BioMedical, Ethics, Opinion

The Pernkopf Dilemma

The Pernkopf dilemma has to do with whether we should continue to use The Pernkopf Anatomy, a medical reference textbook in use since 1943, considering the potential origins of the cadavers used for the illustrations. I wrote this article as my take on the ethical dilemma set by the instructions given to the class by my BioMedical Ethics professor, Neal Hebert and within the confines of my group’s collectively selected parameters.

We are not told in our instructions whether we are asked to ban the book in academia only or altogether; in the United States or around the world. In judging Pernkopf we have to consider both his personal beliefs and his profession in light of the culture in which he lived and worked. We must consider these aspects as they play a significant role in how we judge the value of his work in light of Utilitarian ethics as well as the principles of his profession, regarding the Hippocratic Oath which falls under the principle of beneficence; and our own culture’s belief in the principles of autonomy.
The culture in both Western Europe as well as our own young country when it came to obtaining human bodies to further the studies of anatomy held that it was for the greater good that deceased individuals were made available to practitioners of medicine that a truer understanding may benefit the health and well-being of the living. In Austria during the time in which Pernkopf began studying medicine, there had long been a practice of obtaining cadavers from resources such as workhouses, prisons, hospitals and other places where the poor, and convicted criminals congregated while alive- and included those as well who were reliant on public assistance. Add to this the historical fact that during this same period of Austria’s history, Britain’s 1832 ‘Anatomy Act’ allowed for “almost unrestricted access to the workhouse poor in exchange for not touching the middle- and upper-class”. Given that the University of Austria was world renowned for its training of physicians, so much so that students came from around the globe to learn, it is reasonable to consider that this idea of government sanctioned access to what upper-society then considered to be undesirables was considered, in the medical field, as acceptable practices, if not by the population at large.
It is in weighing Pernkopf’s cadaver sources in a Utilitarian academic society that we find ourselves forced to acknowledge that a greater number of lives have, in the decades following been improved and a great many saved despite the number of deaths that were likely obtained by criminal, and morally unethical means. Bentham’s view is that greater pleasures trump the pain of the few and Mill asks, “whose life is greater?”; in this case is the work of those who labored only for their own benefit greater than Pernkopf’s work which benefited the many? The theological aspects of Utilitarianism is met in that the goal of his anatomical drawings has educated thousands of doctors around the world and humans as a species are better for it. This also meets the pluralist view of Utilitarianism that the work’s value is intrinsically good. Further more, the branch of Utilitarianism termed “Act”, which holds that “the principle” of Utilitarianism “should be applied to particular acts in particular circumstances.” is also valid. If the procurement of cadavers for medical advancement does not hold in this situation, then what does? Also, the “Rule” branch of Utilitarianism, which at first glance seems to illicit an opposite response, does indeed uphold Pernkopf’s method’s of obtaining cadavers, in that the tenet of the “Rule” branch states that “The principle should be used to test rules, which can be in turn used to decide the rightness of particular acts.” According to the rules of Utilitarianism, it is right to use the few to benefit the many, regardless of how the bodies of the few were obtained, despite what we personally view as the bigoted values of the medical community at the time.
Regarding the principle of beneficence, which states “as to disease, make a habit of two things – to help, or at least do no harm.”, commonly attributed to the Hippocratic Oath, according to the National Institute of Health’s National Library of Medicine, it does not actually include the words “first, do no harm”, though it does contain “I will do no harm or injustice to [my patients]”. This source’s commentary regarding the history of the Hippocratic Oath points out that in the centuries since it’s inauguration, differing cultures have shown a colored light on it in terms of the values of those individual societal beliefs. Thus while we on one hand would say that he violated the spirit of the Hippocratic Oath, it could be said that since he himself did not induce death (that we know of or are able to prove), that he then did not violate his oath as physician in regards to his patients.

Where the issue becomes morally ambiguous is in our current societal belief in the principle of autonomy. When all external indoctrination are eliminated regarding the value and rights to one’s own self it would be impossible to locate a person who believes, without influence from another, that they do not have or are not deserving of the right to determine their own path in life. This is the guiding principle of autonomy. Did the persons’ whose lifeless bodies were dissected by the medical profession of Pernkopf’s time make the decision to donate their cadavers for the betterment of society or were the shells of their humanity obtained without consent or consideration? The atrocities of the Holocaust, and morals of the Nazi Party regarding who was worthy of life, liberty and freedom from suffering are in direct opposition to the principles of autonomy. It is in this vein that we must consider the value of Pernkopf’s work. After investigation into the origins of the bodies drawn, it was deemed inconclusive regarding the possibility, and likeliness, that the cadavers illustrated were victims of the Holocaust. Even if we as individuals and/or society believe there to be a ninety-nine percent chance that these artist renderings were victims and not volunteers, does this negate the importance of the medical advancements that have benefited the world ’round, to such as degree that we ought ban the book out-right around the globe or at least in our society?
My personal belief is that the banning of any book, however atrocious, violates my countries constitutional rights. That said I do believe that anyone who commits atrocities should be punished for their actions – but not their beliefs. I believe the book should remain in the public domain though I will concede that since we have ready access to another source of anatomical drawings whose origins have not yet been called into question with such scrutiny, it is reasonable to request that our medical institutions not force the use of Pernkopf’s Anatomy in their course requirements.

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Stardate November 18, 2014 Converting the Masses: Skin Cells to Stem Cells

Nelson Mandela said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” and Thomas Carlyle said, “Let him who would be moved to convince others, be first moved to convince himself.” With a medical background and a current educational path designed to attain my clinical laboratory science (CLS) degree I am positioning myself to conduct research in regenerative medicine involving induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC). This work will advance what Shinya Yamanaka started when he discovered in 2006 that adult stem cells from mice could be reprogrammed back into immature stem cells. Yamanaka received the Nobel Prize in ‘Physiology or Medicine’ 2012 in the field of genetics. In a mere eight years since his discovery science has proven that even dead cells from the surface of our skin can be reprogrammed. While this research can now be both ethical and moral as it allows science to understand human diseases and cures by reprogramming adult stem cells into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) there still continues to be opponents who choose only to see the potential for nefarious actions by unknown Dr. Frankenstein’s of the world and would deny the many because of the few.

The moral and ethical war against stem cell research raged against science and medicine soon after Till & McCulloch reported accidentally discovering proof in 1961 that stem cells exist. By 1974 due to public outcry, Congress passed a law against federal funding of stem cell research but allowed privately funded research to continue. While legislation did not placate opponents, in particular Pro-Life advocates, this distinction did allow private monies to flow legally into research centers around the country. In the years since, advances have been made in stem cell research thanks to technological breakthroughs. With Yamanaka’s work scientists have now achieved the previously inconceivable: commanding, through genetic engineering, human skin cells to revert back into the embryonic state in which they existed prior to their development into the fetal stage of life. This significant difference between iPSC and embryonic stem cells (ESC) has led to support from religious leaders. According to Rabbi Tendler of Yeshiva University, and Islamic scholar Sachedina, as well as Dr. Clowes’ own citation from the Dignitas personae of the Catholic faith, the use of adult stem cells and reprogramming them into pluripotent stem cells does not contradict their religious faith’s doctrines on the sanctity of life. Since the technology involved in reprogramming adult stem cells does not require the harvesting of fetal stem cells the moral debate is virtually mute and yet the ethical debate continues.

As of November 15, 2014 there are six clinical trials listed by the National Institute of Health that are using skin cells reprogrammed into iPSC. Inducing cells to revert into an embryonic-like state is done by the use of four “factors” which when combined create a protein. When inserted into a single stem cell this protein fools that cell into functioning as it would at an embryonic stage. From there, the stem cell begins to multiply. The wonders of iPSC are that they are no longer distinguishable from naturally occurring totipotent cells. This allows for science to differentiate them selectively for a multitude of purposes. This will allow researchers to test for safer treatment options before implementing human trials; for research to understand how diseases develop within the human body; and for the use in creating organs for transplant which will not be rejected by the patient since the cells for originated from the patient themselves.

Opponents of stem cell research do not believe that the introduction of the ability to induce adult skin cells into pluripotent stem cells frees science or society from the moral and ethical issues. Writing on behalf on Libertarians for Life (LFL), National Coordinator for LFL, Doris Gordon opposes even iPSC research claiming “I necessarily conclude, therefore, that destruction of the zygote/embryo/fetus is homicide, and doing so deliberately is aggression and violates libertarian principles.” further stating that “research may not so alter the stem cells that they would the capacity to develop as a normal zygote or embryo would, even though they were prevented from exercising that capacity.” Yet, according to Katrien Devolder, Assistant Professor at Ghent University in Belgium “embryos have the capacity to produce their own trophoblast, which is necessary for embryonic development, hESCs and iPSCs require the provision of a surrogate trophoblast by tetraploid helper cells.” Conservatives in Missouri however aren’t reasoning on the side of science. As those “in the Missouri legislature are effectively blocking some of the most ambitious research envisioned by the Stowers staff, saying that research with embryonic stem cells is so immoral it should be a crime.” The American Life League (ALL) condemned Yamanaka’s Nobel awarded for his discovery because he used adult stem cells obtained from a fetus that had aborted. The ALL went so far as to address a letter in 2013 to Monsignor Tomasz Trfany of the Science and Faith Foundation condemning him for inviting Dr. John Gurdon to present a keynote speech at the Vatican, stating that learning of this impending speech “has come as a surprise and, quite honestly, a true disappointment.” Dr. Gurdon’s work cloning Dolly, the sheep, was the precursor of the research that lead to Yamanaka’s discovery.

In light of this newest advancement in stem cell research, naturally derived embryonic stem cell harvesting may soon be a sorrowful history in the annals of genetic and regenerative medicine. Now researchers can move forward with the noble goal of developing treatments, cures and preventatives to many of mankind’s worst physical and mental illnesses. Moreover, with new-found and growing support from previous opposition, including religious and secular pro-life advocates, future policy changes may bring what would be much-welcomed financial resources into Universities, Hospitals, and private research centers. It is nothing short of a medical marvel that we can take the expression “It’s no skin off my nose” and by changing it to “give me some skin” help convert both the masses of dead skin cells sloughing off our bodies and the stalwart opponents of stem cell research for a common good.

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Stardate November 18, 2014 Decisions-Decisions

Ever had a path slowly divide before you and while both are similar they ultimately lead in different directions? I am on that path and I can see that in the next thirteen months the paths formally divide. And between reads a signpost: Registered Nurse (to the left) and Clinical Laboratory Scientist (to the right). Would I have had all my prerequisites for the RN program completed by Springs end (2015) I would have been eligible to apply for the RN program which begins September of 2015. Unfortunately I must wait until summer to take both anatomy & physiology levels – and that is if the school even offers them next summer (2015), there is no guarantee. In the meantime I will continue to take the nursing prerequisites as well as other science classes as it is always good to have a plan B.
Now that I have close to finishing all my prerequisites I have class time available that will allow me to still qualify as a full-time student. So, to fill in those credit hours I am taking classes for plan B. See, around the country nursing school is a competitive program. Not just anyone gets in. First you have to take all your prerequisites Then you have to apply to the program (but not before you have completed your prerequisites). Then you have to pass a test like the HESI. If you pass then your GPA is compared to that of other applicants. Only those with the better scores will get chosen. Understand that of those who applied for this last September’s session in the nursing program there were about 350 applicants. Only 150 of those passed the HESI. Of those only 60 were selected for the program. That is the competitive nature of nursing programs. That’s why I have a plan B.
It may not matter how well I do in all my prerequisites if other students applying for the program have done better. I may wind up at the bottom of the top students and still not make the cut. So I am taking other science based classes along with my nursing prerequisites that will lead to me getting a Bachelor’s degree as a Clinical Laboratory Scientist (CLS) at Our Lady of the Lake College (OLOL). While their program is also competitive they have a clause in their program stating that if a student has taken every class available to them in the science field that applies to the CLS program, they will automatically be accepted. Since OLOL tuition is about double that of Baton Rouge Community College (BRCC) I am taking every class I can that I need for the CLS here at BRCC. Come January of of 2016 when I will qualify to apply to the nursing program I will do so, that is the plan anyways. A nurses starting pay is about five-dollars an hour more than a laboratory scientist with a bachelor’s degree. However, in the event that I do not make the cut I will have all my CLS classes that BRCC offers finished and will then enroll at OLOL and complete my Bachelor’s degree.
With my RN I am leaning towards working in hospice and home-health care which is where my medical experience has been for the last two years, in particular working with Alzheimer’s and patients with other forms of dementia. With the CLS I am interested in working with the newest technological advances in stem-cell research. Wait – don’t cry foul yet! The newest advances do not require stem cells to be harvested from babies. I’ll post another well-researched article I have written on this issue later. I would look forward to working with stem cell researchers who, in particular, are searching for treatments and eventually a cure or preventative for dementia patients including Alzheimer’s. There are of course other needs for stem cell research which I would also like to explore as well.
With Baton Rouge General, Our Lady of the Lake, Lady Bird Perkins Cancer Center, and Ochsner’s as just some of the local major hospitals and a plethora for hospice and home health agencies I am well located for employment potential as an RN. The same goes for having my CLS degree as I will be qualified to work not only in hospital labs and diagnostic centers but also at universities as well as the nationally recognized Pennington Biomedical Research Center. So, the path before me visibly parts in the near future and a decisions must be made. I have toyed with the idea of getting both but I haven’t yet decided if that will be the best use of my resources when it’s all said and done.

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Tuesday, Stardate September 16, 2014

Sunday Stephen and I celebrated our 2nd anniversary with a special dinning experience as Sullivan’s in Baton Rouge on Saturday night. But before I get to Sullivan’s I want to go back to Friday night where we attended a Jazz benefit concert at the Lock & Key Whiskey Bar located at the corner of College Drive and I-12. I’ve always wanted to hear a jazz band play while sipping whiskey or wine in a candle lit room. I was not disappointed. The perfectly lit, wood paneled bar featured leather love seats and side tables collected in cozy groups amidst bar tables and chair backed stools. Drinks were ordered at the bar from knowledgeable bartenders and barmaids, one who would come around periodically and collect empty glassware, keeping the side tables freely available.

A menu, not of food offerings, but of unique cocktails, whiskies, bourbons, scotches, wines and beers was set out amongst the gathering nooks for perveuing. Be forewarned, this is not a place where drinks will run you three-fifty a glass (not even during happy hour, where they are five dollars each). No, this is a place for the adventurous and conosour of world class drinks. A whiskey neat drinker myself, I’ve often wondered what a scotch was and what it tasted like. I finally got to try one and was not disappointed. I don’t remember what the brand was, in fact I asked Stephen to order me something. He told the bartender he wanted a single malt scotch with cherry undertones. For himself, a Stella Artoir (spelling?), which is a tasty higher-end beer, which in the stores runs about three dollars more a six pack than a Budweiser or Miller. While Stephen’s beer ran about four dollars a glass (every thing is served in genuine glassware) my shot – 1 oz- of single malt scotch was sixteen dollars, and well worth it, I must say.

Adventurer that I am, for my second drink I ordered a Kentucky campfire from the menu. As if the name wasn’t justification enough to try this drink the flavors listed peanut butter, amaretto, bourbon (I think) and several other delicious sounding additions. It was marvelous! I love peanut butter but wasn’t sure how it would turn out. I will be ordering it again and again… in due time as there are so many other options here. Stephen ordered a whiskey sour, another drink I’d often wondered about. Oh my goodness, it tastes like liquid candy. Stephen will be getting that again and again. We ordered one more round, this time I went to the bar to experience ordering something I’d never heard of before. I told the bar tender what Stephen had ordered me originally, with the cherry undertones and that this time I wanted to know what else, maybe with orange or lemon undertones, he would recommend. He pulled out a bottle for me to smell… too sweet… so he sampled another bottle for me. I like it, though I can’t recall what it was or the brand name. Didn’t really matter because I really liked it too. For his third drink Stephen ordered a variant of a whiskey sour.. neither of us liked it too much at all, but that’s okay, that is the adventure of trying new things. All totaled, six drinks between us, with my18 year old single malt being the most expensive, our bill ran us sixty-eight dollars. A little price for us but the three hours sipping whiskey on a leather love seat listening to a live jazz band, which was very good, made for a memorable to our anniversary weekend. We will be returning to the Lock & Key Whiskey bar again, but this time for happy hour where drinks are 1/3 of the price; one can only afford a night like Friday every great once in a while.

Oh, oh, I wanted to mention a couple of drinks they offered… and mind you it’s by the glass. They had a McKellan’s 30 year for $300. Another brand went for $420. So when you want to feel like the world is your oyster, the Locke & Key Whiskey Bar is the place to go.

Earlier in the week we made arrangements at Sullivan’s for a Saturday evening dinner. I like being able to make reservations online… heck I like going to places where reservations are recommended, makes me feel wealthy. Online they ask if there is anything else you would like to them to know. I wrote that it was our second anniversary, so I would like a quiet booth, something romantic and candle’s maybe. When we arrived the hostess and manager greeted us warmly and congratulated us on our anniversary. We were seated at a half round booth, our backs to a glassed in wine room, and looking out across the dinning area where across the cozy yet ample room was an open kitchen, designed so patrons could have the sense of viewing the chefs, in their tall white hats and chef coats, created our masterpieces.
As the waitress was describing both on-menu and off-menus specialties she mentioned they also had a staff Som. A sommelier, or som, for short is the guy or girl, who knows more about wines then I have the desire to memorize for myself. If you get the chance and have Netflix there is a documentary on som’s. It was so fascinating Stephen and I watched it twice. Anyhow, I jumped at the chance to hear a som in action. Our som, Marty, wasn’t a traditional som, in fact he had actual hands on experience making wine in California where he worked studying wine making at a vineyard in, I believe he said the Napa Valley region. It was a pleasure listening to him describe the growing aspects that affect how different wines taste, running from soil, to rain, to species of grape and the regions temperature. We told him what we planned on ordering. I was to have the broiled Bay of Fundy Salmon, with a kale-cranberry-sugared pecan salad and a side of glazed mushrooms; and Stephen was ordering an aged 26 oz steak, caesar salad, and baked potato. With these flavors in mind Marty recommend the Aiena 2008, a nice red wine that wouldn’t over power the subtle flavors of the salmon nor be overpowered by the aged steak. We will be purchasing future bottles of Aiena from Calandro’s in Baton Rouge, in the near future. Our som even tipped us off to Calandro’s wine selection kept in the back for special request which are not placed on the store’s shelf. I can understand why, our bottle at Sullivan’s cost sixty-eight dollars, the same price as our night at the Lock & Key. Mark-ups aside Aiena is the most most expensive wine I’ve ever had and it was exciting to experience something more expensive than an eleven-dollars a gallon wine.
On Sunday we accepted an earlier invitations to Michelle Southern’s and Daniel Plumlee’s housewarming/Saint’s football game gathering in their newly built home. Reconnecting with our LSU Saturday night group from Michelle’s dad’s house was fun and touring her new home was delightful. Kevin, Stephen’s brother, and his wife Nicole (Michelle’s sister), warmed Daniel and Michelle’s home with Crown Royal and Grey Goose, neither of which I have ever been able to afford to sample. To my delight, finally, after thirty-four years of curiosity…my grandpa kept Crown Royal in the house… I got to sample this golden mystery. I very much enjoyed sipping a toast to Grandpa. I didn’t get the chance to sample the Grey Goose, but that is okay, an adventure saved for another day.

There is another, more bright red reason this anniversary will be memorable for me. Friday, after work, I made a quick, spur of the moment shopping trip to the Mall of Louisiana in search of something appropriate to wear to Sullivan’s. Stepping out of my comfort zone while also stepping into a pair of slacks that for the first time ever, actually complemented my figure, I added a the nicest blouse I’ve ever owned and a currently fashionable decorative sweater to the ensemble and I got it all on sale, wahooo (big smile for my pocket book). I’ve dreamed of such a nice causal “rich-looking” outfit and here I finally had it for less than seventy-dollars. If I had more money I would have selected jewelry and shoes and a purse to compliment the outfit at the same time, but that’s another dream I hope to fulfill one day.
So there we are at Sullivan’s and have ordered our food when I decide this was a good time to powder my nose (for all you not up on colloquialism, I had to pee, LOL). Not only did I find myself spending more time than expected in the bathroom, despite being prepared for Aunt Flo who had come to visit a couple days earlier, and finding I had bled through my new slacks but when I returned to the table where my food awaited me, yes I was in the ladies room that long, I went to put on my glasses but couldn’t find them. Just then the hostess passed by and I mentioned my lost glasses. She luckily had just found them moments before and returned them. Unfortunately, someone, probably myself when I dropped them, had stepped on them and twisted one the handles askew.
What a memorable weekend anniversary this was, but you, know I wouldn’t change anything about it. Happy Anniversary My Love.

P.S. There is one thing I’d like to add about experiencing these high end restaurants. Last year we went to Flemmings and of course this year Sullivan’s. Both have a dress code and at Sullivan’s there is a sign outside the door stating that the dress code is strictly enforced. We have found at both places this to be quite inaccurate. Seems to me, a place where a dinner for two, after tip, runs between $270-340.00, that jeans and T-shirt, even if your shoes do match, would be more than just frowned upon. The same goes for grown men wearing shorts and letting their children run amok. Except the young man, obviously out to impress his date, who was dressed for an evening out, with what was likely a month’s worth of paydays, who donnA Day in the Life
of
Mrs. Hollingsworth

Tuesday, Stardate September 16, 2014 (to be posted)

Sunday my Stephen and I celebrated our 2nd anniversary with a special dinning experience as Sullivan’s in Baton Rouge on Saturday night. But before I get to Sullivan’s I want to go back to Friday night where we attended a Jazz benefit concert at the Lock & Key Whiskey Bar located at the corner of College Drive and I-12. I’ve always wanted to hear a jazz band play while sipping whiskey or wine in a candle lit room. I was not disappointed. The perfectly lit, wood paneled bar featured leather love seats and side tables collected in cozy groups admist bar tables and chair backed stools. Drinks were ordered at the bar from knowledgeable bartenders and barmaids, one who would come around periodically and collect empty glassware, keeping the side tables freely available.

A menu, not of food offerings, but of unique cocktails, whiskies, bourbons, scotches, wines and beers was set out amongst the gathering nooks for perveuing. Be forewarned, this is not a place where drinks will run you three-fifty a glass (not even during happy hour, where they are five dollars each). No, this is a place for the adventurous and conosour of world class drinks. A whiskey neat drinker myself, I’ve often wondered what a scotch was and what it tasted like. I finally got to try one and was not disappointed. I don’t remember what the brand was, in fact I asked Stephen to order me something. He told the bartender he wanted a single malt scotch with cherry undertones. For himself, a Stella Artoir (spelling?), which is a tasty higher-end beer, which in the stores runs about three dollars more a six pack than a Budweiser or Miller. While Stephen’s beer ran about four dollars a glass (every thing is served in genuine glassware) my shot – 1 oz- of single malt scotch was sixteen dollars, and well worth it, I must say.

Adventurer that I am, for my second drink I ordered a Kentucky campfire from the menu. As if the name wasn’t justification enough to try this drink the flavors listed peanut butter, amaretto, bourbon (I think) and several other delicious sounding additions. It was marvelous! I love peanut butter but wasn’t sure how it would turn out. I will be ordering it again and again… in due time as there are so many other options here. Stephen ordered a whiskey sour, another drink I’d often wondered about. Oh my goodness, it tastes like liquid candy. Stephen will be getting that again and again. We ordered one more round, this time I went to the bar to experience ordering something I’d never heard of before. I told the bar tender what Stephen had ordered me originally, with the cherry undertones and that this time I wanted to know what else, maybe with orange or lemon undertones, he would recommend. He pulled out a bottle for me to smell… too sweet… so he sampled another bottle for me. I like it, though I can’t recall what it was or the brand name. Didn’t really matter because I really liked it too. For his third drink Stephen ordered a variant of a whiskey sour.. neither of us liked it too much at all, but that’s okay, that is the adventure of trying new things. All totaled, six drinks between us, with my18 year old single malt being the most expensive, our bill ran us sixty-eight dollars. A little price for us but the three hours sipping whiskey on a leather love seat listening to a live jazz band, which was very good, made for a memorable to our anniversary weekend. We will be returning to the Lock & Key Whiskey bar again, but this time for happy hour where drinks are 1/3 of the price; one can only afford a night like Friday every great once in a while.

Oh, oh, I wanted to mention a couple of drinks they offered… and mind you it’s by the glass. They had a McKellan’s 30 year for $300. Another brand went for $420. So when you want to feel like the world is your oyster, the Locke & Key Whiskey Bar is the place to go.

Earlier in the week we made arrangements at Sullivan’s for a Saturday evening dinner. I like being able to make reservations online… heck I like going to places where reservations are recommended, makes me feel wealthy. Online they ask if there is anything else you would like to them to know. I wrote that it was our second anniversary, so I would like a quiet booth, something romantic and candle’s maybe. When we arrived the hostess and manager greeted us warmly and congratulated us on our anniversary. We were seated at a half round booth, our backs to a glassed in wine room, and looking out across the dinning area where across the cozy yet ample room was an open kitchen, designed so patrons could have the sense of viewing the chefs, in their tall white hats and chef coats, created our masterpieces.
As the waitress was describing both on-menu and off-menus specialties she mentioned they also had a staff Som. A solmeia (spelling), or som, for short is the guy or girl, who knows more about wines then I have the desire to memorize for myself. If you get the chance and have Netflix there is a documentary on som’s. It was so fascinating Stephen and I watched it twice. Anyhow, I jumped at the chance to hear a som in action. Our som, Marty, wasn’t a traditional som, in fact he had actual hands on experience making wine in California where he worked studying wine making at a vineyard in, I believe he said the Napa Valley region. It was a pleasure listening to him describe the growing aspects that affect how different wines taste, running from soil, to rain, to species of grape and the regions temperature. We told him what we planned on ordering. I was to have the broiled Bay of Fundy Salmon, with a kale-cranberry-sugared pecan salad and a side of glazed mushrooms; and Stephen was ordering an aged 26 oz steak, caesar salad, and baked potato. With these flavors in mind Marty recommend the Aiena 2008, a nice red wine that wouldn’t over power the subtle flavors of the salmon nor be overpowered by the aged steak. We will be purchasing future bottles of Aiena from Calandro’s in Baton Rouge, in the near future. Our som even tipped us off to Calandro’s wine selection kept in the back for special request which are not placed on the store’s shelf. I can understand why, our bottle at Sullivan’s cost sixty-eight dollars, the same price as our night at the Lock & Key. Mark-ups aside Aiena is the most most expensive wine I’ve ever had and it was exciting to experience something more expensive than an eleven-dollars a gallon wine.
On Sunday we accepted an earlier invitations to Michelle Southern’s and Daniel Plumlee’s housewarming/Saint’s football game gathering in their newly built home. Reconnecting with our LSU Saturday night group from Michelle’s dad’s house was fun and touring her new home was delightful. Kevin, Stephen’s brother, and his wife Nicole (Michelle’s sister), warmed Daniel and Michelle’s home with Crown Royal and Grey Goose, neither of which I have ever been able to afford to sample. To my delight, finally, after thirty-four years of curiosity…my grandpa kept Crown Royal in the house… I got to sample this golden mystery. I very much enjoyed sipping a toast to Grandpa. I didn’t get the chance to sample the Grey Goose, but that is okay, an adventure saved for another day.

There is another, more bright red reason this anniversary will be memorable for me. Friday, after work, I made a quick, spur of the moment shopping trip to the Mall of Louisiana in search of something appropriate to wear to Sullivan’s. Stepping out of my comfort zone while also stepping into a pair of slacks that for the first time ever, actually complemented my figure, I added a the nicest blouse I’ve ever owned and a currently fashionable decorative sweater to the ensemble and I got it all on sale, wahooo (big smile for my pocket book). I’ve dreamed of such a nice causal “rich-looking” outfit and here I finally had it for less than seventy-dollars. If I had more money I would have selected jewelry and shoes and a purse to compliment the outfit at the same time, but that’s another dream I hope to fulfill one day.
So there we are at Sullivan’s and have ordered our food when I decide this was a good time to powder my nose (for all you not up on colloquialism, I had to pee, LOL). Not only did I find myself spending more time than expected in the bathroom, despite being prepared for Aunt Flo who had come to visit a couple days earlier, and finding I had bled through my new slacks but when I returned to the table where my food awaited me, yes I was in the ladies room that long, I went to put on my glasses but couldn’t find them. Just then the hostess passed by and I mentioned my lost glasses. She luckily had just found them moments before and returned them. Unfortunately, someone, probably myself when I dropped them, had stepped on them and twisted one the handles askew.
What a memorable weekend anniversary this was, but you, know I wouldn’t change anything about it. Happy Anniversary My Love.

P.S. There is one thing I’d like to add about experiencing these high end restaurants. Last year we went to Flemmings and of course this year Sullivan’s. Both have a dress code and at Sullivan’s there is a sign outside the door stating that the dress code is strictly enforced. We have found at both places this to be quite inaccurate. Seems to me, a place where a dinner for two, after tip, runs between $270-340.00, that jeans and T-shirt, even if your shoes do match, would be more than just frowned upon. The same goes for grown men wearing shorts and letting their children run amok. Except the young man, obviously out to impress his date, who was dressed for an evening out, with what was likely a month’s worth of paydays, who donned matching red t-shirt and sneakers, the other patrons both at Flemmings and Sullivan’s must be regulars whom the management wouldn’t want to offend as each family consisted of five to six guests each. Knowing the Sullivan’s guests head-of-household ordered the same fifty-eight dollar aged steak as Stephen, their dinner was very likely close to an eight-hundred dollar tab of income for one table during a two hour meal. I don’t like passing judgment on people but on these special, once a year only dinners Stephen and I really save up for and splurge on such casual attire brings the magic down a notch for us, probably for me more than Stephen, but even he too was a bit disappointed in it all. It’s not a ballgown and tail’s level of dinning but slacks are in order. ed matching red t-shirt and sneakers, the other patrons both at Flemmings and Sullivan’s must be regulars whom the management wouldn’t want to offend as each family consisted of five to six guests each. Knowing the Sullivan’s guests head-of-household ordered the same fifty-eight dollar aged steak as Stephen, their dinner was very likely close to an eight-hundred dollar tab of income for one table during a two hour meal. I don’t like passing judgment on people but on these special, once a year only dinners Stephen and I really save up for and splurge on such casual attire brings the magic down a notch for us, probably for me more than Stephen, but even he too was a bit disappointed in it all. It’s not a ballgown and tail’s level of dinning but slacks are in order.

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Reflection Essay : A Stunning Realization

A Stunning Realization

“Childlessness Up Among All Women; Down Among Women with Advanced Degrees.”1 In 1983 I befriended a woman who chose not to adopt children after learning she could not bare her own. I found it a curious decision until I learned she became a widow in her mid-thirties. In 1997 I made a friend who, though in a serious live-in relationship did not have children of her own. Nearly twenty years later she still hasn’t had children. Instead she has chosen to befriend the children from her husband’s former marriage. Both these women have post-graduate degrees and live lives of comfort. My own life would be unfulfilled without children. Even five children later and nearing the end of my childbearing years I want another child. I’m still in the majority, but it seems more and more women believe children aren’t the key to a self-affirming life.

According to Pew, a research survey organization, “There were 1.9 million childless women ages 40-44 in 2008, compared with nearly 590,000 in 1976.”2 What does this mean for our species as a whole? In an age where our elderly are living longer and fewer babies are being born I suspect we will see a balance maintained for a brief time but what then, when each successive generation dies off? There is even a membership of annihalist who view not only giving birth but merely being alive as a plague upon the world.3 Interestingly, these individuals have staved off their own deaths long enough to write blogs about the anti-freewill imposed upon their existence. Will we go the way of the dodo bird at our own hand, no pun intended? What do all these non-parents do with their free time, golf, hike Kilimanjaro,… sleep?
Perhaps this growing phenomenon is an unconscious self-pruning of our genetic tree. Historically mother nature was the gardener, trimming back the tree of life to enable a fuller, healthier new growth. It occurred to me that within a few generations of each loping off of unproductive and wayward homosapien branches, technological advances have excelled in leaps and bounds. After all, following the Black Plague of the 1340’s, a mere one hundred years later, the printing press was invented, forever changing the world.4 After the Spanish Flu of 1918 medical and technological advances led to a rise in sanitation standards and an increase in medical considerations regarding isolating and caring for contagions,5 and our life expectancy rose almost twenty percent. In the last one-hundred years we have leaped from the introduction of the first mass produced automobile to the advent of General Motor’s self-driving Honda automobile.6 With this hindsight before us, it is conceivable that nature is using our own choice to not have children as the tool to do a little prune this 21st century season.
“In 2008, 24% of women ages 40-44 with a master’s, doctoral or professional degree had not had children, a decline from 31% in 1994.”7 Following the logic and correlation of a decline in population and the advancements of industry and technology, I foresee a smaller but higher educated world population in our future. Herbert Spencer (not Charles Darwin) first coined the phrase ‘Survival of the Fittest”.8 If this theory holds true then with a global decline in human population across borders, faiths, economic, racial and educational demographics9 who will be having the children, our future, our hope? Well, aside from the accidental, ‘oops, the condom broke’ or ‘What, so, I took my birth control with a glass of grapefruit juice?10’ Research shows that more and more highly educated women then ever before are choosing to have both children and a career. The better educated a parent is the higher an emphasis they often place on the educational quality of their children. Coupled with good genes, the potential for smarter, better educated, and more successful young adults increases significantly.
“Nearly one-in-five American women ends her childbearing years without having borne a child, compared with one-in-ten in the 1970s.” Advances aside I could not help but wonder about the implications of these statistics. What will this mean genealogically? When genetically gifted talents lay dormant until just the right combination of DNA combine to create the next Shakespeare, Divinci, Madame Curie, Einstein, Stephen Hawkings, or Bill Gates are lobbed off from family lines, what then? There is more to what makes us human than our inventions and advancements… compassion, wisdom, empathy comes at a cost. It is not that brilliant people aren’t comforting or social individuals, but it can be generalized that those truly gifted are also, often, those who strive so passionately in their work that they ostracize themselves from those around them. What will happen with Aunt Jules, the one whose shoulder you cried on is no longer? Who will turn to Grandpa John with eager ears and willing hearts to hear his hard-earned wisdom and grasp his weather worn hand when he stumbles as he walks? Allow me to repeat, twenty percent of the world’s childbearing women will not be adding to the gene pool. Many would say this will reduce the number of non-producing consumers in the world. Some would say this is a good thing.

The new reality is not every little girl is destined to or necessarily wants to grow up to be a mother. Expression like Childfree, Childless, and Non-Parents no longer represent a scornable or deviant lifestyle. Whether it’s being passionately married to your work, a lover of extreme travel, or enjoying the peace and relaxation that comes from knowing there will be no two a.m. feedings, and walking around the house nude is an option, creating a satisfying and fulfilled life sans children is a growing norm. Perhaps it’s my love of family, my love of genealogy, my love of the “old-ways” where being in a family way was hardly preventable. But to me being woman is about baring children if you can. Doesn’t mean your not a woman or less of one if you can’t or to choose not to… it’s just that it is a foreign concept that sounds about as tasty an idea to digest as a snickers bar in a swimming pool. Having said this however, I still like my D.I.N.K. (Dual Income No Kids)11 friends and family members, even if secretly I wish they’d have children for me to spoil rotten then send home to them… just because, even they know that is funny, when the kids are not yours.

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Tuesday, Stardate August 26, 2014

I started my second semester of college yesterday. It went well. I bought two books for two class. Although I haven’t bought my psych text book yet, already my backpack feels as though it weighs more than I do. I hope to keep blogging while managing school and work. If a few days pass between entries give me support. Ask questions. These will draw me back to writing.

Toodles, off to study.

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Wednesday, Stardate August 20, 2014

So today I am the happy and most excellently pleased owner of a new tattoo. I talked about tattoos yesterday and here are a few pics from my personal session. The artists Chris Allen of Alley Cats Custom Tattoos, located at 2753 Court St., Port Allen, LA can be contacted at 225-663-2577. He has been working his artistic magic for twenty years and can do everything from cartoon to  portraits and all things in between.

Yes, people it is a butterfly, you can stop asking "What is it?"

Yes, people it is a butterfly, you can stop asking “What is it?”

The stencil.

The stencil.

Smile for the camera

Smile for the camera

Outline

Outline

Well on it's way to coming into being.

Well on it’s way to coming into being.

Hoot Hoot

Hoot Hoot

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