Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I Hate To Sound Like A Doom and Gloom Sort

But yes, people are getting on airliners with Ebola.  July 29, 2014 CNN reports on the death of a U.S. citizen:
(CNN) -- Patrick Sawyer had one stop to make before heading home to Minnesota to celebrate his daughters' birthdays: a conference in Lagos, Nigeria.
But when he landed in Lagos, Sawyer, 40, collapsed getting off the plane. He had been infected with Ebola in Liberia, where he worked as a top government official in the Liberian Ministry of Finance.
Sawyer was isolated at a local Nigerian hospital on July 20. He died five days later.
The good news is that you are not contagious until you are showing symptoms.  But pretty obviously, Patrick Sawyer wasn't feeling sick enough to miss his flight to Lagos.

New Blood Test For Precancerous Conditions?

There have been some astonishing improvements in diagnostics the last few decades: the prostate-specific antigen blood test that usually catches prostate cancer before it has far advanced, and often before it would be detected by the embarrassing finger where the Sun doesn't shine test; the A1C test for measuring average blood glucose levels, instead of the clumsy fasting test.  The July 29, 2014 Daily Mail reports:
A revolutionary blood test that could detect any type of cancer has been developed by British scientists. 
It is hoped the breakthrough will enable doctors to rule out cancer in patients presenting with certain symptoms - saving time and preventing costly and unnecessary invasive procedures and biopsies. 
Early results have shown the simple test can diagnose cancer and pre-cancerous conditions from the blood of patients with melanoma, colon cancer and lung cancer with a high degree of accuracy.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2709708/Revolutionary-new-blood-test-detect-ALL-types-cancer.html#ixzz38tUHqGnt
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
Any time you can diagnose with any high degree of accuracy cancer or other serious illnesses from blood draws alone, that's a big win.

Of Water Pumps, Tanks, and Shutoff Valves

Our water system is a bit more complicated than many.  There is a several hundred foot deep well with a Grundfos variable speed well pump in it.  It pumps water into a 1400 gallon water tank (although we seldom keep more than 1000 gallons in it) buried in the hill behind our house.  Gravity feeds the water down to the house, where a Grundfos pressurization pump in the garage raises it to 60 PSI.  (The amount of elevation required to make gravity do the pressurization pump's work we just do not have on our property.)

The pressurization pump was beginning to leak.  After a few calls, we found Idaho Pump, who came out to repair it.  The seals fail over time, and this pump has been in use since late 2005, so I guess that I am not too surprised.  The surprise was when the repairman went looking for water tank shutoff valve.  Clearly, you do not want to disconnect the water line and have 1000 gallons of water pouring out.  But he could not find such a valve under the house.

Our housebuilder was pretty sure that there was a shutoff valve at the tank--but there was no sign of in on the surface.  I used a metal detector to search the area, and while I could find plenty of copper (electrical), and something of iron, if there was a valve control, it was buried so deeply as to be unusable.

Anyway, Idaho Pump repaired the seal, and put in a shutoff valve just before the pressurization pump.  Of course, this mean emptying the water tank.  This was not terribly fast.  This raised the bill for the whole procedure to about $400, which doesn't seem terribly unreasonable considering how much he spent looking for the shutoff valve, waiting for the tank to empty, and installing the shutoff valve that should have been there in the first place.

The good news: even an end of the world as we know it event that knocked out our backup generator and therefore well pump means that we have a year's worth of water available through a gravity-fed spigot.

If You Need Computer Repair In Boise, Let Me Share a Positive Experience

Northwind Computers, on Hays Street.  A few months back I mentioned that my antique laptop was having overheating problems, and I removed as much dust and cat hair as I could reach from the fan grille.  Then I tried to disassemble it so that I could actually get inside.  The instructions that I found online were not spectacularly useful, and eventually, I settled for what I could vacuum out, and reassembled it.

A few days ago, I discovered that the microphone input jack was no longer working, even though the headphone/speaker jack next to it worked fine.  So I took the computer into Northwind for cleaning, and I told them about the problem that I was having with the microphone jack.  They disassembled it, cleaned, and discovered that the wire from the microphone jack was being run into by the DVD drive mechanism.  They did not have a working microphone, but they thought that this was the problem.  If the circuit board responsible for this was at fault, the parts would be about $6, and their labor just another half hour.

Total charges: $37.

When I plugged the microphone in last night, it again works!

Yes, I really should buy a new laptop, but the prospect of spending many hours reinstalling my applications is a bit discouraging.  I have other work to do.

Monday, July 28, 2014

This Sounds Overstated: Any Running Reduces Your Risk of Early Death

From July 28, 2014 USA Today:
Whether you run 30 minutes a week or two hours a week, your risk of early death will be the same — better than if you don't run. Researchers found that running, no matter the duration or speed, will reduce mortality risk by about 30% compared with non-runners.
If the point of the study was that there is a point of diminishing returns, and it is fairly low (thirty minutes a week of running, or any other vigorous exercise, as the article later explains, gives you all the benefit of two hours a week), then it would be nice to know what that point of diminishing returns is.  Read literally, a person who runs three minutes a week gets all the cardiologic health benefits of running thirty minutes a week.  Sorry, but that is quite counterintuitive.

Still: even a bit of exercise is better than none.  In my case, I keep doing forty minutes a night on the treadmill because it helps me sleep, reduces my appetite, and lowers my blood pressure.

My cardiologist has reduced my blood pressure dosages in half because my blood pressure was too low.  Typically, my morning blood pressure is about 113/70, and my pulse is typically 60-66.

It May Be Time To Build Up The Food Stockpiles

The Ebola situation is getting a bit more worrisome.  From July 28, 2014 USA Today:
Still despite precautions, two American health workers have fallen ill. One of them, Nancy Writebol, a mother of two, was treating Ebola patients for the past year in the Liberian capital of Monrovia with the overseas Christian aid group Serving in Mission, before she contracted the deadly virus.
She is now in isolation, according to the aid group.
The other American infected in Monrovia is Kent Brantly, 33, a physician with the North Carolina-based medical charity Samaritan's Purse. Brantly, a father of two, had recognized his condition in its early stages and was in a stable condition in intensive medical care in a Monrovia hospital, according to the group Serving in Mission....
A Ugandan Ebola expert working in Liberia, Samuel Brisbane, died on Sunday, while Shiek Umar Khan, the leading Ebola doctor in Sierra Leone, contracted the virus last week. A Liberian doctor treating patients on the outskirts of Monrovia also died from Ebola on Saturday.
Yes, it's true, as this July 28, 2014 ABC News report emphasizes:
The World Health Organization has yet to impose any travel restrictions on the area, stressing that it’s “highly unlikely” for the outbreak to spread by plane.
“The people who get Ebola tend to be in removed villages and tend not to have the money to be able to get on planes,” WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said, adding that it’s equally unlikely for an American traveler to bring the disease back. “They would be probably be aware of the situation going into it and be advised not to touch someone who looks ill and feverish.”
And the incubation period, according to the Financial Times, is two to twenty-one days.  It isn't likely that a person is going to get out of the African bush or small villages into an international airport before they become obviously sick.  But doctors wearing moonsuits are getting sick.  What are the chances that someone might end up infected, but not yet obviously sick, and leaves the area at 22 days, still asymptomatic?  Small.  But not particularly implausible.

The first clearly recognized case in the West should cause some serious preparation, and not just among paranoid survivalists.

For You Eclipse & MyEclipse Users: If Your Unit Tests Are Running Out of Heap Space

It won't do you any good to enlarge the maximum heap space size with the -Xmx argument on the command line.  This very useful explanation at StackOverflow describes the cause and the solution:
Junit tests are run in a different vm as the Eclipse IDE. So it is that vm that is out of memory and not the Eclipse one.
You can change the settings of the test vm in the run configurations of the test.
You go to the run configurations and then under arguments, you can set the vm arguments.