Thursday, September 29, 2005

What I Want: Part 3

This is a hard one, so it must stand alone. I don't know if I've ever said this to anyone before--I've hinted at it, but never really said it directly. It will all make sense after part 4--I promise.

Once Upon a Time,

I didn't go to Princeton.

My college years can be summed up in that sentence. Every sick, disturbing, and sad thing that happened, the paralysis that was my life for four years, can be boiled down into 5-words.

I don't know why I did it, or rather, didn't do it.

I don't know.

Post hoc analysis (nerd-speak for hindsight) has revealed to me that I spent 4, expensive years at SmallLiberal Arts College filled with obnoxious young republicans wanting to seem liberal in the middle of BFE learning a very valuable, critical lesson.

Regret is a bitch. It will numb you and paralyze you and make you hate things that you normally would embrace. It clouds your judgement and sucks away your life, wasting precious years of the limited time we all spend on this planet. It turns you into someone else, who you eventually begin to identify as yourself...only it isn't really you...or is it?

I don't know why I didn't go. I do, but I don't. It was money (funny how it's back again). It was fear of being outed for the sub-genius that I am. It was the overwhelming feeling that I had to be close to my family to help them through those dark days--I guess that was really guilt for abadoning them as a teenager. It's funny, but I never really went home during those years because I was, of course, paralyzed.

I learned that if you make a decision to do something because you perceive obstacles or failures or fears standing in the way of what you truly want, you will live with regret and the demons that follow. It almost killed me--I almost never came to be your blogger friend.

I learned that, instead of doing what "seems" right, you need to examine the obstacles and fears and find solutions so that you can travel the road less traveled, the road you want.

I learned you had better be really honest with yourself about what you truly want.

I learned that something as stupid as picking one really good school over one superb school could become a feed-forward loop, eventually turning into something that is too large for one person to handle without cracking.

I learned...

Take your folic acid

If you can't remember to take something as important as your folic acid supplement, you shouldn't even think about having a baby.

Your child does not deserve spina bifida.
Your child does not deserve anencephaly.

You would not choose to abort your child, so why would you choose to expose him/her to these devastating birth defects?

We can do better than this, people.

Sorry, I needed to rant to someone.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Me Read Pretty

So, Pharyngula asks "How many of these have you read". Because it requires no time to answer that question in a post, I'll bite. (Originally, Majikthise and a few others asked the question--getting the book list from ALA's most-challenged book list.)

The one's I've read are in purple:

  1. Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
  2. Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
  3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  4. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
  5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  7. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
  8. Forever by Judy Blume
  9. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
  10. Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  11. Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
  12. My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
  13. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  14. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  15. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
  16. Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
  17. A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
  18. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  19. Sex by Madonna
  20. Earth’s Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel
  21. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
  22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  23. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
  24. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
  25. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
  26. The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
  27. The Witches by Roald Dahl
  28. The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
  29. Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry
  30. The Goats by Brock Cole
  31. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
  32. Blubber by Judy Blume
  33. Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
  34. Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
  35. We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
  36. Final Exit by Derek Humphry
  37. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  38. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
  39. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  40. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras
  41. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  42. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  43. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  44. The Pigman by Paul Zindel
  45. Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
  46. Deenie by Judy Blume
  47. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  48. Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
  49. The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
  50. Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
  51. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
  52. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  53. Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
  54. Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
  55. Cujo by Stephen King
  56. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
  57. The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
  58. Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
  59. Ordinary People by Judith Guest
  60. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
  61. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras
  62. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
  63. Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
  64. Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
  65. Fade by Robert Cormier
  66. Guess What? by Mem Fox
  67. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
  68. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
  69. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  70. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  71. Native Son by Richard Wright
  72. Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies by Nancy Friday
  73. Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
  74. Jack by A.M. Homes
  75. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
  76. Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
  77. Carrie by Stephen King
  78. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
  79. On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
  80. Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
  81. Family Secrets by Norma Klein
  82. Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
  83. The Dead Zone by Stephen King
  84. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  85. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
  86. Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
  87. Private Parts by Howard Stern
  88. Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford
  89. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
  90. Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
  91. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  92. Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
  93. Sex Education by Jenny Davis
  94. The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
  95. Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
  96. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
  97. View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
  98. The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
  99. The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney
  100. Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Mind over Matter

You all will have to wait a little bit longer for the third installment of the "What I Want" series. I'm battling a cohort of surgery side effects including a rash on my eyelids--it is definitely as irritating as it sounds--and I need to focus my few, itch-free hours of the day on my brick-and-mortar world.

To keep entertained, check out this cool invention.

From the article:

"The technology could one day help paralysed patients to move robotic arms, or help sufferers of motor neuron disease to type out words on a virtual keyboard. "Just thinking about movement activates the same neurons as actually moving," explains Gert Pfurtscheller of Graz University of Technology in Austria, who has been working on the device for around four years. By picking up on these bursts of nerve activity, the computer can decide whether you are thinking about moving your hands or feet, and react accordingly."

Sunday, September 25, 2005

What I Want: Part 2

Throughout high school (and college), I never stopped to rethink my aspirations. I think many of us set goals without honestly re-evaluating them over time. The danger in doing so is that when you begin to itch for a change or rethink what you truly want and need, you feel like a quitter and a failure. You start to seek out therapists to explain where you went wrong, to figure out what in your life caused you to veer off the Right path. I'm beginning to believe that goals should always be made out of clay but never fired in the kiln. When you turn clay into a hard, permanent finish, all you can do is wait for it to break.

Once Upon a Time,

I turned 13. My father got a new job, and the county raised teacher salaries. We built a house (next to our trailer that still sits there, but that's a different story), and we began to be a part of that "middle class" so lacking in today's economy. Although money was an issue when it came to "fitting in", it slid off the radar with respect to my career goals. Money became something that I didn't really think about again until much later--I had actually forgotten that it was how this all began.

It was during high school that I learned my family was crazy. Not the "Everyone Loves Raymond" type of crazy that we all identify with in a "tell me about it" kind of way. No, this crazy is more like a "hold a gun to your head and kill yourself before you're twenty" kind of crazy, a "I see dead people, for real" type of nuts. It's the crazy explaining why my grandmother isolated herself in her home, ordering vast quantities of expensive, random objects through the mail for no reason. It explains why she NEVER opened the boxes when her orders finally arrived. For a long time after her death, they just sat there in immovable piles.

I decided that because I was going to be a scientist, is was my duty to study mental disorders. Because genetics was the thing to talk about at the time, I would become a molecular biologist and find the responsible, offending genes and kill them. I approached it the same way I began to approach those who abused and stigmatized people like my family, in a "Napoleon knocked up Einstein's mom, and I'm their kid" kind of way.

I guess one could say that my "wanting to save the world" took on new meaning...

Thursday, September 22, 2005

What I Want

Aside from an infection and an allergic reaction to something they used during my surgery, I'm fine. My pathology report came back great--I won't need anything else done with the dreaded lump. The bonus of this whole ordeal is that the rash/infection gave me an excuse to get into dermatology right away and have my skin checked out for skin cancer at no extra cost. My skin looks good too, in case you were wondering:)

You have shared your motivations and desires (thank you--keep going if you'd like), so I should now explain why I asked. I am swamped here, so I'll have to break all of this into a series of posts (sorry).

I'm having one of those defining turning points in my life right now, and the events of the past few months, both personal and professional, have really made me think about what road I'm going down next. In order to explain this whole mess, I'm going to have to go way back...

Once upon a time,

I decided that I wanted to be a scientist. If I'm being honest, I must admit that I made this decision for three reasons. First, I was inquisitive, bright, and I enjoyed science because it fit the way my brain worked. Little dopamine molecules were released every time I completed a little, elementary school experiment. We are first slaves to our reward systems--that free will mumbo jumbo is secondary.

The second reason seemed righteous enough on the surface--I wanted to help the world. I grew up in an economically-depressed region where parents had it rough and children, in turn, had it rougher. I wanted to make a difference. This urge almost lead me to become a missionary until I had a falling out with institutionalized religion, so you can believe that it was (and still is) a strong one.

So where does the dopamine slavery fit in here, you may be wondering? Wanting to help people seems void of appetitive behavior. Could it be that we humans are one of the few altruistic animal species on the planet?

I don't know the answer to that. I do know that because I was a teacher's child, the school decided that I would be more noble than the rest, or at least easier to control. I was the one they placed in the "bad" homerooms to balance out the teachers' loads. I was the one that they sat next to the reallypoor kid with lice and BO because they knew that I didn't have the heart (or balls) to tease anyone. I was the girl who always got stuck tutoring the kid covered in open wounds that he created by erasing his skin off using a pink, number-2-pencil eraser.

I loved the attention I got because I was so "good", such a special little martyr. I loved being "better" than the other kids. When you're nerdy and chubby and dressed in clothes from BigLots and Hills--when you don't get the pretty pink invitations to the slumber parties held by the cool girls that always got placed together in the "good" homeroom--you need something that makes you feel better than the others. If you can't feel better than them, in some way it means you are below them, that you are unworthy. So maybe part of me was selfless in wanting to save the world, but part of my motivation turned out to be purely Pavlovian.

The third reason is the saddest, or maybe the most hilarious depending on how you take your tea. In 6th grade, I had to do an assignment where I picked an occupation from this humungous occupation manual. The lesson involved writing a paper defending my career choice and explaining how I would reach my goal. Pretty heavy for an elementary school kid who really just wanted to do the assignment on King Tut. I started out with interior design because it was the 1980's, and everyone wanted to be an interior designer. When I found out what an interior designer really did, however, I was annoyed, so I rethought my strategy.

How does a kid choose a job when given so many options? How does a child know that they want to be a doctor, a nurse, a fire fighter, or a vet (the most common choices of my classmates).

Beats the hell out of me.

I flipped through the books looking at salaries. I landed on my dream job which had an annual salary of...gasp...$50,000.

I was going to be a marine biologist, and I was going to be rich.

I was never going to live in a trailer again and be made fun of. I was never going to spend afternoons sitting in a dirty line in an ugly building waiting for an unemployment check with my dad. I was never going to buy my toys at Ames and wear dresses from Fashion Bug (or, on special occasions, JC Penny's). I was never going to eat hot-dog soup again. I was never going to cry at Christmas, not wanting to make a list of toys because I saw my mom and dad fighting and crying over money and bills every night. My muffler was not going to be held onto the car with a coat hanger or duct tape. I was not going to have eyes the color of pain and sadness like my mom and dad.

No, a marine biologist would never have to do any of those things. Welcome motivation number, or at least the assumption that money would cure the pain of my childhood and save my future children from being...well...from being me.

Alright, you can laugh now. How was I supposed to know that research scientist would be ranked as one of the top-5 jobs that payed badly in 2005, the year I was to finish my PhD?

To be continued...

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Be honest

I'm going to ask you a question, and I want you to be honest. I will explain more later, but I really need to know:

What motivates you in life?

What desires influence the decisions you make--not what circumstances, such as "I only scored 400 on my SAT's so I couldn't go to Princeton". If you could make all of your life choices solely based on your desires, what would you be doing right now, and what desire(s) would have led you to this point?

If you don't want to answer, that's fine.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

I need a stamper

I need a stamper--you know, the old-school kind that you press onto an inkpad and stamp your papers with. I need it to say the following:

If you do all of the following, I will in no way write you a letter of recommendation for medical school:

a.) neglect to show up to class consistently and/or on time
b.) neglect to do your work and then try to hand it in 3-weeks late claiming you didn't know about the assignment because you "were late for class the day it was handed out, didn't see it on the syllabus because it was "hidden", and didn't know it was also listed on the website". (I know you never checked the website because I have access to that information)
c.) neglect to show up for your make-up assignment
d.) neglect to call me to tell me that you aren't going to show up for your make-up assignment
e.) demand that you be able to make-up your make-up assignment instead of pleading for my mercy
f.) send me nasty emails because I decided to take a few days to consider your demands and excuses
g.) fail your first, really easy exams with the excuse that it's "all so confusing for you because you aren't a science major" and then ace the last, really hard exam to save your grade
h.) do your homework after you get to class
i.) fail to be in the top 5% of your class when you have the capability of being in the top 1% but are too lazy?/cocky?/unorganized? to strive for excellence in learning

There is a reason why there are so many duds who get into medical school, make it through medical school, and then go on to be scary, sub par doctors. The reason is all of us--we let them. We feel bad for them and make excuses for them and are afraid to get the nasty email and/or confrontation that I'm waiting for in response to my "I'm sorry, but it ain't happening" email.

We are the key to the future. Don't blame me when they take our your bladder instead of your kidney. I did my part.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Has Anyone Seen the Mice?

There are many things that one may lose throughout the day. You may lose the CD with your very important lecture on it or your favorite pen or maybe the checks that you just cut for your employees. You may hear someone yell "Hey, has anyone the UPS delivery?" or "Where's the Smith Report?".

One thing that you most likely will not hear is "Ummm, has anyone seen the mice infected with the deadly plague"?

This solidifies my argument for why scientists should be payed more to care about their work.

I love how carefree the author of this article is:

"There are many potential explanations. The rodents could have been stolen or accidentally incinerated along with bedding from the cages. It is even possible that they ate each other, as mice are known to do this when they have plague. The institute's director, David Perlin, acknowledges the possibility of theft, but says he thinks it is more likely to be "an honest mistake"."

One of my favorite parts:

"The CDC is working with the FBI and local officials to see what happened," says Von Roebuck, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.

I bet that FBI agent is glad that he/she went through weapons training for this.

"The infection usually passes from mice to humans through fleas, but it can also be transmitted by breathing the infected breath of another animal. Wren says this is an unlikely risk from escaped lab animals: "I can't see the mice sneezing on a human." "

If they are willing to shit on you, bite you, and go for your jugular, I'm sure they are not above sneezing on you.

Saturday, September 17, 2005


The surgery went fine. After a little relaxation cocktail, I was good to go. I told every single person in the surgery unit that I loved them, and that I appreciated all of their efforts, and that they were all amazing. If I had said it once to each person, they may have not thought anything about it. Unfortunately, drugs make me really happy and I'm pretty sure I sounded like a broken record. Oh well, I'm sure they've gotten worse.

I had a medical student sit in on the surgery. My husband was not very pleased about that. This poor kid has probably not gotten to see a boobie under the age of 60, and now that he finally gets a young one, he has to deal with my husband staring him down. The poor kid couldn't even look up at me to ask his checklist of questions. Judging by his social skills, I may have been his first live, free boobie, and he didn't even get to enjoy it. Life sure sucks sometimes.

Anyways, they didn't take a picture, so I can't show it to you. I will have the biopsy results by next week, but my guess is definitely benign, pain-in-the-ass, lump.

I think I will be able to go back to work on Monday as long as Franken-boobie behaves and as long as my dog doesn't rip open the stitches in the middle of the night. I don't know if he is trying to be all "call of the wild" or what, but ever since he tried to lick up the blood from my husband's accident a few months ago, he's been like a little vampire. Yesterday, he just kept sniffing at my shirt. Creepy.

Thanks for all of your support and friendship!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

One More Thing--Mind your P's and Q's

Robbie wrote the entire alphabet! That's a big, big deal so go congratulate Robbie and Trisha if you have some time.

Catch Ya Later

I will be iffy over the next couple of days. I'll try to stop by your blog homes when I can, and post if I feel up to it. Please don't do anything fun or exciting when I'm gone. I hate missing out on all of the fun stuff.

So How Do you Feel About That

Dr. X turned and looked at me, with a goofy, semi-empathetically look on his face, and asked "Yeah, so how do you feel about that?".

Part of me wanted to make a witty statement to show how strong and laid back I am. "Well Dr. X., it looks like my aspirations of being the world's-most-educated stripper have just been flushed down the toilet. It's a shame too, because Playboy really wanted to do a Neuroscience spread."

I opened my mouth, but the words didn't come out. I paused and sighed.

Part of me wanted to be a total bitch to express how ridiculous his question was. "Well Dr. X., I am just disappointed that they won't be taking more tissue and that the scar won't be larger. I'm really looking forward to the nipple discoloration and the inability to breast feed on that side. That will be great if I ever have twins!"

I opened my mouth, but then felt bad and stopped. As much as I complain about the lack of empathy and personal connection in the medical field, it would be wrong of me to wield my sword-like tongue.

Part of me, the exhausted and defeated me, wanted to answer him with my new beaten-down-catch phrase. "Well, it is what it is".

That's what I said.

Forget that I've been sitting around on standby for a chance at having my boob made into a pancake in the procedure that they deceivingly call a mammogram. Mammogram sounds so pleasant--like candy-gram or song-gram. It kind of has the tone of being a mommie-gram if you think that Latin root for mother is Mammo. Listen, they stopped teaching Latin in most schools decades ago, so many people have to improvise.

Forget that I haven't been able to work because I've been on standby, waiting to leave at a moments notice when a cancellation comes up. When I say standby, I mean standby. I won't even fly standby because it's such a waste of my time--why on earth would I want to wait around without deodorant on just in case I have to hop on over to the boobie-IHOP. You do what you have to do is this world of overbooking, I guess.

Forget that the mammogram itself is useless in someone my age because you can't see anything in dense tissue. I've had two ultrasounds that have come up negative so what was the point of doing a mammogram?

I would have been able to swallow this all down if Dr. X had not said "I don't know why we did a mammogram, it's really useless in someone your age--I'm sorry we wasted so much of your time". No shit, Dr. X. I have a computer and know how to use the internet; I knew all of this before I spent the last three days waiting to be squished and squashed and felt up by strangers.

OK, that's fine--I can actually live with that. What really got me is that after I explained, "Well, Dr. Z wanted a mammogram and another ultrasound just to see if maybe we could find the lump and avoid the surgery--it looks like surgery is now our only option", Dr. X decided to say "Yeah, so how do you feel about that?" I wanted to kick him really hard to bruise his testicle and then ask him "Yeah, so how do you feel about that?". How would you like to be Dr. One Nut?

So, let me fill in the gaps if you haven't pieced it all together already. A couple of months ago, when I mentioned that I was waiting for results and that I was "melting inside", I was actually waiting to see if the lump in my chest was a cyst or a solid mass. The evening that my husband had to go to the emergency room, I found the lump--what crappy timing. Actually, it was my dog that found the lump making the money that we pump into him for his shots and expensive organic dog food totally worth it.

So, the is a solid mass. Most likely, given my age and my family history, it is not cancer. The fact that we can't find it using ultrasound is a really, really good sign. I'm actually not afraid of it being cancer since I have statistics on my side. A million people go through this--none of you need to worry, I promise.

Because the lump is hard and attached to my breast tissue, it has to be taken out. If we could locate it using ultrasound, we could biopsy it without cutting me open, but I'm having no such luck right now.

So, how do I feel about it, you may be wondering. I think more than anything, I'm upset that it's just one more thing to occupy my time and slow down my thesis. My lab is a mess, my relationship with one of my mentors is miserable, and I spend every waking (and sleeping) moment feeling like I'm just not going to be able to keep my head above water for one minute longer. Because I don't feel like it will be anything other than a non-cancerous growth, I'm extremely agitated over the whole circus called my left breast.

Bad boob...bad, bad boob.

If you put "que sera, sera" on depressants you get "it is what it is". The two are similar, but not the same.

Friday, September 09, 2005

You caffeine freaks

I found this over at Successful Academic/Academic Coach. Now we just have to figure out if the amount of caffeine we need to consume to fight cancer is less than the amount that will kill us.

Here's what I got:

You could drink 226.20 cups of Starbucks Tall Caffe Latte before croaking.

In my defense, I do not drink Starbucks acid-wash coffee, but they didn't have the brand I drink. Thankfully, I can not afford that much caffeine. Being poor may just save my life yet, or, I guess, it might kill me with cancer. This is why scientists go crazy. Data aren't gray--they are both black and white.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

I wish I could be a cartoon

I like making cartoon images of myself because it's really hard to not look pretty when you are a cartoon. They don't give any options for ugly features, and they make sure that you are always skinny. You can make one here (I found this thru Bright star and Russian violet).Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Meal Deal Rip Offs

I'm always really carefully to add up meal-deals and restaurant specials to make sure the "special" price is actually cheaper than the sum of the individual prices. You would be surprised at how often you are getting ripped off. You would not be surprised at how confused the server/cashier gets when you try to explain why you don't want the meal deal/special but instead want everything in the meal deal/special.

You can thus imagine how my brain waves spiked in horror at this violation of the deal promise. Look to the left, and you will see that things just don't add up.

"Return my lover" is 24.95 and "break them up" is 24.95, but, if you want to order a "return my lover and break them up" it's 59.90. I won't even get into all of the other problems with their pricing (like why would you pay 59.90 to "make me irresistible" when you can pay 49.90 to "make him/her want me"?).

This is what I'm doing with my great big brain right now. No, I'm not fighting diseases--I'm fighting the Man.

Nasty Old Cells

I really don't think we can ride the fence on this anymore. You can not say you are for stem cell research but that you feel we should use the stem cells we already have without producing new stocks. As cells divide, they accumulate errors. When undergraduate, Joe Schmoe, forgets to check the incubator and lets the cells get a little anoxic, genomes are damaged. When Chatty Cathy lab tech or graduate student is working with the cells, she may accidently sneeze into them, causing havoc. Cells with genomic alterations are no longer doing the same things that our normal cells are and are thus inappropriate for studying and definitely not good for transplantation. At some point, these cells are going to be nasty-little-cancer tablets waiting to happen.

I don't believe we are going to see Parkinson's cured tomorrow with this technology, nor do I believe we will reverse Alzheimer's anytime soon. I know many people who are working with stem cells, and their data are as promising (or not) as you want them to appear--sometimes it works other times, not so much. I do believe we need to think about these issues now for when we are ready for the technology transfer to happen, though. If you are against stem cell research that's fine--just don't ride the fence like our mindless, robotic politicians.

Sometimes It's OK Not to Be An Individual

Theresa Crout: The Human Helix

We are told in this country that we should be unique, that we are individuals moving forward according to our own free will, and that is how it is supposed to be.

Sometimes it's OK to be a part of something bigger. Sometimes it's OK to work in tandem, to not only care about your neighbor but to actual try to be your neighbor.

I just wanted to get that out this morning. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Hot Dogs Rule

There's hope for my hotdog stand yet. Just wait until you sink your mouth into my caramelized onion- and goat cheese-stuffed wiener.

From the Associated Press via

"Could the salt that preserves hot dogs also preserve your health?

Scientists at the National Institutes of Health think so. They’ve begun infusing sodium nitrite into volunteers in hopes that it could prove a cheap but potent treatment for sickle cell anemia, heart attacks, brain aneurysms, even an illness that suffocates babies."

We'll forget all of the bad things about hotdogs for right now because we need a little hope and happiness. No bad karma for today.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Well, it wasn't cursing

If you all didn't watch the hurricane relief concert, you missed a wonderful mishap resulting from the dynamics of live broadcasts.

Kanye West decided that he was not going to read the script. He decided he was going to point out that the government's help was too late in coming and that it is unacceptable that they are pointing guns at the people of New Orleans as if they were in Iraq. Mike Myers kept a straight face and kept reading his lines as though nothing was happening--what a pro. Kanye then went on to finish his bit by saying "George Bush doesn't care about black people".

Apparently, the editors were only looking for curse words so they didn't notice Kanye had diverted from his script. I noticed after about 30 sec, but maybe they wanted him to say what he did because it is what a lot of us are thinking right now. He's an angry rapper who already hated GWs; what did they expect?

You really missed something.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Something Different: Using your fingers correctly

Should you make your baby into a signing freak?

There's a reason why children who were forced to take spanish classes, math tutorials, and riding lessons when they were 3-years old don't grow up to be brilliant geniuses. There's a reason why playing Mozart to your belly button doesn't cause a baby Bill Gates to pop out of your womb.

Normal brain development is controlled by tightly-regulated-genetic signals and codes. Although there is room for plasticity, your ability to control your child's cognitive outcome is limited. If you think about it, there is a significant evolutionary reason for why this is so. If every environmental trigger had the capacity to drastically alter brain development, the likelihood of things going wrong would increase and endanger the survival of the species.

This is not to say that you can't bring a child who is working below their potential or who has brain abnormalities up to normal or above normal functioning. There are many ways to hijack systems or push systems to function normally when something has gone wrong. Many have seen your hard work pay off with your own children. Obviously, if your child has an impairment requiring them to sign as they mature, then starting early may be a good idea. If your child is "normal", however, I wonder about the cost versus benefit of such training. Most parents I know already non-verbally communicate with their infant, and children learn language by being exposed to it, by hearing it and being forced to use it. My concern is that focusing on non-verbal communication takes away from verbal skill development. Moreover, such training eats away at parents' funds; these lessons and books aren't free. Besides, aren't children supposed to be chewing on their fingers, releasing that viscous goo you find smeared on mommy's and daddy's work clothes? How can they sign and slime at the same time?

Loving your child and letting them be a child so they can develop on their own trumps over-zealous-parental-brain manipulation. I realize this isn't a very scientific analysis of the issue--I'm just feeling like keeping this on the non-hardcore side.

They Will Come

They have informed my local school districts to be expecting an influx of new students from the Gulf Coast because many of those residents have family in this area and, due to our proximity to centers that can be reliably be used as refugee centers, we will most likely receive a few hundred to a thousand refugees on top of that. The schools are taking students with no questions asked--they will not need identification or shot/birth records. I'm glad that they are thinking ahead.

If your area will be getting refugees, there are several ways you can help in addition to donations and housing. They will need psychologists for counseling and tutors for the children. There will be many ways to donate our time, so think outside of the box. There's a good chance that the government will drop these people off and it will be sink or swim afterwards.

Get your asses to the convention center

Less than a year ago, I had my Cafe Du Monde coffee and beignets on a bench outside the convention center in New Orleans. It's hard to believe what is happening right there, where I sat in luxury, as we speak. Why has relief not reached the convention center? Tony Zumbado from NBC news has spent the last two days begging for relief at the center--he has said over and over that there is no security threat in that area. The people went there because that was where they were told to go, and now FEMA and the local officials are acting like they didn't know anyone was there. Bullshit.

The convention center is a HUGE facility and is located in an area that has been video taped and surveyed a million times in the past few days. The French Quarter and Garden District are within walking distance to the convention center--it is in the heart of the city. People are fucking lying if they say they "didn't know the situation" at the convention center. We'll send 18-year olds into Iraq, but we won't send them in to provide relief? Apparently, Presedential ego is more important than the lives of disposable citizens.

Yesterday, a helicopter dropped off two loads of supplies, but then never came back. The roads are clear to the center, and there are several large parking lots where relief centers can be established. Harry Connick Jr went to the convention center with Tony, and he was not attacked or mobbed. If they claim the choppers didn't come back because of safety reasons they are lying again. I understand the safety concerns when you are dealing with choppers and mobs--I have two friends who fly helicopters for the military. I also understand that there are methods of making safe drops that could have been applied in this situation. Why didn't they come back?

A random resident of New Orleans named Duane has become the convention center Messiah. He walked in the heat to the satellite trucks knowing that the media was his only hope. He convinced Tony Zumbado to go to the convention center yesterday instead of the Superdome where Tony was assigned to do a piece. Duane alone has been leading this group of desperate people, trying to get them help. Tony reports that this man can part crowds at the Center and that he silenced the mobs so that the video footage could be taken. This one man can get thousands of people under control--what the hell is wrong with FEMA and the rest of the officials? Duane got on the news this morning with Tony and guaranteed the safety of relief workers--this man offered to ride with officials and shield them if that was what it took to get help. They are only asking for food, water, and the evacuation of the elderly. They are not asking for a night at the Hilton.

I vote Duane for president.

I hate feeling so helpless.

I hate when people lie to cover their asses.

Several sites are trying to set up housing between refugees and people having room to spare.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Please Donate

You can also provide temporary housing if you have extra space. I don't know how the state/federal government is going to coordinate relocating, but at least we can make some housing available.

ps: I just read that Fats Domino is missing. This type of event is going to change all of our lives, whether we are willing to admit it yet or not.Posted by Picasa

Do it Now

I want you to do it. It's just two, simple things that will take less than 5 min. You don't have to read my post, just click on the links.

First, read this (thanks Geeky Mom):
Disjointed thoughts on the socio-economics of disaster

Now, my thoughts:

A few years ago, a hurricane swept through my area, blowing over a huge, ancient oak tree that destroyed our house. Brother2 and my friend were staying with us that day because we had decided our house was the safest given the extreme weather conditions. We had all just gone to bed when we heard a noise that we will never forget--the sound of a several tons of solid weight landing on the roof and breaking through into the house. There was then some crackling and tree branches came through the ceiling. Brother2 came flying (almost literally) into my bedroom looking terrified and confused. The gigantic tree had crashed through our attic and then through our ceiling into our living room and part of my bedroom. The little house held, though, and the branches had stopped right above where Brother2 was sleeping.

We packed up our wedding photos and insurance information while Brother2 and my friend tried to cover furniture with plastic bags. We drove through the hurricane, avoiding downed power lines and debris, to my brother's apartment. We couldn't sleep for days--we were homeless and in shell shock, and I cried every 5 min.

Our renters insurance paid for us to live in a hotel. I remember being so depressed at our situation--feeling so bad for myself. There are few thing in life that are more heart breaking than losing your home in a matter of seconds.

As I watch the news, I know that what I felt on that day was nothing like what Gulf Coast residents are feeling right now. Many of these people had nothing before the storm in the eyes of your average American--now they have less than nothing. In a town that has a sense of community stronger than any city I've ever spent time in, New Orleans has been stripped of the few things it could always count on--neighborhood, friends, home. Right now as we blog, people are clinging to their rooftops, baking on the interstate, and wading through human waste and dead bodies in the streets and in the Superdome. Some had to listen to their neighbors drowning--many have had to watch bodies of their friends float by.

I just donated to the Red Cross. We all say we want to help and that we are going to do it, but often we never get around to it. It took me exactly 1 min and 30 sec to make an online donation. I know none of you are rich (well, I'm assuming most of you aren't), but I also know that we all have more than the people of New Orleans do now.

Second: Do this please: Click here to Donate