Iowa State University African American Science Graduates

I was thinking about what to write for the first day of Black History Month, which starts today on February 1, 2023.

As usual, I started to reminisce about my time at Iowa State University (ISU) in Ames, Iowa. I usually don’t talk about my undergraduate days. In fact, I had a little trouble finding my diploma. It was in storage in the first place I should have looked. I graduated from ISU in 1985.

The Iowa State Daily ran a story, “Black scientists from Iowa State,” published on February 4, 2021, obviously in honor of Black History Month. Of course, it featured ISU’s most illustrious graduate, George Washington Carver, who earned his graduate degree in 1894. Carver also loved poetry and painting, which I didn’t know.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1928

Carver was a scientist and put it to practical use. It fits with the ISU motto, which was short and to the point: “Science with Practice.”

I transferred credit to ISU in the mid-1970s from one of the country’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Huston-Tillotson College (now Huston-Tillotson University). I submitted a poem to the college’s annual student poetry contest sponsored by one of the English Professors, Dr. Jenny Lind Porter-Scott. My poem didn’t make the cut, but many students got their work published in the little book, Habari Gani (Swahili for “What’s Going On”), which published the best poems.

Part of the reason I went to ISU was the encouragement I got from my bosses at WHKS &Co, consulting engineers. I was a surveyor’s assistant and drafter. I was the only African-American employee working there.

The idea behind going to ISU initially was to pursue a degree in engineering. That didn’t happen because frankly, I didn’t have a head for the mathematics. On the other hand, I got interested in biology, chemistry, and zoology and finally ended up in medical school at The University of Iowa in Iowa City. The rest is history, as they say, which allows the usual cover up of a multitude of sins.

At the time Sena and moved to Ames in the early 1980s, it was a quiet little town, except during VEISHEA, an annual spring celebration on campus. The event got out of hand many times and it was finally banned in 2014.

Back in the days of George Washington Carver, African American students were not allowed to room with other students who did not have black skin on campus. By the time we moved to Ames, the most uncomfortable racial incident I can recall personally was being the butt of a “nigger” joke at a barbershop. I had to find another place to get my hair cut.

I still had a lot of science to digest at ISU after switching my major from engineering to the life sciences. I remember a chemistry professor who looked like the typical hippie who demonstrated how electrons get excited by stacking chairs on top of the counter in front of the chalkboard (which teachers were still using) and climbing to the top and nervously doing a shaky little dance showing what an excited electron he was. I think all of us collectively held our breath, waiting for him to tumble to the floor.

I really had a tough time learning organic chemistry. You had to draw diagrams showing how the molecules and atoms connected after each reaction. I will never forget an Asian Teacher’s Assistant who patiently tutored me, despite my having a very bad cold and a bad attitude to boot.

I graduated and then returned to get more credits to try getting into medical school after finding it very difficult to find employment with my Bachelor of Science degree. It took about 9 months before I finally landed a job in the clinical lab at one of the hospitals in Des Moines. The lab director worked there for a very short time while I was there, and then left to go to medical school.

That was my cue. I think it worked out for the best. By the way, the engraved crystal in the featured image is an appreciation gift from The University of Iowa for my years of service.

And I guess that’s about enough reminiscence for now.

Dare to Discover at University of Iowa!

There’s been enough bad news. How about some good news? Have a look at the Dare to Discover campaign at The University of Iowa. It shines a light on young researchers who dream big. And that’s great for all of us!

Jim Learns About Induction Cooktops

I’m learning about induction cooktops. I know I’m way late in the game. The house we bought a little over two and a half years ago came with an induction cooktop. It’s the first one we ever had; we always used gas or electric stoves.

The main topic here are the noises including clicking noises we heard when using the induction cooktop. I say “we” but I should say Sena because I am allergic to kitchens.

I had to search the internet about induction cooktops. I found out way more than I wanted to know about them. I guess I can summarize that in a few lines:

Induction cooktops:

  • They work using electricity, not gas. They generate energy from an electromagnetic field below the glass cooktop surface which transfers energy to the magnetic cookware, which causes them to heat up.
  • They’re more energy efficient than gas.
  • The electro magnetic field (EMF) they emit have not been shown to increase the risk for cancer.
  • Although some chefs say hard anodized cookware won’t work on induction cooktops, they will if the bottom of the cookware has a ferromagnetic surface (meaning it has iron in it).
  • You can tell most of the time if a pan will work on induction cookware by holding a magnet up to the bottom of it and checking to see if the magnet sticks. If the magnet sticks, you’re good to go.

I finally checked that last point about magnetism by suddenly realizing that we had a magnet. It happens to be the magnetized lid for the space holding a deck of cards and pegs on our large cribbage board. It stuck to the bottom of one of our new KitchenAid hard anodized pans.

The old pans we had clicked a lot and there are reasons for the variety of noises you can hear. Most of the websites I noticed which describe this problem also have videos about which don’t have audio. Many of the websites say that some clicking is normal. Others will make an effort to identify the cause for the noises.

Our new cookware doesn’t make any noise at all. And they heat up very quickly. You don’t need to crank up the heat and can keep the power level pretty low.

The sound of screaming is probably from the extraterrestrial you’re trying to fry. Don’t do that.

Black History Month Begins February 1, 2023

Black History Month begins February 1, 2023. There are many learning resources available and activities available.

Websites include:

Black History Month

BlackPast

African American Museum of Iowa (Building is closed for renovation although online collections are available for viewing)

KCCK Big Mo Blues Show Brings Back Memories

Last night on the KCCK Big Mo Blues Show I listened to something I haven’t heard since the mid-1970s. It was a radio commercial for the Green Beetle and Frank’s Liquor Store. It ran right after the song, “Memphis Women and Fried Chicken.”

I think I first heard this radio ad while I was a student at Huston-Tillotson College (now Huston-Tillotson University) in Austin, Texas in the mid-1970s.

I heard it early on in the evening in my sweltering college dorm room. Later on, I heard a stirring rendition of the opening song, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” for another radio program, the name of which I can’t recall. I don’t know who sang it, but her voice was breathtaking. I have not heard a better version of it since.

The contrast between the “Old Crow Boogie” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing” was striking. No matter what race, culture, gender we are, we struggle to reconcile these opposites.

Behind the Back Ugly Juggling Trick!

I have been diligently practicing the juggling behind the back trick daily and may have just turned the corner. I started practicing the behind the back trick along with the under the leg trick because the throws, mistakes, and corrections are similar.

I usually throw the trick ball too far out and the video will reveal it. I throw the left-hand ball (the one just before the trick ball) a little too high or too low. Both throws have to be darn near perfect.

The behind the back throw is difficult to get just right. I start off by practicing what I’ve seen described and shown as the trick and catch, which means I don’t try to incorporate the trick throw back into the 3 ball cascade. On the other hand, I’m sometimes able to sneak an extra throw or two in the game.

I also found out that my juggling balls glow in low light. They’re advertised to do so (UV reactive), but I just found out that it actually works today.

One thing is clear—this is still ugly juggling!

FDA VRBPAC Discussion Topics Today

The FDA VRBPAC 178th annual meeting on future Covid-19 vaccine regimens includes two main discussion topics:

“Future periodic vaccination campaigns:
Simplification of COVID-19 vaccine use:

  • Immunization schedule: Please discuss and provide input on simplifying
    the immunization schedule to authorize or approve a two-dose series in
    certain young children, and in older adults and persons with compromised
    immunity, and only one dose in all other individuals.
    Periodic update to COVID-19 vaccines:
  • Vaccine composition: Please discuss and provide input on the
    consideration of periodic updates to COVID-19 vaccine composition,
    including to the currently authorized or approved vaccines to be available
    for use in the U.S. in the fall of 2023.”

Among the members attending the web conference is University of Iowa Professor Stanley Perlman, MD, PhD, Departments of Microbiology and
Immunology, Professor of Pediatrics, Mark Stinski Chair in Virology.

The meeting is today from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM ET.

Update: Dr. Stanley Perlman MD, PhD from the University of Iowa will be the acting voting chairman of today’s meeting.

Update: Dr. Jerry Weir gave a clarifying and practical bird’s eye view of the issue at hand which began at 2:30 PM on the live play today (the meeting is being recorded). The questions and comments for Dr. Weir by Offit, Levy, and Chatterjee were also helpful to hear.

Update: Voting Question is:

“VRBPAC Voting question
Simplification of current COVID-19 vaccine use:

  • Vaccine composition: Does the committee recommend harmonizing the
    vaccine strain composition of primary series and booster doses in the U.S.
    to a single composition, e.g., the composition for all vaccines administered
    currently would be a bivalent vaccine (Original plus Omicron BA.4/BA.5)?”

Voting Result: Unanimously upvoted.

Today is National Opposite Day!

As we were listening to the Mike Waters Wake Up Call radio show on KOKZ, we were disoriented when he gave the temperature as “83” degrees and that it’s “Wednesday evening”. The more he talked, the more bizarre he began to sound and I wondered if KOKZ was for whatever reason broadcasting a past recording of his show.

Then he announced that it’s National Opposite Day, which occurs on January 25th annually. It’s not a holiday on any calendar, and when I looked it up on the internet, I found out it arose from a kids game. It dates way back to the turn of the 20th century.

You get the idea. What would be opposite goal of a game of tag? You’d have to try to catch each other, of course!

This holiday creates a paradox for itself. You’re supposed to declare that it’s Opposite Day, but that would imply you would have to not observe it. Huh?

We had pot pie for breakfast today. Does that count?

Reminder: FDA Advisory Committee Meeting Thursday January 26, 2023 on Future of Covid-19 Vaccination Regimens

Remember, the 178th Annual Meeting of the FDA Advisory Committee on the future of Covid-19 Vaccination Regimens is this Thursday from 8:30 AM-5:30 ET.

The details so far include the voting question:

“Simplification of current COVID-19 vaccine use:

  • Vaccine composition: Does the committee recommend harmonizing the
    vaccine strain composition of primary series and booster doses in the U.S.
    to a single composition, e.g., the composition for all vaccines administered
    currently would be a bivalent vaccine (Original plus Omicron BA.4/BA.5)?”

More Crazy Announcements!

Here are crucial announcements.

Sena bought me Bigfoot pajamas. They clearly show Bigfoot doing the Patty walk, which refers to the historic sighting of Bigfoot caught on video decades ago in the Patterson-Gimlin film.

The Amaryllis leaves have grown to about 11 inches! There is no flower.

Cattle ranchers are now putting diapers and masks on their cows to reduce methane emissions. Soon there will be statutes requiring humans who fart and belch in public to take Beano gummies several times daily. You know who you are.

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