La Brea gas comes from novel bacteria

La Brea (“the tar”) Pits in Los Angeles is the site of a lovely museum full of tar-soaked bones. Outside the museum are tar pits, which are asphalt and oil with a bit of water on top and bubbles of methane gas coming up. Now, scientists from the University of California at Riverside have detected about 200 new species of bacteria that live on the asphalt without water and with very little oxygen. It’s possible that some will be developed to clean up oil spills. They probably evolved from soil bacteria.


Photo by LotStreetWiz, who visited La Brea with his daughter, the biologist. You can see the pond in the foreground gently bubbling with bacterially produced methane.

Five-year-old saves mother’s life

Firegirl, an emergency medical technician, posted a very positive experience about how a properly trained five-year-old called 911 and supplied information that helped to save her mother’s life. I’m quoting the story with her permission:

A 5-year old little girl called 911 to come help her mother. When we got on scene, firefighers were already there and the little girl came bouncing out to greet us with a cheery, “HI! My mommy fell down in the kitchen!” She didn’t seem concerned, really, which is a nice change from the kids who cry and worry. In fact, she turned out to be incredibly helpful, beyond the initial 911 call. She lead my partner and I into the kitchen where “Mommy” had apparently been fixing a pizza for her children (the girl and her six year old brother) when she collapsed. Mom was breathing fine but she kept lapsing in and out of consciousness and couldn’t really give us much information on what was going on.

I was pulling on a pair of gloves and the little girl said, “My mommy has some of those! See!” and pointed to a box of non-latex gloves sitting on a sideboard. Good thing she pointed those out! We all pulled off our latex gloves and replaced them with the ones on the sideboard. (We left her a fresh box out of our ambo as well.) When the girl asked why we did that I explained that we needed to wear “Mommy’s special gloves” because our gloves could make her sick. She nodded and said, “’cause she’s ‘lergic, right?” I was impressed and said yes, that was why. She then told me that Mommy was “‘lergic to lotsa stuff” and she had a list of that stuff in her purse. I asked her to show me where the purse was so we could look at that list and she dashed off to get it for me. There was, indeed, a list of allergies and recent surgeries and a huge list of meds, but the list was dated about six months ago. I told the captain about the med list and the girl chirped again, “Mommy takes lotsa pills. Wanna see?” I told her I did very much want to see. She lead me into the master bedroom saying, “I know where they are but I’m not allowed to touch them ’cause Mommy said they could make me really sick,” then pointed to a basket up on top of a chest of drawers. There were a zillion bottles in it (probably about 30, reall, but a lot were duplicates) so I just grabbed the whole basket and walked back into the kitchen with it. We sorted through them, setting aside duplicates and comparing them to the list we had. There was a brand new script bottle of diazepam (Valium) and we think Mom may have accidentally overdosed on it. PD was on scene and agreed to stay with the kids until someone else arrived (Dad and an aunt were both on the way) so we could go ahead and take Mom to the hospital. Before we left, though, I made sure to tell the little girl what a good job she had done and how she had been very helpful to her Mom and all of us. I told her to make sure she always showed firefighters and police officers “Mommy’s special gloves” and the basket of meds but reinforced Mom’s warning to not touch the medicine bottles herself. We gave her a stuffed animal our of our ambo and the firemen gave her a plastic fire helmet and we all told her how very, very proud of her we were. She pretty much saved her mom’s life. (We didn’t tell her that exactly, though, as that tends to freak kids out.) Pretty great little kid, that’s for sure.

LibraryThing’s random book covers

I have the “random books from your library” widget in the blog sidebar. The idea is to pull up some books from a virtual bookshelf on LibraryThing. The covers come, I believe, from Amazon.com. Some are photographs that I’ve taken of my own books, but I’ve uploaded more than 500 to Amazon, so I’m not surprised to see my covers from Amazon. Or perhaps they come directly from LibraryThing as user-supplied covers. At any rate, sometimes a book comes up with the wrong cover, and I don’t know where it’s coming from.

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