Tag Archive: daughter

(Submitted by blog reader Chuck Colht)

A few years (2009?) ago, one of my daughters gave me a mix cd for my birthday. I had just bought a(nother) sports car and she found a bunch of driving songs from the ’60s to current.  It stayed in my cd player but I didn’t listen too often because I generally had the top down and preferred the sound of the wind.

Anyway, this cd moved from car to car as I changed up but got little play. In 2012, I went to the theater to meet my kids and grand kids to see Wreck-It Ralph. On the way, because I left my iPod at home, I fired up the cd and found track 6: Rhianna’s “Shut up and Drive.” I’m more into grunge but I love this song and couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed it before.

Now for the coincidence. At one point in the movie Vanellope starts racing around a track to what song? “Shut up and Drive.” So the first time I notice a song that’s been at my disposal for 3 years is the day I hear it on the big screen.

Pretty cool no?

Below are the extended notes provided by cognitive psychologist and statistician Barbara Drescher for use in Skepticality Episode 226.  Take a look and leave your comments below. Also, please be sure to listen to the podcast for our own sarcastic and hilarious commentary. Also, visit Barbara’s blog.

At least a third of the stories submitted to TOMBC involve incidents which are not statistically interesting, but demonstrate the human brain’s amazing ability to make connections. Humans begin making associations the day we are born, connecting dots wherever we can. This process allows us to predict the world around us. Prediction, in turn, allows us to avoid dangers and plan for the future. It is also the first step in understanding cause and effect, which may allow us to control things in the world. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that we often ascribe deeper meaning to the connections we’ve made.

The author of this story demonstrates the power of attention. The fact that he rarely played the CD before is not relevant, but because he was surprised to enjoy the song, he noticed when he heard it again a short time later. In psychology, we call this effect “priming”. Priming refers to the tendency for something we see or hear to increase the probability that we will respond to that same thing, or something similar or related to it, when we are exposed to it again.

However, there is no real coincidence here. The song is quite popular, so it shouldn’t be surprising to hear it in a movie such as “Wreck-It Ralph”. The CD was appropriate to the outing, so it also shouldn’t be surprising that a song (or even two) on the CD would overlap with the soundtrack of the movie.

Kidney compatibility

(Submitted by blog reader David Read)

About 9 months ago, my wife learned that she might need a kidney transplant. For most of her life she has endured reduced kidney function due to several infections suffered while she was a teenager. But in September, she learned that her kidney function (GFR) had dropped to 13 (out of 100). Usually, when someone’s GFR falls below 15, they become a transplant candidate. With this precipitous drop in function (her previous GFR had been in the 30’s), we thought we had only a few weeks before she would need to start dialysis.

We attended several day-long classes in which we learned about  the different types of dialysis and to get an understanding of the transplant process (getting on “the list”, looking for a living donor, awaiting a cadaver donor, etc). We learned that if we waited for a cadaver donor, it could be up to 7 years before she would make it to the top of the list and then would have to wait for a matched donor kidney to become available. Obviously, the solution would be to find a live (and willing) donor. In the class we learned that the best chance of finding a match would be with a sibling. Luckily, my wife has 2 – a brother and a sister.

The process of “matching” is fairly straightforward. First, the donor has to be the same blood type, in this case O. The Rh factor is not important. After the blood type is matched, samples of the donor’s and recipient’s blood are drawn and compared. There are 6 antigens that can determine whether a donated kidney will be accepted or not. A perfect match is when all 6 are compatible.

My wife’s siblings agreed to be tested but neither of them even knew their blood type. Surprisingly, neither did their doctors! My wife and I know our types because we have given blood and the Red Cross lets you know your type. We suggested that her sibs donate a pint of blood to 1) do a good deed and 2) learn their blood type for free. After much hand wringing and delays, we learned that both her sibs had blood type A – neither were a donor candidate.

In the meantime, our daughter determined that she was type O and she and my wife went in together to test for a match. During the matching process, only the donor is given the results. This is to protect the donor from any extra pressure from family members or the recipient. For instance, if after finding that they are a match a donor has a change of heart (no pun intended), they are the only ones who know that they matched in the first place. However, when our daughter received the news that she matched, she was ecstatic and called her mom right away.  She really wanted to be the one who helped her mom through this crisis.  However, there was one more hurtle to be cleared – the ultrasound.

After a match is found, the donor must undergo an ultrasound to determine the health, location and number of kidneys (yes, some people are born with one kidney, and some even with three!). Our daughter’s ultrasound results were devastating – for her. She had kidney stones and therefore could not be a donor. On the positive side, she learned of this issue long before it became a problem and has taken care of it. But, that didn’t help my wife.

However, our son-in-law decided that if his wife couldn’t donate, perhaps he could. After determining that he had the correct blood type , he went in for the compatibility tests. This was quite a decision for him because he has an aversion to seeing his own blood and these compatibility tests require that 6 – 8 vials of blood be drawn. But when the results came back – he was a match also! And the ultrasound found no irregularities. So the question is, what are the odds of BOTH a child AND their spouse being a matched kidney donor for a parent?

Below are the extended notes provided by cognitive psychologist and statistician Barbara Drescher for use in Skepticality Episode 218.  Take a look and leave your comments below. Also, please be sure to listen to the podcast for our own sarcastic and hilarious commentary. Also, visit Barbara’s blog.

First, there is a sticky problem of the probability that any donor will be healthy enough. I could not find a criterion or probability value for that, so I will have to leave it out of any calculation.

Second, the author discussed HLA matching as if it was an all-or-none deal according to several sources, including the LivingKidney Donors Network, it is no longer standard practice to use HLA matching as a factor to determine whether a donor is compatible. As it turns out, an exact match is best, but not necessary. Furthermore, there is little statistical difference in the survival rates among recipients with 5/6 and 0/6 matches, thanks to newer, better anti-rejection drugs (yeah science!).

For that reason, unless there is a perfect match, donor compatibility relies on the result of a number of tests of complex cell interactions to determine whether the recipient’s body will reject the organ.This is important, because the rest of what I will say here makes the prospect of finding a kidney donor look like finding Waldo in Santa’s workshop.

All of that said, the author suggested that both the daughter and son-in-law were perfect HLA matches, so we have enough information to at least estimate the odds, assuming that everyone involved is healthy.

The six antigens which have been identified as important for transplant are inherited from our parents, half from each. This makes a sibling the best possible chance for a perfect match, not a child, but a child is better than a stranger.

A perfect match with an unrelated donor carries odds of one in 100,000, or a probability of .00001. Since the daughter received half of hers from her mother, she is at least a 50% match, doubling the probability that she is a perfect match to .00002.So, the probability that both the daughter AND her husband would be “perfect matches” in terms of HLA compatibility is .00001 times .00002, or .00000000002 (5 million to one).

Raging Rapids Rescue

Years back, when I was still married, my ex-wife and I visited Schlitterbahn, a water park near Dallas, Texas, with her family and our daughter. While our daughter enjoyed various activities with her grandparents, my then-wife and I went on their park-circling raging rapids ride.

The ride puts you on a borrowed inner tube, raft, or a variety of other available floating options as it batters you through artificially-choppy waters, under bridges, through tunnels, around sharp bends, etc. It has only a couple of entry and exit points, and you’re otherwise essentially “locked in” once you get on until you reach one of these points.

My wife was wearing one of her typical black hair band clips. I honestly don’t know what its real name is, but it was long, black, covered with teeth, in a single piece, and went essentially from ear to ear. Anyway, to make this part of the story short, while riding along together on one of the rafts, the band came loose and slipped off her head. She made a desperate grab for it, but it bounced off her hand, off the back of her leg, and into the raging waters behind us. She was pretty disappointed, partially because she was counting on it to hold her hair that day, and partially because she was fond of it (even if it was cheaply-replaced plastic).

As we approached the next entrance/exit point she decided to call an end to our ride after the loss of the hair band, and we climbed off the raft in slightly (though still frothy) waters and walk up the stairs to dry land. For the hell of it, I decided to drag my feed along the ground as I walked toward the stairs and carefully lifted my feet up each step, just in the ridiculous off-chance that I might catch the hair band in this absurdly fast-moving large body of water.

And sure enough, just as my feet broke the surface, there was the hair band, precariously caught around my ankle as I lifted it to safety. My ex and I were both notably startled and considered the situation, and the band, exceptionally lucky.

Within a few months the band was broken and forgotten and never played any important role in our lives beyond this story. If someone was looking out for us, they clearly had strange priorities.

Busy Day for Toledo Family

(Link submitted by friend of the blog, Nancy Matson)

Families sometimes have strangely scheduled and often inconvenient birthdays. Sometimes people are born too close to a major gift-giving holiday, increasing the financial strain and reducing the flow of gifts. Others end up with family members closely clustered together, with the same result. But in one much happier reversal of Bleak Winters, a Toledo-area family experienced something much more precise:

FOUR birthdays all on January 4th, across four generations.

That’s right, Richard Stiff’s family started off the tradition with his (now-passed) father Marshall being born on January 4th, 1924. Richard, himself was then born on the same day in 1947, his daughter Julia following the pattern in 1978, and her daughter Kourtney following up the rear (for now) in 2011.

The family claims this was entirely unplanned timing and seems to enjoy the family connection, with various family traditions each year to celebrate the connection. Their biggest challenge appears to be simply the difficulty in finding appropriate birthday activities in the chilly month of January.

[SOURCE: Toledo Blade via Yahoo! News]

So here’s the story.  Around the turn of the century, my great grandfather, Oscar Adams homesteaded a ranch in Northern New Mexico, about 24 miles north of Las Vegas, NM. His daughter Nina, and husband, Charlie Middleton ran it as a guest ranch (Evergreen Valley Ranch) for about 50 years, until about 20 years ago, when my great uncle Charlie sold it to a group of families, shortly before he passed away. Even though the ranch is no longer in the family, my mother has kept in close contact with those now in ownership, and we visit regularly.

This August, my mother and I visited the ranch, and while there, met the great granddaughter of the man who homesteaded the ranch next door to Evergreen Valley Ranch – Terrill Ranch; the ranch through whose meadow we have crossed for over 40 years, to go on our favorite hikes in the area. I was amazed to discover that she (Alex) works with me at RAND, in our Santa Monica office. We had never met, but work with some of the same people. More amazing still is the fact that we were both visiting our respective ranches the same week, and had opportunity to meet each other! Her fiance, Michael who also works at RAND was with her, in NM.

Less than a week after this amazingly coincidental meeting, my boyfriend Paul and I were at the Hollywood Bowl to hear Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony; one of two concerts we got tickets for this season.  As we were eating, he looked up, and lo and behold, who was passing in front of us, but Alex & Michael.  Of all the people there and all the timing of looking up, the odds must be crazy that we would run into them there; on a Tuesday night – with Shostakovich!!  The other tidbit, I discovered when I ran into Alex the next day at work (really, how many times have we unknowingly crossed paths??) – that her fiance is a violinist, and Paul is a cellist.  🙂  So there you have it. The Odds Must Be Crazy!