Thursday, April 19, 2018

Pronunciations

I'm delivering a brief report at a small conference today on colorectal cancer. While preparing, I kept wondering if I was pronouncing the words properly.

Capecitabine is pronounced as:



Oxaliplatin's is more confusing, but I like the sound of this version:



These two drugs form the combination, CapOx (or CapeOx), which is pronounced as "kayp-oks."

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Autistic

A poem by Jim Culleny, dedicated for someone named "Danny." An excerpt:

So my mind was no help in knowing you.
Conveniently hobbled I excused myself
from the work of understanding.
Now I see you were in no way slow but
full of crushing frustration, confined by your moat
at the center of your island inarticulate
to the point of slamming your head with a palm
to jar loose what you could not say,
not tongue-tied but mind-tied,
kept by genetic leash from joining
our world of connection, striving to snap it
so that you might join in our jokes
………………,…join in our sadness
or have us join with you in yours

One feels the struggle of understanding another human being.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Saturday, April 14, 2018

A mathematical model that explains the sounds created by knuckle cracking

V. Chandran Suja and A. I. Barakat, writing for Nature Scientific Reports:

The articular release of the metacarpophalangeal joint produces a typical cracking sound, resulting in what is commonly referred to as the cracking of knuckles. Despite over sixty years of research, the source of the knuckle cracking sound continues to be debated due to inconclusive experimental evidence as a result of limitations in the temporal resolution of non-invasive physiological imaging techniques. To support the available experimental data and shed light onto the source of the cracking sound, we have developed a mathematical model of the events leading to the generation of the sound. The model resolves the dynamics of a collapsing cavitation bubble in the synovial fluid inside a metacarpophalangeal joint during an articular release.

I understand less than half of the article, but I'm quite fascinated because: (1) I cannot make make this kind of sound, and (2) There are scientists who spend time and resources to think about these problems.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Thursday, April 12, 2018

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Rely on the sufficiency of God's every day grace

Scotty Smith prays:

Heavenly Father, it’d be awesome not to have to perpetually relearn the same lesson, especially this one: Your grace is all we need, and Christ’s power is most fully released through our weakness. This way of life is counterintuitive, paradoxical, and humbling. But it is also stress-relieving and peace-giving. The pressure is off. We can leave being awesome to you.

We all look forward to the Day when we’ll never again crave competency and control, self-sufficiency or self-anything. We know that Day is coming, Father, but well before then, please free us to boast in (not bemoan) our weaknesses. Grant us faith (and joy) to accept our limitations and quirks; our body pains and heart wounds; the story you gave us and the grace you offer us.

Though we’d rather be swaggering vessels of togetherness and impressiveness, giftedness and smartness, help us delight in being fragile jars of clay—releasing the aroma of grace, the wonders of your love, and the beauty of your heart. Free us from comparing ourselves to anybody, and from envying some other story than our own. May Jesus increasingly be our treasure, the gospel our delight, and grace our sufficiency.

Scotty Smith's blog is like the modern-day version of the Valley of Vision, one of the treasured gems of Christian literature.

This prayer resonates with me, now that I'm beginning to learn the ropes of chemotherapy and the many peculiarities of oncology.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Preach the gospel in the pulpit

Dr. Steve Lawson writes:

No preacher can afford to be wrong at this point, as though the gospel can ever be adapted. To be wrong about the gospel is to be wrong everywhere else that truly matters. To be wrong here is to stand in opposition to the saving mission and sin-bearing death of Jesus Christ. To be wrong here is to contradict the meaning of the substitutionary death and bodily resurrection of Christ. To be wrong here is to divert souls away from the only way that leads to God and to usher them onto the broad path that leads to destruction.

The very essence of the gospel itself demands that every pulpit guard its exclusivity. When the message of the cross is rightly defined, the singularity of the saving purposes of God is automatically established. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone—period, end of paragraph, end of discussion. To this truth, the Bible has a “zero tolerance” policy for any equivocation outside of its borders.

I'm blessed to be part of a church that doesn't shy away from talking Jesus as the only way to salvation.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

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Why you should have an RSS reader

Brian Barrett, writing for Wired:

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication (or Rich Site Summary) and it was first stitched into the tapestry of the open web around the turn of the millennium. Its aim is straightforward: to make it easy to track updates to the content of a given website in a standardized format.

In practice, and for your purposes, that means it can give you a comprehensive, regularly updated look at all of the content your favorite sites publish throughout the day. Think of it as the ultimate aggregator; every morsel from every source you care about, fed directly to you. Or, more commonly, fed to you through an intermediary known as an RSS feed reader, software that helps you wrangle all of those disparate headlines into something remotely manageable.

After Google Reader was scrapped, I've since used The Old Reader, which I like for its simplicity, minimalism, and user-friendliness. The free account lets me subscribe to 100 websites and blogs, which is more than I can handle.

An RSS reader gives me the autonomy to curate the kinds of websites I only want to read. I check it once or twice a day, mostly after work, without the hassle of having to go through social media.  I hope you get to try it, too.

(You can subscribe to my blog by keying in "bottledbrain.com" in the search feature and clicking subscribe.)

Monday, April 9, 2018

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Congratulations!



Koji and Risa, dear friends from church, got married today. The wedding was just as it should be: short and sweet, with a dash of sentimentality. Koji teared up while reciting his vows; Risa was able to hold hers back.

I love Christian weddings in that the main focus is Jesus as the source of and the prime example of the love that husband and wife should follow. Who can top giving up one's self for others? That's precisely what Jesus showed.

The ceremony was small, beautiful, and intimate. It was liturgical but also familiar.

In the days before the ceremony, I saw common friends from church who arranged the program, facilitated the march, finalized the guest list--everyone was helping and showing their love to this would-be couple.

Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Koji and Risa Bulahan! The best is yet to come.

(Photo: Ate Jen A.)
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What she has read so far

Fiction writer Jessica Zafra writes:
Travel and reading are always linked in my mind. When I visit another country, I have to read a book by a local writer (or a novel set in that country). When I went to Budapest I discovered Magda Szabo and Antal Szerb—I love them so much, I wanted to change my spelling to Szafra. Paris is Patrick Modiano (and Eric Rohmer movies). In three trips to Japan I’ve amassed a dozen books which I have just started going through.

She lists the books she has read thus far. I'm glad to see Kazuo Ishiguro in her list.

First I read Kazuo Ishiguro’s An Artist of the Floating World. Yeah, he’s really British, but his folks are Japanese and the novel is set in Japan. And when he acknowledged a Tom Waits song in his Nobel Prize speech, I thought, “I am going to read every word you write, even if I didn’t like The Buried Giant.” Holy crap, An Artist of the Floating World is a great book. I think of it as a rehearsal for The Remains of the Day, which is perfect. Both are about fundamentally decent men who do not rise above the narrow confines of their lives. Both are very quiet and calm until the author breaks your heart with a sentence.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

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Pinay scientists

The article, Six Filipino female scientists who are improving the way we live by Kit Singson (CNN Philippines), is a refreshing break from bad news.

Two of them were my mentors in molecular biology and residency training (Internal Medicine). I did a some research projects with them.

On Dr. Cynthia Saloma:

[She] is currently a professor of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology and Principal Investigator at the Laboratory of Molecular and Cell Biology (LMCB) in the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology in UP Diliman. She pursues research towards embryonic organ formation. She, together with three other women, established what is known today as the Philippine Genome Center.

Her proudest moment as a scientist is starting the DNA Sequence Core Facility where she, along with collaborators and students, successfully sequenced and analyzed hundreds of genomes of bacteria affecting shrimp health, soil quality of rice, and parasites affecting the Philippine carabao, among others. Having knowledge of these genome sequences can advance our understanding of animal diseases and plant development to help our fisheries and agriculture sectors using biomarkers and diagnostic tools.

On Dr. Regina Berba:

Her current work involves researches in tuberculosis, dengue, infection control, influenza, and HIV. She is writing a paper about a new dengue diagnostic test called dengue LAMP (Loop Mediated Isothermal Amplification) invented by a group in the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology in UP Manila NIH led by Dr. Raul Destura.

This test uses gene amplification to identify dengue early and at a low cost, with good accuracy measures. If dengue is diagnosed early, she says that “there is a better chance that complications are avoided, [there will be] less deaths and more lives saved.”

We should read more about scientists and artists.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

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"Hanging out"

Uno Restaurant in Tomas Morato, Quezon City is one of my favorite places to hang out. By "hang out," I mean "spend time alone in a public space." It is quiet, devoid of noisy teenagers and large Filipino families whose habit is bringing their kids to cafés. The perfect spot is beside the windows, on the second floor that overlooks Amici restaurant, which is also empty at 4 pm. I order the flourless, moist chocolate cake that comes with cold cream. Taken with an americano, it makes for the ideal dessert for men in their early thirties.

I haven't dropped by for the past three months. On my last visit, the waiters, who by now already know me as the "young doctor" (they spotted me carrying a white coat a few years back), asked me how I was doing, inquired if I wanted another coffee refill, then left me to read David Sedaris's diary. Rarely does one see this familiarity--waiters recognizing customers and remembering what they had ordered the last time.

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Friday, April 6, 2018

Comparisons

Roti, also called chapati, is a flatbread native to the Indian subcontinent made from stoneground wholemeal flour, traditionally known as atta, and water that is combined into a dough.

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A quesadilla is a tortilla, usually a flour tortilla but also sometimes made with a corn tortilla, which is filled with cheese and then grilled.

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They look the same from these angles.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

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Dictionaries and national identity

The Merriam-Webster's dictionary and how words shape nationalism and politics.

“To diffuse an uniformity and purity of language in America, to destroy the provincial prejudices that originate in the trifling differences of dialect,” wrote Webster in the preface of the speller, “is the most ardent wish of the author.” By capturing language not as it was written in England but as it was spoken in the U.S., Webster hoped to lay the foundation for a uniform American speech that could supersede European linguistic traditions. Where other instructional texts might capture existing modes of speech, he sought to elevate a new way of speaking, and in some sections the speller reads more like a political treatise than a children’s schoolbook.

Webster’s motivations were in part commercial—the schoolteacher-turned-lexicographer needed cash—but they were also undeniably political. He longed to give the American public a language they could call their own. The spellings that Webster promoted have now become hallmarks of American English, including dropping the letter u in words like color, removing the k from mimic, and changing words like centre to center.

A memory: my high school classmate Willy L., fan of the late Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, referred to her as one of the smartest women to walk this earth, citing her greatest achievement--the "Miriam-Webster's" dictionary.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Monday, April 2, 2018

Sunday, April 1, 2018

The risen Christ

Youth Camp 2018

Dr. Albert Mohler writes about the Resurrection.

The secular world has done its best to make a mess of Christmas, but it has largely ignored our celebration of the Resurrection. Where commercialism intrudes, it comes in the forms of eggs and chicks and rabbits–none of which claim any connection with the Resurrection. The fact is, the secular world will attempt to domesticate, commercialize, and tame the babe in the manger–but it will run at breakneck speed from the cross and the empty tomb.

That cross stands as condemnation on all human attempts at self-righteousness, and the fallen world will do all within its power to hide the cross from sight. The empty tomb is the seal and confirmation of the cross, and the world will shield its eyes.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead separates Christianity from all mere religion–whatever its form. Christianity without the literal, physical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is merely one religion among many. “And if Christ is not risen,” said the Apostle Paul, “then our preaching is empty and your faith is in vain” [1 Corinthians 15:14]. Furthermore, “You are still in your sins!” [v. 17b]. Paul could not have chosen stronger language. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” [v. 19]

Happy Easter Sunday! Christ is risen. Christ is risen, indeed.
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