3 results found for “platelet”

Encountering an Esplanade Eagle

Thursday, April 29th, 2021

While biking to a platelet donation this morning, I spotted a large mass in a tree.

Right near the Harvard Bridge a.k.a. the MIT Bridge a.k.a. the Mass Ave Bridge a.k.a. the Smoot bridge, on Boston’s Charles River Esplanade

As followers of my Instagram account know, I am an extremely amateur birdwatcher. Despite my fairly shallow knowledge, I had a suspicion I was seeing that symbol of America, the bald eagle. I’ve previously spotted bald eagles soaring high above New England while visiting Maine and northern Vermont. However, I’ve never chanced upon one in Massachusetts, let alone within Boston city limits. And yet, there it was.

Taken from just outside the “drop zone” directly under the bird.

If the white head and piercing eyes weren’t enough of a tip-off, the hooked yellow beak and feet really sealed it. The quality of the picture above probably tells you that I was armed only with an iPhone. While I would have loved to have a zoom lens or some binoculars with me, the sighting itself was a true treat. At only 8:15 AM, my morning was already made.

I paused to snap some more pictures and another cyclist noticed me looking up. He stopped as well, and pretty soon, there was a small crowd of impromptu birders. Rewarding us for the attention, the eagle took flight and swooped briefly over the river. It alit upon a lower branch a few trees down, allowing for slightly better photographs.

After a few more shots, I used the tremendous Audubon bird guide app to play some eagle calls. The bird seemed to notice, cocking its head and looking about, but it didn’t react beyond that. That’s probably for the best, as there’s a limit to how close one really wants to get to a wild bird of prey.

I needed to get to my appointment, but in the hope that other locals might have a chance to enjoy the rare sight, I quickly posted a picture to Instagram.

I think it’s a solid shot, and the subject matter certainly elevates things. Still, there’s noise caused by digitally zooming in, and the overcast day didn’t do me any favors. As such, I was surprised when I saw these requests pop up a bit later:

Requests from Boston-area news sites to use the photo.

I have long had a rule that you want to be on national news or no news, but never local news. Local news stories are almost uniformly terrible, along the lines of “Neighbors squawk and squabble over noise from backyard chickens”. I was momentarily hesitant, but I eventually acquiesced. Ultimately, I think something like this doesn’t count as actually being on local news, though it’s a bit close for comfort.

Just Stay in Your Bunker 

Wednesday, June 10th, 2020

You should wear a mask. You should wear a mask when you leave the house, you should wear a mask while you’re donating platelets, you should wear a mask when you’re wearing Rothy’s, and you should obviously wear a mask when you’re visiting the Mayo Clinic.

Another time you should wear a mask is when you’re touring a factory making sterile swabs for use in detecting COVID-19. As you can surely guess, Donald Trump chose not to do so when he visited Maine’s Puritan Medical Products last Friday.

“The running of the factory machines is very limited today and will only occur when the president is touring the facility floor,” Virginia Templet, the company’s marketing manager told USA TODAY in response to questions about the event. “Swabs produced during that time will be discarded.”

The above statement is obviously an attempt to downplay the problem here, but even a small number of wasted swabs is too many. The underlying arrogance of Trump’s refusal to wear a mask in even the most straightforward of situations really shouldn’t be glossed over. However, the fact that the machines ran in a very limited capacity on the day of Trump’s tour is also a major problem, given this:

Nearly a third of Maine nursing homes reported last month they had no nasal swabs to collect specimens, the Portland Press Herald reported. Nearly 61% of those that responded to a Maine Medical Directors Association survey said they had seven or fewer at their disposal.

National shortages of swabs was part of what severely hampered early coronavirus testing efforts…Puritan, which received millions of dollars from the federal government to double production, is one of only two companies that make the kind of swabs needed in coronavirus testing.

Despite major shortages of testing swabs, the president’s actions disrupted one of the only active factories making this critical product, leaving workers play-acting instead. In any sane world, this would be a major scandal. In 2020, and Trump’s America, it’s just a scantily reported story garnering little attention as we lurch to the next massive screwup from this ill-equipped administration.

Voting Information: There are many things we can do to end the Trump presidency, but it all starts with voting. Visit https://vote.org to register to vote, or to check your registration status. Once you’ve done that, get your friends and family registered next.

The Shameful Wastefulness of Vampire Facials

Thursday, May 2nd, 2019

Imagine trying to explain to someone that you got HIV from a “vampire facial”.

Two people have tested positive for HIV after receiving “vampire facials,” a treatment that involves injecting blood platelets into a person’s skin, from VIP Spa, a clinic in New Mexico.

The spa in Albequerque was actually shut down last year, following reports that a patient had received an “unspecified infection” shortly after getting a vampire facial. An investigation by the New Mexico Department of Health later discovered unsafe needle storage and handling practices at VIP Spa, thus increasing the risk of the transmission of blood-borne infections.

When I got past the ridiculous name for this treatment, my reaction to this story was simple disgust at just how vain and foolish humans can be. For at least two unfortunate people, the contraction of a life-threatening virus occurred because of one facility’s poor needle-handling practices, coupled with a procedure which shouldn’t even exist.

However, my disgust was soon joined by no small amount of outrage. Upon further reading, I learned that this idiotic procedure involves extracting blood from a customer, then running it through a centrifuge to extract platelet-rich plasma (PRP). Their dumb face is then poked repeatedly with very fine needles, after which the previously extracted PRP is smeared all over it. The logic, such as it is, is that blood platelets will help repair damaged skin cells.

The outrage here is that this is an obscene waste of time, money, and a precious bodily fluid. Every two weeks, I take a couple hours to donate platelets.1 The process is similar to the above, with my blood extracted and run through a centrifuge to pull out the platelets, then returned to me. The difference is that at the end of my donation, cancer patients, victims of traumatic injuries, and others in need are helped, and nothing is slathered all over my skin. Also, I usually get a bag of Sun Chips, a treat few spas carry.

A small celebration for my 300th platelet donation.
[Photo courtesy of P. Kafasis]

These odious narcissists are going through nearly all the steps to do some good in the world, only to blow it all with a procedure backed by exactly no evidence. Thanks a lot, Kim Kardashian.


  1. You can (probably) donate too! If you’re near Boston, donate at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. ↩︎