The Diner Lunch

My father and I were sitting in our usual diner. The bearded host gave us a booth seat with a view of Route 18. Nice.

The staffing is limited as today is MLK day. I believe they forgot (or wanted to forget) that we hadn’t ordered.

My father gets a turkey burger with rice on the side, sans horrid coleslaw, and I a grilled chicken salad. I try to divert my eyes from the congealed balsamic dressing.

My father is relaying his boss’s money-making schemes and ideas as I look out onto the bustling highway, thinking about what this year can offer. Hopefully more than this dressing.


Prompt from the Weekly Writing Challenge


My Shortcomings with Knitting and Purling

From the Daily Post

Starting from a bundled ball of brightly colored yarn, she knits furiously. I hear the taps and clanks of the metal needles as they involuntary greet and depart from one another in swift, repetitive motions. I busy myself with a textbook and look up to see a growing patch of knitted wool grow larger and longer from my roommate’s hands. I dart my eyes back to the technical blabber of the thermodynamic principles of ideal and real solutions and think to myself (and to an imaginary crowd of captivated and sympathetic uber-knitters), “Ladies and gentlemen, I come before you today to admit that I have regrettably been deprived of a certain skill that turns water into wine, that turns 100% acrylic strands of yarn into breathtaking scarves and Pinterest-like hats. Knitting is love, and I now love to knit. Teach me to purl and I shall clothe myself for a lifetime.”

(I’m sorry about that, I’ve just finished watching The Ruling Class with Peter O’Toole and now feel the urge to dress in robes and take my galvanized pressure cooker out of storage.)

So in order to dig myself out of the trenches of society, I needed to knit. I needed to knit like the wind.


All of my female ancestors were counting on me. I marched right into Michaels and bought myself a bundled ball of brightly colored yarn and the largest pair of needles I’ve ever imagined handling. Thankfully I had watched a bunch of Youtube videos for point-by-point advice for knit-wits like me. I was never really taught/urged to knit when I was younger, so knitting wasn’t a hobby that I had ever put forth time and effort into.

I was completely stupefied of even the most basic knitting patterns until I realized the objective of adding a layer of yarn via transferring your work from one needle to the other. “Genius!” When I finally got the hang of it, I was unstoppable. I knitted while listening to news, while filing my tax return, while making coffee for myself in the morning, while thwarting off a burglar in the middle of the night, while taking down the Christmas tree. It was effortless and relaxing, but also satisfying because I figured this scarf would turn out just as I had expected it to. Well, 256 yards later, quite a few missed stitches and rough edges were staring at me; taunting and mocking me. Had I failed? Might I need to scrap this and start all over again?


Yeah, probably. But that’s ok, because I can always just hide this in my drawer and pretend this never happened, right? Right?

Happiness is a Good Product

From the Daily Post

As a student studying chemistry, I can tell you exactly what happiness looks like. From all my research and lab courses, happiness is a good yield, a TLC plate with few spots, an NMR spectrum without unexplainable peaks, an IR spectrum with no unexpected -OH bands, and a purification technique that was successful! One of the most common purification techniques used in an organic lab is recrystallization of the product. For instance, when synthesizing benzil from benzaldehyde, it is appropriate to use boiling ethanol to dissolve all the crude benzil to produce a saturated solution. As the solution cools, the desired product becomes less soluble in solution and crystalizes. Ideally, the impurity will remain in solution, or only very little will co-precipitate. If this process is repeated, the purity will increase as more impurity is isolated from the target product. 

Benzil – Before Recrystallization



Benzil – After recrystallization 





Give Me the Prognosis

Is it possible to be too honest, or is honesty always the best policy?


From The Daily Post


As painful and shocking as it may be, I want honesty and full disclosure. 

For the past few days, my mother has been in the hospital for a life-threatening condition, and all I want is to know exactly what those doctors and nurses know. I want to know if her vitals are ok, what tests are being run, what medication she’s being given, what will be performed later on, the general prognosis, and the cause of all this heartbreaking turmoil. If you aren’t too familiar with Multiple Sclerosis, I can tell you that it is one son-of-a-bitch disease. As my uncle so forthrightly said, “She was dealt a shitty hand of cards”.

And for all the honest medical information I’ve been given thus far, I’ve to thank all doctors and medical professionals out there. 



The electric toothbrush: an indispensable tool for superior dental hygiene, or an expensive waste?

As I sit here gently vibrating in a newly acquired massaging seat cushion, my brain is wrought with curiosity from what my dental hygienist said to me during my cleaning visit (you’ll understand the connection later). I regretfully admit, my omnipotent tooth-father, that my last teeth cleaning has been not only 6 months but perhaps 6 years. How many prayers must I recite to receive full penance for my unyielding dental negligence? As I wince while the hygienist forcefully scrapes the several pounds of plaque and soot and dryer lint and dead leaves that have been decoratively lining and subsequently corroding the enamel of my teeth, she suggests I use an electric toothbrush. I was adamant to ask her by how large of a degree are electronic toothbrushes advantageous to their hand-powered counterparts, but I had quite a bit of equipment securely lodged in the side of my mouth. Therefore, attempting to bolster my personal brushing habits was out of the question. I understand the condition of my teeth were not in any way admirable, but I think that is more due to not scheduling a cleaning in a half-decade more than using an inferior brushing method.

But I’m not here to berate my dentists, I’m here to present some evidence against the claimed superiority of the whirring and buzzing and vibrating electric toothbrush. Below, I have presented claims from two commercial toothbrush manufacturers and two peer-reviewed scientific papers.

Commercial Claims:


According to Oral-B, ““Brushes that worked with a rotation oscillation action removed more plaque and reduced gingivitis more effectively than manual brushes in the short and long-term… No other powered brush designs were consistently superior…”* Oral-B pioneered this oscillating-pulsating and cupping power technology in 1991 and has incorporated it into its premium power toothbrush range ever since. Recently, it has also incorporated oscillating-rotating technology into entry tier (lower cost) options, like Oral-B Vitality.” The study was provided by Robinson, P.G. et al, and was not meant to endorse or be in any way affiliated with Oral-B products. Other reasons in favor of electric toothbrushes includes ease of use for the consumer. You needn’t strenuously brush back and forth repetitively (oh, the humanity!) because the brush head’s oscillation requires you to only guide it along the surfaces of your teeth. Electric, or power, toothbrushes may also be a better alternative for children or people with arthritis. They list some other features which, for all intents and purposes, do not provide reasonable evidence that this variety of toothbrush prevents tooth decay, cavities, or promotes dental hygiene more efficiently than regular toothbrushes.

Philips designed their website around bold action verbs and pictures of smiling individuals. They claim that “Philips Sonicare believes that good oral habits can and will help maintain your teeth for life” and “Philips Sonicare is based on innovative patented sonic technology. High frequency and high amplitude motions create a dynamic cleaning action that drives fluids deep into the tight spaces between your teeth and along the gum line, which results in a cleaner, healthier mouth”.

See evidence A: an electric toothbrush having a severe myoclonic seizure.


Empirical Evidence:

This abstract references a study performed by Parizi et al. published in the International Dental Journal. This research, performed via a randomized clinical trial, compared an electric toothbrush (Jordan Power electric toothbrush) with two manual toothbrushes in their efficacy of controlling plaque build-up. Conclusions? The lower plaque indices obtained by the Jordan toothbrush compared to both manual toothbrushes were not statistically significant. Moreover, “The results of this study shows no evidence of statistically significant difference in respect to plaque control, between Jordan Power electric toothbrush and either of Oral-B Advantage or Panbehriz Classic manual brushes in a group of dental students after 2 weeks.” To clarify, when we speak of statistical significance, we mean that an experimental outcome or effect is due not just to chance alone.

This paper by Ganesh et al. published in the Journal of Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventative Dentistry outlines a study performed to test the effectiveness of a musical electric toothbrush for dental plaque removal. In their introduction, they reference previous studies on the differences. These studies concluded that the electric toothbrush was not superior to the manual brush. This current study, to briefly summarize the important take-away, concluded that the differences in reduction of clinical parameters between the electric and manual toothbrush were only statistically significant within a 30 and 60-day study period, and was non-significant at 90 days. However, the short duration of its effectiveness was due to children losing interest in brushing their teeth with a musical toothbrush after a certain period of time. Thus, after 90 days, usage of the musical toothbrush was similar in efficacy to that of a regular non-musical manual toothbrush.

I obviously haven’t done any of this research and only considered two published papers in this assessment. However, this will at least give you, the consumer, some grounding to form your own judgement of electric toothbrushes. I’ll stick to the manual kind.