kind=land ?

I read a lot of books on my Kindle, and for the most part I love it, but sometimes there are some glitches. One of the most recent one I found is that in all the Star Wars books (yes, I have read most of them) the word kind is always replaced by the word land. I don’t know why, but it cracks me up. Okay, I really need a life.

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Note to self…

Do not set your chocolate bar on the edge of your laptop. It does not end well.

I forget that even though I have one of the aluminum Mac laptops that are really quiet, it doesn’t mean that the computer doesn’t get warm. In fact the aluminum probably conducts the heat very well into the chocolate bar helping it melt more.

Also, I sometimes forget how quiet my laptop is, but I was in the library the other day and this guy’s laptop was buzzing like a swarm of bees. It kind of reminded me of my old cow computer Bessie from when I worked at NIST. I think I worked there in 2006, and this laptop was left over from the 2000 census. It sounded like a cow mooing whenever I tried to do work. So I ended up decorating it like a cow with a cowbell and everything.

Bessie and Kacey

Oh man, this picture brings me back. I had braces and crazy hair and everything.

Sometimes there are things you just don’t need to know…

I was talking to my little brother the other day, and he was telling me that he wears each pair of contacts for months at a time. These are the kind of contacts that you are supposed to take out at the end of every day and clean and soak and then throw away at the end of the month. And he wears them for months straight. And then he told me that his eyes were bothering him lately. Really?! Ya think?! Now my eyes are itching and watering in sympathy. I was always scrupulously obsessive about keeping my contacts clean, and I still stopped wearing them a couple of years ago because they started giving me problems. This just grosses me out immensely.

An interesting trip to the doctor’s in sketch land

This actually happened a while ago, but I thought it was funny enough to tell the story. This January, I had a ruptured ovarian cyst, and when that happened, they found that I had a ginormous dermoid cyst that needed to be removed (it later turned out not to exist, but that’s a totally different story for another day). I was told that I needed to have it out soon, and that I shouldn’t run or jump or most importantly RIDE MY HORSE until I had surgery.

So I made an appointment as quickly as possible with the person who could see me the fastest. In retrospect, I will never do that again, because of the aforementioned magically disappearing cyst and the fact that I had surgery for no reason, but yet again that is a story for another day.

The doctor I had an appointment had an office in Oakland and one in Richmond (sadly the sketchier of the two places and that is saying something). I could be seen sooner in Richmond, so I made an appointment to be seen that week.

I went to my appointment, and it was pretty unremarkable except for two things. First of all, I was asked by at least 3 different people in the waiting area and in the elevators if I was a doctor. As I was entering the office one girl replete with piercings and goth make-up surreptitiously approached me (well, as surreptitiously as you can when you are wearing rattling chains and various other doohickeys) to ask where the planned parenthood was. I actually knew only because I had read the directory on the ground floor and happened to walk almost a whole lap around the building looking for my doctor’s office. Ironically, I was not even wearing scrubs, which I do sometimes, because they are the best lab pants ever invented.

The being mistaken for a doctor thing kind of amused me, but I couldn’t figure out why. In my general experience, I am much more likely to be asked “When are you graduating from college (or sometimes even high school)?” than “Are you a doctor?” Thinking about it a lot, I realized that I was probably the only white person out of the twenty or so people I had seen and/or passed in the hallway who was not actually a doctor in the office. So apparently the only white people who go to the doctor’s in Richmond are doctors there. My follow-up appointment was in the other office in Oakland, so I didn’t get a chance to actually go and pay attention and take statistics on a return trip.

The doctor part was kind of odd and funny, especially with the goth girl, but the second part annoyed me a lot. Leaving the office I got in the elevator with and older couple and a presumed mother and daughter pair. The little girl was about three and absolutely adorable, and the guy in the older couple started trying to talk to her. She immediately hid and hugged her mom and was terrified, and as a formerly mortally shy person until college, I could sympathize. I remember that I didn’t answer the phone at home ever, because I was scared that I would have to talk to someone. I never try to talk to kids–or strangers really–unless they talk to me first. Maybe that is my own latent shyness, but I would have hated having strange people talk to me on the elevator when I was her age. Actually, I probably would have started crying hysterically and embarrassed my mother immensely, so she did a lot better than I would have.

The guy’s response, and this is a direct quote as I wrote it down as soon as I got out of the elevator because I was so shocked: “I’m a Christian; I don’t hurt children.”

There are just so many things wrong with that statement that it is not even funny. Number one (and in no particular order), do three-year-olds even understand what it means to be Christian? I certainly didn’t until I was a lot older. In fact, I thought I was a Christian until I started college, because I knew what it mean to be Jewish or Muslim (from friends and books), and I assumed that everyone else was a Christian by default, because I had never heard of any other religions or atheism, agnosticism, secular humanism, or any other non-religious way of being.

Secondly, there is the obvious rebuttal:  lots of Christians have actually hurt lots of children actually. I was so flabbergasted to meet someone who straight out said basically that Christianity equals goodness, and that is so fundamentally not true that it is not even funny. Having been hurt many times by other Christian children (if you can say that children are actually true Christians, because I really think that you can’t really know what you believe until you are older) and adults, I can say from personal experience that it is not true. Not to mention the whole Catholic-priests-molesting-kids (and more terrifyingly the church hiding it) scandal and numerous other murderers, rapists, and terrorists. Then if you really want to go there, there’s always the Crusades, witch trials, and the Inquisition, none of which are exactly shining moments in the history of Christianity.

Thirdly, as a non-religious member of society I hate hate hate the fact that if you don’t believe in God, you are assumed to be immoral and likely to hurt children and do any number of evil things, because you don’t have a giant deity waiting in the sky to smite you if you screw up. It drives me absolutely crazy. I think people are people, and there are lots of good people and lots of bad people of most religious and non-religious variations. My views are my own views, and I obviously think they are right (whatever that means) or I would no longer hold them at this point in my life, but seriously.

Fourthly, if I was that child and that happened to me when I was a little kid, I am pretty sure that I would have just been terrified of Christians for the rest of my life. I have no memory of the following story, but when I was really little, my mom took me to see some Sesame Street movie at the theater. Apparently Big Bird ended up in a cage, and I was so upset by this experience, that my mom had to take me home halfway through the movie, and I threw a fit and was really scared and refused to see any movies for a very long time after. I remember when my mom took us (my brothers and me) to see Cool Runnings (one of my favorite movies to this day actually) when I was 7. I remember crying and crying and crying and being terrified of the movie theatre, even though I couldn’t remember why I was so scared. My mom got kind of mad at me and spoke very sternly to me, and we went in and I was fine. I really loved the movie, and that experience cured me of my fear of movie theaters–fortunately for my mother and everyone else I know. I know that I was probably not a typical child, but my point is that children can be easily traumatized, so talking to shy children and then saying that you are Christian probably is not the best way to go.

Just my two cents (or really a lot more than that) for today.

Agnostic Isomers?

The other day I was skimming through my RSS feed looking for interesting journal articles when I found a funny paper in Angewandte Chemie, the journal whose name I really can’t properly say. It’s better than one of my previous journal club assignments: Applied Surface Science. Mike would always ask if there was anything interesting in the “ASS” journal. And sadly, there never was.

Okay, so it’s not that funny of a paper, but the title is funny: “Isolation of Two Agostic Isomers of an Organometallic Cation: Different Structures and Colors.” Well, it’s not really so much the title that is funny, but the fact that I misread the title as “agnostic isomers.” I thought it meant that they were molecules who couldn’t decide what shape to take (or what to believe in). It turns out that agnostic means a weak interaction where a transition metal interacts with a carbon-hydrogen bond. Less interesting than agnostic isomers in my opinion.

Birthday Day!

Today is my 28th birthday! Hooray! Actually I think birthdays stop being quite so exciting once you pass 18 or 21, but that’s okay.

I went to work like usual, and after work I went to tutor my friend Amelia. We have been riding together for the last 3 or more years, and now she is 16 and a junior in high school. I have been tutoring her in pre-calculus mainly with some occasional biology thrown in. She found out that it was my birthday (I’m guessing from Facebook), and she got her Mom to get me a cake, so I had a birthday cake after all. Amelia put some of her horse figurines on the cake (she assured me that she had washed them first). It was a pretty nice birthday.

Aside: The other fabulous thing about tutoring Amelia is that her dad is a really great cook, and as I often come over after work, I get to eat dinner with her family, and then we do some math after dinner. I need to cultivate more students with excellent cooks for parents. Amelia’s older sister is a freshman in college, so I think they enjoy someone being around occasionally now that her sister is off at school.

Last week, I helped Amelia study for her AP Biology test on genetics. We reviewed almost all of the aspects of genetics (Punnett squares, pedigrees, simple dominance, incomplete dominance, multiple trait crosses, etc.) using the genetics of horse coat colors, which I have recently become an expert in. We drew pedigrees of different horses in the barn, worked out their genotypes based on certain color traits and drew the Punnett squares for hypothetical matings of different horses. I think my favorite was Bjorn the big, black Friesian and Snickerdoodle the little palomino pony. It turns out that their offspring have a one-fourth chance each of being smoky black, black, palomino, or chestnut. Of course that assumes that there are not any agouti genes lurking undetected in Snickerdoodle, because then we could get other colors as well. In order to cover some of the other material, we also talked about my little brothers’ impending baldness (sex-linked traits) and the blood types of my family members (co-dominance).

This week when I first got to her house, she told me all about how well she did on her biology test. She got her first A on a test in the class all year, and her overall grade is now the highest it has ever been! I was really happy that I helped her that much in one session for a biology class of all things, and that I found a way to make it interesting and fun for her as well. I think that the best gift that I got this year was that reminder of how much I love teaching, and that I am actually really good at it. Thanks Amelia!

Elevator Fail!

The other day I went to this building, and this is what the elevator looked like:

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I don’t know why it amused me as much as it did, but it cracked me up. There was construction everywhere, but this was their solution to letting people push the buttons on the elevator.

 

Building Closed… Again

The other day I got to school just in time for the building to be evacuated. The power went out, and then there were some bad smells, so they evacuated the building. Eventually they said that it was just because the fume hoods weren’t venting correctly. But we didn’t have power most of the day. I went to the undergraduate reading room for a while. The only other person there was one of the professors from my qualifying exam. Later I ended up working in another room with another professor. Apparently all the other grad students just went home. I would have I guess, but I just drove there, and I had to tutor someone that afternoon, so I didn’t want to drive home and then drive again to tutor that night.

I think this is probably at least our fourth major power outage this year. It’s getting a bit ridiculous. One time the pumps stopped and the labs in the basement flooded. Another time was the crazy explosion on campus. Another time it was because a rat was in the wires and got fried. We just like to have excitement.

There’s Another Girl in my Group!!

Woohoo!! While I enjoy my group immensely, there was a period of time where I was the only girl. It was just me and 20-25 guys. Yep…

It was fine, though it did result in entertaining things like all the guys changing in our office. They would just tell me not to look and they would change. It was rather funny actually.

But now there are actually two new female grad students. So it’s nice!

It’s Officially Sad! This is How Lonely I Am

I think this picture says it all.

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I’m so lonely that I watch TV on my computer with my stuffed animals. I think I need to get out more or something. =)