Wednesday, February 21, 2007

New house needs a new dog

We're looking for a dog. We've been thinking about it for a long time, but we finally got serious about it a few months ago when my mom brought her dog for her visit at our new house. We really liked having her dog around, and we started to really want our own dog.

After considering our needs, we decided the best option was to adopt a retired Seeing Eye dog. We sent in an application and have been on the waiting list for about three months. They said the wait could be "extensive," but we were okay with that because that is really the dog we wanted to have. We found out later that an "extensive" wait is about one to four years.

Then last week the Westminster Kennel Club broadcast their annual dog show, and we watched the whole thing. Both nights. After that show, we saw that we had so many more options available. Our #1 dog became a Cavachon, and I started watching our area shelters to find an adoptable one. I'm still waiting for a Cavachon to show up, but I'm truly torn. I want to keep waiting for the Seeing Eye dog, but I also want to give a home to a shelter dog who really needs me. Especially if that could be a Cavachon or something close to it.

We went to our County animal shelter last night so that I could practice NOT taking a dog home with me. And so that I could practice some skills I saw on a recent episode of Dog Whisperer, where Cesar Millan goes to a shelter and explains why this family shouldn't adopt this dog or that dog, and he showed why this last dog was the most balanced dog in the facility. So I wanted to look for a balanced dog, and really I only found one yesterday. And he was too big for us, so it wasn't that hard to walk away. I did have to consciously avoid thinking about what would happen to those cuties if nobody took them, and it was not easy. I did want to help all of them.

After my mom moves into our house with her dog, perhaps we'll feel less urgency to get our own dog. It might be easier then to wait for the Seeing Eye dog to become available. But if mom's dog doesn't do it for us, and there's no suitable Cavachons around, and we just can't wait for the Seeing Eye dog any longer, then maybe we'll look for a breeder who can sell us a Cavachon puppy. But for now, I'm just trying to wait for my mom's dog to get here. I don't want to have to make any other dog decisions until then - the real trick is not to be swayed by my husband, who wants a doggie NOW.

Monday, February 12, 2007

New Feed URL

I know it's a pain, but I would appreciate if you would change the URL in your feed-readers to point to This change will make it easier to promote and deliver my content, and provides more audience engagement (such as digg and with each post).
Fortunately I have few subscribers (ummm, ONE I think) so this change should not cause a lot of agony.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Urban legend: water is less healthy than wine

Received this email from a friend today:
It has been scientifically proven that if we drink 1 liter of water each day, at the end of the year we would have absorbed more than 1Kg of Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria found in feces. In other words, we are consuming 1 kilo of Poo. However, we do not run that risk when drinking wine (or rum, whiskey, beer or other liquors) because alcohol has to go through a distillation process of boiling, filtering and fermenting and alcohol kills E.coli
WINE = Health

As a microbiologist, I feel compelled to shoot down this blatant attack on drinking water quality.
The math doesn't add up.
1 bacteria = 10-12 kg (very roughly)
1 kg of bacteria = 1012 cells
1 liter of water per day = 365 liters
1012 cells / 365 liters = 2.7 x 109 cells per liter
Waaaaaaaaaaay higher than the bacterial load found in tap water even in the developing world, by many orders of magnitude. If a liter of water had this many bacteria in it, the water would be visibly cloudy. Even if you drank water with such a high bacterial load, you are surely drinking a mixed population and not a pure E. coli solution.

So there.

Hypertextbook: Mass of a Bacterium: "A typical mass of a bacterium would be about 10-12 g or one picogram (pm)."
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory: "E-coli concentrations in unsanitary drinking water at various developing world sites are typically found to exceed thousands per 100 milliliters (e.g., 30,000 per 100 ml reported at a site near Pune, India). The WHO standard specifies less than 1 per 100 ml for good drinking water quality, which is also the standard used in the industrial world drinking water supply."
US EPA Drinking Water standards state that heterotrophic bacteria should not exceed 500 CFU per ml.
"Heterotrophic plate counts and drinking-water safety" from World Health Organization: "Exposure to general HPC microbiota is far greater through foodstuffs than through drinking-water."