Thursday, November 1, 2018

Life really does have a funny way of sneaking up on you.

I was reminded of the genius of Alanis Morrissette this afternoon as I was in Kroger getting a few food supplies for dinner. Ironic was playing overhead and I caught myself singing it aloud...pretty loud. To those that heard me, sorry not sorry. And hearing the song reminded me that I love Alanis's music.

Jagged Little Pill, released in 1995, is a masterpiece. Standouts on the album included All I Really Want, You Oughta Know, Hand In My Pocket, You Learn, Head Over Feet, and of course, the aforementioned, Ironic.

Album cover of Jagged Little Pill (1995)

You Learn is probably my favorite song from the album. Lyrically, it's pretty simple, but it is a good reminder that experience is how we live. We become stronger; we become wiser. With experience, we learn. We may cry, we may laugh, and we may even bleed. We will fuck things up - sometimes monumentally. But we will also have tremendous wins. And through all of that, we learn. It's a good cue to live your life and revel in the experiences that make us who we are.

You live, you learn
You love, you learn
You cry, you learn
You lose, you learn
You bleed, you learn
You scream, you learn

You grieve, you learn
You choke, you learn
You laugh, you learn
You choose, you learn
You pray, you learn
You ask, you learn
You live, you learn.

If you haven't heard anything from this album (and if you lived through the 90s, I'm not sure how you could've dodged most of these songs), then find it on YouTube, Spotify, Amazon Music, or iTunes.

PS. Listen to her song, Uninvited (1998), from the City of Angels soundtrack. Still one of the most harrowing beautiful songs I've ever heard. Here's the album version with the orchestra.

Here's a live version. It's a bit different, but everything is perfect here - voice, keyboard, guitar, drummer - everything.

Monday, October 8, 2018

"No, you move."

I saw this montage on YouTube today and was immediately reminded of my favorite quote from any comic book movie.

From 2016's Captain America: Civil War:

"Compromise when you can. Where you can't, don't. Even if everyone is telling you that something wrong is something right. Even if the whole world is telling you to move. It is your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in the eye and say, 'No, you move'"

Of course, this was said in the MCU movie by Sharon Carter as she was speaking about Peggy Carter at her funeral. I see it as a pep talk to Steve Rogers.

Originally Steve Rogers said a variation of this to Peter Parker when Spidey was figuring out the Superhero/Superhuman Registration Act and how to deal with the pressure that happens when one challenges government authority in The Amazing Spider-Man Volume # 1, 537. Peter asks Cap how he handles it and Cap begins with a story about how he remembered the first time he learned what it was to be a patriot by reading Mark Twain as a young boy. After quoting Twain, he says this to Peter:

"Doesn't matter what the press says. Doesn't matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn't matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right. This nation was founded on one principle above all else: the requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or consequences.
When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth and tell the whole world: 
 No, you move."

Amazing Spider-Man, Volume # 1, 537

Iconic. This is more relevant than ever.

Don't be afraid to challenge authority.

Don't be afraid to stand up for yourself or for others.


The music in the video above is Bad Wolves cover of Cranberries' Zombie. If you don't know Bad Wolves, go look them up. Fantastic heavy metal band. Their newest album, Disobey, can be found pretty much anywhere.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

ETR - 2018, Quarter 2

A few days ago, the DEA released its Emerging Threats Report (ETR) for the second quarter of 2018. The agency touts this report as a "quarterly snapshot of the new psychoactive substance market in the United States". There are some interesting things of note which are included in this report.

Two new synthetic cannabinoids were detected for the first time - these were the alphabet soup 5F-EDMB-PINACA and 5F-MDMB-PICA. The top two most prevalent synthetic cannabinoids (which accounted for 50% of all detections) were FUB-AMB and 5F-ADB (also known as 5F-MDMB-PINACA) - both of these compounds have remained in the top two spots since 2016. Interestingly, they both were emergency scheduled by the Federal government in 2017, so I'm not quite sure what to make of their continued stay on the list.

Regarding designer opioids, the market has pretty much shifted back to fentanyl, which made up 75% of all designer opioid detections for the quarter. The compounds 4-ANPP and acetylfentanyl were detected a summed total of 74 times, while 13 other designer opioids (valerylfentanyl, parafluorobutyrylfentanyl, benzylfentanyl, 4'-methylacetylfentanyl, 3-methylfentanyl, U48800, furanylfentanyl, U47700, cyclopropylfentanyl, carfentanil, 4-fluoroisobutyrylfentanyl, butyrylfentanyl, and methoxyacetylfentanyl) accounted for 50 total detections or approximately 10% of all detections. Fentanyl analogs and other designer opioids are still out there in the wild, but they do not seem to be as prevalent as they were for the previous 1-2 years. Illicitly manufactured fentanyl continues to be the top dog in this category - ask any forensic toxicologist and she would tell you the same thing (and do please go talk to us forensic toxicologists, it can be very lonely working in a lab).

You get fentanyl! And you get fentanyl! We all get fentanyl!

There were only a total of 24 cathinones detected, of which 15 were N-ethylpentylone (62.5%). Older compounds such as MDPV, alpha-PVP, methylone, butylone, and ethylone are nowhere to be found.

The only designer benzodiazepine detected for the quarter was one identification of flubromazolam.

The Emerging Threats Report for Quarter 2 of 2018 can be found here.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Judas Rising Tour

The Judas Rising Tour came through Indianapolis' Vogue Theater the other night with four bands playing - The Stir, Stone Broken, Adelita's Way, and Fozzy.

I had never listened to The Stir or Stone Broken before, but they were two great rock openers. I'm a fan of Adelita's Way (thanks Sirius XM's Octane!) and knew what to expect from them. They opened with the song I've heard the most, Still Hungry, as well as other songs like Ready for War (Pray for Peace), Bad Reputation, Sick, and Notorious. I really hope Adelita's Way returns to Indy to play a longer set.

 Stone Broken's lead guitarist, Chris Davis. I love that shirt.

Adelita's Way's frontman Rick DeJesus, is a powerful vocalist and a tall dude.

And then we get to the headliner - Fozzy.

With a lineup consisting of Chris Jericho (lead vocals), Rich Ward (lead guitar and backing vocals), Frank Fontsere (drums), Billy Grey (rhythm guitar and backing vocals), and Paul Di Leo (bass guitar and backing vocals), Fozzy rocked the place with a show that included a sequin jacket adorned with red, white, and blue LEDs, fire extinguishers, blistering guitars, and nonstop energy. Jericho once said in an interview that "if Metallica and Journey had a bastard child, it would be Fozzy".

And he's right.

 Chris Jericho, Wrestling Legend and lead vocalist of Fozzy

Rich Ward and Chris Jericho of Fozzy

The setlist spanned four albums with about six songs (including Painless, Judas, Burn Me Out, Wolves at Bay, and Drinkin' with Jesus) coming from their newest album Judas, for which the tour is appropriately named. Other songs from earlier albums included Bad Tattoo, Do You Want to Start a War, Sin and Bones, and Sandpaper. They even surprised me by playing a rocking cover of Michael McDonald's 1982 class I Keep Forgettin' You, for which the crowd happily joined in on the chorus. I loved it. They also covered ABBA's SOS, which was freaking cool.

 Rich Ward pointing at me in the crowd.

Lit up jacket! Wrestling or rock show? Quoting Starlord, "A bit of both?"

I've listened to Fozzy for many years, but the band really surprised me by their stage presence, especially Jericho and Ward. Jericho was all over the stage, bouncing up and down the entire show. At a few points in the show, Ward ventured into the crowd playing solos and taking selfies with people. Then he came over to me, snatched my glasses off my face, put them on, and delivered an intense guitar solo, propped up on the railing about five inches in front of me.

 Those are my glasses!

Soloing in my glasses!

Tickets are cheap. It cost me $20. Four rock bands for 20 bucks? Hell yeah. If the Judas Rising Tour comes through your city or a neighboring city, go check it out. You won't be disappointed.

In the meantime, go listen to:

The Stir's self titled EP - The Stir released August 2018.
Stone Broken's Ain't Always Easy released March 2018.
Adelita's Way's Notorious released October 2017.
Fozzy's Judas released October 2017.

All can be found for purchase on iTunes or streaming for free on Spotify.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

30 Songs That Make Me Drive Faster

I drive about an hour to and an hour from work every day. And I find myself driving to court on longer trips for work quite a bit. Needless to say, I listen to a lot of music while driving.

Image from

These are my current favorite 30 rock and metal driving songs...those that when listening to, I tend to drive a little too fast.
  • AWOLnation - Burn It Down
  • Volbeat - Seal the Deal
  • Halestorm - Mayhem
  • Egypt Central - Over and Under
  • Foo Fighters - All My Life
  • In This Moment - Blood
  • Semi Precious Weapons - Magnetic Baby
  • Iron Maiden - Two Minutes to Midnight
  • Guns 'N Roses - You Could Be Mine
  • Marilyn Manson - Fight Song
  • The White Stripes - Blue Orchid
  • Nothing More - Don't Stop
  • My Chemical Romance - Thank You For the Venom
  • Dead Sara - Weatherman
  • AC/DC - Girls Got Rhythm
  • Sixx AM - Lies of the Beautiful People
  • Unleash the Archers - Tonight We Ride
  • Rage Against the Machine - Wake Up
  • Metallica - Die, Die My Darling
  • Static-X - Push It
  • Ozzy Osbourne - Gets Me Through
  • The Offspring - Slim Pickens Does the Right Thing and Rides the Bomb to Hell\
  • Korn - Got the Life
  • Filter - Welcome to the Fold
  • Bush - Machinehead
  • System of a Down - Sugar
  • Five Finger Death Punch - Burn MF
  • The Prodigy - Breathe
  • Rob Zombie - Dead Girl Superstar
  • Powerman 5000 - Super Villain

Enjoy! And, please, try to drive the speed limit!

If you're reading, leave a comment with your favorite songs that make you drive fast.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

This blog is going to undergo somewhat of another change here soon. I'm turning it into not just a science blog, but one that includes other things that I do...

Music. Movies. Pop Culture. Parenthood. Sports. Exercise.


Hope you keep reading.

- Kevin

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Exposure to "Fentanyl" in the Field

It's in the news everywhere.


Fentanyl and secondary exposure.

Here are some of the news headlines from the last few weeks...

From KLTV7, a Harris County, TX police officer was hospitalized after coming in contact with a fentanyl-laced paper flyer. The officer "removed the flyer, got into her car and drove away. She soon began feeling lightheaded and had other symptoms". This story was also tweeted by the official handle of the Harris County, TX Sherriff's Office.

From KATC3, police officers in Lafayette, LA responded to a call of an unresponsive man at a residence. Upon observing the scene, two officers "showed symptoms of being exposed to the potent drug [fentanyl]".
From ABC13 Eyewitness News, a Houston, TX police officer checked a person's hotel room and found 50-100 pills in a plastic bag. The officer "put the baggie in the patrol car" and "he started feeling ill, shortness of breath and feeling dizzy, and he was no getting better".

From the Belleville News Democrat, two police officers were responding to a series of overdoses at a Brooklyn, IL strip club when they came into contact with fentanyl and began to feel ill. "The thing with fentanyl is the smallest amount, like if you put just less than a gram in a room, it can knock out everyone in the room. It's a pretty hardcore substance, and it's happening everywhere."

There are other stories out there.

It goes without saying that fentanyl is a potent mu-opioid receptor agonist substance that produces central nervous system depression. That is true.

Chemical structure of Fentanyl
Drawn by Kevin G. Shanks (2017)

It's been used as a pharmaceutical in the USA since 1968. Intravenous and intrathecal fentanyl is used for anesthesia and analgesia in a hospital setting. It is also available as a transdermal patch for chronic pain management, or as a lozenge for oral transmucosal absorption which is intended for opioid tolerant people and in the treatment of breakthrough pain in cancer. It can also be used intranasally and sublingually.

But can stories like this really happen?

No. Not from dermal absorption of powder. It's not possible. NOT. POSSIBLE.


Let's go to the facts.

The American College of Medical Toxicology (ACMT) (a really smart group of medical doctors) has issued a position paper on this topic and they brought math, science, and some much needed damned common sense to the table.

You can read their position here via the Clinical Toxicology journal website.

Go read it.


It's good. I promise.


OK. You read it?

Notice the lack of hyperbole and hysteria?

No. Not that Hysteria.

Notice the logical viewpoints?

Notice the use of math and science?

Lots o' numbers! You're making my head explode!


It is impossible to dermally absorb enough powder fentanyl to produce any sort of pharmacological effect. There needs to be some sort of mechanism in place to move that fentanyl through the skin. Pharmaceutical companies invested a large amount of time, effort, and money to develop transdermal delivery systems to administer drug (e.g. transdermal patch to place on the skin). If you were to find yourself in a situation where you had powdered fentanyl on your skin, calmly walk over to the sink and wash your hands with soap and water.

Let's use facts in our discussions about drugs. Hysteria and hyperbole is not helpful to anyone. At all. In fact, it makes things worse. Much worse.


The flyers from Harris County, TX mentioned above were tested in a lab and contained no fentanyl or any other drug. Imagine that!


Now there's this gem of a story in the news today...

From the Northwest Indiana Times, a paramedic was attempting to intubate an unresponsive man when the man coughed and snorted in his face. After doing his job and returning to the fire station, the paramedic "began to feel unwell an fell unconscious". The paramedic suspected he "was exposed to a powerful synthetic opioid, such as fentanyl".