Kroll LIVE at Durham’s Intrepid Life Coffee & Spirits – Friday, May 9 – 9:00 PM

Click on the image to  download the full-size version of this flyer for posting and dissemination.

Click on the image to download the full-size version of this flyer for posting and dissemination.

I’m excited to announce that my 2014 spring tour of the three-county, Research Triangle region will kick off this Friday night at Intrepid Life Coffee & Spirits on Historic West Parrish Street in downtown Durham. I’ll start around 9:00 pm and play two, 75-minute sets.

I’ll be playing many of your old Dogs in the Yard classics from my band in Denver as well as some new and not-so-new original compositions. I’ve also gotten really excited about playing other great local music I’ve heard around the Triangle and on my last trip to Denver for the Association of Health Care Journalists meeting in late March (where I also had a nice night of jamming with Dan and Jay from the Dogs).

I’m particularly excited to be playing at Intrepid Life, my go-to coffee shop for business meetings in Durham. You’ve probably heard the story about the owner, Matt Victoriano, a Marine combat veteran who served two tours in Iraq.

He was first interviewed by WBUR’s Here and Now in Charlotte at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, where he had visions of opening a brewpub. Plans changed – not the least of it due to the challenges of small business loans for returning veterans – and we were fortunate that he chose Durham to open Intrepid Life Coffee & Spirits Bar.

The updated version of Matt’s story came earlier this year when Here and Now’s Robin Young caught up with him to check in. When I heard this story, I was impressed that the owner of Joe Van Gogh coffee roasters in Hillsborough loaned Matt equipment to get the place off the ground, instead of just thanking him for his service to the country.

So I emailed Matt when he opened the place and offered to play for free pretty much anytime to do my part to support his mission to advocate for veterans and progressive non-profits in his community space. Editor Lisa Sorg describes the vibe perfectly in her INDY Week piece last month.

So even if you don’t come to hear my sets, I encourage you to drop by Intrepid Life this Friday night, or anytime. If you can’t find street parking, you can try the city lot by Rue Cler and the Post Office, then just walk through Orange Street past Phoebe Lawless’s Scratch bakery.

I have a soft spot for people with the guts to volunteer their lives to serve in the military for this country. My Dad was a Marine and Heather’s been working at the VA hospital in Durham for almost two years. And my longtime Texas songwriting idol, Darden Smith, has been using his musical prowess to help veterans process their emotions through songwriting retreats – a project appropriately called SongwritingWith:Soldiers.

Matt has made an investment in our community so I hope that we can all make an investment in him – and in downtown Durham.


What does it take to knock off K2 Spice readership?

Just the other day, I wrote about how DrugMonkey and I have experienced unprecedented and sustained blog traffic for posts we wrote in February on K2 Spice, one of a couple of marijuana-like “incense” products still sold legally in the United States.
Every morning, I dial up my SiteMeter blog statistics and take a look at what posts readers first land upon when coming to visit the humble world headquarters of Terra Sigillata.
Last week, 2,700 to 2,800 of the 4,000 most recent hits were landing on our February K2 Spice post. (You will also note below the sad state of my readership in that posts on Stiff Nights erectile dysfunction supplement and Horny Goat Weed products are the next most popular direct hits.)
Finally, one post has knocked it out of the top spot after nearly four months:
Monday’s post about the memorial unveiling of the gravestone for Henrietta Lacks this past weekend.
Henrietta Lacks knocks off K2 Spice.jpg
I have been completely overwhelmed by the interest in this story. This widespread attention would not be possible without the Facebook and blog referrals by author Rebecca Skloot, The New York Times Science page, and the enthusiastic Twitter referrals by other writers who I respect greatly such as David Dobbs, Sara Goforth, Mike Rosenwald, T. DeLene Beeland, Ted Winstead, scribbler50, Eric Ferreri, – as well as the dozens of you sci/med bloggers and folks from other walks of life who found this post worthy of recommending to your friends.
Please accept my apologies if you were not mentioned by name – I don’t have Bora Zivkovic’s flair for aggregating and linking to every referral but you have my gratitude for further popularizing the story of Henrietta Lacks and her family.
And for those of you so inclined, here are images of the memorial program that weren’t included in the last post:

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By what name do you refer to this blog?

Before my colleague DrugMonkey gives me more grief about not yet having a CafePress shop (theirs here) to sell and give away paraphernalia related to this blog, I have a question for you, the always erudite and good-looking reader of this humble blog.
You see, I don’t know exactly what text to put on T-shirts, coffee mugs, and thongs, that properly reflect the name recognition – dare I say, “brand” – of this blog. When I first started the blog on 15 December 2005, I thought that Terra Sigillata was a great name and a great metaphor for the natural product medicines I try to write about mostly. (Read here if you didn’t know the Terra Sigillata story.) However, I never anticipated that:
1. More than two dozen of you would actually be repeat readers.
2. “Terra Sigillata” would be difficult for some to pronounce.
3. “Terra Sigillata” would put us in the bottom quarter of most blogrolls.
I started thinking about this when some of my colleagues put “Abel Pharmboy” in their blogrolls where, happily, I was at the top of their alphabetical lists.
When I meet people in meatspace, they invariably call me “Abel” even if they are privy to my real name, but there is often hesitance in pronouncing “Terra Sigillata” – the only exception, no surprise here – is Bora Zivkovic. It can be pronounced in two ways depending on whether you are a student of Latin [sij-uh-ley-tuh] or, more commonly (and the way Bora does it), sig-uh-lah-tuh. (You can go here to hear the second, more common pronunciation).
However, when referring to the blog I used “Terra Sig.” Of course, “my blog” also works. (I’m also reminded that Dr Shelley Batts (Retrospectacle, Of Two Minds) was fond of using my hip-hop name, “T-Sig.”)
I’m not planning on changing the blog’s name, mind you. I am more interested in knowing how you refer to the blog so that I can put text and images on a CafePress shirt that the 500 of you will actually recognize. I can assure you that regardless of your input, my new tagline, “The Awesome Power of Natural Products,” will be featured.
Hence, might I impose upon you to take a moment from your Friday slacking to answer this poll. You are permitted up to two answers and, for the more creative among you, an “Other” choice and fill-in box has been provided.

By what name do you refer to this blog?(polls)

Of course, any comments or suggestions for T-shirt design will be gladly taken under consideration below.
Have a great weekend!

A boy, a guitar, and an amplifier

For those of you in the North Carolina Research Triangle area wanting to extend your weekend as much as possible, you’ll want to catch a a local music showcase at The Berkeley Café in Raleigh (217 W Martin St, 27601) tonight, Sunday 12 July at 7 pm. Yours truly will be playing a 30 min solo acoustic set of mostly original songs.
(Addendum: Cool! Eva Amsen just posted her interview of me yesterday for her Musicians and Scientists project)
Most notable on the bill are two fantastic roots reggae bands, Anchants and Curry Don (de Doc). I’m supposed to go on 8 pm or so.
810 and Cali Blonde 515px.jpgFigure 1. This lovely 2001 Taylor 810 and SWR California Blonde amplifier will be driven by the author this evening at Raleigh’s Berkeley Café near the campus of North Carolina State University (yes, the university with this week’s robotic bat story).
Tickets are a little steep, IMHO, for a Sunday show ($8 adv/$10 door) but I’ve got a couple for any cash-challenged folks if they email me in the comments – first comment, first serve. My colleague, Bull City frontman Jim Brantley, calls the band versions of my music “powerpop” to give you some idea of the style. You can head over to the MySpace site to hear them – the unplugged versions of those and others will be available this evening for the listening pleasure of those in our glorious state capital.

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Terra Sigillata cited as source for ABC News Michael Jackson story, sorta

While invoking my little-known real name, the ABC News Medical Unit shows its commitment to providing scientifically-objective and medically-valid commentary to the Michael Jackson circus.
The post cited was from 26 June where I discussed the first Michael Jackson revelation that he had repeatedly been given the unusual opioid drug, meperidine, presumably for his chronic back pain.
From this morning’s ABC News story by Vic Walter and Richard Esposito with contributions from JoAnna Schaffhausen:

One pharmacologist blogged about [p]ropofol this week and explained in his science blog how Demerol abuse could have caused cardiac problems and could have increased his risk for heart rhythm disturbances from the [p]ropofol: “As I wrote last week in my blog post on Demerol® (meperidine), Jackson’s reported long-term use of this analgesic for back pain may have already primed him for cardiac problems due to the accumulation of a toxic metabolite, normeperidine,” Dr. David Kroll said. “However, most relevant to the Jackson case is that propofol can cause cardiac tachyarrhythmias (rhythmic disturbances at high heart rate), especially in people predisposed to cardiac problems.”

Unfortunately, I drew no direct hyperlink to the blog and my real-life academic affiliation(s) were not noted. But the quote was a good one and meperdine (together with Diprivan/propofol) continues, as far as I know, to be a viable avenue of investigation in the death of Mr Jackson.
I also enjoyed that fact, however, that my quote was missing from the responses of other experts to the reporters’ queries for impressions on the list of drugs found at the Jackson home as cited by The Sun:

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