Welcome to the Good Stuff. I'm one of the lucky ones who loves her job--the kind of job that makes you feel good about what you're doing for yourself, for communities across the country, and best of all, for the environment.

And one cool thing I get to do is learn about a lot of good work people do to reduce waste and be kind to the environment--really good stuff--that's worth passing along. Sure, you might find a post or two about my chickens or my dogs (can't resist), but I hope you find this a positive, motivating place to visit to get inspired in some way to think differently or maybe do even more good stuff than you're already doing.

 

Dos Perros Wins Best In Class!

Well, they didn’t get some of the details right (Charlie blew into town in 2002, not 2005), and they described Jujube more than Dos Perros, but that’s OK.  Today Greg Cox proclaimed Dos Perros “Best In Class, Contemporary Mexican.”  He’s the food writer for our local newspaper. (Just click on the link above, when you get to the website, just use their down arrow to get to Dos Perros.)

Congratulations Charlie and Crew at Dos Perros!

Promising Treatment for Coke/Meth Addicts, Starting in Durham, NC!

So here’s something going on right here in Durham that also rocks, but very differently from the way Jack and Mick do.  A long post, I know.

Right now I’m doing contract work for Duke, writing for a few websites across the organization.  One of my favorite parts is contacting Duke researchers, usually those connected with translational research, learn what they’re up to, and then write about their work  in a way that the rest of us can understand.  When I took this position, I didn’t think it’d be nearly as interesting as it’s turning out to be—or as chalk full of genuine goodness.  Here’s an example of what I mean. 

Dr. Tong Lee is a super-interesting and surprisingly laid-back guy who works at the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences - picture below.  I visited him recently in his lab (located in a building that smells suspiciously like hay and mouse poop) to learn more about the research he’s doing to help addicts beat their meth and cocaine addiction.  Cool already, huh? 

I didn’t know (did you?) that there’s a drug combination out there that, if given to coke or meth addicts in two separate doses over a couple-week period, will literally—and I mean literally—erase the memory of how bad it feels when a high wears off (which is what inspires the cravings addicts have for more meth or coke; not necessarily to feel good, but to avoid feeling really really bad).  It’s true.  If you give a coke or meth addict a dose of the generic equivalent of Ritalin, it gives them a soft-core high similar to, but not nearly as intense as what they’d normally get from coke (or meth).  Those effects will last for about 3.5 hours, after which time they’re given the generic equivalent of Zofran (an anti-vomiting drug usually administered to those in chemo).  This second dose slips in as the high’s wearing off to “chip away” at that mountain of memory that houses the pain and dis-ease that happens when a coke/meth buzz wears off.  And if you give these people this dual dose once a day for a couple weeks—the cravings go away!  Their brain has literally been altered, and their physical memories of the after-effects of coke/meth are gone.

Now, as cool as this is, it’s not ideal, particularly because drug addicts aren’t notorious for complying with treatment.  Get ‘em sortta high and the chance that they’ll take round two 3.5 hours later is pretty slim.  And treatment clinics don’t want to be responsible for making sure they do – they have their hands full already.

So here’s where Dr. Lee and his team comes in.  They’ve actually worked with two pharmaceutical companies to make a drug that combines both the Ritalin/Zofran equivalents into one pill; a pill that delivers the Ritalin/high effects immediately, and then, 3.5 hours later, the Zofran/memory-erasing part.  A beautiful and necessary efficiency.  No need for addicts to remember their second dose; no need for drug clinics to babysit addicts for 3.5-hour stretches of time.

And Durham addicts will be the first to try it out.  Any minute now Dr. Lee’s team will get the green light from the FDA to move forward, and when they do (anticipated in the next couple weeks), they’ll take this combo drug treatment to the Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers (TROSA), a comprehensive, long-term, residential substance abuse recovery program right here in Durham, NC.  There, volunteers will get the single-dose treatment for two weeks, and my friends the researchers have every reason to believe that this affordable and easy-to-administer drug will do the trick and leave these folks free from the “need” they feel to use coke or meth. 

Now, obviously it’s more complicated than all this, and one question I had for Dr. Lee was, how are they going to know that those who have gone through treatment won’t someday get back out there and do these drugs?  Well, we won’t know.  There’s no guarantee.  But what we will know is that that drive they had to do it will be gone, which is more than half the battle in folks who want to get clean.  And as Dr. Lee explained, “You go get a flu vaccine and you don’t get the flu this year.  That’s no guarantee that you won’t ever get the flu again, but at least we know you’re so much less susceptible now than you were before.”  I bought that.

I’ll post the link to my actual story about this research as soon as my editor releases it.  You’ll find it on the home page of the Duke Translational Medicine Institute, where some of my other stuff is, too.  (Not that you’d know which pieces are mine; my editor won’t publish bylines.  Don’t even get me started…)  Would love to hear your thoughts.  Oh, and here’s a picture of Dr. Lee.  Great guy.

Months ago, the Fearrington House Restaurant asked Charlie if he wouldn’t mind stepping into the Fearrington kitchen and being the guest chef for a special wine dinner they were planning for January.  This was quite the honor, actually, and involved Charlie teaming up with their own Chef Colin Bedford, tasting some of the most beautiful and inspiring wines coming out of Washington state right now, and pairing these beauties to seven courses, the likes of which included a shabby ol’ “Butter Poached Lobster with Blood Orange & “Nuoc Cham” Espuma, with Fennel, Pineapple, and Cashew.”  The dinner went down two nights ago (and because I happened to be married to Charlie, I was given a pass on the $125 entry fee.  Bonus.)

But you know the SUPER-cool thing about this dinner?  It’s that the wine maker, whom you see in the lighter suit in these pictures, is Christian Sparkman, of Sparkman Cellars, who just happened to be the best man at our wedding and one of Charlie’s best all-time pals.  The night will live long in infamy.

The tall guy in the shot is Chef Colin himself, and the other with the hanky in his breast pocket is Wine Director Maximilian Kast.  Great guys.  A great event.  We’re all so lucky.

This is me and my dad, probably one of the best pictures I have of him.  Some folks say we look a lot alike.  I love him a lot; more on him soon. 

This is me and my dad, probably one of the best pictures I have of him.  Some folks say we look a lot alike.  I love him a lot; more on him soon. 

Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.

Aesop

I just heard about this on NPR today driving home from work and knew instantly I needed to upload it here.  Exactly in the Christmas spirit, wouldn’t you say?

It doesn’t look like much…, and it hardly translates into that Australian vacation we planned and are now canceling for February, but there’s a lot to that little rectangular box you see now attached to the brick wall (yeah, next to one of our four rain barrels).  That little tank-less water-heating beauty, in T-minus about 30 minutes, will be on track to save us up to 60% in gas bills next year and countless wasted gallons down the shower drain as we shiver naked, waiting for the shower to get hot.  AND it means hot water instantly for hand and face washing..  AND, as an added bonus, it’ll get us about a $1,300 tax credit come April, thanks Obama!

It doesn’t look like much…, and it hardly translates into that Australian vacation we planned and are now canceling for February, but there’s a lot to that little rectangular box you see now attached to the brick wall (yeah, next to one of our four rain barrels).  That little tank-less water-heating beauty, in T-minus about 30 minutes, will be on track to save us up to 60% in gas bills next year and countless wasted gallons down the shower drain as we shiver naked, waiting for the shower to get hot.  AND it means hot water instantly for hand and face washing..  AND, as an added bonus, it’ll get us about a $1,300 tax credit come April, thanks Obama!