Friday, October 30, 2015

Mystery Photo

Mystery photo - click to enlarge
Please offer comments and best guesses about the above mystery photo.  It has not been digitally altered. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Reducing deaths due to attractive nuisances

Weisman Art Museum - N. Carlson
This past Thursday, October 8, 2015,  I had the privilege or discussion several topics of interest with members the the University of Minnesota and Hennepin County at the Weisman Art Museum.  The participants were able to choose from 21 discussion topics for approximately 45 minutes each.  For the last topic, our group discussed the problem of physical structures that are attractive nuisances.  Playing and exploring these structures frequently result in injury or death usually to youth and young adults.


Provide matching grants to communities or local neighborhood groups abating attractive nuisance hazards.  These include dangerous abandoned buildings and structures of heights greater the 4 stories.

Skateboard damage prevention - N. Carlson
Examine how to generally apply the lessons learned from the construction of skateboard parks.  These added features make skateboarding less practical have worked to reduce damage to public property and  injuries to skateboarders.

We also explored the neurochemistry of risk taking in teenage youths and young adults.  What rights of passage or other rituals can be used to provide the same thrill of danger and accomplishment.  One person took up skydiving to experience the needed adrenaline rush.  After 17 dives the person came away less than satisfied as the experience didn't have enough danger.

How can the energy of this fearless behavior be channeled toward some positive benefit to society? Can we use the neurochemistry studies from Jane McGonigal’s book, Reality is Broken, and create a positive addiction to behaviors that are challenging and beneficial.

Examine the architectural features of German buildings that prevent urban exploring.  Apply these designs to structures combining utility and architectural aesthetics.

Make the Call - Washington Ave. Bridge - N. Carlson

Redesign the railing on the Washington Avenue Bridge to make it difficult to jump but not significantly limit the sight line and view of the Mississippi River. 

Several studies suggest that making the irrational behavior of jumping off a bridge more difficult will reduce deaths due to suicide as these individuals are less likely to try other means of suicide. 

The dangers of Urban Exploring - 4 min.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Mold growth in an attic

Suspected mold growth in an attic - flash on camera
I was asked by a home owner who was selling his property to determine if the white specks under the roof in his attic was mold growth.  In this case, I chose to charge a flat fee that would allow me to take as many samples as I needed to make sure I identified the organism.

Safely sampling the material was a bit tricky.  I attached clear double stick tape loop onto the end of a telescoping camera tripod.  I taped the inside of the loop onto the tripod to prevent it from coming off during sampling.  The homeowner stabilized the ladder while I took samples.

Suspected mold growth in an attic.  - No flash on camera
I also took photos of the attic without benefit of a flash. The images were a bit blurry but more accurately depicted the light cream color of the mold growth.

Bathroom exhaust vent
At this point in time, we are not sure about the source of moisture in the attic.  There were some leaks noted in the bathroom exhaust vent.  Local abatement contractors were referred to the home owner for the remediation work.

Photo micrograph of Chrysosporium spp. taken from a tease tape of the attic roof- lacto fuchsin stain
The above photo was taken with a Samsung S-5 camera phone through the eyepiece of a Nikon microscope. There is a distance of 25 microns between the 4 and 5 on the ruler.  The image was cropped using Adobe Photoshop. Some species of Chrysosporium spp. can be a rare opportunistic pathogen for individuals with compromised immune systems.

The organism, Chrysosporium spp., is causing health problems for Timber Rattlesnakes - 5 min.