Sunday, December 26, 2010

Flash Mob for Janet Jackson - University Village, Seattle, WA

This makes, what, my third flash mob? (Second one.)

I was there.  Where you were you?

I guess Janet wasn't getting as much attention, as Michael has been.

Thanks for watching,

Dr. Alex

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Disney Princesses Never Get Old

No matter if you think of them as Fallen Princesses, or Princess Zombies (#2) the classical Disney Princesses are never out of style.  Now think of this mash up:


 You'd get:


Darth Jasmine, Darth Belle, and Darth Ariel.

Darth Snow White

Thanks ~JosephB222 for making such awesome art work!

And thanks for reading,

Dr. Alex

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Life's over looked joys

Quick excerpt from The Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha:

"The other side of the pillow;
bakery air;
when socks from the dryer match up perfectly;
finding your keys after looking forever;
the friendly nod between strangers out doing the same thing;
celebrating your pet's birthday even though they have no idea what's going on;
when you hear someone's smile over the phone."

Check out more Awesomeness at 1000 Awesome Things.

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Alex

Sunday, October 24, 2010

"He felt his moustache grip tightly to his face."

What sort of a moustache man are you?  

Moustache Guide

Fellow Brothers at The University of Pittsburgh Delta Chi chapter have embarked on a journey to raise funds for the fight against prostate cancer.  How so?

By growing a "Mo," slang for moustache.  Each year the month of November + "Mo" come together for Movember.

With each Movember, the call goes out to all men to change their appearance and the face of men's health by growing a moustache. Instead of a pink ribbon, the moustache is the means that men everywhere will raise awareness and funds for cancers that affect men. 

While I love running races to support causes, this Movember's commitment is to grow a moustache for 30 days. Funds raised by all will benefit the Prostate Cancer Foundation and LIVESTRONG

In order to rally the troops, a fellow brotherwrote a short story detailing the crisis of prostate cancer and why it is our destiny as Delta Chis to fight it. No, really:

William Jennings Bryan stood in the airlock as the room depressurized.  Long had he fought for the causes espoused in the 10 Basic Expectationsbut he had never thought it would lead to this. Traveling to a foreign planet; traveling to a foreign planet, all in the name of Monroe Marsh Sweetland.  He calmly removed his space helmet as the depressurization sequence ended, and turned the safety of his ray gun off.

As he cautiously stepped into the broken hallway of the space cruiser he’d boarded, he remembered his final meeting with Sweetland. His brother; no, his father, one of the men who had founded his great fraternity, laid dying. Dying of the menace which was now challenging the fraternity, and perhaps the universe itself.

“Monroe,” Bryan had said, “what has done this to you? What terrible force is destroying our expectations, our oath, the fraternity?”

“Oh, William” Sweetland had replied, with a ghastly cough, “it is far worse than you could imagine. Soon this menace will have broken past our great brotherhood and destroy all of man itself. Only we could stop it- and here I am, succumbing to it just the same!” 

William Jennings Bryan paused, looking deeply into his dear friend’s eyes.

“William, today I charge thee. Only you can save our fraternity, and our world. You must gather brothers such as yourself, and travel far to
defeat the menace torturing the galaxy. You shall call yourselves…” 

A pause, as Sweetland’s eyes became foggy with the approach of the final, lasting sleep.

“William… You shall call yourselves… the Order of the White Carnation.”

With a last gasp, Sweetland was no more. William Jennings Bryan, clutching his hand, had bowed his head in prayer.  

“Brother… Father… I shall gather a great guild of warriors, and we shall found the Order of the White Carnation. And we shall destroy this Prostate Cancer, which has taken your life; and we will banish it to theends of the universe. And they shall know us by our moustaches."

Bryan stepped forward, moustache billowing slowly from the artificial breeze in the spaceship’s corridors. His ray gun warmly pulsed. He had followed the Mother Prostate here, to the farthest reaches of the galaxy. His hope was that the beast was somewhere within the cramped ship, and here, deep in space, he would destroy the disease that had killed his friend once and for all.

He took a step forward; something from deep within the interior of the ship stirred loudly. A grim smile played itself against his face as he quickened its pace. The knowledge that the power to end an affliction that had shattered the brotherhood was within his grasp made him smile. He had always been 2nd place; 2nd best presidential candidate, three times, 2nd best lawyer at the Scopes Monkey Trial, and at best the 2nd most fun at any party, as a staunch prohibitionist. Perhaps this time he would be first. William Jennings Bryan; first man to shoot Prostate Cancer with a ray gun. He liked the sound of it.

His radio crackled.

“BRYAN! Come in Bryan!”

“What is it, Kutcher? Can’t you see I’m busy?”  

“Bryan, just wanted to give you word that the Mother Prostate Cancer is within 100 yards. Best be on your guard. Over.”

“Roger that, Kutcher. Over and out.”

Ashton Kutcher was sort of the communications officer of the Order of the White Carnation, and he took his job seriously. Bryan only hoped that the foul beast, a football field away, hadn’t heard the radio crackle.

Thunderous crashes rang through the air. Bryan lifted the ray gun to his shoulder. The beast was close- close, and moving fast…


A scream eminated to Bryan’s left. He ran toward it- surely, it couldn’t be a member of the Order? They were more than up to the match against the beast, weren’t they?

As he approached, he saw his worst fears. The beast was near, and dangerous; it had taken out his First Lieutenant, Sean Salisbury.

Salisbury twitched a little; muscle spasms from the torment he’d just endured. The scene was bloody, covering the immediate 10 feet or so with entrails, fecal matter, and the digested contents of Salisbury’s lunch. Bryan thought he could see some bites of apple in the mess. Most distressing, the beast had apparently torn off Salisbury’s moustachefearful and resentful of the symbol of power contained within.

He readied his ray gun and turned around quickly, immediately rememberingthat the Mother Prostate Cancer was nearby, and apparently angered. He walked slowly, carefully, and warily down the corridor. The lights blinked menacingly, but mercifully stayed lit.

The noise came suddenly, and from straight behind him. He spun around hastily, seeing the enlarged, evil prostate charging at him through the air, using tentacles apparently grown for transportation to swing through the spaceship. 20 feet away… 15...

“PH‘NGLUI MGLW‘NAFH CTHULHU R‘LYEH WGAH‘NAGL FHTAGN!!!!!!” shouted the angered, menacing prostate gland. 

Jennings stood poised. He felt his moustache grip tightly to his face. He raised the gun, and pulled the trigger with a determined glare at the enemy- the one who had killed his friend, and probably also told everyone about evolution. I mean, c’mon, look at it.

WILL JENNINGS SUCCEED? That depends; did you raise enough money to pay for his ray beam?

Choose your look:

In The Bond,

Dr. Alex

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sometimes it takes an act of congress...

For those of you who don't know it, I LOVE mail! Not e-mail, but real, touch it, feel it, smell it, rip it open mail. It can come in the form of a letter, a postcard, a small rectangular package, a stack of magazines, a random shaped package, or even an odd shaped triangular box (thank you FedEx.)

Look at it! It's there in your hand. Now back to me. Now back to the mail.  Notice the red circles of ink over the stamp?  See the small creases that make your envelope slightly imperfect?  Think about it: Someone hand- stamped and carried your mail in their truck or satual along it's journey to get to you.  Your mail has truly been enriched both by the sender and by it's honest stewards.  No matter how far it has traveled, it's still a wonder to behold.

Letter people have mailed to me!

So, it really did take an act of Congress and the workings of Benjamin Franklin to make the US Postal Service what it is today. Starting it's life cycle in 1775 after a decree by the Second Continental Congress and transforming into The Post Office Department in 1792 (a United States Cabinet position), and then resembling to what we know today in 1983 after the passage of the Postal Reorganization Act.

It's the LARGEST operator of civilian fleet vehicles in the WORLD! How else do you expect the mail to cover all across America and reach every square mile of the US?  Plus, what other company has a museum devoted to it?

Yesterday, I received a great letter from my mom:

Letter from my mom. 

She sent me an article from Army Times about how the Army has banned Vibram Five Finger toe shoes from PT tests "over worries they might give some soldiers an unfair advantage." I love these shoes and run most of my 5K races in them.  The article goes on to describe "What to tell you commander" about these styles of shoes and why they should be cleared for PT tests.  What I like best about this article is that my mom wrote me a note on it!

I have this habit as well! Many of my friends and family have received a cutout or random gift with my scribbles on it.  I think it's the best way to communicate that you are thinking of someone and that you love them.  Hence when my mom writes: "Hi son, you came to mind when I read this article.  Since you participate in running events."  She really means: "Love you. Mom."

Goodies to be send out soon!

E-mail has nothing on mail mail. :-)

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Alex

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

5 Lessons

Upon rediscovering Jess' blog, (Mis)Adventures for Two, her post on Sept 11th touched me and made me think about all those coincidences of people giving of themselves to help others.  Whether, it be for our jobs or for those that we love - we can all learn a lot from each other.

Years ago, my mom sent me an e-mail forward of 5 simple life lessons that touch us all in one way or another: 

1 – First Important Lesson – The Cleaning Lady.
During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions until I read the last one:

          “What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?”

Surely this was some kind of joke.  I had seen the cleaning woman several times.  She was tall, dark-haired and in 50’s, but how would I know her name?  I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank.  Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade.  “Absolutely,” said the professor.  “In your careers, you will meet many people.  All are significant.  They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say “hello.”

I’ve never forgotten that lesson.  I also learned her name was Dorothy.

2 – Second Important Lesson – Pickup in the Rain.

One night, at 11:30 p.m., an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway, trying to endure a lashing rainstorm.  Her car had broken down, and she desperately needed a ride.  She decided to flag down the next car.  A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960’s.  The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxicab.

She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him.  Seven days went by, and a knock came on the man’s door.  To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home!!  A special note was attached…

It Read:
“Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night.  The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits!  Then you came along.  Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband’s bedside just before he passed away…  God Bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others.” 
Mrs. Nat King Cole.

3 – Third Lesson – Always Remember Those Who Serve.

In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table.  A waitress put a glass of water in front of him.  “How much is an ice cream sundae?” he asked.  “Fifty cents,” replied the waitress.  

The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it.  “Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?” he inquired.  By now much people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient.  

“Thirty-five cents,” she brusquely replied.  The little boy again counted his coins.  “I’ll have the plain ice cream,” he said.

The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away.  The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left.  When the waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table.  There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies.

You see, he couldn’t have the sundae because he had to have enough left to leave her a tip.

4 – Fourth Important Lesson. – The Obstacle in Our Path.

In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway.  Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock.  Some of the King’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it.  Many loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.  

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables.  Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road.  After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded.  After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been.  

The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway.  The peasant learned what many never understand!

Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.

5 – Fifth Important lesson – Giving When it Counts.

Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare and serious disease.  Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness.  

The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister.  I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, “Yes I’ll do it, if it will save her.”  As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks.  Then his face grew pale and his smile faded.  

He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away?”  Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.

“Work like you don’t need the money,
Love like you’ve never been hurt,
and dance like you do when nobody’s watching.”

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Alex

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Protecting Public Health with a Clean Power Supply

September 12th is the start of a 5 day meeting in Montreal, Canada for the World Energy Congress.  It's expected that 3,500 global leader in the energy field will meet to discuss trends and growth on forms of renewable energy.  Currently, the US if far behind the game with only 4% of our energy coming from "alternative sources" as a percentage of total power capacity.  Countries such as the UK (8.4%), Brazil (9.8%), and Spain (30.1%!) trounce the US in their ability to adopt and encourage forms of renewable energy throughout their countries.  

There is hope, however!  The Sierra Club is making big strides across the nation and rallying many universities student groups into becoming a changing force called "Coal Crushers."  Cornell University's student group helped bring about a $80 million project to switch from coal fired energy to using bio-fuels, natural gas, and recycled steam energy for their campus' electricity.

A similar push to transition off of coal to renewable and less polluting sources of energy is mounting here in the state of Washington.  Interestingly, while Washington generates only a measly 6.3% of it's potential 56,000 gigawatt-hours from wind, it ranks at the top of the Forbes list! With this growing movement there will be big changes ahead for how we power our lives.

You've Got a Friend in Pennsylvania

The Pacific Northwest likes to think of itself as clean, green, and progressive with its hard stance on recycling, composting, and encouraging bicycling to work.  Being from Pennsylvania, which one of the commonwealth's nicknames is the “the coal state,” I was a little skeptical about the blanket idea of "evergreen" all across Washington state.  Here in Washington, it's true that you can freely bathed in the beauty of the mountain vistas, but Washington still has strong roots to an old and becoming outdated industry of coal fired plants for electricity.
The Sierra Club calls its movement to eliminate coal fired plants here in Washington, the Beyond Coal champaign.   But what is it exactly about coal that makes it so dirty?

Washington’s only coal plant, located in Centralia is owned by a Canadian corporation named Trans Alta, and is Washington state’s largest point source of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and mercury pollutants.

The global warming pollution emitted annually by TransAlta is equivalent to the annual emissions of 1.8 million cars. Shutting down the TransAlta plant, "would be like taking every car and truck off the road in King County, plus every car and truck in Yakima County, Lincoln County, Columbia County, and Garfield County."

Climate change affects the fundamental requirements for health, clean air, safe drinking water, and sufficient food. Transitioning Washington off coal would significantly reduce the state’s carbon footprint.

The family of nitrogen oxide compounds are known to decrease lung functionality and worsen respiratory diseases in children, such as in children with asthma. The NOx compounds released from TransAlta also contribute to the haze that destroys the clear and beautiful views of Mount Rainer, the Olympics and the North Cascades.

TransAlta emits more than 350 pounds of mercury a year. That's enough mercury to contaminate 3.1 million acres of lake, the equivalent of 145 Lake Washingtons!  Exposure to high levels of mercury can permanently damage the brain, kidneys, and developing fetus. Mercury is a devastating neurotoxicant that may result in depression, developmental delays, and mental retardation.

If these facts weren’t mobilizing enough, the toxicity of TransAlta continues. Annually, TransAlta releases 2.3 million tons of toxics coal ash. This post combustion waste contains a significant array of toxic chemicals, including arsenic, chromium, and lead. Arsenic and chromium are known human carcinogens. Children exposed to lead at a young age are more likely to suffer from learning disabilities and behavioral problems.  Lead exposure has also been linked to kidney damage and miscarriage.

The good news is Washington often leads the nation on the environment changes and provides a model for the rest of the nation to follow suit. The state's outdated use of coal should be no exception. Washington can become the first coal free state - showing the rest of the nation that that it is possible to accept and prosper with cleaner and healthier sources of energy.

Now is the time to take action!  Governor Chris Gregoire is currently negotiating the future of the TransAlta coal plant. October 1 will be a statewide day of action, urging Governor Gregoire to take a stand against dirty and dangerous coal burning techniques and to spreading awareness of the hazards of coal here in Washington.

Fired up? Want to take action? Contact Cara Dolan, the public health organizer for the Coal-Free Washington campaign, and she’ll tell you how you can get involved and help build a coal-free future.

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Alex

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Lessons From the Front Line

My June 21st - June 29th, 2010 trip to Petionville Country Club - Tent City, Haiti

The groups who sponsored me to work in Haiti

The International Medical Assistance Team (IMAT) was started by a Snohomish County Fire District 1 paramedic and has continued to send teams down to Haiti. IMAT is continuing to build and grow its network of doctors, nurses and paramedics.

J/P HRO was "founded by actor and humanitarian Sean Penn and philanthropist Diana Jenkins, who has since moved on to other philanthropic efforts, J/P HRO began its work just hours after the earthquake hit."  To date, J/P HRO took over the management of over 50,000 refugees. There have been more than 100,000 pounds of medical supplies given out since January 12th 2010.

More importantly to me, the camp has a DMAT Category 3 Hospital that is designed to treat all medical illnesses and injuries in the camp.  Those cases that are dimmed critical are transported to local area hospitals. On average, during out week long trip, our team treated more than 120 people each day. We also had delivery of newborn babies!

CDC map of malaria in South America
Remember your anti-malaria medicines! I prefer Malarone for my international trips.

Our medical team for the week!
The J/P HRO Hospital where we worked our magic.

We're open for business.

Triage is up and running ~ 120 people per day are seen.

Abscesses to be drained.
The week I was in Haiti, we had a dentist!

His work station.

Here come the babies!
Thanks Mike and Jason!

Yes, we could do x-rays!

Just have the patient lay down on the cot and off we go...

.... to reset that arm and cast it up.

Yes, we had UN protection around the camp. Colorful too!

Triage is all cleared by the end of the day!

And here's what the rest of Tent City looked like:

Goats are every where and forage where they can.
Selling dinner from their homes.
Stop in at the Cyber Cafe!

Or stop in at the Beauty Studio.

If you want to get rich quick, then go ahead and play the lottery.

School is in session.

This is how we lived:

Out kitchen with three bucket cleaning system.

One HUGE tent with several small tents. We still had water leakage problems.

My "home" for the week.

All the extra space I had!

We had showers, b/c water runs down hill.

Filtered water system that the CDC encourages through a complicated mechanism

Yes, we were at a county club and we had a pool.  Sadly, no water.  Actually, this was our pharmacy.

Eating well, by eating MREs!

Thanks to our translators for French and Creole.

Relaxing after one very long week!

Both J/P HRO and IMAT are looking for: 
•Volunteers – medical and non medial positions
•Funds for care of specific patients
•Funds for on going community projects

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Alex