I’ve been pretty quiet on here lately. In fact, I’ve missed having the time to write posts. A number of things have kept me away. However the most important to me is that I’ve misplaced my “stitch science idea” notebook. This may seem trivial but it has thrown me , I had sketches and scraps etc organised into it with future ideas for the blog. Today the mission is to get a new notebook or up-cycle an old one and get back to it.
My other craft adventures haven’t stopped though and I realised I haven’t updated on several of the pieces that I had been working on.
Firstly I finished the pooh bear cross-stitch sampler for my baby cousin months ago. It was a piece that I really enjoyed working on and I’m glad that my cousin likes it. It goes with the tigger piece I gave her for her daughter for christmas last year.
Another thing I have been doing is a wedding samplers. A number of the ladies in work have gotten married and as I am pretty cash strapped I decided that the best thing I could do was stitch them samplers. They were meant to be small but me been me I went a bit mad on them.
Also , the ladies at crafthill recently put up a post showing how to make fabric baubles. I absolutely loved this post and the idea behind it so I had to give it a go , with moderately successful results.
This is the post : http://crafthill.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/patchwork-balls-by-little-laurie/
This is how my attempt turned out:
I’m going to make a few of these as presents for people , also I’m going to stitch the ribbon that holds the bauble a bit better, seam it, to make look a bit better.
Also I wanted to post an update of the beauty and the beast piece I’ve been working on.
This is how it looked at the very beginning
This is how it looks currently
It hasn’t come on as quickly as I would like. I didn’t manage to stick to my square a day promise but I am working on it as often as I can.
And that is what I’ve been up to outside of science etc!
Just because it’s golden does not mean that it is good.
MRSA is possibly the god father of all the super bugs. If bacteria wrote comics MRSA would be the ultimate superman. So what makes it so super?
Let’s start with a little bit of background on Staph. aureus itself before we talk Methicillin resistant Staph. aureus. S. aureus is a gram positive coccus that are generally arranged in grape like clusters, as seen in the image below.
When grown on blood agar they can have a distinct golden-yellow colour (hence the opening line and name of the post).
In terms of infections , Staph. aureus can cause a huge range from boils to scalded skin syndrome, endocarditis (inflammation of the inner layer of the heart , known as the endocardium) and many others. I decided I wouldn’t traumatize you with pictures this time…note the this time…if you want to see them google them. They are not pretty. Me been the nerd I am I find them moderately fascinating but again that goes with the territory of micro itself.
Sources of infection for Staph. aureus are varied. It can be acquired through contact with infected lesions, namely direct contact. Also it is important to note that ~30% of the population are carriers of Staph. aureus (a percentage of which will of course be MRSA). It can grow harmlessly in the nose without causing infection , it can spread from this site through people touching their noses with their hands to clothes and other surfaces. Animals are also carries of S. aureus, so it can be acquired through contact with carrier animals.
So what is it about MRSA then?
Is it because it’s more virulent than other Staph. Aureus strains? Nope, not necessarily. A lot of people mix up resistance and virulence. Virulence is something different, it is the degree of pathogenicity a bacterium has , classified by its ability to invade host tissues or to cause fatalities. Virulence factors contribute to virulence eg invasion and adherence. In my opinion natural resistance can be classed as a virulence factor. It contributes to the virulence of the bacteria but it is only one of many things to do so.
What makes MRSA a super bug is it’s resistance levels. MRSA has made its bread and butter from acquiring resistance genes from other sources and selecting for them. Basically if it has a friend with an apple and it only as an orange. MRSA is capable of convincing the friend to share the apple so that is has both an apple and an orange. MRSA is massively resistance to anbiotics from the penicillin (eg methicillin and oxacillin) family and the cephalosporins. It’s resistance to Methicillin is down to the mecA gene, which encodes for a unique penicillin binding protein that prevents certain antibiotics working.
Why is this bad , well firstly it been multi-drug resistant makes it very, very difficult to treat. This is problematic because it can cause such a wide range of infections , we are limited in what we can use to treat those infections. Also continued exposure to drugs that do work will over time lead to resistance to those drugs too. We are forced to treat , knowing that we are potentially shooting our future selves in the foot. How, I hear you ask , we can just make more antibiotics…alas things are not that simple.
Firstly a new antibiotic can take years to develop (generally it is 15- 20 years before a drug is fit for release to the public). Secondly, a lot of pharmaceutical companies shy away from antibiotics because there is less money in them then say tablets for hyper-tension. You will never have to take antibiotics everyday for the rest of your life, tablets for hyper-tension you may well have too, which leads to more profit.
So what can we do to reduce levels of MRSA?
How to prevent spread:
Hand washing/sanitation is probably the most simple, particularly if you work in hospitals, homes , prisons or anywhere where there is a large volume of ppl in close contact. Changing gloves and washing hands between patients can reduce transmission substantially. Also using a hand sanitizer is important, particularly when entering care facilities and leaving them, mainly because the bacteria can survive on surfaces.
Surface disinfection, MRSA like most bacteria has the ability to survive on surfaces and fabrics.
Also for the love of all things micro people I beg you firstly not to get antibiotics unnecessarily (they don’t do anything to viruses folks, so taking them for a cold is really pointless). Also is you are put on antibiotics FINISH THE COURSE EVEN WHEN YOU FEEL BETTER. (Yes that needs to be shouted because so many people don’t).
Why is finishing the course important because unless you finish the course you won’t kill all the bacteria , the ones left will have a higher change of developing resistance. Basically by not finishing antibiotic courses you are potentially creating further super bugs. If you don’t kill them all , the ones left have become a little bit stronger and more resistant to the antibiotic and can share that strength with subsequent generations. It’s a nasty cycle. (I will probably write a giant post on this at some point in the future).
Well known people who have (unfortunately) experienced MRSA:
The NBA basket-ball player Grant Hill. (Now actively involved in prevention campaigns)
The late Michael Jackson.
I made this little piece from polymer clay. Quick simple and effective. I haven’t used caly since I was a child so it was nice to find that I could still have manage to make something.
Winter is coming may be the catch phrase of the Stark family but in micro it can be used to refer to something very different…our dear and faithful friend the norovirus, or as it is commonly known, the winter vomiting bug.
So what is the winter vomiting bug? It’s a virus, a single stranded RNA one to be precise. A member of the Caliciviridae family and the bane of winter. Though I have seen out breaks in Summer just as commonly as Winter. Symptoms of infection with the virus include copious amounts of vomiting (think the exorcist) and diarrhoea, along with fever, chills, muscle aches and pains, tiredness, abdominal pain and generally a wish that someone would but you out of your misery. (You can tell this is the voice of experience.) Symptoms can last anywhere between 48 – 60 hr and during that time you may as well set up a tent in your bathroom because you won’t be leaving it.
Transmission is interesting , there are a number of routes. Firstly person to person contact is the most common (also known as direct transmission) , which is why a bit of enforced quarantine is not a bad idea. Try to stay away from others if you have it, it is a god awful thing to give someone. Then there is contact with surface that an infected individual has been in contact with (indirect transmission)…like the bathroom…and all the surfaces in the bathroom. Disinfectant is your friends here, bleach down the toilet after every use, wiping the toilet handle and the door handles down with a disinfectant known to be effective against the norovirus. Copious amounts of hand washing is also a wonderful thing. I can not stress this enough. Also change the bed-clothes post infection , and any dressings gowns etc that you were wearing and throw them all into the washing machine. Make sure an infected individual uses their own cup , plate etc (the virus can survive for ~ 12hrs on surfaces, so you don’t want to be sharing cups here). We also steam the house down…but we are probably excessively paranoid.
So what to do if you catch our lovely little friend here. Hydration is key, I can not stress how important it is to try to keep hydrated. Personally I have survived several rounds of this virus in the past few years on boiled 7 up. Diaoralyte is also generally recommended but I absolutely hate that stuff. Trying to stay comfortable and warm is also important. The infection is self-limiting so symptoms do pass once its finished invading your intestine. Risk groups for serious infection of course do exist , the very young , the elderly and the immunocompromised will suffer much more dramatically then you average healthy 30 yr old. The main risk is the previously mentioned dehydration. For most people normal life resumes a few days later , tummy may be a bit delicate but that’s about it.
Post any bout of gastro-enteritis it is probably not the worse idea to drink/take a pro-biotic to try to rebalance the micro-flora of the tummy. Post infection there can be massive imbalances which can lead to other problems, such as over-growth of certain species, which may lead to further discomfort. Some people do go on to develop IBS after infection so it is worth trying to take care of the tummy for a little while.
Fun (not really) norovirus facts:
It’s a Norwalk virus.
Infection rates are up…by lots, last time I checked infection rates were up by over 50%
Upwards of 3000 cases were reported in Britain this year
It can be the bane of the seven seas too (do we all remember the Royal Caribbean plague ship story?)
I sadly couldn’t find a list of famous people who had been infected, though I did try .
I simply crocheted the body in the round and stuffed. The green felt balls are an attempt to represent the viral capsid (in reality this would be much denser then my loose interpretation). They were simply needle felted together and then needle felted onto the body , as were the eyes and mouth. (To be honest I debated leaving the eyes and mouth off but decided to go for it).
This is part of a series that I’m hoping to do on a variety of pathogens (such as the super bugs and other commonly encountered little friends).
I will speak plainly. I love this town from its shiny new sky line to its harbor. Where to begin, well the beginning is probably best. I should warn you, when I travel I am like a small child in a toy shop…I love all the new and the shiny… as such this post may ramble extensively…
It went well. I was too jet-lagged to suffer from nerves and my jazz hands approach to my presentation actually went down a storm. Who knew that being blatantly honest and been moderately humourous would get one such a kind reception . Met a whole lot of people who I needed to meet and hopefully I’ve even managed to make a few new connections. There was certainly an expression of interest in myself and my project, which is always nice. So hopefully it is onwards and upwards from here.
My birthday was the 23rd, it was my 27th. Himself had flown out the night before and bless him we had a lovely day. Started with a nice breakfast in one of the many pike place eateries. Cooking style is a bit different to what I’m use to (for example the french toast is more sweet than savoury) but it was still good.
We wandered around the market for quite sometime , its hugely eclectic. There is literally so much to see that it is hard to take it all in. At this point I got my birthday present. A soft toy version of a chinchilla (I kid you not). We could not believe that such a thing existed. I love it.
Post the market we wandered down to the harbour via the wall of gum…or eww gross as I refered to it. Seriously that has to be the biggest sample collection of dental bacteria I’ve ever seen. While I appreciate that it is apparently very cool , I admit that the micro in me quietly screamed as we took our photos. Still it was funny watching people trying to stick their own pieces to the wall without touching any other gum with their hands, kudos to those who got creative.
Next stop was the aquarium (Yes I like to learn on my birthdays..I am that kind of nerd). Now we have an aquarium at home (sorry bray) but really it has nothing on this place. We must have spent a good two hours wandering around. Favourite exhibit, the sea otters, they are hilarious. Seriously, I suspect that they know that they are most people s favourite. From toy stealing, to grooming , to general messing, this crowd of trouble makers did it all. If you are ever there you need to go and visit them.
We also went on a harbour cruise, which leant itself to seeing just how spectacular the surrounding views are. Also found a whole load of seals having a nap who very kindly barked back when the people on the boat barked.
Post cruise it was back up to the hotel and a very nice dinner before we both passed out with knackeredness.
This is a city where you can walk to pretty much everything if you stay in the right place. Our hotel, Hotel Max, was amazing. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Nice room , great staff and worth what you pay, it is exactly what you want (Trust me I am a hotel nazi, I don’t stay anywhere manky..ever..blame the micro). It’s very arty but not in an overly pretentious way that adds to the appeal.
So what did we do, we did all the cheesy tourist stuff and then a bit more. We do things in a set kind of way , on a day off a day, mainly to make sure that we don’t spend all off our time off zooming around trying to see stuff. We pick what we want to do and then we go and do it. After the aquarium and the harbour cruise we also managed to see a lot of pike place, the needle, the science museum,chihuly gardens, the olde curiosity shop and the harbor apart from that we wandered. It seems to be a very safe city to wander in. We had no trouble anywhere.
The space needle made me a bit uneasy. I’m not the worlds biggest fan of heights but it was worth the trip up.
Chihuly gardens, what can I say about this other than it was breath-taking to see such craft with glass. (I became a bit obsessed with it, we all know I have a bauble problem but due to fear of break-age I didn’t pick any up). This to me is a must see if you are in the area. It is beautiful. All the pieces are hand blown, you can see yourself that it is gorgeous.
The science museum. I will own up , we went to this place for one reason alone…butterflies! I’ve never been to a butterfly house before so it was a good opportunity. Again great fun, we went in with a gaggle of kids and it was nice to share their enthusiasm for them.
We spent a lot of time wandering around pike place and pioneer square. Pike is a bit like Camden. We did of course do the mandatory Starbucks photo. I did not realise that Starbucks had been around since 1912! I don’t know why but I had it in my head that it was maybe 20 yrs old.
The crumpet shop is well worth a visit, it’s yummy as are the many bakeries. I may want to be buried with giant pumpkin cookies.
There is a lot of contrast in the city though, for example you have a lot of homeless people . The contrast between the poverty and the wealth was sometimes a difficult to bear. I think my heart broke most evenings as I watched people who would have been around my grandparents age try to find someplace to settle down for the night. It’s hard to put into words the feelings that this very large group of individuals awoke in me, families sleeping on the street and still they strived to be happy and kind. I probably gave away as much of my spending money as I spent but that’s my choice. I don’t think a “soft” heart is a bad thing, I can only hope that I at least got a few people some food and maybe some shelter. I had it to give, which in itself is something to be grateful for.
Hello my lovelies,
I have returned. This is just a very, very brief post to say that I am back and that hopefully over the next few days I will get a chance to post my adventures in Seattle as well as my usual quirky crafty life.
In brief , conference went well, birthday was awesome , jet lag is icky, house is still buildery and I am currently covered in paint…because applying the base coat to a room is just what you do on easter after a long haul flight…right?
There will be many pictures, some even include the ver elusive owly (my avatar) and numerous stories once I get the chance.
Much love folks
There are variations of this rule but the one that I grew up with was the ten second rule. Namely that so long has whatever bit of food you had dropped hadn’t been on the floor for more than ten seconds you could eat it and it was fine. This is of course a myth. After one second it is covered in whatever microbes were on the floor. Microbes can’t count , they will not count to ten before invading the food
More depends on the food type than I would have originally thought. I just presumed that all food that has landed on the floor has been hit but some foods seem to be more resilient then others, due to the presence of preservatives etc. This makes the rule more interesting from my micro point of view. I automatically want to start food dropping experiments with different time-points, food types, and surfaces.
There are two sides to this argument that need to be considered, while it’s clear that eating food that has been on the floor means you are eating food that has been contaminated is it necessarily as bad for us as we think? Whether we like it our not it is probably a good way to expose our immune systems to things they may not normally encounter otherwise, thus strengthening it without always making us ill. Now, let me be clear, I’m not saying we should go around licking floors but I don’t think it’s the worst thing in the world. It also of course depends on the floor that the food has landed on, lab floor , hospital floor, bathroom floor are clearly not floors that one is going to dine off but what about your own kitchen or living room floor. How many of us have dropped a stray chip onto the floor or couch and then popped it into our mouths without even thinking twice about it?
Also in fairness we are never eating germ free, food is coated in microbes whether it has hit the floor or not. It comes into contact with them from cutlery, plates, the containers, preparation, the main thing to understand is whether or not the levels of microbes present are sufficient to cause human illness.If the levels aren’t sufficient than it is less of a concern. Personally, I stopped the ten second rule years ago but I’m pretty sure I’ve had the occasional slip without even realising it. As the song goes ”what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.
A very quick piece , whipped up in an hour. Stitching is split stitch or back stitch , the cookie is felt and simpley glued to the fabric.
Feeling the love today. Recently the charming http://thebeautifulcraft.wordpress.com/ nominated me for a versatile blogger award. Firstly I want to say thank you kindly for the nomination. I always feel privileged when another blogger likes my work.
The rules of the nomination are as follows.
If you have been nominated, nominate fellow bloggers that you love and who are relatively new to blogging. Let them know that you have nominated them. Share 7 random facts about yourself. Thank the blogger who has nominated you. Then add the Versatile Blogger Award picture to your post
So lets start with the random facts
1) I only read “To kill a mockingbird” for the first time this week and wish that I had read it so much sooner.
2 )My favourite bag is a green leather handbag with applique birds on it. I got it in Avoca about a hundred years ago and will most likely be buried with it.
3) My favourite book is “The great Gatsby”. I am dying for the movie.
4) I’ve wanted to be a scientist since I was 4. Specifically worked out that I wanted to be a microbiologist at 16.
5) I am a gamer, with several wow characters and a very large pile of ps3 games, as well as ds etc.
6) I was an extra in the Tudors.
7) I am a tea addict. I have a pressful of all different types of tea. Sometimes I just smell the leaves (Yes I have a problem). My favourite is a good earl grey.
And those I would like to nominate:
1) Love long and prosper
2) Wendy McNeal
3) En Vrac
5) Tales from a teapot
6) The whole knit and caboodle
7) The power of stories