Sunday, April 16, 2006

Finals Week!!! (cue dramatic music)

This coming week is finals week for me, so you may not hear much from me. If I do somehow find some spare time, I will try to post something. Have a great week everyone and wish me luck on my finals.....all 7 of them!

Factoid #1732

Did you know that the earth and moon are actually related. Although they would never admit to it at a party.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Dark Times

Below is an article sent to me by my brother-in-law that I found interesting. My thoughts on it follow.

In November 2000, the United States held a presidential election, and nobody knew who won, so we just kind of made up an outcome and tried to act like that was normal. Less than a year later, airplanes flew into office buildings, and everybody cried for two months. And then Enron went bankrupt, and the U.S. started acting like a rogue state, and "The Simple Life" premiered, and gasoline became unaffordable, and our Olympic basketball team lost to Puerto Rico, and we reelected the same president we never really elected in the first place.

Later, there would be some especially devastating hurricanes and three Oscars for an especially bad movie called "Crash." Things, as they say, have been better. I'm only 33 years old, so I'll concede that my life experience is limited. But the past five years have been an especially depressing stretch to be an American, and I don't think many people of any age would disagree with that sentiment (except for maybe Kelly Clarkson ... things seem to be working out OK for her). If it's the era of anything, it's the Era of Predictable Disillusionment: a half-decade in which many long-standing fears about how America works (and what America has come to represent) were gradually -- and then suddenly -- hammered into the collective consciousness of just about everyone, including all the people who hadn't been paying attention to begin with.

I have actually been thinking along the same lines as this article for a while. In my opinion we are kind of in a dark time right now in the country and world. Not only are all the natural disasters wreaking havoc on many parts of the world, but political correctness and bipartisan politics are skewing peoples views and taking us farther and farther from the "Truth".

Also, I have noticed that there is a marked lack of creativity in most of the common artistic medias (film, music, TV, liturature, advertising). All we see are sensationalistic CGI imagery, catchy jingles and manufactured not-so-real reality TV. Less and less thought is put into producing TV, movies and music, so we end up with cardboard versions of whatever fad happens to be popular this week. Have you noticed how most of the movies coming out lately are remakes of older movies, TV shows or books? No original ideas.

And although technology is advancing steadily, we have yet to find many good uses for a lot of it. Sure the iPod and cell phone are fun to play with, but do they really serve any useful, real purpose. I am hoping that maybe the next generation will bring a fresh perspective and we will begin to see some new, innovative ideas that will change our society for the better, not just entertain us for a moment or two.

Anyway, my two cents.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Stoplight Wonderings

I was inline behind a hurse today at a stoplight. You don't see hurses very often, so when you do you really take notice. This one was your typical black, enlongated sedan type. Very sleek, modern and respectable.

From my vantage point I could see right inside the back of it, straight through and out the windshield. I could see the top of the coffin. I stared at it, I couldnt help it. I thought to myself "What if that thing opens and someone sits right up and looks at me? What would I do? Would I wave? Would I take a picture? Would I scream, jam the car in reverse and get the hell out of there?"

Unfortunately, I never got the chance to find out. Before I knew it, the light changed and the hurse went around the corner and out of sight. I wondered who was in there? What had they died of? Did they have a happy life or a sad one?

Strange the things that go through one's mind while waiting at a stoplight.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Factoid #1563

Did you know that the first automobiles originally ran on used coffee grounds and your own sense of selfworth?

Friday, April 07, 2006

Curb the "Bless Yous"

We have a lot of "Blessers" in our class. You know these people. They feel the need to say "bless you" whenever someone near them sneezes regardless of the situation. Normally this wouldn't bother me. It's actually a nice courtesy, like holding the door for someone, but my classmates of course take it too far.

Another problem is that there aren't 1 or 2 of them, there are no fewer than 5 "Blessers" in the class. So when someone sneezes you hear from all around the room (and very loudly mind you) "bless you......bless you.....bless you......oh bless you........bless you, dear".

OK, OK, someone sneezed so you want to bless them so their spirit doesn't get away, or whatever nonsense started the tradition, but must you rudely interrupt the instructor in the middle of the lecture. Have some respect for the speaker.

Because of this problem, I have made a very big effort to never sneeze in class, as I don't want to be the cause of all the %$*#@ing "bless yous" that would surely follow. However, there are still 5 more months of classroom work and I don't know how much longer I can hold out. I just pray I don't get a cold or suddenly start suffering from allergies or we may never learn anything in there ever again for all the blessing that would inevitably be going on.

So do me a favor, the next time someone near you sneezes go ahead and say bless you if you want to, but please be respectful of the situation and for the love of god don't yell it from across the room, you will only make people want to slash your tires.

How It Works - X-ray Machines

Almost everyone has heard of x-rays before. Some people have even had images made using x-rays, but most people don’t understand how x-rays work and how they are produced.

This is the first of a series of posts called “How It Works” in which I will attempt to explain how various imaging modalities work. This first post explains in layperson’s terms what exactly an x-ray is, how it is produced, and how it is used for medical imaging. I will do my best to keep it from being too dry, but lets face it, it may get a little technical at times, I mean we are dealing with physics here. So….

X-rays were first discovered by a German physicist named Wilhelm Roentgen (pronounced “RANK-in”) in 1895. While experimenting with electron beams, he found that when exposed to this electron beam a piece of phosphorescent paper would glow. This in itself was not ground breaking. However after experimenting by placing different types of material between the beam source and the paper, to determine the beams penetration ability, he found that the beam passed easily through most material. Finally, he passed his hand through the beam and discovered that it produced a “shadow” on the phosphorescent paper in which he could make out the bones of his hand. Within weeks other scientists were experimenting with the various possible uses for x-rays, most within the medical field. And the rest is history.


X-rays themselves are actually a form of radiation closely related to visible light, infrared and ultraviolet radiation. X-ray radiation is very similar to visible light but with a much higher energy level. This elevated energy level allows x-rays to easily penetrate less dense materials (such as clothing, plastic or skin) and pass through to the other side. However, materials of a more dense nature absorb some or all of the radiation hitting them. Therefore when objects composed of materials of varying densities (e.g. human bodies) are exposed to x-rays, the shadows produced mimic these density variations.

X-ray Images

Although today’s digital imaging technology is quite advanced, the first x-ray images were produced with relatively simple equipment. The source of x-rays is the x-ray tube, which produces x-rays using a vacuum chamber and high amounts of electricity. The x-ray tube will be discussed later. Also needed are phosphorescent or fluorescent paper, unexposed film, a light-tight cassette to house the paper and film and of course a patient. The film and paper are placed in the cassette and then placed within the x-ray beams trajectory on the opposite side of the patient as the emitting tube.

When the x-rays are produced they pass through the patient and hit the phosphorescent paper causing it to fluoresce or glow, which in turn exposes the film below it. The film is then removed from the cassette in a dark room and developed just like film from a 35mm camera would be. The areas of the paper, which receive more x-ray radiation glow more brightly causing more of an exposure on the film directly under it. So variations in densities of materials through which the x-rays are passed show up as variations of light and dark gray on the film.

X-ray Tube

The process for producing the x-ray radiation, however, is much more complex. X-rays are produced in an x-ray tube, which is composed of an electrode pair (a cathode (positive) and an anode (negative)) and a vacuum tube. A large amount of electrical current is passed through the cathode heating it up to a very high temperature, which causes it to release electrons into the vacuum chamber. The anode, which is a negatively charged metal plate located several inches away from the cathode, attracts the electrons and causes them to hit the anode plate at a very high rate of speed. The collision causes the electrons to release photons, the basic particle of which most radiation is composed. The high energy photons manifest themselves in the form of x-ray radiation, which is then directed down and out of the machine.

Since its discovery, x-ray radiation has been used for many different purposes, many of which are in the medical field. Diagnostic and interventional radiography, fluoroscopy and Computed Tomography (CT) are just a few modalities that use x-rays. After more than a century of research, we are now able to harness and use x-rays to diagnose many types of illness in a manner that is safe for not only the patient but also the healthcare workers employing them.

Because of my desire to NOT bore my readers to death, I have left out the nitty-gritty physics of the machine, but the above explanation should give you a general idea of how x-rays are produced and used in medical imaging. If you have any questions about this post please feel free to leave them in my comments section, and I will respond to them to the best of my ability.


hello readers. as you can see something has gone terribly wrong with the code for my site. I tried to make some changes and messed something up, so bare with me until i can get it fixed. Check back soon, though, because I will be posting my first post from the "How It Works" series.

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Lack of material

I realize I haven't posted much about radiography lately. This is because not much has been happening in class. We are approaching the end of the semester so the instructors are starting to sound like a broken record. Thus I have not much to post on the radiography front.

I am, however, working on a series I like to call "How It Works". In the upcoming weeks/months I will be periodically posting blurbs about how various imaging equipment works. What is an x-ray anyway? Why does MR use magnets? How does ultrasound create a visual image from soundwaves? Most people don't know, so I'd like to remedy that, whether they like it or not. :-) So stay tuned for "How It Works", coming soon to a blog (namely this one) near you!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Grand Canyon article

This is a recent article from the Arizona Daily Sun, Flagstaff's newspaper, about a proposed Theme Park for the Grand Canyon.

'Theme park' set for South Rim

There's a theme park in northern Arizona's future, and it will be a lot closer to the Grand Canyon than Williams.
In fact, it will be right on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Requests for proposals are going out Monday that call for a "tram-like mining railway," an "ore recovery water flume with rescue boats" and an "elasticized human recoil apparatus" east of Grand Canyon Village at Mather Point.

Conservationists say the projects seem suspiciously similar to a roller coaster, a water slide and a Bungee jump platform, three staples of traditional theme parks. Park officials said federal budget cuts forced them to think creatively. "We're operating in a federal funding environment in which growth has to pay for itself," said Park Superintendent Joe Allstunned. "If we hope to grow from 5 million to 6 million visitors a year, somebody has to pay the bills." Outgoing Interior Secretary Gale Norton approved the construction during her last days in office

Allstunned denied that the new attractions would amount to a theme park on the edge of one of the world's Seven Natural Wonders. He called them "historical family amusements" designed to fill the dead time between the 15 minutes initially spent looking over the railing and the first seating for dinner at Bright Angel Lodge at 5 p.m. "We're already letting more planes through the canyon and more motorized rafts down the Colorado," he said. "This is just a logical extension of that mass tourism model."


Analysts said Allstunned had little choice. It was either generate more revenue through concession contracts or face annexation from the community of Tusayan, much like the Wahweap Marina/Hotel complex in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is facing an unfriendly annexation bid by the city of Page.

The South Rim RFP is also seen as a pre-emptive move against a proposed theme park in Williams that has yet to solidify its financial backing.
"We decided that if the same tourists were going straight from the Grand Canyon to a roller .... er, tram railway in Williams, why not give them the whole package right here?" said GCNP spokeswoman Mary O'Hugme.

Entrance fees, which had been scheduled to increase this May from $20 to $25 a car for a week inside the park, will now be raised to $100 and cover all attractions. To stave off annexation attempts by Tusayan, park officials have offered to build a 5,000-car parking structure in the middle of Tusayan's strip mall, with Tusayan allowed to keep all parking fees and build fast-food restaurants on each level.


O'Hugme said the Park Service will encourage the successful park bidder to also take over the historic Grand Canyon Railway, which has been put up for sale by its owners. Park officials would like to see the old locomotives replaced with a bullet train. "Imagine rapid transit service from Williams to Grand Canyon Village," she said. A new rail line also would descend from the South Rim alongside Bright Angel Trail to Phantom Ranch, then ascend to the North Rim. "If New York City's subway trains can plunge through the East River, why can't we traverse the Grand Canyon?" Allstunned said.

O'Hugme said once the Rim-to-Rim rail lines are built across the Canyon, lighting the canyon at night will follow.
"It'll be similar to the setup at Niagara Falls," she said. "But more awe-inspiring, with strobe lights and changing colored beams. Like a fireworks show." Victoria Radstenberg from Chicago said she was disappointed with her nights spent recently in a cabin at Grand Canyon Village. "It was fine during the day, and the sunset was nice, but the nightlife here is horrible," she said. "It was just so dark."


Richard Holda Mayo, spokesman for the Grand Canyon Trust, said his organization supported the rail plan as long as the train engines ran on recycled hamburger grease from the Tusayan fast food restaurants.
"You've heard of biodiesel? Well, this is burger diesel," Holda Mayo said. As for the water flume ride, the Trust will insist on using the recycled wastewater during the summer that Arizona Snowbowl doesn't need. The cars in the roller-coaster-like tram mining railway will need to be solar-powered, Holda Mayo added. U.S. Rep. Rick Forent noted that the Grand Canyon represents the last unguarded entrance into Arizona from Mexico for illegal aliens.

Development of a theme park, he said, might publicize that loophole and prove too much of a distraction for Homeland Security agents, who currently work the river as undercover rafting guides.
He suggested attaching mini cameras to soaring California condors, enlisting them as a kind of avian "eyes in the skies." "I will fight to provide the extra protection needed to allow Americans to enjoy their national park without intrusions or distractions," he said.

If revenue falls below expectations, however, the Park Service bid packet includes a Mississippi-style gambling boat to float from the Phantom Ranch to Lake Mead.
River levels may need to be adjusted accordingly. "The Canyon would be a great place for a paddle-wheeler, if only they could bump up the water to smooth out the ride. Otherwise, the rapids could really interrupt a poker game," river runner Lee Oarl said.

HA HA, April Fools!!!! This is a ficticious story written by the Daily Sun staff. Dont worry there are absolutely NO plans for a theme park in the Grand Canyon. Although they are talking about creating one in the town of Williams, a small town on I-40, the major highway that most tourists take to get to the Grand Canyon.