Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Three Cups of Tea

I had the good fortune to be gifted an armload of books by Alex's mom a few weeks ago. I have been slowly working my way through them. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin was a fascinating journey into the life of a man who has dedicated his life to educating poor children in some of the most dangerous areas of the world. The subtitle on this book is "One Man's Mission to Promote Peace...One School at a Time" and they really mean it. Mortenson is a mountaineer, and, reeling from the untimely death of his sister, Christa, set out to climb K2, one of the world's highest peaks (and arguably one of the most dangerous). K2 lies on the border between Pakistan, China and Afghanistan, in a most inhospitable area. Mortenson ultimately failed to climb K2 (by little fault of his own) and reeling from starvation, altitude and dehydration, he stumbled into a little village called Korphe. There are villages like this dotted all over the mountains in this region. Many are not loyal to any country and tend to not receive aid from any country (even though this particular one was within the Pakistan border. The people of Korphe took Mortenson in and took care of him, nursing him back to health. When Mortenson realized the children of Korphe were being educated outdoors on a large rock and had no classrooms, schoolbooks or school to speak of, he began planning how to build a school for this tiny village. This book is the story of his journey throughout the Pakistan/Afghanistan region (a region that is hotly contested and at the center of many US airstrikes now) building schools and community centers for regions of countries long ignored by their respective capitals. Somehow, Mortenson is able to build schools to ultimately educate girls within these villages. This educations includes moderate Islam (not the fundamentalist Islam taught in madrassas funded by extremist groups) and ultimately builds up villages in a highly volatile region. Mortenson is able to describe these regions, describe the traditions and beliefs of Islam and tries to explain where we've gone wrong in our "War on Terror". For example, Islamic law requires the "winner" of a war to care for the widows and orphans left in a defeated village. How well have we done that? Not well at all, for sure. This book was a great read, mostly for the adventures Mortenson finds himself in, as well as describing the region and the traditions in the area. This book opened my eyes to the possiblity of education being the best asset for us over there. Some areas only have extremist madrassas for educating their children. Hopefully, we can change this by building schools teaching more moderate Islam and supporting the education of girls. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in current events. It's a great read.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Dear AIG Haiku Friday

Retention bonus:
Who knew that word before now?
Economic plunge.


Disproportionate pay
for shoddy work. Should we bail
them out? I'm not sure.


I do know passing
laws for ninety percent tax on
0.1% bailout:


Get back to work, Congress. And start making some real laws!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

On Food, Culture and Me (con't)

Writer's note: this turned into a bit of a manifesto - sorry about that. In lieu of this, I am posting portions, not the whole thing - so as not to overwhelm completely.

Barrett argues that the foods we’ve invented and presented ourselves with are “supernormal stimuli”. That’s a big word for a simple idea. It was first illustrated in birds. Giving a bird a larger, more colorful egg that its own will cause the bird to respond and sit on the larger egg. Even if this egg is quite a bit larger than the bird itself. The fake egg is a “supernormal stimulus”. It represents an egg, but is much larger and more ridiculous than it’s own regular size egg. Thus, the bird would neglect it’s own egg in order to reproduce another egg. Most notably, the cuckoo takes advantage of this. The cuckoo mother lays her egg in another bird’s nest. That other bird incubates the egg and raises the young. Pretty crazy, right? So, the author argues that fast foods and processed foods have become supernormal stimuli to us – something we will respond to more than regular fruits and vegetables. In the days of our ancestors (and even now, in more remote and thrid world countries) things like salt and sugar were rarities. Now, they’re everywhere, and they’re contributing to an epidemic that is ever expanding. Do you know that we may be the first generation to have a shorter life expectancy than our parents? Huh? That ain’t right! More people are being diagnosed with hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, etc. More CHILDREN are being diagnosed with these diseases. More people than ever are on drugs to control things like depression, thyroid, blood pressure, cholesterol. And realistically, the best way to control those things is with diet and exercise (in some cases, not all – I am by no means a physician). She prescribes at least one hour of exercise a day and eating tons of fruits and veggies. Barrett also says something that I’ve known for a long time. If you don’t eat it, you won’t want it. I know it’s hard to wean myself off the sugars and salts. But, if I don’t eat it for a few days, I usually don’t want it. If I don’t eat the desserts after dinner, I don’t want them. Weird, right?

I think what all of this has told me is that it does matter what I eat. Alex and I went to the Indian buffet restaurant the other night. I tried to get some of the more healthy choices (but, really, what’s healthy at Indian buffet?): the veggies, the rice and naan and a tiny amount of meat. I tried to eat better than I normally do and I did not go back for seconds. That night and the next day? I felt like shit. Whenever I eat poorly, I feel like shit. I get tired and cranky and hungry more often. I get bitchy when I can’t get something to eat RIGHT NOW. And I’m finally beginning to realize why that is. Fast food is so processed, the vitamins and minerals that my body needs are completely gone from them. When I eat fast foods (or sugar substitutes, or anything with essentially zero nutritional value), my body takes what it can from it and then a few hours later, tells me I’m hungry again. Most fast foods create a “high” and then a “crash”. Oh man, do I crash. And I hate it. I hate to be the person that has to eat every couple hours. And I hate having the fat around my belly. And I hate feeling tired and lethargic and not wanting to do much. I know that a lot of this is due to my job. I work a lot and I am on my feet a lot and sometimes I get so burnt out that I just collapse. But I love my job, and I love school and learning: the whole she-bang. So, how can I do it better? How can I be better? What should I do?
Here’s the deal: the tiredness and lethargy are due to improper nutrition, as is that depression (the not wanting to do anything portion of it). Depression is not really understood, but here’s what I think is happening. There’s a region of my brain that has active cell division: that is, cells are being created all the time. When you are healthy, cells are dividing at some pace, replenishing old cells in that area of the brain. When a person becomes depressed, those cells do not divide as rapidly, they do not get replenished, so there is literally a “depression” in the amount of cells in the area of the brain required for regulating mood and emotions. Anti-depressants can help this situation by helping to stimulate cell division to replenish those cells. However, it takes a couple weeks for those cells to get up and divide and reach normal levels again (that’s why it takes several weeks for anti-depressants to kick in and start working). What else can expand those cells? Exercise. Usually vigorous exercise, something to create that “runner’s high”. I’m OK with that – sounds good to me. The hardest part is getting started. Once I’ve maintained something for a few weeks, it becomes habitual, which is great. I won’t always have to struggle with getting out of bed in the morning. Who knew?
I’m not sure whether I’ve connected all the pieces of the puzzle, but I feel like I’m on my way. I’ve connected eating bad foods to feeling bad. I’ve connected not exercising to feeling depressed and lethargic. I’ve realized that I DO want to be a healthy person and it has nothing to do with emotion or anger or jealousy or any of those petty feelings I used to have about myself. I’m trying to let that all go. It’s not about being mad at myself for craving chips, it’s about realizing how those chips will make me feel in the long run and avoiding it for that reason. Those cravings? They’ll pass. I’m sure of it. And if I eat a few, they I’ll enjoy them and get back on track right away. I already find myself eating less, just being more aware of what’s going in the old pie-hole. And I already feel a ton better by just committing to exercise every day and eating more fruits and veggies. I’m more engaged in my work, I feel less lethargic, I get out of bed in the morning and find I require less sleep. Granted, I’m not perfect, and nobody is. But I feel like I’m on the path, and that makes me feel great.

The End

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

On Food, Culture and Me (con't)

Writer's note: this turned into a bit of a manifesto - sorry about that. In lieu of this, I am posting portions, not the whole thing - so as not to overwhelm completely.

I also somehow obtained the book entitled Waistland: The R/evolutionary Science Behind our Weight and Fitness Crisis by Dierdre Barrett, a psychologist and professor at Harvard. Now, I am not generally pulled in y “self-help” genre of books, but this piqued my interest. Perhaps because of the term “evolution” in the title, or perhaps because it puts a behaviorist’s spin on why I behave the way I behave, I’m not really sure. The author starts out on an evolutionary perspective, talking about our ancestors, how they would be hunter-gatherers, eating upwards of 500 species of plants and animals, depending on the season and the location. This has greatly declined with the advent of modern day farming, encouraging more monocultures of fruits and vegetables (plots of land planted with a single plant species). This decreases the diversity of food available to us to things that we can cultivate and grow in large areas. And more recently, this has led to the selection of plants that produce pretty things that travel well. Things that don’t bruise easily from a long train ride, things that can be shipped a million miles and still arrive waxy and shiny on your grocery store shelf. I must admit, when I look at the fruits locally grown in my farmer’s market, I often think they look unappealing. The apples are dull and perhaps a bit bruised. The tomatoes are not as red. The strawberries are not nearly as large. All of these traits have been selected for, mostly to the detriment of taste, vitamins and substance. The author argues that it’s unfortunate that we’ve had to choose to walk away from our hunter gatherer ways to settle on farming. She argues that perhaps farming was not the great advance we thing it was. I’m not entirely sure about THAT point of view, but I definitely see her point. We’ve lost touch with the way we evolved. And we’ve lost touch with our food supply.
When I went to India and Nepal, I was fascinated. The trip was amazing and beautiful and really cannot be described in words. One of the common things about traveling is food – you have to try the local fare, sample it all. There were fruits and vegetables everywhere, ones I had never seen, and such wonderful things as watermelon juice and fresh mangoes. Fruit looked a little different and all vegetables were cooked to within an inch of recognition. One night, a fellow traveller ordered a chicken (a whole one) for dinner. The chicken came to the table, dressed in sauce, fresh from the tandoor. Everyone at the table began remarking about the size of the chicken. It’s wings were thin and paltry. The legs had hardly any meat on them. The breast and body were tiny compared to the American chickens we were used to. I began to think about this – which was right? Which was wrong? Had we grown so accustomed to our bloated, genetically modified meats that we no longer recognized a “real” chicken? Or were Indian standards for meat much lower and younger chickens were allowed to be killed? Or were these what chickens USED to look like before corporate American got it’s hands on chickens and altered them forever? I wasn’t quite sure at the time, but I am sure now. Our chickens are screwed up, man. They’re overfed, unexercized and fattened to the point of being nearly unrecognizable to the rest of the free world. While in India, I also saw animals being led to slaughter at local butcher stands. People would walk their goat or sheep to the stand, where it’s throat was slit and it was butchered for sale. I was mortified. Mortified. Even though I’m a scientist, I don’t handle blood well. I also think that seeing something like that could put me off meat for a few weeks. Then I started thinking about it more. Where does my food come from? What do the plants look like? Where are the animals raised? How are they raised? How are they treated? As an American, I have become so disconnected with my food that I have no idea. And for the most part, I don’t want to know. I don’t want to see slaughter. I don’t want to think about where my meat came from. But maybe I do. Maybe I should think about where it came from. Maybe I should know that it was raised on a farm in the middle of Iowa. Maybe I should know that it was confined to a cage for it’s entire life. I mean, I AM putting this stuff in my body, right? Shouldn’t I have some connection to it? Shouldn’t I have some sense of the sacrifice that animal gave for me to live? Shouldn’t I know what types of hormones and antibiotics and pesticides I am putting in my body?
The answer for me is yes. I should know and I should pay attention. And it’s mixed up in my head with my wanting to be healthy and live a long enough life to see my grandkids grow up. Another part of me wants to feel good about the food I eat. Another part does not want to support this ridiculousness that is corporate food. The whole idea of someone else “taking care of things for me”. That I have no say in how animals are treated or how millions of acres of corn are subsidized but broccoli is not. How thousands of edible vegetable and fruit plans are literally facing extinction because of the loss of genetic diversity we’ve perpertrated. I am not OK with that. I’m also not OK with how oil soaked our food has become. I’m disappointed with how far we’ve drifted from healthy operating farms. Farms used to raise lots of fruits and vegetables and deliver only to the local markets, close to home. Didn’t want anything to spoil. Everything should be fresh. Animals were kept on the farm because their manure was the best way to fertilize the land. Very little oil required. The Amish still farm this way, right outside the city. But we’ve decided, for some reason, that animals should live apart from the farm. Their manure should pile up and create toxic messes in feedlots and go unused for fertilizer or anything else. Crops should instead be fertilized by petroleum based products. They should also be polluted with insecticide just to make sure everything around them is good and dead. I don’t know about you, but I am also not OK with this.
Here in PA, there’s a huge deer problem. They’re everywhere. Just outside the city for hundreds of miles: deer. Don’t get me wrong, I love deer. I think they are beautiful and amazing creatures – ones I hadn’t seen in CA. The reason the deer population is so out of control is because their natural predators, mountain lions and wolves, have been eliminated from this region by overhunting. In fact, I am pretty sure the mountain lions of PA are completely extinct. This is disastrous for an ecosystem. The deer run amok, out of control, eating vegetation down to its last bits and pieces. Plants are unable to grow and reproduce properly and disease easily spreads among deer. As the population spirals out of control, and entire ecosystem can collapse, leading to the demise of many of the plants and animals that depend on some part of the ecosystem to survive. This is a bad thing, obviously. To a certain extent, we’ve been able to control the deer population by issuing hunting permits and allowing herd culls. The biggest problem with this is that it’s not natural selection. Hunters are picking off the deer that happen by their perch, not the deer weakened by disease or hunger, like a wolf pack might (and, of course, you might not want to eat the one sickened by hunger – you want the 12-point buck, right?). I’m not saying hunting is wrong, I’m just saying it doesn’t work to the advantage of the herds’ health. It the same thing with farming. We culture a thousand plants and don’t want some bug to eat the plants. Makes sense. However, killing off those bugs with pesticide kills off other things too, things that might be beneficial. Things in the soil that convert bad soil to good. Earthworms that turn anything they eat into rich dirt. Birds that eat the bugs. Etc., etc. I think I knew all this stuff, but I didn’t know it, really. Reading these books has brought it to the forefront of my mind recently. And it makes sense. Organic and sustainable makes sense. A lot more sense that polluting the shit out of everything.

To be continued...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

On Food, Culture and Me (con't)

Writer's note: this turned into a bit of a manifesto - sorry about that. In lieu of this, I am posting portions, not the whole thing - so as not to overwhelm completely.

Alex had bought me this book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and her family. It's a memoir about moving from Tuscon, AZ to a small town in Appalachia (Virginia) and living on a farm and producing all their own food. They essentially become "locavores", partaking of the food produced only within 100 miles of their home. Living in a farm community, this isn't very difficult for them once the growing season is underway. The family grows their own veggies and fruits, raises some chickens (both for food and eggs) and turkeys, and buys only locally grown meats, milks, cheeses, etc. for a whole year. I devoured this book. I absolutely ate it alive. I couldn't put it down, and then, as I approached the end, I savored it, making the last few chapters last a couple days. What Kingsolver and her family write about is astonishing. We are rapidly losing the genetic diversity among our crop plants. They are rapidly becoming genetically modified devils of corporate America, heavily subsidized to grow corn and soy which is processed to make such evil things as High Fructose Corn Syrup and feed for animals that do not normally eat corn and soy. Animals are bred to be heavier, filled with more fat and are fed on mostly corn diets, which poultry and cows have a terrible time digesting. They are filled with hormones and antibiotics to the point of ridiculousness and are crowded into horrbile feed lots, where they stand in piles of their own excrement, confined until they can (almost mercifully) be led to the slaughter. Poultry will often not see the light of day in their entire lives. Turkeys are bred to be so ridiculously breast-heavy they cannnot reproduce on their own. What kind of a life is that? How can you ensure the persistence of a creature, animal or vegetable, when it cannot reproduce by itself? What kind of monsters have we created? Not only is this true of animals, but also of vegetables. Certain companies (look up Monsanto, for one) sell seeds that are genetically modified to be resistant to their companies’ chemicals. Farmers cannot save seeds from the crops from this year to plant next year. They must invest again to buy seeds from that company again. Sound ridiculous? It is. And, it's subsidized by the US Gov't. Go figure. While completely supporting local farmers might not be in the financial cards for me, I will definitely buy meat that is marked "grass finished", or free range. In fact, I have joined a buying club here in the city, that supports a local farm in Lancaster County. I do not eat meat all the time, but perhaps two to three times a week. I am more than able to replace some of that meat with healthier beans and soy and spend a little more for animal products coming from animals treated with dignity and respect. This factory farming business, I want nothing to do with. I don't want that kind of blood on my hands.
To be continued....

Monday, March 16, 2009

On Food, Culture and Me

Writer's note: this turned into a bit of a manifesto - sorry about that. In lieu of this, I am posting portions, not the whole thing - so as not to overwhelm completely.

I've just finished reading two books that have really opened my eyes about a lot of things going on these days. As you know, I am the typical scientist, always looking for answers where there are none, trying to figure out the why and the how of everything I am involved in. Throughout my life, this has led me to bombard my parents with questions ranging in topic from cars, engines, airplanes, physics, mathematics, education, science, etc. If you ever meet me, I will bombard you with questions about what you do, where you live, what your life is like. I am the forever-three-year-old, wanting to know everything, and trying earnestly. In my life, this has led me to interesting and passionate discussions about topics I know a lot about (stem cells, evolution, education, etc.) as well as discussions about topics I know very little about, or are currently learning about (most recently, politics, economics, European "socialism", etc.). I am in an never ending quest for information; I want to be a life-long learner. More recently this quest has turned inward, to learning more about myself, why I do the things I do, how can I be a better person, when I am angry, what am I angry about?, etc, etc. I had never turned my ever expanding quest for knowledge on myself, and had never thought to, until quite recently. One thing that really provoked my inner searches was my move to 3000 miles away from home, leaving all that I knew behind and striking out on my own, in my search for my own life and my own path. Of course, this has turned into a massive learning experience, one which I would not trade for the world. Isolating myself from family problems and issues, ideals I had automatically adopted for myself, aspirations and my thoughts for my future, when surrounded by supportive family and friends quickly made me realize I couldn't do things on my own. Thankfully, I found supportive and interesting people to interact with here in Philly, and I leaned heavily on friends and family from home. I also turned to talk therapy, in the form of meeting with a social worker two to four times a month, to work out my feelings, emotions, ideals, etc. and to really get in touch with who I am and what I want to be and where I want to go. This therapy turned out to be for the best, as I opened "emotional" doors in myself that had never been opened. I began to realize who I really was, and I began to take myself a little bit more seriously. I realized that emotions to happen, and that I need to acknowledge them instead of ignoring them. I realized that I do have to take care of myself. I realized that I do have needs and I have to address them. I also realized that I am a pretty cool, unique individual, and that what might work out for me, might not work for somebody else. Most importantly, I realized that I could turn to myself for insight, help, conversation, ideas. That I am OK no matter what is going on around me.
However, I don't always feel great (not that I should, but just hear me out). I get tired easily. I have the ever expanding waistline that most of my peers have (hello, 30!). I don't get enough exercise and I don't eat enough fruits and vegetables. I am exposed to terrible, processed foods on most days of the week due to conferences, talks, etc that I attend on a regular basis. I work long hours, get home long past dark and have roaring hunger that is usually calmed by the "quick snack" of crackers and hummus and cheese (and not just one serving, either!). I have drawn the line in some places. I do not buy frozen dinners. We make most of our meals at home and try to include lots of fresh veggies and meats. We do not buy heavily processed foods, save for the triscuit like crackers from Trader Joes or the highest possible fiber bread from TJs as well. I bring my lunch most days, leftovers from last night, and I try to consume fruits and veggies most days. I belong to the gym at Penn, and usually sign up for two to three yoga classes a week (and generally DO attend them). I refuse to eat at McD's and most fast food places, although Qdoba might sneak in a few times a year. What I DO have is a sweet-tooth. I love anything sweet - anything at all, even if it's terrible. I sweeten my coffee in the morning, have to have sugar on my cereal, eat sugar-laden yogurt for lunch, buy Luna bars for the satisfying sweetness. I like fruit based on it's sugar content - pineapple is my absolute favorite. I love to bake: cakes for every birthday in my lab, cookies when I feel like it, candies if I'm feeling adventurous. I love to be in the kitchen without pressure: when I'm not starving and ready to collapse. I also know that my baking tastes a thousand times better than anything I could buy in a store or at a bakery. I'm not one to toot my own horn, but baking is born and bred in my family, no question about it.
When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time with Grandma S. She was born in 1904, lived through the Depression, and was a fantastic cook. I have yet to reach her level of abilities, but I understand her philosophy: good food, eaten in moderation. She had a sweet tooth, too, and generally had candy, cookies, ice cream and Jell-o in her kitchen at all times. It was a little kid's carnival, let me tell you. Once I came along, Grandma had a well-established pattern of eating in moderation. Both her and my Grandpa were fairly thin, although some age-related diseases might attribute to that. Grandma would eat one piece of candy after dinner to satisfy her sweet tooth. A box of See's candy would last months in their household. Not in mine. A box of See's candy will be gone in days flat, with me eating several pieces at a time, not even thinking about it. Same goes for anything sweet in my house - what is the difference between me and my Grandma? Why do I feel the incessant need to consume a million calories at a time? Why do I act this way and am unable to control my impulses? What on earth is going on? It was time to turn the tables on myself, and begin to try to address these questions.
To be continued...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Ode to This American Life Haiku Friday

Oh Ira Glass you
are such a card I love to
listen to you talk


Witty and funny
expect the unexpected
American tales


You make my day more
interesting Make me laugh
Improve my outlook

If you too, would like to partake in the radio program that is "This American Life" you can check it out on the iTunes podcast, or at www.thisamericanlife.org

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

An Historic Day

As I'm sure you can tell, I am a scientist. For the past 8 years, I have watched in horror as the Bush Administration dismantled scientific inquiry and made policy changes relying on falsified and incorrect scientific data. The state of science is something that worries me, not only for my future career, but also for the future of medicine and medical care, the prevention of diseases, the maintenance of health, the production of preventative care, our future generations, the health of the planet, environmental conservation and so on and on. There has been a marked shift in the way science is treated with the election of Obama, illustrated today by the reversal of Bush's ill informed ban on federal funding of research on human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). In no way do I want to tout the amazing things stem cells can do - they cannot. At this time, we know very little about what hESCs could possibly do. There are still vast limits on what we can and cannot do with hESCs. However, I do want to say that the possiblilites are endless; you just have to give us some time. I think it's amazing to have a President who values scientific inquiry. As much as Bush's policies tried to ignore veritable, actual science (endangered species, anyone? global warming? hello?), Obama tries to put scientific policy in the hands of scientists. I am nothing but thrilled and hope this is the beginning of a beautiful science/political relationship.

Monday, March 9, 2009


I must admit, I love this author. Although I tend to find errors in her writing and her scientific explanations, I just love her tone and her sense of humor. It helps to have humor when you are dealing with science. And I must admit, I kinda want her job. Just a little bit. Anyways, Spook is a book dedicated to exploring scientific evidence for ghosts, spirits, boogey-men, etc. She begins by describing ways to "measure the soul". If you've ever seen the movie 21 grams, you will recall that at the time of death, people lose 21 grams of weight that cannot be explained, and thus, is concluded to be the weight of the soul. She talks about the experiments that led to this conclusion, as well as many more experiments trying to test this hypothesis. In classic science form, Roach never makes any finite conclusions, leaving the "afterlife" open for interpretation. She does, however, explore current findings in "ghost hunting" and she does so with a wit that makes me crack up out loud. I am not sure if I love this book because I am a scientist and her interpretations of findings (and of scientists themselves) are so dead on (no pun intended) that I can't help but love the irony. Or if I love the books because she is generally entertaining and taking a subject most of us are uncomfortable with and making it a little lighter, and a little easier to deal with. She tackles a lot of different subjects, like "measuring the soul", whether electomagnetic fields or sound below the level of detection can contribute to either "seeing ghosts" or hallucinating things. She also talks a fair bit about near death experiences and whether they are real or not. Once again, Roach has made me giggle out loud about the absurd, has unearthed lovely, forgotten works (and worlds) and will hopefully continue to do so for a long while. If you are interested in science, the scientific method, and ghosts (or, if you have ever seen a ghost!) this book is for you. Read it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


My lab has turned into wedding central. In keeping with the theme over on Randi's blog, I thought I would discuss how weddings are slightly hysterical and ridiculous. (Sorry, Randi). One of the women in my lab got engaged this past weekend. We are all thrilled for her and she is so excited to finally be settling down (she's in her late 30s). The guy seems great (and supplies us witch copious amounts of chocolate, which is great) and they seem very happy. They are starting to plan their wedding and are hopeful the Catholic Church won't make them wait very long to get married (they want to try for kids). My other labmate, Lisa, is getting married in May, a wedding I will actually be in. They are getting married outside of Chicago, near where the groom's parents live. This past weekend, they visited Chicago and all the parents were there. Apparently, there were several HUGE fights over such silly details as gifts for the guests, the colors of the shirts the groomsmen will wear, the thingy that receives the cards and whether things would look cheap (since several things were purchased on sale or on discount). Lisa was so upset when she came back, she went to the local counseling service to sort things out. I mean, really? Over a party? What on earth can be that important? I realize this is a big deal: committing your life with someone else and doing so in front of family and friends, etc. I understand. It's a big deal. What I don't understand is the hoopla. I don't get why EVERYTHING is such a big deal. I understand if you are a party person, you like to throw parties and you like to dress up a lot. OK, maybe I get that. But this bridezilla shit? I just don't understand. Grown adults fighting over party favors? People screaming and being illogical over the costs of things? Worrying about things looking cheap? Are you trying to impress someone? Who? If so, then let me out of this, because you will never impress them. Are you trying to prove something? How amazing your decorative skills are? Because, realistically, nobody is going to remember if your wedding invitations were hand printed or computer printed. Nobody is gonna care if your party favors match your colors, or anything of the sort. Most people will not remember the designer of your dress, or the color of your flowers. Here's what you will remember: Walking down the aisle to the man you love and want to spend the rest of your life with. You will remember seeing the tears in your family's eyes. You will remember how special that best man or maid of honor speech was and you will remember seeing your and your husband's families and friends together for the first time. Yes, you should feel a little bit like a princess - however, I think you always would feel that way, no matter what you are wearing and how much shellack you have on your face. The room will be filled with love, and people who are thrilled to share it with you. It's not about the gifts, or the fancy dress or the hair-don't. It's the fact that you've chosen to share this moment with people who love you - and that's the way it should be. So, the next time the colors aren't right for the ribbons, or the guest book just isn't what you wanted, think about it. It's your wedding day, the beginning of the rest of your life with the person you love. It's not the last day of your life. And it's not the end all be all of everything ever. The more expectations you put on the day, the more you will be disappointed.
And thus concludes my rant for the day...

Monday, March 2, 2009

Snowy Day!

wish I could stay home
relax with cocoa and read a book.
Alas, no snow day for me.
Experiments call!