Sunday, February 27, 2011

State Patty's Day Fail (mini rant, part two)

I don't know if it was frustration or disappointment, or something else, but I nearly broke into tears driving into work this morning. Why? Because the streets of downtown State College were trashed. The sidewalks and gutters are full of red plastic cups, paper plates, beer cans, and other assorted paper and plastic goods.

And, as I'm sure more stories will emerge over the next few days, State Patty's day was the crap-fest of drunkenness and self-loathing wrapped up in weather-inappropriate daisy dukes, knee-high socks and unoriginally idiotic catch-phrase slathered green t-shirts I expected it to be.

Maybe the saddest story (cited in the link above) so far is this one:
A 16-year-old boy was found intoxicated, lying down and throwing up on the sidewalk on the 500 block of South Pugh Street at 12:52 a.m.
Nice. Now, in addition to attracting the brightest and best from the surrounding colleges, State Patty's day celebrations are also welcoming (and accommodating) high school students. And this poor kid is seriously ill, alone, literally lying in a pool of his own vomit. His parents are (hopefully) terrified for his well-being after this event. 

An equally scary story is of an attempted intrusion:

A drunken 19-year-old was found trying to enter a house on the 400 block of Martin Terrace at around 11:30 p.m. on Friday.
Although I'm sure the kid was so drunk he didn't know where he was (what great friends he has to let him wander home along, and what self-control that he couldn't find a responsible way home), it terrifies me that some family had to experience this. Can you imagine being at home, minding your own business when some intoxicated college kid tries to break into your home because he's so face-down drunk he doesn't know he's at the wrong house?

Was it worth it, State College students? To fall so far? Last weekend you were praised for organizing the largest student-run fundraiser, and raising the most money ever for THON

This weekend, it's the walk of shame.  

Saturday, February 26, 2011

State Patty's Day Rant

Dear State Patty's Day Party-goers,


Well done.

I already had to avoid hitting green-clad street-wanderers this morning (it's just barely past 8am people!). For those of you not in State College, PA, welcome to State Patty's Day. It's a day made up a few years ago so students who missed St. Patrick's Day (because it fell during Spring Break) could have an excuse to dress up in green and get face-down drunk.

The girl who took charge organizing this year said it was because:
"I wanted to continue the tradition for those that are younger than me."
Like it's a sweet family tradition or something instead of another (as if they need it) day to get completely wasted, make fools of themselves in public and trash the town.

Last year the founder denounced it because it had gotten so out of control. From the article, in 2009:
"Police saw students vomiting or urinating on sidewalks in broad daylight. Drunken driving arrests were up, and more than 20 people needed emergency medical services."
(in 2009) "State Patty's Day yielded more alcohol-related incidents than the 2008 Homecoming weekend or the primetime Illinois game" 
Not that public intoxication is acceptable during those times either, but what are you celebrating with State Patty's Day? Worshiping Dionysus? Enjoying being young and hanging out with your friends? Hoping to get sent to the ER for alcohol poisoning or arrested for sexual assault?

A student walking in front of me on Thursday was exclaiming how he needed to do a lot of work the next two days because he certainly wasn't going to be "functioning" on Saturday, and was planning on being severely hungover and barely moving on Sunday. Wow, that sounds like so much fun.

Now the problem is multiplied because students and visitors from surrounding communities come in for the event meaning that there is less accountability for the stupidity that occurs.

I hesitated (barely) before writing this because:
1) I really need to get work done today (but who can work when you're fuming!)
2) I might be turning into a grouch (but, no, there's no excuse for the blatant disrespect these people show to the town, its community members and to themselves)

State College, it isn't time to "grow up". You have the rest of your lives to do that. But it is time to develop a little self-respect, and learn how to be courteous to the people you share this town with. I wouldn't even necessarily advocate for canceling State Patty's Day, if you could learn to celebrate responsibly, without damaging yourself, your friends, and anyone you come in contact with.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

liquid gold

Again, sharing someone else's thoughts, which are generally more coherent than mine right now.

I've been saving these up, intending to share them here (as well as some of my own thoughts), but the time seems to pass too quickly.

So, while I wait for Scott to get home so I can head into work, here is a brief summary of why breastmilk might just be considered liquid gold.

Luckily, we've been pretty fortunate when it comes to nursing and pumping at work, although it certainly takes a chunk out of my day. Unlike the computation listed above, I would have to add an extra 10 to 15 minutes for the time it takes me to walk to the room where I'm allowed to pump, setup, cleanup and then return to my lab and sterilize the equipment. Really, it would be so, so much easier to be able to setup and pump in my office (which I do on the weekends, and saves me a ton of time, not only in commuting, but because I can continue to work while pumping). But, Penn State doesn't protect pumping anywhere, the same way they do with nursing a child.

Because other people said it better

and its hard to type one-handed (holding a baby).

About why religion is most certainly not a sure bet. It's long, but, I think, a well-stated set of arguments. The first one points out a glaring problem with belief in the supernatural.

"Which God?  
The first and most obvious problem with Pascal's Wager? It assumes there's only one religion, and only one version of God.
How do you know which one to wager on?
The differences between these gods and religions aren't trivial. If you obey the rules of one, you're guaranteed to be violating the rules of another. If you worship Jesus, and Islam turns out to right -- you're screwed. If you worship Allah, and Judaism turns out to be right -- you're screwed. If you worship Jehovah, and Jainism turns out to be right -- you're screwed. "

It's Wednesday morning

and Little Bear and I are enjoying some time together. Yesterday was her two month check up and out baby girl is doing great! She's long (99%) and lean (68%), and seems to be in top health. She was very well-behaved during the entire appointment, but did cry when she got her vaccinations. Poor, sweet, baby has never looked so sad. She was tired and upset the rest of the day, but today seems to be much better.

As I write, she's cuddling with me and watching the doggies wrestle.

Wednesday morning are our happy time together because she's generally more fussy in the afternoons (M,T,R and F I'm home in the afternoons with her). Of course, I just spoke too soon - off to go walk around the house! :)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

How awesome is science and the human body?

This awesome:

Neil Patrick Harris (one of my new favorite people) and David Burtka decided to have children and found a surrogate mother. The physicians implanted one egg fertilized with a sperm from Neil and one egg fertilized with a sperm from David. Both took! Now they are proud fathers of paternal twins (a little girl and a little boy!).

It just really strikes me as something very, very cool that people who, thirty years ago couldn't conceive a child on their own now have two! I probably missed this story (seeing as it was published Dec 29) due to our own new addition.

Well, congrats to the new daddies. And congrats to the science that made it possible.

Oh, and although the quality is a little choppy, here's a video for your day featuring NPH' voice on Glee:

Monday, February 14, 2011

Short, but more frequent

At least, I hope I'm able to post more frequently. However, given my limited time, my posts (as you will have noticed) are much shorter, and will be for some time.

I did want to mention an online symposium held last Friday:

A Decade with the Human Genome Sequence: Charting a Course for Genomic Medicine

It was hosted by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), and featured several prominent scientists. I was only able to attend one of the sessions, that given by one of the rockstars in my field, David Page, M.D.. I tweeted about the talk (I missed a few bits here and there due to glitches with the live broadcast, but caught most of it), but didn't think to look up the hashtag (I had to run to make it on time after pumping). To summarize, the first half of the talk was a summary of sex chromosome evolution, focusing particularly on the Y chromosome. The second half discussed new research connecting the Y chromosome with infertility and (the really exciting part), potentially Turner Syndrome. He finished by emphasizing that careful, complete sequencing is necessary for studies of the Y chromosome, and for understanding the impact of both the Y chromosome and complex regions of the genome on human disease and infertility.

The website claims that the videocasts will be archived for future viewing - I don't see them yet, but keep an eye out - I really hope they are posted! 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Countdown to Zero

A documentary that I'm looking forward to:

Slumdog millionaire

I know, I know, we're a little behind the times, but last night we finally watched Slumdog Millionaire. Spoiler alert - don't read further if you are just as behind as I have been. I liked how the story was told through flashbacks, and thought it was a very good movie. I would not, however, call it "the feel-good film of the decade":

Sure, in the end, he finally gets the girl he's been searching for, but not after experience a slew of horrors that no child should ever have to live through. It isn't a feel-good movie. If anything, as a viewer, I'm relieved that, finally, something goes right for this kid at the end of the movie.

What did stick out to me in this movie, similar to "My Name is Khan", is how it highlights how much violence occurs due to the conflict between Hindu and Muslim individuals in India. In the US, at least in my experience, Hinduism is generally regarded as docile, but I suppose, like any religion (or most religions), it isn't inherently good or bad, but subject to the biases of its followers. I know a lot of wonderfully open-minded religious people (for which I count myself lucky), but can't help but feel like there are too many (i.e. more than zero) acts of hatred and violence perpetrated in the name of one religion or another.

Happy Darwin Day!!

This was designed in 2009, and all proceeds from the sales go to support the National Center for Science Education

Monday, February 7, 2011

The plan

I have twelve weeks to complete my graduate career. I met with my advisor today and we had a fantastic conversation about what all we need to accomplish, now it is time to get it done. It is nice to be in a place where she and I meet and are bringing similar ideas to the table.

In the coming weeks I need to rerun some analysis for our study of male mutation bias, complete analysis on how pseudogenes die and evolve, rewrite and resubmit the review of male mutation bias, and finish writing my thesis. Oh, and defend my thesis.

It seems a little overwhelming right now, but hopefully if I can keep focused on small goals, it will all come together without too much stress.

In other news, both Scott and I are getting over the flu.  Although the infection itself was pretty terrible (causing high fevers, severe fatigue, cough, etc), it was more scary because I was so afraid that our six week out daughter would get sick. So far, however, we've been really lucky and she is faring much better than both of us!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Testing (blogging from my phone and soups)

I'm trying out a blogger app on my phone because it is so much more manageable than my laptop when I am holding or nursing Claire.

Also, I made two soups today.

Broccoli Soup:
4 broccoli crowns
1 small onion
2 vegetable bullion cubes
4 cups water
1 tablespoon garlic

Cook onions and garlic in half a cup of water until translucent. Add bullion, water and broccoli and cook until tender. Purée and enjoy!

Carrot Ginger Soup:
1 lb carrots
1 small diced onion
1 tablespoon garlic
2 vegetable bullion cubes
4 cups of water
1 generous tablespoon of minced ginger

Cook onions, ginger and garlic in half a cup of water until translucent. Add bullion, water and carrots and cook until tender. Purée and enjoy!

Both are healthy and tasty way to get a couple servings of veggies. After pureeing, they look like this:

We will eat some this weekend and I will take some for lunch next week.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, February 3, 2011


This news article starts off by quoting a person stating that,
"Pakistan has set the standard for intolerance when it comes to misusing blasphemy laws" 

But, can there be any proper use of a blasphemy law? No. Blasphemy laws are not against hate speech, or libel, but written to keep anyone from potentially offending the religious. People don't have a right to not be offended. It is ridiculous that blasphemy laws exist anywhere. Blasphemy is not, and should not, be a crime. No, this teenager shouldn't be jailed for insulting Mohammed, but neither should any person be jailed or fined for insulting any religion.

Breastfeeding support at Penn State

Penn State has made some claims lately about how progressive they are when it comes to supporting breastfeeding moms returning to work, claiming they are "ahead of the game".

While it is true that they recently instituted a policy (HR-20) that prevents some discrimination of breastfeeding moms who want to pump at work, they have a long way to go, as does our entire nation.

Moms who can breastfeed their child (i.e. the child is on campus) are allowed to nurse anywhere, so long as the child does not remain in the office any longer than is needed for the nursing session, but there is no similar defense of moms who need to pump. In fact, HR-20 abstains from making any statement about where one can pump (i.e., defending where a lactating mother has the right to be when pumping). It is rather odd considering the scarcity and expense of on-campus childcare which prevents most new moms from being physically close enough to nurse their children during the day. Furthermore, most moms on campus do not have access to their own office in which they can pump discretely.

There are a handful of pumping stations to serve the community and access is not immediately available or even guaranteed (the training is once a month and you have to request to be added to the schedule before gaining access to the password and the single occupancy room. The room closest to me is very cold, in the basement, and has no sink. I am quite tempted to use the empty conference room on the fifth floor of my building which is private, warm and right next to a sink.

If this is ahead of the game, we have a long way to go. I'll write again after I learn about the policies at Berkeley.

Sugar and spice and puppydog tails

A lot of the clothes we have for Claire are gender neutral (lots of greens, yellows and blues). I like that instead of being a little boy or little girl, she can just be a little baby right now. It's nice to have people know she's a girl, but not really essential. Also, I don't want to pigeonhole her.

As this article highlights, Keeping Little Girls Squeaky Clean Could Make Them Sick, there are still a lot of gender biases that start quite early and can affect development for the rest of a child's life. And there are some interesting related hypotheses, such as the hygiene hypothesis, which boil down to stating that keeping kids in a germ-free environment and NOT stressing their immune systems will lead to more illnesses later in life. So, germ exposure during infancy and youth is purported to build up the immune system, like lifting weights builds muscles.

More doggies kisses, please!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Skin stem cell gun

Isolate healthy stem cells from the patient's skin. Mix in solution and spray on affected area.

Second degree burns completely healed in four days? Bring it on!