28 April 2010
It's the Final Countdown!
Posted by Leighna Baxter at 1:24 | Permalink
08 January 2010
Microbes are our friends!
There are dispensers in some campus buildings, and in the BART stations there are now fancy hands free machines that dispense a foamed hand sanitizer. It's hip, it's "healthy", and it smells nice. It's a nationwide trend! Compulsively killing common and widespread germs several times a day is NOT A GOOD IDEA. This trend is encouraging the mutation of germs into SUPERBUGS that will make us sick because our immune systems won't be able to fight them off.
This is what superbugs look like:
This is what happens: Hand sanitizer is applied and it effectively kills any bacteria or other microorganisms on your hands. Awesome! Then the microorganisms continue to be killed anytime anyone uses hand sanitizer (It's just so convenient when there's a dispenser next to the elevator. It's something to do when waiting for the elevator to arrive.). The microorganisms are living things that just want to eke out their own existence on this planet and therefore will do all they can to survive. They will mutate their own DNA so that they become resistant to the sanitizer. Yes, we are creating mutants everyday by compulsively cleaning our hands.
This is what a mutant looks like:
The idea is that our immune system has learned how to protect us from common germs. That's why people with healthy immune systems aren't sick all of the time. By killing these common germs and forcing them to mutate, our immune systems can no longer recognize the germs, and then we get sick more often, or antibiotics formerly used to treat the infection no longer work.
The plot thickens my friends. There's this whole idea that babies shouldn't be kept in a sterilized, purified environment. It's important to be exposed to germs so that your immune system can build up an immunity and figure out how to protect you from it. Children that grew up in a sanitized culture are getting sick more often than kids that weren't wiped down with sanitizer every few moments. Perhaps we are becoming too clean for our own good. Here's a link to an article on the subject.
A last random thought to ponder: When babies are born, they are entirely sterile. The womb is a sterile environment. Living our skin always, every moment of every day are billions of microorganisms.These microorganisms are referred to as our natural flora. Everyone has one and it's important to our survival. It's a good relationship, they protect us from other outside hazards, but too many of these microscopic friends and then you get an infection. Anyways, babies are sterile until the moment they are handled by another being. This means that when babies are being handled by doctors, nurses, parents, etc. they become "infected" with the microorganisms that make up the natural flora. How's that for blowing your mind? It's just one thing I learned in microbiology this last semester. By the way, yogurt has microorganisms living in it too... those are good for you as well. But that's a story for another day.
Posted by Leighna Baxter at 3:58 | Permalink
02 December 2009
Where did all the time go?
I found out on Tuesday this week that I have an exam on Thursday of the same week. Ouch, I know. It's difficult to keep track of everything, and I use Post-its, a planner, and other such devices.
I've been so busy I haven't even carved my pumpkin for Halloween yet. It's become a permanent living room art piece. Good news though, it hasn't grown any mold.... yet. I wouldn't be surprised if I end up putting a bow on it and sticking it under my Christmas tree.
More writings to come I assure you all.
Posted by Leighna Baxter at 9:47 | Permalink
09 October 2009
In college, being sick really sucks. Chances are there isn't anyone there to make you soup, and do your laundry and make tea for you. You're essentially on your own wallowing in a nest of blankets and used kleenex wondering if it's worth it to get up and find something to eat. I know, it's a pitiful image but it's the truth.
The best (and by that I mean also the cheapest and easiest) cure for sickness is sleep. Sleep also happens to be one of those things college students never have enough of... along with money and time of course, but back to what I was saying. I find that by drinking water, taking a shower and going to bed at 7 pm or whenever is the fastest way to recover. Problem with that is adjusting to the usual 5 hrs of sleep per night after you're well.
Posted by Leighna Baxter at 2:21 | Permalink
23 September 2009
Lather, Rinse, Repeat
There's the beginning stage (or as I like to call it, the "I-can't-believe-that-90-minute-lecture-just-flew-by" stage) where class is exciting (because it's new) and since it's the beginning of the year there aren't many assignments. The lax atmosphere of this portion of the semester often causes student to ignore homework and studying because they're too busy catching up with friends or getting back into the academic swing of things. I think that it's probably easier to slack off at this point of the year because as far as students are concerned, exams are a whole month away at this point.
Posted by Leighna Baxter at 6:53 | Permalink
11 September 2009
Posted by Leighna Baxter at 0:04 | Permalink
09 September 2009
Taking the Long Way Around
This is my first post... and quite appropriately so since I've only recently become a Molecular Toxicology major. So about that... it's a long story. I started at Cal in 2006 as a Chemical Engineering major. After about a year in that major, I decided it wasn't a good fit (I couldn't pass Math 1B even after a few tries) and I really wasn't happy. I searched for another major that would improve my mood and settled on Molecular Toxicology. It took both my sophomore and junior years (summer school included) to work towards meeting the minimum requirements to be eligible for filing a petition to change major. Those two years of college were nuts! At one point I was taking a full course load at Cal, working part time and taking a 5 unit class at night at Laney City College in Oakland!
All the hard work was worth it... after 2 years of working to meet the requirements I finally received notification of my acceptance into the College of Natural Resources as a Molecular Toxicology major! YAY!!! I have a major!!! I can graduate next spring!!! HOORAY!!
What? Graduate in spring 2010? You've only been there 4 years... and you changed your major your senior year?? These are questions probably running through your mind about now... Thanks to the guidance from advisors in both College of Natural Resources and College of Chemistry, and due to endless hours of planning my schedule... and due to my advisors' support, I enrolled in classes for Molecular Toxicology while I was still a Chemical Engineering major on paper. It sounds like a great plan initially and it looks like it's going to work out just fine for me... but it could all horribly backfire. Here's how: by taking classes for molecular toxicology for two years but not actually having that major, if my petition to change major wasn't accepted I would have effectively had lots of course credit that wasn't applicable for any degree and my time at Cal would not have resulted in earning a Bachelor's degree. No pressure, right?
So now enough about that... and a little bit about who I am. I'm a first generation college student raised in a small town in the high desert of Southern California. My mother and I were born in the same hospital, and we both graduated from the same middle school AND the same high school (we even had some of the same teachers). I love the Bay Area, and hopefully will never leave. I'm a campus ambassador for the university which means that I give campus tours out of the Public Affairs office. I have been an active member of UC Rally Committee since my freshman year. That's about me in a nutshell.
On Friday I'm participating in a Strawberry Creek clean up project to help remove invasive species. I'm really looking forward to splashing around in the creek for a few hours.
My class schedule this semester is as follows: PH 162 (Public Health Microbiology), PH 162L (the microbiology lab), MCB 104 (Genetics), IB 117 (Medical Ethnobotany), and two PE classes, Introductory Taekwondo and low intermediate swimming.
There will be additional, fancier blog entries to follow. :)
Posted by Leighna Baxter at 2:30 | Permalink