Thursday, April 26, 2012

My first absinthe antiquity

Isn't it a beauty?  Picture from the Absinthe Originals website
My first antique absinthe spoon arrived today, and I could not be more happy.  It was a gift from my mom, and the first truly antique Absinthiana object I own.  It has some marks that tells it is from the past, but that only adds to its beauty.  It is a "Cuill√®re Ouvrage√© 2".  I still have not had the time to investigate about it, but I definitely will.

It came from Absinthe Originals, one of the most trusted places for absinthe collectors to get real antique items, and highly recommended by my friends at the Wormwood Society.  You can be sure the owner of the site is not going to rip you off, and that he offers real jewels over there.  Not only spoons, but glasses, carafes, spoon holders and many more absinthe related pieces.  Even though some of the pieces are expensive (of course!), there are also affordable ones, and one has to start somewhere, right?

My friends tell me absinthe antiquities are like tattoos, once you get the first you cannot stop.  We'll see if they are right...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

On vampires and blood

Hematology is one of the subjects on the lab tech course that I am doing, and I just love it.  Not only because it is fascinating, but also because I am a vampire lover, and when I realized I was going to have 15 hours a week of talks on blood I thought life could not get better (I’m kidding!).  I secretly hoped I could discover what exactly nourishes the vampire, and if it could be explained by science. 

So if you want to take the journey with me…

CRASH COURSE ON HUMAN BLOOD – for vampire lovers and the scientifically inclined (or both at the same time) – PART ONE.

Blood is a very simple substance, and at the same time, terribly complex.  It cannot be created (sorry, Ms Harris, True Blood will never exist, and the Japanese will not be able to invent it), and if someone needs it, it has to be donated.  An adult person has about 68-77 ml of blood per kilogram of weight.  Do the math and see how much blood you have.

Blood is a tissue made of living cells (erythrocytes, leukocytes and platelets), and plasma.

Erythrocytes are the commonly called red blood cells.  They are red because of the hemoglobin, which is a protein they carry inside that contains iron and that transports oxygen.  Red blood cells live up to 120 days, and we have around 4,500,000 erythrocytes per ml of blood. 
These are my favorites.

Leukocytes are the white blood cells (you may know them as they are part of our immune system).  They are the only blood cells that have nucleus.  We have 5,000-11,000 leukocytes per ml of blood.  There are 5 types of leukocytes: 
It would be long to describe them all, so let’s say that most of them have a life of hours or days, except the limphocytes, that can last for years – these are the ones that keeps us free of diseases because they keep a memory of the agents that enter our body and how they got rid of them.  That’s why they last for so long.

Platelets have a life of 10 days.  They are the agents that close up wounds when we get hurt (they stop the hemorrhage) , and we have 140,000-400,000 platelets per ml.

Plasma is the liquid fraction of the blood.  Of the total amount of blood, 50-55% is plasma, and the rest are the blood cells.  Plasma is composed of:
- 91.5% of water
- 7% of proteins (55% albumin, 38% globulins, 7% fibrinogen)
- 1.5% of other substances such as glucids, lipids, electrolytes and waste products

The fibrinogen is a protein that helps the blood get clotted.  A blood extracted can get clotted as fast as 3-7 minutes.  That’s why labs use anticoagulants when they extract blood that has to be preserved, be it for lab work or a blood bank.

So, after all this info, what’s your take?  Why vampires like blood so much and what is exactly the component that nourishes them?
Here are my thoughts on the matter:
It cannot be the plasma – it is mostly water, after all!  Maybe the proteins on it? Albumin… You can get that of eating eggs.  Not the fibrinogen.  After all, vampires do not lick blood that has been spilled and it’s clotted.  Well, some do.  Eli from “Let the right one in”.  But they usually don’t. 
The globulins then?  They are proteins with medium molecular weight…

What about the cells?  Oh, how they love the red color… Maybe it’s the erythrocytes.  The thing the erythrocytes have the most is the hemoglobin, which is mainly iron and oxygen.  They do not need the oxygen, as most folklores insist they are dead. 
Leukocytes are not needed either.  As dead people, they do not have diseases or infections.
Platelets are very, very small.  If they needed them, probably a whole person would not be sufficient per night.

Hold the thoughts while I am being taught in a few days about blood banks, and we’ll talk about the honorable vampires that want to live off them…
In the meantime, here are some pictures of slides of dyed blood I made.  I took them with my camera through the lens of the microscope.

The orange dots are erythrocytes.  The two purple dots are two basophils.
More erythrocytes.  To the top right, a neutrophil.  To the left, a monocyte.  The one that is further down is a lymphocyte.
Erythrocytes and an eosinophil.

A monocyte.  The tiny purple dots at the bottom are platelets.
And if you have read up until now, go and reward yourself with an erythrocyte, a leukocyte or a platelet.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A bit about corsets

I had thought about writing a series of posts about corsets for newbies, but after finding about the lovely Lucy, I think you better check out her YouTube channel, as well as her webpage to find out anything related to corsets.

Not only she provides thorough reviews on all kinds of corsets; she also offers tips on how to mend them, storage them, as well as videos about corsets and health.  If you can sew, you can also find information about how to make your own corsets and patterns.  If not, you can always ask her to make you your very own customized corset.  I am a big fan of hers :)

Also, if you are a Steampunk lover, you may want to check out the new 2012 collection of fantastic steampunk corsets.  You have them available at Corsets UK, if you live in Europe, and at Corset Story, if you live in the US.  You have available a review on one of these corsets by Lucy here.

A sample of the Steampunk Corset Collection
I have purchased from Corsets UK, and I am happy both with the service and the merchandise.  The corsets are great quality for off-the-rack garments, and very affordable, specially if you like variety in your wardrobe.