She Falters To Rise
A postdoctoral fellow, a scientist, a wife, an artist, a closet-soap-opera-actress wannabe, a former farm girl, a current city chic, a writer, a paranoid freak, an extroverted introvert --- and yet, I have no cape.
Thursday, June 30, 2005
No Soprano For You
Mikhael Rawks will not be allowed to audition as a soprano. God love Texas (note sarcasm).
We will allow girls to play on male athletic teams (I ran men's track), but we won't let someone sing in a vocal range traditionally performed by the opposite sex? What's wrong with this world?
Their reasoning has to do with medical concerns--girls can't audition for tenor or bass parts for fear of cord damage so men shouldn't be allowed to audition for a "girl's" part.
"Taylor said he's seen no medical evidence that singing tenor or bass can hurt a countertenor's voice. But Timothy Maguire, a professional countertenor and male soprano from San Francisco, said his doctor gave him strict instructions not to sing that way because it could cause polyps to form on his vocal chords."
I was a soprano (a real one, not this pseudo-soprano all girls try to be), and I had lots of damage to my cords. That's what singing can do. Maybe they should outlaw singing.
On top of that, I also suffered a broken arm and two broken ankles playing sports, but no one bans athletics.
I'm so confused.
My mental problem
My mentor started a sentence with "Your mental problem is that you...".
I should have explained to him how that is not the appropriate terminology for conveying the message he was trying to get across.
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Check Your Head--It's Glowing
I hate the wristband thing almost more than the ribbons and kabbalah bracelets, but this one is cool because it's about mental health and it glows. Besides, it's a passive aggressive way to get even with people. Give it to people who are pissing you off with their absurdities--they won't know if you are making a statement or if you are giving them a present.
Holy Toolbox Responds to Gay Marriage in Canada
Hmmmmm...I think there are some parents who are going to be pretty pissed about this statement:
From the Associated Press via MSNBC.com:
The most overlooked and disenfranchised group in the current debate about marriage is that of children," Calgary Bishop Frederick Henry said in a recent statement. "The issue is not whether traditional marriage, as it stands, is a perfect institution, but whether society and especially children are better off with it than without. Families with both mothers and fathers are generally better for children than those with only mothers or only fathers. Biological parents usually protect and provide for their children more effectively than non-biological ones."
Way to twist the data and manipulate word choice, you tool box. That's the best you can do to support your stance against gay marriage? Maybe you and Tom the Troll should get together.
I'm not sure where you're getting your data (the same database that Trollboy gets his, I bet), but here's what I found:
Good Things Come in Threes: Single-Parent Multigenerational Family Structure and Adolescent Adjustment
Father Absence and Youth Incarceration
Family Structure and Child WellBeing: The Significance of Parental Cohabitation
Lesbian mothers, gay fathers, and their children: a review.
Child development and quality of parenting in lesbian families: no psychosocial indications for a-priori withholding of infertility treatment. A systematic review.Outcomes for children with lesbian or gay parents. A review of studies from 1978 to 2000.
Monday, June 27, 2005
Amish Genes Can Be Blue
Being that I used to live among the Amish (sort of), I found this article interesting. My students always find genetic studies of the Amish, Ashkenazi Jews, etc. interesting. They provide really good models for teaching about recessive genes, inbreeding depression, genetic mutations, and disease inheritance. I've always been impressed with how willing most Amish communities are to participate in medical and scientific research. On top of that, it gives me reason to go back and practice my PA dutch and get a little shoo-fly pie and funnel cake.
BTK Killer Was Just a Normal Guy
This is why you shouldn't trust somebody just because they seem normal. He wasn't walking around talking to himself and hallucinating or in some mental health ward, pumped full of haloperidol. The media always makes it look like the "crazy" people are the dangerous ones. Personally, it's the "normal" people who frighten me.
"Christ Lutheran Church pastor Michael Clark said Rader, also a former Boy Scout leader, had been involved in church leadership for 30 years and was elected church council president just before his arrest.
Rader was arrested in what authorities said was a routine traffic stop. He worked for the Wichita suburb of Park City as a compliance supervisor in charge of animal control, nuisances, inoperable vehicles and general code compliance."
Alien Food: Part II
Dear Tom Cruise:
What is your response to this recent review of the literature concerning ADHD and its treatments? I'm interested in what you and your Troll legion think about the data covered by this review.
Pediatrics. 2005 Jun;115(6):e749-57
Treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: overview of the evidence.
Brown RT, Amler RW, Freeman WS, Perrin JM, Stein MT, Feldman HM, Pierce K, Wolraich ML; American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Quality Improvement; American Academy of Pediatrics Subcommittee on Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.
The American Academy of Pediatrics' Committee on Quality Improvement, Subcommittee on Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, reviewed and analyzed the current literature for the purpose of developing an evidence-based clinical practice guideline for the treatment of the school-aged child with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This review included several key reports, including an evidence review from the McMaster Evidence-Based Practice Center (supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality), a report from the Canadian Coordinating Office for Health Technology Assessment, the Multimodal Treatment for ADHD comparative clinical trial (supported by the National Institute of Mental Health), and supplemental reviews conducted by the subcommittee. These reviews provided substantial information about different treatments for ADHD and their efficacy in improving certain characteristics or outcomes for children with ADHD as well as adverse effects and benefits of multiple modes of treatment compared with single modes (eg, medication or behavior therapies alone). The reviews also compared the effects of different medications. Other evidence documents the long-term nature of ADHD in children and its classification as a chronic condition, meriting the application of general concepts of chronic-condition management, including an individual treatment plan with a focus on ongoing parent and child education, management, and monitoring. The evidence strongly supports the use of stimulant medications for treating the core symptoms of children with ADHD and, to a lesser degree, for improving functioning. Behavior therapy alone has only limited effect on symptoms or functioning of children with ADHD, although combining behavior therapy with medication seems to improve functioning and may decrease the amount of (stimulant) medication needed. Comparison among stimulants (mainly methylphenidate and amphetamines) did not indicate that 1 class outperformed the other.
Sunday, June 26, 2005
Let the Aliens Eat His Guts
Dear Tom Cruise:
You are an idiot.
I could care less if you act like some manic phase, crack-smoking troll on Oprah--I didn't say a word since I'm not in the position to judge your love. I am not a love expert, and I'm not an expert on what is going on in your distorted, twisted head.
When you got on national TV, however, and acted like you have the right to an opinion on something you obviously know nothing about, it made me wish that the aliens inside you would decide to end things, once and for all.
I'm going to go take another cold and flu pill so that I can let its evil work through my veins, allowing me to (gasp) breathe. Oh the horrors. You don't know Tom--they sell this stuff on the streets.
Yes, oh wise one, you are correct about the evils of treating mental disorders. I was so glad when someone I cared about deeply, stopped taking their meds, let their life fall apart, and blew their brains out on Christmas Eve. Those drugs that let him smile, laugh, love, and live were definitely evil.
I think I will stop seeing medically-trained professionals whenever I am sick, need stitches, antibiotics, or surgery. I will go to Hollywood where I can seek the wisdom of the great Scientologist actors.
I'm sorry if I seem hostile. I'm sick, and you're a jerk--that's a bad combination.
From the Associated Press if you didn't see the interview:
"You don't know the history of psychiatry. I do," Cruise said...."Matt, Matt, you don't even -- you're glib," Cruise responded. "You don't even know what Ritalin is. If you start talking about chemical imbalance, you have to evaluate and read the research papers on how they came up with these theories, Matt, OK. That's what I've done."
I don't need to reply to that--you all can figure out what I want to say in response to those statements.
Friday, June 24, 2005
Let them Play with Killer Bees
When I was 13, I was really involved in a church youth group. I've mentioned before that the movie "Saved" is very near and dear to me, so I think you will understand what kind of years those were. One year, we worked every Saturday of the Fall serving food at college football games to raise enough money to go on a "mission trip". Child labor laws--who needs them?
Thousands of nachos and hotdogs later (do you know they made us through away hundreds of hotdogs each game because you can't feed leftovers to the homeless?), we were on our way to do some mission work.
They sent us south to the poorest county in Arkansas. Have you ever been to Arkansas? Saying "the poorest county in Arkansas" is the polar opposite of saying "the richest region of the Hamptons".
They had us roofing houses (it was July), working at a Boys and Girls Club in a neighborhood that the police were afraid to enter, and taking care of abandoned-elderly folk at a nursing home that made Tibetan prisons look like hotels.
At the end of the trip, we got to go to a park in Texas as a reward. They dropped us off with trashbags and buckets of green paint. Oh the fun we had cleaning up needles, condoms, and plastic baggies! The paint was for painting the benches blackened with graffiti. I learned the street spelling of Mutha Fuka that day--Praise the Lord!
Best quote of the trip from the project leader: That's right kids, don't you worry about the needles--just be real careful and y'all be alright. It's the killer bees that you should be on the look out for. Yep, killer bees have been seen in these here parts. Don't worry, though. The Lord, he blesses y'all and will protect y'all.
I started thinking about that trip because of this article.
Just in Case You Aren't Crazy Yet
Just when I thought I was afraid of everything that could possible kill and/or dismember me, I found the word "pandemic" in the news today.
Taking their Homes
I usually try to stay away from politics, but this is really eating away at me this morning.
I've always been impressed with those that hold out--that little house that's been in the family for years, now surrounded by huge buildings and/or mansions. Ownership, having land and a home that you worked hard to get and/or keep, means a lot to me. My grandmother left her old-country ways to live the American Dream. She worked in factories so that she could earn enough money to buy some land. She, along with her husband and newborn son, lived in a chicken coop on that land until they could get the money together and build a real house. Have you ever seen a chicken coop!? I fear that someday in the future my parents could have their 80-acres seized, the same land my grandmother purchased so many years ago. They are sitting on prime-building land and natural gas wells and coal deposits for which they have the mineral rights. They've recently been approached with offers; I feel it blowing in the wind in a "Something Wicked This Way Comes" fashion.
Do we really need more shopping malls and hotels? On the news this morning, they interviewed a woman whose property had been seized so that luxury townhomes could be built on her land. To me, that is not what our founding fathers meant by "public use". Ownership is the American Dream, but apparently not an American right.
At least not everyone is blinded by the potential for abuse: "Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random," O'Connor wrote. "The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms."
Well, if we can't figure out the cure for cancer, at least we're one step closer in producing blue roses. That should count for something. (requires free registration)
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Translation for Men
When you are watching Beauty and the Geek with your chick, do not turn to her and say "You could be on this show as either one hon--you would definitely win".
Your brain: I'm telling her that she is hot and really smart. I rock; I am so getting laid.
Her brain: So he's saying that I could be a pretty girl who gets lost in her own bathroom because she's so dumb, or I could be the really ugly and socially inept dork. Oh, this is just like the time he said he thought (insert actress name here) was cute. I bet she didn't even graduate high school. Of course he likes pretty-dumb girls like (insert ex-girlfriend's name from 10-years ago here). He knows how sensitive I am about being a dork--why does he bring it up...doesn't he get me at all? Oh, and I never did tell him that it wasn't nice to say his mom's stuffed-shells were the best he's ever tasted. It will be a cold day in hell before I slave in the kitchen making homemade pasta and sauce for him. That's it--No sex for him.
Study, learn, and don't do it again.
The Boat and The Paintbrush
Today I had to do the thing that I hate to do the most in the lab. Then, I got blood in my eye (I know, but the safety goggles are sooooo ugly). Then, my bus broke down, and I had to get off and wait 35-min for the next bus. The next bus had no air-conditioning. As I started to warm up, I began to reek of paraformaldehyde, making the boy sitting next to me get up and move.
When I was getting ready to get on my third bus of the day, I dropped the cap to my soda. My soda was only 3/4 full, but you can't have open containers on the bus, and I have issues about the 5-second rule so I had to throw my drink away. I don't want to hear it--people pee on that sidewalk.
As I sat on the bus dehydrated and needing some caffeine in a bad way, the woman next to me started screaming something about a boat and a paintbrush over and over and over again. As I've mentioned before, I find it rude to get up and move unless the person next to you has scabies, lice, or a bad case of pervertedness. I just sat there trying to pretend that everything was normal, that this woman was not screaming, with her left breast falling out of her shirt, about a boat and a paintbrush. I've learned not to ask people who are screaming to themselves if they are O.K.--don't ever do it.
Then I got off of the bus, tripped crossing the street in a busy intersection causing a clusterfuck of angry drivers, and limped home.
All that and I'm still smiling. Some days I get so down over the little things, and other days it doesn't matter what happens. Besides, this is the kind of day every blogger dreams about.
I'm Going to Die
I saw this on Cheeky Prof. It's funny that the "deaths" having the lowest probablitiy for me are the ones that I am positive I'm going to die of (drowning, bomb, natural disaster). It wouldn't surprise me if my evil-wombat grandmother tried to poison me with one of her sugar-free "fruit cocktail" cookes. If I die of suicide though, I want a full investigation. The same goes for if I disappear...there are people who will need to be questioned.
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Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Tofu, Sperm, and Neuron-Generating Factories
1.) You may want to lay off anything containing genistein such as tofu, legumes, and soya. It may impede the little swimmers.
"But Sharpe added that oriental societies that traditionally eat a soya-rich diet show no signs of reduced fertility that he is aware of."
The danger of isolating a chemical and throwing it on sperm (or any other tissue) is that you are not really mimiking what happens in real life. Compounds work on your body synergistically. I think it's safe to order the Kung Pao Tofu.
2.) Virus trumps gential warts: Enough said.
3.) How much money did they spend figuring out that children should exercise to avoid becoming obese? How on earth could a child not be getting in at least an hour of physical activity per day? Have things really gotten that bad?
4.) Neuron-generating factories : I'm, as always, skeptical about this, but I do like to think about neuron-generating factories.
Optical Illusions--Love your Visual System
Today's been crazy, so I wanted to share this with you while I had the chance. If you like that one, you can look at more by clicking on the arrows in the top-left corner.
Our visual systems are weird.
Update: Trisha has this on her fancy-side blog already. I am behind the times and, apparently, aquiring some sort of mid-life dementia since I've been through her side blog and should know what's on it.
Comments of the Day
As I've mentioned before, random things often pop out of my mouth as if I've been possessed by evil trolls. Sometimes these comments make our comment-of-the-day list. Here's yesterday's:
I'm so sick--my lymph nodes feel like deer testicles.
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
This Fish: On Love and Talking Stomachs
This is a wonderful post from This Fish Needs a Bicycle about family, love, pears versus apples, and talking stomachs. It reminded me of my own talking stomach years ago. I was 13, and my best-friend's sister was killed in a car accident--her sister was only 20-years old. The viewing was incredibly sad and surreal; young death brings many, many visitors. My poor friend had to stand there, thanking her hundreds of guests for coming, hugging them through their tears. I am a firm believer that guests are sometimes more painful to bear than the actual death. I didn't know what to do, so I just stood there, helpless. At some point my friend turned to me and asked, "Will you please do the kermit voice for me"? The kermit voice was my artistic interpretation of frog-speak, if we were in a world where such things could happen. So, even though it didn't seem right, I began talking in the kermit voice--I talked for the next 2-hours. My friend laughed as though she was in some sort of delirious state, and, for a brief moment in time, she removed herself from the awful reality of what had happened.
The things we do for love and friendship.
Read it if you're into this kind of stuff.
Responsible Scientific Reporting
This post over at Corpus Callosum is worth reading. The question of whether mental illness is becoming an epidemic, increasing at a rapid pace in the last century, has been raised by a number of people. (ex. here's one book by Fuller Torrey) . Due to the confounds of changes over time in stigma, diagnoses and diagnostic criteria, etc., it's hard to determine if there has been a surge in mental illness, if mental illness is now over-diagnosed, or if mental illness has always been pervasive yet under the radar.
I don't know what the answer is. I do know, however, that irresponsible or misguided journalism has resulted in people believing and responding to a lot of "facts" that are unsubstantiated or that have been misrepresented. Pharyngula and Orac recently posted about this issue in response to a Salon article on the Autism and Vaccine link.
I'm not going to get into the argument of whether or not I believe heavy metals in vaccines can cause autism. I am going to point out, however, that the media jumped on this like pigs on shit, and now we have parents pumping their children full of heavy metal chelating agents when there is no evidence of benefit over cost for this treatment.
My advice is to always go back and read the original research papers. I know that they can be rough to get through, but after you have read a few of them, it gets easier. Look at the real data and think about what you have read. There's nothing wrong with using the regular media and news organizations for info on scientific discoveries and health-related issues. Just don't use that as your only source when forming opinions or when deciding on treatments, etc.
Prom Date No-Shows
I was watching Grosse Pointe Blank yesterday when I should have been reading an article on histone codes and the ensuing genetic alterations (I know, tough decision). When I first saw the movie, I felt so bad for Minnie Driver's character. She spent 10-years wondering why her prom date stood her up. Yesterday, however, my sympathy well ran dry.
1.) At least you had a prom date
2.) At least you didn't pay for your own prom ticket ($65, thank you very much)
3.) At least you didn't have to drive your own ass to the prom
4.) At least you didn't drive your ass to the prom in your mom's boat (a.k.a. the cutlass sierra)
5.) At least they didn't order your dress in a size 14 when you needed a size 4.
6.) At least you didn't realize that your dress was completely see-through way after the fact.
7.) At least you got to curl up on your couch and pout instead of sitting on a chair at the prom like a moron wondering where your last-minute date went.
8.) At least you don't have to look at the pictures from your husband's prom where he took his buxom-blonde date to the event in a limo. (I bet she didn't pay for her own ticket).
9.) At least your mom wasn't in charge of the afterprom.
10.) At least you didn't have some newspaper prick take your picture at the afterprom and put it on the front page of the newspaper. Do you know the jokes that I endured? (the afterprom was not for the cool kids back then).
This is what happens when I'm stressed about experiments. I get really angry about things that shouldn't matter anymore. Writing these things down really makes them start to seem rather funny--I feel better already.
Monday, June 20, 2005
There's manure in my pasture
I called my parents to a.) tell my father happy dad's day and b.) ask my mom how her first week of retirement went.
With regards to a:
My father went to a flea-market for father's day and may or may not have purchased a gun and some sort of pesticide. Funny that I've mentioned both in the last month--he's very predictable.
With regards to b:
My mother is deathly ill. Her quote of the day: Even though the grass is greener on the other side, there's still shit on it.
Mancala, Othello, and Violence
Jen posted about having a game night, and it made me think about my favorite games growing up. Games like Monopoly and Risk were out of the questions because a.) they took too long for my attention-lacking family and b.) they caused so many fights over strategy and rules that my mother banned them under the guise of "you kids are going to give me a heart attack" rule. Even Candy Land resulted in some near-death experiences. It wasn't until I met my husband that I was healed enough to attempt holding family game nights again.
One game that my husband and I can actually play together (he can't stand that I will not make a deal in Monopoly until I'm ready to make a deal, which is usually never) is Mancala. I'm trying to work Othello into the rotation too, but for now he's convinced that Mancala is the only game we can play without causing physical and/or mental injury to one another. Since I found two online versions, I wanted to share them with you all in the spirit of family-fun night.
Sunday, June 19, 2005
My dad is kind of...different. I've mentioned him before in this blog, so most of you will know what I mean. Due to his...unique qualities, Father's Day has always been extraordinarily difficult. What do you get a man who doesn't have the typical-Dad hobbies?
One year I gave my dad some Biohazard and H.I.V. labeling tape (that I paid for out of pocket). I don't know why he wanted it so bad since he knows that he can't use it on anything, especially anything that would go out in the trash. He just wanted the tape so that he could show his buddies and to say he had it.
I refuse to get him another trucker/mesh hat. He has enough to supply an entire militia of mullet-bearing red-necks. Everyone knows he's a union man, and, due to the shiny Steelworker's of America jacket that he always has on, they know he's a badass. He doesn't need any more hats to advertise these facts.
He's not allowed to own another gun via mom's orders. He doesn't have anywhere left to hide a gun, and having guns just lying around the house in plain view of Brother1 is a little dangerous as evidenced by the hole in their closet wall. I found a gun in his bill drawer and his candy cupboard last time I was home,-- it's just gotten out of hand. Maybe if he'd lock the doors, or if he even knew where the house keys were, he wouldn't need so many guns.
I can't get him candy since the doctor is not sure how much more belly my dad's two little stick legs can handle. It's sad that my dad believes that spring break means getting out of work for 3-weeks to have another stomach, back, etc. operation. He absolutely has to lose some weight so I can't supply him with anything sugar-based. I've been waiting for quintuplets to pop out of his womb for years now...
Father's day is rough. Any suggestions?
Saturday, June 18, 2005
The Value of A Quarter
For those of you who don't get to do much benchwork, I thought I'd give you a glimpse into the exciting, CSI-like nature of what I do.
7:00am -- 7:30 am: Play with rats--try not to get rat urine or poo on your new, Payless shoes.
7:30am -- 9:00 am: Test rats
9:00am -- 10:00 am: Dig through refrigerator (past the food that is not supposed to be in there. WTF, who put food in here?) to find tubes containing rat brains.
10:00am -- 10:30am: Play with dry ice (it never gets old). Put dry ice pieces into tubes, shut tubes, and put them outside neighbor's office (go home dude, it's Saturday). Run around the corner giggling and wait for the container to pop, scaring the begeezus out of neighbor. Laugh while running away.
10:30 -- 10:45: Dig through your backpack for quarters. Get excited that you found the post-it note that you wrote your oh-so-important lab notes on last week.
10:45 -- 11:00: clean quarters with alcohol--try to resist drinking the alcohol (just kidding)
11:00 -- 12:00: Wrap quarters in foil, making a foil "cup". Place quarter cup on dry ice. Place brains into cup, fill with chemical crap, and wait for brains to freeze.
12:00--5:00: Take brains off of quarters and cut into very thin slices. Put slices on microscope slides.
5:00 -- 6:00: Clean up
6:00: Put the quarters used in today's adventures into the metro bus fare meter. Smile at the secret knowledge that the world is using quarters that used to have brains on them (which is much better than dollars that have seen a stripper's butt crack).
ps: Today's Tip on How to Be A Serious Scientist
If you are going to go to work barely dressed because it's so damn hot outside and because you have come to the conclusion that no one will be there on a Saturday morning, you had better make sure that all of your lab coats are not out for cleaning. It bothers me that someone on this floor now knows what my belly button looks like--disturbing thought.
Friday, June 17, 2005
One Last Thing About Men's Nipples
Here. That's all I'm going to say on this topic from this point forward. I just wanted all of you men to know that we (as in we chicks) know, and now the world knows. You can send you letters of appreciation to ABC news.
Some Nice Blogs
Ruminating_Dude (James) has some really nice blogs on his sidebar, some of which I haven't seen before, so maybe they'll be new to you too. Just don't buy into to his weekly-bake-sale idea for SS reform...he's a tricky one.
I will not TGIF
A Friday is not really a Friday if you have to come in and do experiments all weekend. That really makes Friday more like a Monday, of which I detest. I refuse to rejoice with all of you that it's Friday--I'm stomping my foot and pouting like a child at you right now. Blah.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Kept Alive for Her Baby
What a unique case. Susan Torres was a researcher at the NIH. She has one son already, and is expecting another child. Apparently, she has melanoma and it spread to her brain, causing her to have a stroke and rendering her "brain dead". I hope the baby survives. What a sad, complicated event.
If you don't know already, melanoma is extremely dangerous. Many people don't realize that it is one of the most dangerous forms of cancer. Here is a melanoma tutorial; check yourself out.
Lost for Words
As I was searching for a word to scream when a rat got caught in my hair this morning, I remembered that Brother1 had suggested using Urban Dictionary for such times. Sometimes, especially at work, you need something that has more than four letters to truly express yourself. I tried this one, but it didn't have the desired effect.
note: You probably don't want your kids on this site. Maybe you don't care, but I just wanted to be responsible and warn you.
How to Make Babies
You learn something new every day. I got this from Pharyngula. If you have ever been confused about where babies come from, this will answer your questions. Regardless of whether or not you appreciate the "humor", at least it dispels some myths (you would be surprised at how many educated people believe those myths). I wonder if this could be approved for the Sex-Ed classroom--I'm thinking that it wouldn't.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Music, Music, Music
First, go say hi to Trisha. She sent me a really cool article today, and I owe her. So go give her some virtual hugs and check out her cool layout.
My six favorite songs at the moment (sorry, I don't know how to link to music yet since I'm new to all of this):
1.) She Will Be Loved -- Maroon 5
2.) Caramel -- Suzanne Vega
3.) Luxurious -- Gwen Stefani
4.) TNT -- AC DC
5.) Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe-- Barry White
6.) Fix You -- Cold Play
I've also been mixing in some Tom Jones (Sex Bomb is too hilarious), but I don't want to lose any respect on the street so he didn't make the list.
I'm not tagging anyone just yet, because I need to figure out who has already done this.
Need a Break?
Elena's Motorcycle Ride Through Chernobyl
Courtesy of my sister-in-law, here is a very interesting site.
From the site:
"I travel a lot and one of my favorite destinations leads North from Kiev, towards so called Chernobyl "dead zone", which is 130kms from my home. Why my favorite? Because one can take long rides there on empty roads. "
She talks about everything from irradiation and natural radiation levels to the history of Chernobyl. There are a lot of great pictures (more their content than their quality), and if you want to know what Chernobyl now looks like, you'll find out.
Since radiation is one of the many things I'm interested in, I felt this was scientific enough to share with you:)
Back to the Bench
I'm back to the bench today to hopefully finish up my last-few-lingering experiments. I'm putting my paper on the back burner for a few days to clear my head. You can only stare at a journal article in preparation for so long (it's been weeks now) before you start hearing voices beckoning you to jump out of the windows.
Pray to your Gods that there will be no fire drills for the next 10 days. I will explain later.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
I know this post is going to result in some nasty google hits, but it's worth it.
A couple of posts back I mentioned some questions that I was asked at a party.
I just wanted to share with you an entertaining article about one of the questions. Now, there is a watered-down-medical version here, but I like the Salon article better.
From Salon (by Susan McCarthy ):
"Quite a few people end up with an extra, or supernumerary nipple somewhere along the trail of the milk ridge, however. (One man had five.) ... In fact, many people with supernumerary nipples don't know they have them until ...Extras often run in families -- Darwin cites two brothers who each had a supernumerary nipple."
"Darwin, who thought about everything, naturally wondered about nipples. He collected case reports of men and women with extra nipples (which he called mammae erraticae), including the case of a woman who allegedly nourished a child via an extra nipple on her thigh."
If that doesn't hook you, I don't know what will. Nipples and Darwin in one article--sweet.
Viagra for Children
My problem with this, is the statement: "The big advantage of Viagra, Adatia said, is it's easy to take and has few side effects."
We have no idea what types of side effects Viagra has in children since A.) it has not been studied in young people and B.) it has not even been thoroughly investigated in young animals.
I found a paper that looked at Sildenafil (Viagra) in rat pups, but the rats were treated and then immediately killed--there were no long term observations made about the animals' health or functioning. I found another paper that looked at "young" rats that were 3-months old. That's not really what I mean by looking at a rat model equivalent to giving a 4- or 5-year old a drug.
Nonetheless, one could argue that if a drug truly extends the life expectancy of these children, then the benefits outweigh the costs. If we are merely extending a child's life by treating one disease so that he or she is killed later on by another, drug-induced injury, however, I'm not sure the "benefits" truly outweigh the costs.
You should always think long and hard before you let your child have a drug that was designed for adult use. There's a reason why we don't give our babies alcohol and MSG--well, at least most of us don't.
Botoxorexia--the best word ever. Thanks to: Go Fug Yourself. I think I'm going to write a grant proposal on botoxeria. It's much more interesting than the effects of gamma-irradiation on long-term neuronal fate and function or the impact of lithium in preventing injury after sublethal-insults...you get the point.
Moths Like Cocaine
People who claim that we learn from history, aren't really learning from history. Historically, we ignore history because we'd like to think that we are so damn smart.
For instance, this plan to unleash thousands of moths in order to eradicate our little Columbian-cocaine problem raises a lot of concerns. For instance, what happens when they eat all of the cocaine? Who needs corn, cotton, coffee....you get the point.
It doesn't matter if the species is native or not--any species can be invasive and dangerous to an ecosystem, and plant-devouring moths sound a little reckless. I'm also pretty sure that cocaine growers will figure out a way to crush the critters (like DDT), making the whole thing pointless.
ps I may know someone who still has vats and vats of illegal pesticides, not because he wants to use them, but just because he doesn't appreciate "the man" telling him that he can't. It doesn't matter that Little Girl found dead groundhogs and cats after crop-spraying day and spent hours under her bed thinking that the apocalypse had come (that's what Sunday school does to freak-children). If you are "the man" this has all been a joke so please don't contact me. It's all a big, big joke (called life).
Monday, June 13, 2005
Are you there?
Someone came to my site through a google search for: "how to puke" & bulimia
If you are reading this--please don't go down that road. Please email me if need some anonymous help. Your hair will fall out, your teeth will need to be replaced, you will lose your short-term memory, your muscles will cramp in severe pain, you will feel dizzy and get headaches, and, when you've gone through all of this, your organs will shut down. This will all happen before you attain your goal weight.
Evil Woman with Evil Dog
So, in past posts I've mentioned this nasty woman who lives in my neighborhood and who has an even nastier dog. I've tried to be nice to her and give her the "smile then quickly look at the ground" sign of hospitality, but she never displays anything other than a grimace. Her dog tried to eat my little Oscar, and I've never had a dog dislike mine before. To make matters worse, this woman actually acted like there was something wrong with Oscar (even though he wasn't the one barking and growling).
I can handle her social ineptitude; I can not, however, tolerate the fact that she lets her dog mull my azaleas. Yes, you've heard it before, but it's getting worse. Today, I actually banged on my window when it was happening--there was no way she didn't hear it.
I'm going to set a trap (a non-lethal, non-painful one of course). I haven't figured out what yet, but I will...
Nerds Make Good Lovers
I got this from Stupid Evil Bastard of whom I found on Pharyngula's Blog Roll (great place to discover...umm...interesting blogs). I didn't get to see if SEB had any other cool links because I was frightened by his picture. It reminded me of a man that I got into a bottle-bashing fight with at Top Dawgz, a motor cycle bar I used to frequent (I know, who would have guessed).
I thought it was no surprise the nerds made good lovers. I thought that when Lewis nailed Betty, the world's eyes were opened, never to be closed again.
So buy your nerd-promoting uniform, and have at it.
Press Releases on the Brain
This month's Press Releases from Nature Neuroscience are interesting reads. There's a lot of imaging data, so take it for what it's worth, but it is, nonetheless, interesting.
Wiring the brain for depression--From Dan Weinberger's Group at the NIMH. This group has also discovered a gene variant that may be linked to some of schizophrenia's negative symptoms, and their data are usually interesting since they combine imaging techniques with molecular methods and mice models.
Race-related brain activity--"Pictures of African-American faces are known to activate the amygdala more strongly than Caucasian-American faces, at least in Caucasian-American people, but the underlying reason for that activity has remained controversial." That's your hook for this one.
Brain changes over the menstrual cycle--well, duh...actually, it's interesting stuff. These studies arise from data on catamenial epilepsy, a condition in which seizure activity is modulated during the menstrual cycle in epileptic women. Hormonal-linked-seizure activity in women is really interesting--some women go through most of their life never having a seizure, yet when they enter menopause, they become epileptic. There are also cases of young girls becoming epileptic when they first start menstruating or when they first get pregnant.
Biopsy Darts and Whales
Does anyone know what a biopsy dart is? Does anyone know how you would shoot a whale with one and then retrieve it?
From Reuters via Cnn.com
"Whaling nations -- mainly Japan, Norway and Iceland -- are allowed to kill whales for scientific purposes under rules of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) even though the IWC imposed a moratorium on all commercial hunts in 1986.
"It is extraordinary that Japan, one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world, continues to kill an estimated 650 whales a year using 1940s science," said Susan Lieberman, director of the WWF's global species program.
"We call on Japan to live up to its reputation as a technologically and scientifically advanced nation, and put an end to 'scientific whaling,'" she said in a statement."
Apparently Norway and Iceland are O.K. since they aren't as advanced as Japan--You guys can keep killing until you catch up to those smart Japanese folk.
Sunday, June 12, 2005
Art, Science, and DNA
Ask the Expert
When a lawyer goes to a party, she knows that, upon telling people her occupation, there is a pretty good chance that she will be asked for legal advice concerning some ridiculous issue.
When a doctor goes to a party, he knows that, upon telling people his occupation, there is a pretty good chance that he will be asked for medical advice concerning some disgusting fungus, rash, or pain.
When an account goes to a party...you get the idea.
Well, you know what? Boo-fuckin'-hoo. At least you have some idea of what random question you may be asked. Since no one really knows what I do for a living, they feel that they can ask me anything that even remotely seems to fall in my field. I get asked about everything from knee pain, psychiatric problems, cancer treatments, and amphibian communication to the effects of the tea in China. I never know what crazy question that I will be expected to answer, with a crowd of beady-little eyes looking at me, waiting for the divine knowledge to just flow from my brain.
Yesterday, however, I was so taken aback by the questions, I just stared blankly.
First question: Oh, so you're one of those Dr./science people. I have a question for you. Why do men have nipples?
Second question: Yadda, yadda, yadda...So I was reading about people being born with both sex organs and the Dr. having to decide what gender to make the baby...which would you choose...you know, like...which do you think would be better for that child's success...
Speechless...never in my life until now. I'm not sure what was more hilarious (or disturbing): the question or the seriousness of the person asking the question.
I'll leave my answers for another post. Yes, I answered the questions as best as I could. If you are going to ask such a random question, you are going to get a random (often made up) answer.
Just be glad that you are asked advice on how to win a property dispute or on how to get rid of the green funk on someone's toe. Never a dull moment...never:)
Pink Floyd Returns
God does listen. It took poverty, death, and disease to do it, but Pink Floyd has returned.
Although some of these are a bit simplistic, I thought some of you may be interested in how organizations of researchers, such as the Society for Neuroscience, are trying to disseminate recent research findings and information to the public and governing bodies. If you are interested in science, especially neuroscience, and looking to start of a business of your own, you should look into this type of work. We need more venues and innovative ideas for communicating research findings to the public.
Friday, June 10, 2005
Hot dogs and Science
Since I can't really leave science and research entirely to become a hotdog godess:
Solar hot dog cooker (family fun)
Virtual hot dog stand (train your kids (or yourself) in business)
National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (for your hot dog thesis)
Hot dog vapor-induced status asthmaticus (I shit you not)
Hot dog creatures (family fun)
Hot dogs and diabetes (hot dogs = bad)
Etymology of "hot dog" (for my language researchers)
Hot dogs and pancreatic cancer (hot dogs = bad)
Gluten-free hot dog buns (for Trisha)
Vote for vegetarian hot dogs for your health (for Muse and the rest of you V's)
Friday's Career Choice
After weeks like these, I find myself wanting to leave science. We all go through these spells; they are truly unavoidable. When I start feeling this way, I often try to think of what career path I'll choose instead of sitting at the bench next to my gene gun.
Today's choice: I'm going to own a hot dog stand.
It makes perfect sense; I'm an avid hot dog enthusiast. I love them all: Chicago style, chili-covered, ketchup-coated, kraut-topped, and, most importantly, the beloved Death Dog (patent pending).
I will call it Dr. Wiener's Hot Dog Shop. It will be painted dark blue and light green. The Boston Terrier will be my mascot. I will have very flashy, scientific names for each hot-dog style--the death dog will be called The Apoptosis. You all will get free hot dogs of course (unless you abuse the system).
I can't wait!
Let the girl live
This is why I believe not every human being has the right to be a parent.
No doctor is going to give radiation therapy to a young girl unless it is deemed necessary for treating the cancer. It's not as though the doctor said, "Oh, you have Hodgkin's disease. I'm going to give you chemotherapy and then three nodal radiations, whether you need it or not, because that is standard practice."
Apparently, these parents are going to be really rich someday since they have the magical ability to look at their daughter and know, by staring really closely at her, if her cancer is completely gone. They have been blessed with the divine power to just know that the cancer has gone into permanent remission. They don't need no stinkin' cancer specialists.
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Why Are People So Hard?
On more than one occasion, I have been asked if I am sure that I am not autistic. I find this annoying because, as I've mentioned in the past, I hate the overuse and misuse of disorders to refer to and/or excuse slightly bizarre behaviors.
I think people use this term to describe me because I can be a social moron at times. I don't find things difficult--I find people difficult. I am not afraid of spiders, or spinal taps, or jumping out of planes. I didn't think my comprehensive exams were hard nor did I find writing and obtaining a predoctoral fellowship scary or difficult. I cross the street without looking because I'm not afraid of being run over, and I have no problem working with radiation or carcinogens (in fact, I made a big radioactive vat of carcinogenic punch today). I do get irritated when certain fabrics and/or textures touch my skin, and I really hate certain auditory stimulants, but I don't think that's so weird.
Put me in a social situation, however, and I freak out. I get sick to my stomach, and I sweat like I've been hiking through the Sahara. I refuse to call and order take-in because I hate talking to strangers on the phone, and I can't handle confrontation to save my life. I once hung up on a Pizza Hut manager because he started yelling at me because I was complaining about my order (it was never delivered). I didn't hang up because I was angry--I hung up because I didn't know what to say, and I panicked.
That is why, when my mentor started being ridiculous today, I closed my computer and ran away. I should have stood my ground--I should have made him talk it out, but I didn't. I just ran away.
Things are easy; they are controllable and predictable. People, however, are neither controllable nor predictable. I just don't understand why people have to be so damn hard for me.
The Madness Hamsters
Thanks to this link from the Manolo, I finally know what is wrong with me. I knew that the rodent world would get its revenge; that's karma for you. At least I know I'm not crazy because of my bad genes...
I also have always been very wary of penguins and now I know why.
Please visit the world of Edward Monkton and enjoy.
Are you in need of some cool action figures? How about owning a Freud or a crazy cat lady? Here you go.
This is really cool--I love new ways to get kids interested in science. I love to do units where I let the kids handle the brains; they think it is sooooo cool and gross. Many people don't realize that the brain is about the consistency of custard. In fact, you can make your own jello brain to check out what a real brain is kind of like.
Grossology home site
Woman Finds Leg in Her Yard
This is truly gross and distrubing.
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Dolphins, Tools, and Social Learning of Behaviors
A couple of posts back, I linked to this article describing how chimps use tools. Well, apparently this behavior is not limited to chimps and people. In Tuesday's PNAS issue, there will be an article by Michael Kruetzen et al. describing how dolphins off of the Australian coast are using sponges as tools.
From the Associated Press via CNN.com:
"This study provides convincing evidence that the behavior is transmitted via social learning," commented Laela Sayigh of the University of North Carolina Center for Marine Science.
Interesting, very interesting--This reminds me of a recent post on Pharyngula discussing a theory by David Buss on why some men kill their unfaithful wives.
Genetics versus social learning (or maybe it's synergistic--it's not always a "versus" issue)...Move over onions, we've got more layers, and they are all so very complicated.
Monday, June 06, 2005
Nail in the Brain
Most Craptacular Schizophrenia Advice Column Ever
This is one of the most useless advice comments about schizophrenia that I have ever read. It was if the person writing it decided to target an audience of 6-year olds. ABC news seems to be stooping to the level of a metro flyer with this one.
The writing is horrible, the facts (what little facts are given) are not all accurate, and the language is flippant at times.
"The old medicines tended to be really toxic stuff. The term you'll hear for the old drugs are the "typicals" and the new ones are the "atypical" ones. And the atypical ones, they're a hundred times better. "
--Yes, the atypicals can have less side effects, but they do not always work better, and many of the older medications are not "toxic".
"What we know now that we didn't know ten or fifteen years ago is that each time there is a psychotic episode, there's damage done to a very sensitive part of the brain. As a result of many psychotic episodes, there are cognitive dysfunctions, poor decision-making, poor memory and poor concentration. I'm not saying there may not have been a little bit there to begin with, but you have to avoid the repeated psychotic episodes for the person to have the optimum outcome."
--What part of the brain--"a very sensitive part of the brain"??? We know that there are functional and structural brain abnormalities in several brain regions, but many of these problems are most likely caused during development, before the first "psychotic" episode. The psychotic episodes and cognitive problems are present no matter how many episodes you have. Early treatment does lead to a better outcome in many cases, but that's relatively speaking.
"A lot of times, the way these young people get their first treatment is they really have to be taken to a psychiatrist hospital against their will, which is horribly traumatic. It's just a devastating way to start, but that's what happens sometimes, unfortunately."
Dumbest statement ever:
"We have to be positive, especially with the new medicines. But I would say, for the most part, if you can keep the psychotic exacerbations to a minimum, the odds are greatly increased for leading a more normal life."
--the devastating part of schizophrenia, for the person who has the schizophrenia, is not necessarily the positive symptoms (the psychotic states). It's the negative symptoms (disorganized thought, perseveration, poor executive functioning, etc.) that often have the greatest negative impact on quality of life. I can stop hallucinations with an injection--I can stop very few of the negative symptoms with our current therapies.
Crap, pure crap.
Missing Student Found
So, I've decided I don't care too much about this case. What I do care about, however, is this:
Associated Press via Cnn.com:
"For the last five years, Stahr worked under her real name, using her Social Security number. But police said they were unable to locate her that way because they don't have access to IRS records."
Of course the police are all pissed off that they spent money looking for the girl, but the girl did not actually "disappear" if she was using her real name and SS #. I just can't get over the fact that they couldn't track her through her work records. Weird.
So, if you hadn't figured it out already, I was out of town last week. I went back home to attend my mom's retirement party and then to pack her room up for the final time. I don't think anyone can imagine how long it takes to pack up 36-years worth of teaching supplies; my mom didn't get rid of many things through the years.
The party was nice--very emotional. A lot of teachers who had retired in past years came. It was very weird seeing all of the people who taught me how to read and write sitting in one room together. Brother1 and I gave small speeches, and that made my mom pretty happy. Other than the food tasting like cardboard (the caterers in my town are all over the age of 65, and salt is not an option), everything went well, and I think my mom was pleased.
The rest of the weekend was kind of a blur. I remember spending a lot of time trying to convince my father that even though eating a pound of peanuts and a Krispy Kreme before dinner made him eat less food during the actual meal, that didn't mean this pre-dinner plan was a good diet strategy. He claimed there was a study in the paper about how you should eat peanuts before dinner so that you eat less of your main course. I said that the study was not a flex plan, adding a lard-coated donut was not part of the experimental design, and I was pretty sure that the study did not cover eating unlimited peanuts. I also pointed out that the study never said anything about having peanuts as an after dinner snack, a father-inspired adaptation to the diet.
Needless to say, I'm back and ready to work...kind of. For some reason, family time always leaves me tired and disoriented, making my world here at work a little shaky on the first day back.
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
Preconditioned for Cancer during Infancy
This is an interesting article on cancer risk.
A recent study published in PNAS demonstrated that exposure to oestrogenic hormones during infancy may cause genetically predisposed individuals to develop certain types of cancers later on in life. This study looked specifically at how exposure to DES, an oestrogenic drug that used to be given to women to prevent miscarriages, influenced the development of leiomyoma in female rats that were genetically predisposed to develop these tumors.
It's important to note that the exposure to DES alone did not result in tumor formation. Rats who developed the tumors also had genetic characteristics known to increase cancer susceptibility.
Crickets that can mate every 18 seconds
Apparently, these little guys suffer from the syndrome we call "beer goggles" when observed in humans.
From BBC news:
"Pre-copulatory song usually acts as a barrier to cross-species mating because females aren't attracted to the song of another species," explained Dr Vahed.
But alpinus males do not bother with any such formalities: they will apparently leap on any unsuspecting cricket - male or female - without introduction."
The Pro-ana movement
I was hoping this movement wouldn't last. Apparently, however, it has acquired a following.
From the Associated Press via MSNBC:
"A preliminary survey of teens who have been diagnosed with eating disorders at the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University, for instance, found that 40 percent had visited Web sites that promote eating disorders."
These kids believe that "Ana" exists. They pray to her--they seek her out for comfort. No one is taking the power of Ana seriously, although I can't figure out why. This has turned into a religion, a very powerful religion that kids are grasping onto at a very vulnerable age. I have seen girls as young as 9-years old come in for ED treatment. We need to take this very seriously, from both a parenting and a therapy standpoint. We need to kill Ana.
There is nothing more that I can comment on here other than the obvious. I would like to comment, however, on a common theme among these sites used to promote the benefits of the pro-ana movement: caloric restriction.
Caloric restriction will not make you live longer. There are studies detailing how caloric restriction is good for your brain and how it can increase your life span. The data from these studies are pretty solid. The type of caloric restriction promoted in pro-ana literature (or even in the diet marketing craze), however, do not match the experimental design used in these studies, and the experimenal design is critical in obtaining the desired results. One of the researchers in this field, Dr. Mark Mattson, has even stated in his seminars that most of these "fads" have nothing to do with his studies.
It pisses me off when people take really good studies and distort them for media/marketing purposes.