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October 31, 2007

JunkandCrap Goes to the Hospital


So, on Sunday morning while making breakfast I managed to cut my finger. Specifically the left pointer. And pretty deeply. Deeply enough to make me want to hurl the chunk of bread I was trying to cut across the room in a fit of rage. Fucking BREAD! Anyway, at first I didn't think it was so bad, so I bandaged it up and went and did some things for a couple hours.

Back home, I had another look it the gash. It didn't look too bad, but it was bigger and deeper than I had thought. After a debate about seeking medical attention with my house mates, me being strangely on the con side (probably because I knew a trip to the emerge would eat the entire day), I took the short walk to St. Michaels Hospital, downtown T.O., to seek stitching.

So, what's a downtown Toronto emergency room like on a Sunday evening after a Halloween party weekend? Fairly - kind of reassuringly - mundane. No big emergencies; no gunshots or stabbings, crazies or DOA's. At least not that I saw. So after around 4 hours of my head buried in "Slave Species of God" by Michael Tellinger (hey, why not something fantastical , improbable and yet possible while sitting congregated with the sick and wounded after losing a battle with a loaf of rye?), I and two others were ushered into private examination rooms where I waited some more.

After some time (10 minutes or so) a medical student came in named Sacha who had a look at my finger and told me maybe stitches, maybe not, the Doctor'll be here in a minute and tell me what to do. Apparently there's a time limit on getting stitches of around 6-8 hours. I was at 9 hours. Luckily the rule isn't hard and fast so the Doc gave the go ahead for some needlework.

Alright! Let me say here that this would be the first time I'd had stitches. Yes, I managed to grow up in northern Alberta, live in the subarctic, work with my hands my entire life and travel numerous ways and countless times across the country without ever requiring stitches (I played little organized sports however, which may be a key factor). So I was really looking forward to it. I felt kinda pumped, like I was having a required human experience which would elevate my consciousness. You know?

So Sacha, the med student (I hoped not a psych major, but he never really clarified) came in and prepped the wound for stitching. First cleaning, then freezing. That was really the most painful part to date; the needle for the local anesthetic. But by most painful, I mean in an unpainful, relativistic way. All in all a pain free experience, including the initial laceration.

I've never been squeemish about blood or needles, having gone through a childhood full of allergy shots and occasional hospitilizations, and getting stitched was no different. It was odd feeling the tugging of the needle and thread, but Sacha was steady and thankfully seemed to be staying away from the booze at the frat house.

After 20 minutes and 5 stitches, the doctor came back in, had a look and proclaimed everything hunky dory. I was then fitted with an expert dressing (which managed to pop right off later at home when I removed my sweater, but hey...) by two lovely ladies of mercy, who were devastated to hear that I did make my living (or at least part of it) with my hands and sincerely hoped and believed I would overcome this obstacle.

And so, after 5 hours I walked out of St. Mike's proudly brandishing my finger with it's dildo-sized dressing as testament of my elevated status as a human being, confident of my full and complete recovery.

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October 29, 2007

So, Whats Fukin New?

Seriously:
The FKN NEWZ is brilliant. Check out the video.

There's a bit about nuclear weapons testing in the atmosphere, which got me to thinking about nuclear weapons testing in general.
I came across the Nuclear Weapon Archive website, and the Gallery of Nuclear Tests page, in which the disastrous public health effects are shown to be well known.
What is probably the most important study of the health effects of testing were announced by the National Cancer Institute in August of 1997
he basic finding of the report is that internal exposures to radioiodine (I-131) in fallout from continental nucelar testing was the most serious health consequence. Radioiodine concentrates in milk when consumed by cows when grazing, and then concentrates in human thyroid glands when contaminated milk is ingested. This concentration effect is especially strong in children. The NCI study estimates that the average American alive at the time received a thyroid radiation exposure of 2 rads, with some people receiving up to 300 rads. The effect of these exposures is to boost the chance of contracting thyroid cancer some time during a lifetime. This cancer is normally not very rare, and is highly treatable (as cancers go). It is possible to estimate the overall effect of the total radiation exposure of the American population. From the 380 million person-rads of total exposure roughly 120,000 extra cases of thyroid cancer can be expected to develop, resulting in some 6,000 deaths. For comparison, the worst industrial disaster in history (Bhopal, India; 3 December 1984) killed about 3000 people and injured 150,000.

Predictably, the study was stalled and hidden for years before it's release.

But I really wanted to know what the effects of nuclear explosions have on the atmosphere or stratosphere. I found this report made by the (currently completely ignored) US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency in 1975. Some interesting facts:
A number of other surprises were encountered during 30 years of nuclearweapons development. For example, what was probably man's most extensive modification of the global environment to date occurred in September 1962,when a nuclear device was detonated 250 miles above Johnson Island. The1.4-megaton burst produced an artificial belt of charged particles trapped in the earth's magnetic field. Though 98 percent of these particles were removed by natural processes after the first year, traces could be detected 6 or 7 years later. A number of satellites in low earth orbit at the time of the burst suffered severe electronic damage resulting in malfunctions and early failure. It became obvious that man now had the power to make long term changes in his near-space environment.

The Earth's magnetic field is fairly important, it shields us from solar radiation that, if the earth were exposed to it, would make all life impossible. Earth would eventually look like Mars.
Probably the most serious threat is cesium-137, a gamma emitter with an half-life of 30 years. It is a major source of radiation in nuclear fallout, and since it parallels potassium chemistry, it is readily taken into the blood of animals and men and may be incorporated into tissue.
Sweet. No need for those costly mineral supplements anymore.

But seriously, when we hear discussions on global warming, nuclear testing is never brought up. But clearly it has had a devastating effect on the earth's ecosystem. With the US alone having conducted at least 1100 nuclear tests between 1945 and '92, with who knows how many officially uncounted, globally there must have been thousands of explosions, both on the ground and in the atmosphere.

Just for an exclamation point:
...the possibility of a serious increase in ultraviolet radiation has been added to widespread radioactive fallout as a fearsome consequence of the large-scale use of nuclear weapons.