How Many Bones in the Human Body?

“The toe bone’s connected to the foot bone,
The foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone,
The ankle bone’s connected to the leg bone,
Now shake dem skeleton bones!”

Coco, Maxine, Miel, Andrea and several additional neighbors learned the parts and placement of human internal anatomy during our blindfolded body building activity. Even the adults put on a blindfold, did a few spins and gave it a try!

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Go Coco go!

Human babies are born with over 300 bones, but as bones shift and fuse with growth a human adult has a grand total of 206 bones. Cumulatively, the Famero household had roughly 3,648 bones in attendance of this family activity night. Although our skeleton initially suffered from eviscerated intestines and largely displaced jaw, by the night’s end (and with great encouragement from the peanut gallery) all of his body parts were restored to their proper position.

The poster and body parts was provided by the Magic School Bus activity kit
The poster and body parts was provided by the Magic School Bus activity kit

“Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones,
Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones,
Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones,
Now shake dem skeleton bones!”

Marine Research and Breeding Center

The newly completed fish tanks at the hatchery, less than one year ago a photo taken in this spot would have shown only coconut trees.
The newly completed fish tanks at the hatchery, less than one year ago a photo taken in this spot would have shown only coconut trees.

Last October 2014, I walked into a field of coconut trees and attended a ground breaking ceremony for Romblon’s soon-to-be Marine Research and Breeding Center. All around were sounds of frantic chopping and sawing. While this ground breaking marked the end of those coconut trees, now almost one year later stands a fish hatchery that is a source of employment in a very rural community and will maintain a provincial breeding stock of milkfish.

The construction is still ongoing but the hatchery is already operating!
The construction is still ongoing but the hatchery is already operating!
Milkfish, known locally as bangus
Milkfish, known locally as bangus

The milkfish is the national fish of the Philippines. Juveniles can be found in brackish estuaries and mangrove coastlines, but adults live and breed in the saltwater of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Milkfish aquaculture in the Philippines dates back roughly 800 years!

These milkfish are 12-years-old. Think back 12 years ago…what were you doing?! This important cargo had a private boat delivery from the larger Philippine island of Mindoro and will now be the breeding stock for our hatchery.
These milkfish are 12-years-old. Think back 12 years ago…what were you doing?! This important cargo had a private boat delivery from the larger Philippine island of Mindoro and will now be the breeding stock for our hatchery.

If you live in Romblon and are interested in starting milkfish aquaculture, you are in luck! Once your home fish pond or cage is approved to raise fish, you can purchase the fingerlings (baby fish) produced from the milkfish in the photo above. If you raise these babies to maturity, not only will you have food for your family (careful, the milkfish is quite bony!) but you can sell the fish at the local market for a profit.

I got to swim in the tank with the breeders!
I got to swim in the tank with the breeders!

Already this hatchery is a success! It has created numerous new jobs, it is a site for fisheries students to complete on-the-job training and skills development, its milkfish production is useful throughout the province, and it will be a site of ongoing research for improving fisheries technology. I visit the hatchery in my free time to help with operations or even to clean the tanks. Once, when we finished work early, I hopped in an empty fish tank with a staff member and taught a swim lesson!

Stories

My goal for this blog entry is to share three mini stories each fulfilling one of three characteristics identified as common among viral internet stories: positivity, emotional appeal, and practical knowledge.

First story: one of my favorite fruits of all time is pineapple! Here in the Philippines, pineapples are so incredibly sweet and juicy that I tend to eat the entire pineapple including the core. When my family and coworkers noticed this it was met with bafflement and later shared with laughter in many households that evening. Furthermore, I also like to eat the nutrient-rich skin of sweet potatoes. Imagine the surprise of my host family when they set aside their own peels for the trash and I proceeded to eat them.

Kindergarden students presenting a
Kindergarden students presenting a “Nutrition month” song and dance.

Second story: during the course of the Blog It Home Competition voting, I discovered that I am 4 degrees separated from the Director of the entire Peace Corps operation, Carrie Hessler-Radelet. Generously, a relative of hers forwarded my blog onto her with an enthusiastic, personal recommendation!

And my final story: as a true marine science nerd, I regularly send out “Fish Fact” blast texts to everyone in my Filipino cell phone. For those of you who cannot receive the texts here is some interesting info about our beloved Nemo fish:

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Fish Fact: Many fish change sex during the course of their lifespan including parrotfish, wrasse, and emperors. Anemonefish are unique because most sequential hermaphrodites start female and transform into males, while clownfish change to become female from initial male status, meaning that little Nemo may one day be not only a father, but possibly a mother too!

I want to share knowledge in such a way that people not only learn something, but talk about it after reading. Jonah Berger, from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, recommends positive, emotionally-charged and practically useful content in his co-authored article, “What Makes Online Content Go Viral?” With this in mind the 3 stories above were told with the hope of hooking and therefore retaining my new, much larger, audience pool. Take a guess which story corresponds to which characteristic and then continue to share!

Standing on a Spanish fort in the provincial capital, Romblon.
Standing on a Spanish fort in the provincial capital, Romblon.

I WON!!!!

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Dear Sarah Jean,

Congratulations!  You have been selected as a winner in the 3nd annual Blog It Home contest.  You have been recognized by Peace Corps, your peers and people around the world as being an exceptional steward of the Third Goal.  From August 3-10, the competition reached more than 670,000 people on Facebook and more than 20,000 votes were cast.

Of the 400+ blog submissions we received from Peace Corps Volunteers around the world, we selected 8 winning blogs. We’re happy to report yours is one of them. 

We look forward to welcoming you and your fellow winners to Washington D.C. from October 4-10 for a special Peace Corps Top Bloggers Tour coordinated in your honor.  Over the course of the week, you will promote the Third Goal in a series of intercultural presentations to diverse audiences, have professional development opportunities and participate in general celebrations. 

In the coming days, we will send you a comprehensive email detailing logistics for your trip. We will also be issuing a press release to share the good news and highlight you and the other winners of this contest.   

Please stay tuned for more details.  We’re very excited to meet you in October! 

B.J. Whetstine
Director
Peace Corps Office of Third Goal and Returned Volunteer Services 

Life is Epic!

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Who has more spindle neurons: the dolphin or the human??

Cetaceans have a 3xs greater concentration of these brain cells than humans! Any guesses on the purpose of these valuable brain cells???

Spindle neurons are our social cells. They are the emotion processors of the brain and allow us to both feel love and know suffering. Dolphin songs and shrieks or the contagious nature of a human smile 🙂 Thanks to spindle neurons my blog can serve a purpose. And you can understand the story.

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Here’s a video link to my Epic in the Philippines thus far. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGnYTM3tkX0

Life is epic! But it is also simple and whether you are American, Filipino, orca or humpback we share this planet so put those spindle neurons to use and find a cause you are passionate about. Did you know we receive greater happiness from giving than receiving?!

Me and my supervisor Nanay Rita at the Philippine Marine Mammal Stranding Conference in 2014
Me and my supervisor Nanay Rita at the Philippine Marine Mammal Stranding Conference in 2014