Friday, September 26, 2008

Also takin' names

Kickin' ass; takin' of names also goin' on. Yup.

(Hee - hi, classmate Kat! hahaha! I will simply say, "Loverboy. Red leather." and run away while one of the worst videos ever made plays in your head, mwaahahahaha)

Been a kick-ass kind of day. I seem to have perfected the "no available time ever" trick, at least this week, but it's been an absolute blast. First thing (groan, much toooo eaarrllllyyy) we held "Show Us What You've Got" aka auditions for "The Tempest" - and god, the kids were great. Really fun to see. We (um, MK and M and I) meet tomorrow a.m. to make our casting decisions and then send it all out.

Classes tonight were a hoot and half. Thursday is when I have a grad seminar on brain and psychology, after which I have lecture on neurodegenerative diseases. Today seems to be "me knowing the answer to stuff" day - professor in seminar paused, asked does anyone know what the Plato's cave thing is? And well I read all of Plato, yes of course I remember the cave story...

Then in lecture we had a weird bit of serendipity, 'cause somebody in class asked if the new multicolored tagging could be used to tag dopaminergic neurons, and the professor was all "huh?" and I was all "oh! you mean brainbows? I have that article on me..." which I did, 'cause I printed out the whole thing with supplements just because it's really cool and pretty - it's the November article from Nature, with all the beautiful colors. I had it with me because I was discussing it with some kids at the homeschooling coop who are really interested in Extremely Cool Science stuff, and I get access to tons of stuff through Harvard's library system (thank you, Harvard and the enormous fortune you spend on subscriptions to everything). Anyway, the professor hadn't seen it so I gave her my printout during the break and we had a small group "oo ahh pretty" - and back in lecture she asked "okay so these neurons were tagged with antibodies for tyrosine hydroxylase because...? hm?" And it took me a second, but I went "oh! because that's in the synthesis pathway!" (uh, for dopamine). Thank you, neurobiology professor. Yowza! Hot damn. I can't remember the last time I thought about neurotransmitter synthesis pathways, but it was in there, somehow or other.

(so, yeah, sorta getting in gear with things, here. it's way big fun. srsly. o yah. i luv when i am not lost and i get it. man, that substantia nigra loop is craaaaazzyyyyy, but we did it in neurobio and it was such a bitch to figure out that i'll probably never forget it ever ever ever.)

For fun I get to finish reading some Freud for the Tuesday class, then I want to look at the Kandel & Schwartz chapter on the damn substantia nigra motor loop thing, to see what the fiddly bits are that I never learned the first time through. I'm finding that in my down time, my default is to work. This means, paradoxically, that although I am overloaded beyond all reason, I am less behind. The downside is that I can't seem to remember what day it is, oh and I really REALLY have no life, but the neuro stuff feels so much like oxygen that I'm just taking deep lungfuls of it and getting all happy.

Breathe in, breathe out. Tra la. Happy, happy, happy.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

It was a sort of good year...

So from a meme Lucia posted, here's the hits list from 1982 -

1. Physical, Olivia Newton-John
2. Eye Of The Tiger, Survivor
3. I Love Rock N' Roll, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts
4. Ebony And Ivory, Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder
5. Centerfold, J. Geils Band
6. Don't You Want M, Human League
7. Jack And Diane, John Cougar
8. Hurts So Good, John Cougar
9. Abracadabra, Steve Miller Band
10. Hard To Say I'm Sorry, Chicago
11. Tainted Love, Soft Cell
12. Chariots Of Fire, Vangelis
13. Harden My Heart, Quarterflash
14. Rosanna, Toto
15. I Can't Go For That, Daryl Hall and John Oates
16. 867-5309 (Jenny), Tommy Tutone
17. Key Largo, Bertie Higgins
18. You Should Hear How She Talks About You, Melissa Manchester
19. Waiting For A Girl Like You, Foreigner
20. Don't Talk To Strangers, Rick Springfield
21. The Sweetest Thing, Juice Newton
22. Always On My Mind, Willie Nelson
23. Shake It Up, Cars
24. Let It Whip, Dazz Band
25. We Got The Beat, Go-Go's
26. The Other Woman, Ray Parker Jr.
27. Turn Your Love Around, George Benson
28. Sweet Dreams, Air Supply
29. Only The Lonely, Motels
30. Who Can It Be Now?, Men At Work
31. Hold Me, Fleetwood Mac
32. Eye In The Sky, Alan Parsons Project
33. Let's Groove, Earth, Wind and Fire
34. Open Arms, Journey
35. Leader Of The Band, Dan Fogelberg
36. Leather And Lace, Stevie Nicks and Don Henley
37. Even The Nights Are Better, Air Supply
38. I've Never Been To Me, Charlene
39. '65 Love Affair, Paul Davis
40. Heat Of The Moment, Asia
41. Take It Easy On Me, Little River Band
42. Pac-man Fever, Buckner and Garcia
43. That Girl, Stevie Wonder
44. Private Eyes, Daryl Hall and John Oates
45. Trouble, Lindsey Buckingham
46. Making Love, Roberta Flack
47. Love's Been A Little Bit Hard On Me, Juice Newton
48. Young Turks, Rod Stewart
49. Freeze-frame, J. Geils Band
50. Keep The Fire Burnin', REO Speedwagon
51. Do You Believe In Love, Huey Lewis and The News
52. Cool Night, Paul Davis
53. Caught Up In You, 38 Special
54. Why Do Fools Fall In Love?, Diana Ross
55. Love In The First Degree, Alabama
56. Hooked On Classics, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
57. Wasted On The Way, Crosby, Stills and Nash
58. Think I'm In Love, Eddie Money
59. Love Is In Control, Donna Summer
60. Personally, Karla Bonoff
61. One Hundred Ways, Quincy Jones
62. Blue Eyes, Elton John
63. Our Lips Are Sealed, Go-Go's
64. You Could Have Been Wih Me, Sheena Easton
65. You Can Do Magic, America
66. Did It In A Minute, Daryl Hall and John Oates
67. I Ran, A Flock Of Seagulls
68. Somebody's Baby, Jackson Browne
69. Oh No, Commodores
70. Take It Away, Paul McCartney
71. It's Gonna Take A Miracle, Deneice Williams
72. Love Will Turn You Around, Kenny Rogers
73. Don't Stop Bellevin', Journey
74. Comin' In And Out Of Your Life, Barbra Streisand
75. Gloria, Laura Branigan
76. Empty Garden, Elton John
77. Yesterday's Songs, Neil Diamond
78. Crimson And Clover, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts
79. Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, Police
80. Here I Am, Air Supply
81. I Keep Forgettin', Michael Mcdonald
82. Get Down On It, Kool and The Gang
83. Any Day Now, Ronnie Milsap
84. Make A Move On Me, Olivia Newton-John
85. Take My Heart, Kool and The Gang
86. Mirror Mirror, Diana Ross
87. Vacation, Go-Go's
88. (Oh) Pretty Woman, Van Halen
89. Should I Do It, Pointer Sisters
90. Hot In The City, Billy Idol
91. Kids In America, Kim Wilde
92. Man On Your Mind, Little River Band
93. What's Forever For, Michael Murphy
94. Waiting On A Friend, Rolling Stones
95. Do I Do, Stevie Wonder
96. Working For The Weekend, Loverboy
97. Goin' Down, Greg Guidry
98. Arthur's Theme, Christopher Cross
99. Through The Years, Kenny Rogers
100. Edge Of Seventeen, Stevie Nicks

The rules:
A) Go to Music Outfitters
B) Enter the year you graduated from high school in the search function and get the list of 100 most popular songs of that year
C) Bold the songs you like, strike through the ones you hate and underline and/or italicize your favorite. Do nothing to the ones you don’t remember (or don’t care about)

Holy flippin' record store, Batman. '82 apparently was a real low point in pop music. I do dimly recall hanging around in record stores near Ohio State's campus, trying to find stuff that didn't stink - you could sometimes get U2 as an import back then, I think; they were still playing in bars at the time. But holy crap! Look at that list! Loverboy's "Working For the Weekend"?? Sheena Bloody Easton???? Gack! Urgle! Blarghgghghhg!

On the plus side, I haven't thought about "Wasted on the Way" in years, and I do like that one. Yay. That wheezing "Through the Years" one is playing in my head now, too, though - blah.

Am I a grumpy old lady yet? Oh, good.

Classes are good. I better get back to work. Take care, all.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Back to crazy. In a good way.

Thanks for writing, everybody - it was a tough week, and you made it easier.

Now, back on track with homeschooling the kids and with my own coursework. Classes started this week! Yay! Looks like most of them will be relatively simple, and the one really challenging one will be great. I have labmates from biochem in *two* classes with me, which is a hoot and a half; we were scoffing that one course looked insufficiently hardcore, and then all were in seriously hardcore "neurodegenerative diseases" together the next day - much happiness all around.

So that's, um, pretty damn awesome. Said hi to the neurobiology guys, also ran into another former classmate or five, missed an attempted meetup with another. And after lecture on Wed., I took the kids to see the Batman movie! which was great! I had a wedding to go to last night, which was sort of an odd event but still good.

I'm emailing about volunteering a few hours a week in a neuro lab - we've been going back and forth a bit, mostly trying to find some time that I can go interview with them, which given the crazy this week, has been problematic.

My homework for a grad seminar is to do an online search on the topic I'm interested in (plasticity, for those keeping track). I got completely sucked in. My "mark this!" list is 156 articles. And that's just out of Science Citation - haven't even touched PubMed yet. It's really fun, reading along the article titles and going, hm, interesting, I actually know what the hell that is.

So when I checked email and found a digest from a homeschooling list I'm on, I took a quick look... and noted a helpful message about some fake science curriculum, online lessons in ... well, the only word that comes to mind is "crap." Voila, if you've the stomach for it (this is copied & pasted from the link):

Just look at the schedule:

Creation Science

September 22-October 28

Class One:
The Creation Week

Class Two:
Flood Geology, Noah and the Fossil Record

Class Three:
Evidence for a Young Earth and the Big Bang

Class Four:
Thermodynamics, Problems with Darwin's Theory, False Concepts

Class Five:
DNA and Protein, Ernst Haeckel, Human Senses

Class Six:
What Scientists Believe, Bad Science, and Hoaxes

When: September 22-October 28 on Monday
Where: Talk-a-Latte Conference Room Online
Time: 10CST-11:30CST
What: A Creation Science Workshop in Your Home!
Who: K-8th grade or anyone interested in the wonders of God's awesome creation!
How: Sign up here and reserve your seat!!

Excited? We are!

Gee, that's certainly exciting.

I just don't understand this mindset. Why must one's wonder at the universe translate to "my reading of this particular translation of Genesis is The Only Truth"? It strikes me as profoundly arrogant--the universe, and God if you believe in one, are far more complicated and beautiful and mysterious than a children's story. Even if I try and think religiously, I still don't get it.

Jarring, and weird: "Noah and the Fossil Record"?? Gosh, isn't it lucky that people who don't even feel competent to teach made-up nonsense have a handy resource? Boy am I relieved! I do wonder why they don't simply make up whatever they want to, rather than using somebody else's totally made-up stuff. I'm a little curious about what they'd say about thermodynamics - er, your hot soup cools off because...angels wave invisible magic coldness wands? Guesses welcome.

Every now and then, I get these little reminders of why so many people think homeschoolers are wackos. Sigh. I worry about kids going out into the world and making decisions based on bullshit, I really do. This is from an email list for homeschoolers in the Metro-West area of Boston, folks. Gah.

Rant over, now. Back to actual science.

Just for fun, I've set my template to translate (or maybe it's just transliterating) things into Hindi once in a while. So that's what's going on with the tags.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Two years

Tonight it'll be two years. Dh was pronounced dead shortly after midnight, Sept. 15, 2006. So I'm in a weird place right now.

I still don't know what to say, and it's for damn sure nobody else does, either.

I've been crying more this week than I have in a long while. At least part of my coursework overload is intentional self-inflicted suffering, and I know it.

What I've learned:
I am stronger than I know.
The people in my life are generous beyond all telling.
Fear is easy.
Risk is the only path to joy.
Joy is worth the risk.

There was a recurring dream I probably wrote about, which still scares me even now, where I was trying to follow a road that led to some foggy distant place, and the road went under water, and I did not know if staying on the road would drown me but also couldn't see any other way forward. I still feel like that sometimes: like the road may take me too far over my head, but I have to keep going forward anyhow; going backwards is underwater, too, and all of it disappears from beneath my feet as I go. The path is only there at that particular point when I am also there on it.

Blah. Getting all tangled up, and not making sense; it's that sort of day. I feel inarticulate, cranky, small, and a little lost.

Time to go grocery shopping, organize course material, do some laundry, try yet again to think of an appropriate plant to plant at the cemetary (nope, still can't spell it), maybe rearrange some things. Get some material ready for a Shakespeare workshop tomorrow. Email M. from biochem. Bustle, bustle. Classes start this week at Harvard Extension, which is exciting - yay! along with that, the campus pub starts regular hours again, another yay! 'cause they have great, cheap beer and are open until 2 a.m.

Sometimes things are great. Mostly they're fine. Once in a while, they suck.

Thank you, you guys. For the great, and the fine, and helping me through the suck.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Potions Master Will See You Now

Hi! I had an epiphany over the weekend about coursework and realized that if I take chemistry at Local State U (in addition to the 4 I'm already taking at Harv. Ext.), I will then be able to do the second semester of chem at HES. Which would get me ready to take orgo next year. Yes, I want to. It's amazingly good, that's why. And I could do an awesome neuroscience summer program instead of spending the summer taking chemistry. Yay!

So I spent most of yesterday morning getting signed up and parking decal-ed and poking the bureaucracy until it gave me what I wanted. Lecture 1 was last night (eh). And my first lab was this morning.

I have Snape for Potions. Really. First thing out of his mouth: a bellowed "Three of you are in violation of federal law!" Made those freshmen jump out of their skins, I can tell you. They had visible water bottles present in lab.

Since I am Snape, myself, I am fine with this--"if your cell phone rings you will be asked to leave and get a zero for the lab," the other arbitrary rules - it makes me laugh. It is going to be an interesting semester. Mwahaha.

How's the start of the school year going for you folks?


Friday, September 05, 2008

Contributing to the deliquency...

Well, I've already inflicted this link on a certain wooly person, and may as well wreak a bit more havoc. There's a sale at Timbuk2. You're welcome.

*I love my bag to bits. There is a new secret pocket every time I look, it seems, and a tether for my keys so that as long as I remember to hook them on, I never lose them any more, and it carries my laptop and fits many large books and is water repellent and sturdy beyond belief. Also I like it. Room for biochem textbook, laptop, ipod, keys, phone, student id, notebook, pens, wallet, a sock in progress, and I don't lose any of them. Amazing.

And I'm really not sure how far and wide news of this has traveled, but there's a new guild in town. I'm going, if for no other reason than to have an excuse to go into the really cool Frank Gehry-designed building with a legitimate purpose. First meeting is Friday the 12th. Anybody else? Hm? I offer my awesome driving skills and capacity to park in Cambridge resident spaces. I'm just sayin'...