Thursday, December 31, 2009

Yearly New Year's Survey

I used to do this every year (since mid-high school) on my online diary.  I don't use it anymore, so ... it'll be here.  There is no #22, so no, I didn't skip it.

1. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?
I graduated from college.
2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Didn't keep them from last year. Next year's will be different.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
4. Did anyone close to you die?
Also no.
5. What countries did you visit?
6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
A shorter commute.
7. What date from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
June 1st: my first day of real, real work.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
9. What was your biggest failure?
Not running.  I miss running.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Mono in February, swine flu in November!
11. What was the best thing you bought?
It's a tie between my new car and my Macbook Pro.
12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Hillary Clinton :D
13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
My dad's.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Rent.  Computer.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
16. What song will always remind you of 2009?
Poker Face (lulz).
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Sadder.
ii. thinner or fatter? Bit fatter.
iii. richer or poorer? Still hard to tell.
18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Studying and running.
19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Staying up late.
20. How will you be spending Christmas?
Christmas already happened. Spent it at my aunt and uncle's.

21. Did you fall in love in 2009?
23. How many one-night stands?
24. What was your favourite TV program?
Bones, Supernatural, Psych.
25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
26. What was the best book you read?
27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
P!nk's album Funhouse.
28. What did you want and get?
29. What did you want and not get?
Laser eye surgery.
30. What was your favourite film of this year?
I still need to see Precious. I only saw Avatar, which was okay.
31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned twenty-three.  I went to work, went for a run, and then took my car into the shop because I'd been in an accident two days earlier.  Everyone but me had a shitty day!  I had a party the next weekend, and it was actually really nice.
32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably satisfying?
33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
STILL way better than Carolyn's.
34. What kept you sane?
Loki, again.
35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Jensen Ackles.  Wow, this STILL didn't change.
36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Fucking Stupak-Pitts/Nelson: Look, abortion is LEGAL, stop making my life harder, you assholes!
37. Who did you miss?
38. Who was the best new person you met?
Zeldathon folks :D
39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009:
Some people really don't understand common courtesy.
40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
This used to be a funhouse

But now it's full of evil clowns
It's time to start the countdown
I'm gonna burn it down, down down

Monday, December 28, 2009


As I drove home from the grocery store this evening, a song came on the radio that I didn't know.  The song sounded like something P!nk would sing, but I could tell the singer wasn't P!nk.  The voice was too low.  I was so confused; who was this female performer who sounded a little like P!nk and was singing a song that totally could have been P!nk's?

I pulled out my phone at a red light and turned on the (insanely useful) song ID function.

It was Adam Lambert.  I laughed so hard.

The song, "Whataya Want from Me," aside from the stupid spelling in the title, is pretty catchy, and Lambert is insanely talented.  I think he COULD have sung the song in P!nk's range if he'd wanted to.  I'd say, "I don't understand how he didn't win Idol!" but I do (obviously gay contestant vs. openly Christian contestant; a lot of Christians who never even watched the show voted for Kris Allen.  While Allen is also talented, I think that everyone was stunned, including the judges and the two contestants, when Allen won).

Oh, and then I got home and looked up the song on Wikipedia, and it was co-written by P!nk.  Win.

EDIT: My bad--it wasn't just co-written by P!nk.  It was originally recorded for Funhouse, her latest album.  Lambert's version is great, but uuuugh, wish I could get my hands on P!nk's version!

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Problem with Belated

I have a problem with today.

For example, I've got friends wishing me, today, a Merry Christmas.  Not in conversation, but through things like Facebook.  Why is it annoying?  It makes me question why people are going out of their way to wish me a happy holiday that I don't celebrate or observe.  Considering the exact people who are doing this, I can even question whether or not it's benignly friendly.

And then there's all the "Merry Christmas, and happy belated Chanukah!" that I keep seeing on my news feed.  That's worse.

Chanukah is over, and people seem to know that.  If you wanted to wish people a happy Chanukah, why did you wait until it's been over for a week to do it?  If you didn't know when it was, why didn't you look it up (which I do for every single Jewish holiday every single year as it is)?  If you're just trying to wish people generic happy holidays, then why not just say "happy holidays?"

The thing is, wishing people a merry Christmas and then adding Chanukah at the end, regardless of when the hell Chanukah even was, does two really stupid things.  First of all, it's fucking obvious that you're really just trying to wish people a merry Christmas because otherwise you would have already wished people a happy Chanukah.  And the second thing it does is reinforce the still-widespread idea that Chanukah is a moderately important Jewish holiday that's sort of the Jewish version of Christmas.

Chanukah isn't the Jewish version of Christmas, or the Jewish version or anything.  It's the story of a small tribe of Jews who miraculously fought and won against the Syrian army (the story of the oil is a second miracle; the menorah in the Temple needed to be lit, but it would be another 8 days before more oil could be procured.  The Jews decided to light the menorah anyway with whatever oil they had, only enough for one day, but it somehow lasted 8 days instead).  Jewish traditions during Chanukah are playing dreidl, often for money (wooo), lighting the chanukiah (which is commonly referred to as a menorah, even though menorahs only have 7 candles and chanukiahs have 9 so you can light 8 candles with the shamash candle), eating latkes which are NOT hash browns (latke recipes are much more complicated than just shredded potatoes fried on a skillet), and ... that's pretty much the story.  Gift-giving is only because of Christmas.

And it's not an important holiday.  Pesach's an important holiday, which you'll realize as soon as you attend a seder.  Rosh Hashanah is an important holiday (what with it being the new year), involving specific kinds of food (delicious specific kinds of food).  Yom Kippur is THE holiday.  Sukkot, Simchat Torah, and even Shabbat, which is WEEKLY.  But no, everyone just knows Chanukah because it's ... like Christmas!


So, don't wish me a merry Christmas personally, please.  And the belated Chanukah stuff?  Just look it up next year and get your timing right.  Wishing people a happy belated Chanukah ON Christmas?  It's a bit obvious.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ah, work

I had a ridiculously weird dream this morning, but I'm not going to describe it because it was actually highly disturbing.  And by highly disturbing, I mean it was not in any way humorously gross, and I really wish I hadn't dreamt it.  Ugh.

I have lappy with me at work today, and soon I'll ask around and see if we have Photoshop lying around or if I have to call the computer people to get it installed.  It's legitimately for work only; I barely know how to use Photoshop, I have very little personal use for it, and I don't want huge programs taking up so much space on my beautiful clean new laptop.  So I need to figure that out, or else bringing my laptop in today was too much of a risk and a waste.

In other news ... Day and a half left before vacation :D

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

More Weird Dreams ... naturally

Near the end of my dream last night, I dreamt that my mother, sister, and I had broken into our old house.  We were checking out the master bedroom, snooping into the current residents' private info, etc., when my sister discovered (quite calmly, too) a dead body stuffed under the bed.

I decided that if the new residents were capable of murder, and if they had something really serious to hide (like a dead body), I did not want them to catch me breaking into their house and finding the serious thing they were hiding.  So I decided to leave, and my mom and sister we all, "No, we'll be FINE if we just stay here a bit longer."  But when I went outside the house, I saw a car driving down the street from the main road, and the car (which, by the way, had a boat on top of it; weird car!) matched the description of the current residents' vehicle.  So I shouted that info to my mother and sister, who then decided that they were going to try to hide in the house and escape later; they were sure that trying to run now would get them caught.

I decided that I was going to try to get the fuck out of there, so I didn't go back into the house.  But as I stepped onto the front lawn, the man in the car saw me and pulled over to talk to me.  I skillfully lied, saying I was lost, I had been knocking on the front door to see if anyone was home, and could he possibly give me directions to 220 School Street (for the record, I just had to look up where School Street was in my old town because I legit could not remember).  It looked as though I was in the clear when my mom started laughing (loud enough for us to hear it outside) and saying, "Ah, that's what I would have tried!"  The man seemed to still think I was this benign person who meant him no harm, but I could tell he was about to go into the house and find my mom and sister.  And then my alam went off.

I wasn't frightened by this dream; the entire time, I found it absurd.  But it really made me think about some things.  Like, we found the body, but we broke in, so what can we tell the cops?  Who was the dead person and why was he killed?  Why did the car have a boat on it?  And I learned some lessons, like if your companion is about to escape from a potentially dangerous situation while also buying you time to hide or escape yourself, don't laugh and shout things (Mom!).  And I hope that the new residents have learned that dead bodies, even ones so carefully stuffed under beds, attract attention, and that driving onto your lawn to interrogate people might kill the grass.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Your legs must be tired from running in my dreams all night

Or something like that.

Last night, when I got home, after waiting about an hour an a half for my roommate to be done cooking, eating, and cleaning up from dinner with my friend, I baked cookies for tonight's lab holiday party (pumpkin).  During the baking process, I cleaned up the kitchen as best I could; I put my roommate's stuff on one counter, cleared off the other two, cleaned out my cabinets, reorganized some other cabinets, and shifted food around in the fridge and freezer.  The rest of the mess is his, save for the cookie sheets and cooling racks, which I will clean up probably tomorrow (again, the party is tonight; I won't be home till late).

I went to bed late-ish because I had to wrap presents and shower; I fell asleep pretty quickly, probably tired from cleaning.  But when I woke up, I was still exhausted, to the point of not knowing where I was or that I hadn't already gone to work (I'm always disoriented in the morning, but when I'm well-rested, I just take a few minutes to climb out of a dream and back into my bed; when I'm obscenely tired, I really have no fucking clue where I am or what's going on).  Why was I so tired?

Oh.  Because I dreamt I went to Finland and I was visiting an old friend from high school whom I haven't spoken with in a LONG time.  And we were going to go to a  museum, but first, we went to this special gym where, around lunch time, people would go to in their street clothes and do aerobics exercises with noodles.  Not food noodles.  Water noodles (the foam floaty things).  And these exercises were not in the water; they were like giant group classes, held in a plaza and led by a video that was in English (I noted how weird it was that we were in Finland but the video was in English and figured that the residents just followed the movements or something).

So maybe that's why I'm tired.  Because after cleaning the kitchen for a while, I then went abroad and did an aerobics class with a pool toy.  Interesting!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Cleaning For Dummies

If you know me in real life and have ever been to my residence when I'm not necessarily expecting company (or, more accurately, not necessarily expecting Company Who Will Care About My Room), you might be aware of my inability to keep my residence clean.  I'm a bit more responsible about common areas, but my room is often a disaster, where you have to watch where you step and you have to wind through the various crap all over the floor just to cross the room (it's kind of like if you're trying to drive from Boston to LA, but weird road construction means that you have to take detours through Florida and Montana to get there).

However, as much as I'm a lazy ass who hates cleaning, I love having a clean living space.  And not just one that doesn't make my mother cry when she sees it (and twice, she's cleaned it when she's only supposed to be dropping me off at my apartment).  I love having a bathroom that sparkles.  I love having a kitchen where there's barely anything on the counters and everything is in the right place.  I love having a bedroom that has no dust or random bird seeds everywhere, where the bed is made perfectly and even all the crap in my closet looks as if someone from IKEA came over to organize it for the catalog pictures.

Of course, in order to have this beautiful, clean space, I have to ... clean.  And so, in today's Shakeville open thread, I asked for advice.  I present the advice here, for your reading pleasure, and give credit to those wonderful Shakers who've provided me with excellent tips.  Also, maybe they can help you clean, too.

From nia_74656:

First of all, I put on music. :) Personal preference, but it really helps me not get pissed off whilst cleaning.

I also do one room at a time, and have piles of things that need to go in other rooms that I will deal with when I go to clean those other rooms. This is so I don't get distracted by organizing my spice cupboard when I find nutmeg in the living room.

It helps me to briefly plan out in what order I'm going to clean things in each particular room so I don't do silly things like vacuum and then dust. I think what I generally do is pick up things from the floor up (the shoes on the floor, then the clothes on the couch, then the random crap on the front of the bookshelves, etc.) then actually clean from the top down (dust the fan blades, then the shelves; vacuum the couch, then the floor).
From Gnatalby:
I am basically a disgusting sloth, but what I do to keep my repulsiveness in check is the five minute clean every time I walk in the house from being out. I put on a song about five minutes in length and I clean up for five minutes, you can get a surprising amount a done! I also usually just do one task at a time. So... all the dishes! then the next time dirty clothing triage! Then the next time, shower scrubbing!
From bgk:
Hooboy... Cleaning is something I have to trick myself into.

1.) Music you can sing along with/jam out to. Especially if you live alone, cleaning is my concert time, and I've totally broken out into dance moves with the Vacuum Cleaner and or Broom. (Also, I'm a huge nerd.)

2.) TV. Especially if you're doing a stationary chore, having a TV show on is a great keep going tool. I find that if I am doing laundry, one 45 minute ep of LOST! is perfect for reminder to check the dryer.

3.) Games. I have a personal best record for my dishwasher/sink full of dishes of 12 minutes flat.

4.) Bedroom. Pile everything that;s out of place on your bed. Well, you want to sleep tonight, right? Gonna have to move it.

5.) Food. If I do x,y, or z chore, my reward is X delicious dish that i crave.
From InfamousQBert:
i find that putting on loud music helps, preferably 70s hard rock or disco. :)
From groggette:
nth-ing the suggestion for music while cleaning! That always helps me out.
Also, bgk's #4 is great! .... unless you're like me and just move the bed pile to the couch at the end of the day and then just decide to not use the couch for another month of so.

Something that never fails to get me cleaning is tricking myself into it by inviting people over ;)
From natbsat:
I suck at picking up and organizing, but I've found two things that kinda help:

1) Make piles to deal with later - especially if you're going to have to leave the room/area to take care of them. I put away things in easy reach and then make piles of anything I'm going to have to open a door to take care of, then put away the piles in the order that's least likely to distract me. For instance, living room: books to go to bedroom pile, random kitchen stuff pile (like dishes), front hall closet pile (there would be more and more specific piles, but I'm short on sleep, so I'm making it easier). I'd put away the random dishes and such pile first, because putting stuff into the dishwasher/sink is less likely to distract me, then the closet, because it's unlikely I care about the closet since I can close the door, THEN the books because I might decide to peruse my collection while I'm up there, and if it's the last thing I have to do, that works!

2) Whenever you have stuff that tends to build up because there's no good place to put it, buy/make a place to put it from now on. This can be tricky, budget-wise, but I found that once I bought an Expedit bookshelf and drawer insert to put RIGHT NEXT TO the desk I always sit at during the day, I was much less likely to leave out bills, programming books, computer accessories, and printer paper, because they all had a place to go in arm's reach, plus I was able to get stuff off my cluttered desk (using the top of the shelf unit for my printer and router) and therefore make more room to actually USE things like computer books and my checkbook for paying bills. I tended to have paid bills laying around and books everywhere until I got that thing, so that worked for me. The trick is to make sure you know exactly how you're going to use a piece of storage furniture prior to buying/building it, because if it just looks cool, you're not going to use it properly. Or at least, that's how it works for me. :)

Hope that helps! My house is never more than 5 minutes of picking up away from company these days, and I credit all my Ikea storage furniture (and very long-term planning, it probably took about 4 years to finally find the right configuration that would help me be organized) for that. ;)
From Talonas:
I hate cleaning too. I put on music, and make sure its upbeat more fast paced music. I really like trance or house music because it tends to be rhythmically stimulating without a lot of lyrics. Course, My method for cleaning the house is kinda weird. I will pick up several items that belong in different rooms, then go to those rooms to drop those things off. I do this in each room, grabbing stuff, putting away. for a long time it doest look like Im getting anything done, but then all of a sudden the house is all picked up and ready to vacuum/sweep, and then Im done. Its a crazy system and I havent met anyone else that does it the same way.
From Scott Madin:
Cleaning is something I'm also terrible at. (xxxx-area Shakers, this is one reason I haven't invited y'all to come have dinner or play board games or whatever :-) Putting on my iPod does help some. If I can get over the initial "don' wanna!" impulse (and then not get distracted by something, and if I "take a break for a minute" make sure it really is only a minute or two) I can get a fair amount done.
More from natbsat:
I find it helps if I have somebody to talk to when I have to do something major (full-house pickup, for example, or when I could no longer find things in the closet and had to empty it out and redo it), preferably in person because then they help, but having a phone headset on to leave my hands free works, too. I think I actually work better when I find the perfect level of distraction, and chatting while cleaning/organizing is perfect for me. I get too sucked in my TV shows, although music CAN be quite nice. I made a cleaning playlist in iTunes for those times when no one's around to chat and I really need to clean. ;)
More from InfamousQBert:
the bed pile thing totally works for me, but i've lived with someone who would sleep in a tiny corner of her bed, surrounded by stuff. so i know what you're talking about.

it helps me if i can have a spot in the house, whether it's a chair, a table, or even just a small bit of floor in a corner, that can be "the messy spot". that way, when i end up, inevitably, with that last pile of stuff that i can't quite figure out where it should go, i can put it in the spot and not feel bad about it. as long as stuff stays confined to the spot, it's okay.
From eden713:
you could also try using boxes - usually one for 'stuff that goes someplace else' and one for 'stuff to get rid of'. Before you start cleaning a new area, go through the first box to see if anything belongs in the new area.

The other thing that's helpful is, once you get an area clean, to not let it get messy again. Like Gnatalby said find a time (when you get home, wake up, before bed, whatever) and tidy the places you've cleaned. It'll only take 5 mins or so, and it's a big morale booster.
More from InfamousQBert:
okay, another cleaning tip. and this one's just silly. my old roommate and i would put on our superman t-shirts, put our hair in pigtails with redbows, and wear our big red aprons, tied around our necks backwards as capes, and then be the SUPER-CLEANERS!!! it's ridiculous, but it's like being a little kid and how your mom might make a game out of it. it got us thinking more about playing at super heroes, than about the drudgery of cleaning, and stuff would get done!
From em_and_ink:
I totally second the music suggestion. Also, I tend to start with the clutter on the floor and work my way up, then to the seating/beds/large table surfaces, etc. Then when all the clutter is taken care of, I work back down, dusting or wiping the highest surfaces and leaving sweeping the floor for last. In part because if I get derailed, a lot of times just having the clutter off the floor or the coffee table and the bed made or the dishes off the counter can make a world of difference, even if I don't have time to chase the corgi hair around with a broom.
From Ethyl:
the only truly clean AND tidy places in my house are the kitchen and bathroom, because those are the places I really NEED to have clean and organized :) We frankly very very rarely clean the bedroom, but whenever we have guests and we need to clean the living room, I like to do one "thing" at a time (but as nia said, you'll want to plan this out a bit). So I'll "do" the books, and if I need somewhere to put the books while I'm tidying them or rearranging them, I'll literally just dump whatever is on the chair on the floor, because I will "do" the floor later, and it'll get picked up. I think what's happening is you're in a mindset where you're "cleaning," so if you find that somethign you need to use is "dirty," you then get distracted and clean that, rather than doing what you were doing. It's perfectly ok to make additional messes while cleaning, because that's going to get cleaned ~later,~ yanno? At least, that's how I think of it, and since I'd adopted that as a method, I've actually become better about not getting distracted when I get started :)
From redsixwing:
My cleaning method is to keep stuff put away - not as easy as it sounds, and requires regular maintenance, but if I want to use the couch/table/bed, I'd better keep it cleaned off.

That said, I also have a one in- one out rule. Shirts are a perfect example, since I have a limited number of hangers and it enforces the rule. One new shirt bought means one old shirt gotten rid of - usually donated, if it's in good condition but doesn't fit or I don't wear it any more, rarely destroyed in course of wear.
I find this really helps to keep the clutter down, and I have an incentive to have all those hangers put up - if one gets lost, suddenly a shirt can't go in the closet!
This also keeps me from buying on impulse a lot of the time. Do I really want x new shirt enough to get rid of x old shirt?
From celeloriel:
I'm one of those neat/clean people, too, who's currently in a cluttered house. One thing that helps me, though I'm far from having the perfectly-organized home of my dreams, is to declutter. I find that if I have fewer things all looking at me and taking up space, it's easier to keep things cleaner.

Other things I do are more maintenance cleaning - Mondays are for dusting, Tuesdays are for vaccuming, etc etc. I also try to spend 15 minutes a day (a focused 15 min, with a timer) in just Putting Stuff Away. I generally pick the room that's most in disarray and go from there.

Another trick I haven't tried but which works well for friends is doing stuff like squirting toilet bowl cleaner into the toilet pre-shower, letting it sit while you shower, and flushing it when you get out. The idea of breaking everything in the house into small tasks that you can do while you're doing something else is still pretty revolutionary to me. I grew up thinking that cleaning was a discrete activity that you did when things got dirty, and so this whole maintaining the house at a consistent level of clean through small constant actions is still new and weird to me. :)
More from natbsat:
I drink tea, and if I'm having a cup in the afternoon, I'll stay in the kitchen for the few minutes it takes water to boil and do something there - dishes if there are any, wipe down a counter, load the dishwasher. It's not enough time to go back the computer and read comments or anything, but it's an eternity if you just stand there, so it's perfect for getting one or two quick things done. Of course, if I go a few days without tea, the dishes tend to pile up. ;) But this also works for, say, heating up something in the microwave, or making a pot of coffee.
And that's all for now.  Thanks to all of the Shakers who offered tips!  We'll see how well everything works ...

If you're uncomfortable with me using your username from Shakesville, please let me know, and I will redact your name immediately!!  And if you've got more tips ... or you're not from Shakesville and you have tips ... that's what the comments section is for!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thoughts on H. RES. 951

For those of you who aren't familiar with this resolution, H. RES. 951, which was created by 19 Republican Representatives, here is the text:

Whereas Christmas is a national holiday celebrated on December 25; and

Whereas the Framers intended that the First Amendment of the Constitution, in prohibiting the establishment of religion, would not prohibit any mention of religion or reference to God in civic dialog: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives--

(1) recognizes the importance of the symbols and traditions of Christmas;

(2) strongly disapproves of attempts to ban references to Christmas; and

(3) expresses support for the use of these symbols and traditions by those who celebrate Christmas.
As a young, Jewish woman, this resolution is offensive.  It is beyond offensive.  Saying that I find this profoundly insulting and inappropriate is like saying that Bill Gates is moderately well-off.

The following are some of my comments from the Shakesville post regarding this resolution:

What bothers me about all this is NOT that I don't think that people are necessarily missing the point of Christmas (because honestly, I don't really CARE). I often miss the point of my own holidays; I spent all of this past Yom Kippur whining about how hungry I was, for example.

What is upsetting for me is that another religion is being absolutely imposed on my life. Christmas is made into a public, commercial, federal holiday; it is no longer privately practiced. And while some of my Christian friends whine to me that of COURSE it's a federal holiday because if it weren't, most of the country would just skip work or school anyway, I don't think that's valid. If it's SO essential for Christmas to be on a day off, just stop having it every December 25th and have it on the third Sunday of the month or something like that. Or perhaps keep in mind that Jews in the US don't necessarily stay home on the days we have seders for Pesach. I certainly don't miss school or work on every day of Chanukah.

But this, of course, is POINTless to argue because wah wah wah Jews are a minority, and everyone else is a minority, and so we all have to follow the schedule of the IMPORTANT religion. You know, the AMERICAN religion. And everyone has to know Christmas songs, and you're glared at if you try to schedule something on Easter because you didn't realize it was Easter because it changes EVERY YEAR, and you have enough trouble remembering when your OWN changes-every-year holidays are (for example, I can't remember if Chanukah starts tomorrow night or Saturday night).

So, honestly, I couldn't care less how people want to celebrate Christmas, any more than I care about how other people celebrate Chanukah or Pesach or Yom Kippur or Simchat Torah or Rosh Hashanah or Sukkot, or even fucking Shabbat (if they even celebrate at all). But the government should not be endorsing a Christian holiday; they should not be spending tax-payers' money on things for a Christian holiday, and they should not be wasting their time on this resolution when they SHOULD be spending time on legitimately important things.

I'm a non-Christian. And in the US, that pretty much translates to not-a-real-American. And if I could, I would storm into Congress, tear up the resolution (symbolically; I'm sure they have, like, a million copies of the damn thing), and tell them to do some actual good for this country and ALL of its citizens.
It's a very privileged idea to think that Christmas HAS to be a federal holiday because otherwise everyone would call in absent. It's absurd. And I think that if Christmas were no longer a federal holiday, I think people would eventually start to celebrate it differently. I, for one, would work; the only reason I haven't is because the semester is always over by then, and now, we have the day off (but I'd have to come in if there were an experiment that needed to be worked on!). The only reason I go to my uncle's for Christmas dinner is because I have nothing else to do and none of my friends are free. And I have a feeling a lot of atheists, agnostics, or people who just don't DO big-family get-togethers, etc., might work, too.

So, I don't know exactly who reads this blog, whether you're following it through Blogger or Google Reader or some other feed, or if you just read it or discover it some other way.  And I don't know if you're any sort of Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Pagan, Wiccan, or anything else under the sun and the moon and the stars, or how much you believe in a god or gods or goddess or goddesses or flying spaghetti monsters or anyfuckingthing.

But the point of this post is not to tell you that your beliefs are wrong or bad or offensive to me.  It's to explain why it's bullshit to think that Christmas or Christianity in general are under attack, and why it bothers me that Christianity and its most favorite holiday are intensely public institutions, which I find invasive and alienating, and highly inappropriate for a country that was essentially founded on freedom of and from religion.

I hope very much to see this resolution shot down in the most humiliating fashion possible for those who might seek to pass it.  I'm tired of being treated like a non-person, whether it's because I'm Jewish, or because I'm a woman, just as many other people are tired of being treated as non-persons because of their faiths, sex, gender, sexuality, body, health, skin color, ancestry, country of origin, class, education, or otherwise.

We're all tired.  Stop insulting us.  We are people, too.

Monday, November 30, 2009

No, really, I'm not dead. No, really!

Seriously, I'm totally not dead.  Okay?  Good.

NaNoWriMo is a bust, not because I couldn't have done it, but because I couldn't do it with swine flu + work craziness + Thanksgiving.  Whatever!  I got halfway through.  Not bad in half the time.

I will soon be a Mac user at home.  I have very, very conflicted feelings about it.

Happy feelings:
- SO pretty!  I've always been really impressed with the overall design of Macs, as well as the ways in which the applications in the operating system match so well.  So sue me.  The aluminum body and glass trackpad and screen are gorgeous, too.
- I didn't realize that there would be a way to activate right-clicking; I am so excited because I thought I had to give it up.
- If it's broken, I take it to an Apple Store.  Easy.  No way am I bringing it back to the repair shop, the one that failed to fix my laptop.
- I know everyone's going on about 7, but I'm an XP person, and I don't want 7.  Sure, I've never tried it, but look at you being really nice and not judging me.
- I'm looking forward to the desktop, and the ways in which I can create storage spaces (folders, etc.) without cluttering the desktop.
- Since there IS no low-end Mac, even though they're pricey, I know I'm getting a well-made computer that'll last me a very long time.  I just heard from a reliable source that HP ranked number 1 in computers that would crap out three days after you buy one.

Unhappy feelings:
- One of the innovative designs for Mac?  No mouse buttons (either on a trackpad or on their new Magic Mouse).  They're really proud of that.  I am displeased; I've had trackpad tapping turned off ever since I got my first laptop about 4.5 years ago.
- Kosher Beef has pointed out some ways in which Apple, as a company, kind of blows.  He put it in a very, very true way: Microsoft is slimy, but they sort of acknowledge their sliminess.  Mac's all, "Oh, we're happy and shiny, and we're all about YOU and the environment!  We're not slimy!"  But they ARE slimy; all this mess with apps being rejected, for example, is slimy.
- Kosher Beef's other excellent point: Mac operating systems only work on Macs, whereas other OSs work on multiple kinds of machines.  That seems kind of weird to me.  After all, Windows works on Macs.  Come on, return the favor. You will still make money.
- I spent $500 trying to fix a $1000 computer that's not quite 2 years old.  What a waste.  And my HP is very pretty, too.
- Loki is not going to ever, ever understand that this is a pretty new computer, and he cannot sit on it, poop on it, molt on it, or scratch it.  Essentially, birdeh is going to have to learn NOT to go on the computer.  He didn't learn it before; I doubt he will now.  Ugh.
- Macs are sort of advertised as ridiculously easy to use for people who have trouble with computers.  First off, that's bull, because my grandmother had to switch back to PC.  Second of all, with the exception of my second laptop fucking itself over into non-workingness, I'm not terrible with computers; I've been using my 4.5 year old lappy for months now with no problem.  I just such at torrents and illegal fun stuff, is all.

And last but not least (perhaps it's most):
I hate, hate, hate commercials for Macs.  Hate them.  They are not funny.  They are smug.  They are pointless: why are there two white men talking about how different they are?!  I kind of want to write to Apple and be like, "I bought a computer from you because it's my way of paying you to take these commercials off the air, thanks."  UGH.

I should get my external hard drive (and free printer with rebate!) this week, and the computer sometime next week (I just don't want it to arrive on Saturday because it's being shipped to the Institute; everything is because no one's home to sign for it).  Once I get the external, I'm going to begin the long, involved, painful process of making sure I get everything off of my dead computer.  Just in case I find my Vista disk when I clean my room this weekend, I need to get everything safe.  If Vista fixes all of the problems I was having ... well, then I have a nice, small, portable PC lappy which I can take places, as well as a second back-up for when my clunky lappy back-up farts out.

Then I'll get the rest of my stuff off of clunky lappy and make sure I've got everything.  Then I can cancel GeekSquad online back-up, which I got on shiny PC lappy when I realized it might die; the lappy wouldn't stay on long enough for everything to get backed up, and the back up would often make it crash.  Interesting.

And then gorgeous new Macbook Pro lappy will arrive, and I will install a twitter application and Pidgin and Firefox, and then make sure everything is all nice and clean, and then I'll begin the long and involved and painful process of getting all of my important crap onto the new lappy.  I'll leave some things behind on the external, but I've got a lot of docs and music.

Phew.  I wonder what work I need to do today?

Friday, November 13, 2009

I LIVE!! Sort of!

After surviving teh Hamthrax, I went back to work. And then work smacked me in the face a bit and sucked out my sweet, sweet life force. Needless to say, it was a trying week.

Right now, I'm working on a massive project, if anyone's interested. Head over to Voices, Not Violence for more information: we're making a 101 site for sexual violence information. If you want to help, head over there for info, and if you don't want to help ... why WOULDN'T you want to help provide people with information about sexual violence?

I'm supposed to clean up my messes in the apartment tonight because my roommate's parents are visiting. But I'm so totes exhausted, I feel like it won't happen. And then I know it has to.

And then getting up early-ish to get to the bank and the lab. FUN.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


When I got a mild sore throat Friday night, I was sure I was getting a cold. And I wasn't worried; it was the same cold I've had a million times before.

Except that by Saturday night, I had a low fever, and by Sunday morning, I couldn't get out of bed (by that evening, my fever hit 101, as well). My fever broke Tuesday night, though, and today, I'm back at work, feeling fine but for a cough.

It seems highly, highly likely that I had H1N1. I survived TEH HAMTHRAX!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sports are for men, obviously!

I went to a Celtics game with my brother last night (home opener). For reasons that will go unsaid here, the game wasn't exactly fun.

And of course, the Celtics Dancers were there to entertain us. Yay. I just love going to sporting events, where I get to see men play sports, and then during time-outs, I get to watch women dance for our entertainment. As a straight, overweight, feminist woman, I always love it when women's bodies are sexualized, objectified, and used specifically to please the spectators of a completely unrelated event. Mmhmm.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Living Godwin's Law

Today, while I was walking from the West End BPL branch to Whole Foods, a woman in the sidewalk blocked my path. She was holding a poster with Obama's face on it, and with Hitler's iconic mustache scribbled on. "Excuse me, what do you think of Obama's mustache?" she asked me.

"It's pretty offensive," I replied as I stepped away and continued on my path. But then I stopped and realized, "No, that's not enough of how I feel about it." And so I turned around and called out to her, intent on making it clear that it wasn't that I was a commie liberal (although I totally am, and completely proud of it); it was that I'm Jewish.

Of course, she pointedly ignored me, even when I was inches away from her. I should have known that would be her tactic, to avoid doing anything except offend the residents of the city of Boston.

I've been feeling angry and violated the whole rest of the day, so far. And for several reasons.

- By refusing to acknowledge me, because I said I found the poster offensive, this woman made it clear that she's not interested in discussion. She's not interested in talking about the issues. Again, she's not even interested in recognizing that anyone who disagrees with her has anything legitimate to say. Anyone who disagrees with her is less-than, and can be ignored as an inconsequential, unimportant, worthless person.

- I did not choose to engage with her at any point in time; she stood in my path and insisted, physically and verbally, that I engage with her. It is quite rude and unacceptable to push yourself in someone's face, interrupt them as they are going about their lives, accost strangers whom you do not know, with the actual hope that you might offend them. It is even worse to do so and then pointedly refuse to let the person engage on their on terms.

- There are several family members that I never met, and several more that never existed, because of Adolf Hitler. I'm not alone (certainly, my family didn't fare NEARLY as badly as many other families, no question), and Jews are not alone. And what that means is that whatever the point of the Obama-Hitler posters (apparently, if you can't use logic and reason to validate your angry feelings against someone, you just draw on the mustache!), the main result is that you harass, offend, hurt, and trigger many, many, MANY people who either survived the Holocaust, lost family members or friends, or simply belong to one of the groups that was deemed undesireable, that Hitler tried to eradicate. How the fuck does that achieve anything?

Either way, I'm still livid. I'm even more livid that this woman is probably very happy that she got a reaction out of me (damn commie liberals, right?), and she probably sleeps very well at night believing that she's helping a good cause. And even worse, she's one of many; she's not the root of any problem, just the offshoot that I had to deal with.

When things like this happen, there's not much I can do about it. I'm obviously going to keep standing up for my rights. I'm obviously going to keep talking about this incident to remind people that regardless of whether you agree with someone policies, you don't have the right to harass people. And I'm going to keep being a liberal commie super-feminist. This person may have succeeded in her completely pointless and questionably-ethical plan to piss me off, but she also succeeded in just making me more dedicated to CRUSHING EVERYONE LIKE HER BWAHAHAHAHA!

So, good job, evil Nazi-poster asshole.

(Godwin's Law, originally referring to internet discussions, states that as a discussion or argument continues on and on, and gets longer and longer, eventually, someone will make a comparison to Hitler/Nazism, regardless of whether or not said comparison is legitimate.)

Smokers and Fatties: A Comparison

Recently, I've noticed a trend that I find both fascinating and pretty weird: people like to compare smoking to obesity.

In many ways, I think you can make some accurate comparison. In many ways, I think you can't. And it seems as if a lot of people can't seem to process that two DIFFERENT things can be SIMILAR in some ways, but DIFFERENT in others. Again, if there were no differences between smoking and obesity, they wouldn't be two distinct things; they would be smobesity. Duh.

So, I'm going to talk about it. Obviously. Besides, it's been bugging me for a while.

One thing that's very similar between obesity and smoking is that both are states of being (being fattie mcfatterson and being smokey mcsmokerson) that are very, very difficult to change. How many people do you know, or have you heard of, you have tried to quit smoking a million times? If you smoke, have you tried to quit? Was it easy?

Same with being overweight. I'd love to get some data on how many overweight/formerly overweight people think that losing weight is easy, and how many never-been-overweight people think so. How many people do you know who are on some kind of diet? Are trying to lose those last 10 lbs? Just can't seem to? Have tried every method in the book?

I've never smoked, but I've tried to lose weight. I've been trying to lose weight ever since I was 13 and didn't need to; 60 lbs later and 0 inches taller, I'm even more unhappy with my inability to shed pounds. It's difficult, it's expensive, and people are ridiculously judgmental about it, especially when I relapse. Which I inevitably will; ask anyone who's tried to lose weight or fight an addiction.

And I think that's a major similarity.

However, there are plenty of things about smoking and obesity that really aren't similar at all. First off, who ARE these people who think that obesity is something that people choose to be? Seriously, people who keep saying, "OMG just put down the donut and go for a run!" I've got some news for you: I don't eat donuts. And I run more than you do. And yet I'm still fat. GOOD JOB. I didn't choose to be fat; it's not as if I go through three packs of cookies a day while my comrades the smokers are going through packs of cigarettes instead.

Then there's the whole OMG YOUR HEALTH! Guess what? OMG MY HEALTH IS FINE. I don't have diabetes. I don't have high blood pressure (I will when I'm older because it runs in my family; my mother eats nothing but veggies and runs every day, and she has high BP). In fact, the only health problems I have that have anything to do with my weight are the CAUSE of weight issues, not the effect; ulcerative colitis is not caused by being fat, but it sure makes me lose weight, and PCOS is not caused by being fat, but man, does it keep me fat with no effort.

My health is FINE. Go pay attention to yours.

Then there's the whole "Tax cigarettes and tax junk food!" Both are not very bright (I say tax alcohol, honestly). Taxing cigarettes punishes people for having an addiction; it does not actually help many people quit. The way to help people quit? Better drug prevention programming and more accessible and less expensive methods to help people quit. There is no RIGHT way to quit smoking, and taxing cigarettes punishes everyone who has trouble quitting without aid.

And taxing junk food punishes people by class, not by weight, although I don't think either group should be punished.

Weight is a class issue; the wealthier you are, the higher the chances that you'll have time to exercise, or that you'll have a great gym membership, or that you'll have a personal trainer, or that you'll have exercise equipment in your home. Or that you can even afford things like running shoes. The wealthier you are, the higher the chances that you can buy plenty of healthy foods that you enjoy, that you'll have time (or hired help) to cook those foods, the more regular your schedule is so that you can plan your meals.

The less wealthy you are, the higher the chances that you're working more than one job, that you can't afford a gym membership, that you can't afford to shop at Whole Foods. Interesting.

The thing is, if you smoke, you're likely to become addicted to cigarettes. If you become addicted, or you magically don't but still smoke on a regular basis, you are highly likely to compromise your cardiovascular health.

If you're overweight, it doesn't mean very much. Many of us have high BMIs but aren't actually overweight or obese; BMI is one of the least scientific things ever invented, falling slightly behind organized religion and Santa Claus. BMI aside, plenty of overweight people, obese or not, are actually quite happy with their bodies, or they would be if people would stop WHINING about it. And plenty of overweight people (HI, folks) are quite healthy, or their health problems are unrelated to their weight, or their health problems even cause their weight to change in a specific way. Plenty of overweight people eat healthy foods and avoid unhealthy ones, and plenty of overweight people exercise. So where is all this bullshit, "OMG obesity is killing everyone!" crap coming from?

Look, smoking is a choice, albeit one that is often influenced by peer pressure, and one that's often hard to take back once you've made it. And in the majority of cases, being overweight is not a choice. In both cases, making change is difficult, not because of laziness, but because of what it means to be addicted to cigarettes, or what causes a person to be overweight.

So, I've had enough of all this, "Let's tax smokers and fatties!" No, let's all fuck off.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Exciting Peanut Butter Experience!

A few nights ago, I was eating a Special K protein bar, which is not unusual in any way. I've been eating them on a regular basis for month, and Kellogg's has been steadily draining me of my money for that reason (but they're cheaper than the protein shakes!). So you can imagine my surprise when I was reading the wrapper for what probably shouldn't have been the first time, and I saw the words "peanut flour."

"This has to be one of those 'may contain traces' things," I thought to myself. After all, I can usually taste an allergy-food even in small quantities, and I hadn't tasted ANYTHING remotely suspicious in these bars. So I looked to the allergen warning, and lo and behold, I was wrong. And not only did it contain peanut material, but also plain old nut! My eyes flicked to the ingredients list again, and sure enough, "almond flour" sat there, laughing at me.

So, how the fuck was I able to eat these foods for months with no symptoms at all? While I've been illness-free for a year now (see Anniversary post for more info on my illness and not-exactly-allergies), I figured that part of my amazing streak of not-dying was related to my will power and ability to convince myself that, no, I did not want to test to see if I would swell up like a balloon if I ate peanut butter.

Maybe, I thought, it was because there wasn't that much peanut or almond flour in the protein bar; after all, the predominant components seem to be delicious chocolate and those rice crisps. But I'm a scientist, so obviously, I have to test this out.

So yesterday, on my way home, I bought a two-pack of "giant" Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. I ate them on the train. Nothing happened, not on the train, not on the way home, and not at any point that night. Even now, nothing.

Also, peanut butter tastes just as amazingly as it did when I last had it two years ago. OMG.

So, I'm throwing caution to the wind and buying Honey Nut Cheerios and Peanut Butter M&Ms this weekend. If I get sick, I'll throw them out, but if I CAN eat them, then man, do I want to. TASTES SO GOOD.

Monday, October 19, 2009


I have created The Plan. What plan? The Advanced Degree Plan, of course.

It was honestly an easy decision. What is one thing that I love, that I never get tired of? That I've dreamed of being involved in, that I find fascinating?


I mean, not enough to move out of the state, but Boston University has a Master's program in Biomedical Forensic Science. I've always been interested in the program; it's been bookmarked in Firefox on my computer for a couple years now. But I finally took the time to read their course descriptions, and I had a forensicsgasm. It's something I very much want to do, and it's the only thing that I can't imagine not liking. With medical school, I'm pretty sure that it's going to result in me being miserable for eight years, and only happy once I finish my residency. With public health, I probably won't find a job I like, and I'll be stressed all the time. And I've already decided that while I like my job now, I can't see myself doing it for more than a couple years.

Therefore, The Plan:

Fall '09 - Spring '10: Study for the GRE
Spring '10: Take the GRE
Fall '10: Take the first semester of Organic Chemistry at Harvard Extension (not required for the program if I majored in bio, but since it's required otherwise, admissions probably wants it; it's also important in case I apply to medical school)
Spring '11: Take the second semester of Organic Chemistry, and in February, apply to the BU program for the fall (at which point I will have worked at the Institute long enough to have fulfilled my hiring conditions).

If I don't get in, then I need to apply to all of the other programs I have on my list, and finish my med school requirements:
Fall '11: First semester of Physics
Spring '12: Second semester of Physics
Fall '12: Apply to the rest of the programs

Yay, plan. I bought a bunch of GRE materials off of amazon, so in a week or two, I'm going to plan out a study calendar, and then schedule the test. Yay.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mmmmmm, pumpkin

If you were in my class when me when I was little, then two things are almost definitely true:

1) You are not reading this blog*, and 2) you got to eat pumpkin cookies when it was my birthday.

My mom would always bake pumpkin cookies, never sugar cookies or cupcakes, when it was my birthday. I loved bringing them in because a lot of people had never had them before, and I hated bringing them in because then other people got to eat my delicious birthday cookies. The cookies were cakey and fluffy, perfectly spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg and allspice, with that amazing pumpkin flavor. Even the pickiest kids liked them, even if they were a bit hesitant to try them.**

I still love those cookies, although I don't have the time, energy, or money to bake them often. I also can't seem to make them as well as my mom can, but I still love eating them, perfect or not (in my old apartment, it was more likely that they were burned and flat because of the nature of the oven).

I was talking with our receptionist the other day about how where she grew up in the South, while everyone had pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, that was it. Pumpkin cookies? Unusual here, practically nonexistent in the South. Pumpkin cake? Bread? Coffee? Donuts? Nope. And those are just the widespread aspects of pumpkin up here. Today's Globe has a great gallery feature listing some of the more interesting pumpkin concoctions, including one of my favorites: pumpkin ice cream (although buying it from JP Licks is a mistake, and it just makes me wish Kimball's were open in the winter).***

Here's the feature; enjoy! I like the Goldschlager comment. And when I can get my newer computer working, I'll post the pumpkin cookie recipe for kicks.

* It is common knowledge among many of my friends from elementary and middle school, and among many of my high school and college friends, that I didn't have friends before 3rd grade. I was constantly bullied and teased and ostracized, and to this day, I still have no explanation as to why. And it wasn't just me; my brother suffered through the same crap, my parents weren't liked at all, and while it happened only a few times, we had our property vandalized. So I highly doubt that the people in my K-2nd grade classes would be reading this blog, seeing as none of them liked me.

** The pickiest kids tried and liked the cookies, but The Pickiest Kids (tm) would not eat them. The Pickiest Kids are my siblings, but that's okay because it means more cookies for me bwahahahaha!

*** While, taste/texture-wise, JP Licks (a Jamaica Plain based ice cream shop) and Kimball's (a Westford based ice cream farm stand) are really pretty comparable, and while JP Licks is open year round, Kimball's, without a doubt, is better. I prefer most of the Kimball's flavors, the ice cream is slightly cheaper, and you get so much more OF it that it's laughable to say that you're getting good value at JPL. At Kimball's, I have to order a kiddie cone (slightly cheaper than a small at JPL) in order to have a shot at even finishing my ice cream, but at JPL, I have to buy a medium just to feel satisfied. The last time I ordered a small at Kimball's, it was by accident, and the time before that, my friend and I couldn't even finish the whole thing together.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sick day

Home sick today. I was sick yesterday, but went to work anyway because I had stuff to do and was second-guessing myself. I left a couple hours early, and by last night, I figured I was better. And then I woke up this morning feeling crappy again (nausea, headache, general feeling of UUUUGH that is not from lack of a good night's sleep). I'm going to try to get some work done at home, though.

In other news, health "care" reform (which can really only be described as health insurance reform) is driving me insane. Article on Yahoo: "Snowe suggests scenario for government-run option." The text below the headline: "Sen. Olympia Snowe, the only Republican to support the Finance Committee's health care bill, said Wednesday she could foresee a government-run plan that would "kick in" if private insurers failed to live up to expectations."

1) You didn't support the bill until we made enough concessions so that the bill sucks.
2) We had to ditch a government-run public option, but now you WANT one?
3) NEWSFLASH, rich, privileged people: private insurers are currently failing to live up to expectations. Where the hell have you been?!

Look, I'm sick today. My head already hurts. Please don't make it hurt more by causing me to head-desk. Especially since at home, I have no desk.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I find your lack of faith disturbing

Spike seems to be showing lots of Star Wars today. I might be too excited.

Me: You are part of the rebel alliance, and a traitor!

KB: How are you single?!

Sunday, October 11, 2009


This month is a very important anniversary, one that I was seriously scared of never coming to.

As some of you know, I have a weird autoimmune disease. It's not something that's well-known, like lupus, but it fits the definition and the mechanism. Basically, if I don't take an antihistamine every day, I will break into hives. It's not environmental, it's not a reaction to anything I've ingested. It's not anything; I'm just actually allergic to myself. And I have been since April of 2004.

For a while, everything was under control as long as I took my antihistamine. But eventually, it wasn't enough, and I had to switch from pill to pill to find something that would keep the hives under control. One drug made me so sleepy, moreso than Benadryl, that I finally had to tell my jackass of an allergist that he had to switch me to something else, or else. Since then, I've been on Zyrtec, which is much more expensive than most antihistamines, and was for several years perscription only with a $45 copay.

Sometimes, though, I'd have what I call flare-ups, when no antihistamines can prevent me from getting hives and deep tissue swelling, known as angioedema. Some days, besides having God-awful hives everywhere, making me so uncomfortable, but I'd also have massive, obvious, and disfiguring swelling, and often somewhere very visible. Sometimes I'd skip class because my eyes were swollen almost shut, or because one of my lips looked as if I'd been punched in the face.

And the only thing that my allergist would prescribe for me for flare-ups was prednisone, a corticosteroid. I'd have to take massive doses to get my swelling to go down, but it would still take 8 hours to work. And by the time I'd been taking it for a few days, I'd have to taper the dose to avoid shutting down my adrenal glands. But while I tapered, my symptoms would worsen, and I'd have to up the dose again. I hated taking pred; I'd be exhausted all the time, but be unable to sleep, and I'd be really hungry constantly, and gain weight regardless of whether or not I ate. It was AWFUL. It's a terrible drug.

My illness fell into a pattern. I'd go about 4-6 months without any issues, just taking my antihistamine every day. Then I'd have a flare-up lasting 1-2 months, when I'd take so much pred, I'd often have to get refills mid-flare-up. I'd be miserable, legitimately depressed for those two months. While I couldn't prevent the flare-ups, I could make them worse by eating shellfish, nuts, or peanuts, none of which I'm actually allergic to, but none of which I can eat anymore. Eventually, the 4-6 months of peace kept being shaved down until it was really only4 months, and the flare-ups began to spill into 2 and a half months.

I finally switched allergists; as I had suspected, prednisone was a completely inappropriate drug to treat my illness; it should be used for acute swelling, not chronic swelling (for example, it worked wonders when I had mono, since my tonsilitis was acute). My new allergist even wrote me up a plan for which drugs to take if a flare-up started, specifically the order and the dose, and she told me that if after 2 weeks, I wasn't better, to call her. I can safely say that this doctor saved my life. I was at the end of my rope with this illness.

Of course, since I saw her, last October, I haven't had a flare-up. I've had hives, yes, but never lasting more than a day, and never recurring.

This month, I'm celebrating 1 year of no flare-ups, something that I've never experienced since flare-ups began back in the fall of '04. I kind of want my mom to take me out to dinner to celebrate.

It gives me hope that maybe in another year, I'll be able to eat the foods I love and miss, and that in another year after that, I can stop taking my antihistamine. We'll see, obviously, but the hope is there. I haven't had hope in so long.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Red Sox fans

KosherBeef and I were discussing Red Sox playoff games, particularly ones we've been to (that's right, we've been to Red Sox playoff games; mine was better because Josh Beckett kicked ass and we actually won the World Series that year. I WIN). He was asking me if I remembered a moment from one of the 1999 playoff games:

Me: Sadly (and embarrassingly), I didn't start following the Sox for real until 2002.
KB: We can't be friends anymore


(Yes, I'm embarrassed that I didn't get into the Sox till mid-2002. I know it's something that's silly to be embarrassed about, but it makes me seem very band-wagon, considering that we kind of sucked until 2002/2003. But I genuinely became a fan; I started watching games on my own, out of interest, and at this point, it's pretty easy for people to forget or just not know that I've only been a fan for seven years. However, I'm really not opposed to the idea of band-wagon fans, and I don't think that it's worse to become interested in a team when they're playing well than it is to be a fan because your family members were, etc. That's not to say that if you've been a fan since childhood, like my brother, that you've been indoctrinated/brainwashed, but that however we come to our teams should matter less than our actual support.

Also, although I didn't really follow the Sox before 2002, I certainly wasn't Sox-stupid. I'd go to games with my family, I had a massive celebrity crush on Nomar, and I remember watching Pedro's 17-K game vs. the Yankees in September '99. I don't just remember that I watched; I remember the game and how ridiculous his pitching was. So, there.)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Shopping Edition

Think Weird Thoughts: Shopping Edition is brought to you by the checks I got from family members for my birthday.

Stores: Old Navy, Victoria's Secret, Baker's, Sears,

Money spent: about $300

End result: Awesomeness

Old Navy highlight: Leonora wearing a ridiculous hat and warning me about cardigans with ugly gem-ish buttons

Most disappointing store: the Gap; it was a MESS!

Women's Studies class: the halloween store that's now in the mall

Friday, October 2, 2009

Oh, hey, it's Friday

6:00 - alarm went off
6:25 - actually got up, got in the shower
6:35 - realized I would miss the train if I didn't get out of the shower
6:48 - realized that I only had thigh highs and that the tops would show with the only skirt I could wear to retreat, shit, so I had to wear something else
6:50 - when I was supposed to leave
6:56 - when I actually left
7:18 - when I and the train arrived at the station
7:45 - arrived in Boston, began walking to the hotel
8:05 - arrived at the Children's Hospital Vascular Biology Retreat ... so early that I was one of many 5 people there already and I knew no one. Had delicious continental breakfast.
8:30 - called and paid for my car repairs (YAY!), called CA to confirm that she could take me to my car
8:35 - people from lab arrived! Chatted while more lab people arrived till about 8:55

9:05 - first part of retreat began; was much too excited about the mints and water at every table, and the (I assumed complimentary and took home with me) hotel pens and pads of paper
10:3oish - coffee break; the coffee was amazing and they had Splenda :D And I had a bagel
11:15 - more retreat, finally figured out where our PI was sitting
12:40 - DELICIOUS lunch!! Omg it was amazing (Royal Sonesta, you guys. It was fucking incredible, even though I didn't love the actual ingredients of the entree)
1:45 - back to the retreat
3:25 - coffee break again! I played Solitaire on my iPod
3:55 - our PI finally got to present our research/ideas, which was awesome. She rocked
4:20 - our PI is finished, and I hurry out of retreat and walk back across the river to Boston (we were in Cambridge)

4:45 - refill the water bath, put in what I need to split cells
4:50 - head down to the animal facility; separate mice into new cages to get ready for new breeding set-ups on Monday
5:35 - split cells
6:10 - ran the fuck out the door

6:15 - got to the station in time to get a ticket to go to Concord ... except some idiot can't use the ticket machine and won't let anyone ahead of him, and the train is All Aboard; conductors outside train say that even though I have a pass through Zone 2, I'll have to pay for the full trip, plus the surcharge for buying tickets on board
6:16 - unhappily boarded train, relieved that I at least had enough cash on me to buy a ticket
6:22 - amazingly kind/understanding conductor came around to check tickets and passes and when I asked for a ticket to Concord, she told me not to worry about it, since I had a pass (she was one of the conductors whom I talked to); was reminded that the MBTA is not all bad
7:06 - arrived in Concord, located CA after realizing that the place is CRAWLING with obnoxious CCHS teens who think they are so cool. I would know; I was one of them four and a half years ago
7:20 - arrived at the auto body; my beautiful car! CA and I gushed about Supernatural before I remembered I didn't have a coat and was cold
7:25 - IN THE CAR YAY!!!
7:48 - arrived at CVS, bough first aid materials for my minor injury (old burn) as well as THREE KINDS OF CANDY!
8:00 - got home


9:31 - have headache from not eating anything healthy since second coffee break and feeling slightly queasy from too many Tootsie Rolls. TOTALLY WORTH IT.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Kaplan rocks

I work for Kaplan (okay, I'm still an employee, but I don't work and I don't get paid because I can't pick up any classes and I'm always busy when sub dates come up, but whatever). I like being a Kaplan employee VERY much (this is both true and a shameless plug; work for them and you will understand). And I like my supervisors at Kaplan. I'm realizing that a lot of this sounds sarcastic, but it actually isn't.

This is an email I got during lab meeting from one of my supervisors, D.:
As a quick follow-up to my e-mail from earlier today, I mistakenly wrote "Thursday, 10/5" as one of the dates we needed subs. October 5th is neither a Thursday, nor is it a Tuesday, which is what I originally meant to write. The sub dates that were listed as Thursday, 10/5 were actually supposed to be listed under Tuesday, 10/6.

Can you tell we're close to the October SAT?
I think the reason I think this email is awesome is because D. doesn't pretend that it was someone else's mistake, nor does he just send out a quick correction. I like when people can make fun of themselves. It's good.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It had to be done

This conversation occurred about two weeks ago on OKCupid, but it's so ridiculous, I had to share it here. I'm not printing the guy's username NOT because I think he deserves privacy, but because I don't want him to think he's really popular when a bunch of people go to look at his profile after reading this conversation.

Guy: Hey :)

Guy: you're really cute

Me: Excellet way to begin a conversation.

Me: *Excellent

Guy: lol thanks i try to make a good first impression :)

Guy: so what are you up to?

Me: Trying to fix a computer.

Guy: oo thats the best

Me: No, it is not. When you pay $400 to have a computer fixed, having to then fix it yourself is actually not usually considered "the best."

Guy: lol well yeah

Guy: i was attempting sarcasm

Guy: i guess it doesn't translate well when your typing

Me: Yes, I noticed that earlier.


While stuck at work till 7:15 pm,* I've had some thinking time.

I hate being a woman. But I don't. I guess that doesn't make sense, at least on a surface level.

What I guess makes sense is that I hate being a woman in context. I hate that being a woman in the context of the place and time in which I live, means that I'm less than a person. My very anatomy means that many men feel completely entitled to do whatever they want to me, say whatever they want to me. It's assumed that I'm weak, a little stupid, obsessed with my looks, overly emotional, and totally baby- and boy-crazy. I don't have the full autonomy and authority of a human being because I'm not a human being: I'm a woman.

I don't hate being a woman in terms of the things that make me a woman: in my case, my body and genitalia. I'm fine with those things. In fact, the only times when I hate those things are when I hate being a woman in context, in the context where fat is evil and women have no hair except on their heads and MAYBE a landing strip, and where even my toes have to be "sexy."

But actually being a woman? I don't mind menstruating. I have a strange desire to see my own cervix (as yet unfulfilled, nooo!). I only dislike my breasts when I'm trying to exercise and they are nothing but in the way. If you take the gender out of being female, I don't really think it's even remotely crappy; I like it.

So I hate being a woman, but I don't. And if you're confused, or you have some sort of problem with this, then whatever, because I don't. And if you don't think that I should hate being a woman at all, then maybe you need some feminist eye-glasses or something because DAMN, it's not a nice world out there for people born without large enough penises.

*I'm at work because I thought I could let my particles sit in dye for more than an hour. The result was that the suspension was purple, not pink, and that the particles wouldn't centrifuge down (I'd like to think that they melted or something). So I had to do it again. It involves several 10-15 minute centrifugations and 2 1-hour parts. I will not get home till 8:30.

Stupid headlines

Boston Globe: Women line up to support Coakley

Why is it stupid?

Article is about: specific politically powerful women who are supporting Martha Coakley; that these women don't just want to see a female MA senator, but that they actually support her political positions; how complex it is when women run for office (I would add, when women run for office in a sexist government system ZING--otherwise, it wouldn't matter that Coakley is a woman, duh).

What the link text implies: that women are voting for Coakley because they're women and she's a woman, and we're so excited to have a female candidate, we're obviously going to vote for her (because only men voted for Obama in the Democratic Primary, and Sarah Palin enabled McCain to win the presidency in a landslide victory).

All this bullshit aside, I'll be voting for Martha Coakley because I think she's an impressive candidate, because her support for victim's rights is absolutely necessary in the senate, and because she's a woman. That's right. If I didn't agree with her positions, I wouldn't vote for her. But between her and a man with similar political stances, I'd pick her all the way.

Why would I do something so "reverse sexist?" Well, check out this little blurb from Wikipedia!

There have been 37 women in the United States Senate since the establishment of that body in 1789. Women were first elected in number in 1992. Today, 17 of the 100 U.S. Senators are women. Thirteen of the women who have served were appointed; seven of those were appointed to succeed their deceased husbands.
Wow. Women are super-well represented! I mean, since only 17% of the population is female, it makes sense that only 17% of the senate is, too. Isn't it funny that there have been fewer female senators than seats available in the senate? So if you had every single female senator throughout history sitting on the senate now, the senate would be 37% female. Oh, and look how many were elected! And how many succeeded dead husbands!

So if there's a qualified female candidate, I'm voting for her. And Martha Coakley is AWESOME.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

No free passes

It's not exactly a secret that Roman Polanski was arrested on a 32-year-old rape charge this past week. It's also not exactly a secret that he's guilty, or that he was convicted.

People are blogging/editorialing/etc-ing their brains out, the results ranging from "He's Roman Polanski! An ARTIST!" to "Um, he raped someone; why didn't he serve a sentence?!" Needless to say, I'm on the latter end of the spectrum.

If you're going to argue that Polanski wasn't guilty, or that he didn't know what he was doing, or that since the survivor just wants everything over so she can live her life so we should let the dude, go, or anything like that, this ain't the place for you (and how the hell did you even find this blog anyway?).

So much that I agree with and believe has already been said. However, there was one point that I think needs to be said again, one that I've recently discussed with friends.

If you've experienced personal tragedies, you do not get a free pass to do whatever the fuck you want.

I'm well aware of Polanski's personal tragedies (I do not count "exile" to France to be a tragedy; comprehensive health care AND French food?! And no jail time?! Not exile). He survived the Krakow ghetto, and his parents were put in concentrations camps. That's awful. The Holocaust? It sucked. And I'm not saying that because I'm trying to minimize it (helLO, I'm JEWISH), but because I could go on and on about how it was an atrocity, but you'll get bored because you already know.

His wife and unborn child were murdered by Charles Manson's crew. I'm familiar with the case because of my morbid fascination with murder cases. It was awful.

But these tragedies do not give you a free pass to rape someone. What, does his victim now have permission to murder someone? Does that mean that anything Polanski does that's unlawful shall be excused because man, his life totally sucked? Does he get a freebie to destroy someone's life because, well, he made some awesome movies?

PLEASE, people. Think of the absurdity here.

While it's completely okay to struggle with appreciating someone's accomplishments, mourning their losses, but still being disgusted with their behavior and holding them responsible, it is not at all okay to make excuses.

Roman Polanski survived the Holocaust while losing family members; his wife and child were brutally murdered. He's managed to create some critically acclaimed films. And he raped someone. He raped a child. She did not consent; she said no. It wasn't even one of those so-called "gray area" cases. Real, horrible, no-ignoring-it rape.

But, you know, it's TOTALLY unfair to arrest the guy and hold him responsible for what he did. Remember, bad things happened to him, so he can do bad things.