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Archive for June, 2012

Biology

I have lately been getting really RAGEY about certain topics, where the great unwashed masses (i.e., the sector of the general public who disagree with me) take stances that reveal what is, to me, a GROSS MISUNDERSTANDING of biology.  Because I have a LOT of schooling in biology, physiology, etc., I try to remember that what is basic to me may be completely foreign to a layperson, but it’s hard.  Other things, well, I know the underlying biology is not remotely basic, but I wish that there were a way to communicate it to laypeople more effectively.  All of these things make me crazy.  Some examples:

1. Vaccines. I am not sure I can even talk about this without hurting someone.  I will only say two things [today]: first, anecdotal evidence is not the same thing, and does not carry the same [read: any] weight as scientific and  epidemiological evidence. Second, the choice of vaccinating or not affects entire populations, not simply the individual in question.  The amount of restraint I am showing stopping with that is HUGE, let me tell you. 

2. Individual metabolism, weight issues, etc.  It pisses me RIGHT OFF when people assume that every body behaves the same way.  That if only you ate like *I* eat (as in, some asshole, not me (or you) personally), you’d be just as thin and fit!  NO. The amount we understand about diet/exercise/physiology, compared to what we don’t, is like comparing a bottle of water to the fucking OCEAN.  There are some things we know for sure, though: whole foods trump processed, some bodies tend to be heavier than others regardless of diet, exercise AND diet are both important.

3. Mixing frequently used pharmaceuticals and alcohol (e.g., tylenol/acetaminophen, antibiotics, etc.).  Some things, no big deal. Other things, HUGE DEAL.  People joke (I hope it’s a joke) about taking some nyquil and having some wine – NOoOoo.  Alcohol competes with acetaminophen for certain enzymes, forcing the acetaminophen down an alternative metabolic pathway that creates terrible toxins that can lead to liver failure.  As I type this out, I realize it probably isn’t “basic”, so I’ll chalk this up to scientists and doctors failing to communicate effectively.  BUT DAMN, acetaminophen overdose or alcohol-aggravated toxicity is one of the number one causes of liver failure in the US, the top Poison Control call issue, etc., so we should do a better job educating on this!  AND, this failure to communicate is why the dosage on acetaminophen was just reduced: instead of explaining why you shouldn’t take too much, they just reduced the dosage so when people take too much it won’t be as big a deal.  GRR.

4. Alcohol and pregnancy.  I hate this one because of how other people’s opinions end up affecting MY life.  There have been articles circulating about this recently, as a new study (NOT the first one by a long shot) was published showing that drinking MODERATELY while pregnant is not a big deal.  The comments I’ve seen relating to it have been half supportive, half “Oh well, you can hurt YOUR baby, but I won’t drink a DROP because I LOVE mine.”  Well, fuck that tone, first of all, but that aside: the great American hatred of moderation is the issue here.  Things don’t fall cleanly into “healthy” and “toxic” – the dose makes the poison. If you drink too much of ANYTHING, including goddamn WATER, it will do bad things.  But, instead of publicizing the idea of moderation, America decided to take a hard line and say none for anyone.  Like the medical and political establishments basically thought we were all idiots that couldn’t be trusted to understand things like “serving sizes” oh wait shit we can’t.  GAAh.

5.  Artificial sweeteners, slash why I will always drink Diet Coke so help me.  The volume of diet coke you’d have to drink DAILY for your ENTIRE LIFE to cause toxicity?  Well, you’d basically have to become an aquatic mammal that lives in a diet coke ocean.  GALLONS. A day.  When I was pregnant, a co-worker used to come by my office every day and judge me openly about my single DC per day habit. And he was an effing toxicologist, who smokes (see #7).  RAGE.

6.  Bisphenol A.  This isn’t basic, and some of the scientists fall into the unwashed masses camp.  But, as a toxicologist (a reproductive toxicologist at that), let me just say: calm down. “BPA Free!” has become a marketing tool.  BPA is so well-studied at this point, and any potential toxicity is so minor that no one can even come up with anything remotely definitive. The only definitive thing is that a) the levels in human blood are super low, and b) the estrogenicity of BPA is way way less than anything made of soybeans.  So, ya know, freak out about soy.  Also, the shit they are replacing BPA with? Totally un-studied.  So, if you are still freaking out about this, could you at least send me all your old plastic stuff?  Because I will totally use that shit. 

7. When people are totally insane about one of the above, but also smoke.  Like, “Oh, I will NOT use plastic, glass only for me!” as they gesticulate with a cigarette.  Smoking is about the ONLY life choice you, as an individual, can make that will have a measurable impact on your personal health (and the health of others! Awesome!).  The other shit, like BPA, pesticides on your fruit? Incredibly subtle, population level effects – like, you would need MILLIONS of people to possibly see anything, and even then, it’s usually only a weak correlation, not causation

I know that I am missing a lot of things that piss me off (I’m sure you’re super bummed to be missing out on my absurd rage), but #1 clouds my memory of anything else I’ve encountered recently.  Also, I’m kind of sorry if any of this makes you personally angry, but really I’d rather have a rage free educational discussion about all the reasons that I am right.  So, let’s do that instead.

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Busytown.

First: thanks for the input on the dress! I’m totally wearing it, and I can’t wait.  

Now, life. I am so damn BUSY, and grah, I kind of hate it. Kind of. No, I do – it’s just a little too far. I like to be medium busy.  But right now, I’m running two concurrent animal studies, both of which involve breeding mice (which is easy but time consuming), I’m very very behind on two three papers, and I’m juggling normal everyday work stuff.  The papers are the thing that I hate – I am a decent writer (we are talking scientific, peer reviewed stuff), but I am SLOW. It is like pulling teeth, or watching paint dry, or perhaps both at once.  I just take forever.  I have at least gotten to a point where I will allow my coauthors and mentors to read my drafts.  I used to be a perfectionist, wouldn’t let anyone near a draft until I felt like it was DONE.  Now, I look forward to the constructive (and usually complimentary) comments, but I’d still rather do just about ANYTHING besides write.  And yet, that is the key to my advancement.  

I have a paper I have to finish by Friday, along with a ton of dissections and several meetings and AHHHH make it stop.  I can’t even look further ahead than Friday without hyperventilating.  On the bright side, there is a HUGE frisbee tournament this weekend and I am so SO excited about it.  Eyes on the prize! 

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My wedding dress was one of my favorite things about my wedding. I found it at a thrift store – a new-with-tags J. Crew floor length white cotton sundress, $30, that I bought before I was officially engaged. I took it home and dyed it bright green on my stove.  One of my roommates actually hit me for ruining a perfectly good potential wedding dress, to which I replied “No, I just made it perfect for me.”  And it was PERFECT:

Image

My wedding was also perfect: all our family and favorite people, lots of dancing, and lots of gin. 

So here is my dilemma: can I wear my wedding dress, now a knee-ish length sundress, to my cousin’s wedding in August?  I really REALLY want to, especially because the remnants are currently being made into a dress for Eliza. But, the cousin in question (and a good chunk of the wedding guests) were of course present at my wedding.  I don’t want to seem like I’m trying to upstage the bride or something by wearing my wedding dress to her wedding, but at this point, my dress really just looks like a run of the mill sun dress.  BUT everyone there will know it was my WEDDING dress, so does that trump its actual appearance?  

I never get to wear dresses, and it’s rare to get a non-ridiculous opportunity to wear a matchy matchy dress with my kid (they COMPLIMENT each other, they aren’t like CARBON COPIES so it isn’t totally absurd), so I really want to wear it! But I don’t want to be an asshole.  Verdict?

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I’m Back!

Now if only I could post from work, maybe I’d actually keep up with this better.  No promises made, no promises broken.

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Eight months!

Eliza is eight months old!  We watch 90% less television than we did pre-baby!  These things are related.  Two days ago, Eliza spent a HOUR wrestling with a giant stuffed broccoli while we just laughed at her.  That about sums it up.  

What, you want more?  Ok fine.  Eliza loves playing peek-a-boo, and she loves it the MOST when you really hide behind something big, like a pillow or a wall, and come out at different points.  She likes to play upside down bear, which is a genius game I invented where you fling her straight backwards and say “upside down bear is upside down!” in a ridiculous voice.  She really gets into it – she’ll throw her arms and head back over and over, so you better want to keep playing for awhile.  She crawls very fast now, cruises a bit clumsily along furniture, and likes push things – the kitchen stools, cardboard boxes, etc. – all around the kitchen and living room.  She has just started letting go of stuff for a few moments while standing, so I think that bodes really well for her not learning to walk soon, right?  Oh god.  She’s eating more and more real food – very good at chewing despite only having the two bottom chompers so far.  Her favorites to date are strawberries and salmon.  She’ll eat pretty much anything, but those two she gets enthusiastic about.  She learned to use a straw cup and sippy cup a while back, relatively well, but lately would prefer to spit the contents all over herself for fun.  
We got to do a lot of fun stuff last month, some of which I covered in my belated seven month post.  Last weekend, we went to Ohio for Poultry Days, our annual weird frisbee tournamant,  It involved five (5!) airplane rides, three nights of camping in the midst of a field of insane(ly loud) frisbee players, and one unexpected night in a hotel after a flight cancellation on the return trip.  It involved temps in the 80s/90s, humidity, and very little shade.  She was a champ and a charmer for all of it.  It was great to get to spend several days in a row with our friends, so that they got to see E in all her chilled out glory.  Also, we would like a gold star for not sunburning the baby, cuz DAMN that was hard.  We did end up sunburning ourselves eventually, because we just got really damn tired of applying sunscreen.  We also got to go to the swimming pool in Ohio. E did pretty well – she didn’t really cry, but she wouldn’t relax or let go of me.  I got her into her shoulders, but she’d climb me like a monkey when i tried to lay her on her back to float.  It was pretty damn cute though.  
So, if you’re keeping track, we have camped three out of the last four weekends.  The house is an impressive wreck, so of course my mother-in-law arrived yesterday to visit for a week.  This is great, as she is wonderful, but I do wish the house weren’t so embarrassing.  We are heading to Seattle to surprise some friends, so there is little chance of the situation improving during her visit, but she only has eyes for Eliza, so it doesn’t actually matter.  

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