Oops?
August 27, 2008, 12:22 pm
Filed under: daily

So, I know I haven’t been writing. Excuse me while I go flagellate myself.

In my defense, I was in Amish Country and/or New Jersey for a week. There were lots of things to do.

Things like:

1. Sleeping.

2. Eating.

3. Not blogging.

4. Sleeping, while eating, while not blogging.

5. Sitting on the beach.

6. Reading on the beach.

7. Sleeping on the beach.

8. Getting my back burned on the beach because a certain mother didn’t put enough sunscreen on me.

9. Sitting, while reading, while sleeping, while getting burned. All on the beach.

10. Harassing my mother. Probably while eating, sleeping or reading. I am multifunctional.

All of these things were obviously overwhelmingly time encompassing. Forgive the delay.



What are YOU doing in Canada?
August 12, 2008, 8:58 am
Filed under: Current Events | Tags: , , , , ,

1. Why is John Edwards’s best excuse for cheating on his wife, “but her cancer was in remission!”? Since when is it OK to cheat on your wife as long as she’s healthy? Is it more heinous to cheat when she’s sick? As Maureen Dowd said in her recent column, “his infidelity was oncologically correct”. Wait, did I really just link to Maureen Dowd? AND AGREE WITH HER? Oy. John Edwards, what strange bedfellows your adultery creates.

2. Russia invading the South Ossetia region of Georgia to reclaim part of Russia’s territory in the interest of Russians abroad sounds an awful lot like Germans invading the Sudetenland region of Austria to reclaim part of Germany’s territory in the interest of Germans abroad. The difference is that Russia is weak, underfed, over-liquored and poor, while Germany was strong, fed, sober and rich in their military. Putin and his ilk are attempting to resuscitate the Soviet corpse, to bring back the ‘good old days’. Poor choice, Putin. It is bound to fail.

3. I had to spend 45 minutes on the bus going home yesterday listening to a Pittsburgh Democrat pontificate on the election. He declared that McCain will destroy the economy. He is pissed that McCain betrayed his fiscal conservative beliefs by hopping on board with Bush and supporting the Bush tax cuts.

I promptly had an aneurysm. Supporting the Bush tax cuts is part of being a fiscal conservative. McCain was opposed to them originally. By switching, he is actually becoming a fiscal conservative. Bush is not truly fiscally conservative, as evidenced by the huge amount of spending, but he did enact the tax cuts which created the prosperity of the past 5 years. What does this guy define ‘fiscal conservative’ as?

4. http://abstrusegoose.com/3



Glee!
August 11, 2008, 10:41 am
Filed under: Pittsburgh | Tags:

I adore Pittsburgh weather at the moment. Beautiful sunny skies, delightfully below average temperatures, chilly nights. Amazing sleeping weather.

Thank you, oh weather gods of Pittsburgh, for such a wonderful gift. Here, have a Primanti’s sandwich.



Autism, BPA, and librarians, oh my!
August 8, 2008, 10:32 am
Filed under: Current Events, Library | Tags: , , , , ,

I am going to be a librarian.

Many people have asked me, upon hearing my plans, “What? Why would you do that? We don’t need librarians any more. We have Google!”

I then promptly pull out my eyebrows and fling them at the offender.

Yes, we live in the information age. Any damn fool can get onto the internet, and a wealth of information is available at their fingertips. Who needs librarians to open the door for you? You can walk in yourself now!

There is an inherent problem with this. Just like you can’t believe everything you see on TV, you can’t believe everything you read online. If you’re a brand-new inductee to the Internet, you might not realize that. If you have an agenda or a prejudice about a given topic, you might put on blinders. There is a lot of trash on the Internets (LIKE THIS BLOG, FOR INSTANCE! See? Solid proof).

When information can spread like wildfire across the Internet, misinformation is common. You can tell people to only use .org, .edu, or .gov for trustworthy resources, but often, they only hear what they want to hear. Many people never hear the message about .org, .edu, and .gov. I wish I could walk around with a sign on my forehead that says, “.ORG, .EDU, .GOV, OR DIE!” But then everyone would know that I’m a nutjob.

Case in point: Autism and vaccines. Countless studies have been performed over the years that show that there is no discernible link between childhood vaccinations and autism. Autism appears at the same time that vaccinations are given. So does potty training. Do cotton underpants cause autism? Doubtful. Correlation does not equal causation. Or, just because two things are related does not mean that one causes the other.

For instance, violent crime increases in the summer. So do ice cream sales. Does ice cream cause crime? No. Heat inspires people to eat ice cream, and it also can flare tempers that can result in violent crime.

Do vaccines cause autism? No. They simply happen to occur at the same time. Even when thimerosal, the preservative that was blamed was removed from all vaccines, the rate of autism diagnosis continued to rise. In fact, the rate of autism is the same for children who are vaccinated and children who are not. Where is the evidence that vaccines cause autism?

However, websites abound that claim this. There have been hearings in Congress about this. There are organizations and groups that are still spreading this information, and they look real. They are lying to you. If this misinformation were to catch hold, no children would be vaccinated. Suddenly, we would have measles, mumps, chicken pox, rubella, meningitis, HPV and hepatitis running rampant. How is that a good thing? Of course autism is an awful diagnosis. But children dying of preventable diseases in droves is worse.

Case in point: BPA! What is BPA? Bisphenol-A. It is a polymer found in plastics stamped ‘7’. It is extremely common. It has been found that rats who are given high doses of BPA are at an elevated risk of developing cancer. The amount that they consume is generally around 10x the amount that humans are exposed to.

So, our illustrious Congress make a fuss about it, and every plastic and polymer maker (including the polymer maker that Bear for whom Bear does polymer research) is scrambling to pull BPA out of its products, and find a replacement.

Why? Because an extremely large quantity of something caused potential harm to rats? The dose is the poison. Water is large quantities can kill you. Remember the woman who died after drinking a lot of water to win a Wii for her kids? Too much food can kill you- look at all the obese people who are slowly dying of diabetes, heart disease, and related problems. Should we ban food and water? Bear needs to take insulin every day in order to live. Should he give himself a whole bottle of insulin, just in case? No, he would definitely die then. He needs a very precise amount.

The amount of BPA that leeches from baby bottles in dishwashers is a miniscule fraction of the amount given to the rats. Millions, perhaps billions, of children (INCLUDING ALL OF US GROWNUPS WHO ARE HERE AND HEALTHY) were fed using BPA bottles. Where is the evidence that the small amount we may consume is harmful?

This hysteria is unnecessary. So is the hysteria over vaccines and autism. Scientific research has shown over and over that these things are not a problem. The risk of danger from banning vaccines is far greater than the risk of danger from banning BPA, but they are still evidence of a greater problem: misinformation on the Internet. This hysteria wouldn’t reach this point if we didn’t have the Internet. We shouldn’t ban the Internet: what would I do at work? However, librarians are trained information seekers. The purpose, the raison d’etre, of librarianship is to enable the user to access information that is reliable and authoritative. The Internet does not do that. Google does not do that. It simply opens the door.

So, don’t tell me that librarians aren’t necessary. Somebody has to help you figure out why it’s ok to vaccinate your kids and let them touch BPA plastic. We’re good for your blood pressure!

So, here: if you don’t believe me, check out these RELIABLE, AUTHORITATIVE sources:

http://www.bisphenol-a.org/

http://www.nichd.nih.gov/publications/pubs/autism/mmr/

Unfortunately, I found a .org website that sits on the fence about vaccines and autism. I will not link to it, because I refuse to spread the misinformation. Officially, they do not come out and say that autism and vaccines are linked, but if you touch them with a feather, they will fall off the fence on that side. They also provide no evidence, no links, and no authority. Always trust a site that links to its sources, or provides appropriate citations. Never trust a site that merely presents its point of view with no evidence to back it up.

There are more where that came from, but both of those cover all the necessary info.



Hi? I have no blood.
August 8, 2008, 8:43 am
Filed under: daily

I know I finished school a week ago.

And I know I said I would start posting more in my 3 week break.

I guess I lied. This week has been the ‘challenge’ week for the drug trial. They give it to me 4 times in 4 days to, I don’t know, make sure that I don’t die from it? I had to go to the hospital in order for this to happen, because, I don’t know, if I DO die from it, being in a hospital is the better place to be. Or something.

However, in order to do this AND work (because I am poor. Poor poor poor), I needed to get there at 7 am. It takes me around 45 minutes to get to Oakland and weave my way through Montefiore hospital, so I needed to be on the T by 6:15. Which means I had to get up at 5:30 am. Before the sun was up.

Add to that (whisper) one (1) menstrual period (ew! gross! sorry, but you obviously need ALL THE DETAILS). Add to that a drug that makes me retain water (what a strange phrase. But kind of uncomfortable). Add to that all the blood they took from me every day, and twice yesterday, PLUS all the blood I’m losing from (whisper) my period and my God, I fell asleep while playing Mario Party 8.

So, sorry that I couldn’t post. I also argued with myself about whether or not I actually needed to pee that badly, because this sofa is just so darn comfy. And zzzzzz.

But! I did not have to be in Oakland at 7 am this morning! Nor is anyone going to take my blood away from me (there’s none left anyways). The drug seems to be doing it’s thing in reducing my bleeding which is making my (whisper) period better, and shorter. I am clearly much better this morning.

Also, I got a 4.0 this semester. That means straight A’s. I haven’t pulled that off since high school. Stupid molecular biology major kept getting in the way between me and perfection. NOT ANY LONGER. AM NOW PERFECT.

Till next semester, of course. Kevin took me out for ice cream to celebrate. The nice people at Bruester’s gave her a doggie dish of ice cream with a dog biscuit in it. I have never seen her so singularly focused on one thing as when she was furiously licking that ice cream. She may have licked off a few layers of plastic, too. OH NO. BPA WILL KILL HER.

So, I might start working on a few posts of real, actual, quality content today that I can post as I please. I might not, too. You never know.

In the meantime, LOOK AT THE CUTE PUPPY.

Ninja dog is sitting on your landing, guarding your Febreze.



Monday morning mix
August 4, 2008, 8:45 am
Filed under: daily | Tags:

1. My uterus is still vacant.

2. I survived 5 thunderstorms while camping. The dog is still exhausted. She spent the whole time running and visiting and swimming and sniffing and having a grand old time.

3. I am getting into a lot of reading now that I have nothing else to do. It is delightful.

4. My Grandma is going to be removed from hospice. Because you know, she’s not dying. Anymore. My aunt and my father decided that she’s never actually going to die, and the grandchildren will have to take over paying her bills eventually.



There’s no reading in Fayette County!
August 1, 2008, 10:08 am
Filed under: Books, Library | Tags: , , ,

I am from a book-worm family. My father spent his early years getting into trouble because his mother wouldn’t teach him to read. In her defense, the theory in the 40’s (yes, my dad is that old) was that only teachers were qualified to teach anything, and parents would screw it up. So, she didn’t teach him to read. She did send him to school a year early to get him out of her hair. You know, because he did things like vacuum the water out of the toilet, and set the stove on fire.

When he did learn how to read, he never stopped. When I was little, he would read poetry to me at night. When I learned how to read, I practiced by reading poetry to him.

Shortly after that, I began reading the newspaper in the morning. He’s regretted teaching me how to read ever since.

I was an English major in college because I had room for an extra major. I wanted to take classes where I would read novels. English classes fit that bill. I am one third of a librarian as of today.

You might say that books are an integral part of my life.

So it astonished me to hear this story from Bear’s parents:

They went camping near Confluence, Fayette County last summer. We’re all going camping there this weekend, actually. There’s a pretty lake, nice campgrounds, fun stuff. His aunt and uncle were there, as well, and his uncle ran out of reading material. They decided to head into town to get some supplies and see if he could find a bookstore of some sort.

They didn’t see any, so they stopped in another store and asked where they might find some books.

The girl working at the counter said, mystified, “Books? Why would you want books?”

The closest they found was a shelf of Jesus books at the local grocery store. Bear’s uncle had to do without books for the rest of the trip.

I was astonished to hear this. I discussed it with Dan, who didn’t believe it was possible either. So, we did a google map search looking for the nearest libraries to Confluence. These people are poor, because it’s Fayette County, so free books would be best.

Confluence has the arrow. The nearest bookstores are in Uniontown, Connellsville and Somerset.

41 minutes to Uniontown!

31 minutes to Somerset!

Let’s look for bookstores, now.

My commentary about the names might be hard to read. I said “Really?” to Accident, I laughed at Normalville, and I questioned Elk Lick and Upper Turkeyfoot.

Really? Upper Turkeyfoot? Wouldn’t that be Turkey Ankle? Is there a Lower Turkeyfoot? What is a turkeyfoot? Why are you naming things after them? WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PART OF THE STATE.

I know, I know, I’m being judgmental. I grew up just past the Philly suburbs in a populated area. I moved to Pittsburgh. I work in a library system that has over 5 million volumes, and I have the entire Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh at my fingertips. I am from a different world, you might say, than the folks of Fayette County.

BUT MY GOD. These people have to drive at least a half hour to get to a library or a bookstore. No wonder that girl was mystified as to why someone would want to read.

We’re leaving to go there this afternoon. If I don’t return, it’s because I was captured and punished for my insolence of bringing reading material to the Anti-Book Bubble. Flagellation ensued.

Or the bugs ate me. One or the other.