Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Rats!

Two more things for today:

1.) If you are reading my blog and you are not on my list over there to the right, can you let me know so I can add you/bookmark you? If you don't want me to know, that's fine--I like shady people.

2.) I wanted to show you the wonderful present brother2 got for me and my labmate. It's soooo soft. A very good gift idea if you have a scientist friend. We should get one for Chaneeca, James, and Feri.

God made athletes but Zeus made me

Great post by Pharyngula.

The first statement hooked me. I'm still laughing.

["Athletes do things that seem transcendental". The operative word there is "seem". Athletes do not ever violate the laws of physics, chemistry, or biology.]

Read the post and learn some things:)

By the way, did you know that Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades were brothers?

For Trisha

Trisha is having a t-shirt issue. We must all help her. I picked out my new favorites to get you all going.

Cutie Pi
The old lady
Dr. Feel good
Roxy T
Best Hair
A cute triangle

Oooo, and I found an autism awareness ring that I really like.
Oooo, and I found a thinking cap
And some anatomical socks

I also found a phobia pop-up book to help with my clown fears (there's one for nightmares too!)

Is it really OK to hypnotize yourself?

I somehow have gone offtrack. Please help Trisha find the perfect T-shirt since I can't focus today.

Trollops in my microscope

My word for the day is trollop. I am going to see how many times I can use this word in one day in a scientific setting. People around here are constantly using words that they obviously don't know the definition of as evidenced by their weird word placements. I feel like having a little fun today.

Urban Dictionary has already defined trollop. That makes me sad because I really wanted to define it. I must disagree with the last definition. A "slut ho biatch" is not technically a trollop. I think it's the biatch that throws the whole thing off.

I have to spend 10 hours on the microscope which is why I'm dragging my feet and procrastinating. Imagine staring at a 52-inch TV, sitting 2 feet away from the screen. Now imagine the room is dark and the screen is black with bright, fluorescent-trollop blobs of which are sometimes moving around at a rapid pace. Imagine getting vertigo after about 1 hour but having to continue sitting there, trapped. That's what being on the scope is like.

update at 11:00am: Count is at 3

Monday, August 29, 2005

We will die without coffee--literally

Somehow that evil empire known as Starbucks has gotten to some cancer researchers at Scranton.

I would like to point out the last statement of this article:

Decaf has the same antioxidant benefits as regular coffee

So, if you have high blood pressure, renal problems, or any of the other ailments requiring you to limit your latte intake, maybe you shouldn't rush out and get your Starbucks card renewed just yet. Eat some blueberries and bananas and you'll be fine;)

I would also like to mention that there's a yin and a yang to everything in life. Caffeine is also known to potentiate the induction of DNA damage and perhaps inhibit DNA repair processes under certain conditions. This is one of the reasons that caffeine can make cells sensitive to radiation-induced killing (not a bad thing when we're trying to kill cancer cells but maybe bad in healthy cells in some circumstances). If you're interested in this, you can search for caffeine and DNA repair/DNA damage at www.pubmed.gov or on google scholar for some original research articles.

Thank you

Thank you all for reading my blog and being my bloggin' friends.

Today just seemed like a good day to say thanks.

I hope none of you are in Katrina's path right now. If any of you get temporarily displaced after everything is said and done, let me know.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Beauty Tips

Tip for the day:

If you live in a really old house with really bad plumbing, never try to create your own hair conditioner with an advocado and some honey. If you do feel the need to be your own cosmetics source, go the extra mile and process the hair treatment in a blender until smooth. Don't think to yourself, "I can just mash it with my hand like I do when I'm making guacamole--how smooth does it really need to be?". Just because you may feel like you don't have the extra energy to wash out the blender doesn't mean you should ignore the instructions written by our trusted beauty editors. They know what they are doing.

Do you know how disgusting browned advocado looks floating around in the tub? Have you every thrown up peanut butter? With that visual, turn the chunks into a brownish-green baby poop color. Now you know.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Scientific Bait

When I was 9, I told the press I was going to be a marine biologist when I grew up.

When I was 11, I caught a 22 inch bass with a hot dog and decided being a marine biologist was too dangerous. If a bass will eat a hot dog, a shark would definitely think a scientist was bait.

Everyone thought I was being paranoid (as usual).

I was right (as usual).

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

I missed the free coffee because I was looking for monkeys

So, I'm trying to start over with a positive attitude. I keep repeating our little lab mantra "it is what it is" and swallowing down lumps of frustration in a way that would make Marge Simpson proud. I ignored the fact that all of our deliveries piled up, unopened, while I was gone. I tried to pacify our rotation students, who are ready to rebel against the lab PI for his lack of mentorship, lack of knowledge and/or help, and inappropriate behavior (even though they've only been here for two months), for hours in a very diplomatic way. They kept asking me how my labmate and I have survived in this lab all of these years. I just smiled and said, "fortitude with a big heaping scoop of passive aggressiveness". Any situation will have its problems--the grass is always greener and all that jazz.

I just need to make it through a few more months without turning back into the angry beast I was a few weeks ago. I can do it.

On a lighter note, I realized today how many people here are so wonderful to me for no particular reason. The delivery people are like my family and are always doing extra things for me just to be nice. Our safety inspection people give me candy and hold the shuttle for me when I'm running behind. They are always asking me how my project is going, and they want to come to my defense. Our office supply guy greets me every morning with a smile and a hello and always gives me whatever freebies he has at the moment. The coffee shop kids give me extra stamps on my card just because they think I look "down" and they think getting a PhD is special. Crazy rabbits.

In turn, I also realized today that the support we need to keep moving forward can come from the most unlikely of places. It is ridiculous for me to walk around upset that I'm not getting help from my mentor and that my lab is a very bad place to be right now when so many people are going out of their way to create a "safe" zone for me.

It's like those people who go on wildlife tours and get all upset that they didn't see any monkeys. They go on and on about not seeing any monkeys and about the tour being a big waste of their time. They spend so much time focusing on the lack of poo-flinging monkeys that they don't see all of the other, amazing wildlife around them. OK, so maybe you have a better analogy, but this was mine so I'm sticking by it.

There, I posted. Are you happy;)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Back from Beyond the Something or Other

So, I'm back. It may take me a while to post since I'm busy catching up on all of your sites and since I have over 100 emails from the sniveling masses yearning for my help/blood. Some of you posted a lot while I was gone--I thought we had an agreement that you all would live really boring lives so I wouldn't miss anything? Regardless, I'll be back in true form one of these days.

ps I keep finding nachos and margarita salt in my couches, and my cat seems a bit hungover. You all didn't have a party in my house while I was gone, did you? Next time, I'm turning on the electric fence or something.

Also, I finally read the book, Wicked. I'm feeling very confused now over who the bad guys in this life are (I always knew that pink-fluff ball, Glinda, was worthless). It was really nice to read something not related to science. I forgot how much I used to enjoy fiction.

Friday, August 12, 2005

I'm off to see the wizard

I'm off to the beach for the next few days. After reading yesterday's post, I realized that I need some "thinking" time and some time away from the people driving me crazy. I also need some time to rework my paper, and that is something that I can not do sitting in my windowless hole here at work. Don't do anything too wild while I'm gone.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The flood in my brain

Call me judgmental, but I have decided that it is OK to hate someone because they think it is hilarious to refer to the kids on the "short bus" as "window lickers". You all know how I feel about that. I hate myself more for being so angry that I couldn't spit out the words necessary to explain why I find "window licker" inappropriate. Although this event happened several weeks ago, I'm just processing it now. Why are some things on a delay in our brains? Someone should study that.

I woke up crying this morning. I cried in the shower, and then I cried for almost another 20 min after I got to work. I cried because I'm tired and exhausted and could use a little positive reinforcement from somebody other than the bus driver (my bus drivers are very nice). I'm crying because I have things to worry about that I don't have the time or energy to worry about. I'm crying because everything right now is an unknown: I don't know when I'll be done. I don't know if or when my paper will get published. I don't know where we are going to find the money. I don't know where I'll work or what I'll be doing in 6 months (give or take 6 months). I don't know if I'll be alright or if we'll ever have children or if I'll ever figure out how to knit the edging on my new project. I don't know anything but everyone expects me to know everything--for some reason they believe I know everything and that makes me cry more.

I like the commercial where the two chickens at the deli (dead and defeathered chickens) start to sumo wrestle. I like the chapter on sumo wrestlers in Freakonomics. So, now I know why drug dealers live with their mothers, but why do most of our friends who make way more money than we do live with their mothers?

Should I email my mentor and tell her my labmate and closest friend here is having a breakdown and needs some freaking support? Should I tell her that my labmate is one of the most tremendous scientists I have ever met and deserves to be treated better and given more pats on the back? Is that overstepping my bounds? My mentor isn't even on this coast all summer so how else is she going to find out? What is wrong with this system?

My head hurts. I realize that I've had no water today, but I really would rather have a beer right now than a glass of water. I also realize that I'll probably not have either because the kitchen is so far away when your knees ache as bad as mine do right now.

That's all--I'm not fading to blank.

It's a Love/Hate Kind of Thing

I got the feedback on my paper from the reviewers. One reviewer liked my paper, and the other reviewer hated it. Well, maybe hate is a strong word. Their comments sure seemed to be overly...uh...critical. Those would be the proper terms to use, I guess.

The good news is that they have given me the option to resubmit the paper if I address the reviewers' concerns. The journal has a high impact factor and gets lots of manuscripts so they don't give you this option unless they think that you might be able to get the paper up to par. They also complimented the clarity of my writing (you would never have thought I could write clearly by this blog) and the interesting nature of the work--go me.

The bad news is that the negative reviewer had some issues reflecting his or her lack of knowledge in the field. Given that few people in neuroscience are looking at the proteins/cellular markers that I investigated in my studies, this is understandable. Unfortunately, most people familiar with the type of work I'm doing are cancer researchers. I can't really ask for a oncologist to review a neuroscience paper--that type of thing would be a little out-of-bounds. I just have to make this reviewer think outside of their comfort zone. That could go really well or it could turn in to a train wreck. Regardless, you can't say "bite me" in response to a ridiculous comment/suggestion and rewording "bite me" is quite difficult so I will have to be a bit more of a sycophant than I normally would choose to be.

We'll see what happens. At least they didn't reject it--that was all I was striving for the first time around. Wish me luck in kissing some major ass.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The Stigma of Being Alive

Both Corpus Callosum and Mind Hacks have recently posted on the move to destigmatize schizophrenia. I have added the Open Doors link to my sidebar, and I encourage you to check it out. Elminating the stigma assigned to schizophrenia is an uphill battle of which we as scientists and physicians may or may not be able to climb alone.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Geeky Must Haves

It's about that time again for me to key you in on this season's trends:

Brain Lapel and Tie Pins
James Bond Camera
Microscope Lapel and Tie Pins
Caffeine chemistry T-shirtA
Caffeine T-shirt B
Atom Earrings
Einstein's Bicycle T-shirt (it glows!)

For the kids:
children's Pi T-shirt (I must have it)
Space Ant Habitat
Smart Mass Thinking Putty
Marshmallow shooter

My favorites:
Swiss Army Knife USB
Science Never Sucks T-shirt
Just Du It T-shirt
Viva La Relativity T-shirt
Polarity Board Game

Monday, August 08, 2005

Things I Learned in the Last 48 hr


You should always know how high water will splash on impact after falling any given distance before going camping, as you will most definitely be using an outhouse.Posted by Picasa

DEET-free bugsprays are for suckers and hippies who love to be bitten by West-Nile filled bombers.

Always carry your own roll of toilet paper with you even if your campground boasts of its clean and friendly "bathrooms".

People don't care if eating burnt marshmellows causes cancer so don't tell them all about it unless you want them to think you are crazy. The same goes for hotdogs.

You can make a golf club out of a stick, a rock, and some tent string. You can also make one out of a Pringles can, duct tape, and a small tree--don't forget to tape the lid on if you decide to make your can heavier by filling it with rocks.

Spiders are evil. You do not need a hole in your tent for them to get in. They have magic powers allowing them to transport themselves through all barriers. It hurts when they bite--I'd rather be bitten by a rat.

Why Free Things Aren't Really Free

Apparently, the free blogger template I was using was causing some problems (thanks PK and James for letting me know). I've switched to another template until I can figure things out, although there's no guarantee that this one is working perfectly either. Let me know if you all encounter any problems. Blah.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

That Ecstasy Made Me Move

While I was working on inventing vibrating-imaging wand cozies for Psycho Kitty, I noticed a recent study claiming that ecstacy relieved some of the motor abnormalities occurring in a mouse model of Parkinson's disease. Some of you may be thinking "Hmmm, but I thought ecstasy causes Parkinson's symptoms in non-human primates?"--what's the deal? You are semi-correct, little grasshoppers. A group did make that claim, but they ended up retracting their paper when they discovered that their drug had been mislabled-- they had really been giving the monkeys speed instead of ecstasy. Retraction...ouch.

Speaking of the Media

I mentioned something in my last post that is exemplified by this:

Road Rage

Obviously, they thought this was essential information since they mentioned it even before describing the events leading up to the shooting:

"Walter R. Bishop, 60, who was taking medication for depression, was arrested Tuesday and charged with first-degree murder in the death of 27-year-old Sandro Andrade.

There is so much buried between the lines here that my head hurts just thinking about it.

My Art is Chained to the Wall

Mind Hacks recently posted about Henry Darger. They link to several sites about Darger, including the PBS website devoted to Henry's works and life.

Many people have attempted to understand the relationship between mental illness and artistic abilities, if one truly exists at all. Kay Jamesfield Ramison wrote a detailed book entitled Touched by Fire: Manic Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament, investigating the link between artistic talent/expression and psychiatric disorders. It's a bit data heavy but is still an interesting read.

I like these types of stories because they lend evidence to the fact that having a mental illness does not exclude you from being a necessary component of our society. Usually, we are bombarded with the darker side of psychiatric diseases. If Henry Darger had murdered somebody, CNN would have covered it for days--chalking it up as another crazy set loose in society to slaughter innocent victims. Apparently, his artistic genius was not "front page" material for many of our "more popular" media outlets, but his story did and will continue to make it into other venues thanks to PBS, NPR, etc. Ah, but I digress.

Darger's story struck a very personal chord with me. Brother1 was an extraordinarily gifted artist. At a young age, people who saw his works were convinced that he was going to be famous. Unfortunately, his illness took away his abililty to focus and his fine motor skills, making drawing and writing difficult, if not impossible. Watching him lose his ability to create beautiful and fantastic realms, filled with bizarre and glorious creatures, was, for me, the most painful part of his illness. I wonder how many artistic masterminds will go undiscovered because their hands are bound by an illness we can't control.

I know many people who feel frustrated when they can't explore their interests because of their jobs, families, or other committments in life. Their frustration is real, but their chains are often not. I can not imagine what it is like to have the gift, a head and heart filled with creativity and ideas, but not the ability to use that gift.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

With Death Comes Life

The Torres baby was born. Susan Ann Catherine Torres weighs 1 pound 13 ounces. Keeping Susan alive so that her baby could live has cost her family not only emotionally but also financially. You can donate money to help pay for the intensive care hospital costs here.

My thoughts go out to Jason, Peter, Susan, and baby Susan.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Darfur Drawn

I found this site on Corpus Callosum. I thought it was important to share. It speaks for itself.

Chemistry in the kitchen can be rated G

When I took organic chemistry in college the first time, we had to make this stuff for one of our labs. All I remember from the experiment is that I made it in my dorm room, and I thought it was really cool unlike most of the stuff I did in orgo (are you beginning to see that I hated organic chemistry like a bad rash?). I made the "stuff" in a plastic bag, and it looked like a liquid, but it turned into a solid when you put pressure on it. As soon as you took the pressure off, it was a liquid again. I wanted to make this stuff for my nephews, so I looked it up and, thankfully, found the recipe. Because some of you are interested in these kinds of things, I thought I'd share.

Chem in your home. It's under ooblek. You can also make Gak (I used to make this with my mom for her first graders), silly putty, and flubber.

Have fun!

Pushing Brain Candy


In honor of shrinky kitten and her drug posters.
A sad depiction of the stigma used to push drug sales forward. Fear sells, people.
You can read the ad here.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 01, 2005

Is that my CV on that toilet paper roll?

I finished my CV which means I can start applying for postdoctoral positions. If you've never made one before, a CV is an extended resume listing everything you've ever done that is worth anything (or, sometimes, things that aren't worth anything). It's basically a multipage report on all the things you didn't do masked by the things you did manage to accomplish. People think that they are being really tricky when they construct their CVs. "Maybe no one will notice that I didn't have a Nature or Science paper if I throw in the 20 abstracts I wrote". Come on, people, we all know the truth. Just as no one will ever go back and actually read your dissertation, no one is fooled by the padding you squeeze into your CV as a new PhD. Maybe I'll throw in my last bank statement and go for the pity vote.

On a different yet related note, another student from my class is defending this summer--that makes 2 with one more coming up in September. While I'm happy to see them finishing, it's bittersweet to realize that another part of my life is coming to a close. There were 10 of us that started this program together. We were all very close right from the start even though few of us had anything in common other than a bizarre fascination with the brain. It hasn't really felt like the end until now. It's really starting to feel like those last few pages...