A Sandwich and a Half

poboyThe Po’Boys at Mahony’s in New Orleans are as big as your thigh. Our plan was to eat a snack before shopping. “Never grocery shop while hungry” is our battle cry to justify spending $45 in a restaurant to prevent us from overspending at the grocery store. After this, we opted to go home and take a nap instead.


Case Western Reserve University
Craig A. Hodges, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
BRB (216) 368
Biomedical research building
Cystic Fibrosis
Cftr mouse models

Generation of a conditional null allele for Cftr

Cystic Fibrosis Related Female Infertility is Multifactorial: Evidence from Mouse Models of CF

Genetic regulation of the variation in pubertal timing.

When Puberty is Precocious: Scientific and Clinical Aspects.

The Use of Mouse Chromosome Substitution Strains to Investigate the Genetic Regulation of Pubertal Timing

Identification of a Quantitative Trait Locus that Regulates the Onset of Puberty

The Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator (CFTR) Modulates the Timing of Puberty in Mice

The SMC1b-deficient female mouse: Evidence that cohesins are a missing link in age-related nondisjunction

Defective sister-chromatid cohesion, aneuploidy and cancer predisposition in a mouse model of type II Rothmund-Thompson syndrome

SMC1b is required for meiotic chromosome dynamics, sister chromatid cohesion, and DNA recombination

Generation of transgenic livestock by somatic cell nuclear transfer

Generation of bovine transgenics using somatic cell nuclear transfer

Bisphenol A exposure causes meiotic aneuploidy in the female mouse

Simultaneous analysis of chromosomes and chromosome-associated proteins in mammalian oocytes and embryos

Experimental evidence that changes in oocyte growth influence meiotic chromosome segregation.” Human Reproduction

Coordinating the segregation of sister chromatids during the first meiotic division: Evidence for sexual dimorphism

Chromosomal influence on meiotic spindle assembly: Abnormal meiosis I in female MLH1 mutant mice

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(not so) Profound Thoughts on Turning 40

Originally posted 08November2013 -pictures will return!

Man, what a time for pause and reflection. With life expectancy at ~75 years of age, at 40 you are without a doubt statistically on the back 9 of the course.

Yeah, my mom just turned 40. I can’t imagine the stress of what she’s going through.

I typically hide my birthday on Facebook and shun the attention for one simple fact: because I can’t return the favor. With 500+ Facebook friends, I have almost 3 birthdays every two days. Giving birthday wishes on Facebook would be a part-time job. I can’t play favorites and only address certain birthdays and I can’t leave generic messages. So I try to stay under radar. But 40 is a big one. It deserves mention. I will face this.

Each birthday, I like to play a little {poorly researched} game called “what were other {successful} people doing at my age” while taking stock of my own accomplishments. It goes like this:

In my Family:

At age 40 my mother was dealing with me as a high school sophomore with my sister already out of both school and home.

I was 4 when Dad was 40. Some friends my age now are having their first children and others are sending theirs into the world as adults (or college).

In History:

By Age 40,
Van Gogh had been dead 3 years, leaving genius to be honored for generations to come

Mozart, Jaco Pastorius: 5 years dead in the ground, leaving genius to be honored for generations to come

Charlie Parker: 6 years dead in the ground, leaving genius to be honored for generations to come

Jesus, Eva Perón, Eva Braun, John Belushi: 7 years dead in the ground leaving lots of dismay and confusion for generations to come.

Alexander the Great, 8 years dead in the ground, had conquered the known world

The 27 Club: Who cares about people under 30?

At 40, Hitler was only four years away from being elected Chancellor of Germany.

Bill gates had just purchased the Codex Leicester.

In living Entertainment:

By 40,

Eddie Van Halen had recorded 1984 twelve years previously and was touring with facial hair in the Van Dyke style, only a year away from hiring Gary Cherone to sing for Van Halen, something the fans forgot about even before they went on tour.

Steve Harris had just released “Best of the Beast” and was probably seriously considering packing in the Iron Maiden show. Then he floated a bond for obscene amounts of money, sold the bond, pulled Bruce & Adrian back into the band and made the biggest and best Iron Maiden yet.

For Paul McCartney, it was 1982. He was done with Wings and recording with Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, to whom he was explaining the benefits of owning song-publishing rights, advising the King of Pop to invest.

Mick Jagger was accosting us with a Bette Midler duet version of “Beast of Burden” and had already been lampooned in Bloom County for being an over-the-hill rocker. Most recent Rolling Stones show as of this writing: 13July2013, just short of Mick’s 70th birthday-30 years after introducing me to Midler and I still don’t forgive him.

Ronald Reagan was President of the Screen Actors Guild and filmed his Magnum Opus, Bedtime for Bonzo (directed by Fred de Cordova, who was 41).

Stephen Hawking published the Hartle–Hawking state model and completed a first draft of “A Brief History of Time”.

If you already know who Fred de Cordova is, you’re older than I.

His greats behind him, Spielberg had graduated to movies like Harry & The Hendersons, Innerspace and the Amazing Stories Television show.

Michael Jordan was retiring for the third time.

Tiger woods won’t know for 2 years

My Personal Accomplishments:

So far, in 40 years, I have managed to touch my tongue to a 9-volt battery once, but not on purpose.

In fact, while trying not to.

Notes From Wiki:

Notable deaths from 1973 include Pablo Picasso, Noel Coward, Veronica Lake, JRR Tolkien and Lon Chaney.

Famous people turning 40 in 2013 include Neil Patrick Harris, Seth McFarland, Monica Lewinski, Dave Chappelle, Aishwarya Rai, Tyra Banks and Heidi Klum.

Famous November 8th Birthdays include: Leif Garret, Bram Stoker, Bonnie Raitt, Rickie Lee Jones, Minnie Ripperton, Gordon Ramsay, Parker Posey, Jack Osbourne, Patti Page, Margaret Mitchell, Ben Bova and Good Times’ Ester Rolle.

People turning 40 in 1973 were born the year the Golden Gate Bridge construction began, The Lone Ranger debuted, King Kong & Duck Soup premiered, Mount Rushmore was dedicated, the Basques vote for autonomy, Dachau opened, “Nessie” is first sighted, a mid-air explosion of a Boeing 247 marks the first noted sabotage in civilian aviation. All of WWII was yet to happen.


1973 History

On November 8, 1973, “Millennium ’73”, a festival hosted by Guru Maharaj Ji at the Houston Astrodome, is called by supporters the “most significant event in human history”.

Nixon started his second term and Henry Kissinger won the Peace Prize.

The oldest items I can remember in cultural and pop culture “History” are the space station Skylab falling (I thought it was a windmill) and the “I’d like to teach the World to Sing” Coca-Cola and “I Need More Calgon / Ancient Chinese Secret” commercials.

Lastly, I would like to thank Achewood for posting this perfect comic on this special Day.

Archival photo: 14609.688 days, no accounting for Precession.

Archival photo: 14609.688 days, no accounting for Precession or retrograde. Spot the kitty.

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Leaving CWRU: A Summary Defenestration or The Dreyfus Affair?

Originally posted: October 2013

If I face the latter, I will need to get some dry cleaning done.

I am pretty torn about the situation. In one way, I am ecstatic. Everyone who knows me knows that I want to spend a lot more time in New Orleans. I’ve had a secret goal of figuring out how to do this by the time I reach the age of 40 next month. I wasn’t going to make my goal. In May, however, we found out that the grant that has been funding me has not been renewed and none of the work-arounds we would usually use are available now. Looks like I’m going to make my goal! God Willing, I have seen my last Ohio Winter and have made my escape from fluorescent lights and criminally insane HVAC systems. Over this I can hardly contain my jubilation.

On the other hand, I have a strong emotional investment in my projects. It will be hard to walk away, I admit. I love being part of the story of studying energy homeostasis in Cystic Fibrosis. I’m not raising kids or producing art. This body of work is my fulfillment (I have convinced myself). I love my science and I love working with Mitch Drumm, but I have to face facts: I have put myself on a life path defined by climbing many smaller mountains, not one big one and I have to keep myself on it. I’m not on a path for growth in academia (on purpose). My role is mercenary (money for data, data for money). The sense of unfinished business sickens me, but Science is by definition always unfinished business. I can always step back into the stream in the future if I like, I suppose. That is the beauty of my position as a non-academic.

Everyone's Friend!

My friend, Professor Ignacio “Doc Oc” Ocasio.

One must not forfeit personal growth in trade for security and comfort (don’t we all do it?). I would happily become the world’s oldest lab bench monkey for the salary of a McDonald’s manager if it were up to me. Instead of money, I get paid in science round-table discussion with some pretty good brains. But many of those brains are retiring (some a little early due to economics). CWRU seems to be seeing yet another Exodus in talent (I’ve seen a few).

My supervisor Mitch is BMOC these days and he’s insanely busy. Not only are the round-tables few and far between now, he’s getting to the point where he doesn’t answer Emails. If I have to schedule an audience through his admin assistant, this isn’t a lab anymore. And some of the junior investigators rushing in to fill the void still have a lot to learn regarding people skills, self-importance and Prima donnism (not taught in their Ph.D programs). So I have extreme gratitude for this kick from the nest. One should not stay too long at the party. You guys have fun with that.

So Case people, get in your final smooches, flowers, accolades, grab-assing or whatever you like (most of my CWRU friends already left some time ago, so I won’t hold my breath). After you get out of a long relationship with a person, you instinctively go back and listen to music you stopped listening to when that person came into your life. You try to find ‘the old you’. As Joni sang, “So now I’m returning to myself these things that you and I suppressed.”

Well, I have definitely put a section of my life on hold for CWRU and shall promptly return to it, older, wiser and leaner, if thinner-haired and even more dispirited. I have dinner reservations in New Orleans the first weekend in December and should be back in Ohio some time before Mardi Gras. I have a few (hundred) plans for future cash acquisition, but in the immediate future, I’m going to work back-of the-house in a company (site still being built) my bride and I have been attempting to get off the ground, which, if it works, will support our desires for a bi-coastal lifestyle. I have left the door open to do science in the future, but only science that I love and I have to be free to come and go seasonally. Science that is too-closely tied to our dysfunctional government will just have me jumping from one sinking ship to another.

This is the part where I stop and sing a song to the great state of Louisiana. I will provide the long, boring insider part of the story after the break (most of you can stop reading now).

the rocky horror picture show (1975) i’m going home on Vimeo.

Since I bought a place in New Orleans in 2008, I have been talking with Mitch about doing seasonal employment. A few years after that I started talking with CWRU human resources and my department’s administrator. Mitch says he is fine with the idea. CWRU told me to jump into the lake. Even if I were allowed to do this, the amount of paperwork and bureaucratic bullshit Mitch would have to face in order to put me onto payroll then take me off six months later (each year) would be insurmountable. Also, many grants are planned out 3 or more years in advance. The only way it may be feasible is if I work through Kelly temp agency. So I’ve been been patiently planning my escape since then, but to have my cake and eat it, too, I would come back and do big projects for Mitch if he could manage the funding and planning.

After the government budget sequestration started earlier this year, we started getting warning shots of “rolling furloughs”across the bow from the dean.

Then I found out that the grant that pays for me wasn’t re-funded.
We used to have an old trick of re-defining the roles people play slightly in order to justify which grants pay for them (you have to have tricks to fund the Skunkworks). But CWRU is a little overly Government-dependent compared to other research universities. We have been robbing Peter to pay Paul since the 2008 “economic downturn” and continuing grants have been cut each year by $30K and $60K chunks. As my boss says, “We’re out of rabbits to pull out of the hat”. He keeps submitting for grants but they keeps not getting funded.

At least that’s what they tell me. In Academia, if it’s decided you’re an asshole, you get the same story: “Sorry, Buddy, we ain’t gots no more!” (hands pulling empty pockets inside-out). It’s not like we get to review or audit the grant situation. We couldn’t. The people in charge of the grants usually have no freaking clue, either. But we know the department has been carrying me since June and CWRU HR has been screaming at my boss ever since. CWRU is, of course, bottom-line oriented. 13 years of blood, sweat and tears* count for nothing. Well, I get to be considered an “internal candidate” when applying for jobs they post for a year.

*OK, more like blood, drinking coffee and ogling co-eds

Then came shot two across the bow:

Listen up!

To the Faculty and Staff of the School of Medicine:
Last month I wrote regarding the federal government’s sequester and its deleterious effects on research nationwide. Despite ongoing protests and efforts to educate members of Congress regarding the consequences of these cuts, we have seen no change on Capitol Hill. In fact, our funding agencies have begun to issue more specific guidance regarding the size of the reductions we should expect. As just one example, our Clinical and Translational Science Award is scheduled to shrink by more than $1 million in 2013-2014.

As devastating as these developments are, failing to act on them poses even greater dangers. If we plan ahead and adjust now, we at least will be able to manage the implications over time. Over the past several months we have worked to control costs within the school’s central administration and have encouraged department chairs to reduce spending through measures like sharing equipment and staff or taking greater advantage of core services. Now that more time has passed without legislative action, we must increase our efforts to accommodate the grant cuts we face in this federal fiscal year – and the even greater ones on the horizon.

Our primary goal is to manage these fiscal challenges with the least negative impact on research or the people who perform it. To that end, our first step is to offer a series of voluntary measures that staff, principal investigators, department chairs and other leaders can consider together. We hope to achieve the savings necessary through this collaborative approach because we very much want to avoid more draconian mandatory measures later.

I also want to note that we are creating a school-based Hiring Management Committee composed of administrative and faculty leaders. Its charge will be to evaluate every applicable posting to determine whether a new position truly needs to be added or a vacant one filled. We have asked department chairs to conduct their own assessment before choosing to submit a position for review. In some instances the committee will allow the hiring process to advance immediately, while in others it may delay or deny the proposal. Positions funded 100 percent from external grants or recruitment packages are exempt from this process.

Now, as for some of the individual options, please see below. Not all will be available to every employee, as individual departments and principal investigators will need to determine which options are necessary and appropriate for their areas. They do not apply to graduate students, who receive stipends, rather than salaries. We will provide additional details regarding how employees and principal investigators can implement these choices shortly, but we wanted to make them public promptly so that everyone can begin considering them with regard to individual circumstances. In each case, both the staff person and the supervisor must agree on the choice selected for it to be enacted.

I. Job Share

– Two (2) staff employees fill one (1) full-time position

– Salary and benefits are prorated

– Expense of the shared position cannot exceed that of the full-time position

– Part-time health insurance premiums apply

– Staff Employees must maintain 0.5 FTE to qualify for benefits

II. Vacation Buy

– Employees may purchase between five (5) and twenty (20) additional vacation days during the fiscal year; payments deducted from paychecks during the fiscal year

– Purchased days must be used during the fiscal year (i.e., no carryover)

– Staff employees with at least one (1) year of service and who are in good standing are eligible

– Fringe benefits maintained

III. Vacation Raise

– Vacation days awarded in lieu of a salary increase at supervisor’s discretion

– Maximum ten (10) vacation days can be awarded

– Requires performance rating “meets standards, good contributor” or above

– Fringe benefits maintained

IV. Reduced Schedule

– Work part-time for a designated period of time or indefinitely

– Salary and benefits prorated

V. Partial Work Year

– Work full-time weeks, but for nine (9), ten (10), or eleven (11) months

– Salary prorated and paid over twelve (12) months

– Full-time fringe benefits maintained
VI. Convenience Leave

– Unpaid leave to decrease employment levels during less hectic work periods

– Benefits continue during unpaid leave.

Again, we will have open meetings later this month where supervisors and staff can inquire about these options, and will provide additional details about the program as they become available. Those who want to learn more about these options should speak with their immediate supervisors or contact the Senior Director of Benefits. You also may speak with the university’s Vice President for Human Resources.
I deeply wish that we did not have to discuss these matters. Our medical school’s research is producing such promising progress and extraordinary breakthroughs. I would prefer to invest more in your efforts – not only because the work merits it, but also because patients need it. But our elected representatives have given us no choice. Our only responsible step is to act on what we know and reduce spending in the most rational, thoughtful and sensitive manner possible. Thank you for all that you do for our School of Medicine; I look forward to speaking with you later this month.

So things are pretty rough in academic science right now. I’m not the first in this recent situation. I’m proud to say I’ve made it through several recent rounds of sweeping personnel cuts. But I told Mitch at the beginning of summer: “Don’t forget about my New Orleans thing. There is no point in canning someone and keeping me just to have me leave in a year”. After telling me to jump in the lake, you see above that Case offers (V.) Partial work year. So we’ll see.

I should not deny that there are certainly some things from which I will LOVE walking away. Academia is as pathological with passive-aggressive back-biting office politics as anything can possibly be. Whatever you hate about your job, if all of that went away, when there is nothing to complain about and everyone is playing with other people’s money and the job is warm, dry and fun, people are only left with turning on each other. So much has been restrained out of respect for Mitch!
Learning to sit back and smile at the Shit Show and Circle Jerk is a good skill, too.
So “Ta, for now” CWRU. I would like to get all sentimental, but you’re sure as Hell not. I have to do this “life begins at 40” stuff now, I guess.

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Good Job, Joey!

O.K., I’ve had some time to spend with this. I think Joey should really have his chest puffed over this performance. At 53, he ain’t no spring chicken and he hammers this Steve Perry-in-his-prime song. Seriously, try and sing along once, preferably in your car, alone, way out on a deserted highway in Arizona. You will feel strange muscles in your lower abdomen you previously didn’t know existed.

Steve Perry overshadows his own abilities with the success of his music. Journey’s greatest hits is an RIAA 1.5 Diamond record. I think it has gone platinum on average every 18 months since release in 1988. But lesser-known rip-roaring songs like this should remind you what a talent he truly had and don’t let the stadium lighter-waving, money-making ballads fool you.

“Keep On Runnin'” is part of an early 80s trend to sell to (read: market exploit) the blue-collar “working” man. The 60s sold you the rebellion, freedom, idealism and energy of your youth. 20 years later, you have kids, a wife, a mortgage and you’re slaving away to pay for it all with rebellion emasculated and dreams of Strawberry Fields long-forgotten. You still have to feed the entertainment machine, so here comes John Cougar, a reborn-Bruce Springteen and movies like “9 to 5” and “Take this Job and Shove it” to get you to rebel from your arm chair, drink light beer and and cut loose once in a while. We’re Fightin’ the man with ya, Johnny-boy, for just $9.98 from K-tel. Keep on Runnin’ if you ever get the carburetor fixed on that Honda 350.

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121 Rue Bienville: The Return of and Ontological Myth

121 Rue Bienville: the Return and Ontological Myth

It all started when I found out that the band Niacin had played a show in Pittsburgh and I had missed it (1999? 2001?). I would have driven from Cleveland to Pittsburgh for that show. My friend, Andy and I are continuously vexed and dismayed by the fact that we are on the Email, Snail Mail and personal phone lists of thousands of artists, musical and otherwise, yet we can not be informed about artistic events in a timely manner for the most part. So I said, “Dammit, I’m going to make a list of links that I can just plow through, one after another, and check the tour dates or ‘Events’ sections on a regular basis from anywhere and keep myself updated on the meanderings of artists and their wily ways.” Or something like that.

Now my only limitation is the artist’s ability to keep a website online. This was relatively early in the internet game and it was not given that a musician would necessarily have a web page, or would be able to maintain paying his cousin to keep it updated. We’re not talking about U2, here. Most of the artists I enjoy don’t have a lot of money (and many have unsavory feelings about such loathsome things as self-marketing, bless their dumb hearts). It’s a website, to market your talents and wares, not a cup full of pencils.

Of course nowadays, no one can afford to tour. Once we have the added cost and inconvenience of T.S.A. searches at every public event, websites will be their only way to reach an audience.

121 Rue Bienville was a site to contain my collection of those internet links. It eventually grew to support all of my hobbies, not just music & art. It had photo albums, a calendar for social events and occasional collections of thoughts about events, books media (blog posts, essentially). It was mostly for my own use as I access many computers at home and work- but I welcome anyone into my little world in case we have something in common and don’t know it.

It started off as a Geocities page, then I learned a little HTML and hosted my own. Then Google came along and made each of those things, assimilated my behaviors and I performed dutifully as a consumer of comfort got lazy and neglected my site. I started the Riverside site as a creative outlet and 121RueBienville was just utilitarian and out-dated as I started keeping everything in a Google calendar, Blogger, RSS readers, Myspace etc. OH, and then the suck-in of Facebook. Well, not everyone is on Facebook and I’m not super keen on its presentation, anyway. But that’s where most of the peoples is.


I got peeved. I use 1&1 Webhosting and have always been really happy with their service, availability, etc. My websites were always online and I could always get them on the phone when I needed. Eventually, however, life got busy and I decided I didn’t have time to have these sites as creative endeavors, and decided to let them expire and not renew service. In doing so, I ran afoul of a little stunt that stuck in my craw. Apparently I neglected (my fault) to notice the part of our agreement that stated that I had to give 30 days notice to let something expire. I can see this policy in physical rental property where the space needs to anticipate repair or special marketing that only happens when the place becomes available. But server space? So I owed them money and wasn’t really sure why (or how it was justified).

I said, “It seems like a normal fiduciary situation: I give you money- you host my sites. I stop giving you money, you stopped hosting my sites, yet I owe you money?”

1&1: “That’s right”
Me: “Did you give me service for which I have not paid?”

1&1: “Nope. But it’s in the contract. Pay up, asshole.” (I may be misremembering that last line)

Me: “OK, fine. How much do I owe you?”

1&1: “Oh, we’ve already sent you to collections.”

Me: “Really.” Deep sigh, “I guess we’re done here, then.”

So this was totally my fault. I just stopped caring for a while. I investigated a few other hosting packages, but I figure it would be easier to re-up with them and if I wanted to jump ship, do it later rather than try to wrestle all of my stuff from them. But I waited a long time. I will continue service with them presently, but now I know they aren’t any less skeevy or slimy than other businesses (I really thought they were great). And it cost them a lot of money to pull such a (in my opinion) dick-move. I could have been giving them money all those months or years.

This week I find that they have taken the liberty of rolling all six of my domains (including one I had no intention of renewing) into one billing package so that I get one bill for domain use instead of six, each on the anniversary of when I purchased it. And that would be fine except that they are more than a year ahead of schedule.
This is like the scam when you buy a magazine subscription and they send you a bill within eight months. Since you don’t remember when you started the subscription you pay, and they start your second year with the new issue. Buyer beware, people.

I have another problem, however. I have NO IDEA where my backup of the Riverside site is. I know I regularly backed it up. I think it’s on a DVD somewhere in my chaotic construction-zone/Zoo/science-experiment-gone-wrong of a house. This is also my fault. I am sort of OK with this. I had years of work into that riverside site, but there are bigger problems in life, I guess.

So here we are, starting over. I haven’t done any development on this site, just downloaded WordPress and the theme. I’m not a WordPress or CSS wizard, but I’m not afraid to learn in front of you. Like a blind man at an orgy, I’m going to have to feel things out. Check back if you like. My posts are long, rambling, too introspective and for the most part, boring. If you can stand it, welcome.

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