Friday, April 24, 2009

Women's Health Haiku Friday

Health and medicine
better in third world countries
than here. What's the deal?


Better than a pap
smear Qiagen makes a test
directly for HPV


Leaves no question of
which strain you might have and the
prognosis. Wake up!

Dear Health care providers:
This test from Qiagen requires a vaginal swab and is quantitative rather than subjective (as pap smears are). It has been tested for over seven years now (mostly in India) and has proven more effective at identifying infection by HPV as well as the strain of HPV infecting the person (not all strains are the same; some cause cervical cancer or are related to other cancers, others seem to cause minor local infections which disappear over time). Wouldn't you want to know which one you might have? Considering over 50% of us women have been exposed to HPV - shouldn't we in the US have access to this test? Shouldn't women (like my mom - who had a radical hysterectomy in her late 40s) be more confident in a diagnosis of cancer (other than just saying "abnormal cells")? Wake up, medical community! Get the tests out there to the people! And start making preventative medicine actually preventative.
Concerned Citizen Ceedee

If you would like to know more about this here's the NYTimes article from a few days ago.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Trip to The Daily Show

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Intro - Dread
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

Yesterday, Alex and I went to catch a taping of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, one of our favorite shows on TV (even though we don't have cable - HULU is the best!). We've both been watching this show for several years, and we love Jon Stewart's humor. I can remember seeing him on old MTV shows (thinking Rock n' Jock or something of the sort. I signed up for these free ticket months ago, and we've been looking forward to it ever since. The biggest thing that sucks is the wait. You need to get there several hours in advance and then you pretty much do nothing but wait. I understand the point (getting the audience together, making sure everyone goes through the metal detector, etc.) but it was a long wait. I think it would have been fine if the weather hadn't been so crappy (hello, spring? can you come now?). ANYways, once we were in the studio, we had a blast. BTW, the studio is soooo tiny. I guess I'm used to the big-ass ones in LA, but this was super small. The warm up guy was not so great, but that's OK. Jon Stewart was phenomenal. He let the audience ask him some questions (no doubt, looking for new material or a challenge). Sometimes, people are so stupid, though. Seriously, who asks Jon Stewart where agood restaurant in NYC is? How dumb is that? First of all, you can afford to eat there (or even get in for that matter) and secondly, it's not like he can just go to ANY restaurant. He goes to ones where he won't be interrupted while he's eating. DUH! He did the entire show in one take, (seriously, no messups! so awesome!). All the correspondents on last night's show were there in the studio, which was great. The staff was super professional and seemed to be having a blast (how much fun must it be to work on that show?). Altogether, we had a great time and would definitely do it again. The train ride home, on the other hand - yuck! Let me tell you, Trenton is the LAST place you want to get stuck for 1.5 hrs after midnight.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I love it!

Eat Pray Love

We were fortunate enough to receive a box of books no longer wanted from Alex's Mom a while ago. I have been slowly working my way through said books, and Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert was my second endeavor. I have to say, I have seen this book everywhere. In every bookstore, on every shelf, as "recommended reading" by staff, the Book Reviews in magazines and all over the place. Often, that kind of turns me off. I don't love to read books that are just "popular". Especially since I once read a book by James Patterson and it was (quite possibly) the worst book I've ever read. So, I've avoided this one too. Partially because the tagline: "One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia" didn't really speak to me. Also because it's described as a spiritual journey, which I also don't really identify with.
All these things stacked against this book, and I actually loved it. It's another memoir, so you have to be comfortable with this woman's inner dialogue. Which I was not, at first. There are some things she declines to discuss, for somewhat reasonable reasons, but at some times becomes ridiculous. There are also things I could never do, things I cannot at all identify with (such as taking a year off to travel the world and write a book). However, there were a lot of things I did identify with, such as having a painful break-up, relying so totally on another person that you lose sight of who you are, searching for peace and forgiveness of yourself, traveling to India or Italy, doing yoga, etc. Basically, Elizabeth takes a year "off", moves out of NYC and moves to Italy for four months. She has the desire to learn to speak Italian, and thus moves to Rome, enrolls in classes and explores the country. Along the way, she makes many different types of friends and learns what it's like to actually live somewhere, as opposed to just visiting. In Italy, she indulges: she eats everything in sight, takes in all the sights and sounds and just slows her life down. She is recovering from a somewhat bitter divorce and wants to heal. Italy begins the journey to healing by allowing her to, literally and figuratively, eat. Without remorse. Which is a kinda cool idea, right?
She then moves on to an Ashram in India. An Ashram is another word for a community formed in hopes of creating and promoting peace among its citizens. The particular Ashram she lives in is related to "her Guru", her "spiritual guide", so to speak (for lack of a better term). While I am not necessarily a believer in either God or religion, I do appreciate the search for peace, tranquility and a "higher power", whatever that might be. She meditates daily, trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together: to ultimately forgive herself for her past wrongs, for her insufficiencies, and to move on with her life, filled with a peace and a love for herself that she did not have when she began. She then moves on to Bali, an island of Indonesia, and, as she's coming out of her haze, she lands in paradise. She spends four months there, renting a house, meditating, and meeting the locals. It sounds like such a rad trip.
Not only was this book entertaining, funny, and reflective, it was also touching. There were so many things in her book I could empathize with. So many situations, so many perceptions. She definitely captured aspects of modern American life and put it into such a different perspective. She colorfully and logically explains many different ideas that are hard to explain (spirituality, anyone?) and perhaps she doesn't do this perfectly, but she does it in her own manner, in a beautifully realistic and interesting way. It makes me itch to travel, makes me itch to learn meditation. It also makes me realize that sometimes, life moves too fast, with too many things going on. Sometimes you just need to slow down and appreciate things around you, simple things, like how your elbow moves, or how the sun reflects off the budding leaves of the tree. I'm not sure I would have ever read this book if it didn't literally fall in my lap. I'm very glad it did.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tropic Thunder

Alex and I are obviously behind on the whole watching of films when they come out. Because of the high cost of movie going in the city, we tend to Netflix things all the time. We recently watched Tropic Thunder. Oh my god. Alex laughed harder than I have ever seen him laugh. All I know is that Jack Black eating a bat just about did it for him. For me, it was Ben Stiller and his ridiculous character. I also loved they Jon Cryer look-a-like (whatever his name was). And a fat Tom Cruise? Yes, please. I can't even begin to tell you how many things I found funny in this film. I am slowly being converted to realize I should only watch funny films. All the other ones seem to be "too much" right now (you know, the economy, my thesis project, the planet, the government, all of it...). Give me "Simple Jack" any day. And those "previews"? Seriously? I just about died (after being slightly confused). While I realize this in no way is a synopsis of the movie or any description about what is good/what is bad, I just don't care. Go see it if you haven't. And if you have, fast forward to your favorite part and watch it again. And again. And again. I am pretty sure this will be a purchased movie for our family.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

RIP Harry Kalas

So glad you got to see the Phils win one for the city. You will be missed.
If you don't know what I am talking about, tribute video here.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Crunchy Granola

I think I've gone hippie. I didn't really mean to, but it just kinda happened. I'm not sure when it started, but I stopped washing my hair every day. Partially because I have a lot of hair and partially because I dyed it (and thus, want to make the dye last as long a possible), I just stopped washing it. It was a little greasy at first, and on those days I would just wear it in a ponytail. Soon, though, my hair started realizing that I wasn't washing it as much, and the grease really went away. Now, I've turned into my mom, washing my hair twice a week. And you know what? I love it! I take way less time to get ready in the morning. My hair feels great, and I'm using less water and less shampoo (both good money saving things).
Alex and I planted a garden (much of it still in the spare bedroom, thank you April Frost!) and we are really looking forward to harvesting our own food that we've grown ourselves. Gardening, for us, has turned out to be a bit of zen. It's a nice escape, it's satisfying, and it brings my mood down after the insanity of a long day. We've also just recently joined a food co-op. Local farmers from outside the city provide fresh fruits and veggies for us throughout the growing season. We're really looking forward to it for several reasons. Firstly, it's going to cut down on the time we spend going to the local farmer's market each week - hello, free weekend time! Yay! Secondly, we're supporting local farms and foods, which makes me feel better in terms of the amount of oil that goes into my food (prefer it to be a very small amount). And lastly, we are eating things that naturally grow in this region, things that are grown without pesticides and on sustainable farms, and thus helping to make a positive impact on our environment. We've been making more food at home, bringing our lunches, and trying to cut back on the amount of waste we create every day. Being a scientist, it's not very realistic to cut back on the amount of waste I create in a given day (unless I just stop experimenting all together), so I figure it's best to cut back on how much waste I create in the rest of my life.
Alex and I love to "trash pick". It's not what you think - living in a city with no trash bins (meaning, people put their trash out on the sidewalk), means that lots of people put their unwanted things out on the sidewalk, for anyone to take. We've scored lots of stuff this way. Walking home the other night, we noticed some plastic bins being thrown away and decided to schlep them home. For what, you might ask? We're building a worm bin. That's right. Worms will eat my garbage. I realize I've gone over the edge now. It's only a matter of time until I buy some Birkenstocks, start dredd-ing out my hair and start bathing in patchouli. Oh well, I guess I'm OK with that. All I know is that I will be so stoked when the worms make a nice little compost for our garden and we aer munching on tasty produce grown in our own backyard. Oh, and don't worry - I still shave my pits....for now :)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Der Keiker Blau

This is my cat. Her name is Shadow, but she mostly answers to "Kitty". She will talk to you and occasionally tell you an entire story and mostly she just wants to hang out, get her belly rubbed and sit in your lap. She's a snuggler. She is the best thing when you are home sick - she will just curl up next to you and purr. She's had some health problems, namely megacolon (for which she got a colectomy) and more recently diabetes mellitus (DM). When she was diagnosed with DM, I was a little shocked - I have always taken care of my animals - how could this happen? And then she became "unregulated", which basically means that I couldn't get her blood sugar to come down, no matter how hard I tried. We went through a battery of tests and finally she was diagnosed with something called acromegaly. It's basically a tumor in her brain (pituitary gland, to be specific) that causes her body to require large doses of insulin to regulate her blood sugar. I'm not going to lie to you, this will eventually kill her, we just don't know when. And treatments are experimental, at best, and much too expensive to afford on a grad student's salary. Instead, we've changed her diet (all wet food, she LOVES it) and have added some supplements to her daily food. She's actually doing well, and her blood sugar occasionally comes down, so I am hopeful we are on the right path. I found a message board on the internet which is a collection of all kinds of cat owners trying to regulate their cat's DM. It's been a fascinating few weeks, exchanging info over these boards and talking to other owners who have an "acrocat", as they like to call them. While on the board, one of the other owners contacted me, telling me she had some extra insulin, would I like it? Insulin is expensive, so of course I said YES!. She shipped me insulin overnight from WA - all on her nickel (I offered to send her a check and she politely declined). I've seen other owners with a newly diagnosed cat, panicked, putting up messages. Within a few minutes, there are responses, offers to help, offers of free equipment, etc. It's a whole other world. And while people have always teased me for having cats and being a crazy "cat lady", I try to take it as a complement. The people on the board are some of the most thoughtful and caring people I have come across in this world. If that's what being a cat lady means, then I'll take that as a complement. As for Kitty, I think we'll be all right. I know she will tell me when it's time for her to pass on into the great beyond. And for now, we'll just enjoy the time we have left.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Burnt Out Haiku Friday

Man am I burnt out.
So tired I could sleep all
day. Sanity Day.


Pushed myself too hard
time for a nap and some soaps.
Love playing hooky!


Will feel better in
a day or two. For now will
relax and kick back!