Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Book Review: What if?

And so it begins, the first book of the new series. To be fair, this isn't a cover to cover read. It's more of a coffee table/toilet kind of book. So, I'm giving my impressions from having flipped through it and reading random parts over the last week. It's written by the author of the popular xkcd webcomic, Randall Munroe. What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions is perfect for any inquisitive person you know and all nerds will love it. I received a copy at one of those Christmas party gift exchanges this year, and I must say it's one of the best gifts I've ever had from that genre of gift giving. Let's just say, it's the MythBusters equivalence of science applied to hypothetical questions.


All of the questions tackled are from online readers that were sent in Dear Abby style. He's answered tons of questions like this on his blog, but he's curated the most interesting together in one place. Munroe use to work for NASA and has had a fascination with math and science since he was a kid. The combination of intellect, science, and humor land in the sweet spot of highly entertaining reading. I can't decide if my favorite part is the absurdity of some of the questions, the truly thoughtful answer to said absurd questions, or the cheesy drawings that illustrate the answers. Either way, it's a very interesting read and I highly recommend it. Below are some of my favorite questions so far:

Q:How many Lego bricks would it take to build a bridge capable of carrying traffic from London to New York? A: The answer is explained in great detail over about 6 pages, utilizing 9 different illustrations.

Q: What if everyone in Great Britain went to one of the coasts and started paddling? Could they move the island at all? A: No.

Q: What would happen if everyone on Earth stood as close to each other as they could and jumped, everyone landing on the ground at the same instant? A: Nothing, but Munroe then goes on for a few pages expounding on the chaos that would come from everyone on earth being gathered in such a small space.

A few other questions that are worth highlighting:
  • What if I took a swim in a spent nuclear fuel pool?
  • Could you build a jetpack using downward-firing machine guns?
  • What if a Richter 15 earthquake hit NYC?
  • What would happen if someone's DNA vanished?

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

New Series

Hey everybody, I just wanted to give a heads up that I'm going to start a new series soon. I'll start putting up some reviews of books that I've read recently. Nothing too fancy, but just a chance to share some interesting things I've been learning.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Update on Nora

Recently, Carolyn wrote a summary of some of the issues Nora has been facing the last few weeks (here). This morning, I wanted to summarize some of what's gone down since then. On Wednesday, it was back to the Dr. because she'd thrown up a couple more times. Her pediatrician was concerned that there might be come kidney issues due to her swollen cheeks and high blood pressure. We went to the ER that afternoon and once again, they said nothing as wrong. The ER doc said he'd be "very surprised" if anything was wrong and that it was probably another virus. He told Carolyn & myself we should just go home, but "we can do the blood test if you want to." We told him something more was wrong and an hour later he came back saying she was very anemic.

We then had a pediatrician come in and tell us that he thinks she has Hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS). Basically, she got a strain of E. coli, which then lead to HUS. The toxins from the bacterial infection in her intestines cause her red blood cells to be attacked, which then causes her kidneys to not be able to function properly. They admitted Nora to Riverbend hospital Wednesday night and there were several things they wanted to see change. Specifically, her blood pressure & heart rate to go down, and iron levels back up. They put her on blood pressure meds (normal is 90, she was around 130 with spikes of 160) and started weighing all her diapers for urine output to make sure kidneys were working properly. As everyone described what was happening we definitely felt like we'd been through the worst of it. By yesterday evening they were concerned her heart rate was still fairly elevated. Our Dr. called OHSU to ask about increasing some medication and they wanted to see her in person.


I was not expecting her to have to be transferred, but last night, they transported Nora & Carolyn up to Portland and I followed with the other kids. They decided, due to her low hemoglobin levels, that a blood transfusion would be necessary. So, all night she's been on a slow drip of new blood to help her body turn the corner and beat this. Her blood pressure & heart rate is looking good right now. I think overall, Nora is mostly tired and annoyed with being touched by strangers and always getting woken while trying to sleep. Carolyn & I are both pretty tired too. I never expected us to end up at Doernbecher, but it's a great hospital and anything that can help her little body recover is something I can get behind.


Still no word on what's next or how long we'll be here, but overall folks seem pretty positive about where she's at. Fortunately, we have a wide network of friends and family in Eugene & Portland, so we will and have been taken care of very well. Thanks for all your prayers and I'll try to keep updates coming as we get the chance.