More Microsoft Courier Info – perfect for students?

Take a look at another video of the Microsoft Courier tablet in use. It looks like the perfect tool for students: note taking, organisation, time management, linking, information searching, information storage, and if you can view and annotate Powerpoint files, possibly the perfect lecture companion.
The price may crash this idea, of course. Also, does this mean I’ll have to learn to write with a pen again?
Gizmodo – The Courier Files: How Microsoft Thinks We’ll Use Their Secret Tablet

Pembrokeshire Half-Marathon (Dale) – Race Report

Img 1174I ran the Pembrokeshire half-marathon yesterday in Dale, organised by the Pembrokeshire Triathlon Club. I chose it as my last race before the marathon because of the distance, the hills and the location. I was guessing from the maps but when we got there it was as pretty as expected. Kim and I have climbed on and walked around much of Pembrokeshire but we hadn’t been to this bit. Coffee by the placid water of the estuary was a great warm up.
This isn’t much of a race report really, as my aims for the run were to ignore timing and placing and to mimic the first half of my marathon plan with respect to effort, pace and psychology. I was very good and didn’t start too fast, was happy in the front bunch but content to let it fragment ahead of me, and kept my effort even. My heart rate was higher going downhill (and not just because of a wardrobe malfunction – I’m not racing in those shorts again) than uphill, and I even got a little lazy on the later climbs.
The views were great, and the run out to the lifeguard station on top of St Annes Head let the runner see all around to Skokholm Island and the cliffs and inlets of the coast. The predicted sunshine never broke through the cloud but there was little wind and the temperature was good for running, if chilly for Kim taking photos.
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As I am continually learning, my constant pace meant that I caught runner after runner as the race progressed. I ran efficiently and strongly, not racing individuals but nonetheless passing them as we all got closer to the finish.
It really didn’t feel like a 13.1 mile run as I eased into the final seaside stretch. I could have continued at a higher pace for another 7 miles certainly, but beyond 20 miles? I’ve no idea yet. My legs weren’t fresh before the race and were sore for the first few miles, and the descents were tiring for quadriceps muscles. I was very disciplined though, and will take much of what I practised forward to the marathon with confidence. I feel that my race plan is strong and conservative, but flexible.
So I finished at 24:30min(ish) and in 4th or 5th place. Aiming for an average 6:30 min/mile pace but modified for the hills I had run faster than expected but reviewing my heart rate data my level of perceived exertion was about right. Pat on the back. Job done. Dublin next.
Where is Dale?
Pembrokeshire Triathlon Club
Flickr photos


When starting to fix a problem, never rely on anyone else’s data.
I learnt this through years of fixing other people’s computer & electrical problems. The first question was always, “is it plugged in?” to which they would usually reply, “yes, of course it is!” But when you checked the plug, often it wasn’t. Or the plug socket wasn’t switched on.
Today’s case: the light in Annabel’s room hasn’t worked for a while & Kim had tried a new bulb in there, to no effect. So I’d assumed I’d need to check & swap the pendant or some wiring, which means turning off the electricity. So I hadn’t got round to it yet.
On the off-chance I just tried a bulb that I knew worked. Guess what? The light in Annabel’s room works fine now.

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Week 103 – Lungs! Gasp!

3521234781 Ca636324B6 OOn Monday we looked at the anatomy of the lungs, with respect to differences between left and right, lobes, fissures & anatomical relationships (and the heart in particular).
To discover lung anatomy we used models, prosections of individual lungs, lungs with the heart and great vessels attached, and looked at a cadaver with lungs in situ. We saw that the left lung had a little less space than the right lung as the left ventricle of the heart projected across to the left side of the thorax. The lungs became very thin anterior to the heart, filling as much space as possible between the heart and the thorax, and we found the lingula in each of the specimens.
We saw that the larger right lung has 3 lobes (superior, middle and inferior) separated by fissures (horizontal and oblique). We got a good idea of the real sizes of the lobes by looking at the extracted lungs and by using the Visible Body 3D models. We also got a good idea of where the lungs are with regard to the ribs, and noticed that the apex of each lung extended into the neck. Looking at the left lung we found that it had only 2 lobes (superior and inferior) separated by an oblique fissure. We mentioned the connective tissues surrounding the lungs (visceral and parietal pleura) and how separate they are from each other and from the central structures in the mediastinum.
2009-09-21--LungsLooking at the cadaveric lungs we tried to work out which part of the triangle was the apex. By finding the hilum where the airways and blood vessels entered and left the lung we found the medial surface, and then by finding the dome-shaped surface of the base of the lung where the dome-shaped diaphragm would lie we found the inferior surface. From this it was then clear which were the anterior, posterior and superior surfaces. We also found a large impression in the left lung made by the heart and a groove curving along the medial surface of the left lung that was made by the aorta. The prosection of the lungs, heart and great vessels made this clear (and we had a hunt for the inferior vena cava on the right, inferior part of the heart and also found the oesophagus running anterior to the aorta, noting its longitudinal muscles apparent on the surface linking to what we saw in the histology sessions in previous weeks).
For our next trick we looked at the hila of the lungs. We could see several tubes entering and leaving the lung at the hilum but could only really guess which were the bronchi, pulmonary artery and pulmonary veins, especially as all of these tubes branched rapidly either as they entered or just before they entered the lung tissue. Hmm, what to do?
By looking at the parts of the heart and reminding ourselves of the flow of deoxygenated blood into the right side of the heart, out through the top of the heart through the pulmonary trunk and into the lungs for oxygenation, and then returned to the left side of the heart by the pulmonary veins before being pumped around the rest of the body we could decipher some of the hilum’s structures. The pulmonary artery must be the more superior tube as the pulmonary trunk is the most superior structure of those to choose from. The pulmonary veins are the more inferior tubes, as they return to the left atrium, which is lower than the pulmonary trunk. The trachea and bronchi are posterior to the heart and blood vessels here, so the remaining tube must be the main bronchus. We confirmed this by prodding the suspected bronchus and could feel the hard cartilage rings keeping it open. Good stuff – if we remember the anatomy of the heart we can work out the structures of the hilum of the lung.
2009-09-21--HeartFinally we briefly mentioned the lymphatic drainage of the lungs. The respiratory surfaces are kept “moist” to facilitate gaseous exchange, but this fluid must be drained from the lungs as it is constantly added to. We noted that there are pulmonary lymph nodes deep to the hilum and bronchopulmonary lymph nodes at the hilum that fluid will drain to. The fluid continues on to carinal nodes (the carina is the point where the trachea splits into 2 main bronchi) and ascends through lymphatic vessels and nodes alongside the trachea, before linking to parasternal nodes and draining back into the systemic circulation through right and left bronchomediastinal trunks and the thoracic duct (on the left). Why do we need to know this? Lung cancer spread and pulmonary oedema would be 2 good reasons.
Unfortunately we left the nervous innervation of the lungs for another time, because of the detail and time required and so that we may better link this innervation to other nerve system teaching. Have a read of this in your preferred anatomy textbook if you’re interested at this stage.


Shadow jumped ahead again at the end of this evening’s run. The sun dropped low behind us & he sprang forward as I turned to look at the view.
And he knew my legs were tired. Bastard.

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Run, boy, run!

Time for a training update?
I’ve done half of a 115km running week, and this is my penultimate big week. I’ve an easy week next week (a mere 90km with no speed session and no long run) followed by a 120km finale that ends with yet another 32km (20 miler!) long run in which I’ll probably place a race pace segment. After that I begin a 3 week taper down to the marathon. This is something I’ve really been looking forward to (the taper, not so much the marathon).
Swimming, cycling and strength work are all going well, everything’s working pretty well biomechanically-speaking at the moment & my confidence is rising. I’m starting to lay down some pacing plans for the race and I’m making sure I’ve got everything I’ll need. November is going to be one lazy month for me!
Interestingly I cut my calorie intake recently to shift some final fattage, but my weight and seemingly my fat content (I had another body composition test) didn’t budge. I’m clocking more than 17 hours of training a week so I had a real calorie deficit. This is a little strange, and as we’re entering cold and flu season with the kids going back to school and students returning to university I dumped that plan to ensure that my immune system stays as strong as it can. My brain also seems happier with that plan. It doesn’t like me making my body train for long hours and starving it too.
There are 38 days until the Dublin marathon. I’ve got a half-marathon in Pembrokeshire at the end of the month, but my focus is on Dublin. Stay strong, stay fit!

Heart sounds, podcast

Are you learning to recognise heart sounds, or revising? Go to iTunes U and have a listen to this Medical College of Georgia podcast:
Heart Sounds
This is a natural and great use for the podcast format, but you’ll need some teaching to go with the sounds that you hear! As a simple anatomist I’ve no idea what these sounds mean, but you may find them useful.

Week 101: an introduction to the small and large intestine

Gi TractIn our first anatomy session on Monday we began the year by introducing the abdomen. It’s a good place to start as most of the anatomy here is fairly straightforward and it gets you thinking in three-dimensions. The concept of the peritoneum is the toughest part to understand, as are the mesentery, mesocolon, omenta and sacs that are formed by it’s folds and spans between organs.
In my session I spoke a little about anatomy teaching and learning, and how to best use the small group format. Hopefully we’ll be able to look at models, prosections and whatnot together as a small group, and we’ll change the format a little from week to week (most weeks I’ll talk to you, but some weeks I’ll get you to find and show each other the structures that we’re interested in, for example). There’s a huge amount of human anatomy to learn, and I guess the best ways for most people to store & recall all this information are to engage with and use the stuff that you’re learning. Use it or lose it, as they say.
So, I was given (and passed on to you) the learning objective of, “identify the different parts of the small and large intestines, and describe their locations in the abdomen and list the anatomical differences between them.”
We started at the top, and worked down quickly to the first part of the small intestine. We found the start of the duodenum as it left the pylorus of the stomach and noted that the duodenum is fairly well fixed in place (certainly when compared to the rest of the small intestine) and is partly retroperitoneal and held against the posterior abdominal wall. We saw the C-shaped curve that the duodenum makes, and saw that it had 4 parts: superior, descending, inferior and ascending. We also saw the reason for the duodenum’s curve – it has the head of the pancreas nestled into it, and the pancreas ducts its exocrine secretions into the duodenum here, into the descending (or 2nd) part, aiding digestion.
So one of the functions of the small intestine is continued digestion then.
Looking inside the duodenum we saw that the internal surface was very corrugated, and we could see that the rest of the small intestine was very long (about 6m) and very folded. In Paul Griffiths’ histology bit you saw that the histology of the small intestine showed even more surface area optimisation. All this surface area increases the ability for the small intestine to pass molecules across cells and into the blood stream. So another function of the small intestine is absorption of nutrients (but you probably already knew that, right?)
The duodenum starts about the level of the first lumbar vertebra (L1), drops down to the level of L3, and then moves across to the left side and rises a little to the level of L2. From here the jejunum begins, and coils and folds, held in place by its mesentery. Jejunum becomes ileum (spelling is important), and the ileum ends the small intestine in the lower right quadrant where it meets the large intestine. The jejunum probably makes up about 40% of the small intestine, and the ileum the other 60%. Some differences between the jejunum and ileum are noted here.
The remaining contents of the small intestine enter the large intestine at the caecum, a short pouch that starts off the large bowel from which the appendix hangs. The ileocaecal valve prevents contents from passing back into the ileum when the peristaltic contractions of the colon push its contents up through the ascending colon.
The ascending colon is usually retroperitoneal and well fixed in place, and the large intestine makes a left turn at the right colic flexure (or hepatic flexure) where it nestles into the liver. The transverse colon is much more free to move as it has a mesocolon (like the small intestine’s mesentery) attaching it to the posterior abdominal wall. At the left side the colon makes another turn, and this turn is called the left colic flexure (or splenic flexure). It descends as the descending colon (retroperitoneal), becomes the sigmoid colon (which has a mesocolon), and continues inferiorly but also posteriorly, moving towards the pelvis. The sigmoid colon becomes the rectum, which stores faces for removal through the anal canal.
The large intestine has a larger diameter than the small intestine (some naming in anatomy really is sensible) and one of its functions is to remove water from its contents and compact the leftovers to form faeces (more functions here).
That takes us to the bottom. Sorry, to the end. Take a look at the large bowel (large intestine, colon) and find the taenia coli (smooth muscle strips), the haustrae (pouches), and the omental appendices (fat-filled pouches of peritoneum) too. They’ll tell you that you’ve found large, and not small, intestine.