The Grossest Jobs in Public Health

In the public health field, we deal with a lot of things that are, shall we say, unsavory. In fact, we’ll just call them outright gross. In honor of Halloween, here are the top 5:

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Catching Criminals Red-Palmed

Regions of a the palm (left) and identifying characteristics (right). (Photos courtesy of FBI)

Regions of a the palm (left) and identifying characteristics (right). (Photos courtesy of FBI)

A jogger found the bloodstained and filthy body of Kristopher Olinger by the side of the road one September morning in 1997. The last time anyone saw the 17-year-old from Pacific Grove, CA was at midnight, when he went out to photograph the ocean for a school project. The police investigation determined that he had been carjacked, kidnapped, and stabbed. His abductors drove him to a dirt turnout along a deserted coastal road and threw him over a 15-foot cliff into the ocean below. Olinger spent the next hour climbing back up the cliff, only to expire at the top from his multiple knife wounds.

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The Affordable Care Act and Public Health

Obamacare. The Affordable Care Act (ACA). Whatever you choose to call it, President Obama’s key legislative victory of his presidency introduces major changes in the way Americans manage their healthcare. Along with this legislation has been an avalanche of questions and, to my chagrin, politics. So. Many. Politics.

What I would like to do right now is to strip down the ACA to more understandable bits and how this fits into the public health world.

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The Cassini spacecraft, which is currently traveling around Saturn taking all kinds of beautiful pictures, continues to outdo itself.


Saturn is gorgeous and stunning just by looking into a small telescope here on Earth, but when viewed like this, it’s breathtaking. My favorite part of the picture is the view of Saturn’s super weird hexagonal clouds on the North Pole, which continues to vex (hex?) astronomers as to the exact cause of this beautiful mathey shapey thing.

Movie Review – Gravity

You know, going to the movies is a rarity for me. It’s even more rare for me to shell out extra money to see a movie in 3D, and even MORE rare to pay extra extra money to see an IMAX movie. So I had a “treat yo self” moment yesterday and went to see the new movie Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, in IMAX 3D. Apparently I wasn’t alone.

Before getting into the review, I have a love/hate relationship with movies set in outer space. I love that space movies exist to further interest in space–I do not love the fact that 95% of them are so ridiculous and are centered nowhere near the truth. I’m looking at you, Armageddon! With that being said, I always have to temper my expectations when I see space-themed movies. But I gotta say…my expectations were raised seeing the Gravity trailer:

So was it worth it?

Yes. YES. Freaking YES. End of review.

Okay, okay, not quite the end of the review. But based on the visuals, which were absolutely stunning, this movie would be worth seeing. It was gorgeous. Stunning. Breathtaking. And, to my surprise, most of the visuals were accurate, i.e., that’s how material acts in space. It was absolutely worth shelling out a few extra bucks for IMAX and 3D. In fact, I highly recommend it. While I was thinking how I would feel if I watched the movie in a regular theater, or even at home, well, that’s where my thoughts change, but just a little bit.

First of all, there are some inaccuracies. SPOILER ALERT: You can’t just jet over to the International Space Station while your shuttle is attached to the Hubble Space Telescope. Different altitudes, different orbits. You also can’t take a Soyuz capsule over to the Chinese space station. All of these things are inaccurate. But you know what? WHO CARES because the movie is still awesome. Also, Sandra Bullock really does an incredible job as well.

There was a feature in a recent Entertainment Weekly issue that showed everyone how the movie was made. Reading that before seeing the movie only enhanced my Gravity-watching experience. It really is a technical marvel and well worth it.

And now we have reached the end of my movie critic soapbox.