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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Monday marked the end of my third week as an online undergraduate, so having partied hard for six days, I had to hit the virtual books yesterday and complete the whole of week 3's studies in a day. You can't beat a bit of hands-on experience, so I felt that the best way to learn about diabetic hypertension was to raise my blood pressure by drinking a can of Red Bull and sailing dangerously close to the deadline.

By some miracle I succeeded, but despite scoring another 20/20 on the exam, the main thing I've learnt is that diabetologists are extremely tricky customers. Take this question for example:

Insulin is a hormone made by beta cells in the pancreas; insulin regulates carbohydrate and fat metabolism. Which of the following further describes insulin inaccurately?

1. There are four ways to categorize injectable insulin: rapid-acting, short-acting, intermediate-acting, and long-acting.
2. Recombinant DNA technology biosynthesizes or synthesizes human insulin by inserting the gene for insulin into yeast and diseased strains of E. coli.
3. Insulin has an A chain consisting of 21 amino acids, and a B chain consisting of 30 amino acids; these two chains are connected by disulfide bonds.
4. Insulin causes cells in the liver and skeletal muscle to absorb glucose, and causes fat cells to absorb lipids.
5. Insulin from pigs and cows are different from human insulin by one and three amino acids, respectively.

The first bit of sneaky business is to put the letters 'in' before the word 'accurately', but even once you've spotted those, I'd expect there to be one statement which is obviously false. Something along the lines of 'Insulin is mined from quarries and should be swallowed with a milkshake'.

But no. The correct answer is number 2. Because in reality, recombinant DNA technology biosynthesizes or synthesizes human insulin by inserting the gene for insulin into yeast and non-diseased strains of E. coli. Not that they're trying to catch you out at all.

As it happens, however, my ability to score drugs at university was overshadowed yesterday by Amelie's achievements at school. When I got home from work, I took her and Toby down to Lidl to show them how the other half live, and whilst walking along the road, I asked Amelie about her day. She told me various vital bits of information, such as what she had for lunch and what her friends thought of her new water bottle, before saying - casually, and as an afterthought - "Oh, and I know what part I'm playing in the Christmas play..."

Naturally I was expecting her starring role to be... well, a star. Or failing that, a sheep. But she proceeded to tell me that she's been selected for the part of Mary. Which is enough to make a heathen shout Hallelujah.

Personally I'm more of a wise man, which is why I tend to disbelieve anything Amelie tells me until it's proven to be true by at least three independent sources. But having interrogated her on the subject for a good half hour, employing the use of German sweets as a truth serum, I eventually took the girl at her word.

Lisa proved to be slightly less trusting, possibly because her nephew once announced that he'd been given the part of Joseph, only for his parents to turn up on opening night and find him dressed entirely in wool, with the crucial line of 'Baa'. But as luck would have it, Amelie's class had an 'open morning' today, so Lisa went straight in and demanded some answers. And the upshot of it all is...

It's true. The teacher has informed us that Amelie is very bright and confident, making her perfectly placed to give birth live on stage, in front of an invited audience. Lisa's particularly pleased, as she also played Mary in the school nativity, and it ranks as her finest educational achievement. Seriously, I've seen her exam results. To be honest, it was quite a big deal back then, as TV hadn't been invented, and it was the only form of entertainment at Christmas.

So I'm currently attempting to rearrange my work schedule so that I can witness the virgin birth. I also need to get Toby an agent. With his smart new haircut and holy sister, there's every chance we can hire him out as the Baby Jesus.


Phil's Mum said...

I did remark to your father that probably 'Mary' would be wanting to take Toby along as Baby Jesus!