Archive for January, 2009

Can Your Name Make You a Criminal?

January 31, 2009 2 comments

An Interesting Article From

In a new study to be published in the March issue of Social Science Quarterly, David Kalist and Daniel Lee, economists at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, find that adolescent boys with unpopular names are more likely than other boys to have been referred to the juvenile-justice system for alleged offenses. The researchers conclude that the Ernests, Prestons and Tyrells of America are significantly more delinquent than the Michaels and Davids. Why?

The short answer is that our names play an important role in shaping the way we see ourselves — and, more important, how others see us. Abundant academic literature proves these points. A 1993 paper found that most people perceive those with unconventionally spelled names (Patric, Geoffrey) as less likely to be moral, warm, and successful. A 2001 paper found that we have a tendency to judge boys’ trustworthiness and masculinity from their names (as a guy whose middle name is Ashley, I can attest to the second part). In a 2007 paper (here’s a PDF), University of Florida economist David Figlio found that boys with names commonly given to girls are more likely to be suspended from school. And an influential 1998 paper co-authored by psychologist Melvin (a challenging first name if there ever was one) Manis of the University of Michigan, reported that “having an unusual name leads to unfavorable reactions in others, which then leads to unfavorable evaluations of the self.”

Our first names also say a great deal about the extent of privilege enjoyed by the people who picked those names for us, our parents. In the new paper, Kalist and Lee point out that previous research has shown that the name Allison is rarely given to girls whose mothers didn’t finish high school; it is frequently given to girls whose mothers have 17 years or more of schooling. On average, parents with less schooling are more likely to pick unpopular names for their kids. Read more…

Categories: Blog, In the News, Interest Tags: , ,

Using RSS feeds

January 30, 2009 1 comment

This post has been made in response to a number of people mentioning to me that they don’t entirely understand how RSS feeds work, and how they are able to subscribe to them.

An RSS feed stands for Really Simple Syndication. What it is in actuality is a small file that is associated with a website that gets updated every time the website is updated. So, in the case of a blog, each time there is a new post, the RSS file gets updated with the new information. Typically this information includes the title, and either a synopsis of the post or the post in its entirety. What you, the computer user, can then do is subscribe to this file, so that you can easily see if there has been anything new added to the site.

There are a number of ways to subscribe, and how you do it depends on how much you really use them. For heavy users of RSS feeds, you are best to use a feed aggregator, of which there are heaps around online for free.  When you load it up, it checks all the RSS files that it has subscribed to, and pulls down all the new posts directly to your desktop. You can then quickly go through and read what is new on each website, and go to that website if you want to read something further. I personally subscribe currently to about 35 feeds, but that goes up and down as I add and delete certain ones. I use it for all my news with subscriptions to feeds from,, etc, as well as to friends blogs and Facebook status updates. Once you are aware of these feeds, you’ll be surprised how many websites have them!

So how do you actually subscribe, well, if you have never subscribed before, you can probably use the built in aggregator that is in most browsers. However, if you start to get a few subscriptions, I would recommend a third party aggregator. I personally use New News Wire, because it syncs across to a web based server, and I can then use the same app on my iPhone. So my feeds all get synchronised. For most people though, that is way too geeky :-). Another option is also to use iGoogle, which is a web based aggregator, where you can customise your home page with different feeds.

First, you need to click on this logo:

RSS feed logo

RSS feed logo

When you see the RSS logo, that means there is a feed associated with that page. By clicking it, you are able to subscribe with either the aggregator of you choice, or with your browser. Once subscribed, the rest is almost history, each time you load up your RSS aggregator, it automatically updates with any new posts that have been made to that website.

All in all, this is a pretty geeky way of using the Internet, but its real power comes when you have lots of sites you regularly check, cos it does it all for you. It saves having to go back to the same page over and over just to see that nothing new has been posted. But THAT, is how you can subscribe to this blog, and many others :-).

Categories: Blog Tags:

Supermarket Shopping…..from home.

January 30, 2009 2 comments
Online Shopping

Online Shopping

Today I tried something new, shopping for our groceries online. It was recommended by a friend yesterday, while we were complaining about having to do a shop, and just generally getting really sick of having to deal with overcrowded supermarkets and the amount of time it takes. So we went to the Foodtown website, and set up an account. It was a really painless experience. All up, it took me about 30 min to do about 170 dollars worth of grocery shopping, no driving, and the food was delivered about 3 hours later!!.. Since I got my order in during the morning, I was able to have it delivered by 1.15pm.

So not only was it convenient, but it made shopping for bargains and doing price comparisons so much better! You could quickly scroll down a page on a certain product type and see what was on special, and how much each item cost. Added to this fact the elimination of spontaneous purchases of tasty toffee pops as you walk past the biscuit aisle means you save money by not purchasing the things you don’t actually need. Apparently, the website will know what you ordered last time, and is used as a basis for the next shop. The delivery fee for a shop between $100 -$ 200 dollars is about $13, but when taken into consideration of no travel, much much less time doing the shopping, and potentially a significant amount of savings by not making spontaneous purchases (depending on how self controlled you are), and better price comparisons, I think overall its worth it. The only downside – they packed the groceries is HEAPS of plastic bags, which cant be good for the environmentalist in me, and my cherry tomatoes were in a can – it was a product that said ‘image to come’….my bad..

Overall, highly reccomend the process, and I will be definitly a repeat customer.

Categories: Blog Tags: , ,

Prisoner Escape

January 30, 2009 Leave a comment

This was on the news last night…. I guess you cant expect too much from a Hastings criminal. 🙂

The trip Hannah and I never quite had….

January 29, 2009 Leave a comment

These photos were put together by our friends Dan and Tarryn, whom we were supposed to be travelling with prior to the whole surgical/cancer incident. You’ll notice the finger in the corner of some of them, they laminated the picture and took photos at different locations. Top effort I’d say. 🙂

Categories: Blog, Funny Tags:

Hemicolectomy – Instructions on how to do one.

January 29, 2009 5 comments

In case you wondered what a hemicolectomy was, i thought i would enlighten you. 🙂

Firstly, it helps to know what exactly the colon is, and where it lies. The colon is the large part of the bowel, the final 5 – 6 feet of bowel that food travels through before it is excreted. The bowels primary function is to absorb fluid from its contents prior to excretion. Theoretically, all the digestion and absorption of nutrients have been done in the small intestine prior to the bowel. Figure 1 demonstrates the basic layout of the colon or large intestine. It omits the surrounding organs in order to get a clear view of the colon.

Fig. 1. Colon as it lies in the body (Courtesty of UpToDate Online)

Fig. 1. Colon as it lies in the body (Courtesy of UpToDate Online)

Note the Hepatic Flexure labeled in the diagram, this is where adenocarcinoma was located in myself. In my case, a right hemicolectomy was performed… so what is one? Essentially, its the removal of a section of colon that can be divided into three broad categories, Left Hemicolectomy, Right Hemicolectomy (what i had) and a sigmoid colectomy. Each term refers to the section of colon that is the excised. There are other types of colectomy that can be performed, but for the sake of simplification it helps to think in terms of these three categories. Figures 2 – 4 demonstrate which parts of the colon are removed for each procedure.

Right Hemicolectomy

Fig. 2. Right Hemicolectomy

Fig. 3. Sigmoid Colectomy

Fig. 3. Sigmoid Colectomy

Fig. 4. Left Hemicolectomy

Fig. 4. Left Hemicolectomy

In my situation, a right hemicolectomy was performed, because the location of the tumour, in the hepatic flexure, is in the region of the of the right ascending colon. The reason they remove that entire section, rather than just the section that contains the tumour is due to blood supply. Blood is supplied to the colon by the superior and inferior mesenteric arteries, which branch off the Aorta. These arteries then branch into smaller arteries, each supplying a segment of the colon. Often, a resection will be based on what parts of the colon are supplied by each of these arteries in order to prevent bleeding, and also to make the life the surgeon easier. It is easier to occlude one or two arteries upstream than to try to occlude many smaller arteries individually down stream. Think of it like a river than divides into many tributaries. Figure 5 shows a basic layout of mesenteric arteries.

Fig. 4. Blood supply to the colon

Fig. 4. Blood supply to the colon

The John Hopkins Colon Cancer Centre provides a good summary of how different resections work with the blood supplies and the location of the lesion to be removed.

Finally, comes the anastamosis of the now two ends of bowel after the resection. There are number of techniques in which anastomoses can be done, the specific one that was performed on me remains a mystery. But suffice it to say, the distal ilium and my transverse colon are joined and functioning well. 🙂

That is a VERY simplified version on what a hemicolectomy is.

Ninja Cat

January 29, 2009 1 comment

I dont know why this is funny, but it had me laughing…

Categories: Funny Tags: , ,