Category Archives: All Posts

The Solar System – Interactive


Here is a rather fantastic tool – the Solar System online interactive model by California’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Planets, Moons, known asteroids and satellites are included, in real time – or accelerated time.    And you can pick a starting time – the current date/time or any time between 1950 and 2050.  Tag along with any satellite, moon or planet and see how the solar system looks from there.   Or fly free – in your own virtual spaceship.   Explore the Earth, the Solar System or even the Exo-planets found so far.   It’s a pretty incredible tool in understanding where we are in this universe.


PrimeEffects Launches Really Great Sleep Mask on Amazon

PrimeEffects has made a new really lightweight (but durable) and comfortable Sleep Mask, with Ear Plugs.

For people who want to be able to nap or sleep during air travel, trips or at home, or need to be able to block out light and sounds anywhere to get proper rest.

I got mine for under $12, with free shipping on Amazon Prime.  Love it!

Sleep Mask with Ear Plugs in Strap.

Sleep Mask with Ear Plugs in Strap.

Check it out.

The International Space Station – seen with the Moon behind it.

The International Space Station (ISS)

Part of the Perspectives series issued by Chris Hadfield after his return from the International Space Station.

The ISS is about 350 miles from Earth (and the camera), whereas the moon is 350,000 miles from the camera.   This makes the ISS look 1,000 times bigger than it is, relative to the moon.


Powers of Ten

Here are some great tools that let you visualize relative sizes, timescales, Powers of Ten, and the scale of the incredibly large down to the scale of the incredibly small.

Powers of 10

Powers of 10

The Scale of the Universe

The Scale of the Universe

The Scale of the Universe

The Scale of the Universe

Time Scale of Earth

Time Scale of Earth

In terms of Earth timescales and human history, a 24-hour clock does not really allow us to conceptualize and compare times we know from everyday life with the timespan of earth and the universe.

If we instead use a year as equivalent to earth’s age (4.6 billion years), we can gain a perspective on the time periods.   So let’s say Earth was formed on January 1st, and we are now at midnight on December 31st.

Jan 1:       Earth formed
Mar 29:  The first life appeared
Aug 19:   The first multicellular life developed
Nov 14:  First animals
Dec 13:   Dinosaurs evolved and became dominant life form
Dec 26:   Dinosaurs were wiped out (they lasted 2 weeks on this time scale)
Dec 31, 11:37 pm:  Humans evolved in Africa (23 minutes ago on this scale)
Dec 31, 11:51pm:   Humans left Africa (9 minutes ago)
Dec 31, 11:59:22:   Humans invent writing (38 seconds ago)
Dec 31, 11:59:56:   Columbus discovers America (4 seconds ago)

Puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?

Aqua Net hairspray lawsuit continues

This was an interesting day – my first deposition in a lawsuit.

Butler Pappas is the law firm representing Lornamead in this lawsuit, which I filed in Federal Court.

Lornamead is the maker of Aqua Net hairspray, and my lawsuit alleges that one of the ingredients in Aqua Net, Cyclohexylamine (listed officially as an extremely hazardous substance), caused a strong skin reaction similar to hives, strong itching, nausea, vomiting, a serious and life-threatening heart problem called A-fib (atrial fibrillation), loss of consciousness, and a hospital bill of over $35,000, and more.   Luckily this incident didn’t actually kill me.

Today’s deposition was for an attorney from Butler Pappas to gather as much information as possible from me for their defense against my lawsuit.   Initially estimated to take 4 hours, it ran a little over 5 hours, with a few breaks thrown in.

In essence their position seems to be that:

  • Lornamead doesn’t believe that Cyclohexylamine caused the symptoms
  • That they are using less Cyclohexylamine in their hairspray than is deemed toxic by the industry and US government
  • That they are not responsible for testing their product in the real world as long as it meets government and industry guidelines
  • That I have no medical proof that the Cyclohexylamine caused the symptoms
  • That there was no scientific testing done which proves that there was Cyclohexylamine in my bloodstream when I had the symptoms

There is of course an underlying and unstated position as well – whether or not they believe me, they cannot afford to admit that Aqua Net hairspray causes Cyclohexylamine poisoning.   If they did, it would open the floodgates for many other lawsuits from people who may have been poisoned by this, or have lost loved ones due to such poisoning.    (Consider why Big Tobacco fought so hard and long to deny the effects of tobacco.)

The deposition went over a lot of information on my life, my history of using Aqua Net hairspray, and specific incidents and facts.

A lot of emphasis was placed on questions relating to Material Safety Data Sheets on Cyclohexylamine, and on the concentration of Cyclohexylamine in Aqua Net hairspray, and on trying to get me to admit that the concentration was below the ‘safe’ concentration levels.

I pointed out that there aren’t actually any ‘safe’ concentration levels set – there are ‘toxic’ concentration levels at or beyond which it is known to be toxic.  This does not mean or even imply that concentrations below the known ‘toxic’ concentration level are ‘safe’.

More disturbing to the deposing attorney was my response when she asked what I deemed ‘safe’ or what I deemed to be ‘toxic’ concentration levels in Aqua Net hairspray.   It was a good and pertinent question, and is very relevant to this case, but my response was not what she wanted to hear.

As I explained, there is no simple answer to this, and I don’t know the answer to her question.  Furthermore, and more disturbing, her client (Lornamead) doesn’t know the answer either.  I asked them in written form about this over the last months as part of the discovery process in this lawsuit.   And they replied that they don’t know, and that it is nearly impossible to determine, but that they are within industry and government guidelines.   Translation: We didn’t do it.   If we did do it, we are not responsible because the government said it was OK.

Here are some of the factors involved in the ‘concentration levels’ question:

There is an initial concentration level of Cyclohexylamine in Aqua Net hairspray when it is manufactured.  This may or may not change before it is sold to the consumer.   But let’s assume that it is initially below known ‘toxic’ levels and remains constant until the consumer buys the product.

The concentration levels may go up or may decline as the content of the product is used.   This depends on whether the Cyclohexylamine is evenly distributed inside the product.   It might settle near the top or bottom or otherwise vary in concentration over time.

Then there is the question of what happens after it leaves the can and is sprayed in aerosol form onto your hair.   Does the Cyclohexylamine evaporate before it reaches your hair?

If it does, this is somewhat disturbing as Cyclohexylamine is particularly toxic when inhaled.   If it doesn’t, then it ends up on your hair, where the aerosol drops dry up and the residue holds your hair.

When I pointed out that the concentration level of the residue rises as the liquid part of the aerosol drops evaporates, I was asked how I know this.   I replied that this is elementary physics, and explained this in simple terms.   I was then asked a string of questions as to whether I was a physicist, a chemist, had laboratory training, had testified as an expert witness in lawsuits, etc.   I haven’t of course, but this doesn’t change the laws of physics.   When the solvent in a solution evaporates, the concentration level of the solute obviously rises, as is easily demonstrated.

And therein lies the problem.   Lornamead and their lawyers don’t know what the concentration of Cyclohexylamine is after the hairspray has been sprayed onto your hair, and has dried.   They don’t know what happens to the concentration of Cyclohexylamine if the dried residue is dissolved by sweat on your scalp.  They don’t know whether it appears in toxic levels at this point.

They haven’t done the research on this, and haven’t tested it.   They have told me in writing that they don’t know and haven’t tested this.

Unfortunately, I unwittingly tested this on myself.

I have concluded from many instances of personal experience that Aqua Net hairspray contains concentrations of Cyclohexylamine sufficient to cause severe and life-threatening Cyclohexylamine poisoning when sweat dissolves it during exercise, and spreads it from your hair onto your skin. The symptoms observed include severe skin reactions similar to hives, with strong itching, nausea and vomiting, heart arrhythmia (such as atrial fibrillation), kidney damage and loss of consciousness.

The Judge in this case recently ordered the case to mediation.  So we shall see what happens next – but I look forward to discussing this with them in mediation.


Mermaids of Earth website and blog

MOELogoI started a new project a few months ago – Mermaids of Earth.

There is a large – and growing – website at, with a section on mermaid statues all over the world.

I created a 2013 wall calendar with spectacular photos of mermaid statues from all over the world, and am working on the 2014 mermaid calendar.

I also just released the Kindle version of my first book, The Little Mermaid – Commemorative Edition, which celebrates the 2013 centennial of the famous mermaid statue by Edvard Eriksen, in Copenhagen Harbor, of The Little Mermaid.

Lornamead lawsuit – Case Management meeting

I had a pleasant meeting by phone this morning with Julie Berlick of Butler Pappas Weihmuller Katz Craig LLP in Tampa, the law firm representing Lornamead.   It was a scheduled meeting to discuss the Case Management – basically an agreement as to the dates by which certain actions or parts of the process will be completed.

The resulting document – the Case Management Report – is being filed by Butler Pappas to the court as our agreed-upon timeline for the case.

So now the clock is ticking.

First order of business is to compile and send some data due in 4 weeks, and then to get going on the Discovery process:
demands for Admissions,
written interrogatories,
requests for production and
oral depositions.


Statement of Claim against Lornamead

Today I filed the actual detailed complaint against Lornamead.   This may be where an attorney experienced in toxic tort cases might have been valuable or indeed necessary – or I may have put it together well enough to continue the process.

This filing is also at the same time a Motion to Deny Lornamead’s Motion to Dismiss.   That is probably one too many “Motions” in one sentence – there must be a better phrase for this.

Comments on the complaint are welcome.

Lornameads Motion to Quash is denied.

OK, so getting Lornamead properly served did the trick.  Their motion to quash has been denied as moot.   Well, you can’t blame them for trying, since I didn’t do it right the first time.

Lornamead’s Motion to Dismiss

Lornamead filed a Motion to Dismiss yesterday, essentially saying that I have not given sufficient data and allegations to warrant a lawsuit or show that the court has jurisdiction.   Fair enough – the initial lawsuit document was just the needed essentials to get the process started.

Now to flesh this out with a lot of detail.   This is where the actual fun begins I think.