Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Biology creative story by unnamed 10th grader

(the topic was fixed - no choice in that matter, but he did the best he could!!)

Do you know anyone who grew up for 16 years without moving or talking to anyone at all, when there were thousands of others around him/her? Of course not right? Well now you do. Hi, I’m an egg. I live in my mom’s Ovum. I’ve been in this sand bag for over 15 years now, growing up, maturing, and waiting for my chance at life. Now, thank god, I am at the front of the line, waiting for my escape. There are a whole lot of others bunched up behind me, but if everything works out fine, I wont have any of them bothering me while I’m on the move. Very soon, I’ll be making my way to the outside world, where all the walls are full of nutrition, and I can have a chance at mating. I just hope that the guys are strong enough to make the journey at least.

Oh! My protective sack, the Ovum, has just ripped open and all of my nutrition is leaking out. Aaah! Here I go! Ah! I’m out. Surrounded by my Ovum’s contents, I stick around for a little while, before being pulled toward the fallopian tube. It looks like a giant hand grabbing for me. I am engulfed, and pulled along by the walls of the tube, which look like they have hairs pushing me along. I know I have not much time to live, because my lifespan is fairly short, so if there are any males anywhere near here they’d better start getting a move on.

I’m beginning to remember, what I was told by my teacher as I was growing up, all the troubles they have to go through just in order to see me. First of all, thousands and thousands of sperm enter through the vagina at one time. Then their numbers are first diminished by the acidic environment. After that, many of them are caught in the gateway to the Urethra, also where I am now headed. The few hundred that do survive and move on still have to swim against the current to reach where I lie in wait. Next after that… Whoa! There they are! There are about 50 sperm swimming toward me. They start ramming at my outside shell, trying to break through. I can feel that a few of them are almost to me now. Using their enzyme-tipped heads, they struggle to enter. Yes! One of them is in. I don’t want anymore of them to come, so I make my shell impenetrable to the remaining bunch of sperm. Very soon my mind will combine with the mind of the sperm, Sam. I can now have my chance at building yet more life. I wish for he/she to become a successful person. Sam’s tail has just fallen off. This is my time. See you in another life.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Studious children

I was riding my bike to the pool today, and while walking my bike up a narrow sidewalk (with woods on one side and a guard rail on the other), I came across three small children (around age 7, two girls and a boy).

As I walked past them, they gathered around me as though they expected me to talk to them. Two of them were holding simple study materials, like kids' math workbooks from the 100 yen shop. I said, "Oh, have you all been studying?" (it was a weird place to study - just along this random road, not near any houses... they brandished the workbooks as though they were taking a survey and wanted to ask me something!)

girls: "... could we ask you a question? blahblahblah.... (unintelligible)" (this was all in Japanese btw)

I leaned down closer, to hear their question. "What?"

girls: "How do you say 'uta' (song) in English??"

me: "What? Buta? (pig)?"

girls: "No, no, how do you say 'uta'?"

me: "What??? Futa?? (lid)?" I was not trying to be funny... just couldn't hear them so well!!

girls: "No, no, UTA. UTA."

me: "Oh! *Song*" (I said it with my real accent, not katakana)

girls: "*Song* Song... song... (they copied my accent as best they could) ... (one girl pointed to the other) She was trying to sing an English song just now, but she couldn't remember it."

me: "Oh - Was it... Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream? (singing)"

girls: "No, no... "

me: "Hmmm... was it... Twinkle, twinkle, little star? (singing)"

girls: "That one, that one!"

me: "Shall I sing it for you? Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are, ... (etc.) "

girls: "Wow, sugoi!! cool! (etc.)"

me: "Well, bye-bye, good luck with your studying! You are all very studious. Bye-bye!"

The little boy had been standing back a bit throughout all this, and as I started to push my bike away, he started to cheekily and loudly try to sing Twinkle twinkle, as it had sounded to him with his little-boy mind. "CHINKO !, CHINKO !, ..." (chinko is a little-kid's word for Willie, wee-wee, in other words pe n!$ ) (trying to avoid weird googling here...) The little girls started to laugh.

me, stopping and shouting back: "Noooooo!! Aaaaaa!! Not Chinko! Twinkle... *twinkle*!! It means kira-kira!"

girls: "Oh, that's why it's Kira-kira, hikaru!" (the Japanese version of Twinkle twinkle)

me: "Yes, yes!! Twinkle, *twinkle*.. NOT chinko!! Well, bye-bye!"

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Twins of the past

One of my favorite hobbies is family history research. One thing I've found interesting is how, in the past in the U.S., twins were given more similar names than is common now. Here are some pairs I've found (most of these were related to me somehow-or-other):

- girl twins Clarris and Ferris (b. 1916)

- boy twins Morris and Louis (b. 1922)

- girl/boy twins Eva and Evan (b. 1891)

- girl twins Marlyse and Marvel (b. 1904)

- girl twins Margaret and Martha (b. 1855)

- girl twins Elva and Eva (b. 1926)

- girl twins Ann and Hannah (b. 1879)

- girl/boy twins Dona and Donald (b. 1921)

- girl twins Mary and Minnie (b. 1857)

- girl twins Lulu and Lola (b. about 1880?)

...and the most similar ever...

- girl twins Olive and Olivia (b. 1871) !!

Monday, June 14, 2010

In the park

Walking Toby in the park this morning between 6:20 and 6:30, we met...

1) First, as we left the house, a shock for Toby! Our neighborhood cat, a white cat with a red collar, was hiding under our car. Toby recoiled in fear and disgust! Brother Jiji has named the cat "Somersault" for some reason, so we all call it that in our family. p.s. now he insists that the cat's name be spelled "Summersalt".

2) In the park, the unfriendly man with his amazing and cute frisbee-catching dogs! Two active border collies, both black with white paws and chests.

3) The friendly older lady gathering greens for her rabbit (I used to wonder if she was gathering greens for her own table...)

4) Another friendly old lady with her old dog, Choro. Choro is a raggedy-looking, fairly big, 15-year-old white dog, maybe an Ainu-ken (Hokkaido-ken)? Choro has a very large lump on one side of her neck. Kind of antisocial (Choro, I mean), but at least she is finally used to us now. The lady on the other hand is super friendly!

5) An old man, Choro's friend, who often walks past the park on the sidewalk along the road. This man always carries dog snacks (it would seem), so old Choro perked up when he passed by this morning, and trotted quickly across the park and out to the sidewalk to see her best friend. Her elderly owner followed slowly behind (Choro is usually off her leash).

6) The sporty-looking professor who lives across from the park, brushing his dog Bau. Bau is a Corgi and is an outside dog (lives in a doghouse) - he used to get alarmed when we walked by his house, and would bark at us. For a year or more he has not barked, and recently we met Bau up close for the first time. He seemed so happy to see us, and rolled onto his back! This morning we met him for the 4th or 5th time since then. Toby completely ignores Bau, and tries to stay away, because Toby is only interested in dogs he doesn't know well. Toby *loves* to meet dogs he doesn't know, but after 2-3 meetings he has no use for them...

7) A girl in Jiji's 5th grade class, getting ready to jog with her father. She is a tall girl, probably just 1-2 cm less than Jiji. Also her kindergarten-aged brother was hanging around with her. They also live across from the park.

All this was just during the 10 minutes we were out (before 6:30 a.m.), in a small park near us!

-- Not seen today, but often seen in this time bracket....

- Mei the police dog. Very big all-black German Shepherd (cross?), looks like a bear or a black wolf. Scary-looking, but very well-behaved, and has a cute name! She is often found training in the park. Toby used to be terrified of her, but has improved recently.

- Boys of various ages practicing basketball, jogging, or pretending to practice soccer. Usually in pairs or singly. The soccer boy is a grade-school kid who is often found at this time with a soccer ball and some mini-cone things, but he just seems to stand around...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Interesting questions

Yesterday I spoke with some students in a special education class. I did my usual self-introduction spiel, with pictures of my family and hometown. Then the floor was opened for questions from the students. Usually when this happens in a regular class, there will be either silence, or attempts by friendly students to ask very standard questions, or a class clown or very good student asking a couple of standard or sometimes humorous questions - such as, "What music do you like?" etc..

The special education students were allowed to ask their questions in Japanese, and I was very surprised by the large number of students who immediately raised their hands. The questions were very different from those in a regular class, too... just off the top of my head, some of the questions I was asked were (here translated into English):

* "How did you feel when Michael Jackson died in America?"

* "Were any of your family members injured in the terrorist attack on America?"

* "Do you know the Gundam character named ---------?"

* "Did you hear about the murder of the ALT L------ H----- in Tokyo?"

* "Did you buy Michael Jackson's Thriller?"

* "Do you think President Obama is a good person?"

* "What was the first tourist area you visited in Japan?"

* "What place do you like most in your home state in America?"

* "Power Rangers are also popular in America. Did you like them when you lived in America?"

Friday, March 26, 2010

Health Topic: Urticaria Pigmentosa

Don't know why, but I like health topics :)

I've been meaning to write about this one for a while. It may not really be of interest to any casual readers, but could be useful for anyone who visits when googling this term, etc.!

The words "urticaria pigmentosa" literally mean "pigmented hives". However, this skin condition is not hives, but one of the several forms that mastocytosis can take. Mastocytosis is the name for problems involving abnormal clumping of mast cells in the body -- they are the cells that produce histamine, a chemical that is produced by the body during an allergic reaction. As far as I know, though, mastocytosis does not cause allergies -- however if a child has both allergies and mastocytosis, then they will have extra problems. Also, mastocytosis can react to a wide variety of triggers, and can cause problems not normally associated with allergies.

My younger son (now age 10) - here called "Jiji", has/had a mild case of this problem. It is pretty rare, enough that many doctors have not heard of it (except for dermatologists, of course). It may effect somewhere between 1 to 6 /10,000 people (according to the internet - a few sites estimate 1/10,000, and http://www.mastokids.org/ has a video which estimates there are less than 200,000 people with it in the U.S., which would be less than 6.7 people/10,000).

Urticaria Pigmentosa (I'll abbreviate it as UP) is the form of mastocytosis where the mast cells form little clumps here and there in the skin, and for some reason these clumps draw in melanin, leading to the formation of brown spots which are semi-permanent (they take several years to fade, after the problem has subsided). UP is often found in children, and has a good chance of going away by adolescence.