Friday, February 29, 2008

The Sad Story Update

If you read my previous post about The Sad Story, then you will recall that a friend of mine was suing a company and we were waiting to hear how things turned out. Thankfully, the jury found the company responsible and awarded him $85 million. They found the company completely at fault and he will now be getting about $18 million (settlements are weird). Good news.

Freezing Recommendations Haiku Friday

Have you listened to
the Juno soundtrack? So good.
And mellow fun weird.


Do you drink hot tea?
I really love Harney Tea
from Connecticut.


Yoga is great for
warming up in the cold air.
Stretch and warm muscles.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Two Review Tuesday

Last night we partook of the meal that is Buddakan. This restaurant is also in NYC and I think Atlantic City. It's one of those "Asian Fusion" types, but i must say it was delicious. It's located in the heart of Old City, where a lot of people want to be seen. We went with a group of grad students from Penn and a visiting professor from the University of AZ in Tucson. The meal was delectable, the conversation was fascinating and it gave me a lot of enthusiasm for science, which is great because most of the time it frustrates me to no end. Anyways, all around good experience, and great meal. I highly recommend it.
This past weekend we also took the opportunity to watch Pretty in Pink starring Molly Ringwald, Andrew McCarthy and Jon Cryer. I love, love, love this movie. Not only for the nostalgia it brings me back to, the quirky costumes or the fact that I could never believe Molly Ringwald is from "the wrong side of the tracks". It's more for the simplicity of the movie. The sheer fantasy of it all. Nobody's in some twisted love triangle, no on is sleeping with someone's mom, etc. It was a great flashback, and one I highly recommend.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Let's Talk about Sex

This abstinence only education stuff is bullshit. When are people going to realize there is nothing wrong with sex, and when educated, children will make their own decisions regarding sex? There is this pervasive idea that anything having to do with sex education will encourage kids to have sex. You know what the problem is, though? It's kids going through puberty and wondering what the hell is going on with their bodies and their minds and ending up in bed together. If these kids were educated about sex, their bodies, whats going on inside, then maybe they'd be able to make an educated decision to have sex on their own terms using proper protection. These smear campaigns by these religious fascists are f-ing ridiculous. Birth control pills have a 99.9% effective rate. Other forms of hormone administration are even higher - the patch and the ring, for example because you don't have to take them every day at a particular time. Condoms are 85% effective if you don't know how to use them. They are well over 95% effective if you are educated in how to put one on. And Plan B, the emergency contraceptive pill, is available from pharmacies if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. The truth of the matter is that kids will have sex, whether you educate them or not. We are all animals and kids are becoming sexually mature at younger and younger ages. It's best to be up front with kids, be honest with them, share your experiences (OK, not all your experiences) and let them make the decision for themselves. Provide them an open environment for discussing sex and then you know what? You gotta let the birdie fly from the nest. That's it.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Haiku Snowy Friday

Finally snowing
today! how pretty the snow
is in the city!


So glad I don't have
to drive. Just walking in the
crunch crunch crunch slosh slosh.


Introduced Moue to
the snow. She liked it falling
but not the wet part.

Monday, February 18, 2008

V-Day (belated)

I was watching the Today show on Valentine's Day. Jane Fonda and Eve Ensler were on to discuss the Vagina Monologues, the performance Ensler wrote about women, vaginas, domestic violence, etc. I have yet to see a performance, but I hear it is very good. They were discussing how they are having a huge performance of VM at the Superdome in New Orleans in April to "take back the Superdome". They want to highlight all the need that still exists in NO. And then they proceeded to call New Orleans "The Vagina of America". They even went so far as to say it was wet down there. I kid you not. Look, I am all for vaginal education, women being comfortable with their bodies, discussion of domestic violence topics and how to get out. I am all supportive of women's rights, discussion of health topics, prevention of STDs, etc. But, I gotta admit, calling entire cities "vagina" went a little too far for me. Too much?
Too much.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Haiku WTF Friday

Seriously sick
of all the shootings all around.
It needs to stop now.


My hometown is not
that kind of a place. I learned
tolerance above all.


We are different
yet made of the same. We need
to come together.

PS: I love you Oxnard and you will always be my home. And NIU, we are all Huskies today.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Your Candy Heart Says "Hug Me"

A total sweetheart, you always have a lot of love to give out.
Your heart is open to where ever love takes you!

Your ideal Valentine's Day date: a surprise romantic evening that you've planned out

Your flirting style: lots of listening and talking

What turns you off: fighting and conflict

Why you're hot: you're fearless about falling in love

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Sad Story

I have a friend, we'll call him "M". M is one of those people who are ridiculously smart, articulate, funny, all around great person. He methodically reads all the science he can get his hands on and I would not be exaggerating if I called him a genius. Of this I am certain. One day, M was running from the coffee shop to catch the bus at 19th and Walnut. He fell at least 20 feet into a manhole, the cover of which had been removed by some drug addict looking for money for scrap metal. M's fall literally shattered his vertebrae (the bones protecting your spine) in his lumbar region (the region below your ribs and above your butt. He was pretty banged up and bruised and was rushed to the hospital immediately. They were able to stabilize his back and perform some surgery to fuse the shattered vertebrae to healthier vertebrae. He was not paralyzed, but he was in a lot of pain. He suffered several setbacks, like blood clots in his lungs (very bad) and pneumonia and lots of other things. He was on pain meds to kill the pain, laxatives to keep his bowels moving because the pain meds kill your digestive tract, heparin to prevent blood clots, etc, etc. He began to experience more and more pain after the surgery and doctors determined that his healthy vertebrae that were holding up his shattered vertebrae were actually collapsing on themselves and needed to be shored up. He then underwent an over-8-hours-long surgery to fuse his vertebrae to more vertebrae from the back and from the front. That's right, they opened up his stomach, pulled out all his internal organs to access his vertebrae from the front. Then they sewed him all up and thought that should do it. He's been on copious amounts of pain meds ever since. He was taking some opiates (like percocet, oxycodone, etc) when they stopped working as well (he developed a tolerance for the drugs). He has now graduated to fetanyl pops, which are cherry flavored lollypops with enough opiate in them to kill a horse. I kid you not.
M was an extremely promising MD/PhD candidate at the time of his fall. He had completed the first year of med school, had nearly completed his PhD at the time of his fall. He had published a really nice paper in a high profile journal that he was really proud of and he was doing some experiments to follow up on that paper. Everything changed in that instant. He was unable to finish the work for his PhD, and thus was awarded a PhD without having a formal public defense (his situation did not allow him to stand and address people for the hour-plus time needed to defend). He will likely never complete medical school and likely would be unable to practice medicine in his impaired state. More than likely he will not be able to work at all because normal, everyday tasks, like sitting at a desk, riding in a car, etc are extremely challenging. He got married about a year ago and was unable to go on that dream honeymoon because he couldn't sit on a plane for too long. Right now, he is going through a trial, trying to sue the company responsible for maintaining the manhole covers here in Philly. The company apparently did a cost analysis of a locking mechanism for the covers and determined that it was too expensive. My boss just went to testify, telling M to his face in court that he will likely never be able to work in this business and that he saw no way for him to complete medical school. Both M and his wife were visibly crying. I can't imagine going through this all. My heart goes out to them and it makes you realize how precious every second of life is. I just hope that the jury makes the right decision because M will have medical bills for the rest of his life, however long that may be. In this case, that company who decided manhole cover locks were too expensive should have thought about the price a person would pay if the manhole cover were gone. But's all about the cost effective strategies. Assholes. And I know my friend M may never get his life back, but hopefully a settlement will ease the pain of the medical bills.

Black History Revisited

I really enjoy watching PBS - they always have interesting and educational shows that I get sucked into when I just want to veg out on the couch. Last night, I took in the show Slavery and the Making of America , a really fascinating profile of the history of slavery in the US. The show speaks to scholars from all over the country on slave history, re-enacts certain events (but not in a cheesy way) and tries to show the emotional and psychological turmoil that slaves went through. Granted, my US history is not that great (Thanks, Sr. Adrienne Clare), but I was fascinated and outraged by the blatant disregard for blacks in our US history. I realize I am not saying anything new here, but since it is Black History Month, I thought I would let you know a few disturbing facts:

Did you know that...
  • the original US Constitution said that slaves are 3/5 of a person for tax representation and tax appointment?
  • the invention of the cotton gin led to a ridiculous increase in slave trade? Cotton was, at one time, the largest export of the US.
  • it was illegal to teach slaves to read and write?
  • Women slaves were often worked so hard that they were forced to neglect their children? Infant mortality was extremely high.
  • the Republican party was originally called the Free Soil party and was founded as an anti-slavery society?
  • In 1857, The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Dred Scott v. Sanford denies citizenship to all slaves, ex-slaves, and descendants of slaves and denies Congress the right to prohibit slavery in the territories? What this means is that the Supreme Court basically ruled that blacks are not people.
  • The Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 freed all slaves in territories under dispute in the Civil War? Abraham Lincoln, the President at the time, however, had to be convinced to allow blacks to serve in the infantry or navy.
  • The 13th Amendment to the US Constitution banned slavery in all the country (1865)?
  • By 1866, two African Americans were on the Massachusetts legislature (the first to serve in this way)? It was also the year that the KKK was founded.
I realize these are all facts you might know or remember from history. I just thought I would do my part to put some education out there. And if you get the chance, check out that series on PBS. It's worth a watch.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to
repeat it." -George Santayana

Monday, February 11, 2008

Book Report Monday

RE: Oranges are not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson. I finished reading this book a while ago and have not quite been able to figure out what to say about it. It's another book I ran across in the used bookstore. I recognized the author's name because Coodence has recommended her to me before. I knew nothing of this book nor its contents upon opening it, and I immediately fell in love with it. It's the story of a young girl growing up in a super-religious family and coming to terms with her differences with the "rest of the world" so to speak. I loved so much about this book. It was quirky, not predictable, non-judgmental, funny, sad, loving, and very very real. If that means anything at all. The way this book is written is absolutely phenomenal. The author somehow writes in a way that reflects how a pre-teen, teenager, young adult would perhaps talk to themselves or in a diary. I was absolutely blown away by how the dialogue progresses from the daughter absolutely accepting everything her mother does and says as truth to realizing her mother has faults, which are destroying her as a person. The main character is extremely perceptive, pointing out reasons for her mother's behavior, but not trying to make excuses. And, surprisingly, the book is not a study on why religions reject certain "types" of people. It is a study on how one character is isolated and ostracized for a trait she cannot control. I found this book touching and reality based, although none of the events that occur in the book have actually happened to me. I think we can all identify with not getting along with loved ones, discovering things about yourself you never realized, and forging a path on our own without the support of our families. My only complaint is that the book was too short. I would have liked to know more about the character's life after. My advice? Read it. You won't be disappointed.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Haiku - trying it for the first time - Friday

Home sick today, yuck!
Stuffy head, face, nasty cough
Missing out on fun.
Recruitment on Sat.
No brunch hanging out for me.
Sending Alex instead.
Tomorrow night
Do You Fondue? party with Lisa.
Hoping I can go...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

A Mighty Heart

It's been a while since I've sat down and taken in a movie in my home. It seems like every night I am gone until 8pm, then frantically making dinner and then hitting the sack, exhausted. I've been working a lot and I have a paper to write soon, so I am looking forward to having some "down time" writing instead of running around with my head cut off. But I digress. I am a reader of Glamour magazine, which has been running articles by Mariane Pearl, the wife of Daniel Pearl, a Wall Street Journal journalist who was brutally murdered by Islamic extremists in Pakistan in 2002. Mariane Pearl has been traveling around the world to illustrate strong women in cultures and countries around the world. She began her series by writing about her mother, and I have never forgotten that article. It was very beautifully written and really illustrated her mother's personality, so much so, that I feel like she is a character I knew at some point. Mariane Pearl has impressed me with her strength, her conviction, her empathy and her outlook on life. Anyone could go through what she went through and come out a hate-filled, bitter person, yet she came out of it shining like a ray of sunshine. It was with some trepidation that I rented the film A Mighty Heart starring Angelina Jolie as Mariane Pearl and Dan Futterman as Danny Pearl. I knew that I wanted to see it, but we all know how it ends, so it is a hard film to watch. However, this film was brilliant and I highly recommend it.
The film takes place mostly in Karachi, Pakistan. I believe it was actually filmed in India, but the scenery is breathtaking. Anyone who has been to India or Pakistan will be taken immediately back to that place. It is dirty, gritty, overpopulated, goats and sheep wander the streets and smoke hangs in the air. The movie is filmed in a way that you almost smell the pollution, you almost taste the smoke, you almost smell the sweat. The sounds on the streets and in the air are emphasized, really beautiful cinematography. Angelina Jolie is brilliant. I did not once think it was her; I always felt she was Mariane. She truly is an amazing actress. The supporting cast is well balanced, and Mariane's friend Asra, played by Archie Panjabi, especially stands out. The movie is about Danny's kidnapping and the aftermath. The wait for a contact, the desperate search for his captors, the hunt for his hiding place, the international press madness, Mariane's stalwart strength and stoicism. This movie is about regular life in a another country, the daily quest for survival, the uncertainty, the love of two people, their love for the job of journalism. This movie is terribly sad, but riveting. And definitely worth a watch. You will not be disappointed.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Lazy Friday

It's raining cats and dogs right now, so I am putting off going to work. I've had a nice but really busy week that's left me somewhat exhausted. I started my two yoga classes this week and they were both really nice. One of the teachers is really hard core - not taking it easy on us at all and boy did I pay the price on Tues/Wed! My other yoga teacher is more mellow, telling us not to hurt ourselves and not to push too hard. I think the first class will be great for getting my body in shape and increasing my strength and the second class will be great for my psyche. I need to relax and let it all go most weeks. Slow it down some, know what I mean?
The other night, Alex and I had our "Valentine's Date". Since there is so much hype surrounding the day, we try to celebrate it early or later, mostly because it's stupid to listen to Hallmark to tell you when to go on a date with your loved ones. Anyways, we went to dinner at this kitchy little "Mexican" place called El Vez. Dinner was delicious and the margaritas were actually really tasty. We then went to take in Avenue Q, the Broadway show that is here in Philly for a week or two. It was fantastic! If you haven't seen it, it's the story of Princeton, a recent college graduate. He's trying to find his "purpose" in life and he moves into an apartment on Ave Q, meets a lot of great friends and falls in love in the process. However, Princeton is a puppet! Which is great. The whole show is kinda a throwback to Sesame Street when we were kids, and included great catchy tunes such as "The Internet is for Porn", "It Sucks to Be Me", "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist", "If You Were Gay" and "My Girlfriend, Who Lives in Canada". Its really a classic show and I highly recommend it!