April 01, 2009

Trick and Treat

(Warning: readers of a sensitive disposition may like to skip the first section, which deals with bodily functions.)
In last week's classes, my group of medical students learned about the signs and symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, so the following announcement seemed very timely, and I took it along to today's session.
"The medical profession expressed qualified support this week for the release of a new office-testing kit for medical practices. Consisting of a slim spatula, a glass slide, and 2 sachets of reagent, Poosmear (TM) will enable on-the-spot testing for mucus and inflammatory cells in fresh faeces.
The makers expect the kit to be of use primarily to gastroenterologists and GPs, and they claim it will be a useful screening tool for patients suspected of having inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), as well as offering reassurance to any patient concerned about altered bowel habits.

The test involves the collection of faeces directly from the rectum, with the sample being smeared liberally across the slide and allowed to dry. (As this might take some time in the case of diarrhoea, the use of a hairdrier is suggested.) When the sample is completely dry, the reagents are added and the resulting colour change compared to a chart.

The kit is expected to cost about $20, and is distributed by [company] Ltd."

I am relieved to report that most of group guessed the truth even before they got to the company name. Besides, they are used to my turning up with stuff I write on the train. ;-)
In fact I had a far better April Fool's "catch" rate with my fellow tutors. LOL

I have previously mentioned some of the little things which I find very rewarding in my role as a volunteer in the Open Directory Project, and another one happened in the last couple of weeks.
Many hundreds of people apply each week to become editors, and I described the application and review process in detail in "FAQ about ODP/DMOZ editing Part 1: Applying". It can be a rather dispiriting task to review one poor or careless application after another, and the ones which are acceptable tend to stand out from the crowd. Unfortunately, many of these new editors do only a few edits before losing interest, but every now and then one of them will use their account with great enthusiasm: reading the many resources, using the internal forums, searching for worthwhile sites, improving the category, and generally doing their best to learn how to be a useful and productive member of the editing community.
It is always a pleasure to see someone re-apply after an unsuccessful application, and then go on to become an enthusiastic and conscientious editor. I recently joined someone like this to the directory, and it's a real treat. :-)

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