Thursday, November 12, 2009

quick update

I've got only a minute before I've got to continue my transformation....
Anxiety:1. Me:1. Purple hair? Not yet. There's one more exam before the end of the year (Dec), so MAYBE I'll start the new year with purple hair. Cause well, that'd be totally awesome. Half Pint might have worms, again. Ugh! Eating habits are lousy, BUT, she's totes in love with Peanut Butter! Gotta run. :D

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Anxiety: 1. Me: 1?

Anxiety kicked my patootie on the first module exam I took back at the beginning of October. I got in the room, and essentially broke down. I had a panic attack. I took that exam while having a panic attack, without letting anyone know (because I'm just THAT smart). So I tried my best at my side table, and ran out of the room as soon as I was done. Well, I didn't too hot. I have to take the module over next year. What sucks is that it's not me, it's my brain. I knew the material - I studied! But my anxiety took over, and I let it. I let my disorder win one. Well, I didn't do that yesterday! Well, I think. So, here's the issue. We took that first exam back at the beginning of October, but they didn't give us our results until last Tuesday, less than a week before the NEXT exam! We had no time to apply more effort, be more engaged, study more, or change our method of studying. They stacked the cards against us. I did poorly on the first, and barely had time to process that fact before I had to take another exam. Oi.

So, the situation sucks, but I still won one. Part of me thinks it comes down to my grade. But, whether I did well or not, I managed to put off the panic attack. I managed to keep my emotions in check, NOT freak out, and remembered to breathe, and take my time. I was so incredibly proud of myself when I turned that exam in. I was still the second one done, but I knew that I tried my hardest. Now, if I can manage to control my anxiety when studying, things would be a lot easier. I might not have done too well, because I was so anxious when studying. But during the actual exam, I was ok. So, no matter how I did on this latest exam, this new module (starting today) will be taken one day at a time. I will breathe. I will engage myself. I will breathe some more. I will conquer. They can't kick me out that quickly.

Monday, November 2, 2009

How many times is too many?

Oh, if ONLY I could make this post about sex. But instead, it's sexism, specifically the misogynistic remarks of the one and only, supporter and creator of foolish/unscientifically founded anti-vaccine group generation rescue, J.B. Handley, also known as D**chebag. Oh, and in case you didn't know, he f**ks horses. And goats. He's an evil evil vile man, and should be pelted with purses and shoes because of the crude things he said to Amy Wallace.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

must. not. fail.

This has not been a pleasant week by any stretch of the imagination. I enjoyed attending a drag show my friend was in and eating Chinese last night for dinner, but that's been about it. I found out I'll have to retake the first core course in grad school. I say "retake" because it makes me feel less like an idiot than the truth, that I FAILED. I failed a course. I've never done that before. I'm always the first test taker done, and almost always do quite well. I tend to retain information the first time. But, anxiety, that evil bitch, had a different plan for me. When I looked at that exam, I couldn't even read the first professor's questions, because I was so sick to my stomach. In the end I wrote some crap that was wrong. Later, looking at the exam (we got it back less than a week before the next exam), I could have answered them better, and probably passed, if only my anxiety had stayed away.
I had a meeting with one of the faculty, about "how the department could help me", which they really can't. I'm seeing a therapist, going on medication, taking up mindful meditation again, but these methods all take time. I'm not going to be much better by the next exam (Monday). At least I have a meeting with my therapist that morning, so as long as I can actually study this weekend, maybe she can help talk me off the ledge. If I fail again, I'm going to have to take a leave of absence. I can't risk failing another class; if I fail this next class, I don't see myself conquering that hump of personal doubt. And if I fail three? I'm out. Kicked out. Stuck finding a job I don't really want.
So, I'm going to make myself some art. It's going to have my goals on it. It's going to remind me why I come home miserable and drained. Why I'm putting myself through this difficulty. Not just because I'm a stubborn pain in the patootie, but because I want to teach. I want to be the first in my family with a PhD. I want to be Dr. Ladydid. I want to encourage students-especially women, in higher education. I want to do research. And most of all? I DON"T want to be that one person who fails the first year. I want to be standing at the end, successful, proud, and independently thinking. So, with that said, I'm off to study!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Dog parks and mini shows!

I took Half Pint to a local dog park on Saturday-she was rather confused, and didn't quite know what to do. But we shall return every Saturday so she gets more comfortable with other pups and peeps! While there I fell in love with this huge adorably sweet rottie Raven. Sooooo sweet! We played tug-o-war with Half Pint's rope until I fell out of my chair.

When to a mini show in the area; I'll try and post a photo of my purchases when I get home. I try to only buy things I can't make-or don't make.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

change in calling?

I've been sick with the H1N1 flu, and instead of being semi-productive and studying, I instead discovered some amazing dog blogs, and bloggers that mention their dogs. I'm thinking, instead of procreating and increasing the human population and possibly losing my mind in the process (someday if and/or when I have a stable long-term relationship), maybe I should just adopt and rescue dogs. Actually, I'd LOVE to be able to do this right now, but it wouldn't be fair to my Half Pint right now to have to share my limited time, and I honestly can't support more pups while in grad school. Arg! Curse you situation. But, I have a goal now. I want to be stable enough to have a healthy horde of pooches. Yeah. Cause dogs are awesome. And sometimes I love them more than people.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Not sure how I feel about this yet...

So, I've been playing the "clicking game" for a few minutes now (ok, probably an hour or two), and have stumbled across some interesting things. (The "clicking game" is where you start reading one person's post, click their link, read that, click, read, click, etc. until you don't really know how you got to some very strange topics.) What I ran into, in the long run, were sites devoted to environmentally and eco-friendly sanitary products. I blame you, Dr. Isis. I started on your page, and now look at me!
Now, I like to think most of us girls grew up reading some Laura Ingles Wilder, which was my first memory of learning what a sanitary towel was, and how women handled their oh-so-fun periods. "Back in the old days," women would use cloth, wring it out, and dry it on the line. Not exactly something I see myself doing (I'm sure my neighbors would LOVE that!), but I digress. Now, we have modern (not always comfortable) conveniences like tampons and pads. But, with all the women on the planet, and a large group having a period every month, that's a lot of waste. There's not much we can do about that-once puberty starts, we're pretty much doomed to bloating, food cravings, lethargy, and dealing with a mess. Yes, we can take prescriptions to knock down the occurrence to four times a year, yes we can take prescriptions and meds to decrease discomfort, huge flows, pain, bloating, and most other ailments that can be brought on by our monthly cycle. But there's not much we can do about the waste. Or is there?

There's a growing trend (albeit slowly, since I've never heard of it til wandering the web a while), involving the use of reusable, eco-friendly sanitary products. For those who like pads (and overnight use), there are some rather pretty organic, reusable (washable) products available (second image). I like this site. For those who prefer tampons, there's the Mooncup (first image), and... sea sponges (third image). I really like this idea of reusable, sustainable products, because well, not all of us are strong empowered women who don't care about taking up space in the sanitary aisle. I at least, hate bringing tampons through the register when the cashier's male. I just feel bad for him! Most guys don't like talking about it or acknowledging that we're menstruating, except when it bothers their lives (no sex, we're "PMSing", we're moody, blah blah blah, whine whine whine). Even more that my dislike of shopping for tampons, I love this idea of a reusable product because I hate throwing shit out! I try to recycle everything I can, give things second lives, freecycle, and I shop at the Goodwill! Ok, that last bit's partly because I suck at spending money, but still. While I applaud these sites for developing and marketing environmentally friendly products, I'm wondering if I can actually trust them to try them. Because no matter how many testimonials I read, I'm still going to wonder about the Mooncup leaking, falling out, the sponge getting lost, and getting stains out of the pads (unless they're black or burgundy fabric). But, spending a bit of money to save a lot of money and help the environment might be worth me risking a little embarrassment. What about you?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I didn't know your name, but thank you.

I'm watching President Obama's speech at the Human Right Campaign, and well, am moved to tears. For starters, it's amazing to have a president again who can speak fluently, eloquently, and with purpose. It's amazing to finally have been able to vote, and have my opinion be known. It's even more amazing to finally have someone who cares about righting the wrongs done to so many people for so many years. It's incredible to hear someone speak of change, and actually believe in it.
This issue of equality for the LGBT community has been near and dear to my heart for many years. I grew up attending services on Sundays in a small church, with a lesbian couple. They were (and still are, thankfully) two of the most amazing people I have ever known. Their incredible kindness, caring, and strength have affected many lives for the positive. They're both nurses, and now getting on in years. But they still keep their home a warm and loving environment for children in need. For children who's parents can't care for them because of medical need or developmental need, these two women have stepped up. I have seen many children come, age, and go, departing this world after only a short time because they were born so sick. I love these two women so much, but am greatly angered that they do not have the same rights as I do. They are denied basic rights that I have access to, should I marry. I can marry. They cannot. I want this to change.
I've known those two women my whole life, but there's another who I'd love to recognize for her outstanding courage and strength to not deny who she was. When I was a freshman in high school, there was an eclectic, unique woman who was interning with my geometry professor. This girl wore colorful clothes, baggy shorts, short hair, many piercings, and buzzed hair. She didn't shave her legs. She was the complete opposite of the standard high school student. She refused to lie to the world about her identity, and I loved her for that. I was confused by her, until I heard a poem she wrote performed at our Reverie club afterschool. She wrote and performed a poem about the death of her razor. She was so strong, so powerful, so unabashedly gay, that I wanted to hug her and kiss her.
I know what it's like to be gay in high school. Maybe not completely, because I myself am not gay, but I've been there when a friend was too afraid to get his things from the locker room, because the other guys couldn't handle his homosexuality. I've been there when friends have been humiliated, both publicly and privately. I've tried my hardest to support them and defend them, to encourage and protect them, from the harsh cruel world high school can be. Not all LGBT individuals survive high school. It's an absolute abomination and travesty that we can go about our lives not acknowledging this, and doing something about this.
I've written my new representatives, I've celebrated Day of Silence (April 16th!), I've supported my friends and strangers. But it's not enough. Nothing I do will be enough until equality is reached. Please, if you have felt love, think what it would be like to be told your love is wrong. Your life is wrong. That you, your identity, is wrong. If you have children, or want children, think how it'd feel to be told you're not fit, that you can't HAVE them. Think how much that would hurt. And remember that pain, because that's what many LGBT individuals experience daily. So, please, don't sit idle waiting for change to find you and your community. Help change come. Contact your representatives, email the president, march peacefully, and support and love your neighbor. Love is human instinct. How dare people try to take that from others.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

appology to a friend

Dear L;
I am so very sorry that during high school, I gave you weird looks for talking about feminism, and reading the standards. At the time, I was foolish and naive, believing that equality had been restored to the world for women before we were born. Now, I realize, I was an idiot. Yes, women have made great strides, but men still outnumber us everywhere but the grocery store and salon. There are more male CEO's. More men who've received a Nobel prize. More men in high ranking positions than women. At the time when we were at school together, I thought you were behind the times. Little did I know that some years later, I'd be trying to catch up to you. You were and probably always will be, lightyears ahead of our time. I love you, and you are an amazing, powerful woman, and I hope you manage to kick some serious patriarchal ass in law school and beyond. Show them who's boss. And keep reminding me that I need to remove my rose colored glasses and exchange them for your yellow ones.

Again, I'm sorry for being a sodding boob in high school.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Oh anxiety, you evil friend.

So, we had our exam for our first module in grad school on Friday. And now I have maybe half my eye lashes, and half my eye brows. Woot. Trichotilomania is currently classified as an impulse control disorder, though some are starting to classify it with "body-focused repetitive behaviors" (BFRB's). It can manifest itself differently between individuals; it can include hair pulling from eyebrows, beards, eye lashes, arms, legs, armpits, and pubic regions. For some, it's a mild nuisance that can be controlled by remaining focused on one's actions and thoughts. For others, it completely eliminates the ability to think until the tic is completed.
The act itself can be both relieving and stress-inducing. Some people feel tension before pulling, some during, and many, after. The actual act itself of pulling out one's hair for many, is relaxing and slightly enjoyable. Some feel as though there is a particular hair that hurts, and once it is removed, the stress leaves. However, by this time, they may be missing a rather large chunk of hair from that part of the body. After the tic is completed, the damage may be significantly noticeable. Individuals often feel stressed and self conscious that others can see the destruction the behavior has. For me, I can at least fill in my eyebrows with makeup, but I can't cover up my missing eye lashes without fake ones, which just make the tic worse for me. If the tic is affecting your every day life, you should try to seek help for it. For more information, visit the trichotillomania learning center.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Would love some opinions

I've been floating around some pretty awesome feminist blogs as of late (thank you I Blame The Patriarchy for this latest post concept). BDSM. Is it totally awesome, partially ok, or completely wrong? Does it reinforce the patriarchy by negatively affecting the individuals?

I think Jill has an excellent point. No matter where you are in your life, or have been, you've most likely been in a dominant/submissive relationship. Everyone plays a side at some point in their life. I'm not necessarily talking about sexual exploits though. Think about it. You've surely kissed up to a professor, or a boss, or a family member. Maybe even a friend who had something you wanted. You've also surely been the dominant personality, holding power over another individual, possibly using it for extraneous gains? Then of course, there's the relationship side. Someone always makes the decisions. One person is usually asking for something more than the other. A commitment, sex, food, time. I'm not so keen on S&M being so constant in all aspects of my life. I'd much rather confine it to the bedroom, when both people are feeling kinky. But yet again, one person always wants it more. S&M Barbie? I think I'm going to spew.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sitting at my terminal...

So I'm in my first rotation, and it's going pretty darn well so far. However, I made a grave miscalculation on Monday, and am still paying for it. I'm working on molecular modeling, where I use computers to help characterize and test potential protein structures. It's pretty awesome, I think. My project is to try and determine the closed state of a particular membrane protein. We know (well, we're pretty sure) what the open state looks like, but no one has been able to determine the closed state. X-ray diffraction and crystallography aren't helping either at the moment, because the darn thing doesn't want to crystallize in the closed state-only the open. And it's got to shut off some time... Anyway, I've been working on a scripting code (I feel so nerdy!) that lets me take a part of the protein, move it through space, and see if that's a possible structure. If it's possible (based on Van der Waals interactions and sterics), then my program calculates the energy of each and every atom, so I can determine the gating charge. We know what the value should be. So, it's pretty much guess and check. I guess a structure, check the value, and either keep or punt it. So far, I've been doing a lot of punting.

Monday, I got the best version of my program ready, set it to run 20808 structures, and pushed 'go'. I thought it would take eleven hours (finishing before dawn Tuesday). It's been almost three days... It's still thinking. I keep going over the code, because I'm convinced there's a glitch. But I won't know until around 4 today, which, unfortunately, is when the University is going on lock down. There's some silly convention thingy that's taking over here. I think they call it the G20?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Protect the Animals!

Made an interesting discovery while wandering the halls of my bat cave (Ok ok, it's really just a lab building, but it sounds cooler if I call it the bat cave-even though it's not underground). So, the science buildings are all connected on the interior, but one of them's....invisible. I know it exists, the other researchers and professors know it exists; some even work in there. But it's not on the map. There are no signs. No labeled entrance door. It's....hidden. And why, might you ask? Because it's where all vertebrate research occurs. As scientists, we have to protect ourselves and our subjects by NOT letting the public know where they are. I really don't know how I feel about this.

Friday, September 4, 2009

reverse sneezing

So, middle of last night, Half Pint wakes me up by making the most god-awful, terrifying noise ever. At first it sounds like she's going to be sick, but she's not really heaving. With every exhale and inhale, she makes this noise-not quite a hiccup, not quite a burp, and not quite getting sick. It's actually called, the REVERSE SNEEZE.

Monday, August 31, 2009


WOOO! I have an office (ok, so I have someone's old office, and it's more of a secretary's space, and I have to deal with beaucoup freshies running in to see their professor)! Now if only the computer would finish compiling...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Gardening and stuff

This week I've had a guy building my new fence. He finally finished today (grumble grumble money grumble grumble), and I'm quite excited to get to work on my backyard-particularly my garden. For anybody out there looking to save a few bucks, Lowes (or HomeDepot) tend to have decent and consistent prices on materials. However, their labor is expensive, since they outsource it and take a cut of the profits. You are much better suited to find someone who (is licensed, bonded and insured) will do the project as an aside. I have the fabulous benefit of living next door to a contractor, so he can recommend someone for any job I may have. Anyhoo, I saved almost $1000 by finding my own fencing dude.

On to the garden though. So, there's two main ways to set up a garden: ground level, or raised bed. I'll be building a raised bed, for several reasons. Both methods of gardening are effective (both cost and aesthetically), but raised beds are better if your yard is small, you have no yard (concrete, patio, etc.), or you want to grow bulk in a concentrated area. You should choose a spot that gets at least six hours of full sun a day. At the moment, I'm trying to keep the cost WAY down, so I'll be re-purposing the wood from the fence delivery platforms. If need be, I'll pick up some extra wood when I run over to Lowes again. Hopefully, I'll have some photos to share tomorrow. :) Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Lowfat Seafood alfredo

I have a new recipe!!! Just made it, and am quite pleased.

1 medium sized zuchinni, julliene cut
1/2 medium onion, chopped fine
4oz. white mushrooms, sliced
1/2-1lb fresh callimari (or your fav. seafood)
white wine
1 c. skim milk
1/2 c. parmesan cheese
4 cloves garlic, chopped

1. On med/med-high heat in a large frying pan, brown onions and most of the garlic. Add some white wine to keep the onions from sticking. Add mushrooms, and allow them to cook most of the way through; add zuchinni. Reduce to medium heat.
2. Start water to boil in a saucepan or pot for your favorite pasta.
3. In a small saucepan, pour some white wine (enough to cover the bottom a little) and throw in your callimari. Allow to cook thoroughly.
4. By now, you water pot should be boiling. Add pasta.
5. Take cooked callimari, drain any remaining liquid, and add to frying pan with veggies. Throw a lid on top of the whole thing.
6. In that same small saucepan (I hate making big messes!), throw in 1/2 cup of white wine, milk, and remaining garlic. Allow to boil. Stir frequently. Once boiling, add the parmesan cheese. After about a minute or two (while stirring), throw in a SMALL handfull of flour, to thicken the sauce (cornstarch works too, but I didn't have any). Once sauce is to your desired consistency, throw some pepper on top of the sauce and fry pan veggies. IF the sauce is too thick, add more milk. If it's too runny, add more flour.
7. By now, your pasta should be ready. Drain, throw in a bowl, throw seafood/veggies on top, and pour your alfredo sauce on top of the whole thing. Mix, and sprinkle some parmesan on the top. Serve, and enjoy!!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tomato Sauce Recipe

Best thing I've made yet.

8 vine ripe tomatoes (NOT from the grocery store)
1/2 large green pepper
1/3 sweet onion
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 sprig Italian flat-leaf parsley
1 sprig basil (green broad leaf)
cracked pepper
olive oil

1. Boil tomatoes in a large pot for roughly 5 min. or until skin cracks. Remove skin, cut off top stem area, and de-seed (use thumbs to "pop" the exterior of the tomato on all sides, and push the seeds out). Some seeds are fine. Mush or puree to desired chunkiness.
2. Place pot back on stove, medium heat. Chop the green pepper into small pieces, throw half in the pot. FINELY chop/puree/mince the remainder, and throw in pot. Mini food processors work great.
3. Repeat step two, but with the onion. Some mushed, some chopped. Add to pot.
4. Add about 1 tbsp olive oil and several turns of cracked pepper, stir.
5. Finely chop 3 garlic cloves, add to the pot. Stir.
6. Add the sprig of basil and parsley to the top, and leave to simmer. Check on consistency and stir occasionally. When you're happy with the consistency, remove from heat.

Perfect European meal? Get some very very fresh french bread (the crunchy top, but supple middle kind-give it a light squeeze-it should give, and crackle, but return to shape). Cut a few slices. Get some fresh (from the farm, if possible) parmesan cheese, grate some in a bowl, add a bit of olive oil and cracked pepper. Take bread, dip in cheese and oil, and spoon some of the sauce on top. Consume, slowly.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

a sneaking suspicion...

that everytime I feel even the faintest twinge in my back, I'm going to freak out and fear another stone. It might help out if I stopped checking by punching my kidneys...

On a happy note, FIREFLY is on HULU!!!!!!!!! (Yes, I already own the movie and tv series on DVD, but still. It's always nice to remind Fox that they made a huge mistake by canceling the show)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

For all you environmental foodies

I found a new favorite website! It's; they help you locate farms in your area, provide hints and advice to picking your own produce, give canning advice and more! I'm hoping to locate a farm in my new area so I can stuff my face with blackberries. Mmmmmm. produce.....

Oh, and here's another goodie:; they can also direct you to farms, provide information about farmers markets in your area, provide blogs with related material, and tons and tons of info on organic and environmentally friendly foods.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Stupid NFL

Ugh. They're not only letting Vick play, but he's been signed to the Eagles. This whole situation makes me sick. I'm not for public humiliation, but I really hope he gets booed out of every game. It's one thing to be cruel to another human-at least we can say "no", try to fight back, or get help. But an animal? They can't stop the torment. They can't say no. They can't remove themselves from the situation. I guess my anger is two-sided. First, that the NFL didn't put a lifetime ban on the guy. Second, that there were at least two teams who wanted him: the Eagles, and the Bengals. So many people (particularly children) idolize athletes-I know I did. I was a HUGE Bulls fan in the early 90's; Micheal Jordan was kind of my hero, even though I never played basketball. The NFL is screwing with the kids by providing them a good athlete who's a horrible person. He's done horrible things, and yet they're putting him in a position to influence the youth. There are going to be a lot of confused children out there not understanding what's right and wrong because there wasn't proper punishment for the wrong committed. It's bad enough Brittany Spears is back in the spotlight to be idolized; but at least she never killed anything.

Hair today, gone tomorrow!

Well, I wanted to formally announce that my hair is gone! I unfortunately can't take photos since I haven't gotten around to replacing my camera, but I measured my locks, and Locks of Love will be receiving a 15.5 inch donation from my scalp in the mail. I'll try and get a camera before I get an envelope, so I can photo my amazing former locks. As for my new haircut? I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's like this:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

verily, things move

I have three boxes left lurking in my halls. And way to many books lining my floors. But other than that, Half Pint and I are moved in! The neighbors are friendly (maybe a little hippie on one side of the street), the area's nice, there's a park down the street. Now I just need to stop by a bike shop or find a bike on my local freecycle community, chop off my hair to donate, and wrestle down my rotations. I've already spoken to two professors, and both are available and have space. One has funding at the moment, the other is working on it. Unfortunately, I have some choices to make. There are five people I'd like to rotate with, but only three rotation spots. Oi. Oh, and I still need a printer. Gar! And I just found out the school gyms and pools are all closed until the 31st. WAAAA! No working out for me....looks like I'll have to take it to the streets, Rocky style. ADRIAN!!!!!!!! :D

Thursday, July 30, 2009

I'm doing WHAT on Friday?

Found out today that I'm signing over my life on buy my house. WEEEEEEEEEEE! It'd been a bit up in the air as to when closing would actually occur, but somehow I seem to have made it. Of course, since I wasn't sure of the date, I was procrastinating the packing. And now, I have tomorrow to pack. Oops. (ok ok, it's not really that bad. I finished all other rooms except my own, and most things are packed-it's just the odds and ends and getting stuff down to the garage.)
Nifty tip o' the night: before painting the walls in your newly acquired home, determine if the current paint is latex or oil. To do this, take a rather wet cotton ball (or tissue-something that can hold water) and bandaid/tape it to the wall. Come back in a little while. If the paint has bubbled, it's latex. If there's no movement, it's oil. Common science sense: water and oil do not mix....nor do they stick to each other on a wall.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Help a man lose his hair!!

Over on Scienceblogs, Ethan Siegel is trying to do some good in the world, and I think you should help him out. He's encouraging people to volunteer, donate, and be generally awesome people. The incentive? If he gets 100 people to do a new act of awesome charity work, he'll shave his head. And for a dude with long hair, that's a pretty big deal. I decided to donate my locks as well, to help his cause. I'll be cutting my hair in a little over a week I believe, and will post some photos of the event. So, help make my hair donation more worthwhile by donating some of your time/money/energy to helping others!!! (And current things to you do not count; it must be a new act.)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

video awesomeness

I think this should become part of my "are you marriage material" questionaire. Because I would totally do this (and kind of need a man willing to participate as well). Enjoy!

Wedding Entrance Dance Awesomeness

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Yeah, things have been a bit...uh...busy. I'm packing, I'm spending time with friends and visiting favorite places, I'm trying to get everything together for the house and the move and am about ready to explode. Ok, not actually blood and guts and gore explode, but, well, I want to hide. I had a great gender post floating in my head, but it seems to have run away. Hope to be back in the flow of writing soon. At the latest, two weeks.

Friday, July 17, 2009

I suck at packing

Oi. I've been trying - and only semi-succeeding - to pack up all the stuff I've managed to accumulate in my parent's house. It's not going too well. I think the house is out to get me. Or maybe I'm just procrastinating. Or maybe it's just fear. But I've gotten myself this far, so I might as well keep on truckin' along. I'm working my way through the basement right now; once that space is all boxed up, I'll only have my room to pack up. Yikes! I still haven't managed to buy a friggin' laundry basket. I can't decide if I want a tall one, a round one, or a rectangular one. I suck at small decisions. Life altering, major ones? Check. Small, insignificant ones? Suck. At least my dog's being productive. Half Pint is currently on alert for any deer that might try to jump through my second story bedroom windows to attack me. She's pretty awesome (and entertaining!!). Le sigh. She keeps me sane. :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

adventures with furniture

I'm a huge fan of do-it-yourself projects, and I greatly love myself some antiques. So what's better than a seven dollar antique dresser? Refinishing said dresser! Unless of course you manage to burn your hands with paint thinner even though you're wearing gloves. MMMMM. burnt flesh. Almost lost my skin...but seeing as I can type, I caught the cold, then "oh god the heat it burns!!!!!" chemical reaction between the paint thinner and my hands early enough. Go me! Now I just need to run to the store tomorrow to buy more gloves....I'm thinking heavy duty rubber ones for tomorrow....

Monday, July 13, 2009


The sun and I are not on good terms right now. I managed to get a sunburn on my back on Saturday, and it's starting to set in. It's not anywhere near a horrible burn, but I tend to get sick when overexposed. Looks like it'll be a lazy afternoon. Lots of things going on at the moment, so it might take me til the end of the month to get my analysis done for the "Disease of the Month" post. Right now I'm off to draw!

Friday, July 10, 2009

what would you like to see?

Hiya crickets! If any of you feel like chirping, what would you like to see as July's "Disease of the Month" post? I've got a few ideas rattling around in my head, but wanted to know if there's anything YOU would like to hear more aboot. (I feel like sounding Canadian)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Female Identities, as told by Facebook

Ugh. So as a real person, I was wandering around Facebook, and found a little quiz that (based on your answers) tells you which type of girl you are. Options include: sporty, goth, nerdy, daddy's girl, and blonde bimbo. Nice. For shins and giggles, I took the test. I was considered a "nerd". Fine by me. Sort of. While taking these stupid quizzes (oh extreme boredom, how I loathe you), it became quite obvious which responses would generate a particular result. And in all honesty, I'm more than just a silly contrite stereotype label.

I hate that our society finds it necessary to catagorize us, package us, and segregate us based on cliche concepts. I like to do sports. I care (on occasion) about what I'm wearing. I love learning new techniques and ideas. I like green, blue, and black. I like loud music, and classical music, and happy music. I am more than the sum of my parts. Everyone is complex, with different memories, experiences, and preferences. So why is it that we try to compartmentalize each other for easier thinking? Why do we use appearance as the number one identifier, when it actually says almost nothing about the individul underneath the clothes?

So no. I'm saying NO. Don't look at me and treat me like I am a child because I'm petite and look younger than my age. Don't assume I'm not as intelligent as you because I couldn't possibly be old enough to be educated. Don't act as though I have no life experiences to extrapolate on. Just stop it right now. If you want to think, "hey that young-looking woman has a really cute dress on today", that's perfectly fine. But don't you DARE treat me differently if I was wearing flannel pants and a rocker t-shirt. I am more than this body. I am a brain, an individual seeking constant challenge and enlightenment. Talk to me because I open my mouth, not because you want in my pants. Talk to me because you want to hear what I have to say. And I'll be sure to provide you with the courtesy. I will see you with unseeing eyes until I can better understand you through your opinions, experiences, and preferences. And I won't hold it against you if your shirts have holes in them and you talk while chewing. Unless you spray me with said food.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

experiment update 1

Experiment has now been ongoing for three days. Mood has been significantly improved since daily exercise and SAM-e was started. Now, those of your intimate with scientific hypotheses and experiment structure, may be concerned by my decision to include two independent variables. Generally a horrible idea, but I did structure the experiment this way on purpose. I feel unqualified to determine on my own if SAM-e is an effective means of alleviating symptoms of depression. I'm the guinea pig of the experiment, and it would be ethically wrong of me to report any results as though this was a real experiment with quantifiable data. This is more of a psychological experiment. Exercise is known to improve mood (at least during and shortly after the act), due to the increase in chemical hormones such as adrenaline and serotonin. SAM-e test results remain inconclusive. Early experiments showed potential, but I have been unable to identify any recent (last five to ten years) experiments that have reported on the effectiveness of SAM-e on various types of depression. At the very least, side effects are less common and much less severe than prescription anti-depressants. The least I will feel is the placebo effect, if I'm susceptible to it. The best case is I'll feel stable and improved in mood and emotions. So far, I'd say it's a win. Whether I'll continue as a long term solution has yet to be determined. First I'll need to analyze my qualitative data, when the four weeks is up.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Peer pressure.

Someone please remind me not to succumb to it. I had a friend/co-worker/partner-in-debauchery want to know what I was like on coffee (high levels of caffeine)...and now I'm seriously regretting it. weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

was my radio station telling the truth?

This morning on my way to work (at crack-o-dawn o'clock), my radio station told me that drinking coffee in the morning roughly half an hour before breakfast can suppress my appetite by 30% all day. I thought to myself, "wow! That's incredible! I wonder what silly disreputable source gave out that information?" So, while procrastinating (and waiting for screens to load), I've been trying to find scientific evidence to prove or disprove my radio station. I was unable to locate a study that produced the data my station reported, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Anyway, here's what I did find (and if you have access, I suggest you read this article-it's kinda awesome).

In a test studying the effects of caffeine and stress on eating habits of rats, there was no major difference in weight between the control groups and experimental groups. However, eating habits were altered in food preference. The rats exposed to caffeine were less interested in salty or sweet foods than the control groups. So, you could extrapolate that if you are a salty or sweet snacker, the addition of coffee (and this is without the sugar and milk and creamer and extra shots of crap) could decrease your cravings. If you can then manage to find a healthy(er) snack option to provide mastication relief, weight loss might be observed. I suggest gum. Or carrots. Or celery. It's also important to remember that the test subjects were rats-it's not a guarantee that these results would be reproduced in humans.

So, was my radio station lying to me? Not necessarily. The verdict is still out on this one. The caffeine content in coffee may help suppress your appetite during the day. It may cause an increase in productivity (or ADD/ADHD-not exactly helpful); it may cause you to increase exercise/intensity (haven't tested that one out yet). But if you're receiving a caffeine fix from "improved" coffee beverages (think milk, sugar, Starbucks, etc.), you may be ingesting more calories than you would if you ate traditionally. In any case, I don't think a cup (or seven) will kill you. yet.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I'm my own Guinea Pig!

You should sing that title to the tune of, "I'm my own grandpa"-which may become a post on its own someday. :)

So today I've started a new experiment on myself. The depression has been really really bad the past few days. I've had change in appetite, sleep problems, mood changes, no motivation to get out of bed, and been antisocial to the extreme. Pretty much the gamut of crap I have experienced before. If this experiment fails, I will have to go back on medication. So here's the experiment. Until my "situational" issues are solved, I am going to be supplementing my diet with SAM-e and running every day to try and improve my mood. I started this test today. Right now I'm experiencing the placebo effect (too soon to really know) plus the added real benefit of endorphins from exercise. I plan to run this experiment for four weeks. If I feel worse, I will seek actual medical help, so don't fret!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

where, oh where did my coping mechanisms go?

oh where oh where could they be? They seem to have suddenly abandoned me to leave me a blithering idiot. All these changes are frightening.

I got the loan application packet in the mail today, and signed away my life. However, I can't send the darn thing in until I manage to track down a whole bunch of paperwork that I may or may not have. I need pay stubs, bank statements, 401K records, scans of driver's license, passport/ss card, W-2's, insurance agent contact info, and money. eyeyeye! Yes, all these are do-able, but I'm freakin' out man!!! Oh, and they gave me three days to put it all together. Eek. I just want to crawl into a hole and hide right now. Ok, so maybe that's not what I want to do first. First I want to run my poor behind off in the dark until I'm too exhausted to cry. I think what's upsetting me most right now is that I'm not sure if I'm emotional because of the changes, or because of something more serious. I haven't gone over the deep end yet, which is a good sign. Maybe I have improved. Maybe there is a coping mechanism hiding in here somewhere. I just need to send a search party to find it...

The evolution of my wardrobe.

I've recently been thinking about the way I dress, and why I wear what I wear. I am indeed a fan of TLC's "what not to wear" (oh Clinton, be still my heart!), but for many years, merely watched, instead of taking action towards my own wardrobe. I'll give you an idea of what I'm talking about. In high school, one of the key features of my daily school outfit would be....flannel pants. You know, those ones you can also wear to bed? Yeah. I wouldn't wear them to bed, I'd just wear them to school. I would also often wear large t-shirts, or sweat shirts. I know, sexy, right? In college, I gave myself a new years resolution that I have stuck by ever since (thankfully!). I told myself that I would wear makeup every day. Not crazy amounts, but enough to keep at least the bags out from under my eyes, and make me look awake and alive. I'm cursed (or blessed?) with fair skin, and can look rather ill if I don't wear blush. Never good with self esteem, I hid behind things until that resolution was made. Over the past year or so, I've been slowly adding solid, nice items to my collection of clothing. I even accessorize on occasion! I've made the realization that when I try to look nice, I feel better about myself. I feel more confident-sexy even. And that, might be a problem when I start my PhD program.

I'm desperately hoping that I can maintain my current wardrobe without receiving criticism for it while in my PhD program. I noticed when there last that most people were very laid back in dress. Jeans and t-shirts seemed to rule the halls, both for students and professors. Seeing as I only own one pair of jeans (and I doubt they fit anymore-lost some weight) and few t-shirts, I don't think this code will work well for me. I'm hoping that my femininity can remain intact without people undermining my intelligence. It does seem that to be taken seriously in the work place (women, in science), we need to copy the "boy's" attire. And to that I will turn on my cute flats or wedges, square my shoulders, and click clack away.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Stuff's a moving!

On the happy front, I'm currently in negotiations for my first house. Woo! Both seller and buyer have signed the agreement, pending the home inspection, which I've just scheduled for Monday. I'm hoping hoping hoping that nothing major turns up, and that radon levels are low, pests are non-existent (har har), and that there's no expensive, time-consuming damage that I don't yet know about.

On the unhappy front, while driving home last night, I had a flash from the past. Possibly the worst issue I had (have?) with depression was day dreams-more like flashes though, because they'd only take a few seconds to play out. In short, I always died. And seeing as I was in a car last night, I had a visual of me purposefully flipping my car into the meridian. I'm not sure if I should blame my own stupidity for listening to a particular CD (bad memories attached, although I love the songs), or if it's a return of a symptom. Haven't had one of those in a while. Spooked me a bit. I'm ok now, but well, yeah. It's...scary when that happens.

Oh, and I'm finally getting around to a mini responsibility. I'm on a committee for planning an event (won't take place until 2010, thankfully!), and have been given the task of creating the logo and visual aids. I can't work on the aids yet, since we haven't even received the parts to build our own structures. So, I'm working on several logos right now for the group to pick from. I might post it when done.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Public Service Announcement

Hey you teens and twenty somethings! This is test....of the emergency Ladydid, do not walk to your's office? Ok ok. HPV: human papillomavirus. I'm sure everyone's seen about a bajillion of those Gardasil commercials by now with the little girls jumping rope, right? Well, I've decided that this blog might be a good way for me to do some much needed research. I myself, despite being a female in the appropriate age bracket for this vaccine, don't actually know much about it. Currently, I am not vaccinated. And, as I'm soon going to find out, this may need to be remedied. Onward, research, tally ho!

So, for starters, let's begin with the virus itself, before discussing the vaccine. There are over 100 different strains of HPV, affecting between 20 and 24 million people in the US alone. Estimates say about 5.5 million people contract the virus each year; about half of all women by age 50 have been infected at least once. Now please, don't scream yet. Most strains of HPV aren't too problematic. It's still a sexually transmitted disease, so in general, it's not pleasant. Warts are the most common symptom of HPV strains, and can occur on various parts of the body, including: the genitals, tongue, larynx, soft palate, tonsils, face, neck, elbows, wrists, knees, and hands. There are different types of warts; for a better idea of the type of warts, visit here. HPV strains 6 and 11 often produce external genital warts, while strains 16 and 18 do not cause visible warts. In the latter two strains, the warts are internal, occuring on the cervix or anus, and are only visible with a colposcope. Strains clear up on their own 90% of the time before two years. If the individual has a compromised immune system, treatment may be required to clear up the infection. For external warts, cryotherapy (freezing), laser removal, or surgery may be required. Scars might form. Various chemicals may also be used (requiring frequent application), but are generally less effective, and take longer. These include: trichloroacetic acid, imiquimod, and podophyllin toxin. I am not saying these methods are ineffective-they just aren't as consistent. Individuals with compromised immune systems may continue to have outbreaks of genital warts from the virus.

Now, for the vaccine. Gardasil is produced by Merck, and is touted to prevent infection from strains 6, 11, 16 and 18. The first two strains cause almost 90% of genital wart outbreaks, while strains 16 and 18 are responsible for about 70% of cervical cancer cases. Gardasil is approved for women between the ages of 9 and 26, according to Merck's website. They are not encouraging young girls to have sex-they are simply providing possible immunity to the more common strains of HPV. The vaccine works best on young women, although it's not currently clear if there's a resistance to HPV built up as women age. Females who haven't yet had sex are the best candidates, since they are more likely to receive full immunity from those four types of HPV. If the individual has already been in contact with a particular strain, the vaccine cannot help. Currently, no tests have been performed to determine if the vaccine would be beneficial for males as well. People can be born with HPV. There is currently no way of determining which strains have been contracted if the infection (warts or other signs) has already cleared up. Latex condoms may help prevent some strains of HPV from being contracted, but it's not a guarantee. HPV is contracted through skin to skin contact (be it oral, anal, or vaginal sex). The vaccine does not prevent all forms of cervical cancer, and is not a treatment for HPV-it's merely a prevention for four strains.

So, should you get it? Should I get it? Really it comes down to personal choice. There hasn't been any major long term study performed, since the drug is brand spankin' new. Pregnant females should NOT receive the vaccine. I can't tell you to have your child vaccinated. I would suggest you talk to your daughter, and get her to talk to you about it. Sex should not be a taboo topic. Talk to your doctor. Weigh your options. Would you rather take the chance of contracting one of the two potentially cancer causing forms of HPV the vaccine can protect you from (if you haven't already had it), or would you rather risk some possible unknown side effect sometime down the line? Would you rather talk to your daughter about sex now, when it's embarrassing and she might be "too young", or would you rather take the chance that she'll have sex and contract a nasty strain that could have been prevented? Oh, and if you have a yeast allergy, do NOT get the vaccine. That would be bad.

On an aside, I was unable to find any data discussing the number of HPV strain 16 and 18 outbreaks that did not result in cervical cancer during life. I'm curious just how many people have these strains and don't develop cervical cancer from them. It'd be cool if someday we can determine which strains people have contracted, and compare that to the number of cancer cases caused by the strains.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pets Vs. Children

Oi. So, as per usual, there seems to be a disagreement in the blogosphere, started several days ago by Dr. Isis and Dr. J. The discussion (a rather polite term, I think for the circumstances) was about the selection of research subjects. Dr. J, simply enough, would prefer leaving dogs and cats (specifically cats) out of research labs. Dr. Isis seems to support the use of the best candidate for the test. Both, of course, as most scientists insist (if not all), aim for the least pain and discomfort for the research subjects. The issue wasn't so much about the removal of cats from the lab, but Dr. J's choice in words on his blog. Granted, after reading it, I felt he'd gone a wee bit off the deep end. He equated pets (his cats) to human children. I can understand the human emotion and psychological ties we may develop with our pets, but found myself unable to agree with his assessment of what a cat is. Dr. Isis couldn't either, and decided to write about it. After her post, ScientistMother wrote about her opinion that although you may love your pet, they are not your offspring. I can understand both women's outrage at Dr. J's conclusion, although for reasons neither seemed to bring up.

So, here's the short and sweet of it. Of course, I adore my Half Pint. She's an absolute sweetie. But, she's my pet. I may talk to her, encourage her, and care for her like many care for children, but she is not a child. Children-particularly babies, are defenseless (except their cuteness. I'm thinking babies' cuteness is a defense mechanism to keep parents from throttling them). They are unable to feed themselves; they cannot provide the basics for survival. Pets, however, can. Your pet, if you were not around (and didn't lock the pet up), would be able to survive. Your dog would scavenge. Your cat would catch rodents. All your other pets would be just fine (unless horrendously outside their native habitat). I know for a fact that my dog would not starve if left outside alone. She's a quite capable hunter, and that's not even a breed requirement. She's a herding dog. Human children have an extended period of dependency on adults, while both cats and dogs can care for themselves before 8 weeks.

Now, what do we do about research? In order for progress to be made, work must be done. And unfortunately, there are many failures, and large sample populations to ensure the accuracy and reproducibility of the data. This does mean that test subjects die. Sometimes naturally, sometimes by accident, and sometimes by euthenasia. Today, there are standards of care, protocols to be followed, and paperwork to be filed. Even where the test subjects come from is highly regulated. This hasn't always been the case. That link is the first of a five part series about the evolution of the laws on animal testing. It doesn't cover everything, but it does manage to highlight the difficulties of wanting to improve life (not just human), and the sacrifices that have been made to get it.

Would I use rats for research? If they were the appropriate model, yes. Would I use dogs or cats? I honestly don't know. I am a sentimental person. There's a high probability that I'd become attached to my test subjects. This could potentially introduce a bias in data collection, depending on the type of experiments being performed. Dogs in particular would be difficult for me, because they show basic emotion-anger, fear, happiness, sadness (and because I have one). I would hate to have the animals fear or hate me, because of a negative association with the experiment. So, if I had to use dogs as a model, I would work even harder to make the experiment valid, as painless as possible, and would, if I could, try to make the animals happy during off time. Or, I could simply avoid the type of science that would use large animal subjects. I could avoid all vertebrates, if I wanted to. That's the great thing about science. There's so much to do, that if you have a personal issue with something, it's not a huge deal. But, though I may choose to avoid such experiments, I would not shun others who would use large vertebrates for their research. Sociologically, that'd be wrong.

For an interesting (though not crazy sciency) read, try this-it's all about a potential history of domestication. All about dogs and cats.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Having a total freakout right now

Fwew! I just got back from trip two to River Tam University City for house hunting. And....I think I found it!!! I love this place-it's move in ready; all the changes I'd like to make can be done while living there. Despite my complete certainty that Half Pint and I will be happy there, I'm terrified out of my skull. I put an offer in this afternoon, and will now be spending the next several nights awake until I find out if the seller lets me have it. EEEEEK!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Mental Illness, personal story take one

I'm on a roll today! Normally I don't have much to write about (or much time), but today seems to be different. The blogosphere seems to be quite active with discussions on Silence is the Enemy over at Sciencewomen, Academia and Me, and an older post I tracked down by Jo(e). I'm hoping to post a poem later today that I wrote (either new or old, not sure yet) that covers some of these topics. In the meantime, Dr. Isis has posted a letter reminding me of something I've been delaying writing about. So, in accordance with silence being the enemy (not just for violence, but mental illness), I've decided to start a few posts on the subject. All are personal experiences, either mine or from those close to me, and I feel that someone needs to voice them.

I've been battling depression since the 7th grade. Puberty happened, and something in my brain/psychological makeup clicked, making me think, "everyone's going to die. We're all just walking skeletons, delaying the inevitable decay." Not at all a positive thing to think. I inevitably found unhealthy ways of dealing with these excess and painful emotions and thoughts. Whenever anyone noticed signs, I'd lie about it. I fell, I got scratched by my cat, etc. etc. I didn't have a cat. I managed to at least express to my mother that I was unhappy, so she enrolled me in counseling. I had a bad experience with that first counselor, and ended up lying to get out of it after several months. I kept my problems and depression to myself for the next several years, other than the occasional friend or boyfriend who would discover them. My depression manifested itself in an extremely poor body image during my freshman year of high school, while the other symptoms remained. After a rather dangerous relationship my senior year of high school, I realized I was too self destructive, and went to see my guidance counselor. He at least, made me inform my mother that I was still having the same problems from five years previous. She never knew (and I don't think ever will) the extent to which I had problems, and just what they were. I grew up in a stable family, with a healthy relationship with her. I felt guilty for causing her pain when I was younger, and didn't want to involve her in what was really going on. I felt like she blamed both herself and me for my problems.

I jumped into college after that, settling in pretty well with my dorm, my difficult classes, and new relationships. Unfortunately, left to my own devices and a change in environment, my eating disorder re-emerged, manifesting in a different way though. It took me several months-towards the middle of the Spring semester-to realize just how bad things had gotten. I finally had the support I needed and the personal strength to want help (and realize that I actually needed it), and sought it out. I saw a therapist on campus during the remainder of that semester, eventually realizing that I needed more than talk therapy-I needed medication. I met with a psychiatrist, which was a daunting and terrifying thing. I felt as though everything I said was wrong. In the end though, I received proper treatment, with sleep being the only side effect (I suddenly needed more). I was ready to continue a happy life, but of course, life never works out the way we think it will. I fell into a deep spiral that Summer after freshman year. I was lucky to see the other side. Beginning of sophomore year caused some serious problems for me, as I was forced to deal with some rather painful emotions and experiences. The loss of my first love caused me to again hurt myself. And again, I count myself lucky to have been on antidepressants, or else the scars would have been much worse-both physical and emotional.

The remainder of my college experience went well after that point. I continued to take antidepressants, found some new friends, and learned some new skills. The completion of my college career and finding a first job, along with the loss of another possible future caused me to rethink some things. I never took any tests to determine if what I had was depression, or if was something else. My dosage was never tested. I was unsure if I could be on a lower dose, with the same positive effects. After careful consideration and discussion, I decided to see a therapist again on my own, as I worked to go off medication. It was a painful process, and incredibly scary. I talked a lot, and listened a lot. I had to rethink my personal history, and many of my demons came up. I had to learn to deal with them, instead of repressing them. I told quite a few people about what I was doing, and got a lot of different reactions. Some people were surprised to hear I was having problems. Others, who knew, were proud and supportive of me for doing something about it, and trying to improve my life. Others, including my lost future, thought it was the stupidest idea I'd ever come up with. At least it made it easier to move on. But I needed to know if I could function and be happy without medication for the rest of my life. I didn't want to be on something if I didn't have to be.

So, this Autumn will mark one year without antidepressants. I'm still alive, relatively happy, and doing ok. I haven't conquered all my problems, but I don't know if anyone ever does. If everything is solved and perfect, then what's the point of life? I would say I still battle with depression, but at least now, I win most of the time. Some things still trigger me; certain memories, songs; sometimes I just wake up sad. But there's a sense of accomplishment for me, knowing that I can handle life (most of the time), and I now have a lot more experiences that may be able to help others.

Besides lending an ear to someone with a mental illness, you can (granted, this isn't good for everyone!!) give them a hug. Not a pat on the back. A nice, long, "haven't seen you in a while and really missed you" hug. :) Go ahead. Find someone and give them a hug. It'll make their day. It'd at least make mine.

Shoutout to my new "happy place"

Please, check out My Milk Toof. It's my latest happy place and guilty pleasure site. I "squee!" every time I visit the page (I feel bad for my coworkers on occasion). Go visit my newest friends, Ickle and Lardee!

The stigma of sex

There's a gender dichotomy inherent in the United States involving sex, and I'm sick of it. It's quite probable that this issue affects other cultures outside the US, but seeing as I have no experience in other locations, I cannot comment effectively. Among the males of the species, having multiple partners is seen as a good thing. It means the male has "game," that he's a "player." He has many sexual "conquests." However, when a female has many sexual partners, she is seen as "loose," immoral, "easy," and often called a slut. A woman's reputation can be tarnished by her sexual exploits, while men receive the reverse treatment-their reputations are socially improved by multiple partners.

Personally, I'm tired of this shiznit. The current generation of 20 somethings (of which I am a part) is decreasing this societal discord, at least how I see it. It appears that many are returning to a bit of a 60's take on sexual identity, enthusiasm, and general freedom. Many women of this age group are no longer being labeled poorly for their choice in extracurricular activities. Men seem to be embracing more this concept of women being just as much pros in bed as they are-if not more so.

One of the best side effects of this is an improvement in women's self confidence. We no longer have to feel guilty for wanting sex, getting sex, and having sex. We can ask for sex if we so choose. We are not required to wait, be coy, and above all, protect our chastity. Humans are sexual creatures. We were built for copulation (whether it involves procreation or not); we have these nifty interlocking bodies that well, interlock. We are one of the few species on this entire planet who have sex for pleasure, and do so. We are not required to register each other's pheromones for improved viability and virility.

However, society and health issues still maintain some importance. For men and women who do choose to be sexually active, I can only hope that they provide their own protection. Quite simply, every individual should be prepared to protect themselves. Disease is common - though mostly treatable - and shouldn't be taken lightly. While some STD's can be cured, others will be lifelong afflictions, possibly causing harm to others. Pregnancy is a common concern. If you haven't had the baby talk with your partner, then you should not let a baby happen. Some subcultures are more open to sexually active women, while others still remain closed off. In some places, it is dangerous for women to have their sexual activity known. There are, unfortunately, people out there who believe that if you've had sex with someone, they can have sex with you. Rape is painfully common all over the world (this will be discussed in detail in a separate post). People can be and are ostracized from their communities because of their sexual decisions. So, while there have been some improvements to the sexual dichotomy in the US, it does still exist, and will for quite some time.

One last thing: please, protect yourself. People do lie-especially when pleasure is involved. Just because a gal says she's on the pill, doesn't mean she is, or that she remembers to take it every day. Just because someone says they're clean, doesn't mean they are. So, for those lovely people who choose to get some enjoyment out of their interlocking parts, have fun, and be safe.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Moving along, and singing a song!

I got my orientation packet in the mail yesterday! Woo hoo! Quite excited, and terrified, and all that jazz. I'm heading back up to River Tam University City to see more houses, and make a final decision this coming weekend. Yikes. I'm going to be a homeowner.

I um, also have a date this week? Haven't been on one of those in a while....hee hee. I'm a wee bit giddy at the moment. :D

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Clinical Diagnosis of the month: sarcoidosis!

I just realized I'm falling a bit behind on these suckers. It seems to be more of an "every other month" deal. Ah well.

If you happen to be a big House MD fan, sarcoidosis is not a new term to you. In most episodes, it is either mentioned or a possible evaluation, although I can't recall if any patient has ever actually HAD sarcoidosis. Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that can affect just about anything in your body. In short, your body's immune system goes into overdrive, eventually damaging the tissues where the inflammation occurs. The most notable symptoms are granulomas-small red spots, similar to a rash. These can be found on the organs themselves, or in some cases, on the skin-legs especially. If the granulomas congregate too frequently on an organ, they can inhibit its function. Many cases of sarcoidosis involve lymph nodes and lung tissues, but can also include eyes, skin, liver, kidneys, heart, muscles, and brain (if it's a part of your body, it can be affected).

The cause is unknown, although some scientists believe there are genetic risk factors. General symptoms include: fever, fatigue, weight loss, malaise, and night sweats. If the lungs are the affected tissue, a cough often develops, without dissipating. Shortness of breath and chest pain may also be felt. The lungs are involved in about 90% of cases. If the lymph nodes are affected, swelling is seen. Anybody noticing a lousy trend here?

Sarcoidosis sounds a lot like most diseases. The symptoms are nonspecific, and sound a lot like many common ailments. Diagnosis is extremely difficult. Various tests can be used, but it often takes a while for the proper diagnosis. Physical exams, blood tests, chest x-rays, pulmonary function tests, fiberoptic bronchoscopy, CT scans, MRI's, and PET's are some of the more common methods employed to elucidate a diagnosis.

In some cases, no treatment is offered-it's expected that the disease with wax and wan over time. If the symptoms are bad enough, corticosteroids (prednisone, cortisone, prednisolone), anti-malaria meds (hydroxychloroquine), or immunosuppressants (methotrexate, cyclophosphamide, mycophenolate mofetil, azathioprine) may be administered.

For more information, check out Stop Sarcoidosis, or the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Oh, the pain!!


My dance studio is gearing up for the yearly recital, which will be next weekend. My classes (at least some of them...) are ready to perform, and all is right in the world! Except for my body.

The studio owner is a former teacher and "mom" of mine. One of her daughters and I grew up together in dance, goofed off together, and foolishly drank frappachinos while stretching at the barre. Both of us teach at the studio now and enjoy it very much (particularly the reconnection we've been able to share). There are a few other young ladies who've found employment with our former instructor. Missing how much we used to dance together, and believing ourselves capable of showing up the new group of teenage dancers, we've decided to choreograph a routine for ourselves to perform in the recital. A great idea, until you remember this gives us a week and a day to create, perfect, and perform. Also remember that none of us dance as much as we used to, and are not nearly in the same shape as we once were.

We had our first go of a rehearsal/choreography session yesterday after some other business we had at the studio, and now I am in pain. We want to make the dance spectacular, but realize we can't do some of the old tricks we had, because we're out of practice. I told myself as a dance instructor that I would be active-I didn't want to be one of those teachers who stays seated, having the assistant do all the work. I do consider myself an active, mobile instructor. But at the same time, I teach tap dance, NOT lyrical/jazz/contemporary/modern. I have bruises on places that have been pretty and clean for the past few years. My bones ache; my muscles ache; my neck aches. And I can't wait to do it again tomorrow!

Fig. 1: Not me.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Things are coming together...sort of.

Yay. I just heard back from Loan Officer #2, who had wonderful news for me. I have my finances in order (please oh please may they stay this time), numbers have been crunched, and I can now buy a house! Also on the bright side, I might be able to go to University City a week earlier than expected, because some family plans might change. I'm hoping they do, since it was kind of killing me to wait a whole month to go back up house hunting. What if all the houses I had previously seen and considered were suddenly off the market? That would be slightly upsetting.

Also in the world of Bug, the rain continues to leak from the sky, making Half Pint very ornery. Ok, so maybe that's not the best description, but I happen to like that word. Anyway, she's discovered a penchant for "mouthing" people's legs. She'll run into you (on purpose) with her mouth open, so that her teeth run into your leg-particularly the back of your knee. I find it entertaining and think the whole thing's funny, although I do try to get her to stop with the other household members. She also seems to think I should give her one of my peanut butter cookies. I think not.

As for the mini world, I've been too preoccupied with the impending move and change in life to feel any creative juices flowing. I've had some inspiration since the trip, but haven't felt like acting on it. Ah well.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Silence is the Enemy

There's an important message being sent around the blog realm today, begging for change. The topic is sexual violence, and its continued survival in Liberia especially. Many people-men and women-have been or know someone who has been a victim of sexual assault. I encourage all of you, to speak out, and ask for change. I first stumbled across this movement on Dr. Isis' blog this morning. Here's the short version. In Liberia, during their most recent war (ended in 2003), roughly 75% of women were raped. Rape is considered a fallout from war-something that just happens. Now, six years after the war ended, there is still an alarming percentage of women a year being raped and attacked by men. Children are the most astounding statistic though, with more than 50% of the reported rapes occurring in children under the age of 12. Think about that for a moment. What were you doing when you were 8, or even 4? How different would your life be if you had been attacked at that age? How much of your childhood would be intact if you'd been raped? Would you be who you are today?

I ask that you at the very least, check out the links. The stories are upsetting and incredible. If you feel a need to do something about this, please, contact your senators and congressmen, asking that we find a way to help. We need to empower these women and children, reminding them that we're all human, and should be treated with respect, no matter our age, gender, or social status.

Monday, June 1, 2009

House Hunting, day one.

Oi. So, I just got back from my first trip out to my new city to hunt for houses. Note to self: drop attitude when people look at you funny for being young. Although I know I'm not a fifteen year old angsty teen, strangers might not know that. Because quite honestly, most people still don't realize my age. Someday this'll be a benefit. Until then, suck it up!!! Bring ear plugs if you're rooming with a known snorer.

Anyhoo, the drive out was nice, the drive back was nice. The houses all had potential-some more than others. Half Pint would have been happier with some of the yards than others, so I'm keeping that in mind. I'm also trying to figure out where Half Pint could stay during the day to NOT destroy everything in each house. One house I absolutely loved, has a great yard for the area, plenty of indoor places to keep her during the day, and more than enough space for me. That's though, the potential downfall. It just might be too much house. I would need more roommates for that piece of property, to keep the extra bills down (gas, electric, cable, etc.). The other place I liked had a very nice yard as well, but was further away from the University, and was a bit more inappropriately dated. It'd need some updating, but because the price was so low, making changes would not at all be a problem. Good house for two people (me, Half pint, roommate).

I made a list of positives and negatives for each property, to keep track of things. I'm also marking which negatives can be changed (new stove, new carpet, etc.). I'm hoping that the ones I really liked will still be on the market later this month when I get another chance to go out to the city. If they're not, I'll claim fate intervened. I'll try and focus on some places a little closer to the University on the next trip out. By then, finances should be perfected, and I'll have done more reading on mortgages, radon testing, and "how to determine if the hot water heater needs to be replaced". Woo!!!

Friday, May 29, 2009

recessions suck for graduate students

Arg. Ok, so I'm trying to buy a house, right? The government seems to disagree.

I've been looking at property in my new city, talking to loan officers, getting chummy with real estate agents, and managed to get myself a nice pre-qualification amount-not a lot of change for my current area of living, but enough that I have options in my soon-to-be new home town. I found a realtor I can at least stand (I think...), and even reserved a room in a hotel for this weekend, so I can hopefully find the right place for me and my dog, "Half Pint". Upon realizing that my qualification might not be valid in another state, I called up my loan officer acquaintance, to make sure everything was hunky dory. He said he was all fine and dandy for working in state XY. Yay! However, he then started asking some questions about my stipend at RTU (River Tam University), and said he'd, "call me back". Uh oh. Some time later, he did return my call, to let me know that his company (and most others) are no longer willing to represent individuals receiving stipends for income.

Riiiiight. So, I had to call him up, to find out that his quote was no longer valid? LOVELY! This just made my evening. Here I am all ready to go up to RTU city to check out my possible homes, only to discover I couldn't actually sign any papers myself. Arg indeed.

So, I had a nice sit down with parents, asking (ok, maybe begging) if they'd co-sign with me, ensuring them that they'd never have to spend a dime. I'd actually rather get a second job working at nights than hit them up for money. Not that they wouldn't help me out, but I really prefer being able to support myself, and know that what I have is all mine!!!!! Muahahahahaha! So, maybe it's a bit less mad scientist crazy and more "I might have a bit too much pride to ask for money".

So, anywhoo, I no longer have my finances in order, but I'm still heading up to RTU city hoping to find something. I guess now I just have to hope that the loan officer and my father manage to get everything settled by the end of today... I hate not having any control over this stuff. ARG!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I'm back, I'm alive!

So, you lovelies out there in the 'verse who happen across my wayward blog baby will eventually enjoy some glorious photos (I hope!!) of my recent trip to "the other continent". :) Yes, I know that there are really seven, but I have come to a small conclusion still under review that people function with a closed mind, and like their bubbles. In short, I went to Europe, and being on a ship for transportation, I was quite thoroughly encapsulated. I had no newspapers (COULD have picked up some at the various ports, but who wants to spend valuable tourists bucks finding out what the rest of the world is doing while on vacation???), few tv channels, and let's face it: when I was watching tv, I did not want to watch fox news. The biggest issue for me though, is the no internet. I spend quite a bit of time online waiting for things to happen and finish in the lab, so I have a small arsenal of sites I must visit each day. CuteOverload, IHasAHotdog, UglyOverload, Dr. Isis, etc. So, it is in these I feel the most need to catch up on since I got home. I've missed quite a few blog posts, many comics, and more cute puppy photos than I can possibly view in a day.

Upon returning though, and perusing the blogs, I have been reminded of several things. There's a current debate going on at Dr. Isis' home about annonymity online, and women in science (as usual). I am reminded why I chose to construct a pseudonym, why I blog, and what I hope to get out of it. I hope most, besides being a comfort to myself, that this small page may positively affect someone else. Maybe it'll introduce someone to cute kittehs with string, a new blog, a different perspective. And, eventually, if it's still alive in several years, it'll help someone get through their own trials and tribulations of undergraduate, graduate, or professional life. I feel like I'm stuck in customs, waiting to move to my new city for my new school and new career (as a student, again). Waiting to find a place to call home for the next five years or so. Waiting to find that special someone who can deal with my eccentricities without wanting to kill or maim me. So, here's to hoping I can bring new things to light for myself and you. Whoever you are. :)

Monday, April 20, 2009

When it rains, it fricken pours.

I swear. I'm about ready to explode (like this beautiful image, except I'd be more gooey, sticky, and gory, and a little less fire-y). So, I'm about to divulge some info about my life, which has been driving me up the wall these past few weeks. For starters, I am thankful that I have both sets of grandparents in tact. But lately, not everything is coming up roses. One grandmother was FINALLY taken to the doctor's (after about a year of concerning symptoms), only to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's. My other grandmother was suspected of having lymphoma, only to have that taken off the table, and replaced with sarcoidosis. Then there's me. I was in the ER twice last Monday for kidney stones, and am still waging war with my left kidney more than a week later. I have a CT-IVP scheduled in a few days, then need to make another appointment with my newly found urologist. WOOOOO. I am very much a "do-er". I hate waiting, so waiting for results, and waiting for confirmations is driving me nuts. Oh, and on top of this, might need to cancel my "trip of a lifetime", if I am not well enough to travel. I'd absolutely hate to cancel my trip, since I've been looking forward to this for quite some time, but if my kidney's still causing me serious pain, there's no way I'd survive a ten hour plane ride.

At this point, I could use a stiff drink, but I can't have one because it'd interact with the wonderful drugs the doctor's gave me. Oi.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Clinical Diagnosis of the Month: treatment of kidney stones

The photo to the left shows a potential kidney stone as it might travel through the body.

While visiting your doctor/hospital, urine and blood tests will be run as well, to get a better idea of why your body formed the stones. However, these tests are rarely conclusive.

If the stone is too large to pass, extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy may be used; this process uses shock waves to pulverize the tiny, dense stone. The fragments are then relatively easily passed through the body. Percutaneous necrolithotomy is another method that can be used; a small incision is made in the back, tunnelling straight to the kidney housing the stone. A necroscope is then used to extract the stone. If the stone is huge, ultrasonic or hydraulic energy may be used to fragment the stone first, before extraction. If the stone becomes lodged in the ureter and not the kidney, another method may be used: uteroscopic stone removal. This final method uses a fiberoptic uteroscope to locate the stone (think catheter shoved past the bladder into the ureter), then implements a cage-like device to remove it. Again, sonication may be used to break the stone.

Once that pesky stone has been handled (either naturally removed or doctor-removed), most treatments involve pain medication, antibiotics if there was an infection, and a possible change in diet. Individuals with oxalate-containing stones may want to decrease the amount of spinach, beets, chocolate, peanuts, and other oxalate-rich foods they ingest. Individuals with calcium-containing stones need not avoid milk, cheese and yogurt. Salt can leech calcium, so decreasing sodium and other salt intakes, while increasing water, are other beneficial ways to hopefully prevent future stones from forming. Unfortunately, it is unclear if changes in diets decrease kidney stone frequency or prevalance.

Just remember-this too shall pass. :)

Clinical Diagnosis of the Month

I know, I know, I've been neglecting my little blog project. So, to spruce things up, I've add....Cinical Diagnosis of the Month! ...::::(golf claps)::::.... Now, by no means am I a doctor (at least not yet, and not of the medical/human variety). So please, don't take everything I say as absolutely perfect. I do think I do a decent job of researching these things, but there's a lot of info, and it's not always easily understood or characterized. So, we'll start slightly simple.

KIDNEY STONES. Got a sharp, stabbing, radiating pain in your lower back, maybe towards one side or the other? Does it ebb and flow? Change in urination? Change in color (brown/red/pink instead of clear/yellow)? Fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, these are all possible symptoms of kidney stones. There are other symptoms, but for the most part, these are the most frequent ones felt by sufferers of this poorly understood phenomenon.

Frequency of kidney stones in the US has been increasing since the 1970's, from roughly 4% of the population suffering from these friendly little rocks, to now a bit over 5%. The stones are not ingested; the human body creates them. Individuals with a family history of stones (uric acid included) are at a higher risk, as are people who've had them before. If you've had a stone in the past, you're about 7 times more likely than the average bloke to get another one. Fun.

Most often, the stone will be passed on its own. Many stones are passed every year without anyone knowing. Small ones cause little to no problems. However, if you happen to have a pointy or large stone, problems are more likely. As the stone migrates from the kidney to the ureter, down to the bladder, and out through the urethra, the tissues of these various organs and vessels may become inflamed, many times leading to UTI's. Pain is most often felt as the stone leaves the kidney, resulting in low back pain, and possible bladder/groin pain as the stone leaves the bladder.

If you think you have a kidney stone, please contact your physician. If it's intense pain that isn't abating, or you can't wait for an appointment, go to the emergency room. Most likely a CT scan or x-ray will be taken to determine the size and location of the stone. If it is too large to be passed naturally, various techniques may be used to pulverize that stupid pain-inducing rock.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Invasive species: battle in the Bay.

Ever since humans created methods of mass transportation, local ecosystems have had difficulty with invasive species.I'll be covering some other species and locations later on, in this multi-part bit, but for now, I'll focus on some new news occurring in Maryland. The Chesapeake Bay is home to many people, and once upon a time, many healthy wildlife. The Maryland Blue Crab, native only to the Chesapeake, is one of the many indigenous species that has had a major population problem since people decided they were tasty. Ground dwellers, they feast on what falls to the bottom of the bay, be it natural to their diet, or large quantities of iodine and other spilled chemicals from local plants. You could draw that if the bay itself were healthier, that the Blue Crab's population would improve in health-as long as humans didn't eat them to extinction, or prevent their infrequent mating rituals. (note to you Bay dwellers-DON"T pull them apart! DON"T take them when they're too small! DON"T take the females!!!)
Now, you might ask how the bay became so unhealthy? That answer would take a bit too long for this post, but suffice it to say that besides habitat degradation in the watershed, pollution, and human encroachment, the natural bay filters have had a major problem as well, thanks (again) to people. I refer to the oyster, Crassostrea virginica. A native to the Bay, they are natural filter feeders, and as such, are great at keeping their habitats nice and clean. They even vaccum up after their parties. When people settled in great numbers in Maryland, oyster harvesting became a way of life, and a very lucrative one. Until the population was over-harvested. Eventually, we realized we were harvesting faster than they could reproduce, and backed off. Read more about the details here. And of course, right when the populations began to recover, two major diseases infected our poor britas. The combination of harvesting and disease has caused the oyster population to become only one percent of its original during the "good ol' days". As such, some of those silly politicians on the hill thought, "hey, let's just grab some other oyster, since they're all the same, and put it in the Bay instead!" Thankfully, our friendly neighborhood sciency-bay gurus said, "helllllllllllllllllllllllllll no".

So, I am happy to report, that at least for the time being, our darling native friends are being given the opportunity to sort themselves out (with the hopefully beneficial aid of humans). So, if you feel like helping out the cause (and making the world a little nicer for our crusty neighbors), please remember that all your crap goes somewhere, and try to eat stuff that's local. If you're out in Wisconsin, don't be stealing our blue crabs or oysters. Eat your own. :)