Colon Chronometry


This post contains intentional puns, and fairly POO-er jokes of the immature variety.

You have been warned.

Starts with our mouth, and ends with ... the other mouth.

Inspiration comes at the most awkward times.

This morning, during my WALK, it came to me that how fast, and in what order, things go in one end of my GI tract may come out differently.

Yes.  Some things go in all at the same time, and may not come out when expected.

Who knew?


After all, everyone poops.

However, the rate our GI tract interacts with that matter, and the rate the colon finally does its job seems to vary.

Maybe it doesn’t for you.  I can only speak personally.

I can also speak for those old people I met during Dad’s illness.  They talk about this a lot.

Some foods, beans for example, have particular affects where a lot of gas is produced.  For some people, this gas is produced and detected by others almost immediately.

For me, well, it takes a bit longer.  Maybe my system works at higher pressures?

Anyway, this whole new field has to look at all these things: the kind of food we’re eating, the time we eat it, our microbiome composition, the time of day we ate, our activities, how we’re feeling, our age, our family, our genetics, and probably even more.

What fun!

This way, when we’re old and gray, instead of having to bore our kids and grandkids with long stories about sitting on the throne, we can have a great shorthand science as a reference.

Who knows?  There may even be a pill that sorts everything out for us.

Wait a minute.  Isn’t there already something like that?

It’s time.  Gotta go.

Happy Birthday Story

Stories reveal our humanity.  We can use them to learn more about each other, and how to better ourselves.

And sometimes, they are simply a good story.

My friend is celebrating her birthday around now, and was taking a walk to relax and reflect.

She came across a neighbor’s pond, and stopped.  There stood a Great Blue Heron.  And it was only ten paces away.

Around these parts, the heron is famously shy.  The fact that it was facing away from her may have helped.  Regardless, the fact that it didn’t notice her was incredible.

What made this chance encounter so much more poignant was that her late father’s birthday was also around this time.  And she missed him terribly.

What made this chance encounter so incredibly poignant was that her father’s favorite bird was the Great Blue Heron.

My friend stood, frozen, for quite some time.  Then she started singing happy birthday to her father.

It’s important to understand that my friend has a singing voice that is angelic.  She sings in the symphony.  Even her silly ditties are a joy to hear.  So when she started singing to the heron, there’s a good chance even the heron could tell it was something special.

Then my friend got to the part where you mention the name, “Happy Birthday dear Daddy…”

And the heron turned its head to look at her.

She froze, only for a second, her heart in her throat.  Then she finished the song.

And the heron flew away.

Stories reveal our humanity.  We can learn from them.

And sometimes, they are simply a good story.

Happy Birthday, Friend.


Where Are They Now?

Does his double exist today?

Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, George Washington. These are a few of the truly great men of our nation’s history.

What what is about that time, that place, which caused these great men to coalesce into a group that created one of the greatest nations to ever exist?

There will be many theories, probably more theories than there are historians.  Let’s not dwell on those.

Instead, lets pretend that these were extraordinary men who came together under extraordinary circumstances.

Furthermore, let’s be reasonable about humanity.  At any point in time there must always exist some number of extraordinary men.  And women.  AND Women.  Yes, I always mean both!

That means that right now, at this instant, there are extraordinary men who could be the equivalent of Ben Franklin and George Washington.

If you are addicted to the news, as I am, perhaps you feel, as I do, that no one in the public eye has quite the same level of class or intelligence as any of our founding fathers.

So what went wrong?

Is it perhaps that today’s extraordinary men do things other than public service?

Or could it be that there is nothing today that these extraordinary men consider to be extraordinary enough?

What’s your theory?

Mine is that the men still exist.  If we look hard enough, there is someone just as brilliant as Ben, eloquent as Tom, steadfast as John and as unselfish and unifying as George.

The problem is our system.  Back then there was no system, no political parties, no entrenched lobbyists or industries looking for protection.  There were no academics with false facts and no large voting blocks whose sole aim was to keep themselves in power.

No, back then it was just, them.  Nothing kept these men of character and brains from tackling the problems of the time as directly as they could.

The sad thing is that, when I read the histories, you can see these ugly fences already being formed.  Tom was one of the worst offenders.  He was canny, tricky, and power hungry.  His Democratic-Republicans became one of the strongest parties of all time for any nation.  Men who liked the power were attracted to politics.  Lobbyists were created, industrial guilds to protect industries.  You can see them being born.

So the next time we salute our founding fathers, take a moment to secretly salute those hidden men (and women!) living today who are just as brilliant, just as patriotic, and just as honorable as the founders.  Well, except for Tom.  Guys like him still run for office.



Resurrecting The Ancient Biome

I’m big on biomes.  It’s so cool to think that instead of my mouth feeding only me, I’m actually feeding a few TRILLION other little mouths.

It sounds rather creepy in fact, but it’s still cool.

However, the fact that each of us carries an entire ecosystem of other creatures explains so many crazy things.  Like why some people develop intolerance to certain substances.  Or why some people respond so much better to certain drugs than others.  Or why some people can eat and eat and eat and not gain weight.  And so many other crazy things.

We're spaceships filled with voyagers.

Now if we’re going to truly understand the affect our microbiome has upon us and our society, we’re going to have to try and figure out what the biome looked like for our ancestors.  For instance, what did the biome of the Romans and Ancient Greeks look like?  How did it differ from that of the Ancient Chinese?

My guess is that we’re going to have to take a page out of paleoclimatology.

It’s possible to figure out what the climate of the Earth was a thousand years ago through different techniques.  We can look at rocks,  We can look at trees.  We can measure the temperature of the ground deep down.

So, when it comes to our ancestors, we’re going to have to do much the same.  Of course, samples from the bodies themselves will be a good start.  But of course they’ve been sitting around in the dirt for some time.  So we’ll have to sample the current environment.  We’ll have to look for old organic samples to see what might have been living on those.  And we’re going to have to set up some kind of modern model that would allow us to reconstruct that old biome, just to try it on for size.

So the next time your friend says they are gluten intolerant, ask them what their ancestors had for their biome.  Were they gluten intolerant?

Someday we’ll have a way to find out.

Peaches that Kling

This morning during breakfast my wife taught me about peaches that hang onto their pits, and peaches that let them go.  They are called “freestone” and “clingstone” peaches.  As usual, I didn’t hear her correctly, and thought of them as cling-on peaches.

It got me wondering.

Has anyone ever done a star trek backstory that explains the etymology of the word for the alien nemesis called “Klingons”?

Here’s my take.

Captains report to starfleet.  Stardate 3.1415926

We have met a new alien species.  Their language sounds like a cross between the admiral’s wife choking on a champagne cork, as she did at the last party I was invited to, and the sound a large frog makes when it’s ready to belch “gree-deep” but hiccups instead.

Since the new-fangled translator device wasn’t working, we had to go it the old fashioned way.  Yes, we were ordered to use it, but whenever we tried it on anyone, including ourselves, it translated thoughts as “this creature is still talking to me” and “when is lunch.”  Since this can’t be accurate, we resorted to the ancient standby of charades.

The new species is hominid, dark, extremely bony, warlike in many ways, and most surprisingly, extremely attached to their mothers.

This is an important point, because when we met their diplomatic delegation, who appeared to take many of our own alien ways in great stride, a particular event occurred which should be of special note to starfleet.

You see, unbeknownst to us, the mothers of these large, warlike, bony creatures are particularly small and ugly, even compared to the rest.  They are also quite imperious, but ineffectively so as none of the sons or daughters pay them the least attention.

Quite accidentally, one of our ensigns, inadvertently I must emphasize, made a fairly obvious gesture comparing the features of the mothers compared to her children.  At that time we did not know they were mothers, nor did we count on them understanding the ensign so completely.

As a result, this insult was met with the instant death to the ensign in a gruesome manner that I will divulge in a separate log.  Extrication of our diplomatic party was tricky, to say the least.  Before the ensign died, however, he managed to leave with a contribution to our observation of these creatures.

In conclusion, it is my sad duty to report that we are, yet again, at war with an unknown species that might have been our friends in another universe.  Since we can’t speak their language, and have no idea what they call themselves other than “when is lunch,” it is our suggestion that we refer to them as the species that particularly enjoys to cling onto their mothers.

Respectfully yours, etc.