Tuesday, May 31, 2005

For the Dog Lovers

If you haven't figured it out already, I really love my Boston Terrier. For 28-years, I made fun of people who LOVED their dogs. I've had dogs before (farm dogs, but still dogs), and I've never had more than a passing fancy for them. Then, one day, my husband and I stumbled across Oscar. Now, I can't imagine life without him.

Regardless, in searching for some Boston sites, I came across this very cute dog blog. It's different from some other dog blogs in that the author is incredibly funny and perceptive. Even if you really aren't interested, I implore you to read this and this. They are really short--go ahead, try them. If you like them, read this one also. You won't be sorry.

Short Films at Amazon

If you haven't checked it out already, Amazon.com is hosting a short-film competition. You can go on their site, watch the films, and rate each one. I just watched "Fragile" (it's about 6 min long). Go there and be entertained.

It is what it is

Family time away from the lab means that I have time to do "fun" things, like watch TV programs detailing the end of the world.

Apparently, the Bible Code predicts that an asteroid will hit the earth in the year 2012, destroying everything. Now, in the code next to this prediction, it also says that God may try to save us, but that part isn't real clear.

Even though the Bible Code has other accurate historical details in it, I usually wouldn't worry about such a prediction. It's hard to forget about, however, that pesky Mayan calendar prediction that the world will end (or change drastically), quite coincidently, in 2012.

The good news is that now I don't have to worry so much about not having a retirement fund. It also means I can stop worrying about the whole "peak oil" thing.

Another up-side of the world ending in 2012 is that, according to the prophet, VP Dick Cheney, the Iraq war will end by 2009. This means we really will get to see the war end before we die.

I hope that I've made you all feel better about everything.

Here are some more predictions about the end of the world.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Time Out

I will soon be off to visit the in-laws where I'm sure to gain 10-lbs. My mother-in-law equates expressing her love with feeding her kids--she loves us ALOT. She also believes that everything is better with butter. My arteries hurt all ready, but I feel warm fuzzies in my behind where my saddle-bag cells are already celebrating. They love my mother-in-law.

I will also be spending the next 3-days trying to figure out how I can clearly articulate the link I'm trying to draw between known-cancer-sucesptibility factors and their role in neuronal function and/or death after insults to the brain. The problem is that once we identify proteins that cause/impact a disease such as cancer, it is hard to get into people's brains and switch their gears. It's tricky making them see these factors having roles in other disease states and cell types. Everything in your body is so multidimensional-- it's amazing. We'll see if the reviewers buy it...

I'll see you when I get back!

Pregnant Mothers Beware

Associated Press via CNN.com:

"A manmade ingredient of many plastics, cosmetics and other consumer products may be interfering with prenatal male sexual development, new research suggests.

A study of 85 infant boys found a correlation between increased exposure to some forms of the chemical phthalate and smaller penis size and incomplete testicular descent.

It is the first time phthalate has been shown to influence the sexual development of human males."

Hollaback Girl

I am going to play "Hollaback Girl" by Gwen Stefani 100 times this morning. I am then going to dream about saying the following to the Jerk:

"So that's right dude, meet me at the bleachers
No principals, no student-teachers
Both of us wanna be the winner, but there can only be one
So I'm gonna fight, gonna give it my all
Gonna make you fall, gonna sock it to you
That's right, I'm the last one standing, another one bites the dust"

I am then going dream about standing on my desk, swinging my tubes of brains around my head, screaming:

"This shit is bananas
B-A-N-A-N-A-S"


And, since this won't really happen, I will dream that my rats are sitting next to me singing:
"This my shit, this my shit"

If I don't feel better about the situation, about this caustic environment, I'm going to put in my "songs of death" playlist featuring Megadeath, Metallica, and AC DC. I don't like to bring out the big guns, but sometimes you have to stand up for yourself...even if you can only do it passive aggressively.

Where credit is due

There are several people in my life who inspired me to become who I am today. My family, of course, would be at the top of my list, followed by some tremendous teachers I had through the years. There are a few people on the list, however, who I have never physically met. Even though I do not know these people, they have shaped my life and molded my character, and I am forever indebted to them.

Shel Silverstein is one of those people. Thank you Mr. Silverstein...thank you. I look forward to your new book.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The state of my family's livers

Aunt Susan has taken over for Trisha while Trisha is away. Her post inspired me, so I thought I would share a little about my adventures in an alcoholic family too.

The most vivid alcohol memories I have center around family reunions and weddings (Budweiser made a killing every summer in my town). My first encounter with the liquid evil was at such a gathering, a family reunion for my mother's side of the family.

I was around 6-years old, and the day was hot and humid, causing you to stick to everything you touched. Even though my great-aunt Mary had a habit of getting confused (she's now been diagnosed with alzheimer's), she was put in charge of the watermelons for the family reunion. It was a seemingly easy assignment: hollow them both out and fill one with vodka and one with juice (for the kids). Since the adults were already lit, however, no one realized that Aunt Mary switched the melons. No one noticed the children behaving oddly. As I said, it was hot, and children tend to chug. When we all started throwing up as if the Ebola virus had swept through town, my mother (who, thankfully did not get lit often) put the puzzle pieces together and removed the offending melon.

I'd like to say it never happened again, but there was the time my cousin forgot to label the punch bowels at the pig roast (yes, people have pig roasts). Then there was the wedding where the guests didn't think to keep the kids out of the orange juice fountain containing peach schnapps....I think I was drunk more as a child than I was as a college student.

At last year's reunion, my cousin wanted to pass around a container to collect money for bailing her son out of jail (he was in for either drug possession or failure to pay child support; I can't keep track). The only boxes we could find were Coors boxes--how classy.

Somehow, my parents managed to break free of the cycle for the most part. Luckily, my brothers and I have also managed not to go down that road. I still get worried sometime when school gets tough and I find myself cooking with wine for more than 3-consecutive days. It's just so hard not to pour a glass or two (or three on really bad days) when the bottle is just sitting there on the counter, staring at me.

I guess you could say that watching your family kill themselves can save your life. At least it gives me something to talk about.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Bovine Spermatogenesis and Dung Beetles

So, you may be perplexed by the title of this post. Yes, I study the brain. Yes, I study neurological disorders. Yes, I study rats.

Then why, you may ask, did I just spend 4 hours reading papers on sperm and spermatogenesis, including several papers that investigated bovine (cow) spermatogenesis?

Because, that is what science is. Research involves spending a lot of time reading, analyzing, and trying to make connections among things that are seemingly unrelated. Many times the answer to your question is already out there. You just have to think outside of the box and find it.

This is why I say a lot of random shit. This is why no one will let me play quiz games with them. It is not that I'm some genius (because I'm definitely not)--I just have to learn a lot of information for any given hypothesis, and I have a lot of hypotheses.

My sister-in-law asked me one time if I have a random fact generator in my brain that forces me to blurt out all sorts of bizarre things, making connections that are often weird or obscure during seemingly normal conversations. I guess the answer is yes. I know a lot of random stuff because I read a lot of random stuff. I spending hours every day reading, reading until my eyes dry out and my head screams for me to stop. All those facts just sit up there, waiting to come out at the right (or sometimes wrong) moment.

So when my husband says that someone was as "slow as a snail", I'm thinking "slow as an 8-foot-wide turd". Then I'm thinking how a turd could get that wide, what condition may cause such an event, and what the physiological outcome would be should such a turd come to pass (pun totally intended). Then, I think of dung beetles rolling such a find into a ball, and how many dung beetles it would take to push that ball. Then I'm thinking of the male competition rituals among dung beetles, and how they war for their mates. I'm then remembering an article I read (7-years ago) on how male-dung beetles guard their females in tunnels, but sometimes sneaky-pervert males (who are smaller and who don't have big-ass horns like the "guard males") sneak in and do the nasty with the female while her "spouse" isn't looking. Ooo, then I remember coming across this site (very funny reading) not so long ago. Then my husband asks me why I am smiling because his story was really not funny, and he was really stressed and needed some comfort. Of course I couldn't explain why I was smiling and what I was thinking; there is a limit to how insane I'm allowed to be.

So, if you want to know anything about spermatogenesis (or dung beetles)--I can officially answer your questions as of today.

We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Catfish

This is why I don't swim in rivers, ponds, or lakes. Have you ever caught a catfish? Do you have any idea how gross they are? They will try to eat you...oh, they are sneaky little bastards.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Caffeine and Sleep in Children

In honor of my caffeine fetish today:

This study shows a link between behavior problems and caffeinated-soda intake in children. Note that these data were presented in abstract form (American Psychiatric Association, 158th annual meeting. Abstract #NR45); I'm not sure if they have been published in a journal yet.

The most important quote from this article was:

The study shows why it is so important to completely evaluate young children who are having behavioral and emotional problems, and to review the child's dietary habits, including caffeinated beverages, as part of the evaluation," Dr. Fassler said. Although questions about caffeine consumption are typically part of the screen for anxiety disorders, pediatric insomnia, and ADHD, the findings are a reminder not to neglect this part of the evaluation.

I would like to add that sleep disturbances, which have also been shown to influence behavioral and learning problems, should be evaluated in children.

Several convincing studies have demonstrated that a portion of children who have behavioral problems, including ADD and ADHD, or who qualify for learning disabled programs have sleep-associated gas exchange abnormalities (such as sleep apnea). Dr. David Gozal, at the U of Louisville, has shown that early intervention can eliminate some of the learning deficits, improving behavior and minimizing IQ loss.

If you know a child who has behavioral or learning problems, it definitely wouldn't hurt to check out their diets and their sleep.


Murder in Africa

A few days ago, I posted this.

Now, there's this:

From Reuters via CNN.com:

"A woman is killed by her intimate partner in South Africa every six hours. This is the highest rate (8.8 per 100,000 female population 14 years and older) that has ever been reported in research anywhere in the world," the study says.

It's all so very sad.

Google, Neurons, and Red Bull

Inside my brain right now:

Do you know Google is based on a neural network?

Have you ever tried Google Scholar to find information on diseases/disorders?

Somewhere in Florida, 25,000 disembodied rat neurons are thinking about flying an F-22.

More on neural networks

Do you know that there was a study done to determine the effects of combining Red Bull and alcohol?

Do you know you shouldn't drink Red Bull or related drinks if you have renal problems?

I hate Red Bull

Caffeine

If your urine smells like a Starbucks, it may be time to pop a sleeping pill.

Monday, May 23, 2005

For the Big Decision Makers

Since I know all this cloning and stem cell stuff gets confusing, I thought I'd suggest the following sites for the people in charge (I think G-Dubs was the target audience for these clips):

Cloning
Dolly the Sheep

The PhD for me

Your PhD: Get it online.

Then you can call yourself "doctor" and write books that foolish people will buy and be on T.V. giving shallow advice.

Why didn't I think of this sooner?

Nicky Hilton

From Jess

Take the quiz: "Which Celebrity It Girl are You?"

Nicky
You are Nicky Hilton. Your sweet sophisticated and smart. You know what you want out of life and you aren't gonna let anything stop you. You have your eyes set on that prize don't you? We get that your determined....but you seem so cold. Loosen up a bit!


Great, I'm the weird looking sister.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Las Mujeres de Juarez

I've always been drawn to the impact of culture and politics on women's issues in Latin American countries. So many women in Latin America are imprisoned and tortured (often with our government's sponsorship) or raped and murdered without investigation that it's surprising we don't hear more about it in our press. I guess it's only considered "terrorism" when it's done by non-U.S.-sponsored dictators. Or maybe we truly just don't give a damn about you unless you are our version of a "somebody".

Oh sure, we run around with our Tsunami bracelets and breast cancer pins, and "Oh, my God did you hear about Jen and Brad?"--we are an empathetic bunch of martyrs if you haven't noticed. It's not that the causes we believe in and support aren't important; it's just that we shouldn't forget causes not in the lime-light, those that aren't part of pop culture and current trends. We watched the news give 24-hr coverage for several days of the runaway bride case, but how much time have they devoted to real women's issues? How much time have we spent demanding that the real issues be heard?

I wrote a couple of articles on the topic many years ago, but I've been out of the loop for some time. This article, however, sparked the fire in my heart again:

By Erin Mosley:

"Susan Plum is challenging the Mexican government’s massive failure to effectively investigate and halt the killing spree in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, which has taken the lives of more than 370 women in the past 12 years. Plum, an artist who lives and works in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, has decided to shed light on the mysterious string of female abductions and murders—one candle at a time."

You can read more by visiting the link above.

To learn more: here and here

For your reading pleasure

First, here's some good news: Florida girl found alive!

Now, here's my animal/research dedication:

Move over Bob Vila: These chimps carry tool sets
Smart Farm Animals (although we farmers have known this for quite some time)
Monkeys dig "celebrities"
Animals should be able to sue

And, finally, hop on over to this link (thanks to PK). This girl rocks! Just like Alysha Cosby's decision to walk at graduation against the school's orders, Karen Scherr's decision reflects a level of maturity and strength deserving of national attention. I hope these girls are rewarded for their courage.

Friday, May 20, 2005

the 3's

Thanks Trish:
Here are my 3's:

3 names I go by:
Yo mama (as in "your mama" or "Yo, mama" depending on where I'm walking at the time)
Baby (the metro driver, fed ex guy, and janitor call me baby--I don't know why)
Hon

3 screen-names I've had:
SFTR
masonblue
Bush (no relation to W)

3 physical things I like about myself:
my nose
my waist
my arms

3 physical things I dislike about myself:
my legs
my hairline
my shelf-ass

3 parts of my heritage:
Lithuanian
Welsh
German

3 things I am wearing right now:
long sleeve shirt that says "snow bunny" (I know it's May--I'm poor and have no clothes) underneath my short sleeved, rainbow Burton shirt
blue jeans that used to not be so tight
granny panties (it's Friday)

3 favorite bands / musical artists: To limit it to three is evil, but I'll do it
Cold Play
Johnny Cash
Pink Floyd

3 favorite songs:
Folsom Prison Blues or Hurt--can't decide (Johnny)
Wish you were here (Pink Floyd)
Pictures of You (The Cure)

3 things I want in a relationship:
Head rubs
Laughter
Understanding...lots of understanding

3 physical things about the preferred sex that appeal to me:
eyes
body mass (I don't dig skinny boys)
smile

3 of my favorite hobbies:
reading
art in all forms (charcoal is my favorite)
knitting or crocheting half of something (finishing is not so fun)

3 things I want to do really badly right now:
Sleep
Make my tailbone (that I broke over a year ago) stop hurting
Pee

3 things that scare me:
prehistoric fish or demons (whichever I find first)
tornadoes
serial killers or sociopaths killing either me or my family

3 of my everyday essentials:
my laptop and it's 50lb laptop bookbag
salt
cheese

3 careers you have considered or are considering:
Soap opera actress/sketch comedian (same difference)
FBI or CIA profiler
Lawyer or psychiatrist (kind of same difference)

3 places you want to go on vacation:
Spain
Australia
Back to Costa Rica

3 kids' names you like:
Cameron
Kelsey
Giada

3 things you want to do before you die:
Tell everyone I'm sorry
Have a child
Write a book

3 ways I am stereotypically a boy:
I like to get into fist fights with large men when I drink
I'm a really good shot (with a gun)
I don't get grossed out...EVER

3 ways I am stereotypically a chick:
When I say "I'm fine", I really mean "I'm so pissed at you I could rip your head off, and I'm even more pissed that you are even asking--you obviously have no idea what you've done, which only infuriates me even more"
I cry a lot when no one is looking
I could spend a fortune on cosmetics if I had a fortune--ahh Sephora

3 celeb crushes:
Bruce Willis
Sean Connery
Alec Baldwin (just because he looks exactly like my husband--people have even asked my man for autographs...too funny)

3 people to play next: All the people I know have already played except for the following, I think. If you have already played--I'm sorry.

Muse
Jessica
God (I won't ask for verification, so whoever lurks out there can claim this spot)

Eating Disorders

Since I had a diet coke, sour patch kids, and Baked Lays for lunch (well, if you can call eating while you walk from point A to point B lunch), I thought I'd share this sight with you. Note that there is a link on the right side for people who would like to participate in an NIMH study. If you have several family members suffering from Anorexia, you should look into participating. All you have to do is fill out some forms and donate a blood sample.

Another link you might want to check out: One Angry Girl Designs.
Check out her T-shirts; there are some cute ones.

The Dark Ages

I'm proud of this girl. What on earth was the reasoning behind not letting her walk at her own graduation? She earned the right to graduate, and, aside from the "I'm holier than thou" bullshit excuse, I'm not sure why the administration was being so ridiculous. I'm surprised they didn't try to ship her off to some mommy-to-be school.

From the Associated Press via CNN.com:

"Cosby was told in March that she could no longer attend school because of safety concerns, and her name was not listed in the graduation program."

Safety concerns? Not listed in the program?

But wait, it gets better:

"The father of Cosby's child, also a senior at the school, was allowed to participate in graduation."

I must now go vomit.

Accidental Murder

My baby boy, Oscar (my dog), accidently murdered a bird last night. My husband and Oscar were outside playing when Oscar stumbled upon two birds in the grass. When the birds took off, Oscar jumped up and caught one (you should see him catch flies--it's very Karate Kid).

I heard my husband yelling, so I looked out the window and saw Oscar prancing around the yard with this poor bird in his mouth. My husband finally managed to free the bird, but Oscar had done some major damage. I yelled out the window and asked if the bird was dead. Of course, unfortunately, it wasn't quite dead.

I came out of the house, in my PJs and with a baseball bat in hand, so that I could put the bird out of its misery. The poor little thing--I don't know how it was clinging to life. My huband had picked up a large log that he thought he could use to end things, and I had originally chosen the bat, but after a quick conversation, we settled on something that I believe was the most humane. As I mentioned in previous posts, this is one of my job's transferable skills.

Just as everything was coming to the final climax, our neighbor walks out and starts talking to us. You can picture it: my husband in his suit and tie with a large log and me in my PJs with a baseball bat crouching over something in our yard. We tried to play it off like nothing was happenning, but we really looked like two crazy people. On top of everything, my husband's hand and my ankle are still all messed up so it probably looks like we have started our own domestic-abuse-fight club. Needless to say, I'm pretty sure we now have another neighbor who definitely will never talk to us again.

In the end, everything was taken care of. I washed Oscar's face because I was afraid he had picked up lice or fleas from the bird (birds are so dirty). Poor Oscar knew something was wrong; he just sat there in his "I'm sorry" kind of way, with his little ears drawn back and his eyes all sad. I think we are going to have to clear the yard of all small animals before we let him out, from now on. Who would have thought that a 15lb Boston Terrier could be a killing machine?

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Educational Tip

This post from Pharyngula is soooooooo true.

The four classes that were indispensable for my success as a graduate student and scientist are:

Conversational Spanish: The Culture, Art, and Religions of South America
Marxism
American Politics: Writing for the Masses
The History and Philosophy of Neuroscience

Writing, public speaking, debating, divergent thinking....these are skills that you must have to move on to higher education and beyond.

Scissors are Evil

My poor husband.

Yesterday, he managed to cut off a very large chunk of his thumb with a pair of scissors. It was one of those freak accidents that you can't imagine happening until it actually does. He called me at work and asked if he should go to the hospital. I said no because I did not realize how bad the cut actually was. When he got home, however, I realized that his injury was borderline serious.

Husband: I think I cut down to the fat, maybe the bone.
Me: You didn't cu....Jesus Christ, you did hit the fat!
Husband: Do you think that I should go to the hospital?
Me: Did you keep the tissue?
Husband: It's at work--on my desk.
Me: It's on your desk!? Well, did you at least put it in saline or spit to keep the tissue moist and somewhat viable?
Husband: No, it's kind of dried up and crispy. How was I supposed to know what to do with it?
Me: Don't you watch those survival shows? Nevermind, they can't put it back together now. If your eye ever falls out, you had better put it in a cup of spit.
Husband: WTF?...Do you think I should get stitches?
Me: I'm pretty sure you took too much tissue out...We could go to the lab, and I could try to stitch it up, but I don't think it will work.
Brother: I'm calling my friend, Male Nurse.
Me: I'm telling you, I don't think we can do anything now (note: I am not a medical doctor). We just have to make sure we keep it clean and look out for infections.
Husband: You want to sew it with your rat-brain-surgery kit?
Me: Stitches are stitches. It would hurt like a MF though.
Husband: I just want it to stop bleeding.
Me: I can fix that, but it will hurt.
Husband: cigarette?
Me: No, I was thinking curling iron or frying pan.
Husband: No
Me: Wussy
Brother: Male Nurse says they can't do anything to it. Just keep it wrapped and clean. Make sure to watch out for infection.
Me: Told you so. I'm going to the store to see what first-aid stuff they have (we have a doggie first aid kit, but not a human one).
Husband: As long as it stops bleeding, it will be OK.
Me: Brother, what did dad do when he cut his finger-tip off the last time?
Husband: The last time?
Brother: He sewed it back on himself, although it looks like shit now.
Me: Fingers grow back, although your thumbprint is going to be jacked-up. At least it's your left hand.

Husband holds up wounded right thumb with one eyebrow raised

Me: Alright, whatever. You know how bad I am at the whole left-right thing.

The rest of the night was quite funny to watch. The two of us kept fighting over who should cook dinner and pour the wine. Then we fought over whether or not alcohol actually thins your blood. We couldn't decide which of us had the most debilitating injury. I think lost thumb tip beats gimp ankle, but he didn't agree. Brother1 ended up taking over the kitchen, so it all worked out.

I really feel bad for him; it's a bad wound. At least I'm used to dealing with post-operative care, even if it is in rats.

He has a test today for a job with a big financial firm. It's is going to suck answering all those questions with a jacked-up thumb. Poor thing.

I'm excited for him, though. I know he's going to blow them away. Someday that man is going to realize how brilliant he is, and then I'm going to lose all of my power. At least he'll be happy, and that will make me happy.

If the job thing doesn't work out, maybe he can get disability pay. Just kidding...

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Animal Rights Activists Out of Control

I would first like to stress that most animal rights activists are not crazy and do not behave like the group mentioned in this article. There is a need for animal rights advocacy, and the importance of such groups should not be underestimated. There are, however, individuals and groups who are out of control--the word terrorist in this article is not a stretch. Sadly, groups like the ALF often target the wrong people, destroying labs and property of individuals who aren't even involved with animal handling. Animal rights people need to crack down on this group, for the sake of maintaining the AR integrity.

From the Associated Press via MSN news:

ALF’s credo on its Web site claims the group “carries out direct action against animal abuse in the form of rescuing animals and causing financial loss to animal exploiters, usually through the damage and destruction of property.”

What I found more disturbing on their site is their detailed description of how to commit criminal acts (look under preparation).

For example, this statement:

"Be careful of using materials that will give away where you are from. For instance, if using newspapers in an arson attack far from home, using your local paper will be dead give-away. Wipe everything you are taking with you completely to remove fingerprints, in case anything is dropped or has to be left behind. You have to scrub hard to remove prints, and some soap or rubbing alcohol may help. Clean everything as if it is going to be left behind, since sooner or later something you didn't plan to leave will drop."


When you peruse their section on Lab Test FAQs, you begin to realize the people in charge of the ALF are not only volatile, but are also extraordinarily uneducated and ignorant about many forms of animal testing, especially pharmaceutical testing. There is nothing more frightening than ignorance plus hate.

The circus

Sometimes, my lab is a circus. You know how in "St. Elmo's Fire", Demi Moore's character lives a life of self-created drama. Yeah, that's a lot like what goes on in my lab (well, without the coke problem). I can't really say what's going on at this moment, but it's definitely out of control. On top of all the chaos, I somehow managed to sprain my ankle two days ago so I'm having trouble moving around. So you can picture it--lots of yelling, angry emails, crazy lab and protocol inspections, and me, hobbling around on my Stay Puft ankle. It's all so pathetic that you have to laugh your way through it.

The lesson that I've learned from this experience is that it's very important to set clear ground rules at the beginning of any mentor-mentee relationship. You must be your own advocate from day 1. Define what your roles and responsibilities are in terms of your program, your mentor, and the lab and what you want in return.

Picking a lab is one of the hardest choices one makes in graduate school, and, unfortunately, there is no perfect formula for making the right decision. All I can tell you is that people don't change. Before committing to any lab, do your research. Talk to people in the lab and people who used to be in the lab. Look at publications coming out of the lab and how successful the lab has been in attaining funding. Look at how many students have been in the lab, how many years it took those students to finish (if they finished), and where the students went after finishing their theses. Think about the mentor's background, personality, and culture and how you fit in to the picture. Also, it is important to observe how the mentor treats others associated with the department, from administrators to vendors.

I wish there was a way to know beforehand how things will turn out...good luck.

Today, I think I will learn to juggle.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Headlines that Caught My Eye

If you are bored or procrastinating, here are some articles I found interesting this morning:

Nicotine vaccine helps smokers to quite
Accidental Discovery : Revlimid may help combat MDS (myelodysplastic syndrome)
Thousands Secretly Sterilized in North Carolina
Mount Rushmore: The Other Side of the Story
Newsweek article spurrs riots in Afghanistan

Messing With Me

I'm sorry if you all couldn't access my site over the weekend, not that you were missing out on anything. I somehow angered Blogger or God or maybe both. Some people believe that you can not anger inanimate objects, but those people have no idea what they are saying. I've angered tables and chairs and computers, lots of computers. This morning I angered my coffee mug, and it retaliated by spewing all over my laptop bag. I had to use brute force to defend myself because if you let objects get the upper hand, they'll walk all over you...looks like I need a new mug though.

Thank you PK for checking up on me. In my "what to do if I die" letter, I do have instructions for my family on how to let my readers (all 2 of you) know that I won't be posting too much anymore. When you anger everything and everyone around you, you have to watch your back and cover all of your bases. My letter also instructs my friends and family to not inform my lab of my demise. I want to see how long it takes them to figure it out on their own. My mentor is going to feel like such an ass after he sends out a thousand angry emails demanding that I reply. Call it my last hoorah if you will...

My dog did not kill himself on Friday, although he did manage to eat the cat's heating pad. I'm pretty sure that he'll live, but potty time is going to be rough.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Friday the 13th

My dog likes to eat plastic clothing hangers. I don't know where he finds them; it's as if he has some radar for the hangers that randomly fall behind the bed or get knocked down in the closet.

His head is little, about baseball size, and it fits in the center of the hanger, but, for some reason, my dog has a hard time getting his head back out of the hanger. I keep turning around this morning to find him decked out with a hanger necklace and running around like a crack addict, shaking his head wildly to free himself from his plastic noose. Since I get a little paranoid on Friday the 13th, I am positive he is somehow going to hang himself, sending me into my final depressive espisode.

I've removed 3 hangers so far, and I've looked everywhere to make sure there aren't any more lying around.

Guess what he's just run by with? Apparently, he's moved on to plastic bags.

I can't wait until this day is over.

Ban the Flavor for the Kid's Sake

Do they not teach problem solving skills in schools anymore? Is this what standardized testing has done to our society?

Congress is considering to ban flavored cigarettes. The rationale is that since more young people are smoking flavored cigarettes than older people, the flavoring might specifically target/appeal to teens, causing an increase in teen smoking.

Associated Press via CNN.com:

"These are designed to attract younger smokers," said Michael Bopp of the American Cancer Society. "We don't want to see a product introduced that will give back the gains we've made in this state in reducing teenage smoking.""

Yes, targeting the flavor will obviously prevent increases in teen smoking. WTF???

My problem solving skills have come to a different conclusion.

Maybe the problem with cigarettes is that nicotine is more addictive than heroine. That's a scientific fact.

Maybe teenagers start smoking because they are stressed, have access to some money, are influenced by their peers and celebrities, and/or are into making their own decisions. Teens try a lot of things that aren't being marketed. How do you explain that? I don't see big E adds in Teen People.

Maybe fewer people over the age of 25 smoke flavored cigarettes than the number of teens, not because the flavoring targets teens, but because people have a label/brand loyalty to the particular cigarrette that they first tried. Did you ever notice that people who smoke Reds in the hardpack NEVER smoke V. Slims in the hard pack and get annoyed if they have to buy Reds in the soft pack, no matter what the price difference is? This is a social science fact. By the time you are 25, you are probably smoking the brand you will smoke when you are 85, and you most likely are not going to try something different. Do you know how hard it is to get a 25-year old to switch from Coke to Pepsi?

It's what one calls a Red Herring. Read some Sherlock Holmes.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

New rodent found

Maybe we will find old Nessie some day. If we can find new creatures like this, anything is possible. I resent the comment that "it diverged from other rodents millions of years ago". How do they know that God didn't just make it that way? Maybe God was bored a few months ago and decided to plop this bugger down in Laos. Maybe it's supposed to be the new white meat...I'm just joking--all this talk of evolution versus creationism and/or intelligent design must have short-circuited my wiring.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Mandatory Viewing: Superbrain verus Above-average Brain

You must watch this clip from the Discovery Channel show on Daniel Tammet.

From ScienceChannel.com:

"Daniel Tammet is a "super brain". He can calculate numbers to hundreds of decimal points in seconds and learn new languages in a week. Through a set of challenges against other "super brains," Daniel's amazing cognitive abilities are demonstrated".

I'm not sure what entertained me more: the researcher's creepy delight over "tricking" Daniel (note the nerdy, evil-scientist snickers) or Daniel's jab back at the researcher at the very end (the reading comment). One of the most important lessons that I've ever learned in life: Never mess with someone who is smarter than you.

Blah

Things that make me go blah:

Catching the grill on fire and having to spend 20 min peeling black funk off of my chicken satay

Cleaning up the water I spilled on the floor as I ran to put out the fire (this was no average grill fire)

Falling out of my chair and re-injuring my previously broken tailbone because I get really bad vertigo when I use the fluorescent microscope

Having to sit through a ridiculous talk on a student's horribly constructed face recognition study-- where is the mentorship, people?

Having what sure felt like a heart attack while I was trying to mount my slides, causing me to destroy one of my samples (Note to self: get that checked)

Having to write another abstract--it's due tomorrow

Losing my bus money when I pulled my keys out of my pocket

Realizing that we may overdraw our account if the check doesn't go through in time

Blah, Gag, Blah

How would you feel?

If you didn't catch the PBS special that I posted about yesterday, you should really watch this.

His physician could at least get his age correct.

Many of you have expressed frustration over your therapist's methods and/or problems with your medications. Thankfully, you have the benefit of being able to change therapists. You also have the privilege to discontinue medications making you feel "bad" or to ask for different types of medications. Most likely you are not suffering from any type of head trauma-related brain damage, as this man very well may be. Current medications are not extremely effective at treating brain damage-related neurosis and, in some cases, may exacerbate agitation and anxiety.

The only thing that has kept brother1 from being mistreated (in some cases abused) and improperly medicated in the last few years has been family involvement. His psychiatrists, like those associated with the jail system, medicate and treat patients a bit differently than a private doctor paid premium bank to treat suberbia folks. Some of the reasons for the differential treatment are warranted, others, however, are not. There is some truth in Fabian's accusations; unfortunately, however, he does not have the benefit of family advocacy. Imagine trying to get "well" if you were separated from friends and family, often left shackled in isolation. Imagine being on drugs that made you "feel" worse. Imagine having no control over how you were treated, how you were addressed by those around you, or how you lived. Imagine having to sit before a panel of strangers (who are not even physically present) and explain why you do not want to continue treatment because the drugs make you feel bad, knowing that this panel is going to make a determination of whether or not you will be forced to take those same meds. Imagine not having one person by your side who you completely trust.

I'm not pointing fingers; I just want everyone to think about how they would feel, how they would react, if they were in Fabian's shoes. I wish I knew how we could fix this. I wish I could use the money being used on guns and submarine maintenance (because they are so useful in the desert) and on the wasteful luxuries of the rich and famous (diamond dog collars) and the time being spent on ridiculous legislations (gay marriage, etc.) to fix this mess.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Warning: Explicit Lyrics

"suck my ass motherfucker asshole sunava bich"

This is what a bright yet seemingly stressed ESL (English as a Second Language) student did during computer time. Not bad for a 6-year old; I couldn't have said it better myself. Teacher X is having a hard time thinking of a good punishment, because he believes, as do I, that even 6-year olds have days like these. Secretly, Teacher X and I laughed because we are bad grown-ups. The student also hit print quite a few times, so we have hard copies if you'd like them.

Prisons: Our New Asylums?

Tonight, on PBS's Frontline: The New Asylums

Excerpt from their website:

"There are nearly half a million mentally ill people serving time in America's prisons and jails. As sheriffs and prison wardens become the unexpected and ill-equipped gatekeepers of this burgeoning population, they raise a troubling new concern: are jails and prisons America's new asylums? With exclusive and unprecedented access to prison therapy sessions, mental health treatment meetings, crisis wards, and prison disciplinary tribunals, FRONTLINE goes deep inside Ohio's state prison system to present a searing exploration of the complex and growing topic of mental health behind bars and a moving portrait of the individuals at the center of this issue."

Oh my god, this breaks my heart:

"Within six days of being paroled in 2000, inmate Sigmon Clark, a paranoid schizophrenic, was rearrested for robbery. "Six days with $75 in my pocket. Fare the best way you can, man. We done took twelve years out of your life, and you're mentally ill...do what you can for yourself," Clark tells FRONTLINE."

Check out Bazelon.org to help.

Sexual Brain Differences

A few days ago, I mentioned some data concerning brain differences between homosexual and heterosexual men. Although this study has been criticised for it's scientific value by some conservatives, I think we can all see what type of impact studies such as these will have socially. I hope that one day we will accept each other for who we are and stop trying to mold the behavior of those around us to fit our own religious philosophies.

Reuters via CNN.com:

"In contrast to heterosexual men, and in congruence with heterosexual women, homosexual men displayed hypothalamic activation in response to AND," Savic's team wrote.

And a region of the brain called the anterior hypothalamus responded most strongly -- an area that in animals "is highly involved in sexual behavior".

But other smells were processed the same in all three groups."

This study was published in this week's PNAS.

Autism Test

Although this study has scientific merit and advances our knowledge of autism, please don't get too excited regarding it's actual impact on diagnosing autism per se. Many neurological disorders (autism, schizophrenia, depression, etc.) have been hypothesized to have some immunological component. I'm not convinced that we will be able to use immune system markers to differentiate among the various disorders linked to infection and/or autoimmune abnormalities using today's technology. Maybe in the future this will be possible, but I don't want anyone getting their hopes up too soon.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Please don't

To whom it may concern:

Please don't continuously call out my name as I run down the hall to the restroom because you want to ask me an asinine question that you should already know the answer to. When I refuse to turn around, don't yell that you are too "busy" to wait for me to finish my business. If I am running, and I usually am, I will not and can not stop. Calling out my name will only cause me to wash my hands and play with my eyebrows in the mirror that much longer.

Please don't come in here everytime you see someone talking to me just to "peak your head in". You are making yourself look like a crazy person. Believe it or not, a lot of people come by during the day for scientific purposes. You wanted smart people in your lab--smart people are often consulted for their "intellectual opinions". I don't want to play whack-a-mole when your head pops in through the door frame, but I feel you are leaving me no choice.

Please don't repeat the same question more than twice in one day. Write it down if you are having trouble remembering.

Asking me to email you something "for your records" is a low priority request, and I will do it when I get to the low priority part of my checklist. Since you need the item....uh....never, I can't muster the energy to send it to you right at this moment.

Please don't tell me about your lame-ass weekend, taking up 30 min of my time, and then come back 10 min later and ask me why it's taking me so long to do X. I was trying to do X when you decided to come in and detail how much you had to drink on Saturday.

If I don't look up from my computer while you are talking to me, don't keep talking. I'm not trying to be rude; I'm just trying to get my work done. If you have something important to say, I'll stop, but don't stand there staring at me while you wait for me to look up just so you can ask me who is speaking on Wednesday. There is a flyer outside your door--read it.

Thank you for understanding. Please don't be offended. Please respect my space and time. Please don't make me resort to words like cocksucker. I don't want it to go that far.

Dog rescues baby girl

I love these stories. In Kenya, a baby girl was found lying next to a litter of puppies. Apparently, the puppies' mother found the girl wrapped in a plastic bad and carried the baby back to its pups. It's sad that the child was abandoned, something that happens all too frequently in poverty- stricken countries, but the dog's instinctual behavior was amazing.

Scientific Porn

This is a great cover. Scientists can be so naughty.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Happy Mother's Day

To the blogs I read and to those who stop here from time to time:

A lot of you have children, and I'm amazed at your stories, your love, and the tremendous effort you put into making your children feel safe and happy. You are all doing a wonderful job whether you realize it or not. I pray for you to find the strength to keep going, to keep nurturing, through all the tough times. I remember being a kid, and boy were there a lot of tough times. I hope someday that my husband and I will, God willing, be able to join your ranks. For now, I'll just keep living vicariously through your stories. Thank you for being moms. Thank you even more for sharing your life and your children with the world.

Happy Mother's Day!

Sex in the Classroom

In response to the Sex-Ed fiasco in Maryland:

When we evaluate the public school system's curriculum choices, we must first define the goals of public education. It seems few are doing this--everyone wants to mold the system to fit their personal convictions. Your personal convictions, however, may not be your child's personal convictions. Even at a young age, I disagreed with my parents on many topics, and I made decisions they did not always agree with. To make the right choices, children need both parental advice and unfettered education. Without the latter, they will rely on guesswork, ignorance, and peer guidance to fill in the holes when they disagree with parental advice.

Let me try to show you why personal convictions may not be best for educational choices:

It's hard to think of your "baby" learning about sex. By the time your child is 13, however, it is already too late to begin sex discussions. Their peers, and maybe even your baby, are already having sex. Dr. Smith from next door hid her pregnant daughter all summer and then dropped her new grandbaby off to a nice, childless-young couple just before little Miss Smith started fall cheerleading camp. Reverand Jones found out that his son drove his girlfriend to an abortion clinic and, for $500 of his allowance, got a clean slate. Those are two of many true stories I could tell. If all your children have is you or the Church telling them not to have sex, who is filling in the missing information when they decide to make their own choice?

Need another reason to believe me?

I worked at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health with a group that was determining which age group would most benefit from the Human Papilloma Virus vaccine (gential warts). Through their exhaustive studies--cohorts composed of thousands of people--of STD and pregnancy rates, they discovered girls between 10- and 12-years old should be vaccinated (Gulp). Based on early polls, they knew this wouldn't fly-- parents didn't think it was necessary to vaccinate their child against an STD because their kid wasn't having sex. We knew this wasn't true because we had the actual numbers--it's amazing what a child will tell a perfect stranger as opposed to their own parents. So, it was decided to market the HPV vaccine as a cervical cancer vaccine. Scientific fact: Cervical cancer is almost always caused by the HPV virus. Yep, parental blindness and denial almost kept children from being protected from cervical cancer. I wonder how many mothers would choose the vaccine for their young daughters if they knew what they were actually trying to prevent. By the time women hit college age, as many as 1 in 4 will have contracted the HPV virus, many without knowing. You can get it even if you use a condom. Does your child know that? Where do you think they are going to learn that...from you?

Second point:
I know a lot of people have issues with teaching sex and/or homosexuality in the classroom. There are fears that if you learn about something, you will do it. That's why Nancy's "Just Say No" program worked so well--oh, wait, it didn't work at all.

Scientific FACTS:
In rodents, in utero exposure to many things, including maternal stress and chemicals such as Cox inhibitors (aspirin) can change the sexual orientation of brain structures and/or adult sexual behaviors. You can feminize male brains and masculinize female brains. I can give you the references if you'd like--there are too many to list.

In humans, studies have shown that structual changes in the brain are related to alterations in gender identification and male sexual orientation. It is believed that these changes happen in utero via abnormal hormone regulation and/or environmental factors. There is little evidence that postnatal-social factors influence gender behaviors and neurobiology (at least for men, the data for women are a little less clear), meaning that being gay is not a fad. You can find a recent review of these data here: Swaab (2004) Gyn Endocrin. 19 (6) 301-12 if you're interested. This would go against a lot of religious beliefs, but, if you think back, the church also used to take the stance that alcoholism was a choice and could not possibly have genetic influences. oopsie. I would rather have my child know that their behaviors are normal and a part of who they are than to walk around feeling condemned, in the waiting line for hell, because they are too weak to control their "choices". That's like telling people that they should feel ashamed of themselves and be excluded from society because they were born with brown eyes or black hair or with a physical impairement...hmmm, why does that sound familiar?

When you choose educational curriculum, you must choose to teach that which gives all children the greatest knowledge so that they are equipped to move forward, making the best decisions for themselves and having all the tools necessary to grow intellectually. Public education is meant to benefit all students, including homosexuals, transvestites, those who have been raised to believe that premarital sex is not wrong, and those who have chosen to go against their parents' and/or church's wishes. America was not founded on the premise that we should make all people follow Christian beliefs and rules--America was founded on freedom of religion, culture, opinions, and beliefs, and our educational system should reflect that.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Snoop Dog Vs Ann Coulter

I'm not sure if I love this, from Wonkette, because Snoop Dog wins overall or if it is because Ann Coulter loses to Snoop in the "Diet" category.

Know your IEP

One of the things that helped my mother get through the hard years, the school-age years, was that she was a teacher, and, thus, she really knew our rights. She knew how to take control of our education, how to use our Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) to get us what we needed, and she knew how the law could work for us (usually). Back in the day when educators weren't so overwhelmed and overworked, many of them took the time to help guide families through this process. Times have changed, however, and I feel that, especially given the fallout from NCLB, parents are going to find themselves flying solo more often than not.

It's hard to pick a resource to serve as the gold standard for IEP information, but I think this site is a good place to start. It covers everything from art therapy (something I really support and believe in) to managing IEP meetings.

I'm trying to encourage my mother to serve as a consultant for families with special needs children after she retires. If she's up to it, I will let you all know.

I'm not one of those people

Today my dog, Oscar, and I were having a lovely walk. We were going through a little field of flowers near the park, when I noticed that Oscar was carrying something yellow in his mouth. Since there were tons of buttercups around, I assumed he was eating a flower. It's a reasonable assumption since he's like a little Hoover, sucking up everything in his path. As we strolled by random-neighborhood folks, I noticed that we were getting some really strange smiles. I thought I was being paranoid, until a women said, "Oh, my goodness--well isn't that just darling". Now, she didn't say "isn't he darling"; she said "isn't that darling". WTF. I looked down at Oscar, and, to my horror, the yellow object in his mouth wasn't a flower--it was a pacifier! Where did he find a pacifier??? Oh, my God. All the people in the neighborhood will think that I've gone over the babyless deep end. Don't get me wrong, I do dress Oscar up occasionally, but I would never let him walk around with a pacifier. I'm not one of those Paris Hilton-wannabes. At least not when it comes to my dog.

My battle to seem normal is a lost cause, I think. Sometimes you have to realize that you're not in control; someone else is steering this ship, and we don't seem to be on the same page.

Mean Girls

It's funny because the girls that made me cry in elementary school were also the ones who abused me as a teenager. Maybe this explains why.

Associated Press via ABC.com:

"One thing researchers do know is that childhood slights can have lasting impacts."

Tell me about it. No matter how successful I become, not matter how much I bloom, I can pinpoint the "mean girls" from a mile away, even in their adult-form. They still have a power over me that I can not explain. They still make me cry inside and make me run for Baskin Robbin's Rum Raisin icecream. Even when you know something on the rational level, you still have no power over the emotional. I guess it didn't help that I moved to a city where mean girls dominate and where their very essence permeates all social venues.

Just Buy the Car

Me: If you want to buy a new car, just buy one. I'll go with you and help even.

Mom: Well, I will have to get something cheap, yet I'm not sure if smaller car will be able to get up and down the driveway.

Me: I thought dad plowed the driveway.

Mom: He did, but it's been raining a lot lately, so now he drives through the yard to get to the house.

Me: He's driving through the yard...WTF? There's a friggin' orchard in the front yard. The neighbors are going to turn us in to the zoning people...again. Never mind. I thought you were getting a chunck of change with your retirement.

Mom: Well I was going to give some of that to you kids.

Me (Inside Voice): My life is a Seinfeld Episode...I'm going to strangle her.

Me (Outside Voice): We don't need your money; that's your money. Get yourself a car. You can't live in BFE without a friggin' car. Please do not give us that money.

Mom: Well, I don't know how I'll be able to afford one, maybe I'll lease one.

Me: That's stupid, you'll go over your miles. It's 20 miles to the grocery store for Christ's Sake.

Mom: Well, you know Daughter, I don't have that much money. They want at least $5,000 down.

Me: For what, a Jag? Where did you hear that?

Mom: Your father.

Me: He's lying. Why would he say that? Don't listen to him--he's crazy.

Mom: So I don't need $5000 down?

Me: Sigh...don't talk to dad about this anymore. I'm coming the first week in June--we're getting you a car.

Is it just me, or is my dad going too far with his "jokes". He's going to make her insane, and I'm going to be left with the pieces. We need to teach him a lesson...

Friday, May 06, 2005

Abstract Due Now

My abstract is due now. So why on earth am I blogging? Good question. Maybe it's denial or perhaps it's my innate habit of self-destructing procrastination. I'm a mess.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Cinco de Mayo

Right now, as you read this, I am banging my head on my desk. "Why are you banging your head on the desk?" you ask.

Because I just realized that it was Cinco de Mayo. Here I am worrying about applehead people and scientific abstracts and buildings blowing up in NYC when there are more important things going on. It is that time of the year when tacos, sangria, and pupusas (alright, they are salvadorian, so kill me) dance on tables adorned with sombreros and bright-pink tissue paper flowers. Saint Patrick's Day can't touch my beloved Cinco de Mayo. So what if I'm a Welsh/British/Lithuanian cross breed (the word "pumapard" is priceless); no one can escape the beckoning of the mariachi band. Let us bow our heads in honor of its very essence.

I'm sort of Scary





You Are a Little Scary

A Little Scary!

You've got a nice edge to you. Use it.


Making Applehead Dolls

After I read "James and the Giant Peach" as a child, my friends and I each picked a character from the story and made applehead dolls. Staring at the bowl of fruit in front of my computer, I am having a hard time resisting the temptation to stop working and make an applehead village. If you haven't made one before, you don't know what you're missing. It's easy to make them look like evil distortions of people you know (especially people that drive you crazy and/or piss you off)--you can even use makeup to make it more realistic. Put them on your desk and wait for your appleheads' evil human counterparts to come by, and you've got yourself an interesting interaction. Or you could choose not taint such a seemingly innocent project and make an applehead with your child of choice.

Cubicle

I just sent one of the worst-first drafts ever composed to my mentor. It's an abstract due tomorrow; we all found out about it three days ago. For those of you who have followed my posts, you will understand why having to abide to a 3200-character limit makes it tough on me (that's including our names and institutions). Since I'm anal about having my middle initial included (so I can google myself easier) that really limits me to 3199 characters, something my mentor and I have butted heads over on quite a few occasions. Yes, I will pack up and leave over my middle initial; I'm that unstable and that egocentric.

My husband thinks it's weird that sometimes all I want in life is a cubicle. I want a cubicle with walls that surround me, walls that I can hang things on. I want someplace where I can't see anyone around me and where they can't see me. An office is too much responsibility, and a little too official. I just want to sit in my cubicle, staring at my computer that has my settings and that doesn't have a funked-up keyboard from dirty-multiple users. An island in the chaos. That's all I want...

Only when I have the aforementioned oasis will I be able to fit 2 years of research into 3200- miserable characters. I did manage to use the word sequelae already. I like that word. I also snuck in exquisitely, but I'm sure that will get cut. Scientists can be soooo boring.

Foster Kids as Medical Guinea Pigs

Oh, my God. I can't begin to describe how angry and sick this makes me.

From the Associated Press via ABC.com news (John Solomon):

"To gain access to hundreds of HIV-infected foster children, federally funded researchers promised in writing to provide an independent advocate to safeguard the kids' well-being as they tested potent AIDS drugs. But most of the time, that special protection never materialized, an Associated Press review has found....

Illinois officials believe none of their nearly 200 foster children in AIDS studies got independent monitors. New York City could find records showing 142 less than a third of the 465 foster children in AIDS drug trials got such monitors even though city policy required them. The city has asked an outside firm to investigate.

Likewise, research facilities including Chicago's Children's Memorial Hospital and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore said they concluded they didn't provide advocates for foster kids."

Someone's head should roll.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The danger of excluding context

Apparently some people have taken advantage of the loop hole in written language called context. I don't want to name names, but we all know people guilty of this crime. It is ethically irresponsible and reprehensible to quote people without also noting the context of their statements. It is equally offensive to copy bits of emails and send those pieces out without giving the whole story or without making sure that you didn't change the meaning through your "editing" practices. I'm sick of being bombarded by concepts without context not only by the peon level offenders of everyday life but also by the big-dogs of media. I'm not your mother--if I were your mother, you would know better--so I'm not going to lecture. Instead, I'm going to offer some statements that I made today to emphasize the importance of context. We'll call it an exercise of sorts for your brain. Since I love writing captions to humorous picture (images without context), I decided we could switch it around and make pictures for my quotes. I won't post my own pictures since that would ruin the fun.

1.) I can't find my brain anywhere. I saw it when it dropped; it bounced off of the bench and into the trash, but I don't see it in there.

2.) Even if I had a penis, I still wouldn't piss in the kitchen sink.

3.) Who ordered the extra bottle of meth-amphetamine? I can't put it in the safe until I know who will be using it.

4.) Your babies were born last night. Do you need to order another pregnant mother today?

5.) Your not hard core unless you shoot the heroin between your toes.

Do you see how many possible pictures come to mind? Stop the madness, people.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Brain Starts Working After 10 Years

After 10 years, this firefighter finally speaks. The brain is amazing, life is amazing, and hope is everything. Never lose hope.

Scooped?

I'm a paranoid person by nature. When I stand at my bus stop, I am afraid that people will throw things out of their car windows at me, even though this has never actually happened. I'm afraid when I go over the bridge in the bus (but not when in the car) that the bridge will be blown up; I actually spend a lot of time planning my aquatic escape. The list of fears is endless, and although some of these fears have some merit, most are baseless.

Why on earth then did I go into the highly competitive world of science? A world where your publications and funding define your career and, thus, dictate your ability to put Omaha steaks on the table. Why did I choose to study something that has never been examined before, something novel and, thus, probably under investigation in other, more productive laboratories? Why????

You see, my friends, in science there is the very rational fear of "being scooped". Similar to the news industry, getting scooped is bad, very bad. My project is now going on 4 years of blood, sweat, and pools of tears, and let's not talk about the financial cost, and I haven't yet managed to get my data out as a manuscript. If I get scooped (and I know you are out there racing me), it will all mean NOTHING. I'm trying soooo very hard to get this paper out, but there's always one more thing to do, one more bit of data to look at before it's complete. I can't handle the pressure--I'm ready to post my results online and beg one of you to just go publish it already.

It's not that what I'm doing is going to save the world; in fact, my research would be considered quite boring by most. The fact of the matter is, however, that
some people are very interested, and it only takes one journal submission to crush me like the ant I am. I really wish I could invent a low-dose valium tab, like those breath freshener tabs that look like tape, to take during times like these. That would be helpful right now...just to take me down one notch.

There is no way I'm going to be able to wait for the bus today, and I'll be damned if I take the shuttle across the bridge. Oh, and I'm not going down to the basement to get the laundry tonight just in case something is living (or not living) down there. Not today...nope.

The Latchkey Kids: A Tale of Three Siblings

In honor of Mother's Day's approach:

We grew up in a time and place where nannies and daycare were works of fiction, as distant and intangible as unicorns, goblins, and gnomes. Even if my mother had known someone who could offer childcare, we still would have ended up home alone because people living in trailers can not usually (at least in those days)
afford childcare. So, to our delight, we were raised as latchkey kids.

I know my mother still harbors a lot of guilt from not being home with us. It still saddens her to remember leaving us to our own devices while the neighborhood mothers clicked their hen-like tongues at her. Ironically, while they judged her mothering and, in turn, planted the seeds of guilt still haunting her, they also begged to have their children placed in her classroom. Life is like that.

We try now to counsel her with our own sort of therapy, a combination of "what we gained from being latchkey kids" and "what happened behind the scenes that we now feel safe to tell you." Experience has taught us to rely more heavily on the former since the latter seems to trump her blood pressure medication.

There really are so many things we gained from being home alone. For instance, if I hadn't been a latchkey kid, I would have never had the time to perseverate over my speed reading game, and, thus, I would never have broken past 1000 words per minute (I was obsessed with the fact that JFK could read 1200 words per minute--I was an odd child). We would never have learned how to cook, clean, and throw our laundry in the wash without being told. We would never have gained the sense of responsibility that we still hold on to after all these years. Most importantly, had we not been latchkey kids, we never would have formed the priceless bond we now share. That bond has helped us through some very rough times-- it's as if God knew we would need a little extra glue to keep from coming undone.

As for the "what mom didn't know" stories, well, let's just say we learned how to conspire and entertain. We learned how to make imaginary worlds from nothing but sticks and mudpies, the former ending up in Brother1's eye and the latter finding a home in my belly. We learned that although Indians may have been able to press their heads to the ground to hear approaching horses, this does not work the same when tried on paved roads (no one was killed). We learned that dogfood will make you sick if you eat too much of it and that we should not cook things we catch ourselves, even if we are good "hunters". We learned that tying up Brother2 and putting him, with an attached "For Sale" sign, along the rodeside is not good because, contrary to what we believed, kidnappers probably will pay for children. We learned that hiding in trash bags to scare the garbage man is not funny. The list goes on and on.

Did being latchkey kids change how we felt about our parents? I would say no. We never felt that we were loved less than other kids because you know when your parents love you--it's a combination of instinct and good parenting. Morever, I think the experience made us extremely independent and creative, two qualities crucial for our "adult" careers. For this, we will always be grateful to our our parents.

Did being latchkey kids hurt us in any way? Well, we did spend more time in the emergency room than most kids, and we probably shouldn't have been watching
Days of Our Lives every day. Apart from a few physical and intellectual (remember when Marlena first met Roman?) scars, however, I think we turned out O.K.

So, Happy Mother's Day a little early. Whether your kids are latchkey kids (if that's even still legal) or taken care of by you or someone you've hired, take comfort in knowing that they'll turn out just fine as long as you love them. If we can turn out O.K., any child can.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Girl Suspended For Discussing Racial Tensions at Her School

Wow. I'm not sure I can get over this enough to talk about it.

From ABC.com news:

"O'Neill, a white girl who said she is friends with black students, told WATE on April 18 that she felt threatened by another student in class. She spoke to WATE off-campus after the station's camera crew was barred from school grounds.

O'Neill and her parents said school administrators told them that faculty and staff members had to deal with several concerned parents after her interview aired. They were told the time spent talking with those parents disrupted classes, and that was why the girl was suspended."

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Cannabis Oral Spray

Article by Aaron Smith from CNN:

"Generally, physicians do not like to use narcotic-based drugs or drugs that have addictive-type characteristics for treatment of chronic pain," said Dr. John Richert, vice president for research and clinical programs for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

"There is not yet solid scientific evidence that the cannabis-related drugs are useful for multiple sclerosis pain," he said. "I think if there were solid scientific evidence that this type of drug helped, then that would be the evidence for the FDA to consider in their evaluation for the drug."

I would like to comment:

--We pump people full of drugs (many of which are potentially addictive), without knowing all of the medical risks and/or the respective drug efficacy for each particular individual, on an hourly basis. This is especially common for psychiatric and pain disorders because the potential drug benefits outweigh the costs. We are not talking about targeting blood pressure problems or sinus infections, where we understand the systems involved and for which we have developed specific- and effective-medical treatments --we are talking about targeting biological systems that we know relatively little about and, unfortunately,that vary drastically among individuals.

Pain medications, by virtue of the neurological systems involved in pain perception, have inherent-addictive potential. We still, however, put pain pills in therapeutic-candy dishes next to the Hershey Kisses. We do this because it is the humane thing to do; it's the medically- responsible choice. It's insane that just because we've arbitrarily labeled a drug (all medications are drugs, duh) a "narcotic", we can't harvest that drug's therapeutic properties. If you think cannabis has greater addictive properties than most current pain treatments, you had better educate yourselves. Please tell me that we've moved beyond the "Reefer Madness" days...please.

G dubs

I find this embarrassing and not truly funny. I laughed at first because it was true, and then I cried because it was true.

Associated Press via CNN.com:

Laura Bush added that she and her husband obviously were destined to be together as a couple because "I was the librarian who spent 12 hours a day in the library and yet somehow I met George."