Friday, December 19, 2008


527,000 children under the age of 5 were reported to have died in 2007 in Africa and Asia from diarrhea due to rotavirus. Many deaths were likely unreported.

Bacteria and parasites also cause diarrhea. There are two kinds of poop that generally result from infection: bloody stools and rice water poop. I hope that you avoid the more serious infections. If you do find yourself on the toilet more frequently than you'd like, you can try this home remedy to rehydrate yourself:

3/4 tsp salt, 1 tsp baking soda, 4 tbl sugar, 1 cup OJ, 4 cups water

This replaces electrolytes and water. Sports drinks are too concentrated and do not hydrate enough.

Monday, December 15, 2008

World Focus, for Americans

I've caught a great show on PBS a few times, in Albuquerque it comes on at 5pm. It's called World Focus, and it's a 30 minute news show designed to inform Americans about world events. So if you don't know who Mugabe is and what is going on in Zimbabwe, don't be embarrassed, tune in online! There is lots of coverage on Africa, health crises, and other regions left off the networks.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

AIDs patient cured in Germany

A patient with both leukemia and HIV was cured in Berlin, by receiving hematopoetic stem cells (the basic cell that gives rise to all your blood cells) from a match who was CCR5-. First, the patient had intensive chemo- and radiotherapy, then received a bone marrow transplant.

There is a high risk for the patient with a 10-30% chance of death from having your immune system and bone marrow cells wiped out before the transplant. Still, this is fascinating.
NYtimes Article

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Autistim, or Schizophrenia?

According to Dr. Crespi and Dr. Badcock (thrilling surname!), epigenetic gene silencing of the father's versus the mother's genes may tilt a person more toward autism or more toward schizophrenia (NYTs article, Nature essay). Epigenetics is the term that describes changes to the genome that change which genes are expressed but do not change the genome itself. In general, methylation, the adding of a CH3 group to the 5 carbon of the nucleotide cytosine in a promoter, silences the expression of a gene, while demethylation or acetylation (tagging with a -CoCH3 group) increases expression. When a section of a genome is silenced depending on a parent's gender, that is called imprinting. As we all carry two alleles (one variant of a specific gene) total, one from each parent, when our sperm or eggs are being made only one of each of our alleles gets put into the sperm or egg. With a few genes, a paternal allele in an egg should be silenced, and a maternal allele in a sperm should be silenced (with many genes, both alleles are expressed in the baby). When the sperm and egg come together, there are two alleles, with one or the other silenced through imprinting. The proposed theory of mental health suggests a paternal allele in the mother that should have been silenced results in reduced social skills, and the expression of a maternal allele in the father that should be silenced results in emotional problems. So, too much paternal expression creates social ineptitute, and too much maternal expression makes crazy harpies?

At times a mis-expression of an allele is indeed a problem, as an example, consider Prader Willi and Angelman syndrome. A specific region of chromosome 15, designated as 15q11-13, is responsible for both conditions. In this section of the genome, alleles from both the paternal and maternal lines should be expressed. In Prader Willi, either the father's gene is silenced or two copies of the mother's are mistakenly passed along: an imbalance in favor of maternal genes. In Angelman, the maternal gene is silenced or two copies of the paternal alleles are passed along: an imbalance in favor of paternal genes. According to the article, the two syndromes result in very different behavior, more compliance in Prader-Willi's, and more hyperactivity in Angelman's, although from the description in my genetics book, both conditions present unique challenges and temper tantrums.

The article also suggests that mother's have, through evolution, silenced genes that result in difficult offspring, silencing any paternal genes that pass through into their eggs. Both articles reference the IGF2 gene, responsible for growth of the baby in the womb. Apparently this gene is expressed in the sperm and imprinted in the egg. If both alleles are expressed, the baby is 50% too big and hard to deliver, if neither is expressed, the baby is too small. It so happens the father's is expessed, resulting in typical fetal growth. What if the imprinting was simply reversed, silenced in the father and expressed in the mother?

While Badcock and Crespi propose an interesting theory, I am not sure the evolutionary interpretation holds much weight. A child with autism or schizophrenia can both present a great challenge, and in the accepted discrepancy in imprinting resulting in Angelman or Prader Willi, this is also true. So imprinting and epigenetics are being shown to cause behavioral and physical phenotypes, but the interpretation that places where the maternal alleles are imprinted may be due to ease of child birth and child rearing has only subjective speculation to back it up.

I believe I have heterogenous imbalances, as I am of late both social inept and emotionally hypersensitive and blissfully living in a state of self-deception. But I'm finally doing well in medical school, in genetics and neoplasia.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

There Will Be Blood

What a terrific movie! There Will Be Blood opens slowly, in real time, with Daniel Day Lewis looking for oil. The story evolves into a biopic of his character, Daniel Plainview, whose hatred for people simmers and gushes out in harsh retribution. I found his character to have some positive traits: independence, self-reliance, intelligence, and the ability to plan ahead. His chief negative trait was that he murdered people. Everyone has some good and some bad in them. At one point he says he has a competitiveness inside, that makes him hate to see others succeed. He channels this negative energy into controlling a large share of the American oil industry and accumulating wealth. I found his single-mindedness rather inspirational, if a bit excessive. I'm fired up to conquer the head and the neck in human structure, function, and development--one more quiz and one more exam!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Poverty in NM-stream of thought

Today for part of our course on poverty and health at school, I visited a "soup kitchen" called Project Share.

Project Share serves hot meals to the 87106 community. The project also distributes food boxes to families in need, provides free clothing and books to people, and offers people help in finding work.

I know very little about social problems, so it was very interesting to go and serve food to people. As an initial impression, some people seemed to be in very dire straits, and some people seemed like people simply down on their luck or caught in a tight economy. Some people seemed like they could be okay, and it was unclear why they were there. People have all kinds of needs. Some people who came to Project Share may even have been filling a social need, I'm not sure.

So far in medical school I've gotten more exposure to poverty than I did working say, in Los Alamos. I enjoyed volunteering at Project Share, except for the cleaning part, after we served people food. It wasn't hard, but seeing and smelling the bucket of water and chlorine, cold with wet rags inside, brought back unpleasant school cafeterias for me.

I have heard it said that there are not starving people in the US the way there are in other countries, and I am sure that is more or less true, but there are definitely hungry people here. I wonder how everyone came to fall through our social network and ended up homeless, jobless, and hungry.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Have you ever failed your first anatomy exam and several quizzes, then as icing on the cake been advised to "study more" in peer evaluations? Maybe it made you feel like crap, because actually, anatomy is quite new to you, and actually, you had been studying and not pissing the night away (thank you very much for your insightful comments, my quiz scores had failed to phase me). After you stopped with your crying and moaning, maybe you felt angry and wanted to kick something. You don't have to. Just go see the movie Wanted. Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy not only kick lots of ass, curve bullets, and defy the laws of gravity and logic with their car stunts, but James McAvoy also whines throughout the movie. You'll feel so much better letting professionals get all the emotional sewage out of you, and the neighborhood cats, children, and MS1s will remain unharmed.

Monday, August 25, 2008

How med school differs from grad school...

Graduate school is not about classwork, it's about research. And physics is different from biology. In physics, you can think about a problem, and if you know a few principles, say, the uncertainty principle and energy conservation, you can make headway. In biology, not so much. Physics graduate school is about the forest, research is about the twigs, and medical school is about the trees, with a picture of the forest in mind.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Donate your body to science!

I've told everyone that the first day of class, we started cadaver dissection. The cadavers come from NM donors, people who decided to donate their bodies for our medical education. We are very grateful to all of our donors, and after we finish our coursework, their bodies are cremated, and we have a memorial service for them with their families.

The dissection is rather beautiful and everyone is very respectful. Generally, older people are used because the families of younger people who die often request autopsies, and perhaps younger people more often have their organs harvested. If I find myself to be older and medical school still use bodies, I may donate my body.

For more information on anatomy and cadaver dissection, visit the famous Michigan anatomy site here.

I will write more on medical school in the future, because that's basically my entire life now.

the Nervous System

Medical school. It's as hard as everyone says. Many mnemonics exist for learning anatomy. This famous phrase deals with the nervous system: "Sympathetic, fight or flight, parasympathetic, rest and digest." These two divisions are part of the autonomic or visceral system, involuntary parts that regulate your internal organs, sweat glands, and arrector pili muscles which make your hair stand on end. Regarding the mnemonic, how do you make sense of erections? Erections are handled by the parasympathetic system, and ejaculation by the sympathetic system. I believe this means that if you had an erection, and a bear charged at you from the forest, you would ejaculate, but as I have no experience with this situation, I may be wrong.

If this bear happened upon you, he may ask if you would like tea. And let's keep our forests and hiking trails erection-free and do more of the rest and digest thing rather than test crass musings.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Mamma Mia, what a terrific movie!

I'm late, I know, but I saw Mama Mia several weeks ago, and it was terrific! Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan were both excellent, as well as the lovely young actress from Mean Girls, who sings well. Pierce Brosnan doesn't sing well but is endearing. Don't miss him dancing in ABBA ice capades glory at the end of the movie. The Greek island setting has lovely shades of blue, and the movie is uplifting, silly, and full of heart and life. By all means, go see it, even if you don't like ABBA. You too will be singing, dancing, and using trite phrases to describe your feelings.

This is sciencebird light, but ya'll know I just started medical school. My first week we plunged right into cadaver dissection, and I failed a quiz! Anyone who loves me can mail me the Mammia Mia DVD when it comes out, or line dance in flippers for me. On my vacation time, I'm going to that Greek island.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Am I the only one who didn't like Batman?

Batman, the Dark Knight, has opened to critical aclaim, and many fans have viewed it multiple times. How? Why? I didn't like it and had to force myself to stay awake. Admittedly, I was tired, but even so, the movie lasted forever. And I liked Heath Ledger, I was very sad to hear of his death. It was a little creepy for me to see him in last performance in his joker make-up, fitting perhaps, but I'm not big on creepy, I'm more of A Knight's Tale kind of gal.

I finally found a review that expresses my reaction in Batman Review. I found the plotline of the Dark Knight difficult to follow, after reading Stephanie Zacharek's review I can better blame Chris Nolan. The highlights for me were the performances of Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, and Heath Ledger did a phenomonal job. There were not enough scenes with the Joker and Batman in them together. And Harvey Two-Faced seemed thrown in at the end, and he died too quickly. I thought he had a longer life-span as a villan. I'm going to see Mamma Mia tonight, hopefully that will meet my campy ABBA expectations.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Hike

After hiking on the same two trails for the last year, I finally connected them.
Along with Jim and Alicia, I took the Quemazon trail, starting from 48th off Trinity on the Quemazon nature trail to Pipeline Road, and on into Canada Bonita by Pajarito ski area. We estimated the distance to be 7-9 miles.
The hike took us through desert tuff, into the area burnt by the 2000 fire, and down through aspen and poderosa. If you want to do this hike, you have to shuttle, meaning one car is at the Quemazon trail head and one car is at the Pajarito ski area.
Pictures from the full journey are on my Facebook profile under "The Hike". Here are select photos.

The view from Quemazon, early in the hike.

Out of the openness of Quemazon and into more forested area.

Jim and Alicia on Pipeline Road. Pipeline used to be a jeep road, but is now closed to vehicles.

Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
This definitely seems true for the love in friendship. We all enjoyed the view from the high point of this hike. Swallows were darting all about and there were some larger birds too.

The pipeline, or a section of an actual pipe? What is this really?

This little fork reconnects in 100 yards or so. The Guaje ridge trail starts here, but we keep going on to Canada Bonita, a cross-country ski trail maintained by the ski club pictured in a past blog entry.

A wonderful gloomy view of the town from the start of Canada Bonita.

The end of the road, or the trail head of Canada Bonita.

The hike took us six hours at a leisurely pace, from leaving my house to arriving in the ski hill parking lot. We took several breaks and had a picnic lunch, complete with shiraz, thanks to Jim.
If you want to hike this trail, it is very direct. All the paths from Quemazon lead to the same place. After three miles or so, you reach pipeline road, go left. Then there are no more choices, just follow the main trail. There is a change in elevation of 2500 feet. The first 4-5 miles or so are at an gradual incline, and the descent into Canada Bonita is all downhill.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

More on the wild in our lives

People who have pet cats sometimes have to give them baths. Apparently some cats don't mind, but some do.

This little kitty named Tesla is not too happy about the process.

A problem with cats is, they like to roam around and occasionally fight other kitties. They are in danger from cars, other cats, and dogs. As long as the kitties are fixed and vaccinated, I think it's ok for them to be outside. Most animals live longer in captivity, including zoo animals, but being indoors versus being outside seems like a big price to pay.

However I recently met a man hiking who has a house kitty. He claims his cat has never been allowed to leave the house and is happy. And I've heard older cats don't mind being indoors. I think it's a balance between the kitty's happiness and how upset the owner will feel if the cat gets squashed.

Here is a picture of the guy with the house kitty:
I ran into this man unexpectedly on a hike. As a woman, when I am alone on a trail and I meet a strange man, I wonder, should I leave? This man and I were starting on the same trail at the same time. I thought, he seems ok, it's unlikely anything will happen, so I walked and chatted with him along the trail. At the apex he turned to me, brushed my forehead, and said, "You're sweatin' babe." Ew.
Nothing worse happened, but it bothers me that hiking alone is my limit. I feel too nervous to backpack or camp alone, mainly because of my gender. I have a similar problem as a kitty, strike out independently on my own and risk being attacked with no backup, or stay home. I miss out if I can't hike alone, but avoid being attacked or called "babe" by strange men. There are other risks too, like being bit by stray dogs or tripping and falling down a canyon with no help. Cats have a greater risk of being maimed or killed by a car, but conceptually it's a similar dilemma.

Another note on wildlife, here is a photo of rats nesting in a truck:

You can see their little eyes glowing at the bottom of the truck, like small furry aliens. The photo is taken at night in infrared with a motion-sensitive camera. These rats are enjoying the security of the truck to build their nest.
Should the rats be allowed to remain in the truck? It's not being used, and they like it. But they will probably have to be erradicated at some point. How we interact with animals and how we weigh the value of security versus freedom are two questions we face in life. I would like to have a pet bird, but I feel sorry for the bird to be kept in a cage.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Wildlife enters my parking lot and Into the Wild

If you are lucky enough to live in Los Alamos you see lots of coyote, deer, elk, and interesting types of rodents. And you don't see roaches .Yesterday I was pulling into my parking space and saw a coyote. I grabbed my camera and tried to take a picture, but he ran away. This was the best shot I got:

Then he ran across the street to go to the library. I once saw several coyotes crossing the street to the library in the winter.

I watched Into the Wild last night, directed by Sean Penn. I saw Sean Penn interviewed on the Charlie Rose show, along with Eddie Vedder, when the movie was released. Sean Penn was smoking. I don't like smoking, but I hadn't seen anyone smoke on tv for so long that it was delightful to see him exhale, the smoke rising in front of Charlie and Eddie's faces. I enjoyed the movie and sympathized with the character's desire to chuck it all and relocate into the wild. I am not sure what state he was in at the movie's end though, and if it was completely impossible for him to leave the magic bus and try to walk to a road in his weakened condition. I don't know how much time passed between him falling ill and dying.

I rather envied the freedom of roaming around the US. I have been hiking more and would like to backpack. I thought the film was well-done, particularly the stark contrast between Alex's (Christopher's) experience in the wilderness and the LA scenes, when he peers through a fancy cocktail bar and sees himself, clean-cut and well-dressed, mingling and social networking. It validates his choice. I like that at the end he reconciles his two selves. It was sad that he never did contact his family.

I love living in Northern NM. I had considered moving away, but lately I can't imagine living outside of NM for more than a few months. In UNM's medical school, during July and August of the first year, students are required to live and work in a rural clinic to experience rural medicine. I'm very excited about this. I'm happy to move to Albuquerque, my hometown, but after living in Los Alamos for the past two years I will definitely miss the mountains and wildlife, although I have seen coyotes in Albuquerque and even San Diego.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Who is Karl Rove?

I was playing the name game with a group of friends, when the name Karl Rove was slapped on someone's forehead and I realized I was not sure who he was, "Someone in the Bush administration or a basketball player", I thought.

Many of you know I made a New Year's Resolution to be more up-to-date with current events, and to be fair, I have been keeping up with international news, for instance, did you know that a cyclone hit Burma and an earthquake hit China last month? Of course you did, I'm joking. But US politics? I suffer to learn who the candidates were for president.

So, who is this strappling young fellow, and should you know his name?

First off, he is no longer in the Bush Administration. He resigned in 8/07, to spend time with his family apparently. He is know as the architect behind Bush's re-election campaign, the puppet master of the Bush administration, and a loyal friend of George W. Bush. There is a very interesting Frontline online about Karl Rove, titled, The Architect, which details how Karl Rove brought about the dominance of the republican party in America. Bush then named Rove the Deputy Chief of Staff.

And you've got to hand it to Rove: he masterminded Bush's win against Ann Richards as the governor of Texas in 1994, he got Bush elected as president in 2000, and he got that unpopular president reelected in 2004.

Rove was very clever and sneaky and was quite willing to do many ethically questionable things to keep Bush in power and get Republicans appointed to positions of judicial authority. If you google him, you can find articles on his involvement of the retaliatory ratting out of former CIA agent Valerie Plume. Those cases are all rather complicated however, and I am tackling US politics in baby-steps.

Watching the Frontline special made me wish the democrats had such a mule pushing for a democratic majority. On the other hand, though clever and admirable for getting what he wants, Karl Rove seems sullied, and it is unclear to me that he is following his convictions. Rather, he seems to exemplify Kant's saying, the ends justify the means. He decided to help bring about a Republican majority in US politics, and that's what he did. For example, in 2004 he pushed the issue of gay marriage to the forefront of political issues, as a hot button to bring out right-wing voters. A completely ridiculous issue to focus on in a time of war! Does Rove really have passionate feelings about gay marriage? I am sure not. But it did encourage lots of conservatives to vote who might have stayed home.

In the democratic primaries, I was not sure who to vote for, Obama, or Clinton. Now that decision is made, and I hope that Obama can win the hearts and votes of Americans by reaching out conscientiously to voters using both strategy and conviction, while keeping important issues on the table and having genuine principles.

On Skinny-Fat Men and Fortune Cookies

I've been frequenting China Moon, the premier Asian buffet in Los Alamos. Yesterday I got a fortune cookie which said, "It's a nice day." Actually a cold front had blown through the city making it frigid in June, and internally I felt freaked out and panicky. So the day was not nice, and that's beside the point really--what I want from a fortune cookie is a prediction, an actual fortune, or at the very least, a truism.

I think fortune cookies should have advice on men, specifically about skinny-fat men. A skinny-fat man is thin and not volumous, yet is unfit and has poor muscle definition. He may have a bit of a paunch, but if it gets too big, he will move into the plain old "fat man" category. Skinny men often like women who are not skinny, some cushion to balance their edges. Fat men will also accept a non-skinny woman because they themselves are not thin. But a skinny-fat man neither needs the cushion of a woman, nor thinks of himself as a fat man: he deludes himself into thinking he's fit because he's thin.

So "date fat man, ok, date skinny man, ok, date skinny-fat man, no eat ice cream in peace." Why not put that on a fortune cookie? I'd also settle for a compliment inside my cookie.

Skinny-fat men are the first people to call people like Tyra Banks fat. And they cannot protect you in a fight, because they cannot invoke their inner tiger or panda, only the perl programmer, which is the weakest of all kung fu forms. They make poor workout partners because they do not workout, and you cannot enjoy eating at buffets with them, so there is no benefit to a skinny-fat man.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Two places to go in NM

So it's been a long time for Sciencebird, but don't worry, you needn't miss me any longer, I have many fabulous posts planned to both educate and titillate you. I'd like to call your attention to the fact that two NM destinations made the NYtimes "The 31 Places to Go This Summer." The two places are Farmington and Jemez. I think you, me, and everyone we know should get together and go to Jemez to get a massage, apparently starting at $37, at the Jemez Springs bathhouse. Sounds a bit Roman, eh?

The review of Farmington highlights a cave bed and breakfast, which at $240/night I will skip.

Soon I will move to Albuquerque, so I aim to catch all of Northern NM while I can.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Lessons from Friends


Despite my predilection for snowshoeing, I did ski Pajarito twice this season, and I plan to go again soon. I met my friend Alicia up there, and Bruce, who was kind enough to photograph me before his ski patrol duties began.

Alicia has been giving me pointers, and I think I'm improving.


Inspired by my friend at sunkencupcakes, I bought a cupcake/muffin pan from Cook'n in Style. In the medium-size, my only options were to buy an Aluminum or Silicone pan, they were out of the non-stick variety. I purchased an America-made blue silicon pan with six cups.

The thermostat in my oven, recently replaced by my landlord, is still broken, so I decided to break my new pan in with a cheap muffin mix in my toaster oven.

I also purchased an expensive springy whisk because it was cute.

I did not time the muffins and had trouble keeping my toaster oven at 400F. Also, the muffin tops were brown, yet the non-brown parts looked raw. Rather than risk burning them, I took them out. A mistake.

Still, they are tasty, and sitting in this nice plastic container, three of them look store bought. I'm sure my co-workers won't notice they're raw. What's a little salmonella between friends?

I'm not giving up on my toaster oven.

Tomorrow is a new day, a caldera cupcake day, a day for monitoring the temperature and timing. Hopefully the caldera will be free of prokaryotes.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Of Dust Mites, Lost Friends, and Allergy Shots

I was tested for allergies a few weeks ago, and found I'm allergic to dust mites, cats, one variety of mold, cockroaches, and many kinds of trees, weeds, and grasses. Basically everything except cottonwoods and dogs, which is brilliant because I love dogs. My allergist was very surprised to see that I'm highly allergic to dust mites. According to the Johns Hopkins allergy site, dust mites do not live at altitudes above 3000ft and need the humidity to be >40%. They thrive at humidity >55%, so NM is indeed dust mite free (more evidence that Los Alamos=Utopia).

Apparently I developed my dust mite allergy when I lived in San Diego, so I've decided to rid my bedroom of pillows I brought from San Diego. But my monkey companion also lived with me in San Diego. He has to face the washer and dryer and move out of my bed. Luckily, I have Sneaky Snake, a NM native, to keep me company in bed. I'm revealing too much about myself here.

I've started immunotherapy shots to hopefully reduce my allergies permanently. If you have severe, year-round allergies, or asthma, you should make an appointment with Dr. Sussman in Los Alamos. The more allergic you are, the better your chance of conquering your allergies with them. If you experience a discomfort level of 10, say, on a scale from 1-10, you have an 80-90% chance of reducing your discomfort to a 3 or 4, and less chance of developing new allergies. My select EPO UHC insurance covers them too, otherwise I'd be out $1300 for the extract and $25 per shot.

Based on your allergy profile, the doctor orders allergen extract. I have enough allergies for two separate vials: one labeled "cat, trees, and grass", and one labeled "weeds and dust mites". You must get a weekly shot for six months. This is the moving up period, in which the amount of antigens injected in you is increased, visible as four separate extract vials ranging from clear to dark brown, each good for six shots. After 24 injections, you continue with shots every two weeks for another six months at the therapeutic level, and I think move to monthly shots after that. The theory is, your immune system will become desensitized to the allergen with the frequent exposure. Full benefits are seen a year or two after the therapeutic level is reached, but may be evident 2-4 months after the shots begin. I will become a more tolerant person, one with cats, grass, trees, roaches, Obama-followers, and dust mites.

When I lived in Albuquerque, I suffered greatly from allergies and even had asthmatic symptoms. It takes a few years to develop allergies, so I felt better in San Diego, dust mites aside, and I suffer less in Los Alamos. Hopefully the therapy will start to work before I move back to Albuqueruque.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Another cute picture...

Love, love makes your heart dance. In the movie Adaptation, Donald Kaufman says, it doesn't matter who loves you, it matters who you love. Both matter, in my opinion, but for really feeling good, I agree that it is better to love than to be loved.
You know I love both pigeons and monkeys. Now, they love each other, and I think it speaks well for them.
I've stated my New Year's Resolutions elsewhere, and one of them is to keep up with current events. I have to stab needles in my arm to listen to anything political, so I focus on world events. There are lots of bad things going on, all the time. Save your money to help feed starving children in the future, because according to the UN, there's going to be more of them. Love love love.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Nice websites!

Many of you know, I am moving to Albuquerque soon to start medical school. I had the idea that once I was admitted, I would be very relaxed, and overall, I am more relaxed, but the big change is also a little scary. I've been worrying about where I should live, and whether I should buy a house or not. I found a nice website called It has rental and sale listings, and a calculator to help you decide which to do. For me, renting may not be such a bad option. Hats off to the web designers of hotpads. I will sleep better tonight because of you.
Another website that helps me relax is I listen to a music station based on Hans Zimmer.
Currently I'm reading the Witch of Portobello, written by Paulo Coelho, which is helping me to focus on the present.
So thanks to all the web designers and artists who improve our lives by helping us relax and find places to live. This entry opens with a cute photo I stole from I've never had the occasion to use it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Noah's Ark for Plants

To save the animals from God's wrath, Noah brought a pair of each species on board his ark. Now, to save plant diversity from any possible calamities, floods, greenhouse effects, fire, nuclear war, invasion by aliens, etc., we have a place to keep seeds, the humble beginnings of plants. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault has just opened, a place where all countries can send their seeds, a place safe from humidity and global threats. The NYtimes article raises some interesting objections to the seed vault.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Snowshoe Pajarito

Los Alamos, a city filled with history, science, and an odd assortment of people. Many postdocs here feel the social scene is limited. If you feel this way, snowshoe.

You don't need friends to snowshoe, only snowshoes. You may also ski, if that's your thing. The advantage of snowshoes is they don't require special boots, bindings, or poles; they hug whatever closed shoes you have and protect you. When times are hard and your social circle either doesn't exist or collapses, you still have yourself and the mountains.

Bad things are happening in Kenya, Bill Richardson dropped out of the race (well, we knew his chance was slim), people in Los Alamos suffer from depression, gossip, and loneliness. Embrace your isolation; the ski hill sits quietly, a beautiful bird waiting and welcoming. And vote. Donate money to causes you care about, and start a project: volunteering, learning Spanish, or perfecting cupcake recipes.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Everything bad is good, er, right?

Finally, confirmation that violent movies reduce crime! According to two economists (economist=psychologist), young men aced to wreck havoc and mayhem on society may get their yayas by watching violent movies instead of actually committing violent acts. During the weekend of violent movie premiers and in the few days after, there is a dip in reported crime. So not only do violent films keep these scoundrels off the streets, it pacifies them for awhile. There is some logic to this, as undesirable no. 1 cannot be in two places at once (at least not without some polyjuice potion). The conclusion of the article is to find other ways to keep young men entertained, perhaps with seductive older women, funding more Adam Sandler films, or distributing passes to hear Mike Huckabee. Keep danger off our streets!