immortality (ኢመዋቲነት) and other… (cont)

Actually the song I was looking for was the one that went:

በለው በለው በለው በለው በለው

በለው በለው በለው

በለው በለው በለው በለው በለው

በለው በለው በለው

አትለውም ወይ አትመታውም ወይ

በሀገር የመጣ ይታለፋል ወይ

በለው በለው


One of the old የቅስቀሳ ዘፈኖች. Couldn’t find it on YouTube, hence ቱቱዬ.

[Update 08/24/16: found በለው በለው 🙂 ]

Nitric oxide, NO, is a molecule that plays an important role in learning and memory, defense against microbes and blood vessel dilation and subsequently increased blood flow to a region. Erections are the handiworks of NO secretion and its downstream lackeys. That’s how our region gets to be that way, and the following dilemma solved:


Taken from  (የስብሃት ገብረእግዚአብሔር) ማስታወሻ. ዘነበ ወላ.

Lately my posts have tried to break from the usual theme and I have tried to infuse into them as much learned ቁምነገር as possible. However, I see to my consternation that I keep on gravitating to the same old shit. But I can’t help it. Nobody (Keith Sweat voice) can. I mean, students from prestigious universities in the country were parading around campus, carrying the slogan “NO means yes yes means….” I am not condoning their action in any way. I am just saying that at least they have kind of got the mechanics of the thing right. NO has been known to elicit a barrage of yes! yes! yes! (Roughly translated to በለው በለው በለው since አዎ አዎ አዎ won’t do)

Wait, have I blogged on this thing before? ይገርማል, መገረብ ጀመርኩ አይደል?!

እስቲ ትንሽ ቁምነገር ልሞክር

The trouble with Ethiopia

The trouble with Ethioipia resides in the name itself: E-thio-pia. The presence of thio in the name of a molecule is indicative of the presence of sulfur. Despite sulfur being essential for life, its compounds have a reputation for very bad smell. Think mercaptoethanol, rotten eggs, brimstone (hell),…Strange thing is that I have seen sulfur being traditionally prescribed as የቡዳ መድሃኒት:: እሾህን በሾህ ማለት ነው::

So, my country has got sulfur in its name. This is not smack talk, just because I have been in a foreign country for one hundred days. We need to take the stink out of the name, that’s all I am saying. ገጽታ ግንባታ at the most fundamental level. The more reason to take up the way of writing put forward by GeTere sometime ago: Etyopia.

And about the multiple mentions of Ethiopia in the bible:

  1. They are accounts of geography, racism, cases of about-to-smite when all of the sudden the party that was to be smitten repents to the Lord and Ethiopian asses get kicked, a couple of eunuchs, natural resources which are possible sources of conflict, subjugation, shame and dire warnings. Hardly stuff to brag about.
  2. They are not about just us. They are about black people who live south of Egypt, which we happen to be part of.

Next post is going to focus on one of the things Etyopia has got going for her.

One of my short term life goals, to dance to this:

I thought it was a new release. I wonder why they did not play it in the club next door back when I was home. Personally and Chop my money were the ones that were on heavy rotation.

And some revolution:


immortality (ኢመዋቲነት) and other curious associations, many of which only make sense in the writer’s head

Molecular Biology of the Cell, Alberts et al is that shit. Excellent text and figures –what more could this student of the life sciences ask for in a book? Who would have imagined that the inside of a sperm’s tail could be this ornate?


The authors are chill enough to do back cover designs inspired by Beatles albums:

alberts 2 alberts

It is the required reading for one of the courses that I am taking. The new edition is coming out on December 1st.  I am not excited or anything. Just transmitting info. Even the old edition is a lifetime reading.

If me and my imaginary scientific chums ever get to write a half-decent book, probably pop science, this is roughly what the back cover is going to look like:

how i got over

Reading Alberts’ makes one wax philosophical. For instance, on the beginning of chapter 2 it says that cancer cell break from the norm of all cells for one. Every other (somatic) cell in the body of an organism is bound to die except for the germ cells, i.e., egg and sperm, which survive in the form of one’s offspring (የኔን germ cells ነገርስ እኔንጃ!) The life mission of every other cell is thrusting (no pun intended) their representatives to the next generation with their own sacrifice. Most cancerous cells are rogue somatic cells which do not want to abide by this rule. They are brazen enough to ask themselves: “why can’t we, just like them germ cells, go on?” Cancerous cells get their way, almost. Put in a lab dish and provided for, most of them divide endlessly. This means that they are endowed with immortality, a perk that used to be enjoyed by germ cells only. However, unlike germ cells, they tend to drag themselves and the organism into an early end in many cases. Their immortality does not make it out of the petri dish to populate the world.

[I have in my hit list The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Deals with harnessing of the cancer cell immortality for the greater human good and the ethical issues involved.]

Now to the philosophizing

Cancer cells are jealous of the immortality of germ cells. They try to become immortal themselves at the cost of possible death to the organism. The risk of coming down with cancer increases with age and it is more likely that people will have left behind offspring by then. The sinister plan of cancerous cells would be fully realized in the person who dies of cancer taking unused germ cells with him/her.

The sinister plan

“Crabs in a bucket” is an expression of a preference for collective demise over individual triumph, much like the behavior exhibited by cancerous cells. The individual triumph here being that of the germ cells. I find it interesting that the name “cancer” stems from the Greek word for “crab.” There are several explanations as to why Hippocrates chose to call the scourge by this name. But I wonder, if the inclusion among those explanations of the crab mentality of cancerous cells would make the naming more apt.

Ooooook, moving on.

I also find it interesting that red blood cells stick to one of the tenets of drug dealing. They don’t get high on their own supply. They transport but do not use oxygen:

They get their energy in an oxygen-independent manner. Red blood cells also have got to be the most ascetic of cells. They are the only cells that do not consume fatty acids ቅባትነት ያለው ምግብ:: A claim in favor of the brain’s asceticism would fall short on two respects. One, the brain gorges on the lion’s share of our body’s glucose supply under normal conditions. ሆዳም! And two, even if the brain does not directly consume fatty acids, when shit gets deep (as in times of extreme starvation when glucose becomes very scarce) the liver will cut up the fatty acids and sneak them across the border of the blood brain barrier for the brain to eat. አልሸሹም ዞር አሉ:: አጭበርባሪ!!

Further proof of the righteousness of the red blood cells: the protoporphyrin structure. Protoporphyrins are molecules responsible for the color in stuff ranging from blood (via the “red” in red blood cells) and leaves all the way to piss and shit. Can you spot the cross in the structure?


Next time

Which humble molecule is behind the lewd lyrics of this song?


wrongfully accused

It is common knowledge that correlation does not necessarily imply causation. It is also common knowledge that as far as opening sentences go, “It’s common knowledge…” is among the worst of the lot.

Lactic acid has been maligned on countless learned publications as the cause behind the fatigue that one could experience a short time after physical exertion. People are also steadfast in their conviction that lactic acid is the culprit for muscle cramps (ስትራፖ,) a delayed phenomenon in its own right, separate from muscle fatigue. The lactic acidosis myth keeps on being perpetuated. I played an itsy bitsy teenie weenie part in that when I repeated to a few batches of students the same ol’ plotline.

But this is what I have come to realize from the very few books which have dared to rock the boat.

Lactate and not lactic acid is formed in our body when we do heavy exercise. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure that out (by the way, what do rocket scientist say when they want to say that something is real easy?) What exactly does the word “acid” mean? Well, never minding the definition that one is likely to find in የአለቃ ኪዳነወልድ ክፍሌ መዝገበ ቃላት -ምነው አሲድ ለቀቀብህ?! and psychedelic drugs aside, a most commonly accepted definition of acid is a proton (hydrogen ion) donor. One look at the reaction and, right off the bat (how American of me 🙂 ) it should be clear that a proton is consumed and not produced during the formation of lactate:


You need energy to do heavy work, or any other work for that matter. Donating the electrons from food, or alcohol for that matter, to oxygen through a series of intermediate electron carriers is the best way to get energy. That’s the rationale behind breathing in oxygen and the reason that respiration has been the subject of so many love songs.

What happens when your body runs short on oxygen? When the oxygen you breathe in during heavy exercise is not enough to cope with the increased energy demand? Your body will then resort to a faster but less efficient way of getting energy that does not involve using oxygen. The conversion of pyruvate to lactate is a key reaction in that process. After some time, the buildup of protons (from sources other than the formation of lactate, because remember, it does not entail the release of protons) in the muscles will lead to the inhibition of the faster but less efficient way. And without energy, the muscles will be loath to do the task at hand or at foot, i.e., they will be fatigued. Muscle cramps, on the other hand, are most likely caused by the secretion of pain-inducing chemicals from our cells telling us that we have put undue strain on the muscles. Loss through excessive sweating of electrolytes that are involved in muscle relaxation is another very important contributing factor.

Bottom line is, excess hydrogens cause fatigue, the production and/or loss of other things causes muscle cramps. And lactate is not to blame for none of those. Not guilty. ፋይሉ ወደመዝገብ ቤት ይመለስ!

How did lactate react to all the slander? “አዬዬዬ! መቼም የሰራ አይመሰገን! 🙂 ”

It’s like this

A famous talk show host, hereafter known as “A”, is interviewing a famous singer, hereafter known as “B.” A is sporting his fauxhawk which looks like a ridge where flies go to die, cut in half. Momma flies would be warning their children “አንተ/ቺ ቀዥቃዣ ደግሞ ሄደህ/ሽ እዛ ላይ ትቀመጥ/ጪና ዋ!” B’s hair looks like the stuff of nightmares of fly search and rescue teams. B is asked about how almost all of the audience at his recent concert in Place X were females. How does that make him feel, his being a veritable chick magnet? B tries to sound modest in his response: “መቼም እንደሚታወቀው ሴቶች እናቶቻችን እህቶቻችን እ እ ደግሞ  …ቻችን ናቸው…” It seems it did not cross neither one of A nor B’s minds that Place X has always been one of those places where Ethiopian girls go ኑሮን ለማሸነፍ:: It would not have mattered whether it was B or me who was doing the concert –we would have drawn the same type of crowd. Granted, there may be a significant difference in the number of girls in attendance. I guess what I am trying to say is, B is not the cause for the presence of a lot of Ethiopian girls in Place X and the highly skewed gender representation that was observed at his concert was a mere correlation.

Now, I don’t have anything against B. In fact, ሰላ በይ is the first song that would come to mind if somebody here should ask me to play them some Ethiopian music. Here is the interview in question (minutes 47 and 48:)

If you think I distorted a few facts here and there, I am going to tell you what Tia Dalma from Pirates of the Caribbean told me, and with the same annoyed tone: same story, different versions; and all are true.

As could be seen on this other video, his fanbase used to be much more diverse back when he was a kid.

አይ ልጅነት! የሚደነስበትና የማይደነስበት ዘፈንም አይታወቅ 😐


after 30

We are duplicating exam papers and are told that there is going to be a staff get-together tomorrow. Comes tomorrow and we are at this swanky place getting our dinner and drink on. Then we are supposed to come out in couples and introduce each other to the crowd, you know, all in the spirit of the event.

Side note: Some days earlier, I had appealed to the Academic Council-otherwise affectionately known as AC- to fix me up with a chick. Come on, what was I supposed to do?!  They asked why I was leaving and what it would take to make me stay. It’s always been said that anything and everything that we fail to deal with at the personal and departmental levels, to bring it to the AC. Bring it I did and they had said that they would take care of it no doubt . I suspect they had me (among other people) in mind when they put this thing together.

Now normally I get frisky even at the sight of beer. So it does not exactly ill behoove me when I start the introduction of a friend with “I could have introduced him better had I been sober”

No one laughs. People are looking down at their tables, ashamed for me: “siyayut eko dehina sew yemesil neber!?

That was 3/2 beers and a glass of wine later.

I talk about how he is a Bob Marley head (although his hairline is receding dangerously) and how he had lent me his PC speakers. He mentions my “alleged” Italian descent and how Adowa creeps me out; he finishes up by stating that I had turned thirty and am in an urgent need of a wife.

Another glass of wine, more introductions, speeches, comments and applause –we vacate the place.

A couple of guys suggest that we take the party to the next level. My adventurous self is in control and I get on board. But since I was not sure what the next level consisted in, I was a bit worried about things like hooker money and manscaping.

The four of us hit a place with a live band first. The band is a somber affair but we dance sitting down, remembering the songs that are being butchered on stage. Truth be spoken, the singers are not that bad. I even decide to bestow a gift of 10 birr (cheap!) upon this traditional singer when he decides to get off the stage and do some induction on the maximum of 10 guys that were in the place. Not only have I become adventurous this night, I am also innovative. I look for a decent place to put my gift on his person. Sticking it with saliva on his forehead is out. I put the money in the fold of his collar (are you afraid that people are going to call you cheap?)  It falls down and methinks the guy tramples on it after a cursory inspection.

It is loud up in here; we are straining to hear what the other person is saying. The paper labels  on the beer bottles come to our rescue –we communicate writing on those. It dawns on us-although it is still ninish- that if we are to continue sharing our thoughts, then we are going to have to drink more beer. More beer = additional paper to write on. We drink under the watchful gaze of Emperor Tewodros II. He is staring at us accusingly like we are his subjects whom he had ordered to carry the cannon up the mountain –and here we are eyecheleTin!  Chill out dude! All in good time! I question his decision to take his own life. He should have let himself be taken prisoner and when in London they wanted to display him as their latest conquest, he could have literally brought the house down, Samson style.

Next place we check out turns out to be a lounge bar kind of establishment where even the guy in the CD gets self-conscious when doing his thing.  We get in and get out.

Third place…

Before that, we discuss the wisdom of painting the town red, the town plagued as it is with students some of whom may be our own.  Relief comes in the knowledge that we have fixed their exam for the day after tomorrow. They are probably in their dorms, painting their handouts red instead. How about those who are not our students? Well, it is their city too, what the heck!

Third place is yeazmari bet. I was looking forward to hearing lewd lyrics, something in the lines of “cute guy with glasses” lyrics but they kept on talking about Abay, limat and… yuck! I would have been equally pissed if it was the other way round. That’s just me —Mr Opposite.  Noteworthy stuff from this episode: my tongue is in free flow; I am still riding the buzz which I caught three bottles ago. That’s the beauty of being a novice drinker, as one of my friends had remarked sometime ago: the buzz is not hard to come by; seasoned drinkers on the other hand have to toil and move a lot of bottles to get that same buzz. My shoulders are yet to loosen up; but that does not prevent me from doing the eskista with one of the female traditional dancers. The milliliters are going so fast that I am forced to wonder if someone from the crowd is guzzling my drink unseen.

The next morning I would receive comments that, in the foreseeable future, I would  be in the running to win the Sponge d’Or (The Golden Sponge)

Then to shooting some pool. My performance on the table could be summed in what one of the guys said: yaltegerezu ejoch

Here, the walls do not speak patriotism. Images of scantily clad ladies posing with the stick and what not. There is this one poster where a naked guy is about to shoot some balls into the huha of an equally naked lady lying on the beach, legs open. A couple of us surmise that another person is behind the guy, trying to do the same thing to him. You know, the hunter becomes the hunted.

Someone back me up on this: I have always thought that the purpose of those kinds of posters in pool houses is to enhance the performance of the players. Men are wont to make  shows of bravado when there are women around, two dimensional women regardless.

And out of nowhere, comes the impromptu list of some of the stupid things I have done in my life. Drum-rolls please! Off the top of my head:

  1. I once tried to impress a Protestant girl by blasting a new and very dirty rap song (no Lecrae)  from the  laptop. Maybe it was the right thing to do under the situation. I hear she sees a potential to be saved in everyone; and my potential must have been off the charts  😳
  2. Around  the time I started to frequent the internet room in school, I responded (phone calls) to a “You are the one millionth visitor to this site; you have won a prize”  I even told my moms and pops about the good news 😳
  3.  I crossed a busy street checking the other way for cars 😳
  4.  I gave one hundred birr to a hustler whose plan was to hustle me out of fifty birr. I even provided him with the place he supposedly knew me from 😳

Now, where was I?  Yes, the pool house. Gigi was doing her thing:

Night is getting deep. Last place we hit is a club with a shy DJ. At least that was my perception of him at the time. Perhaps I was comparing him with myself:  I was on the dance floor, getting down; I have loosened up all over; I am snatching imaginary trumpets from my friend. But the DJ, he is just fiddling with the CD player –why ain’t he dancing?!

Then come the dancing girls. For all the watts of sound coming out of the speakers, club falls silent, people hold their breaths, male and female alike. Their attire are swimming suits of an earlier and a bit more conservative era; not to say, midriffs and thighs were not in full display. The girl with a full behind and pleasant face goes first (was I thinking La vache qui rit?)  She keeps  pulling on her shorts. I take it to be a signal to put some money in there. I have watched enough movies to pride myself on my smattering of strip joint etiquette. But then I think the better of it: what if the bouncer (who, in all likelihood, doubles as her man) first tears my money in my face and then proceeds to tear me into pieces in full view of my friends: “here! put your friend together if you claim to really know him!”

Second girl  has got an Amy Winehouse in/on her. Everyone must have been thinking “she must be a real barracuda in the sack!” She goes on to try and bludgeon my friend over the head with her booty while doing her wall routine aka the spiderwoman. Esu ager selam new bilo gidgida teTegito eyeTeTa neber. She could have done some sweet damage had she been the other girl.

List of accessories on stage: a full length mirror which Amy seems drawn to. And a set of steel bars which remind one of the meat hangers that one would find at the butcher’s. My pious self interjects here: isn’t that essentially  what we are here to witness –women being treated and treating themselves as  pieces of meat?

The condominium of one of us is chosen as the place where we are going to crash  tonight. It is 2:00 AM. The biochemistry in us (ethanol inhibits gluconeogenesis, duh!) prevails and we have a hearty meal before going to bed. I could also attest to the fact that ethanol inhibits deep-seated inhibitions. I mean, I was dancing my ass off!

Next day someone goes as far as to suggest that we should be impartial, and we should continue the party in the sun, in the same vein we did it under the moon. Another exclaims that it had been a month since he had a decent night out, and that he needed this. Comparisons are made: 30 years vs. 30 days. Sure I have experienced bars and clubs before. But this was my first out-and-out night out. I guess another 😳 is in order.

But what was turning 30 like?

To be continued from the beginning.


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