About Anita S

I specialize in "poor judgment"

10 Fascinating Facts about the X Chromosome

We all have at least one X chromosome. Some of us have two. We know that two X chromosomes makes a female, and one X plus a Y makes a male. But there are many more amazing facts about the X chromosome and its genes!

10 Only one X is active
Men have only one X, and to correct the imbalance between the genders, females have only one active X in each cell. The other X is inactive and is called a Barr body (see arrow pointing to Barr body in illustration below). In humans, the inactivation of one of the X chromosomes begins not long after fertilization, when the embryo is a curved double layer of cells. A gene called Xist is triggered on one of the Xs, and coats the gene in Xist RNA. From that point on, every time the cell divides, the new cell will have the same inactive chromosome as the original cell. The only time this does not occur is during the formation of eggs in the ovary (LINK 1).

A striking example of X inactivation is the calico cat. The X of a cat has a coat color gene that is either orange or black. Calico and tortoiseshell cats have one X with the orange gene and one with the black gene. Because some cells have an active orange gene, while others have an active black gene, the cat is a mixture of black and orange, plus white (on a different gene) if she is a calico. Most calico and tortie cats are female. The only male cats with this coat pattern are abnormal because they have two Xs as well as a Y. They are anatomically male, but sterile. Like females, one of their X chromosomes becomes inactivated and they will have both orange and black on their coats (LINK 2).

9 X inactivation is not always random
In mice and marsupials, the X that came from the father (the paternal X) is always the inactive one. In humans, the process is basically random. However, there are factors that can cause the inactivation to be skewed — that is, either the maternal or the paternal X is favored for inactivation (LINK 1).

8 X-linked disorders occur mostly in males
Some diseases, such as hemophilia, are located in genes on the X chromosome. The gene is recessive, meaning that an X without the gene can overcome it. But males have only one X. If the X has the hemophilia gene, there is no corresponding gene to counteract it. Problems like this are called X-linked disorders. In most cases, the female is a carrier and does not have the disorder herself. According to traditional genetics, she would need to have the disordered gene on both Xs (LINK 3).

7 But Females CAN have recessive x-linked disorders, too!
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My dear daughter

My aunt posted this on Facebook. It is beautiful!Capture
My dear girl, the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through. If when we talk, I repeat the same thing a thousand times, don’t interrupt to say: “You said the same thing a minute ago”… Just listen, please. Try to remember the times when you were little and I would read the same story night after night until you would fall asleep.

When I don’t want to take a bath, don’t be mad and don’t embarrass me. Remember when I had to run after you making excuses and trying to get you to take a shower when you were just a girl? Continue reading

What is a Grid Neuron?

There are two answers to this question. First, a grid neuron is a kind of neuron that helps us navigate in space — it tells us where we are going, where we are, and where we have been. Neurons in the grid fire in patterns that keep us from being lost all the time.

Second, a grid neuron is what led to Edvard and May-Britt Moser winning the 2014 Nobel Prize in medicine (shared with John O’Keefe).

According to Nature,

If anyone knows how we navigate home, it is the Mosers. They shot to fame in 2005 with their discovery of grid cells deep in the brains of rats. These intriguing cells, which are also present in humans, work much like the Global Positioning System, allowing animals to understand their location. The Mosers have since carved out a niche studying how grid cells interact with other specialized neurons to form what may be a complete navigation system that tells animals where they are going and where they have been. Studies of grid cells could help to explain how memories are formed, and why recalling events so often involves re-envisioning a place, such as a room, street or landscape.

The Mosers have worked together for 30 years, and have been married for 28 of those years. They conduct their research at the Norwegian Institute of Science and Technology in Trondheim, not far from the Arctic Circle. Their mentor, O’Keefe, had discovered that the hippocampus, a brain structure important for memory, contained “place cells” that fired according to the rat’s location in space.

They traced signals to the place cells to their source in the back of the brain, an area called the entorhinal cortex, so they placed electrodes in the rat’s brain in that area. When they discovered that the cells formed a hexagonal grid that fired according to the rat’s movements, they didn’t believe it at first, but after more experimentation, they concluded that the grid cells were largely responsible for the rat’s ability to know its location. The hexagonal pattern was important because it is the most efficient way to identify a location with the least number of cells.

Since the discovery of grid cells, the Trondheim Institute has grown exponentially as newly graduated Ph.D.’s in neuroscience seek to work there. This has resulted in at least six new research groups, and the Institute is still growing.

An interesting aside is that a famous London designer, Matthew Hubble, designed a dress for May-Britt Moser that allowed her to “wear” her work to the Nobel Prize ceremony. It featured sequins and beads illustrating a neuron and its place in the hexagonal grid.



Learning to forget through your prayerful imagination

Anita S:

Susan has some truly excellent, God-inspired insights on her website. Whether you are Catholic or not, I strongly recommend her writings and music.

Originally posted on Be As One:

My monthly column on The Catholic Free Press and Catholicmom.com

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Learn to forget? Seems to me I have to first learn how to remember! Those of us past a certain age know that feeling well. So do young mothers, workaholics and anyone else who is overly busy. We all know that sinking feeling when we’ve forgotten an appointment. How many of us search for a word in the middle of a sentence, only to have it pop into our heads hours later?

Then again, there are things I would like to forget. That scary movie I saw just before bedtime. The dirty house that I have no energy to clean. The accident I had last summer that now makes taking any left turn into traffic an ordeal.

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Civil Forfeiture

Two days ago, I learned a very disturbing fact: using a process called civil forfeiture, law enforcement officials and state/federal agencies can seize a person’s home, car, cash, or any other property at will, without a warrant and without charging anyone with a crime.

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states,

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


The Fifth Amendment states,

No person shall be…  deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

The Fourth and Fifth Amendments are clearly being violated by this practice. There is no due process. Seizures under civil forfeiture do not involve warrants because they are not considered criminal matters, even though the property is accused of being involved in a crime.

Yes, you read that right. The property itself, not the owner, is accused. This leads to ridiculous lawsuits such as “State of Texas v. One 2004 Chevrolet Silveradoand “United States v. 434 Main Street, Tewksbury, Mass. (The Motel Caswell).”

In addition to the inanity of making an accusation against an object, the rules for conviction and acquittal are changed because it is a civil matter. Only a preponderance of evidence, not evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, is required for seizure and conviction. The law enforcement entity does not have to prove the object guilty; instead, the property owner has to prove its innocence.

Is this the United States, or did I wander off into some authoritarian police state? (pun intended)

When I first learned about this I was furious. Actually, I still am furious. Oddly enough, I wasn’t surprised though. After 9/11, I became aware of provisions in the Patriot Act that gave the federal government the power to snoop into the affairs of anyone who was “suspected of terrorist leanings” without first getting a warrant. At the time, I thought it likely that this kind of civil rights violation (among others) had been going on for some time.Still, this made me very uneasy because, although I want to see terrorists punished, I don’t think the rights of law-abiding citizens should be ignored.

According to The Economist magazine, civil forfeiture has existed for a long time, but it became more frequent in the United States after the drug laws that were passed in 1984 gave police the right to keep and use any profits. Laws like that are very dangerous. They are a great temptation to every human being, and I’m surprised that it was even passed. I would like to find out the reasoning behind it.

Many police departments rely on forfeiture funds to fill in the holes in their budgets. In Arizona and Texas, these funds can even be used to pay salaries directly. They may be used in this way indirectly in other states — for example, the forfeiture money might be used to maintain and repair police vehicles, freeing up money in the budget for salaries.

At this point, I don’t like this practice, but I’m not sure what to do about it, other than tell other people as I am doing here.

If you’d like to learn more, here are some links:

John Oliver from HBO — he makes some jokes but is still dead serious
Rand Paul and S. 2644 — it did not pass
Taken — a truly shameful story about civil forfeiture in Texas, Pennsylvania, and other places

I feel like updating again

… so I will! I’ve topped 32,000. This quite boggles my mind. Not to toot my own horn too much — or maybe I will. The thing is, this is unheard of for me. Even if I quit today, I would be far, far ahead from the brief stories I’ve written in the past. Oh, I did write a fan fiction story that had about 46 chapters, but they were very short chapters, and it took me a year and a half almost!

So this is a Big Deal for me. Because I am bipolar, I am notorious for starting things but not finishing them. This past weekend I did have problems. I got bogged down, or bored, or something. I just felt I wasn’t interested anymore. But I pushed myself through, making use of some tips they gave on the NaNo website. For example, if you run out of things to write, do something like interviewing your characters or describing one of the locations. One of the cool parts (to me, at least) in my story is when a character reads a book that explains how everything changed from Now until Then. For example, it explains why the former United States is now broken into pieces. I’m not saying this is the best way to write. But it is an easy way to write, then later, I can go back and try to incorporate some of that information as flashbacks or other “show” instead of “tell” passages.

The writer who wrote this week’s pep talk said she’s won NaNoWriMo three years (winning means reaching 50K words) and published all three of the novels! But, she pointed out, not until about the 20th version! The point is, you will have to edit anyway. No one can write without editing — except possibly Isaac Asimov. But not on his novels.

So I am here to say…



Second week of NaNoWriMo

The second week is past now, and I have reached the 25,000 word mark! I’m halfway there. Of course, I only made 25K yesterday, so I’m a little behind at this point. No matter; I will keep on writing, and I hope to get caught up today.

It was a very busy weekend, and I had trouble finding / making the time to write. Another part of it was plain procrastination. Also, I have this habit of shooting myself in the foot — if I’m feeling bad because I haven’t done something, then I avoid doing it even more, which is the exact opposite of what I could do to help myself feel better. Crazy, eh?

All I can do is to be accountable to myself (and my therapist) for doing the Next Right Thing.

Excerpts from the budding novel:

[The cover suddenly flipped away, and the man said, “You can come out now, Seth. It’s safe.”
“What?” He sat up, knocking sand off him. “How do you know my name? Who are you?”
“We know your name for the same reason that you knew what Stacy was going to do to you,” the woman said. Then, like a door opening, he could see into their minds and feel what they were feeling.
A huge sense of relief washed over him. “How did you do that?” he asked. “How do you control it?”
“You’ll learn,” Evan said — that was his name — and Audrey agreed. “We’re taking you to the training place, then you will go with us to Dallas.”
Dallas! His heart leapt with excitement. He had hoped to get into Texas, but Dallas was one of the most difficult city-states to gain entrance to….]

[They were not 6 feet out of the room before Sarah spoke. “Ms. Hayes, your little girl isn’t doing well. Her oh-two sats are dropping — that means she isn’t getting enough oxygen — because her lungs can’t take in the oxygen she needs. That makes it hard for her heart to pump.”
Dr. Woodley and a man Reba didn’t know were waiting near Darlee’s isolation room.
“Ms. Hayes, I’m Dr. Cambrey,” the man said. “I’m the cardiovascular specialist for the ICU. Dr. Woodley and I are very concerned about Darlee’s oxygen levels, because they keep going down, and we’ve done all we can at this point. We’ve put her on 100% oxygen, and even tried a ventilator, but the problem is that her lungs are simply not healthy enough to allow oxygen to go into her bloodstream.”
Tears began to prick Reba’s eyes as she thought this was Darlee’s death sentence. But Cambrey wasn’t finished.
“We have one more thing we can try — we can hook her up to a heart-lung machine, also called ECMO. It will do the work so that her body can rest and get well. She must be kept heavily sedated so she won’t fight the machine’s functioning. After a week or two, she should recover enough to go back to less invasive forms of treatment.”
Reba stared, feeling numb. All she had really heard were “heart-lung machine” and “rest and get well.” “So,” she said at last, “do I have to give consent or something?”
“Well for God’s sake get me the form and a pen! Whatever needs to be done, I want you to do it as soon as possible!”]

First Week of NaNoWriMo is Over

So far I’m doing fine! I’m actually surprising myself! As of today, I have 16, 390 words written. I still have a long way to go, of course, but I’m on schedule and a little ahead, actually.

So far —

  • Karri and Lydia, who are taking a mother and daughter on a tour of Big Bend National Park, have been through a strong storm with flash flooding, and the next day one of their horses slipped in the mud and broke its fetlock (ankle). This is very bad for a horse; they are basically in the middle of nowhere and cannot get help.
  • Seth is planning to run away from home
  • Reba has adopted Darlee and Jake so she can take them to Dallas for medical help. It’s fairly certain now that Darlee has a serious case of fulminating tuberculosis
  • Norma and Tad are becoming better friends — Norma is trusting him more — and he is going to let her read a book about the Accidents
  • Steve’s unit is patrolling the area around Big Bend to prevent illicit border crossings

In other words, everything is going exactly as planned! ;-D

Next update, on or before the 15th.

First Novel Writing Day!

Today is the first day of NaNoWriMo — National Novel Writing Month! All over the world people have started writing, beating their inner critics to achieve an admittedly arbitrary 50,000 words in one month.

I plan to update my word count every day.

Today’s count: 2,256. I need 1,667 words every day to finish on time. I hope to stay ahead a little bit.