Wednesday, April 25, 2007

More than you wanted to know about cat litter

One of the things I do when I travel is take my back issues of Science with me and read through them while I am waiting to do computer work. When I get to a page that elicits a wow, cool, huh! or huh? I tear it out, fold it in half, and stow it. I have a couple of inches of these folded up pages on my desk. Most of them represent future good intentions to follow up, forward to someone, or just keep in my memory. Here is a little story about a Huh! I found last week.

Toxoplasma gondii is a parasite that requires a cat intestine, where it starts its life cycle, and another host, e.g., a rat. Toxoplasma returns to the cat intestine to start it all over again. To improve its chances, Toxoplasma cysts form preferentially on the rat amygdale, which controls fear responses in the brain. Infected rats don’t just mellow out, they specifically lose fear of the smell of cats, which makes it easier for the parasite to make it back to the cat intestine. So now you know why pregnant women should not handle cat litter.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

40 years of recipies and counting

In my kitchen drawer there is a large box dating back to when business stationery came in fine cardboard boxes with lids. It has been filled with a file of clippings, and more recently, printouts of recipies. Then there are a couple of special purpose file folders for things like peaches and plums (I have trees)and bread machine recipies. Otherwise, no order, and the stuff on the bottom of the box has not seen daylight lo these many years. My neighbor to the rescue! She told me to buy a 31-day expandable receipt file, and label the days with food groups, such as salads, etc. I made special labels for zucchini and tomatoes, etc, things I grow and need lots of recipies for. File is availible upon request, since I couldn't figure out how to attach one here!

The only thing more satisfying than cleaning out a junky drawer is planting new plantlets. I got the garden in this weekend, and found yellow zucchini and lots of heirloom tomato sets to go in this year. Hope always springs eternal when dealing with sets from the garden store. Now to get the hedge trimmed so there is afternoon sun!