Tweet Follow @LizMarchio Tweet #ich

Science as Leisure

Liz Marchio

I am a trained ichthyologist interested in what gets people interested in natural history, biological sciences, and science careers. My passion is to find out what fuels curiosity for the natural world.

Biology-related serious leisure activities can impact people's interest in ecology, biology, and natural history. Do these activities promote biological understanding? If so, how does that progress and to what level does it progress to? 

If you're interested in a starting a dialogue, please feel free to contact me. If you're curious about how I got here, my story can be found on the About Me page.


Filtering by Category: messed up

Dead man charged $985.61 for an ambulance ride

It's finals week and I'm a graduate student. That means I'm trying to finish A LOT of important work that can make or break my career. I don't have time for regular baths let alone dealing with being taken advantage of. Today is the straw that broke the camel's back. I am again asking myself this question:


My grandfather, my best friend, passed away almost exactly 2 months ago today. I've come to realize his untimely passing may have been painful for me but a blessing for him. It was an almost immediate death, painless, and quiet. He was filling out paperwork at his regular doctor at Mt. Carmel East (Columbus, Ohio) and just slumped in his chair. [We didn't have an autopsy done so I can't say exactly what caused his death. I think some kind of aneurysm since it was so quick and painless.]  Eventually his immobilized body was noticed in the waiting room and he was given CPR. But... he was gone.

The doctor's office called an ambulance since you can't just call a morgue or the family (or can you? Not exactly a social norm for family to transport deceased loved ones...). Of course the ambualnce and medics couldn't revive him and he was transported NEXT DOOR to the ER. 

My deceased Grandpa took an ambulance from the yellow square to the red square and it only cost $989.15! 

My deceased Grandpa took an ambulance from the yellow square to the red square and it only cost $989.15! 

Two months later, my mother received a bill for $989.15. Here it is: 

The bill  is not really itemized in a logical manner and includes codes that I had to research to figure out. Surprise. 

My pronounced-dead-at-the-scene grandfather was billed $985.61 for an "ALS 2" which is, according to this website, "A0433 Advanced life support, level 2 (ALS2)". He was dead at the scene and had been for an unknown amount of time so I'm not sure why he was not only driven to the ER in an ambulance but done so under an elevated emergency level (Level 2 vs. Level 1). 

The other $3.54 charge was for the mileage to the ER from the building next door. The bill does not tell you what that mileage is, unless "000" is it. It probably is 000 miles, just look at the map! 

So, can someone please tell me how my dead grandfather was charged $989.15 for a level 2 emergency ambulance ride to the building next door? I understand there are flat rates for things, but for an ambulance ride?! For a dead man?! This is repugnant. 

If you agree, can you please get the word out about this? I am taking time away from my studies to write this in an attempt to stick up for what is right. I'm tired of being so busy with my life that I let unfair, disgusting, and monetarily draining things like this slide. Please consider passing this on, if not to help then for simple awareness. 

Thank you. 

Note: I want emergency medics and doctors to get a fair and above average wage. Furthermore, I understand the system may "work" in many circumstances but this doesn't seem to be one of them. 

Feral Cat Colonies & Crazy Cat Lady Syndrome

We've all heard about the negative effects feral cats have on wild bird populations. It's a fact that cats are hunters and they're good at it. After all, there are probably millions of barn cats employed because of their wonderful work ethic! 

Image from

Image from

The most interesting thing about the feral cat issue taking place in our society today is the straight up crazy conflict over the situation. We all know cats kill other animals. We know they do it well and whenever they can. Regardless of what we all know, take a look at any social media post regarding feral cats killing birds and you see the cat defenders come out and swat away those negative cat statistics. 

Why would spay/neuter help keep cats from eating? This is a common argument of cat-defenders .

Why would spay/neuter help keep cats from eating? This is a common argument of cat-defenders.

Above you can see the cat-defenders using several different tactics to defend wild/feral cats. Strategies include an appeal to emotion, appeals to humanity, placing blame, offering (biased) information to support pre-determined decisions, logical reasoning, and threats. It's intense and flies in the face of the information we all know: cats are killers and bird populations are on the decline because of it. So why defend cats so vehemently?

Enter: Toxoplasmosis. 

Toxoplasmosis gondii. Photo from Wikipedia.

Toxoplasmosis gondii. Photo from Wikipedia.

Toxoplasmosis is a parasite that is found in cats and cat feces. It is also found in rats. Basically, an infected rat is eaten by a cat (yay barn cats!), which then infects the cat. The cat does what all cats do, and poops. The feces house Toxoplasmosis and make it "available" to the environment. Uninfected rodents can get infected via fecal contact and so can people.

So, if you have a cat and you clean its box, or the cat gives you "the brown eye"... you may have Toxoplasmosis. 

Up to 80% of people could have Toxoplasmosis! 

This isn't even the scariest part. I haven't told you what the parasite can do... 

In rats, it has been shown to cause a reduction of fear. This is a "plan" by the parasite! If eaten, especially by a cat, the parasite can continue its life cycle. If the host rat doesn't fear cats, then cats get Toxoplasmosis. Here's a video to help explain:

This lack of fear response could also be an affection response.

It's well known by most people that people who keep a cat have an increased propensity to own another cat... and so on... and so on... This can lead to hoarding and an intense, self-destructive affection towards cats. 

This is Crazy Cat Lady Syndrome and it involves Toxoplasmosis.

 If social media stories on feral cat issues have replies/comments that are made up of 50% cat-defenders, are 50% of the people replying to that story "suffering" from Toxoplasmosis?  

After all, they are defending cats based on a reduction of fear and a strong, almost insatiable,  emotional attachment towards cats. 

Perhaps the feral cat issue can be aided by research in the "suffering" of Toxoplasmosis in the public? If people who will not aid bird conservation by limiting the number of cats in the wild actually have a disease and cannot act any other way towards cats... maybe there can be some middle ground forged? 

No one wants to know they're a part of a parasite's plan, or life history, so I doubt this gets much attention, but damn, isn't this at least interesting?

Powered by Squarespace. Background image by Marion LeGall