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Topics - Magic Wand

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In The News / Smuggling
« on: September 08, 2011, 10:25:26 am »

Health / Student study of dry cleaning stirs debate
« on: September 07, 2011, 08:40:12 am »
By Lena H. Sun, The Boston GlobeSun, Sep 04 2011 at 8:00 PM EST

Like many other memorable science fair projects, it began with a startlingly simple idea: Find out what chemicals remain in dry-cleaned clothing.
But the problem facing 15-year-old Alexa Dantzler was she didn’t have access to the proper equipment.
So the Arlington, Va., high school sophomore went online. She e-mailed three or four chemistry professors across the country, asking for help. Only Paul Roepe, then-chairman of Georgetown University's chemistry department, seemed intrigued. He took on the research "for fun,'' he said.
But that prompted a chain reaction in the university lab: an e-mail exchange, an invitation to collaborate and, last month, a paper published online in a peer-reviewed environmental journal. The paper gives new details about the amount of a toxic chemical that lingers in clothing after it is dry-cleaned.
"At the end of the day, nobody, I mean nobody, has previously done this simple thing—  gone out there to several different dry cleaners and tested different types of cloth,'' said Roepe, who supervised the study.
Dantzler, with help from her mother, sewed squares of wool, cotton, polyester, and silk into the lining of seven identical men's jackets, then took them to be cleaned from one to six times. The Virginia cleaners, who were not identified, had no prior knowledge of the experiment.
She kept the patches in plastic bags in the freezer — to preserve the samples — and went to Georgetown once or twice a week to do the chemical analysis with two graduate students, Katy Sherlach and Alexander Gorka. The research team found that perchloroethylene, a solvent linked to cancer and neurological damage, stayed in the fabrics and that levels increased with repeat cleanings, particularly in wool. The study was published online in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.
Between 65 and 70 percent of the country's estimated 25,000 dry cleaning facilities use the solvent, known as PCE or perc, industry representatives said. Government regulations and voluntary industry guidelines exist for atmospheric concentrations in the workplace, and there has been a long-running fight between environmentalists and the federal government over how quickly the chemical should be phased out for dry cleaners.
No standards exist for levels in dry-cleaned fabric, public health experts said.
Without further research, Roepe said, it was difficult to say how much risk consumers might face from wearing, say, dry-cleaned wool pants for a year or breathing air from a closet full of dry-cleaned clothes.
"Like cigarettes, like UV sun exposure, the risk depends on how much and how long,'' he said.
Using the levels found in the patches, researchers calculated what they thought would happen if four freshly cleaned wool sweaters were put inside a warm car with the windows closed for an hour: The perc vaporized from the sweaters would produce a level as high as 126 parts per million, which exceeds workplace exposure limits and far exceeds tighter limits more widely recommended by industry and government scientists.
Public health experts said the study raises important questions about how much PCE is retained in dry-cleaned clothes and then breathed in or absorbed through the skin.
"The next step should be for somebody to look at human exposure to wearing dry-cleaned clothing and get an idea of how much is actually taken into the body,'' said Judith Schreiber, chief scientist for the environmental protection bureau in the New York state attorney general's office.
Industry representatives said the study was incomplete because the tested garments had been dry-cleaned but not pressed. Blowing steam through garments to get rid of wrinkles helps remove residual solvent, said Mary Scalco, chief executive of the Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute, an industry association. Few consumers choose dry cleaning without pressing, she said.
Schreiber said that argument was subject to debate. The chemical is either in the clothing or going into the air, she said. "It doesn't just disappear.''
Dantzler, now 16 and a junior, wants to be a doctor. She said she learned valuable lessons during the project.
"I know procedure is very important during surgery,'' she said. "In the lab, I really learned to be aware of what I was doing.''
(Washington Post staff writers Juliet Eilperin and Christian Torres contributed to this report.)
Copyright 2011  The Boston Globe

Hudlin's Huddle / Homecoming
« on: September 07, 2011, 07:06:09 am »
Back in Georgia, the rental car agent expressed annoyance at my refusal to accept a vehicle with a temporary tag that ultimately bled crimson and screamed, “Take me!  No one owns me!  I’m just a rental, best used in a drive-by or as a get-away car or simply for automatic assault rifle practice!” 

It had been over 12 years since I had visited the blighted, shooting gallery affectionately known as East Boogie, IL.  My decision to drive up from Georgia for two class reunions and to crash another one, seemed more and more ill-advised as I approached the dingy city from the dirty south.  I had grown so anxious and apprehensive as I approached the oppressive humidity rising, that I lowered all the car windows in an effort to catch the last breath of the suburban air(?).  I called a former schoolmate, for some inspiring words of wisdom along the way. 

“Hello, Mr. H.  This is Magic.  I am in southern Illinois, en route to your hometown.  Please say something…….ummm……..inspiring?”

The first “inspiring” words to erupt from his lips were,

“Why the hell are you going there?!!”

After explaining to him that now is the most opportune time to see a lot of the people that had escaped the Boogie and maybe not get shot in the process, he agreed that the journey may indeed be worth it.

My friend did not readily understand my anxiety about returning the city and reconnecting with my former classmates.  In a rambling barely coherent rant, I desperately tried to explain that I was afraid of   a.) not being remembered, b.) remembered for being weird, or c.) possibly taking a bullet to the cranium for no reason at all.  Twelve years away makes one automatically bougie, right?  That attitude ain’t tolerated in ESL!  While my friend is deemed a local hero and his accomplishments have become ESL lore, mine are definitely more low-key.  With no family in the city and no current ties, I am one of those outta-sight-outta-mind, or whatever-happened-to-that-one-chick? alum.   

Anyway, my friend took all of five seconds to encourage me with,
“Going to East St. Louis will make you appreciate all the other parts of your life!”

My friend was so right.
I do appreciate my life now.  I even appreciate the prospects and the ability to still dream. I have traveled places that many only dream of and some they’ve never heard of.  I have met some amazing people along the way.  The Gods have been generous with the Blessings.   I also appreciate having come from the Black Hole.  ESL makes all the other “’hoods” I’ve visited seem like Mayberry.   Growing up amongst gangstas from the pool halls and City Hall, that graduated from the skeezy part of the  school yard to the skeezy whole of the school district has made me pretty darned resilient to nearly anything. 

Two thirds of the way into our chat, the call was dropped and I knew that I’d entered that nebulous zone of potentially no return.  He was gone.  I texted him (while driving) a thank you for his encouragement, then prayed a silent prayer that we would some day chat again, as I entered the blasted out city, lined with depressing, dilapidated buildings in varying degrees of deterioration and decay surrounding where condemned buildings used to be.  In some places, nature reclaimed what the crack-heads had abandoned.  Trees and weeds sought sun from within crumbling homes, decomposing churches and collapsing corner stores. Shop City (formerly a central shopping area) had simply vanished with no sign of ever having been there.  It was all so surreal.  A drive down State Street found it desolate; devoid of activity in the areas that hadn’t already disintegrated.  For a moment, I considered, at 95 degrees and searing humidity, maybe it’s just too damned hot for the clockers and crack hoes to be outside.   Maybe they dealing from the Rush City drive-thrus. 

Later that evening, I spotted some of the more successful pimps and drug dealers at the class reunion decked out in the requisite bright baby-blue, pin-striped zoot suits, matching gators and gold teefes.  It was a throw-back to the 20s/60s/80s of flamboyant fashion, slicked-back hair and loud, arrogant attitudes.  Somehow the scenes and the scents were simultaneously amusing and comfortable.  I immediately felt ultra-conservative and conspicuous in my Christian Louboutin’s and  booty-length dreds. 

Game face on, entering the Regency Banquet Hall (alone) non recognition drew a few sharks circling me.  But I wasn’t afraid.  I’m a barracuda!  I was a “friendly” predator returning to the banks of the muddy Mississipp.  Let the signifying begin!

As my friend on the phone had warned, the happily married cheerleaders from high school now tipped the scales at roughly three-eighty, and the twice divorced or never married pom-pon girls bragged about their six kids and 17 grandkids, while all of them seemed to bitch about their eight baby-daddies.  I cringed at my own lack of contribution.  I lacked ass or children or baby-daddies.

No less than three chicks resembling the Sugar Hill Gang, that didn’t remember me, chided me for not remembering them!  Apparently they were ALL THAT back in the day and what a fool I was not to reckonize!  What is the proper response for not remembering someone that you were never friends with in the first place? 

Overall, the three reunions were alright.  Nothing extraordinary happened.  A few hugs and a lot of giggles.  Didn’t get drunk, didn’t get shot.  Don’t think I’m pregnant.  I guess that would make the trip a success, huh?

Education / Think!
« on: September 05, 2011, 12:54:47 pm »

In The News / Man decapitates.....
« on: August 31, 2011, 08:50:26 pm »

Education / Live Chat w/ Will.I.Am
« on: August 31, 2011, 02:11:16 pm »

General Discussion / Dragoncon is this weekend!
« on: August 31, 2011, 12:31:38 pm »

Health / Cool Medical Animation
« on: August 31, 2011, 09:26:29 am »
Orthopaedic stuff

Vox Populi / Black Caucus Tired of Making Excuses.........
« on: August 17, 2011, 12:31:15 pm »

In The News / Tavis is whining again
« on: August 12, 2011, 05:58:40 am »

Vox Populi / We Stopped Dreaming
« on: August 08, 2011, 06:43:22 pm »
Neil Degrasse Tyson

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