Now hiring: biology artist

My company is looking for a biology artist, i.e. an artist with excellent technical knowledge of cell structure and functions. If you are interested, please post a comment to this blog and I will give you my e-mail address.

Job listing:

Ideal candidate:  Microbiology or Molecular Biology graduate student with art skills.

Company:            ProselemUSA, a dba of VitaBioTech LLC

Address:              PO BOX 1052, Springville, Utah 84663

Position:              Biology artist and consultant. Independent contractor.

Hours:                 Flexible. Work from home, a few hours per project.

Pay:                    Depends on experience.

Qualifications:      Demonstrated knowledge of cell biology, structure, functions. Demonstrated ability to draw diagrams explaining cell functions. Familiarity with a set of software for drawing technical art, such as Adobe Illustrator, is a plus.

Duties:                Draw  simplified diagrams of highly magnified cells, showing certain cell functions. Diagrams will be used as part of marketing materials and need to be visually attractive, physiologically correct and easy for non-biologists to understand. Example of diagrams you will need to draw:

– what oxidative stress does to a cell or a group of cells

– how antioxidants work within a cell to fight oxidative stress

– a cluster of healthy human cells, with membranes, in a subject who eats healthy fats

– a cluster of healthy human cells, with membranes,  in a subject who eats hydrogenated oils

How to apply:

Send me a private message on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/watson.catherine) or write to me through the contact form on our website and I will give you my e-mail address, so that you may e-mail me the following:

– a few sentences explaining why you would be interested in this position

– list the experience, skills, projects, classes taken, etc. that qualify you for this position

– attach a resumé

– attach a sample biology diagram that you created

http://www.proselemusa.com/

Advertisements

Hike to Cascade Mountain, Utah (10,908 ft) from the West face

According to Mr. Wasatch, this is “one of the toughest, least visited peaks in the Wasatch” with “only two possible routes, both long and difficult”.

There is no trail on the West face approach of Cascade Mountain that we took. Good thing we had a guide, Randall! He once rescued a hiker stranded on the edge of a 200 foot precipice on this mountain, during a snowstorm. If you go without a guide, bring extra water because you will probably have to backtrack for several hours after you find yourself at the top of one of the many impassible cliffs of the area. If you don’t know this mountain, that is almost a certainty.

There are several ways to get to Cascade Mountain. From Provo, Utah, we drove North on University Avenue into Provo Canyon, turned right on Squaw Peak Road, drove 2.1 miles past the entrance of the Hope Campground and parked.

Part 1: bushwacking in a rainforest-like area. Wear long pants!

Randall marks the bushes with marking tape, to help us find our way down.

Part 2: climbing East up a mile-long chute filled with scree. Better have good shoes and good joints!

Part 3: go north across a forest. Lots of leg-scratching bushes! Wear long pants! Then head east up towards the top again through a forest of aspens. See more pics on my Facebook.

Part 4: We rest and enjoy the view to the West: Utah County! The big green peak on the right is Squaw Peak. Left of it, the back of Y Mountain. So green! Keep climbing another 30 minutes to the top ridge, between the two summits.

South Peak of Cascade Mountain, Utah

North Peak of Cascade Mountain, Utah

My favorite hydration backpack: the very innovative Geigerrig RIG 1600, built with the toughest ballistic nylon you can dream of. Their slogan: you don’t have to suck.

Randall.

We went without a GPS, so I do not have any coordinates to give you. See more pics of this Cascade Mountain hike, including an overall view of Cascade Mountain from Utah County, on my Facebook page.

Hiking Cascade Mountain is very intense. Overall, the round trip took us 7 hours (including 2 hours spent admiring the scenery). From the parking spot to the top of the mountain was between 2 and 3 miles: two hours uphill at an average of 50% grade, sometimes reaching 70%. Coming down was INSANE, especially in the scree!

CONCLUSION: very strenuous. Only the very physically fit, with excellent muscular and cardiovascular endurance capabilities, should undertake this hike. I would not recommend bringing children under age 12 on this hike unless they are accustomed to extremely difficult terrain. The three main difficulties of this hike are: 1. you’re either bushwacking or stepping on very loose rocks. The loose rocks require you to expand additional energy to fight gravity. 2. Very steep incline  3. No marked trail. These factors also make this a very fun hike if you are fit and well equipped.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

1. About half of this hike takes place inside a West-facing scree-filled chute. Whatever you do, AVOID finding yourself in that chute when temperatures are high and the sun is shining from the West (e.g. summer afternoons). In that chute, rock surrounds you from three directions and amplifies the heat felt from the sun. We walked up the chute at about 7 am and back down around 1 pm on a cool spring day. If hiking Cascade Mountain in the summer, be sure to leave the summit before 10 am to be out of the chute by noon.

2. There is no water on the West face of Cascade Mountain. Bring all the water you need, plus extra water you will need when you get lost (quite a possibility if you don’t have a guide! )

3. Wear hiking BOOTS, not just hiking shoes. The steep downhill return trip is murder on the toes! Good boots allow you to hold back the top of your feet and help prevent “jammed toes”. I learned this the hard way…  I prefer light-weight shoes but for my next steep downhill hike on loose terrain, I will wear these lovely Keen boots.

4. Only bring superfit people on this hike or they (and you) will be miserable. See remarks above about steepness and very loose terrain.

5. On the way down, you will be tempted to come straight down from the North Peak (and end up at the edge of an impassible cliff). Instead, you should come straight down for the first 15-30 minutes, then hang a sharp left towards the south, cross the bushy forest and end up in the scree chute. Later, you will see the cliffs you barely avoided on your right … (I really need to get a GPS so I can give you more precise directions!)

6. When we went, on June 9, 2012, we experienced strong wind in some areas. Be sure to pack a windbreaker jacket even during warm weather. Obviously, bring more layers for colder days.

7. I ended up using my hands a lot while scrambling up and down the scree. I wish I’d worn gloves.

8. When to go? This is a West-facing hike. Avoid being there in the afternoon of a hot day! I recommend going at the break of dawn and being back down by lunch. Alternatively, you could make it an overnighter and come back early the next morning, but be sure to bring all the water you will need. There is no water on that mountain! Seasons-wise, Spring has the advantage of cool temperature and the possibility of snow on the summit. So beautiful!

9. If you go, please let me know how it went! Even better, write a trip report on http://www.summitpost.org/ and send me a link!

After a good night sleep, I can’t wait to climb another peak, preferably one without a trail. I would love your recommendations!

Links of articles about Utah Cascade Mountain:

– Cascade Mountain via the same scree chute we took, except these guys got lost a few times and took a very convoluted route. Great read!

– Cascade Mountain via South Ridge by SummitPost member Mr. Wasatch.

– Cascade Mountain via  South Peak of Cascade Via Big Springs and South Ridge by SummitPost member Vanman798.

– Cascade Mountain via Dry Fork by SummitPost member Aprovance.

Grr Couloir (aka White Cascade Couloir) of Cascade Mountain by SummitPost member Rock-Ice.

– Cascade Mountain via the trail under Freedom Peak.

– Cascade Mountain via Bunnel’s Fork, Dry Fork and Dry Fork again.

– Another excellent report of Cascade Mountain via Dry Fork.

– Cascade Mountain by ski! Not many route details but gorgeous photos!

– A photo of Cascade Mountain viewed from Orem, Utah.

– A photo of the Canyons of Utah County, viewed from the valley floor. Cascade Mountain is visible, though not labeled.

– A small database of mountains in Utah County, with elevation.

– Another list of Utah County mountains, peaks and summits.

If you know of any other useful articles on Cascade Mountain, please let me know! I will gladly add its link to this list!

The Durbin Amendment misses the mark

Tags

, , , , , ,

Consumer and health freedom advocacy groups hail the defeat of the Durbin Amendment as a victory for dietary supplement users.

While failing to effectively improve dietary supplement safety, the Durbin Amendment would have threatened consumer access to dietary supplements. It would have significantly increased the paperwork burden on manufacturers, requiring them to file numerous documents with FDA for each product sold or modified. On May 24, 2012, the US Senate rejected the Durbin Amendment by a vote of 77 to 20.

Senator Orrin Hatch and Senator Tom Harkin argued convincingly against the Durbin amendment, as reported by the National Product Insider:

With his time at the podium, Hatch argued it would be a case of overregulation. He said instead of urging FDA to use its existing authority—all recent agency commissioners have said DSHEA (the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994) provides ample authority to FDA—Durbin’s amendment serves to punish all responsible companies with its overreaching mandates. He added the amendment would pile more work on an underfunded agency struggling to keep its head above water with it core responsibilities. “It took over 10 years to get GMPs (good manufacturing practices) completed by FDA,” he said. “Now adding other regulations to this industry is just plain not right.” He urged fellow Senators to vote against this amendment.

Harkin also had the floor for a few minutes and noted under DSHEA manufacturers already are required to list all their ingredients on the label; when a product is reformulated, the label must be changed to reflect this. “We added this to DSHEA for consumer protection,” he said, noting Durbin is a consumer protection champion. He further added dietary supplement companies already have to register biennially (every two years), under the recently passed Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Also, there is a voluntary program for supplement companies to submit their labeling to the NIH’s Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS).

Durbin brought up the topics of unsubstantiated and illegal disease claims made for supplements, as well as adulteration. There are already regulations in place for claims and adulteration (see GMPs, noted by Hatch in his arguments). Registration of basic information has nothing to do with adulteration and claims. Hatch actually rebutted the assertions with a reminder FDA has to approve health claims for supplements, and most supplements are limited to use of structure-function claims, which also are overseen by FDA.

With the final debate minutes, Durbin reiterated his earlier criticism that dietary supplements aren’t tested. In fact, GMPs are filled with testing requirements.

In the May 23, 2012 US Senate Session, Senator Durbin centered his arguments in favor of the Amendment on the need to better regulate energy drinks.

Currently, energy drinks manufacturers enjoy ample flexibility in deciding whether to market their product as a food or as a dietary supplement. See this excellent explanation.

To support his amendment, Sen. Durbin argued that:

  • Most energy drinks avoid FDA oversight by marketing their products as dietary supplements.
  • His amendment was meant to curb the prevalence of drinks and foods.  masquerading as dietary supplements as a means of avoiding regulation by the FDA.
  • His amendment would have required FDA to establish a clear definition of which products are foods and should be regulated as such and which products are meant to be regulated as dietary supplements.

Unfortunately for Senator Durbin, his amendment would have failed to effectively address the energy drinks problem, when you consider the following logic sequence:

  1. Sen. Durbin wants mandatory registration of dietary supplements
  2. Sen. Durbin wants energy drinks to be better regulated
  3. No clear definition exists of whether energy drinks should be regulated as foods or as dietary supplements.  Foods are more strictly regulated than dietary supplements. Many energy drink manufacturers choose to market energy drinks as dietary supplements to avoid stricter food regulation.
  4. Sen. Durbin wants FDA to clarify whether energy drinks should be regulated as foods or dietary supplements.
  5. Sen. Durbin seems to favor regulation of energy drinks as foods. In that case, energy drinks would escape the mandatory dietary supplements registration requirement.
  6. This would render mandatory dietary supplements registration useless in the fight to regulate energy drinks.

Absent evidence to the contrary, we must conclude that Senator Durbin’s amendment would have fallen short of his declared goal of better regulating energy drinks.

Overall, the Durbin Amendment would have been ineffective and problematic and, while failing to increase safety, may have rendered dietary supplements less accessible to the public. Senators Hatch and Harkin, once again, protected the freedom of dietary supplement users.

I would love your opinion on this. Please comment below. I will publish all well-written responses and/or questions, even if they disagree with my opinion.

Orrin Hatch: our man to stop tax hikes, balance the budget, cut the debt!

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

Orrin Hatch, a commanding presence

As a dietary supplement regulation attorney, I have had the opportunity to observe Senator Orrin Hatch at work. Although he ultimately proved to be approachable and considerate, Orrin Hatch greatly impressed – and still impresses – me by his commanding presence.  When he speaks, everyone in the room listens. His most captivating feature, however, is his tremendous level of energy. Sharp as a tack and quick-witted, he can launch a verbal uppercut before his opponent knows it’s coming. At the same time, he is one of the most focused persons I have ever met.  Tough, and tough to match. Yes, I do admire Orrin Hatch, the man. But I like what he has done even more.

Orrin Hatch has protected Americans’ freedom to choose and use dietary supplements

In 1994, Orrin Hatch authored and passed the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). This legislation curbed the FDA’s authority on dietary supplements and provided a balanced approach conciliating safety and affordability. Without DSHEA, dietary supplements might have required the same costly and time-consuming process of pre-approval as drugs. By fighting for DSHEA, Orrin Hatch preserved the American public’s ability and freedom to choose and use dietary supplements.

Orrin Hatch has fought, time and time again, to ensure that the 150 million Americans who use dietary supplements continue to have access to safe and affordable products. Recent action by the FDA, however, shows that the fight is not over. As a passionate natural health proponent, dietary supplement user and advocate for the dietary supplement industry, I understand the importance of Orrin Hatch’s continued work to ensure Americans’ access to dietary supplements. No other candidate has the experience, vision and know-how required to continue this important mission.

A solid conservative record

Senator Hatch has a solid conservative record.

A third of the US government is the judiciary. Orrin Hatch has done more for getting the right people on the federal bench than any other senator.

If Senator Orrin Hatch is reelected, he will chair the Senate Finance Committee. This would be a nightmare for Liberals. Oddly, other “Republicans” have been aiding Liberals by attacking Hatch in an expertly orchestrated, heavily financed and misleading campaign.  These faux-republicans pick apart about 80 of Orrin Hatch’s votes and, through a mixture of lies and misrepresentations, draw false but attention-grabbing conclusions about the Senator’s record. Unfortunately for them, Orrin Hatch’s record comprises more than 12,000 votes! Drawing conclusions from 80 of the 12,000 votes about the Senator’s overall record is not exactly a badge of reliability. Add to that the outright lies and you know you are dealing with a sleazy organization.

The genitor of this propaganda claims to be a “grass-roots organization committed to lower taxes and less government and to support the work of small government conservatives.”  You may know someone who has been contaminated by this propaganda. Truth is the best antidote. Get it here: http://realhatchrecord.com/

The Senate Finance Committee: key to the federal budget

The anti-Hatch propaganda has been deployed with tremendous violence, permeating all Google and Twitter searches. Many voters even received the misleading materials directly. The motivation of this faux-republican movement becomes clear when you consider the power, money and responsibility at stake:  the Senate Finance Committee oversees more than 50% of the federal budget.

It is precisely because the Senate Finance Committee is key to the federal budget that its Chairman should be a tough and experienced conservative. Orrin Hatch is simply the best candidate for the job, and the most trustworthy! You know he won’t waver when it comes to the agenda to stop tax hikes, balance the budget, cut the debt and repeal Obamacare.

True Republicans will vote Hatch, because he fights to lower taxes, balance the budget, reduce the deficit and repeal Obamacare. If you approve this agenda, support Orrin Hatch!

Catherine

PS: Stay tuned for a post with highlights of Orrin Hatch’s colossal work.

SWISS MERINGUE RECIPE

Tags

, , , , , ,

WARNING: HIGHLY ADDICTING!!! Once you taste this raw batter, you will want to lick every last bit of it. The finished meringues are just as addicting. Might as well plan on it! Consider yourself warned!

One recipe feeds one unreasonable man or woman. I recommend tripling the recipe so that you’ll have enough to share with loved ones (or enemies….)

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

4 large egg whites

1 cup fine granulated sugar (I just run regular sugar in the blender or a sifter)

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions: Heat oven to 250° F. Add salt and cream of tartar to egg whites. Beat with an electric beater at high speed until the whites are stiff enough to hold their shape. Beat in the sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, at low speed. Beat the whites until they stand in very stiff peaks and are shiny and moist. This is very important for making successful meringues.

Place a layer of ungreased foil on a cookie sheet. Using a spoon or pastry bag, place dollops of meringue batter on the prepared cookie sheet.  Place in a 250°F oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn off heat and cool in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Don’t even bother storing them in a tin box. Just turn on some music and enjoy!!!

How to eat chocolate. Lesson 2: “Degrees of Deliciousness”

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

What if I don’t have an artisan chocolatier nearby, you ask? What if I live in the Wild West??  Not to worry, certain industrial chocolates are actually quite delectable. Chocolate is one of the products one can bring into the US with full blessings from US Customs. I take full advantage of this privilege by filling one of my suitcases with chocolate whenever I return from Europe. Here is a picture of some of the “tablettes de chocolat” I brought back two weeks ago:

In the interest of science, I will be conducting double-blind taste tests on myself to determine the exact degree of deliciousness of each one of these tablettes. I can’t wait to compare the different brands of 85% cocoa chocolates. Also, I want to study the effects of increasing the cocoa concentration on the human psyche (chocolate is, after all, a psychoactive substance!!) Did you notice the different concentrations of cocoa available in the Lindt Excellence Chocolat Noir?

70%: Noir Intense

85%: Noir Puissant

90%: Noir Prodigieux… goodness gracious! Could it possibly get more intense?

99%: Noir Absolu!!! Can you handle it?

Dear Goyavier blog reader, I need your help to make an important decision. In my taste tests, should I start with the 70% and work my way up to 99% or vice versa? Let me know what I should do!

Meanwhile, I bet you’d like to see a close-up. Here you go:

I have great news for you! The Lindt Excellence Noir collection is available in the US! Woohoo! For example, the 85% tablette is marketed in the US under the name “Lindt Excellence 85% Cocoa Bar“.

The essence of Lesson 2 is thus: “It is possible to find high quality chocolate in US grocery stores. Choose chocolate from reputable chocolatiers such as Lindt and then verify the ingredient list!” In Lesson 3, we will cover the delicate subject of ingredients in chocolate.

If you missed “How to eat chocolate: lesson 1”, catch it here.

(And no, the chocolate lineup above is not a photoshop gig. Yes, I lined them up on my table and lovingly photographed them.)

How to eat chocolate: lesson 1

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

Chocolate loves me. Really. When I eat it, it does wonderful things to my body and my mind. Of course, my definition of chocolate is somewhat narrow. You can scratch anything made by Hershey’s. Ditto with industrial candy bars. In fact, most American industrial chocolate is insipid, overly sweet and waxy feeling. Sure, it can give the untrained palate a quick thrill but why settle for a quick thrill when real chocolate can take you on an incomparable intergalactic journey?

What is real chocolate? The legal definition of chocolate varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Luckily, governmental regulation of chocolate is beyond the scope of this post. As long as labeling laws require all* the ingredients to be listed, we, as consumers, are perfectly capable of using our gray cells and taste buds to determine what deserves the appellation of chocolate and what does not.

Whether dark or milk, industrial or artisanal, good chocolate must have certain characteristics: it must be smooth and have the right “mouthfeel”, be sweet enough but not too sweet, be firm but not too hard. Its flavor must be complex. In short, the key to good chocolate is … balance. Such balance requires high quality ingredients, proper techniques and savoir-faire on the part of the chocolate maker.

My favorite chocolates are typically the creations of artisan chocolatiers. One of my favorite rituals in Paris is to go on a chocolatier tour… I start with Patrick Roger on Boulevard St Germain and work my way down towards Rue Bonaparte and Rue d’Assas where other wonderful chocolatiers have set up shop. Afterwards, I cross the Seine and wander around the Rue St Honoré and Faubourg St Honoré. In each chocolatier shop, I taste an assortment of basic and fancy chocolate squares, both to enjoy and to compare. I take notes of my overall impression of each chocolate as well as its characteristics. More importantly, I slowly savor and enjoy each square.

.

The essence of lesson 1: Eating chocolate should be a joyful, consciousness-raising experience. If you’re going to eat chocolate, make sure it is good chocolate and enjoy it!

Footnote: *The definition of “all” in this context could be the subject of a different post, as could the subject of evil lobbying by certain chocolate manufacturers associations to legalize the use of hydrogenated oils and other cheap, inferior substitutes for delicious cocoa fat, in chocolate. I will likely write about these subjects in a later post.

Boy invents Solar Power Harvesting and Optimization System

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

A 13-year old boy may hold the key to propagating the use of efficient solar power collection systems to millions of households on the planet. Typical solar panels are bulky, cumbersome and generally only efficient at collecting sunlight when solar position and meteorological conditions are ideal. These and other limiting factors of typical solar panels make them an impractical choice for many potential users.

Aidan Dwyer, a 13-year old boy from New York, discovered the key to optimizing the efficiency of solar power collection panels by observing patterns in the arrangement of branches and leaves in nature. Curious about the spiral pattern he observed in the implantation of branches in deciduous trees, Aidan wondered “whether there is a secret formula in tree design and whether the purpose of the spiral pattern is to collect sunlight better.” In his quest to understand nature’s design, Aidan assembled the pieces of the solar energy efficiency puzzle. He explored the mathematical spiral pattern in the branch implantation of different species of trees and discovered that this pattern could be expressed in fractions involving the numbers of the Fibonacci sequence! Aidan’s investigation led him to “copy the pattern of branches and leaves with solar panels” and compare different patterns.  Aidan explains: “I designed and built my own test model, copying the Fibonacci pattern of an oak tree. I studied my results with the compass tool and figured out the branch angles.”  Aidan concluded that “the Fibonacci pattern in trees makes an evolutionary difference. This is probably why the Fibonacci pattern is found in deciduous trees living in higher latitudes. The Fibonacci pattern gives plants like the oak tree a competitive edge while collecting sunlight when the Sun moves through the sky.”

Aidan experimented with different designs and built prototypes of nature-inspired “solar panel trees”. “The tree design takes up less room than flat-panel arrays and works in spots that don’t have a full southern view. It collects more sunlight in winter. Shade and bad weather like snow don’t hurt it because the panels are not flat. It even looks nicer because it looks like a tree. A design like this may work better in urban areas where space and direct sunlight can be hard to find.”

I predict that Aidan’s invention will figure prominently in the future landscape of solar energy collection around the world. Read Aidan’s own research report here. See also Treehugger’s excellent article and video interview of Aidan here and another excellent article here, by Wakeup World.

Source: amnh.org via Catherine on Pinterest

Build your own solar gadgets!!

Tags

, , , , ,

I’ve long repressed my inner mad scientist. After protracted negotiations, we have agreed to some conditional freedom, but only every other weekend and under strict supervision. I am compiling a list of projects to tackle (mwa ha ha ha!!!!) soon. First on my list: build something solar-powered!!! After scouring instructables.com and lifehacker.com, I finally chose instructions from … Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories.

.

Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories walks you through the steps required to build a simple solar circuit, adding a supercapacitor or a rechargeable battery to store and provide energy during short solar interruptions, adding a darkness detector, and even adding a microcontroller if you are ambitious…  You can use your newly acquired skills to ” make our microcontroller-driven, dark-detecting, solar-powered programmable pumpkin” which fades its eyes in and out one at a time. Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories even tells you where to buy the solar panel for $3! I know what I’ll be doing this weekend…

Liquid keyboard! Cool R&D from the University of Technology, Sydney.

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

In response to the frustration of many users over Ipad touchscreen keyboard issues, two Australian inventors presented their “Liquid Keyboard” upgrade for the Ipad at Tech 23, held earlier this year in Sydney, Australia. Liquidkeyboard.org thus summarizes the chief touchscreen keyboard complaint: “Virtual keyboards do not allow touch-typing as firstly placing 10 fingers on the screen would activate keys accidentally and secondly one cannot feel the keys.” Solution: “The LiquidKeyboard™ enables users to know exactly where keys are positioned on the keyboard as these keys are always at the same position relatively to the current finger position on the screen. Therefore one does not have to look at the keyboard in order know where keys are located.” Rather than goobledigook you with the technical explanation, I invite you to watch the demo video at liquidkeyboard.org! Thank you John Calistro for alerting me about this on your tech blog! (The image below is a dummy. To see the video, go to liquidkeyboard.org.)

Interestingly, this is invention was born as part of a research project at the Universisty of Technology, Sydney. Liquidkeyboard.org is looking for research and business partners. Contact info is on their website. Definitely a mastermind to watch!