Monday, February 25, 2013


Rio Dawson

Rio Dawson


February 4, 2013
A Semi-Formal Essay about Nothing in Particular
             Sometimes it is necessary to read an essay, just to say that you are doing something with yourself. There is a saying, “Life is short” but in reality, it is long. Most people live about 75 years, and unless you are immortal, that is a pretty long time. There will be days when you are very bored—so bored, in fact, that you may be contemplating killing yourself. So, this essay is to give you something to do, and while doing so it may be preventing the potential risk of suicide.
              This is the second paragraph, ladies and gentlemen. The introduction was filled with rather boring content, so perhaps it would be wise to write about something interesting here. Did you know that women blink twice as much as men? How about that black cats are bad luck in the United States but good luck in Japan? Or that it is more likely to be struck by lightning than to be attacked by a shark? Wait, you knew those facts?! Well, I bet you did not know that right now my dog is licking the handle to a drawer for no particular reason. You did not know that one. You are not psychic like me. Yes, I am psychic. For instance, I can guess that you are on Planet Earth right now, reading an essay. And that the planet you are on is orbiting a star of average size in the Milky Way galaxy. Also, you are either, 1) a girl or 2) a boy. I’m pretty good, aren’t I?
              This marks the very beginning of the third paragraph. It is time for an interview. The first question is this: why in the world are you wasting your precious time reading this completely useless and unhelpful essay? There is a lesson to be learned from this experience: never assume an essay is interesting simply because it is formal and MLA and written by an awesome person (me). Just think about it—right now, you could be doing so many amazing, wonderfully exciting things. You could be skydiving, horseback riding, rock climbing, or reading a book. Yes, reading a book counts as amazing, wonderful, and exciting. While we are on the subject of books, I might as well mention that The Giver is my favorite book of all time.
              I also want to recommend a couple movies: Rango and The Hobbit are good ones. But enough about movies and books. This essay was supposed to be a time-consumer, and nothing more than that. It was supposed to go absolutely nowhere. We are onto the fourth paragraph, did anybody notice that? Hey, we forgot about the interview! Mind if I ask some deep, embarrassing, personal questions? Okay, I will take your silence as a definite yes, and here is the question: do you feel like you have made a major difference in the world? Or even any difference at all? Do you think the world would notice if you disappeared? What is the most humiliating thing that happened to you when someone was watching? What about when no one was watching? Do you enjoy watching children’s movies? Do you like the color blue?
              Well, I hope you enjoyed this essay. I hope it was satisfying to be doing something besides sitting around picking your nose. And I really hope that is not what you were doing before you touched this essay. If so, please calmly hand the paper back to me and we can continue with our lives. Actually, you can hand the paper back right now anyway, because the essay is about to end. It is ending right now. Goodbye.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

   Summer is the time my family likes to get outside and be active. We love hiking, road trips, biking, swimming, exploring, and climbing. Recently my sister and I made a big accomplishment: hiking Mt. Sopris.
   We went with our dad's friend Paul and his two kids. Our parents stayed home (they are planning their own trip up). Paul came to pick us up on a hot, cloudless day in his little gray car. We were packed and ready to go. He drove us out of Carbondale and up a rocky, dusty road to the base of Mt. Sopris. We stopped at the beginning of a trail called Thomas Lakes Trail, where we got our packs on and began hiking.
   The first stretch we covered felt difficult. Our bags were heavy, we immediatly tired out, and I knew we couldn't drink too much water--there wasn't much. The beginning of a hike is always hard: you're just getting used to your pack. But there were plenty of facsinating things to observe on the trail, for instance, there was a variety of plants around that I recognized: oregon grape, service berry, wild rose and fireweed. The forest was bright and had mostly aspen trees with some evergreens. Warm breezes drifted our way.
   Eventually we crossed over to another hill, climbed that, and found ourselves on a clearing overlooking Carbondale. We weren't that high up yet, but the view was still pretty.
   We trudged on, through another forest and over a few more hills. It took hours, but finally we stumbled upon Thomas Lakes. The first one we saw was absolutely beautiful--glistening blue in the afternoon sunlight and reflecting the towering peaks that rose up behind it. The other lake was less stunning, but was shaped like a whale.
   We had a great night that involved swimming in the cold lake roasing marshmallows, and eating crunchy noodles. Bedtime came early. We had a big day ahead of us.
   In the morning, we were up at the crack of dawn, eating breakfast and then packing light bags for the hike to the top. We left our tent set up and most of our stuff at the campsite.
   It was steep on the trail, and then it got even steeper when the forest thinned out. There were more wildflowers, smaller trees (and mostly evergreens), and lots of rocks providing homes for rodents.We came to a clearing where we got our first real view of the Roaring Fork Valley. It was amazing. Rolling hills covered with evergreens, ragged cliffs, red rocks, Carbondale, and faint purple moutains in the distance. We ate a snack and really let that all sink in.
   When we started going again, we made it pretty far up, past the treeline, before it started getting dangerous. We went almost to False Peak. It was amazing being that high up, even if I wasn't at the very tippy-top.
   Once we reached our campsite, we broke camp and headed down to the car. It didn't take long. Going downhill with a pack on is a lot faster than going uphill. We reached the car in only a couple of hours and then drove the rest of the way down.
   It was a great trip. I had lots of fun climbing and seeing the great views. I hope to have another big adventure soon.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Liver and Gallbladder

The liver is a large, reddish-brown, meaty organ which sits on the right side of the belly, under the rib cage and partly covering the stomach. It is held in place by a web-like substance called peritoneum. As the body grows from infancy to adulthood, the liver rapidly increases in size. In an average adult, the liver weighs about three pounds. It is the heaviest gland and one of the largest organs. The liver has many important functions including: the secretion of bile (a healthy liver produces about 1 quart. – 1 ½  quarts of bile daily), filtering the blood coming from the digestive track before passing it on to the rest of the body, metabolizing drugs, digesting, absorbing, and processing food, maintaining the level of glucose in the blood, synthesizing protein and bile salts, the conversion of amino acids into energy, and the storage of certain fats and vitamins. 
             The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped muscular sac that acts as a storage tank for bile. The indigestion of food (and especially fats) can cause the release of a hormone, cholecystokinin, (CCK) which in turn signals the relaxation of the valve at the end of the common bile duct (the Sphincter of Oddi) which lets the bile into the small intestine (from the gallbladder). It also signals the contraction of the gallbladder which squirts the bile into the duodenum where it helps with the emulsification or breakdown of fats in meal.

            While studying the liver and gallbladder, it’s necessary to understand all the terms used. Bile is an important one. Bile is a fluid that aids the process of digestion and is also used as an antioxidant which removes toxins from the liver. Bile is made up of the following...water (85%), bile salts (10%), mucus and pigments (3%), fats (1%), inorganic salts (0.7%) and cholesterol (0.3%). 

Herbal Remedies for Liver Diseases

Alcohol can damage the liver if consumed over long periods of time and in large enough quantities. Drugs can also have a negative impact. Here are a few of the conditions that can occur: Cirrhosis, Hepatitis A, B, and C, and liver cancer.

Prescription drugs to undo the effect of illegal drugs and alcohol can be damaging to the body and sometimes ineffective. Herbal remedies, on the other hand, have proved themselves a powerful yet gentle alternative. They have been used for centuries to heal different parts of the body, and below are some that have been used as aids for the liver.

Milk thistle is a tall, spiny weed that can grow to be five feet tall and bears purple flowering heads. It has distinctive white markings on its leaves. The seeds are used for medicinal purposes. Silymarin, an extract of milk thistle, prevents damage to liver cells and improves cell regeneration in hepatitis, cirrhosis, mushroom poisoning, and other diseases of the liver. In the liver, there are specialized immune cells called Kuppfer cells. The job of a Kuppfer cell is to engulf toxins, bacteria, and other foreign matter that ends up in the liver. Kuppfer cells also destroy cancer cells. Milk thistle protects Kuppfer cells, therefore it works against cancer.   

            Andrographis is an ancient medicinal plant that grows in the wastelands and forests of China, India, Pakistan, and Thailand. Its leaves and stems are harvested in the late summer for medicinal use. Andrographis stimulates gallbladder functions, increases bile flow and the levels of bile salts and bile acids. Andrographis has been found to be more effective than milk thistle.   

Barberry is a shrub with tough leaves, small yellow flowers, purple berries, and thorns. Barberry can grow up to ten feet tall and is deciduous. The bark (of the root and stem) and the berries are used to make herbal medicine. The bark of Barberry is used to improve liver function and treat gallstones.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Young Man and the Sea

By Rodman Philbrick

Book Report by Rio Dawson

A couple of weeks ago I finished a book called The Young Man and the Sea. I found this book light, exciting, very humorous, and hard to put down. The style of writing used here was casual and funny. The author has an effective way of writing that allows him to explain things without using many words. I really enjoyed this book and I hope to find another one like it.

Ever since twelve-year-old Skiff Beaman's mother died, things have been tough. Skiff's father spends all his time on the TV couch drinking beer and pitying himself. Their boat, the Mary Rose, needs constant attention. Skiff, out of hope that someday his dad will take him fishing, pumps out the bilge out every morning to keep her afloat. It takes a lot of effort to do so with only one pair of hands. One day she finally does sink at the dock. Her engine is destroyed and will cost thousands of dollars to replace it. When Skiff's lobster traps are mysteriously vandalized, he decides that the only way to make enough money to fix it is by catching a Bluefin Tuna by himself. Bluefin Tuna can be worth thousands of dollars each, but they require skill, knowledge, and the right equipment to catch one. Skiff is so determined that he is willing to go thirty miles out at sea, with only a little boat, a big harpoon, and an adventurous spirit.

The first thing I noticed about The Young Man and the Sea was how well it was written. The author’s strategy for explaining things is through connecting different subjects. He is excellent at describing the situation and then wrapping it up by bringing you back to the story. Another quality this book has is how it lets you in to the boy’s thoughts. The reader gets to know how Skiff thinks and how he deals with his emotions. I personally feel that Skiff is a very hard-working boy who believed in perseverance. He thinks his decisions over before seeing them through.

I think the Young Man and the Sea deserves a four-and-a-half star rating out of five. It's simple, well written, thrilling, and funny. If I could give it a texture, it would be smooth, because the book is easy to read and casual. It is well balanced; the sentences link together to form nice paragraphs. I would recommend the Young Man and the Sea to someone who enjoys light but engaging reading.

Herbal Remedies for Middle Ear Infections

Middle ear infections are highly common among children in the United States. These infections can be caused by both viruses and bacteria. Children are often more prone to ear infections, but older children and adults can get infected as well. Ear infections have a better chance of infecting people when the person is exposed to smoke, has allergies, has an upper respiratory infection, or was bottle-fed cows' milk as an infant.

Antibiotics are often used to treat ear infections, but do not always help, and cause damage to the body when used over long periods of time. Herbal remedies provide a safer, more effective alternative for the treatment of ear infections.

Echinacea's immune-stimulating properties are due to a host of polysaccharides and phytosterols. They help to activate macrophages that are directly involved in the destruction of bacteria, viruses, and other infectious agents, as well as cancer cells.

One of Goldenseal's active constituents is berberine, which possesses strong activity against a wide variety of bacteria and fungi.

Echinacea and Goldenseal, together, increases the body's production of globulins that attack both viruses and bacteria. This combination stops drainage and speeds healing. (Either one of the Echinacea species can be taken with Goldenseal.)

The Anatomy of the Ear

The ear is a very important organ which enables vertebrates to hear and maintain balance. From mice to elephants and everywhere in between, most animals are at least somewhat dependent on their ears. A deer uses its ears for signs of an approaching predator. A wolf listens for prey with the opposite intention. Even bats need their ears for ‘seeing’!

Since the ears have so many tiny, fragile parts, many things can go wrong in there. Some doctors are required to study those little parts in order to diagnose and prescribe medicine. In this essay, the anatomy of the ear and the functions of the parts will be explained.

The ear is organized into three main parts: the External Ear, the Middle Ear, and the Inner Ear. We will go in this order as we take a look at all the bones, cartilage, cavities, and nerves.


First, there is the visible portion of the external ear that we are all familiar with. It is the flap of skin and cartilage on the side of the head, scientifically called the pinna, or the auricle. The pinna helps direct/conduct sound waves into the ear canal. (Part of the reason dogs can hear better than humans is because they have such big auricles!) The pinna has anatomical terms by itself. The upper ridge of the pinna is called the helix. The antihelix is a long lump that runs parallel to the helix, and the two are separated by a furrow called the scapha. At the bottom of the auricle there hangs/dangles the earlobe, a.k.a. lobule, which is squishy because it is filled with fatty tissue. The deep depression of the pinna is called the concha. If you were to insert your index finger into your ear, it would only go as far as the concha, and would not be able to fit into the ear canal. (Do not stick anything smaller than your index finger in your ear.)

Beyond the concha there stretches the area of the ear called the ear canal, which is a narrow passage that leads away into the middle ear.


The ear canal stops at the tympanic membrane, or eardrum. The eardrum marks where the external ear ends and the middle ear begins. A tool called an auroscope/auriscope is used to visually examine the tympanic membrane. A healthy tympanic membrane is shiny, taut, and tinted gray, whereas an infected eardrum is bright red, perforated, and/or has pus leaking out of it.

When sound waves reach the eardrum, it transmits vibrations over to the auditory ossicles in the tympanic cavity (the tympanic cavity is an air space within the temporal bone). The auditory ossicles are three tiny bones, commonly known as the anvil, hammer, and stirrup (Malleus, Incus, and Stapes). When the bones vibrate, the stirrup transfers sound vibrations into the inner ear through the oval window, which is firmly attached to the cochlea. The cochlea brings us to the next area of the ear.


The inner ear is where the organs of hearing and equilibrium are found. There are three main parts of the inner ear: the coiled cochlea, the bony labyrinth, and the membranous labyrinth.

The cochlea is a coiled organ which resembles a snail shell. It holds fluid that contains tiny mineral crystals. The sound vibrations that are gathered from the stirrup (through the oval window) are converted into fluid vibrations when they enter the cochlea. The fluid moves the crystals, which brush against the fibers. The fibers then turn the vibrations into impulses over a nerve into the brain. This nerve (called the vestibulocochlear nerve) also detects sensations for equilibrium.

We now conclude our ear overview by examining the bony labyrinth and the membranous labyrinth.

The sensations for equilibrium come from the bony labyrinth and the membranous labyrinth, a complex system of fluid and canals, which transmit signals to the brain concerning sensations of acceleration and gravity.

Friday, December 2, 2011



Description...Dandelion is very common and easy to identify. Although, it can be confused with other plants that share a simalar appearance (see Sow Thistle). You only need to follow a few simple rules to identify this plant. First, make sure there is no main stalk, only flower stems. (Note: flower stems are hollow and can be either very long (a little more than a foot high!) or very small (only one or two inches in height) . ) Off of these stems grow lovely yellow flowers with numerous tiny petals. The flowers open when it is sunny, and close when it is not. Most gardeners are so furious with these "annoying, pesky weeds" that they don't ever stop to appreciate their beauty. Plus, little do they know, these plants probably contain much more edible/medicinal value than the vegetables grown in their garden (see below). Now make sure the leaves are green, deeply lobed, and hairless. They grow in a basal rosette, right off the root. Which brings me to the root identifictation. Dandelion has a brown taproot. Please note: the whole of the dandelion plant produces a milky sap when cut or damaged.

Edibility...The entire plant (and I mean the ENTIRE PLANT) is completely edible, safe, trusted, nutritious, and incredibly healthy. The only downfall: it is VERY BITTER. But, when young, it is less bitter. You can use the leaves and flowers to make a salad more exciting, throw it in sandwiches, make tea out of it, or just eat it plain. Experiment with this wonderful pant! Your body will thank you! The root may be used as a healthy coffee subsitute.

Medicinal Uses...BRACE YOURSELF for the AMAZING medicinal qualities this "pesky weed" has to offer:

Dandelion is a rich source of...
vitamins A, B complex, C, and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium, calcium, magnisium, zinc, and more. Impressed yet?

It also may be able to...prevent or cure liver diseases, such as hepatitis or jaundice; act as a tonic and gentle diuretic to purify your blood, cleanse your system, dissolve kidney stones, and otherwise improve gastro-intestinal health; assist in weight reduction; cleanse your skin and eliminate acne; improve your bowel function, working equally well to relieve both constipation and diarrhea; prevent or lower high blood pressure; prevent or cure anemia; lower your serum cholesterol by as much as half; eliminate or drastically reduce acid indigestion and gas buildup by cutting the heaviness of fatty foods; prevent or cure various forms of cancer; prevent or control diabetes mellitus; and, at the same time, have no negative side effects and selectively act on only what ails you. But that's not all. There are many more health benefits that I'm not going to state here.

By now you may be thinking this is all too good to be true. But it's not! All you need to do is find a way to ingest this great herb, which is probably growing in your backyard right now.

Habitat and Range...Throughout the United States; found in lawns, fields and meadows, along roadsides, cracks of sidewalks, and disturbed habitats. Native of Europe and Asia. Very abundant and common.

Word Origin...Suprisingly, the word dandelion does not have anything to do with the yellow flowers. Dandelion is actually a french word that means "dent de lion" which means the tooth of a lion. This is reffering to the notched leaves.