Sunday, November 10, 2013

Big Party Big Snakes

We had Kim's cold-blooded creatures come to our house for a birthday party. Lots of fun.

Slow-growing Charlotte’s Web yields marijuana designed for kids

Slow-growing Charlotte’s Web yields marijuana designed for kids
Low in THC, the compound that gives users a high, this specialized plant is in high demand.
First Published Nov 10 2013 01:01 am • Last Updated Nov 10 2013 01:01 am
COLORADO SPRINGS • Preparing Charlotte’s Web is a protracted, tedious process that starts at "the grow," two massive greenhouses on 56 acres of spring-fed land at an undisclosed location in the mountains.
It’s harvest time and the greenhouses are full of towering plants.
Colorado’s sunny climate allows the nonprofit Realm of Caring Foundation to grow marijuana year-round. It gets two harvests a year, but hopes to ramp up production to three to four harvests through a light deprivation strategy that causes the plants to flower in winter.
About a third of each greenhouse is devoted to Charlotte’s Web, a shorter, squattier plant that grows more slowly than other varieties. The plant is high in cannabidiol (CBD) but low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the component of marijuana that creates a high in users.
It’s in such high demand by parents of ill children, typically kids with epilepsy, that Realm can’t immediately supply them all.
"It keeps cutting into our THC growing, which has been necessary to move families off the waiting list," said 34-year-old Joel Stanley, one of six brothers running the foundation. "But we are walking a fine line" financially, he said, because Charlotte’s Web is sold almost at cost.
It takes 13 to 14 workers to tend the plants. Dogs roam the property, which is fenced and under 24-hour camera surveillance.
After the plants are harvested, they are hung to dry and cured like tobacco. They are trimmed, weighed and vacuum sealed into food-grade bags for shipment to dispensaries. 
Everything is labeled and carefully inventoried, and every part of the plant is used, including the stems as fertilizer.
Charlotte’s Web is sent to Realm’s lab, an industrial kitchen in Denver overseen by 32-year-old Jesse Stanley.

Buds and leaves are stripped from the stems and soaked for hours in grain alcohol to extract the cannabinoids, Jesse Stanley explained. The resulting dark amber-colored liquid is strained through a fine mesh to remove all plant material and poured into a rotary evaporator to remove the alcohol. 
A device used in chemical laboratories, the "rotovap" allows for liquid solvents — in this case, a CBD extract — to be quickly and gently removed without excessive heating. The end product is a gummy substance thicker than pancake syrup.
"We can do about a liter-and-a-half an hour," said Bryson Rast, a lab technician the Stanley brothers hired away from the pharmaceutical and nutritional supplement industries. 
The brothers also just acquired a high-performance liquid chromatography machine, which they’ll use to validate samples, or measure the amount of CBD and THC in each batch. Currently samples are sent out for testing, which is expensive, said Jesse Stanley. 
When the samples return, he dilutes them with olive oil.
"It’s primitive the way we do things, but accurate," he said. "Quality control is our goal."
Colorado Springs physician Margaret Gedde who is tracking children who are using Charlotte’s Web, said there are other growers that sell low-THC products.
"But so far nobody has stepped up like the Realm of Caring has to provide this to kids and do it in a way that is safe," said Gedde. "They grow it safely and test the batches so we know the actual milligrams and it can be accurately dosed."

Copyright 2013 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

What Recruiters Want & What Drives Them Crazy

What Recruiters Want & What Drives Them Crazy
Create a résumé that will get you noticed by nursing recruiters for the right reasons. 
Create a résumé that will get you noticed nursing recruiters for the right reasons.

By Linda Jones

You know you're the right person for the job, but you still have to convince a roomful of people of that - and it starts with the recruiter.

Unless your résumé can pass the quick and long review of the recruiter no one will know what they are missing by not hiring you.

In our final quarterly installment of Q&A with nurse recruiters, we ask them what they like to see in a résumé, and what will land your hard work in the trash pile.

Our panelists:

Nicholas Piazza
 is senior human resources consultant with MedStar Montgomery Medical Center in Olney, Md.

Lisa Mauri Thomas
 is dean of education at Brown College in Minneapolis. She is also a résumé writer and job search strategist. She is the author of the book Landing Your Perfect Nursing Job

ADVANCE: When you first look at a résumé, what do you look for? What is your process of reviewing a résumé or application?

Piazza: I look for a neat, concise and short presentation of information. As recruiters, we receive numerous applications/ résumés and we look for key words, phrases and qualifications and do a quick scan to ensure that the candidate is appropriate and qualified for the position applied to.

I get a very quick, two-second, first impression, which is mainly geared to understanding (or trying to) how the candidate's information is organized and I make very quick assessments such as "neat/polished/crisp" versus "sloppy/poorly formatted/typos." Then my eyes zoom to their work history/job titles/dates as well as their education/certifications as those credentials are key for what I'm hiring for. If that information is clear to understand and the information makes sense for the position applied for (not always the case!) I briefly scan the job duties and then the candidate's profile information up top (where I like to see that the candidate's goals, talents and experience mesh with what position I am seeking to fill). If that quick, 10-20 second review gives me the sense that this may indeed be a viable candidate, I then add that person's name to my potential candidate pool until I am ready to select the top five with whom to conduct a phone screening interview and from there, the top three to interview in person.

What can make a candidate stand out on a résumé?

: A neat and concise résumé with key qualifications and experiences highlighted.

Clarity and professionalism. It must be clear to me right away that the candidate meets the minimum qualifications and whose educational and work pathways have reasonably led them to apply for the position in question. And I want to get the sense that if hired, this candidate would represent my organization well across all interactions; that they would be someone others will want to work with or seek out for assistance and expertise each day. To take it a step further, I love feeling a connection to the candidate because it seems they customized their résumé just for me and my needs around the position to be filled. Conversely, I sometimes shake my head and wonder what in the world prompted a candidate to apply for a role I need to fill when I cannot begin to see/make the connection between what they have sent me and what they are applying for. I receive more of those than you might think!
ADVANCE: What are the most common mistakes people make on a résumé?

Piazza: Employment dates are not accurate or do not match what is on the application itself. Spelling errors.

Thomas: Résumés are often too vague or too wordy. I can appreciate that it may seem hard to find that "sweet spot" in the middle but the best bet is to make sure that whatever is listed in the job posting in terms of required and desired qualifications is clearly spelled out on the résumé. Don't expect me to assume something that isn't there, or "naturally make the leap" that experience X prepared you for job Y. Also, I hire for positions where years of industry experience and educational/credential minimum requirements are set in stone, no wiggle room; those elements are either true/in place or they are not. If I cannot see those essential pieces on a résumé right away, I move on to someone else's résumé. Résumé content needs to be highly relevant to the position in question; it needs to make sense at a glance why the candidate applied for the job.

ADVANCE: What is your biggest pet peeve candidates do on online résumés and applications?
Piazza: Sending a cover letter along with the résumé, but the cover letter is addressed to another organization. Filling out an application, but not attaching a résumé. Not listing former managers or supervisors as reference, but listing colleagues.

Thomas: Interestingly, I find that in my sideline work as a consultant to job seekers as a job search strategist, job seekers are quick to look at résumé /cover letter/job search tips online and yet the basic pieces of information they read about that are readily available and for free are not well-followed. Fortunately, it has become harder for a candidate to take what I call a "spray and pray" approach where they can quickly apply for 50 openings with a generic résumé and cover letter and hope they somehow find a welcome target. That said, candidates still need to make sure their materials are well aligned with and customized to the positions they seek.

Linda Jones is on staff at ADVANCE. Contact:    
Copyright ©2013 Merion Matters
2900 Horizon Drive, King of Prussia, PA 19406 • 800-355-5627
Publishers of ADVANCE Newsmagazines

Speaking a second language delays dementias, even in the illiterate, study finds

Speaking a second language delays dementias, even in the illiterate, study finds

**ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, NOV. 22-23 ** A section of a human brain with  Alzheimer's disease is on display at the Museum of Neuroanatomy at the ...Nov. 6, 2013 at 4:00 PM ET
Speaking more than one language may ward off three types of dementia, including the Alzheimer's disease that affected this human brain on display at the Musuem of Neuroanatomy at the University at Buffalo, in Buffalo, N.Y.
There’s more evidence that speaking a second language can delay the onset of dementia later in life — this time in a population where even illiterate people reaped the benefits of being bilingual.
Conducted in Hyderabad, India, the largest study of its kind so far found that speaking two languages slowed the start of three types of dementia — including Alzheimer’s disease — by an average of 4.5 years.
“Being bilingual is a particularly efficient and effective type of mental training,” said Dr. Thomas H. Bak, a researcher at The University of Edinburgh and a co-author of the study published Wednesday in the journal Neurology. “In a way, I have to selectively activate one language and deactivate the other language. This switching really requires attention.”
That kind of attention keeps the brain nimble and may ward off not only Alzheimer’s disease, but other cognitive conditions such as frontotemporal dementia and vascular dementia, the new study found.
Bak is part of the team led by Dr. Suvarna Alladi, a professor of neurology at the Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences in Hyderabad. The researchers examined case records of 648 patients with dementia who entered a memory clinic at a Hyderabad university hospital between June 2006 and October 2012.
Slightly more than half of the patients, some 391, spoke more than one language in a place where many people grow up learning three or more languages, including Telugu and Dakkhini along with English and Hindi.
Previous studies have focused on the impact of bilingualism on dementia mostly in immigrants in Canada, which may have influenced the results, Bak said.
“It really brought up the question, is it the bilingualism or is it is being an immigrant?” he said. “They have very different lifestyles, very different diets, which can affect the outcome.”
Still, those studies also found that speaking more than one language delayed dementia by the same span of time, four to five years.
The Indian patients offered a chance to examine the issue in a society where many people are naturally multilingual and shift easily among different languages in different social settings.
“If I live in Hyderabad, I am practically always switching,” said Bak. “There will not be a day when I don’t have a chance to practice.”
The researchers found that patients who spoke a single language developed the first symptoms of dementia at age 61, versus age 65 ½ in those who were bilingual. The delay was slightly more than three years for Alzheimer’s disease, but about six years for frontotemporal dementia and about 3.7 years for vascular dementia.
In people who couldn’t read, the delay of dementia was about six years later in those who were bilingual versus those who spoke only one language — evidence that education isn’t the key in postponing problems, the researchers said.
The effect of bilingualism on dementia onset was independent of other factors including education, gender, occupation and whether patients lived in urban or rural areas, the authors said.
Speaking more than two languages didn’t appear to increase the effect, a result that surprised researchers, Bak said. Other studies have found that the more languages spoken, the greater the protection against dementia.
An outside expert who documented the first physical effects of the delay of dementia in people who speak more than one language praised the new study.
“Being able to show that immigrant status was not a factor answers one remaining question, said Dr. Tom Schweizer, a neuroscientist at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Canada, who found in 2011 that bilingual people have twice as much brain damage as those who speak one language before they show signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
“The fact that the illiterate subjects were also showing this strong effect was also novel,” he added.
It’s still not clear exactly how language acquisition triggers protection against dementia, or whether another kind of intense brain activity such as learning an instrument or doing puzzles could mimic the effect, Schweizer said.
Going forward, conducting dementia research in other non-Western cultures will be key to understanding the effect of bilingualism on dementia, the authors of the new study said.
“For me, the most important message is that you cannot do all the studies in the same place,”Bak said. “In completely different contexts, in complete different populations, we found the same effect.”
JoNel Aleccia is a senior health reporter with NBC News. Follow her on Twitter at @JoNel_Aleccia or send her an email. 

Cells offer hope for Type 1 diabetes

Editor's note: November is National Diabetes Month. Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes, and another 79 million are at risk of developing the disease. To learn more, visit
(CNN) -- The e-mail ended with a question that belied the author's pain: "It's a small world, isn't it?"
Michael Schofield read the message from Elizabeth Baptiste again. Baptiste worked at AT&T, just like him. She had three sons, like him. And her youngest, Michael, was the donor who had changed his life.
"It sent shivers down my body, you know, because you don't expect..."
Schofield's voice, with its lingering Liverpool accent, trails off.
Schofield, 53, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1982. People who have Type 1 diabetes do not produce insulin, a hormone the body needs to convert sugar and starches into energy. Their white blood cells attack and destroy the cells that produce insulin in the pancreas.
 Rapper: 'Know your diabetes risk'
Like most Type 1 diabetics, Schofield learned to control his diabetes with insulin injections and constant monitoring. But he still experienced hypoglycemic attacks when his blood sugar levels got too low. It was like being in a fog -- one he couldn't escape until someone helped him. If it went on too long, he would lose consciousness.
As he got older, Schofield's body adapted to the extreme lows; so when his blood sugar levels dropped below normal, he didn't experience the typical symptoms. In other words, he didn't know he was in danger until he passed out.
"Over time, your body just starts to break down," he says. "They say (diabetes) is a slow killer, and it is."
Tiny cells offer hope
Pancreas transplants for patients such as Schofield are not typically an option because they are difficult to perform, said Dr. Michael Rickels, associate professor of medicine at University of Pennsylvania. But an experimental procedure using the pancreas' islet cells is being tested at medical centers around the country. If it's approved by the Food and Drug Administration, it could make a difference for patients who are no longer able to successfully manage their diabetes.
Islet cells contain beta cells that produce insulin, as well as alpha cells that produce a hormone called glucagon. Both are used to regulate the body's glucose, or sugar, levels. In the 1990s, scientists in Alberta, Canada, figured out how to isolate these islets from a deceased donor's pancreas and transplant them into the liver of a diabetic patient. The procedure was dubbed the "Edmonton Protocol."
Since then, researchers have been trying to improve the survival rate of the cells during transplantation. Most patients who undergo the procedure now need two infusions of islet cells to maintain normal glucose levels long-term.
Rickels and his colleagues recently published a study in the journal Diabetes detailing a new protocol, which gives the extracted islets three days to "rest" before they're transferred to the living recipient. All of the patients in Rickels' study were able to come off insulin therapy for at least a year after a single transplant.
Data from patients in other countries where the procedure has already been approved shows some patients can stop using insulin for anywhere from five to 10 years, Rickels said.
Schofield had been following the islet cell research since the 1990s. One Saturday morning, after a particularly bad hypoglycemic attack, he decided to fill out a survey to see whether he qualified for a trial funded by the National Institutes of Health. Two days later, he received a message from the UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco.
Schofield flew from his home in Scottsdale, Arizona, to California to learn more about the transplant.
Dr. Andrew Posselt, director of the Pancreatic Islet Cell Transplant Program at UCSF, told Schofield that the procedure would take less than two hours and he would be home within two or three days. He would, however, have to remain on immunosuppressant drugs the rest of his life. The drugs prevent the patient's white blood cells from attacking the new islet cells, Posselt explained.
The next year was filled with medical tests. Schofield didn't receive a donor pancreas in time to participate in the government trial. But he discovered his employer health insurance would pay for the experimental transplant. His doctors helped him submit a request to the FDA to get the private procedure approved.
Now all he needed was a donor.
A life cut short
Michael Baptiste was a good kid, his mom, Elizabeth, says. "Growing up, he was my pain in the butt," she remembers with a laugh. "He was my third child. He was the one who gave me the headaches."
He was also a giving person. When his mom took him to the DMV to get his driver's license, he checked the organ donor box without hesitation.
At 23, he was taking responsibility for his life and his family. He was going to school to become an electrician. He worked nights at Home Depot to provide for his 5-year-old daughter, Angelina. He took his mom to Disneyland.
"He was moving up," Elizabeth Baptiste says. "And it was cut short."
On March 25, 2012, Michael Baptiste was goofing off with friends in a restaurant parking lot. He fell out of a car while the driver was doing donuts, and he hit his head. Doctors kept him alive for six days before pronouncing him brain dead.
A few days later Schofield, received his first infusion of islet cells. Two weeks later, he was off insulin. He looked down at his glucose monitor one day and saw a flat line for the first time in 30 years.
"That was euphoria," he says. He still wears his monitor to this day, enjoying the high looking at the flat line gives him.
Schofield sent a note to his anonymous donor's family, thanking them for giving him a second chance at life. He then began speaking publicly about his transplant, urging the FDA to approve the procedure for others in the United States.
"People need to be aware that this is an effective alternative treatment," Posselt said. "Funding is very difficult to get for this kind of procedure in the U.S.; as a result, we're falling behind other countries."
Two human clinical trials are underway in the United States. Once both are completed, researchers will submit the data to the FDA for review. Rickels hopes in the next two to three years, all his and his colleagues' hard work will pay off.
Only about 5% of people with diabetes have Type 1, according to the American Diabetes Association. Islet cell transplantation cannot help those with Type 2 diabetes, Posselt said, because they already produce insulin -- their bodies just have a greater resistance to the hormone.
"I think that this procedure can definitely benefit some diabetics, but I don't think it's the panacea for every diabetic," he said.
Saying thank you
On June 1, Schofield met Elizabeth Baptiste at Pier 39 in San Francisco. She wore a Donald Duck T-shirt to represent her son's favorite Disney character. When she saw Schofield, she waved her hand high in the air and had a flashback to the days when she used to do the same for Michael when he ran off in a crowd.
The meeting was a mix of emotions for Schofield.
"It's a happy moment that I got the transplant, got to meet her, say thank you," Schofield remembers. "It's a sad moment because having three children of my own, I can't imagine the pain."
But for Baptiste, it was therapeutic. She hasn't heard from any of her son's other recipients.

"I've told people, 'I know my son is dead,' " she says. "But I know other people have his parts, so I know he's still alive. Michael came to me at the right time. ... I needed a hug from my son, and that's what he was there for."