Friday, November 14, 2014

Sample madness

Random unfiltered thoughts in the car on the way to sample site, Day 1

Yay sampling. I loooove science

Just saw a homeless man in a motorized wheelchair with an oxygen tank going down the highway

The gentle squeaking of the 24 pack or water in the back is strangely soothing

do my feet smell? I hope my feet don't smell

Wow these trees are growing in really straight lines. ...wait it's a tree farm. Oh.

It's not until you're trapped on an hour long car trip with your coworkers that you realize just how often you need to pass gas

Drifting off...zzzzz

Just woke up because my PI yelled WHOA and I thought there was a gator (he was actually exclaiming because of a sign advertising 1500 acres for sale)

Can someone PLEASE fix the problem with Icebreakers mints packaging PLEASE I BEG YOU


Spanish moss is so pretty... I wonder if you can make a wing out of Spanish moss? "All natural, organic... 0g trans fat and gluten free!"

posted from Bloggeroid

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Emersonian Ideals Guide to moving: a series

Moving is a big deal. Although our generation will probably end up moving more times in total than our parents or grandparents, most of us will only tally a handful of moves in our entire lives. I myself have moved four times, which is probably above the average, and I am about to move again. Thus, I consider myself somewhat of an expert, or at least enough of one to write a satirical, yet unhelpful, piece on the subject.

What's the best strategy for packing?
This is one of the biggest issues for those who haven't moved in a while and have accumulated a large amount of Stuff.  It can certainly be overwhelming to envision placing all of your belongings into boxes.  I have two rules for packing which are:
1) Get boxes free, and early. Many businesses have boxes that they will throw out unless someone requests them. The fact that this is true and yet people still purchase boxes for moving from places like UPS is evidence of the deterioration of society.  But you don't know where those boxes have been! you might say.  No, you don't, but why should you care?  In my experience, most of the things that you pack into these boxes are just going to be moved into a closet, awaiting the moment when they will be repacked again for the next move (in all honesty, I do have one box in my closet which I never unpacked).  Furthermore, these boxes are used to ship the products that you buy from these stores... so by the same logic, if you're worried about where the boxes have been (such as the bathroom of an Ebola quarantine unit) then you have more to worry about than using those boxes for packing.
2) Have an order for packing.  For example, when I was moving out of college dorms, my mother always suggested packing cleaning supplies last, so that we could use them until the very end, whereas I suggested packing the speakers last, so we could listen to music and not have to talk until the very end.  Nowadays, though, I suggest leaving everything until last, so as not to accidentally place anything in storage that you might end up needing.

These are my initial tips for your moving preparation.  I hope that you find them useful, if not as actual advice, then to lower your blood pressure.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Suck it in

This is awesome but also scary. Can someone tell me why this isn't as obvious as it seems... That the galaxy was previously larger and just got devoured by the black hole?!

Tiny galaxy harbours black-hole surprise

posted from Bloggeroid

Sunday, July 27, 2014


...for all the melancholy posts lately. I've had many difficult experiences this summer, and had to make a lot of tough decisions. And, as I mentioned, the president of the university unfairly asked my therapist to step down. So, yay, fun times all around!

I stumbled upon yet another frustrating reality this evening when looking at my calendar. In marking down the dates that my boss gave me for his travels next month, I found that the only three days that he will be available, I had planned on being in San Diego. The two steps left towards my graduation are editing my thesis, and publicly defending my thesis. The latter is the more difficult, as I have already defended my thesis to my committee; in my program the public defense is more of a formality, an event to commemorative the hard work of the student. Friends and family attend and the department hosts a party complete with champagne afterward. But the entire committee must be in attendance.

I have plans to go to San Diego because my boyfriend has a conference there for work and we thought it would be a great opportunity to travel. We had a three day vacation in April, which was wonderful. We were both very much looking forward to the trip.

Now I have to decide if I should keep my plans and resign to not officially finishing things up until September, or if I should cancel my plans and immediately begin making calls to try and get my money back for the hotels, plane, car, etc. Then again, I haven't even cleared the date with my other committee members, so the point might be mute... and what if I go through all this trouble, cancel my plans, and one of them has a sudden change of plans? After the last six years it seems like I should just do it and get it done with... "Graduating seems more important than a vacation," said my boyfriend.

But I feel like I'm at a crossroads in my life. I'm choosing jobs to apply for, and have decided not to apply for many that I would have two or three years ago. Before, I thought that I should take the absolute best job I could, no matter where it was. I don't think that's a recipe for happiness, though. The reasoning that I should sacrifice my present happiness for a better job in the future also seems weak to me; I just spent six years largely sacrificing my present happiness, in terms of time, salary, and environment. I'm seeing that there will always be a reason to put aside present happiness to ensure a "better" future. I'm pretty tired of that, though. My friends are settling down, buying houses and having children. I don't want any of that yet, but in comparison, is it so much to ask that I be on the same coast as my boyfriend, friends, and family? Is it so illogical to make such important professional decisions based on emotions? How else can we expect to be happy, unless we incorporate happiness into our decision making process?

I think I've made my decision. Not officially finishing shouldn't (I hope) really hold me back. I know others who have been hired before publicly defending, so again, that shouldn't be an issue. And I've day dreamed about my defense; after six years, shouldn't it be a happy occasion, not one where I'm conscious of having given up a week in California and unable to have one of my biggest supporters, my boyfriend, present? The logical, "responsible" decision might be to cancel my vacation. But if I don't choose everyday happiness for myself, who else is going to?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The reason why children have their own rooms

Children have their own rooms separate from their parents. If you've ever thought about this, you might have assumed this is because they need their own space when they are big enough or old ebough. Or maybe because it's one of the first steps in learning independence from mom and dad, or even because moms and dads want time to make more little children!
The truth is, adults and their offspring have separate rooms if at all possible because they drive each other crazy. Going to sleep at night in your own private space is a cease fire agreement. All disagreements and differences of opinion will have to wait until tomorrow. Temper tantrums and snoring are removed from the immediate area, preventing further agitation and fixation on stormy exchanges.
Physical space is a luxury, and one I cherish. The opportunity to create an environment of my own choosing is precious. I'm aware that I pay hundreds more I'm rent than I would with a roommate but for this indulgence, I pay it. I love having silence. I love dim lighting and cushy places to recline and snuggle. I love warm blankets and having well worn books all around. Happiness comes from within, but creating a physical space which reflects that calms my mind so that it can drift back to the pleasant peaceful places it seeks.

posted from Bloggeroid

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Going on a family vacation when you're in your mid to late twenties sounds like a great idea. You've been out of the house long enough to feel like an adult, and yet don't make enough money to pay for your own grown up vacation. You think that the family adventures will be fun and nostalgic; you can build new memories and start to appreciate your parents as individuals.
In reality, you will struggle to hold back the urge to strangle your father every time he goes the wrong way but still insists that he is the only one who can drive, your mother after the five millionth time she mishears you at a normal audible level and then asks why you are yelling when you raise your voice, and your sibling when they absolutely refuse to acknowledge that the chances are extremely slim that in the small portion of your time that you spend enjoying the views while hiking rather than from inside of the car (roughly 5%), you will be attacked and mauled by bears.

Of course, I can't say that it's all bad, because tonight my father actually let me take the check for dessert, which is probably the first time in my entire life that he has let me pay for anything. He never even let me pay for things when I was a kid; none of this teaching the value of money stuff. He'd let me save up, and then buy whatever item it was I wanted with his own cash. I guess this is generous, but might contribute to the fact that I am somewhat poor at spreading out my purchases; generally whenever I shop it spurs more shopping, not less.

Anyway, it's still been a great time, beautiful weather, wonderful views and pungent musk oxen. But if I don't post again for a while, it's probably because the bears got me.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Don't go there.

I would never,ever advise anyone to go into my university's PhD program. After six years of hard work, it seems that I've become a successful scientist. I've written two of my own grants which have been awarded funding and have contributed to multiple data papers and a review, not to mention having given many lectures and managing 20+ students in the lab.

However it seems that I still needed to prove myself to my committee, who pulled up an unwritten and uncommunicated rule at the last minute before my thesis was due. I revised the thesis, which I was completely willing to do despite the large amount of stress it caused me, which all of my committee members actively ignored and/or denied. I made seven additional figures and wrote about 10 more pages, but didn't have time to revise the introduction, which was the only thing my advisor read before he threatened to reject it again.

Two of my committee members had stated in multiple conversations that a thesis should merely be a showcase for work that will be turned into publications and not a separate, special holy frail unto itself. These were the two members that told me to be clear, concise and to the point. I would bet my left foot that they were also the ones who pushed for the decision for my edits to be focused almost entirely on enriching my introduction, the only part of the thesis that will not be published. They justified this in saying that it would be a resource to me in years to come. If I hadn't been so exhausted from my oral exam than I would have pointed out that they were asking me to embellish on a topic that I have little to no interest in and very well may not be part of my future after I leave this hellhole.

The most wonderful part of this final assignment is that they did not request a specific number of pages or amount of content, but a time commitment of three weeks.

I am only guaranteed pay for the next eight weeks. When I asked one of my members, who I will need for reccomendations, if it's all right to start applying for post docs, they said that I should focus on my thesis and only apply to any post docs that I REALLY want. Considering the fact that the very intelligent and qualified people I know have been taking between three to six months to find a post doc, this seems like absolute bullshit to me.

I'm tired of these games and of other people acting irresponsiblly with the most important decisions in my life. I intend to stay nearby for a post doc, to be near friends and family, since I now realize that this is what counts. I have serious doubts about persuing a career in acedemia; I had never doubted it until this time because I had always believed that my hard work would pay off in the end. No one said good job or congradtulations after my defense; only one member of my committee acknowledged that I had done a nice job on my presentation. Is the point of a PhD program to wear down, degrade, and discourage the student? Because that's how in feeling here at the end of my journey, which should be the pinnacle of my achievements thus far...but instead I'm feeling quite depressed. In addition, I had previously thought that one of the goals of PhD training was to become independent, but this month I feel like I've been treated more like a child and given more "because we said so" instructions than I have since year 1. Did I mention that my advisor declined to even let my committee read the first draft of my thesis? Even if it had been so bad that it had been rejected, then at least I would have felt like an independent adult and not an idiotic child.

But then again no one cares about helping graduate students maintain a balanced outlook or healthy mental and emotional outlook. It's a trial by fire, and they don't give a shit if you get wrecked in the inferno, just whether you make it or not. They'll deny any residual scarring as well as any accountability. It's a thrilling, backward world on acedemics, and if I had truly known then maybe I never would have set foot here.

posted from Bloggeroid

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Never ever ever on figures for your thesis after you've been drinking. You might want to get more work in before its time for nighty night but IT IS NOT worth it. You'll start looking through your data and realize that one thing is wrong and then investigate and find out that you've left out vast amounts of samples and spend the next two hours fixing them until you realize you've been looking at the wrong spreadsheet (you really need to learn to label those better) and the only real mistake was the much smaller one that you found originally at the beginning of the night.

This post is dedicated to my boyfriend (because for some reason he appreciates me even when I'm grumpy) and caused by Michelle.

posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, June 12, 2014


Signs that you have been working too long on your thesis

Have staring contests with birds, who you believe wish you ill

Therapist answers your messages abnormally quickly

All you really want, deep down in your soul, is to watch TV

While formatting data, you somehow accidentally create a 67,000KB Excel file

Find yourself singing encouraging messages to yourself in your best opera singer impression

Defying Gravity becomes your favorite song

Sticky notes referring to various points and references cover your walls

Going to the library takes two trips from the car (laptop, keyboard, mouse, cord for second monitor, pens, notepad, printed journal articles, external hard drive, lab notebook, water, snack, coffee, tylenol, advil, glasses, contact case, contact solution, microbiology textbook, cell phone, cell charger, arthritis cream, headphones, jacket....)

Everyone you run into starts the conversation with "I haven't seen you in a while."

 You start getting really excited about finding a good reference

You start getting really picky about whether you cite X. Smith et al 2012a or X. Smith et al 2012b, even though they're on the same topic and have the same authors

Wearing something besides pajamas or sweats is the most you can muster for going out in public

You get upset when a senior citizen is using "your" computer at the library

You recognize all the work study students who sit at the front entrance and when their shifts are

Dirty dishes start to overwhelm the sink

And the counter

And the stovetop

You've ordered out 6 days in a row because "you deserve it"

You become obsessed with Doge.

Thesis writing, or lack thereof

I am supposed to be writing my thesis. My thesis committee told me to work on nothing BUT my thesis, because until they did, even though I have been in grad school for 6 years, I was constantly being given new tasks to do and accused of being "difficult" when I said some of them were unnecessary.

My thesis document is due tomorrow  for review by my committee. Things that I have been emailed about, to deal with immediately, in the last week include
-Spending lab money before the end of the fiscal year (keeping in mind that I will be gone at the end of August)
-Sending samples to a colleague for a project that is not my thesis
-Finding the concentrations of samples that I did not generate and will not be working with
-Checking on the progress of an undergrad's work on data from a project that is ALSO not my thesis (though I did waste approximately 2 years on it)
-Being asked to determine where a new student should sit in the office.

This is just a subset of the entertaining responsibilities I enjoy taking care of as an underpaid secretary.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A three minute distraction

Here I am, holed up in the library, hidden in the back behind a soundproof cubicle, ducking under the desk to answer the phone in a whispher and rushing out if it's important, worrying every time I set up my computer or riffle through my purse looking for a tissue that I'm being too loud.... and then across the library, in the huge, main, echoing room, a student turns on his music. His rap music. Without headphones. Of course this deviant is barefoot, as are most of the most highly ridiculous and deluded undergraduates at my university. Who raised this person? What makes him think that he is more special than the other people also using this room? And if he's a student, why in God's name did he come to the LIBRARY to play music?????????.

In other news, I watched Black Fish and I'm never going to SeaWorld again. Who in the world came up with the idea to perform with a 5000 pound animal without any safeguards (LITERALLY- there were NO safeguards for these trainers until the court forbade them to perform in the pool with the whales), anyway?? Gah. I need a cheeseburger.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Please get with it

me: omg. computers.
LW: I KNOW. It's like, you're the future, you should know better

Things we have determined that need to get with it
1. Computers
2. Cars
3. Boys/kitties (especially boy kitties)
4. People who think we want to come to their wedding el solo
5. Whoever should be making me breakfast, and isn't
6. Whoever is in charge of making a magical wine dispenser (shoutout to cousin) 7. bugs, specifically ones that are attracted to eyes, and fruit flies, but I guess really all bugs in general, because they would be perfectly happy in Antarctica but refuse to move there
8. My neighbor, who leaves stale bread on my porch and accused me of watching him with a camera in my window (hmm...paranoid, anyone?) and then informed my housemate that I'M crazy
9. Anyone who asks me how I'm doing from now until when my thesis is done and expects an actual answer
10. Men on Love it or List it; for some reason they're all legitimately jerks and totally ignore their wife/partner's concerns ("That's not a big deal."

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

I luv CL

I really think that Craigslist pays someone to write erratic and grammatically incorrect ads to attract people like me to the site even when we don't need anything.

Looking for a bike, I found this ad (which, in the original, was repeated three times, as a bonus for people who habitually scroll to the bottom of every page), which I can only imagine was written by someone either using a broken keyboard  or having intermittent seizures.

26 in. bicycle for sale, Just purchased last year, used 3/4 times and had to stop(health). It has at least 7 speeds and is perfectly timed ,,,with the approaching milder weather.
The Bike comes with owners manual, as well as the bicycle lock I purchased separately for 17$, which is included in the price,, First come, first served

(Also. How does it have "at least 7 speeds"? Does it sometimes have more? Is this a bike that isn't yet full grown, and is expected to develop more speeds? Or do the gears for the upper speeds simply not work (ahem... the reason I'm looking for a new bike)?

Another great one:

Two nice used toilets in very good condition no chips or stains $20 for both call >show contact info  and pick up both look great

I hope this is the first and last time the phrase "nice used toilets" is ever used in my life.

Having a Birthday? Free: A group of maybe 10 or 12 balloons inflated Sunday April 27th for my mother's 90th birthday. She wants to give them away. Still aloft, and will perk up when the temperature is higher or brought indoors. Have a brand new corsage too. Would cost plenty if you had to buy.

Hmmmmm... just because your 90 year old mother wants you to do something crazy doesn't mean you should actually do it. Does she also ask you to post ads for her used paper plates and plastic utensils? ("Will perk up when you wash them")

This isn't sketchy at all. Were there by any chance "salvaged" from a big, underground room made of concrete? ...that's what I thought.

free 55 gallon bareels under dack porch take as nany as you need (27 soule st jewett city)

condition: salvagesize / dimensions: 55 /allon
Used 55 gallon barell

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Sometimes, the world is a strange place.

People you counted on become unavailable, or someone you mistrusted shows a new side of themselves. Suddenly, you like the taste of raisins even though you hated them before. People are unreliable. The world is unreliable.

What then, can you trust in this ever-changing life? I think that the one thing that we all have, no matter what, is ourselves. In reality, the only opinion we can really change is our own. The only actions we can be sure to be carried out are the ones we perform.

This might seem depressing. But this theory also carries some comforting consequences. If we can count on ourselves, then this also means that we can choose to be there and support those we love when they need someone besides themselves. It also follows that, being the only ones we can rely on, we are not responsible for the behavior or choices of others.

If we believe that we can only rely on ourselves, then we are the only ones responsible for our own disappointment.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Things I am not worrying about right now

-Attempting to train a student who has been in the lab for 4 months, without actually planning the project myself, since this is apparently supposed to be his thesis project

-My bank account

-The fact that none of the labs I contacted for post doc positions have funding

-Having a week to prepare a presentation for an audience of physicists, astronomers, and earth scientists (I'm a microbiologist)


-The possibility of my landlord not extending my lease because he doesn't like me, as evidenced by his accusation that I'm secretly letting my boyfriend live here, his lack of response when I stated that my boyfriend is absolutely not living here, and the fact that he suggested I open the shades more often when I asked if the furnace was working when the thermostat showed 54 degrees

-The actual identity of the bug that bit me on the neck this afternoon and might have infected me with malaria/Lyme disease/Black Death

-Being a bit too fond of Train

-Missing the very first episode of the new season of River Monsters Sunday night

Monday, April 14, 2014

Why the human race needs women

This picture embodies all of the reasons why I love my boyfriend, and why this drives me completely insane.

posted from Bloggeroid

Working away from the office's the best!!

Location: Café                                Pros: Comfy, unlimited food and drink
                                                            Cons: Rapidly become fat and poor
Location: Public Library              Pros: Free seating and wifi
                                                            Cons: Librarians are actually quite loud
Other people who frequent the library during the daytime include unemployed males who wish to hit on you, senior citizens that come in and insist that the librarians find them the “ACTUAL play, not the movie!", and mentally ill individuals who will hold private karaoke sessions, while wearing headphones.
Location: University bookstore                  
                                           Pros: Free wifi
Access to food and drink without the pressure to actually buy anything in exchange for your electrical and internet usage
Cons: Undergrads might recognize you and ask why you haven’t replied to their email
Profs might recognize you and ask why you haven’t replied to their email
When you do get hungry, everything is triple overpriced (ex. Smoothies are 7 bucks a pop)
Location: Home           Pros: No additional cost
Can wear pajamas
           Cons: You will eat everything in the entire pantry
Cat mounts unrelenting battle to for your attention
Location: Boyfriend’s apartment 
                                          Pros: No additional cost
Can wear pajamas
          Cons: You will eat everything in the entire pantry
Boyfriend mounts unrelenting battle to for your attention
Location: Parent’s house                
                                          Pros: Free food, able to crank the heat
          Cons: Constant complaints that you never visit (which reminds you why you never visit)
Location: Walk-in clinic’s waiting room
                                          Pros: Kills two birds with one stone; you’ll probably  be there for hours anyway
                                          Cons: No wifi
           You find the smiling models on the informational brochures for STIs disconcerting
           You might leave with more illnesses than you arrived with
Location: Close friend’s house     
                                            Pros: Good company
                                            Cons: Your friend assumed you would be having                                              some kind of social interactions and will soon learn                                              to hate you when she realizes you can work for                                                      hours and still have more to do
         The matching living room furniture set makes you painfully aware of the fact that you are earning half the salary of most of those in your graduating class, and yet you have more work than you can ever finish

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Causation without representation

Two recent studies that fail to acknowledge the difference between correlation and causation:

Morning Light Exposure Could Help Keep You Thinner

Mobile phones linked to erectile dysfunction, according to study

Can we please have scientists write up our science news tidbits instead of clueless news interns? Then maybe we can do justice to the scientific method and teach everyone the difference between CORRELATION and CAUSATION. When the titles of the articles are reworded to reflect what the studies actually found instead of what the reporters want to hear, they're not nearly as life-changing; in fact, they're pretty much common sense. For example, the first study becomes People Who Are Exposed to Light in Early Morning Tend to be Thinner. Hmm. People who get up early are in shape? Could this possibility be due to them waking up early in order to lose weight (ie WORK OUT)?? Of course the sun might actually be dosing these people with magical skinny rays. Seems like these researchers will need to do another study to find out... But when you look at the facts I doubt anyone would bother to give them funding for such a stupid project. D'oh.

The second study might not be as immediately obvious; but when we remove the magic phrase "linked to", all we're left with is that men who have erectile dysfunction are more likely to use their cell phones a lot. Again we don't need to invoke any kind of mystical unexplained energies (what is this, the freaking Middle Ages?) to explain this "linkage"; we can easily come up with two likely possibilities using basic human psychology. Namely, that guys who can't get it up and don't score very often look to other areas-such as Angry Birds, online poker, and Facebook- for their entertainment. An alternative (or additional) tidbit to consider is that cell phones tend to impose stress; they can allow work to find you at any time and create a pipeline for friends and family to demand attention, and responses, as needed (or wanted). We all know that stress can be a real performance crusher in bed, so why is it surprising that guys who carry around a stress-o-matic around in their pocket tend to have a hard time getting it on?

Sorry for all the attitude and cynicism lately, but I would appreciate if everyone would stop being silly so I can focus on my thesis instead of these angry posts.

posted from Bloggeroid

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Just a commoner?

The singer Lorde, known for her first hit, Royals, recently shared a photo of herself pre- and post- airbrushing to remove all imperfections. "i find this curious - two photos from today, one edited so my skin is perfect and one real. remember flaws are ok :-) " she commented. Earlier today I heard a radio announcer on 104.1 WMRQ complaining that Lorde's un-retouched photo showed of her "gross zits". I went to the station's Facebook page to leave a comment, but wall posts were disabled. However, I'm documenting my response here;

Listening to Holden's adolescent comments about Lorde's gestures supporting self-esteem challenged teens made me want to vomit. Looking at Lorde's allegedly disgusting picture, on the other hand, failed to invoke any gastric response. What is Holden's problem, anyway? Isn't this the same station that ran a campaign urging teens to just give someone a smile in the hallway, because they might be going through a rough time in life? Totally hypocritical... but anything to crack a joke to keep up the ratings, right?

Zits are gross. But guess what? We've all had them. And we all try to cover them up or hide them because they make us feel bad about ourselves. But that's ridiculous! Does the sensitivity of your skin have any reflection on your worth as a person?? I've said it before and I'm going to keep saying it; we're becoming more and more accustomed to seeing celebrities with pounds of makeup, plastic surgery, major dental re-hauls and who knows what else. Is that really the standard we want to hold each other, and ourselves to? Lemme tell you something Holden: that's not real. This weekend I saw a young woman at Lowe's with her boyfriend. Her face was flawless- but it wasn't the same color as the rest of her skin. That's how you can tell when someone is wearing a shitton of makeup, gentlemen. My boyfriend calls it bitchface. You don't need to do that, girls. The only kind of man you're going to get with that face is one that's only interested in what's in your pants.

When I was a teenager I thought that apathy was society's biggest problem. But nowadays it's developed into pure denial. No one wants to be the one to stand up to the cast of Jersey Shore or Miley Cyrus and say that this is just ridiculous, because then someone like Holden is going to accuse them of being jealous, or insecure because they're not as pretty as those bitches. So then we all keep quiet and eventually everyone starts pretending that living your life on a constant rampage of selfish indulgence is ok, and that it's actually DESIRABLE to be rich and famous enough to act that way.

Well, guess what. I think that's fucking lame. Being a diva and treating your friends and family poorly isn't cool, it just means that you're a bitch and odds are none of them actually like you. Spraying layers of skin-colored liquids on your face and taking pills to make your boobs bigger is only going to waste your time and money. It's only distracting everyone from who you are as a person, and do you really hate yourself THAT MUCH? Just get a hobby or something. And guys, you're no better. First, to all you gym rats out there. If you spend 75% of your free time at the gym to get jacked to pick up ladies, then what are you going to do if you actually meet someone? You're going to have to choose between spending time with them and becoming less jacked (which, from the pool you're drawing from, will probably leave them devastated) or you can spend three times the number of hours at the gym as you do with your girlfriend. (In reality it's probably not that much of an issue, because I doubt you have much personality left after exposing your brain to the stupefying effects of four hours of adrenaline and testosterone every day.)


Sorry for getting so worked up. I like to get dressed up, I like to look nice and wear makeup and be in shape. But I know that someday, all of that is going to fade away, or at least become more and more difficult to keep up. And my real merit, my uniqueness and the part that might have some chance to make an impact on this world, is inside. My brain, my soul, my personality- whatever you want to call it. That will be able to grow and change and improve until the day I die, and won't need any stretching or tinting or sucking to make it seem younger. And one more thing- if you aspire to outer beauty, you exist in that alone. However if you value and nurture the spirit as you travel through this life, if you let yourself grow, then maybe you can grow with someone else, and be able to evolve together.

Sunday, March 30, 2014


Catnip Caves Interactive Cat Toy

....clearly just a paper bag.

I'm not sure what the people who bought this were thinking. Have we, as a society, really become so disconnected from reality that by applying the buzzphrase "nanotechnology" to a product's description, a company can charge us literally 50x the price (the product above vs normal brown bags)?? Or sell us something that is literally merely just a piece of paper?

Sad, just sad.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

 It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them. ”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Things that are evil

Opuntia cacti spines
Wet band aids at public pools
Flying United
Drafty windows
Golden Girls (sorry Megan)
Being in a confined space with some using chewing tobacco
Biting horseflies
Slugs (especially inside your house)
Intestinal parasites of any kind
Noro virus
ET (sorry Dan)
SOME ex boyfriends

posted from Bloggeroid

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Real life medical drama

I'll admit to watching reality TV in part for the shock value, like most people. But I'm also quick to point out that nonfiction stories have the potential to be more inspiring than stereotyped fictitious writing and canned laughter. As I mentioned before, one show I find particularly uplifting is Too Fat For Fifteen, where teenagers learn to take control of their appetites and weight with many life-changing revelations along the way. A special I recently watched on TLC, The Man With the Two Hundred Pound Tumor, also proved to be more than the everyday sensationalist trash.

Hai Nguyen, who initially developed a tumor at age 16, was essentially paralyzed by the growth, which was not stopped by the amputation of his leg as a teenager. By age 31, the Vietnamese man's tumor was as large as he was, keeping him confined to bed. It was so large that it routinely tore the very skin holding it together. Such a person would be expected to suffer crippling depression and to have a bitter or irritable disposition. Instead, Hai took his situation lightly, smiled at the cameras, and talked about how excited he is for the chance that a doctor from Chicago might be able to remove his growth. He isn't desperate or angry and isn't ashamed of having to rely on his family to feed him and even bathe him.

I was surprised by Hai's demeanor, but contributed it to his hope that his condition would soon improve. However I was proven wrong. Halfway through the show, after the doctor has arrived and Hai has traveled hundreds of uncomfortable miles in the back of an ambulance, he's told that the hospital he was brought to won't host the surgery. It's too risky, they claim, and the hospital doesn't want to be liable for it. Dr. McKinnon argues that the procedure is a matter of life and death, but to no avail. Afterward, the doctor goes to apologize to Hai and explain that there is nothing he can do.

Hai replies that he understands. He says he regrets the situation, but is grateful that the doctor has traveled all the way to Vietnam. Then he asks Dr. McKinnon to continue to do his work and save someone else's life in place of Hai's own. Hai was distraught, but wasn't panicked or even afraid. He sadly smiled and had clearly accepted his unfair fate, but still didn't sink into despair. Physically immobile and without influence over the doctors deciding his fate, Hai seizes the only opportunity to take control. He refuses to hit rock bottom.

I find Hai's refusal to let misery win very inspiring. On the contrary, I think that many people react to stories like this with guilt. They will respond with things like, "Compared to that, my life isn't so bad," or, "What do I really have to complain about?" But I don't think that's a particularly useful lesson to take away from this courageous man's attitude. When we are in the midst of our private woes and are experiencing hurt, does it really help to think of others who are even worse off than we are? To punish ourselves for feeling bad? Comparing yourself to someone worse off won't make your disappointments or burdens disappear.

On the other hand, I think that taking away the more positive message that we should never lose hope is much more valuable. Hai doesn't give in to despair. He retains his dignity and resolve that there must be good in the world; in doing this he is then able to do what little he can, in asking the doctor who cannot save him to not give up. We are all connected because we are part of this world, whether you believe it's because we're all made by God or all made of star stuff (or if you believe both, as I do). We make choices every day in whether to attend to our fellow creatures and give them positive words and uplifting interactions or to focus on ourselves, eventually crawling deeper and deeper within our own psyche until we're surrounded by only our wants and needs. If Hai had succumbed to death at that point, he would have been remembered positively; his family wouldn't have the additional burden of mourning his spirit as well as his body. Through his request, he also released Dr. McKinnon from the guilt of not being able to save him. Hai was not indifferent to life, but accepted it in the most dignified and inspiring manner I've seen in a long time.

After a short time, another hospital in Vietnam agreed to host Hai's surgery. Dr. McKinnon returned and lead a team of doctors and nurses, who removed the tumor. Hai recovered and was able to begin learning to move on his own again. After such a prolonged ordeal, it's certain that Hai's circumstances had nowhere to go but up. Then again, imagine how much higher he started out than if he had given up.

Friday, February 21, 2014

This day has been exceptionally stupid.
I did my hair but the humidity ruined it.
It's raining, but not enough to use an umbrella.
It's warm, but not enough to turn down the heat.
My work computer is broken, but when I got to the cafe with my laptop I found they're closing at 4 until spring.
i give up
i m going home to eat pizza and ice cream, naked, in front of the tv
and i ll be watching infomercials
for Kardashian skin care products.

Monday, February 3, 2014

What's In My Bag?

Inspired by US Weekly's feature, What's In My Bag?

A scientist and self-described fashionista, I carry a purse that hails the Boy scout motto, Always be prepared. (And don't get me started on the Boy scouts. It's totally unfair that they got to ride on floats in parades while us Girl scouts didn't. I don't care if it's dangerous.)

Pinching Pennies
Couponing is all the rage, and I'm no exception! "I keep all my coupons in an outside pocket of my purse. That way, they're always with me when I go to the store. Except when I go after the gym and don't have my purse. ...which turns out to be roughly 90% of the time."

Write It Down
"The key to managing so many students while staying on top of my own responsibilities is tough." The key is to keep reminders of all the important tasks that need to be done. For example, write things like "Wednesday, Feb 4 2:30pm" so you don't be busy at that time. And remember to be Earth-friendly: "I like to recycle. If there's a coupon with a white back, or a card from someone I don't like, I use them as I would notecards. It makes me feel very Bohemian."

Protect Your Privacy
Identity theft is on the rise, and the modern woman needs to protect herself. "I save all of my receipts so that no one can go dumpster diving and snatch my credit card number." Then, the receipts can be disposed of by ripping them into roughly 12,000 little pieces or deposited in a plastic bag being used for cat litter disposal. "I learned this from Lisbeth in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series. She would rip up receipts and throw them away in different trash cans in the airport so as not to leave a trail. At least, it's the same idea." ...until you forgot to empty the receipts out of your purse and realize it's overflowing with literally hundreds of them. Eh.

Grassroots Community Living
"I love that the town I live in has so many unique events. For example, there's a place on main street that has live music every Friday, from seasoned bluegrass musicians to teenage jazz quartets." You can grab advertisements for roller derby bouts, comedians, free yoga sessions and children or family events. Of course, if you're in grad school, you'll never have time to go to any of them.

Showing Her Maturity
"I always carry Gas-X. You never know when flatulence will attack!" I also try to have at least two types of painkillers for my arthritis, dairy digestive pills (to prevent the flatulence in the first place), and lots of tissues. If I'm going on a long trip, I sometimes empty an Altoids tin and fill it with Sudafed, Tums, and other pills I might need. Medication keeps you young at heart.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Pooper bowl

Today I'm learning football for the first time, since no one in the past has successfully explained it to me."It looks like rocks being thrown at other rocks," I complained to my boyfriend. As in, the players are rocks. And I guess they're not so much being thrown as running into each other but rocks can't run so that's why I didn't say that in the first place. Whatever.

So I'm asking lots of questions and the only major setback so far has been that my boyfriend neglected to call me in from the kitchen when the Star Wars commercial came on (boyfriend FAIL). (He's giving me the finger as I'm writing this.)

Anyway, so far I've learned:

-You're not allowed to hold onto someone, even if you're falling down. The exception is if someone has stolen your wallet, but apparently you're not supposed to have your wallet on the field, in which case I'm not sure how they would identify your body.
*I've just been informed that you're only not allowed to hold onto someone even if you're falling down only if they're receiving a pass. So I guess it's analogous to a cock block, in that if you're the blocker, that's not allowed.

-Pee in your mouthguard is not a reason for a flag.

-"Seahawks" is a common name for the same bird known as the shithawk of Nova Scotia.

-A "down" is a measure of time, assuming that time is circular. Circular time allows for repetition and therefore infinite possibilities, which is why football games can last for an eternity.

-You aren't allowed to trip other players. You are allowed to tackle them to the point of concussion. Much like spousal abuse.>:(

-In order to make a touchdown, you don't actually have to touch anything down to the ground. I literally did not know that until this very moment.

-You're allowed to have a visor in your helmet. You're not allowed to have laser beams. I'm not aware of whether or not you can watch Youtube videos.

-The main  purpose of the Superbowl is to provide an excuse to eat cream cheese. (Reference: my sister)

Monday, January 27, 2014

When I snap my fingers you will cluck like a chicken

Last week I wrote about depression. It's a difficult struggle to win, like trying to clean your hands of glue. Sometimes a single, bad experience or time can throw you into it. But sometimes the reverse is true, and a seemingly unimportant occurrence can help to pop you back out.

I had a lovely experience this weekend seeing Rich Guzzi perform a comedy hypnosis show. I'd never seen a hypnosis act before, in part because I'd skipped the events in college due to a fear that I would be peer pressured into volunteering and then be hypnotized against my will. Of course now I know that you can't be hypnotized involuntarily, as the whole point is to put one into a state open to suggestions; this was clear during the show as the volunteers who were clearly not under hypnosis were removed from the stage.

Spending over an hour laughing, clapping, and banging on the table along with an entire roomful of other people was a great experience in itself. Seeing a comedy hypnotist is different from seeing a stand-up comedian is that with the latter, audience members tend to stay always slightly on the offensive, fearful that they will be picked out as the subject of the next joke. On the other hand, as an audience member at a hypnosis show, it was a different experience. All of us in the audience who declined the invitation to be hypnotized could relax. In addition, the volunteers or "performers" allowed for a higher level of connection between the crowd and performers; they were normal people being honest and open- and funny.

Towards the end of the show, Rich Guzzi said that he wanted to bestow some positive energy on the volunteers and invited the audience to participate as well. As we closed our eyes, he intoned encouraging statements and images. "You feel that every day is better than the last, so that every day is the best day of your life," he suggested. He encouraged us to be reminded of new opportunities in our everyday lives, to appreciate ourselves, and to have confidence, determination, and contentment.

Strangely (or perhaps not) this short positive-thinking seminar had a powerful effect on me. I realized that I've been waiting for everyone else to tell me that I'm worthwhile, that I'm doing a good job, that I'm enough. And while it's nice to have other people recognize this, I had forgotten that I don't need them to. I'd gotten into the habit of not telling myself these things as a form of protection, so that I wouldn't be hurt when others didn't affirm my worth. What a mistake that was.

Ever since that night I've been intoning some of those things in my head before I go to sleep. And I believe them. I like myself. I'm worthwhile. My life is good and tomorrow will be good. There are possibilities everywhere, some that I can't even imagine now. And you know what? It works. I've been sleeping better, and getting up earlier. Two out of three days since I've gotten up to go to the gym in the morning- something I haven't been able to do in months (although I go in the evenings, a morning workout is a marvelous way to start the day). I've felt better about myself and have been able to cut down on my nervous snacking, a habit that's literally been automatic whenever I've had a bad thought in the past 12 months. I feel peaceful and motivated (something else that has been frustratingly lacking).

I'm not crediting all of this to the magic of a comedian/hypnotist. But I'm definitely crediting him with reminding me of the things I need to claim for myself. I'm feeling these things now because I believe that I deserve them and that I can hold on to them. Problems are merely obstacles and are not equatable to a dark future. The future is unresolved, but not cloudy. It's like a night sky, full of distant stars we can't resolve, but which are beautiful and become stunning the closer they become.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Depression is stupid

Depression is stupid. So is anxiety. In fact, half the time I can't even tell the difference between the two. That in itself is stupid, because it seems that they should be complete opposites of one another; the former being stereotyped as a person moving and making decisions slowly and the latter lightning fast thoughts peppering one's consciousness. The common ground between them is that both are overwhelmingly paralyzing when they grip your life.

I revisit this topic in part due to my own experiences, and partially because of the wonderful blog by the author of Let's Pretend This Never Happened (well, really it's more a book written by the author of the blog, The Bloggess), in particular this insightful and sensitive entry about depression; Most people don't understand depression or anxiety, which is probably why so many cases go untreated. (I honestly think this is a huge factor in the level of unhappiness in the United States, but that's another topic.) It's also very hard to explain the experience of depression and anxiety to others, even if they care about you and want to understand.

Depression and anxiety are both categorized as mental illnesses. This label carries a lot of baggage with it. I yearned to be an astronaut for a very long time, and worried that my eyesight (terrible by any standard) would be a barrier; in reality my family and personal history of depression would be much more likely to hinder my ambitions. A few months ago I read that in the northwest, some political candidate running for a state position accused his opponent of being crazy, evidenced, he claimed, by her diagnosis of depression several years past.

The world's view of depression is disgusting, especially considering that it afflicts millions of people. Depression does not make you crazy. Most people who are depressed are not suicidal. The overwhelming majority of people with depression do function normally, if not as well as they otherwise might.

That's not to say that being depressed doesn't MAKE you feel crazy. It's a chemical imbalance in your brain, which causes you to feel things inappropriate to your situation. You feel disconnected, and frustrated. You're sad and nervous even though everything is fine. I'm trying to graduate this spring, and facing that, during a time of the year that's personally difficult, has caused my brain to go into anxiety/depression overload. Plus, my boyfriend is away this week, which is a huge help. (NOT that I'm saying he should have skipped his work/band trip just to support me; he should have brought me along.) So here I am, trying to crunch data, and my brain is saying, What if this doesn't lead to any conclusions? What if my study shows that all of the differences in my data are insignificant and essentially a big jumble of shades of gray? What if we DO find something but no one will publish the paper so I never get a job and my landlord kicks me out and I run out of money because of the vet bill when my cat at the two feet of fishing line and I have to move back in with my parents and there's a nuclear apocalypse and I'm one of the only ones left and I can't find my boyfriend and my glasses are broken and all of the Sephoras burn down?????!!!!! And then I need to take a break and I text my boyfriend and he doesn't respond and my brain says that he takes me for granted and that I NEED LOVE RIGHT NOW OR EVERYTHING IS DOOMED TO FALL APART BECAUSE IF MY BOYFRIEND CAN'T EVEN TAKE THE TIME TO ANSWER A TEXT WHILE (KIND OF) ON VACATION THEN IT'S NEVER GOING TO WORK OUT WHEN I'M A FAMOUS SCIENTIST AND HAVE TO TAKE THE SPACE ELEVATOR TO THE MOON EVERY TUESDAY TO HOLD MY LAB MEETINGS OMG!!!!!!


And that's why it's so hard to control depression and anxiety; it's all these "logical" thoughts screaming at you while you're unable to make a stance firm enough to make a decision. But all the while you also realize that your brain isn't working in the way that it normally does and if you can just ride it out, all this will pass. Which it does. Sometimes some tissues and kitty hugs are required. But when you're depressed, as when you're drunk, the person who you are is still there underneath, and in both cases your state of mind doesn't change who you are. You're responsible for the consequences of your actions. And no matter how hard you try, you can't make yourself sober just by wanting to be.

I'm not sure what the moral of this entry is. Depression and anxiety are difficult to deal with and an involuntary burden of those who suffer them. But it doesn't make those afflicted unfit to hold responsibilities or allow them to carry on a normal life. It's a fine line to walk, to insist that we are responsible but need help, are suffering but are still the same people. One thing that I've done to help myself lately is to inscribe valued advice I've been given by people I respect and care for- including "Just keep chipping away and it will get done," and "Don't take shit from anybody, including me" (my boyfriend is the best). It helps to hold on to these truths, not only because they remind me to be positive, but also because they keep me from withdrawing into myself and surrounding myself with only my own confusing thoughts and feelings. That just amplifies the despair. Rather, I try to stay grounded in this tangible evidence that people care for me and understand me, even if they might not understand what I'm going through.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Lies are ok....right?

So my landlord sent me an email "reminding" me that my lease dictates that only one person can live in the apartment, implying that my boyfriend has been living here for the past two months. Now, if my boyfriend had been living here for the last two months I sure as hell would have been collecting rent from him, whioch I have not, because he does not live here. Yes, he stays here sometimes and I guess my landlord is aware of this fact (which is none of his business) because he sees my boyfriend's car in the driveway. However, assuming that someone has moved in because an extra car is in the driveway every few days is a liiiiiittttle bit of an overreaction- I guess my landlord assumes that he moved in in secret, without any furniture or clothing, and stays at work 4 or 5 nights a week. Because you know, that makes sense. Admittedly, my boyfriend's car has been in my parking lot for a few days now, because he's in freaking California (how much I hate him right now, as I listen to the snow and ice peppering my windows, is another story), which means that my landlord thinks I'm stupid enough to date a unemployed freeloader.

Anyway, after meeting with several advisers including my boyfriend, my cat, and one of the wisest men in my department (the delivery man/stock room point person/fix-it guy/TASCA certified staff individual and resident Jamacian- also a landlord on the side), these are the options I've come up with, in order of increasing appeal to myself:

1-Respond with an email explaining that there is a misunderstanding and offer to remedy the situation.

2-Email my landlord back with a lie saying that a friend has been coming to visit to help me finish my thesis.

3-Concede that my landlord was correct, and that my boyfriend HAD moved in, but that we have since broken up. Tragically, it was a difficult breakup, as I found out that he has an abnormal fondness for professional ice hockey mascots in costume, causing me to go into a rage and steal his car, explaining why it's in the driveway. I've decided to take a leave of absence from graduate school and see if I have what it takes to follow my first and true love; food sculpture (see picture). I can understand why he is concerned, and apologize for misleading him, but assure my landlord that I will sell the car and clear everything else up and ask that he not bring it up again, since it's such a painful topic.

This is an actual sculpture of a toilet that I made from stale marshmallows. I sent it as a surprise gift to my short best friend.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Males only have two useful genes

The mammalian Y chromosome is a symbol of maleness and encodes genes important for male reproduction. Various deletions of the Y chromosome result in sperm defects and infertility. When haploid male germ cells were injected directly into oocytes, Yamauchi et al. (p. 69, published online 21 November; see the Perspective by Capel) found that living offspring could be derived from male mice whose Y chromosome contribution was limited to only two genes. These two genes are the testis determinant factorSry and the spermatogonial proliferation factor Eif2s3y.

Ok so the title oversimplifies it a bit but still.... this is pretty amazing and amusing :P

Other scientific discoveries pertinent to your life:

Neuroethology: Lemon-Fresh Scent Makes Flies Lay Eggs

...better stop grabbing those lemon-scented cleaning products....
Many sensory cues have been shown
to influence egg-laying behavior in fruit
flies, including types of scent, color,
taste and texture, to name just a few.
For instance, temperature has shown
to be an important cue for egg
deposition [7], and flies prefer the
color green [8]. Chemosensory cues
are particularly important for
egg-laying. The smell of acetic acid is a
strong stimulant for egg-laying [9], and
the presence of sugar has also shown
to be important [10]. By contrast,
emission of Geosmin from moldy fruit
deters ovipositing females [11]. In the
new study [6], Dweck, Stensmyr and
colleagues identify the fruit volatiles
emitted that flies prefer in their choice
of egg-laying substrate. Although
D. melanogaster is a generalist, they
find that it exhibits marked preferences
for Citrus fruits (Figure 1). In a series of
multiple choice assays, flies were
allowed to oviposit on different types of
fruit and showed overwhelming
preference for non-acidic Citrus.
Current Biology Vol 23 No 24