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Hot Water

It finally happened yesterday. All that caffeine has caught up to me. In response to recent conduction abnormalities in my heart causing an irregular heart rate indicative of a high sympathetic drive, my physician advised me to cut back on caffeine. Way back. I told her it would have been easier to ask me to give up air and water, but that only seemed to confirm her suspicions that caffeine was somehow involved.

The day before it happened, "it" being the morning I had to lay down in the shower to relieve the wave of dizziness and nausea, and then leave class later that morning for the same reason, the day before all that, I enjoyed two homemade latte's in a single day. I shall remember that day fondly, for I do not think there will soon be another like it.

"You may get headaches if you quit cold turkey," she told me, "I had to cut back slowly to avoid getting headaches. If you can't function, drink enough coffee to keep the headaches away." She didn't tell me in words I had to give up caffeine, but following what she said to its logical conclusion, that's the expectation.

In the last year, there have been maybe three or four coffee-free days, horrible days. In the next year, there will be many more. I'm already sad, and I haven't even had the first headache yet. It's like losing your best friend.

As I sit here studying (the worst time to give up caffeine, I might add) for block exams on Monday and Tuesday, resisting both tea and coffee, I keep wondering how hot water will ever taste good again.

And don't even mention the "D" word to me.

:: Bryan Travis :: 11/18/2006 @ 12:57 :: [link] ::

Flea Circus

Oh, our kitten! In addition to ear mites and roundworms, you may also add fleas to the list of parasites our young Zoe hosts. Well, of course she has fleas -- what kind of delusional world were we caught up in, anyway? Fleas seemed absent when we first brought her home, but alas, I must not have been looking, because she has them now.

I also hasten to mention that these aren't your run of the mill fleas. They're Terminator fleas, impervious to multiple insectides. Poor Zoe and Mr. Mist have been soaked weekly with a tetrachlorvinphos flea and tick spray, in addition to a combination tetrachlorvinphos/methoprene flea and tick collar. Most recently, they received etofenprox and methoprene drops squeezed onto the nape of the neck, which then wicks across the entire skin and coat.

Poor Zoe has scratched her neck to the point of breaking the skin in several places. I cannot bear to subject the poor cats to another chemical. Let's review the onslaught so far:

  • Tetrachlorvinphos: an organophosphate insecticide, it only kills adult fleas
  • S-Methoprene: a hormonal insect growth inhibitor, it prevents eggs and larva from developing into adults
  • Etofenprox: a new class of insecticide, supposedly less toxic to animals, containing only carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, which only kills adult fleas

Last night I saw a flea crawling around in young Zoe's whiskers. Ah, the moment I had been waiting for to conduct an experiment to observe the effects of extreme vacuum and pressure on a flea!

I snatched the tiny terminator from her face, and dropped it into a 40cc syringe. I evacuated the syringe to contain less than 1cc of air, plugged the aperture, and pulled the plunger back past 40cc. At this point, the flea was experiencing less than 2% of normal atmospheric pressure! I held plunger for 2 or 3 minutes, by which time the flea had long since ceased to hop around. But when I let air back into the syringe, the flea started hopping around again within 30 seconds. Curses!

Next, I compressed 40cc of air into 8cc, exposing the flea to 5 times normal atmospheric pressure! Again, the bastard stopped hopping around, but as soon as I released the pressure, the flea resumed jumping!

Expose a human to those kind of extremes, and our blood would boil in the vacuum, giving us the worst case of the bends ever! Every orifice would hemorrhage, our eyes would pop out and rupture, our lungs fill with frothy blood. Or, to spare us the agony, our bodies would probably explode. Five atmospheres of pressure is equivalent to diving about 160 feet beneath the ocean surface, which isn't lethal, but experiencing such pressure without gradually adapting would burst our eardrums and crush body cavities.

As the ultimate and final test, I soaked a small piece of tissue with tetrachlorvinphos flea spray and dropped it into the syringe with the flea, and sealed the aperture. The flea spray claimed to kill fleas within 10-15 minutes. After an hour of exposure to the insecticide inside a sealed syringe, the flea was no longer hopping around, but it was still able to crawl about feebly, still alive. I flushed the little monster down the toilet -- let it try its luck surviving raw sewage. I'm sure it's doggedly working to establish a thriving subterranean flea community.

Undoubtedly, a flea infestation gone undetected for 2 months means there are flea eggs and pupae strewn about our house, lurking in the carpet and pet bedding, producing a steady supply of fleas to re-infest the cats, perhaps making them seem more invincible than they truly are. They're impervious to everything we throw at them, except being severed in half between our fingernails, a hopelessly futile way to exterminate all of them. I must admit, though, I respect those fleas. No wonder we can't get rid of them!

:: Bryan Travis :: 11/13/2006 @ 18:19 :: [link] ::

Voting for Kentucky Judges

There's a website providing objective information about Kentucky judicial candidates on the November 2006 ballot that I heard about on the location public radio station. Kentucky has a record 150+ judicial elections this year, and there's a real paucity of information about the candidates. Many are the times I've left a ballot box blank for a judicial or city council election because I haven't been familiar with the candidates. Campaign commercials, of course, are ugly and useless information sources, and they most they ever do is motivate me to vote against a candidate.

The website was compiled as a class project for the University of Kentucky's American Judicial Process class, PS 463. I think it is a needed educational tool that provides a valuable civic service, and I encourage Kentucky voters to use it.

The website is http://kyjudges2006.wikispaces.com/

Happy voting.

:: Bryan Travis :: 11/05/2006 @ 18:29 :: [link] ::


We recently busted someone who tried to fill a fraudulent prescription for Lortab. This was the first time I've been involved from start to finish in a fraud case. I won't describe the mistakes these crooks made, because I don't want a reputation as the blogging pharmacy student who divulges pharmacy's tricks of the trade for identifying fraudulent prescriptions for the benefit of inquisitive potential drug abusers, but suffice it to say, these people were rank amateurs. They did everything wrong, and it was a textbook case on identifying and thwarting prescription fraud. These were the kind of crooks who will get caught and arrested long before they successfully forge a script, if that's any indication how dumb they were.

I said I wouldn't describe the mistakes they made, which I won't, except for one exception to illustrate just how dumb these people were. The suspect had withdrawal shakes when presenting to the pharmacy. Yes, that's how bad they were, and they were only getting started. I guess they didn't realize pharmacists are trained to recognize the therapeutic effects, adverse reactions, and withdrawal symptoms of drugs, or they were too deep in the grips of withdrawal, and too desperate, to notice or to care.

Pharmacy may not always be fun, but it's never boring, that's for sure.

:: Bryan Travis :: 11/05/2006 @ 18:08 :: [link] ::