Wednesday, November 19, 2014

98th Percentile for Neanderthal DNA ~ A Link to a Few Initial Thoughts

I captured this in a Hub Pages article prior to looking into what it actually means.  I wanted to have a little fun with it first.  I incorporated photos as well.

I was writing about genetic SNP's and their application to Lyme disease recovery.  But in looking at my genetic results, the 98th percentile aspect of the Neanderthal result caught my attention.

I googled it that way, to see what I might find about people who were in my percentile.  I was so amused with the first blog post I read and the very prideful comments therein that I had to write about it while it was still amusing, and unspoiled by actual knowledge on the topic.

Initial Reflections on My Neanderthal DNA

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Loveliest Little Earthquake ~ Friday Night In Montana

Western Montana has had three earthquakes in the last seven days.  No one I know took note of the first two (each 3.7) but just about everyone in a three town radius felt the 4.5 earthquake Friday night, and many people nearest me (a few miles from the epicenter) heard it as well.

I've experienced earthquakes in a few different states, and at least a few times have felt them when no one else around me did.  I've also felt at least one that I attributed to something else initially, but I would hazard a guess that most of the time when someone is inspired to ask, "was that an earthquake?" there was an earthquake.

Two nights ago was a fairly common Friday night in that I was at home (my blogs about Lyme will illustrate how sadly common this is) and my husband was not (he's a firefighter/paramedic and works a 24-hour shift every third day).

It was uncommon, though in that both of my kids were sleeping in my room, and both in my bed with me.  They have long since grown too wiggly for this, and we seldom attempt it for the sake of all involved.

It is common for us to get sucked into the science channel, but not common that even my youngest is allowed to keep watching until past 11 o'clock (2.5 hours after bedtime).

But we watched just a bit more of just one more show, and as midnight rolled around, a new scuffling round of "move your arm....get off my hair" was beginning just as I was dozing off.

And then the house shook, at first like the trains that pass by our yard, but not quite.  And then the bed shook quite abruptly and unmistakably, but without the walls shaking as much as the trains usually cause.

Bickering and dozing ceased as we all sat straight up, in varying states of wakefulness, and sort of lunged toward a sound we were all hearing while asking, "what was that??"

The unified direction of the lunge, toward a profound rumble that was oddly only beginning as we were lunging, occurred to me only just now.  It's interesting what things you miss that your senses catch.

We all layed back down, and my sons eyes closed the moment his head touched the pillow, and the thought that had been taking shape throughout the event in mind took shape as, "THAT was not a Lyme symptom."  I've been dizzy and off-kilt enough lately that had it not been for my kids, I would have woken up, but assumed I was having yet another weird Lyme moment of many.

It happened just before midnight, and no one else had posted I asked if my town just shook or just my neighborhood.  Then jumped from USGS to all other earthquake data sites I could find, but no mention of it.

I have very smart friends, and by the time I checked my post it was full of comments from fascinated, sleepy, and frightened people, many of who could already say there was no date up anywhere, and were noticing what I was noticing, which was that it had only been a few days since the last earthquake of notable size in our area, and that this one was the third this week, with two more the previous week near Yellowstone (but both rated less than 2 on the richter scale).  Numerous people noticed the rating (4.5) the moment it appeared on various earthquake data sites.

The knowledge that I live in the Yellowstone Caldera, well within the huge area that eventually (in geological terms, so any time between now and thousands of years from now), will be blown to catachlismic smitherenes doesn't scare me any more than knowing that the Hungry Horse Dam will kill us all if it ever breaks.  That many earthquakes did catch my attention, though.

I have perused the sites in the past---as a biologist with an interdisciplinary cadre of geeky colleagues to egg each other on, who all find interesting data as a result of normal day to day distractions and questions---and have been surprised to see just how many earthquakes happen globally on a regular basis.

Still, it did give me a bit of start to check back to see two 6.7 earthquakes today elsewhere in the world.  That's no reason for alarm at all, but I am surprised we've had 20 in western Montana this month and 894 this year!  The next step is obviously to find a few years of data to compare it to (next time I get curious), and a satisfactory map to insert into this post....

Thursday, November 13, 2014

On-Line Identity Crisis: My Long Break From Non-Illness Blogging

Last Spring, following a ridiculous level of workplace stress (predominantly drama-related rather than related to actual job duties, unfortunately, but sadly inescapable) my Lyme symptoms, including reduced facial movement and a lot of pain, started coming back.

I talked to my boss and tried to wrap up projects, but the drama displaced constructive work time, symptoms increased, and project planning got way-layed, so that stepping back from the situation took far longer than I should have let it.

Had I stepped back sooner, I don't think it would have gotten this bad.  But I have been away from work since Spring.

Those details are not the topic of this post, so much as where my writings have taken me since then.

This blog (Montana Momma) was where I posted about the relative sense of normalcy and recovery I thought I was returning to.  So I wanted it to stay relatively separate from illness.  Which it largely did, with overlap increasing once I found out my illness was actually Lyme disease.

Since Montanans need to know that Lyme can be contracted here, despite what doctors and health agencies are telling us, it is a Montana-relevant topic that has warranted some attention here.

Just as I posted less on my former illness blogs as I posted more here and was able to do more and more as I recovered, I stopped posting here entirely once I relapsed this past spring.

Dueling Blogs and Topics

I've just built a page about the various blogs and publicly accessible writing I've done.  I began blogging about illness, and as indicated above, I gradually moved away from it when I was in better health, not wanted the different topic to eclipse each other.  And wanting to keep some places clean and positive.  As I stated on that page (that I just constructed), I've had some on-line writing identity crises over time.  And I've even ventured into freelance writing when health allowed, which I've enjoyed.

I've written (and been paid for, though not a lot, due to health limitations) a wide range of topics so far including Hazardous Materials, Civil Rights, travel, wildlife and garbage, forestry, Lyme disease, public transit, and even rocket science.

Yep, rocket science.  I got paid to write about rocket science.  I can't get any more specific than that because all of the writing I've done has been ghost writing.

Where to Go From Here?

Having been away from this blog for quite some time, and considering venturing into BlogHer, I'm faced with deciding my primary on-line identity, whether I need one, whether I should have one, whether any of my existing ones fit the bill, or whether I need (or want) to construct something new.

Among my many pseudo-epiphanies today, I've decided that it's pretty easy to over-complicate non-complicated issues.  Two more equally non-earth shaking and non-suprising realizations include the following:

  • I'm too tired to decide any of this today, amidst a little flare of symptoms.
  • Thinking and typing too much is giving me a little flare of symptoms.

My final realization is shocking, but shouldn't be at all.  I was just informed by my nine year old that there is no school tomorrow.  So I'd better remove myself from the source of this little flare of symptoms so I can rest up and we can make the most of the coming day my two kids have free from school.


My newness on BlogHer (where I plan to cross-post this) paired with my complete lack of activity on this blog make responses fairly unlikely (no self-deprication here, just a bit of on-line realism), but any thoughts on what I should consider (as far as a new blog as a central location/identity, which blog to focus on for Blog Her, or any other sage or non-sage advice) are MORE than welcome....

Monday, November 3, 2014

Lyme Activism Quick Link ~ Why Patients are Protesting (Hub Pages Article)

I'll be updating more here regarding the trip I took to Philadelphia.  I've posted photos and links on my Lyme blog, Invisibly Lyme Montana, but I may cross-post some of it here, as it pertains to Montana and to me.

I've got other Lyme articles to share and catch up on here as well, though some of my Lyme disease writing is ghost written for clients.

Lyme Disease Activism ~ Why Patients Are Protesting
2014 IDSA IDWeek Lyme Protest was one of many examples of Patients gathering around the world to ask for change.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

More Writing On Hub Pages ~ Travel Tips and Mishaps

Travel hubs covering trips and standby adventures I've blogged about previously.  There were so very many photos to go through to build these, and it was interesting to compare my memory to past writings, as well as current writing (during/post treatment) to past writing (pre-Lyme-treatment).

Travel tips hub: 

These tips primarily stem from arriving in Oahu after 6 days stuck at LAX and being too sick to rent a car, as planned.  On that and other trips  the kids and I were either able or had to get around sans vehicle.

Beaches of WaikikiPlanning Tips for Navigating Waikiki With Adaptions for Kids, Time, or Health

Travel mishaps hubs: 

Beginning with our 6 days stuck at LAX up to and including our week in Oahu and a very unexpected second trip later that summer.  Items destroyed or lost included a phone, laptop, and expensive sunglasses.

The best place in Waikiki to soak a cell phone.
Travel Mishaps Part 2: Salt Water,Cell Phones, and Seat Turtles  

Less mishaps, more sea turtle serendipity.
Travel Mishaps Part 3: Less Mishaps, More (Sea Turtle) Serendipity

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Few Hup Pages Articles So Far ~ Rocky Mountain Mom

I've done a little bit of freelance writing.  I enjoy it, and it is nice to be paid for my words, but I got a little carried away and need to take a step back.

While applying for a few platforms (freelancing is not lucrative without considerable leg work, and although I was hired and paid for multiple small gigs, the money so far was growing a tad, but was not much so far) I found Hub Pages and started writing there.  I like the features and support, and the community there is great.  There are numerous really good authors, published and non-published, some of whom have considerable advice about online writing that they are happy and willing to share.

The site really helped me stretch my brain and I enjoy a number of author's writing there.

Cute Chiroptera: Six Compelling Reasons to Love and Conserve Bats

Would You Like Some Empathy With That? How Hype-Busting Food Intolarences Helps and Hurts the Chronically Ill  

Ecology's Burden: Maintaining Wonder in a Conservation Profession

Friday, February 28, 2014

Funny snow day web stuff (14 yo + 6 yo humor)

School was canceled today.  Other parts of western Montana have closed school several times this winter, but this is the first for us.  Happy to say they called before our alarms went off, so we weren't all up yet and got to sleep in.  Unfortunately I have lots of work to do but don't have my work computer.

Here's what we've laughed at on facebook so far.

(Now we want some of these)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Government Shutdown: Furlough day 4 (amazing plane ride)

Wow.  I posted in my lyme blog from Seattle, hoping to catch a flight To Portland, en route to San Francisco for the Lyme rally protesting IDSA's protocols.

I made that flight.  On the flight, Across the aisle from me was an amazing woman with flowers on her hat.  She reminded me of a heroine from a novel. 

Mid way through the flight, i returned From the bathroom, and as i took my seat, she said she had two things to show me.

I think first she pointed out a mountain fairly near us, against a pinkening sky.  Then she said to look down.

We were directly over Mt. St. Helen's.  It took a minute to sink in that it was UNDER us, and how close it looked.  We were totality swept away from there.  The angle changed and we could see more detail. I remember a red rock on a cliff side that was shiny in the setting sun.  Closer to us, I started to see crevasses in the snow. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Government Shutdown: Furlough Day 1

For Montanans near me, the closure of Glacier National Park is a really big deal.  Even their Facebook page is on hold until the end of the furlough.  Montanans and tourists in national parks had up to 48 hours to vacate, but only if they were lodging inside the park, according to one social media account from a photographer on their way out of Yellowstone.

Federal agency employees drove up Badrock Canyon this morning, required to report to work to be given furlough instruction, as for other federal employees across the nation.

It was obviously not a complete suprise, but we were recently told we'd be working through the end of the week, so it was still suprising.  All the versions of furlough I imagined included, at the very least, the field trip with 3rd and 4th graders that was slated to happen this week.  This was the first piece that was disproportionately difficult to get my head around.

The second piece was that we were given four hours to follow the instructions given in packets of documents we had to sort through.  There weren't really too many items of importance, but the number of pages and documents involved was overwhelming.  Submitting time took more than the allotted four hours, because 800,000 people were trying to submit their time at the same time.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Rocky Mountain Wood Ticks and Lyme, or something like it

The Rocky Mountain Wood tick is present in Montana.  I read in March that that the RM wood tick is one of the vectors of lyme disease. If this is true or could be true, it is even stronger support that the CDC should drop the diagnostic criteria that patients must have traveled to endemic states so we can start getting real statistics for lyme contracted in Montana. 

This may not sound different than earlier posts, but I've seen since then that the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks website had been updated and I had never seen this link (  

I'm pretty certain when I've looked in the past, it said that tick species that carry lyme (usually only black legged ticks are named, but that seems to be changing) are not present in Montana.  It now shows pictures of Rocky Mountain wood ticks.  I first read it to say that they are one of the vectors for lyme disease, but it doesn't say that directly (the other link above does).  Still, kudos to FWP (either for updating the page or for having a better page to start with than I thought they did).  They clearly state at the top of the page that ticks are responsible for a list of diseases in people in Montana; the list includes lyme disease. 

That's still extremely helpful information, either way.  The FWP page doesn't state directly that RM wood ticks carry lyme, but they refer to black legged ticks as the primary lyme vector (rather than the only one) and appropriately do not seem to be ruling out the presence of lyme or the presence of black legged ticks (not yet known to occur here---it seems worth further investigating the range of the western black legged tick, which is only approximately known).

Most of the sites I've found so far don't list wood ticks as lyme disease vectors, but they are listed as vectors for multiple co-infections and other diseases.  Wood ticks are the identified vector for the 'lyme like' disease that has been found in Montana that I've read articles about in the past (written by and/or about cases noted by state epedimiologist Dr. Damrow (I think he has left the sate)).

We have a few species of wood ticks (Ixodes spp.) and dog ticks (Ixodes and Rhipicephalus spp.) and cooley and relapsing fever ticks (Argasidae spp.) which are all vectors for diseases we can catch. Deer ticks (Ixodes spp.) are black legged ticks that undisputedly carry lyme disease.  

Montana doctors insist we do not have any black legged species, but we aren't really looking hard enough to support their absence.  We have wood ticks (soft bodied) which are so far mostly not thought to transmit lyme, but vets are finding and treating lyme in dogs after wood tick bites and some scientists see them as a possible lyme vector.  There is agreement that Rocky Mtn Wood ticks (present here) carry a 'lyme like' disease and other tick born illnesses.  Migratory birds and mammals, lack of large enough scale survey efforts, climate change, and proximity to mapped Pacific tick ranges make it hard to accept that we really know what species we do or don't have here.  I'm not convinced that no ticks in Montana carry lyme disease.

I'm convinced that plenty of people in Montana have lyme; I'm not convinced they all got it somewhere else.

I'm not convinced that Rocky mtn wood ticks carry lyme, but I'm not fully convinced they don't.

But a person can only search for so long in one night, and this person has lyme disease and is going to bed.