Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween 2008

Happy Halloween for 2008!

For Sophie's first Halloween in 2007, she went as a little piggie in a vastly-oversized pig suit. This 2008, she went as a little Frankenstein monster. Young Frankenstein?

We were a little late coming home from work, but still managed to participate some in the Charlestown Halloween Parade which took place around the Bunker Hill Monument square.

My nephews Henry & James went as a fireman and a chicken, respectively.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Feed Me, Seymour

While filming zebrafish the other day, I came across this nice view of a zebrafish heart valve. It reminds me of Little Shop of Horrors.

Congrats to Philadelphia for the 2008 World Series Champs Phillies! That sports fan base really deserved a break like this; I would've loved to have been present during the ensuing celebratory mayhem.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dancing Sophie

Sophie showed off her dancing skills last weekend to a host of's a clip.

Here are a few more photos from this past weekend's Hellman family get-together.

For some odd reason there was a ton of static electricity on the slide at our usual playground.

My sister Susie horsing around on the U.S.S. Constitution, a few blocks from my house and what is turning into a prerequisite visit for anybody coming to see us in Charlestown.Sophie just recently discovered how much fun is is to play monkey while walking with Mom & Dad.

She can already spell!
The trees this time of the year are really fanastic.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Baby Shower Weekend

Pics from this weekend's baby shower, in honor of Baby Boy Hellman, and whipped together by my two amazing sisters and my mom.

They went a little overboard on the food...lots of leftovers this week!
Claire & Sophie are ready for the new addition.
What's a baby shower without games?
My nephew James' punk-rock hairdo.
Sophie showing off her dancing skills.
My sister Cathy pounding down what is probably her annual EtOH consumption.
Thanks to all of our friends & family who truly demonstrated their generosity this weekend!

Nathan Hellman: Hulkified!

A friend of mind, knowing that I was that odd combination of a lifelong Hulk fan as well as a nephrologist, called me specifically to tell me that he had seen the recent Hulk movie--which contained a scene during which they tried to cure Banner from being turned into the Hulk by hooking him up to a dialysis machine!

This I've got to see. Do they try and dialyze him as the Hulk or as Banner? Is his blood green? Do they have to use an extremely large dialysis catheter while he's the Hulk? What could they be dialyzing off?

And here's a movie of me morphing into the Hulk. You can do it yourself at this website.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

2008-2009 NBA Predictions

Nate's predictions for what promises to be an exciting (and fairly wide open) 2008-2009 NBA season. Rankings are given within each division, and in parenthesis the team's overall ranking within the Conference.

Atlantic Division:
1. Boston Celtics (1): The Big 3 are older, but KG's intensity will keep them afloat in the competitive Atlantic Division.
2. Philadelphia 76ers (4): I was impressed with this athletic team in the playoffs, and now they've added Elton Brand.
3. Toronto Raptors (5): I expect a strong showing from the Raptors this year--Chris Bosh played extremely well in the Olympics.
4. New York Knicks: The Knicks will still suck, but they'll be more fun to watch under the guidance of new coach Mike D'Antoni.
5. New Jersey Nets: Officially in rebuilding mode, though I do think they made a good deal by getting Devin Harris for Jason Kidd at the end of last season.

Central Division:
1. Cleveland Cavaliers (2): I think this is the year they finally break the Pistons' stronghold on the Division.
2. Detroit Pistons (6): The Pistons may need to think about trading one of its core veterans if it becomes apparent they won't compete for the title.
3. Chicago Bulls: Lots of talent, but too many players who play the same position to go far.
4. Milwaukee Bucks: Should have considered hiring Sports Guy Bill Simmons as its GM.
5. Indiana Pacers: It breaks my heart that one of my favorite teams, previously an annual playoff contender, offers little to look forward to this season.

Southwest Division:
1. Orlando Magic (3): With Dwight Howard still improving, should be the best team in a so-so Southwest Division.
2. Miami Heat (7): Everyone's talking about how Dwayne Wade has regained his form--if so, the Heat (with my pick for ROY Michael Beasley now contributing) should make a dramatic turnaround from last year.
3. Atlanta Hawks (8): Despite off-season controversy, they put up a lot of fight in the 1st round of the playoffs and I expect them to improve on last year.
4. Washington Wizards: A team which had a lot to look forward to has suffered a lot from Gilbert Arenas' ongoing injury issues.
5. Charlotte Bobcats: Still a couple more years of rebuilding before this team can make it out of the cellar.

Southwest Division:
1. New Orleans Hornets (1): I'm picking big things for the Hornets this year.
2. San Antonio Spurs (4): They may not be as dominant in the regular season any more, but this is a well-managed team which is still a threat when the playoffs roll around.
3. Houston Rockets (6): While I'm a fan of Yao & wishing Artest well with his latest team, I'm not convinced that the Rockets will be substantially improved from last year.
4. Dallas Mavericks: It would seem that the window is closing on the Mavs' title hopes without an infusion of new talent.
5. Memphis Grizzlies: This team is clearly in rebuilding mode but should be somewhat entertaining to follow given its young talent.

Northwest Division:
1. Utah Jazz (3): Deron Williams-to-Carlos Boozer is indeed John Stockton-to-Karl Malone version 2.0.
2. Portland Trailblazers (5): If Greg Oden is as good as advertised and stays healthy, this will be a fun year for Portland fans.
3. Minnesota Timberwolves: Sleeper alert! This young team is my pick for overachievers this season.
4. Denver Nuggets: With the trade of their best defensive player Marcus Camby to the Clips, the Nuggets are primed for a dysfunctional and underachieving season.
5. Oklahoma City Thunder: I was vehemently opposed to the relocation of the Seattle Sonics to Oklahoma City, and the controversy has stood in the way of this team making any real progress in assembling sufficient talent to compete.

Pacific Division:
1. Los Angeles Lakers (2): Their starting frontline (Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum) is the best in the league.
2. Phoenix Suns (7): Shaq may be fading, but Amare Stoudamire appears fully recovered and could post some monster numbers this year.
3. Los Angeles Clippers (8): The departure of Elton Brand may not be as bad as everybody has feared with the addition of Baron Davis & Marcus Camby.
4. Golden State Warriors: A team which is fun to watch but probably won't make it far in the playoffs should it make it there.
5. Sacramento Kings: There's not a lot of recognizable names on this Kings roster--a far cry from the glory Kings of several years ago.

Eastern Playoffs:
Round 1:
(1) Celtics def (8) Hawks
(2) Cavs def (7) Heat
(6) Pistons def (3) Magic
(5) Raptors def (4) 76ers
Round 2:
(1) Celtics def (5) Raptors
(2) Cavs def (6) Pistons
Eastern Conf Finals:
(2) Cavs def (1) Celtics

Western Playoffs:
Round 1:
(1) Hornets def (8) Clippers
(2) LA Lakers def (7) Suns
(6) Rockets def (3) Jazz
(4) Spurs def (5) Trailblazers
Round 2:
(1) Hornets def (4) Spurs
(2) LA Lakers def (6) Rockets
Western Conf Finals:
(1) Hornets def (2) LA Lakers

NBA Finals: (1) Hornets def (2) Cavaliers

MVP: LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
Rookie of the Year: Michael Beasley, Miami Heat

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Heart Beat Calculation

A topic which came up in a scientific/medical talk I was at recently: How many times does the heart beat in a typical lifetime?

Let's use the average U.S. life expectancy of about 78 years and a very conservative estimate of heart rate at 60 beats per minute (as a child the heart rate is much higher, so this is probably an underestimate).

(60 beats/minute) x (60minutes/hour) x (24hrs/day) x (365 days/year) x (78 years/lifetime) = 2,459,808,000 = about 2.5 billion heart beats per lifetime.

That's pretty impressive, especially when you consider the intricate machinery within individual heart cells that somehow survives the wear and tear of having to fully relax & contract once a second for an entire lifetime...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Me and Sophie Down by the Schoolyard

Pics from a routine trip to the local playground next to a school near our house.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Boston Pumpkins

Last Saturday Claire, Sophie & I spent a good 3 hours unsuccessfully searching for raclette cheese in the North End & Beacon Hill neighborhoods...there were lots of Italian cheeses to be found, but not such a great selection of French ones. In any case, at least our travels brought us past this impressive pumpkin festival in Government Center. That's a lot of pumpkins, but as you can tell from the "Scoregourd", they were significantly shy of the Guiness World Record for most jack o' lanterns in one place, at least during our visit.

By the way: we did figure out a source of cheesy goodness in order to stage a successful raclette cheese party. Havarti & Muenster cheeses will do in a pinch.

And another by the way: congrats to the Rays for beating the Bosox in 7. As for my take on the World Series: Go Phillies! As a former Philadelphian, I can attest to the fact that Philly is one of the most tortured sports cities in the U.S., and they really deserve a championship. Apparently the Phillies are the losingest franchise in U.S. pro sports history. As one of my friends from Philly once said about them: "It's like they're the Washington Generals, only they don't get paid to lose!"

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Game 7 Tonight!

Big sports weekend in Beantown...which culminates in tonight's Game 7 between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox.

My position is clear: Go Rays!

Actually, the way I see it, it's a win-win situation: If the Rays win, it deprives Red Sox fans of completing one of the biggest comebacks in baseball history--perhaps second only to their comeback from a 3-0 deficit to the Yankees in '04. If the Sox win, it will give me even more of a reason to cheer for the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Some amusing links, since I have no further examples of deformed zebrafish to show today.

List of the 10 Greatest Floating Heads of all time.

Bizarre videos of American celebrities starring in Japanese T.V. ads.

My former lab-mate Shelley now blogging at ABC News about a personal case of vancomycin red man syndrome.

Great name for a recently-started Nephrology-themed blog: Precious Bodily Fluids, an homage to Dr. Strangelove.

Last but not least, check out some of my favorite lynx of all time.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

More Fun Things To Do With Zebrafish

Yet more fun with zebrafish!  I recently discovered a gene which, when knocked
 down, results in hydrocephalus--the swelling of the brain.  The condition does occur in humans--in fact, I was about to post a photo of a child with a massively swollen cranium to illustrate the phenomenon, but decided it might prove too disturbing for non-medical folk.  The first photo is again a wild-type control--note that the shape of its head is relatively flat.  
Now let's take a peek at this fish I gave hydrocephalus:  the top part of its head is all 
puffed out; furthermore, the head & eyes are noticeably smaller than in the wild-type fish.  
Why do these guys get hydrocephalus?  I'm really not sure, but I have a few ideas and I aim to find out.  

Monday, October 13, 2008

New England Fall Colors

It's definitely the fall when you start taking pictures of the foliage along the highway.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Veritable Vegetable Paradise

My favorite part of the Topsfield Fair was probably the "Fruits & Vegetables" room--where they displayed the food items which had been judged to be the most robust and impressive specimens of their kind.

A real crowd-pleaser was New England's Biggest Pumpkin--which weighed in at over 1400 lbs. As you can see, when pumpkins get to be so large, they begin to lose their structural integrity & spherical shape.
Vegetables of all shapes and sizes could be found.
And colors, too.
Next up is the vegetable-decorating competition. The Olympic theme was popular for obvious reasons.
Pumpkins dressed up as Betty Boop & The Abominable Snowman.
Kind of creepy Michael Phelps pumpkin head.
Vulture made out of corn leaves and other vegetable parts.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Day At The Topsfield Fair

It was a great New England fall day--with temperatures allowing us to walk around in our T-shirts for much of the day--and we took advantage of it by going to the Topsfield Fair, allegedly the oldest continuous fairgrounds in the U.S., about 40 minutes north of Boston.

The fair had a little of everything....pumpkins the size of my car...Robinson's Racing impressively large sand castle....various farm animals for Sophie to pet...and your usual glorious assortment of fried dough, corn dogs, and the like.