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.