sprawling magnolia tree…

Hilary W.. Baldwin

Fifty hours and eleven hundred clickety-clack miles later, the Atlantic Special pulls up to Tallahassee station, pretty much on time. There is the usual crowd anxiously waiting for their people to stride from one of the ten passenger cars. Those who await James, Abbey, and Alpha are conspicuous by the color of their dress; black and blacker garb of mourners.

Laughter and tears

  Laughter and tears mingle together, in no particular order, randomly interspersed between everyone hugging everybody. However lousy the reason for this reunion, the undertaker’s wagon lurking down the street with Doc Ziggy is poised stoically for the regretful procession, there is an unmistakable tie that is abiding; Ferrells, Campbells, Loves – friends, lovers, kin and kindred spirit.

They leave the platform, arm in arm, coming up behind the shiny black hearse containing Frieda’s earthly vessel which is void of her heavenly soul, pointed toward the cemetery over Macomb Street way.

The solemn procession stops nearest the lone freshly dug hole around, below the shade giving branches of a sprawling magnolia tree, in front of a slab of polished gray granite labeled:
Headstone-001

Becoming a grandmother without first being a mother is a trick saved for women like Frieda, whose love for someone else’s child is selflessly unconditional. Maggie Lou is a budding young woman, with physical traits provided by a genetic mom and dad, but more than a modicum of compassion and good old-fashioned grounding, dispensed by a kindly German Frau in her twilight.

Maggie Lou’s physical traits are not lost on Alpha Campbell, who has never seen her filling out a brassiere, looking more like 16 than 11. She has suddenly filled out that space in his mind’s eye reserved for “woman”. What a few more years might do for her maturity? He is smart enough not to scare her off with talk other than friendship. He can only hope that she will be there for him, when he is a doctor and she is not off limits.


 

Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #166


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #154

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #154

…The experience is surreal, almost like he is watching himself from above and does not stop until he is kneeling right in front,..

Surrealistische-olieverf-schilderijen-van-Vladimir-Kush-6

Salvador Dali

“We all are sinners, every one of us, headed for eternal damnation in the furnaces of hell. We are lost souls, with little hope of changing ourselves,” is his recurring theme.

“Hallelujah, Brother!”

“Praise God Almighty!”

These are words from those who already know.

redeemed      “But there is good news, brothers and sisters!” He throws his head back, long gray hair flying, looking up and pointing to the cloudless sky. “Jesus Christ has already died for our sins and he is reigning in heaven, waiting to take his followers up with him. All YOU and YOU and YOU have to do,” he points, “is believe on him and his blessed resurrection and you too can look forward to eternal life.”

John is one of the people he looks in the eye. Does he know my sins? He was speaking right at me.

“You can be a thief, a murderer. Perhaps you have violated your sacred vows of marriage or fathered a child with another woman. There is no use hiding from God. He already knows.”

It is 90 degrees, but John’s sweat is of the cold variety.

“If you do not have a personal relationship with God, I invite you to come forward and receive glory!”

Up until this point, Ferrell had been standing inconspicuously in the back, with no intent on being seen. Seemingly without his will, he makes his way forward. The experience is surreal, almost like he is watching himself from above. He does not stop until he is kneeling right in front, at the feet of a man that would have scared him to death prior to this life-changing day.

He is recognized by many of the gathering, but no matter, John Ferrell has taken that giant step to salvation.


 

Alpha Omega M.D.

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Episode #154


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #153

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #153

… No one listening to this fiery man of God, on that hot June day, really believed that Ezra Elijah is his real name…

Ezra Elijah-001

Back “home” in Leon and Gadsden Counties, Florida, big business is small and bustling city life is not. If Tallahassee were not the capital of its state and it did not have the two universities, the area more closely resembles southern Georgia or Alabama or Mississippi.

San Luis Lake-001 But it is not and that is a good thing, though as 1902 replaces 1901, there is still widespread poverty in the entire South, including Tallahassee, Midway and Quincy.

The Ferrells, John, Martha and Agnes, operate on the fringe of all that is bad, their place in the community tied to the locations of their three groceries. The neighborhoods are representative of the typical Southern mix; from the affluent Capital Hills to black Frenchtown and not much in-between.

At home on San Luis Lake, they are insulated and isolated from the people they serve. Some would say on the fringe of reality as well.

Once upon a time

      John Ferrell has busied himself juggling his two very different worlds, managing to keep them separate, apparently by the infinite grace of God. For a man who can be formerly categorized as a two-timer on both religious and personal fronts, (attending church at Christmas and Easter, in addition to having children by wife Martha and Laura Bell), he has experienced a revival of such proportions that neither his wife or Laura Bell know what to think, though they do not dare turn down the blessing. They can thank a traveling Protestant evangelist named, Ezra Elijah of the American Bible League, barnstorming Florida with news of the redeeming grace of Jesus Christ; grace being a gift from God for those who believe in him.

No one listening to this fiery man of God, on that hot June day, really believed that Ezra Elijah is his real name, but after listening to him speak on heaven and hell, all they can think of is where they will go when they die. Most of the Tallahasseans watching and listening to the figure, on the back of a well-traveled wagon, are there by happenstance, curiosity seekers like John Ferrell. A core of bible toting black women knew of his coming and are escorting and exhorting him along his way, as far as their faithful walk with God will take them.


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #137

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #137

…as far as I am concerned, this is the classic case of good a thing happening to good people…

Tallahassee 12-001

Eleven of the original dozen return to the Niagara Hotel. No, no one gets lost or killed – merely waylaid. It is no surprise that Harv stays behind, to explore the merits of night photography. His pass key may go unused. “Don’t you worry about me,” he tells them. They do not, but it does not prevent the adults from using their imagination.

The carriage ride back to Ferry Street is jam-packed with cross talk, about favorite dishes, the champagne, the President, the Statler Hotel, but mostly Harv and Judith Eastman.

“Some people have a monopoly on luck,” laments Jacques Francoise, feeling like the wallflower at a cotillion; lonely, jealous and unchosen.

“Luck has little to do with it, my boy,” counsels Herbert Love, the benefactor of a successful marriage. “Harv has held out for the very same thirty years that Phoebe and I have been married. He had his chances along the way, but never the right woman. It takes courage not to marry out of loneliness. So, as far as I am concerned, this is the classic case of good a thing happening to good people.”

“The moral of the story is?” asks the other applicable party, Jacob Haley.

“I would say, ‘He who hesitates is not always lost’.”

“It’s more like, ‘Don’t put a fox in an empty henhouse’, jokes Ziggy, whose world is far less complicated, rarely resorting to lofty theory.

He gets an elbow in his ribs for his trouble. “Shush, Siegfried! You can be such a visenheimer.” Frieda would know.

Wisenheimer-001

They are back at the hotel before the poor boys can be humiliated any further, returning to a staff that attends to them in earnest, not contempt. One can only hope that this small piece of attitude adjustment is a highly infectious disease, spreading faster than a million, million mosquitoes carrying yellow fever.


 

Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #137


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A Longer Life – WIF Science

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10 Ways Science Could

Extend Your Lifespan

An inevitable part of life is aging and dying. It’s part of Newton’s second law of thermodynamics, which is that objects have to go from order to disorder. But there are a number of researchers who are trying to break those rules and they are trying to extend life spans for decades, centuries, or even stop aging and death altogether.

10. Elysium Health’s Basis Pill

Leonard Guarente, a leading MIT biologist, with the backing of five Nobel Laureates, launched the start-up company Elysium Health in 2015. Their first pill, Basis, works at a cellular level and it enables the body to produce a natural compound called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), which is an important compound that supports a healthy metabolism. The active ingredient in the blue pill is nicotinamide riboside, which is a substance that helps make NAD in the body.

The tests have shown better health in older mice, but the problem with Basis is that there is no proof that it works in humans. Testing something like longevity in humans could take decades. So with that being said, Basis is available for sale through their website. If you take two gel caps a day, it will cost you $60 a month with a $50 membership.

9. Sirtuin

Humans, like other mammals, have seven types of proteins in their bodies called sirtuins, or sir2, and they are labeled SIRT1 to SIRT7. Researchers aren’t exactly sure what they do, but there is some evidence that they may have a role in preventing chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer. An example of how sirtuins works is Resveratrol, which is the nutrient that is found in grape skins and red wine, and it has been known to help with heart health. It is believed to be beneficial because it may activate the SIRT1 gene, which makes more SIRT1 protein, and that protein helps the heart.

In 2012, Scientists at Bar-Ilan University in Israel published a study about the use of SIRT6 on mice. Their study found that the males lived 16 percent longer than untreated mice. The females didn’t show the same results, and the researchers are unsure why exactly, but one possible reason that they speculated is that male mice have a higher rate of cancer, so the SIRT6 could work as a tumor suppressor, which would have a greater effect on the male population. While a lot of research still needs to be done, researchers are hopeful that SIRT6 or one of the other sirtuins may unlock the key to longevity. Until then, you may just have to drink red wine to activate SIRT1 so you can have a healthier heart.

8. Young Blood

In the 1950s, Clive McCay of Cornell University did an experiment where he stitched together the circulatory system of two mice; an old one and a young one. To his surprise, he found that the cartilage in the older mice appeared to be younger than expected. Then in 2005, a team at Stanford University found that the young blood also helped repair the mice’s livers, skeletal systems, and they could repair muscle faster. What’s interesting is that when older blood was entered into younger mice, it looked like they were aging prematurely. Then in 2012, researchers at Harvard discovered that young blood in old mice meant less of a decline in the condition of their hearts. The conclusion that eventually grew out of this is that young blood has a rejuvenating effect on older mice, and that at least some mammals have some vampiric qualities.

At first, researchers believed that young blood rejuvenated the body because of a protein in the plasma called growth differentiation factor 11 (GDF11), which decreases with age. Researchers believed blood transfusions with high levels of GDF11 may help slow the aging process, and in October of 2014, that theory was put to the test on Alzheimer’s patients and the results showed that GDF11 may not be responsible. While GDF11 hasn’t been eliminated, researchers are still looking into why young blood can affect the bodies of older people.

7. Cellular Compound

akg

Researchers have known for decades that some animals live longer and delay, or completely avoid, age related diseases like diabetes or cardiovascular disease if they eat less because of calorie and/or dietary restrictions. So you may be thinking you can just diet your way into a healthy, long life. The problem is that it has never really been proved that calorie restrictions help primates increase their life span. But researchers at the University of California believe that longevity from calorie restrictions may be a clue to slowing down the aging process. They believe that aging depends on compounds that are produced in cells by metabolic reactions known as metabolites and the molecules may be used to boost lifespan.

To test their theory the researchers used nematode, which are millimeter-long worms that are often used in longevity tests. The first molecule they tried was called alpha-ketoglutarate (alpha-KG). The molecule helps in the metabolic cycle that extracts energy from food. When they added the alpha-KG to the culture dish that housed the worms, the worms lived 70% longer than the control worms and the worms’ deterioration was postponed, just like animals with like calorie restriction.

The researchers point out that just because it worked in worms, it does not mean that it will work in humans, but the results are promising.

6. Telomerase

As we age, the cells in our bodies start to show wear and tear, which can lead to cancer. So the body essentially turns off the old cells to avoid damage. Once they are turned off, one of two things happens: they die off and leave the body through waste, or they stay in the body in a senescent state. The problem is that the senescent cells pump out an odd protein that has a weird effect on surrounding cells and researchers think it is possible that these chemicals can lead to diseases that are age-related.

What may help is gene therapy on the mechanisms that cause cells to go senescent. One of those the central mechanisms is the shortening of telomeres. Telomeres are repetitive DNA sequences that are found on the ends of chromosomes and they act as protective caps. They are compared to caps at the end of shoelaces; it keeps the ends from fraying and sticking together.

When a cell divides, the chromosomes double so that the daughter cells receive equal amounts of DNA. The telomere acts like a protective cap during the replication process, but they are shortened each time the chromosome duplicates. Eventually when there is not enough telomere left, the cell dies or becomes senescent. Researchers at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre have found a way to induce cells to express more telomerase. In their tests, they found that mice that were treated at the age of one lived longer by 24 percent on average, and the mice that were treated at the age of two had their lives extended by 13 percent.

5. AMPK

As we talked about in the last entry, one way we can combat aging is to address cellular debris, which can lead to age-related diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and other neurodegenerative disorders. One solution is simply to clear out the waste and this is exactly whatresearchers at UCLA are trying to accomplish. They have done tests on fruit flies where they activated a gene called AMPK.

AMPK has a role in boosting autophagy, which is a physiological process that cleans the body of waste products. This led to less disease and extended the lives of the fruit flies by 30 percent. If a 75-year-old human were to get a 30 percent extension on life, they would live until the age of 97. That is over 22 additional healthy years of living.

4. Calico LLC

genetics

In 2010, the UT Southwestern Medical Center identified the compound aminopropyl carbazole P7C3. The compound is a neuroprotective agent that improved brain functionality in rats and increased the survival of neurons in mouse models of Parkinson’s disease and ALS. Calico LLC, which was founded by Google in 2013 and is dedicated to longevity research, licensed the technology from Southwestern.

They are developing a drug that is a Nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (NAMPT) enhancer. NAMPT plays a major role in metabolism, mitochondrial integrity and cell survival. If they are successful, their drug could help people not only live longer, but live healthier lives as well.

3. Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence Research Foundation

The Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) Research Foundation’s goal is that they want to rid the world of age-related disease. The Foundation, which is led by biomedical gerontologist Aubrey de Grey, is trying to develop a series of techniques that would not only stop the aging process, but it would also rejuvenate bodies as well. De Grey has identified seven types of molecular and cellular damage caused by essential metabolic processes that happen in the body. His techniques involve a panel of treatments and a lot of them are actually technologies we have talked about in prior entries. The therapies treat many different areas associated with aging and they will also repair any damage that has been done. The seven steps are:

  1. RepleniSENS: Replacing lost cells
  2. OncoSENS: Making cancerous mutations harmless
  3. MitoSENS: Preventing damage from mitochondrial mutations
  4. ApoptoSENS: Removing dysfunctional cells
  5. GlycoSENS: Breaking extracellular crosslinks
  6. AmyloSENS: Removing junk from between cells
  7. LysoSENS: Clearing waste accumulations out of cells

Obviously, this process is complicated and there is still a lot of work to be done, but De Grey believes that the first person who will reach the age of 1,000 is already alive today.

2. Bioprinting

One of the faultiest parts of the human body is our organs. If one of them dies, or something goes wrong, it can kill the whole body. A solution to this problem is bioprinting, which is a technology that uses 3D printers to print new organs, tissue, and bones. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University developed a bioprinting process called Freeform Reversible Embedding of Suspended Hydrogels (FRESH) that will hopefully make this sci-fi technology a reality. Through their process, they are able to print soft material inside a bath of supportive fluid that contains regular everyday gelatin powder. Then layer by layer, they print one gel inside another and these models would be used as “scaffolding” that will allow real tissue and organs to grow between the scaffolding.

Eventually, once we can print organs, tissue, and bone, it would just be a matter of upgrading our bodies on a part by part basis or transferring our consciousness to a better, faster, stronger, and younger body.

1. The 2045 Initiative

Famed futurist Ray Kurzweil believes that by the year 2045, humans and computers will reach singularity, meaning that computers will become more advanced than humankind and we will be able to upload our mind to a computer. It is believed that once we can upload our minds, then we will become immortal. Someone who has taken this idea and wants to bring it to fruition is Russian billionaire media mogul Dmitry Itskov. The main goal of his 2045 Initiative is to build advanced non-biological carriers (androids) that we will be able upload our consciousness to, similar to the movieAvatar. While this sounds like complete science-fiction, Itskov actually has a number of experts on board and even has the blessing of the Dalai Lama.

There are four major milestones that the project is trying to hit. By 2020, they want to have the avatar technology available and in mainstream use. By 2025, they hope to be able to implant a human brain into the avatar. By 2035, they hope to be able to upload a brain into a robot, and Itskov believes that by 2045 we will be a new species because our bodies will be holograms.


 


 

A Longer Life

– WIF Science

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #91

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #91

…As for the groom, the accompanying guilt will haunt him, probably forever, stealing the innocence from the intimacy in his life with Abbey…

Wedding-001

 

On that Saturday, 1 September 1900, the wedding of Abigail Smythwick-Ferrell to James of the same, is set to take place on the veranda of Hillside Estate’s main house, the good Reverend Watkins of the First Church of Christ officiating. At 1:30 P.M. the one hundred chairs, borrowed from the Sunday school rooms, are quickly being filled by the fannies of the Panhandles finest.

Martha has recovered her social graces in time to serve as a fine Mother of the Bride, albeit adoptive. Mother saves the day, seeing that Agnes would have been forced to fill that position, even though daughter appears to have risen out her funk, appearing to recover from the loss of her brother to another. That one act of love by James, an act unsurpassed by none in the realm of male/female relations, has satisfied her unanswered needs; memories that cannot be revoked, even the problematic ones.

As for the groom, he wishes upon wish that he could erase his memory. The accompanying guilt will haunt him, probably forever, stealing the innocence from the intimacy in his life with Abbey. He can only hope that the confession of his sin before God will bring forgiveness; their only chance at the perfect life offered by our heavenly Father.

He really is not nervous or apprehensive, merely remorseful. There is a promising life ahead for him, given a probable career in law and a beautiful wife to boot. There is no need to be blue, like the sky, which is high, with thickening clouds, with the closeness of oppressive dew points, clinging to the air and everything it surrounds. The animals retreat to inactivity on days such as this, leaving humans as the only creatures dumb enough to risk dehydration and heat stroke.

But, luck can be credited for the number of doctors in attendance, enough to staff the clinic Mayo. The waiters and waitresses are instructed to encourage guests with pitchers filled with water and bobbing chunks of Love ice.


 

Alpha Omega M.D.

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Episode #91


 

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