Sunday, December 21, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Our Disinformed Electorate
December 12, 2008
by Kathleen Hall Jamieson and Brooks Jackson
We saw more aggressive fact-checking by journalists in this election than ever before. Unfortunately, as a post-election Annenberg Public Policy Center poll confirms, millions of voters were bamboozled anyway.
More than half of U.S. adults (52 percent) said the claim that Sen. Barack Obama’s tax plan would raise taxes on most small businesses is truthful, when in fact only a small percentage would see any increase.
More than two in five (42.3 percent) found truth in the claim that Sen. John McCain planned to "cut more than 800 billion dollars in Medicare payments and cut benefits," even though McCain made clear he had no intent to cut benefits.
The first falsehood was peddled to voters by McCain throughout his campaign, and the second was made in a pair of ads run heavily in the final weeks of the campaign by Obama.
For more from the informative factcheck.org site, follow this link.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
I'd just like to shake my fist a bit here.
*sigh* And while I'm shaking my fist, I am reminded when CB and I were talking about when to schedule the next visit, and I said, "let's wait until X (there was a good reason)", and he said, "you OK with that?" And I said, "I am now, but during that last week I'll be gnashing my teeth and shaking my fist because it's been so long".
It is now that week. Grrr.
On the up side, xmas knitting is going well, and I'm doing a couple of small things that have high instant gratification quotients.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
But there are some things that get put to the side with the intention of using them someday should the need arise, and I think it's interesting how one can't really predict what those uses will be. Over the last couple of weeks I've used three things that fit this description.
First, I was able to give away a glass pendant that I made that, while lovely, was too big for my taste.
Then, I was able to use two movie gift cards that Mr W got for a birthday present when he was, um, well, I guess it was for his 4th birthday (he's closing in on 8). Yes, I used them with him, Bolt in 3-D. Bought him a blue slushie with the rest of the credit on the card, too.
Finally, and this is the one that I think is the coolest, there was a nice little rock hanging around in my medicine cabinet for the last couple of years. How did it get there? Well, Mr W collected it, as kids do ("here, mom") when we were visiting our local canyon and I put it in my pocket.
At the end of that day, I must have been going through my pockets before putting clothes in the hamper, and put it in the medicine cabinet because I couldn't throw out such a nice rock (it had quartz and mica, after all).
Last week Mr W says, "I have to write a paragraph on a rock." They've been studying geology. I say, "hey, I've got one that you collected." And with that the rock was put to use.
Only time will tell if these events will make me more likely not to recycle that shoebox or throw away that egg carton, but it's been satisfying to use things I had been saving.
Friday, December 5, 2008
It’s not a big list, nor are they difficult projects. But I think therein lies my problem. I was looking at some knitting blogs today. Yes, I was at work, but waiting for the computer to process files (like I’m doing now). And these projects were lovely – lots of texture, variegated yarn, really delightful.
And then the scales fell from my eyes. In my attempts to make gifts that people would like, I think I have dummied down the project to the extent that I don’t find them all that interesting anymore. Of course likable doesn’t have to be boring, and I will henceforth start planning the next thing. It’s going to be something for… me. Something like that scarf.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
- The kid. As Mr W closes in on eight years old, I am delighted with how he's "turning out".
- The squeeze. CB's coming back from New Zealand today, and I'm thankful we're us.
- F and F. Friends and family. My circle of them means a lot to me.
- The job. 'nuff said.
- The house. Despite it being over 100, I love my little house and appreciate a roof over my head.
- Health. Of Mr W and my own as well.
- Living in Colorado. I know winter's coming, but boy it was a nice autumn!
- Sally Doodle Fuzzy Head.
Thanks to those that read my stuff here. Hope your Thanksgiving gives you the opportunity to appreciate the good stuff.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
It's funny how stuff gets to its proper owner. A few years ago I took a class in fused glass, and we made 5 pendants, all of which looked good in the making, but none of which I wore because they were too big. I've become more of a Sundance Jewelry sort of gal. But I liked them, and wished I could do something with them. I decided to send the best one as Ida's gift, and she said she liked it! Yea.
I received a package from Gro Vibeke, here's what she sent:
Seriously, every stitch on the socks is identical, unlike my socks, which have more, um, character. I'm working my way through the candy and think I will make myself a scarf with the yarn. A hat too, if there's enough. I am one of those people who knits but doesn't have a decent hat to wear...
This was fun, and I hope to do it again next year. I already have some ideas, and I'm going to keep up with the blogs of the ladies that I gave to and received from. It helps to read Norwegian, but luckily, they both speak English (yes, I felt like a dumb American) and they also post lots of pictures.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 PM - Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00 PM - Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 PM - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 PM - Milk bones! My favorite thing!
7:00 PM - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 PM - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 PM - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!
Day 983 of my captivity.My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects.They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength. The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape.
In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet.
Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a ‘good little hunter’ I am. Bastards!
There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of ‘allergies.’ I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage.
The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released - and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded.
I'm not as bad off as that poor cat, but I have been counting the days since I talked to CB. Usually when he's off working, he checks in every three or four days. Overall, I've been impressed by the degree to which there are internet connections in the places he goes.
Alas, this trip has not had such 21st century conventions. He's on a ship, cruising the sub-antarctic islands. Indeed, I hadn't heard of them either until learning about this trip. Perhaps there isn't an internet connection, or it's so expensive he's not using it, but I haven't heard from CB in 10 days!! OK, I guess it's 9, but still.
I'm fine, I have enough to do, and am working on no less than 4 knitting projects and one felted sweater that wants to be a bag. I certainly don't lack for activities. But this trip has made me realize that I like hearing from CB when he's traveling.
Thankfully, the time change on this trip isn't as bad as going to Australia, where it's either 8 or 10 hours earlier on the next day there. It's only 4 hours earlier on the next day. Hopefully that will be a plus when it's time to come back to this time zone.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
I have a habit of trying to work on several things at once, with the logic being that maybe something will pan out or lead me in a fruitful direction. I take good notes, and my lab notebook is stuffed with the loose paper of journal articles, product information, descriptions of techniques and the like. I hit my “full” mark in that regard a couple of days ago and have since pulled out the non-essentials and put them in folders that live at my desk but that I can take to the lab with me.
In looking over what I’ve worked on for the last 6 months, mostly trying to develop more DNA markers to tell closely-related mosquito species apart, I have made no progress. I see some interesting bits, but have run into a brick wall, not knowing what to do when something looks promising, but yet doesn’t amplify in every specimen that it’s supposed to.
I need to figure out who I can go to for help in this regard. I’m the only one doing this kind of thing here, so I’ll have to sniff around back at school and see if someone can hold my hand for a bit. This annoys me, and makes me feel like I’m spinning my wheels, but needs to be done. Otherwise my job will consist merely of processing specimens, with nothing new, no discoveries. That would suck.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
There will be learned discussion in the years to come about the specific meaning of this moment, about whether it will be more symbolic than substantive, about whether having a black president will lull Americans into believing that racism is a thing of the past. But for just a moment consider this small fact: for a long time a black man in many parts of the United States was denied even the honorific "Mister" by the white community, and was instead called by his first name, like a child, no matter how elderly and esteemed he might be.
Now a black man will be called Mr. President.
They never thought they would see the day, people said, especially the older ones, who could remember the murders of Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers and Malcolm X. They wept, some of them, and so did I. Perhaps it was because this man seems so young and vigorous in a nation that seems old and tired. Perhaps it is because he promises change and hope, and both are so badly needed. He is the president for our children's generation, a more tolerant and diverse society, so insensible of bright dividing lines that one of them would idly wonder whether Theodore Roosevelt was a black man. They belie a time when there was a crayon labeled "flesh" in my Crayola box, a crayon that was a pale pink.
But I suspect that, like many others, I wept for myself, too, because I felt I was part of a country that was living its principles. Despite all our prejudices, seen and hidden, millions of citizens managed, in the words of Dr. King, to judge Barack Obama by the content of his character and not the color of his skin. There were many reasons to elect him president, but this was one collateral gift: to be able to watch America look an old evil in the eye and to say, no more. We must be better than that. We can be better than that. We are better than that.
Let the change begin.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I never even pulled out my knitting. I drove over to the Hilton, which I chose because it has a Starbucks, and walked right in. Someone who really had it goin’ on created Voting Centers in my county a few years ago, so I could choose one of about 30 places to cast my vote. I had my voter card that I had gotten in the mail and my ID, which the nice poll workers checked and I didn’t really even have to slow down as they checked my info, gave me my ballot and directed me to a spot to begin.
I chose a paper ballot, although I could have done it electronically. I think the paper is less goof-proof. There were a ton of state constitutional amendments this year and it took a while to read each one. I withheld a vote on whether the cities that allow gambling should be allowed to offer Craps and Roulette – I really don’t care.
So here I am, back at work, and I am so impressed with how my county made it easy and painless to cast my vote today. Go Obama!!!!!
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Tickets are bought and I'm excited about Mr W's and my upcoming trip. I guess because it's getting late in the ticket-buying season, there weren't any flights home on the day I wanted, but we're coming home the day after that. I didn't want to wear out our welcome, but at the same time the tickies are expensive and I'd like to get my money's worth. As long as everyone's happy with hand-knit gifts, we're good. Anybody have a knitted Lego set pattern?
Trip to AZ:
Home again today. The visits with CB go so fast. I have gotten into a rhythm where I work most of the weekends when I don't have Mr W, and then take a long weekend off to either go there (most of the time) or have him come here. I do have vacation time, but not that much, hence working weekends. He's pretty swell indeed.
This new obsession with Knitting:
I'm almost done with one of the purple socks shown a couple of posts below. I've gotten a lot of satisfaction from the craft lately and have spent a lot of time on Ravelry, an online community of yarn people. It's been useful to see what certain yarns look like when they are knitted. This is good because some stuff that looks cool when it's on the shelf can be horrendous when knit up.
A reason to be annoyed with myself:
This Friday, Halloween is a school-out day for Mr W. I blew it by not calling to get him into the all-day day care and now they are full. Sh*t!!! I'm hoping his grandma can watch him for half the day, and then his dad and I can split the rest. I was good, even called too early about the last one, but forgot about this one.
I have a new doctor. No, nothing's wrong, but I saw an advertisement for this new doctor who is an internist that specializes in women's health and cancer screening. Sounds good to me. I have a doctor, but could take him or leave him, and he doesn't have these specialties. Having lost two family members to cancer that went undetected until it was ready to kill them, I want to be proactive.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
I have been matched with Ida, from Norway. She is an accomplished knitter, as I've seen from her site. I realized, though, that she hasn't seen much of my stuff, so I figured I'd post a few pictures. I don't want to end up with something too difficult for me to knit, but on the other hand, everything that's been a challenge so far I have eventually figured out.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Dad is kind of old school. I'm fairly certain he'll vote for McCain, and is pretty conservative, although I've noticed as he gets older he's able to see more commonalities among people than he used to.
So he sends me an email today, and this is what I see first:
Subject: Women's ass size study
And I think, oh dear, here's another forwarded piece of junk mail that I'll be slightly offended by and then immediately delete.
I read on:
There is a new study about women and how they feel about their asses, the results were pretty interesting:
30% of women think their ass is too fat
10% of women think their ass is too skinny......
The remaining 60% say they don't care, they love him, he's a good man, and they wouldn't trade him for the world.
And I laughed out loud at my desk, almost shooting my Crystal Light out of my nose.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
We go to our local library about once a week for books and videos. I pick out several books for him to read at home, as well as books we can read for bedtime stories. The last time I got books for him to read, I was excited because I could tell they were a step up from what he was reading over the summer and in first grade.
Fast forward to the first time I say, "OK, pick a book and let's have you read for 10." To my surprise, he looks at all the books and pronounces them "boring." "What?" I say. "You didn't even look at them closely. You know what you just did? You judged these books by their covers." He was unimpressed, so I asked him to read the one on submarines.
So I've been picking the book for him to read. I picked one out on prairie dogs, as we see them in their last vestiges on the edge of town as we take Sally to dog school. He gave me the usual "it's boring, it's too long" stuff and got to work. Lo and behold, he gets through two chapters and says, "we can read more of this next time, right?" Yes indeedy, my budding book lover.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Monday, October 6, 2008
Last May, at the end of the school year, I laid in a supply of long pants from the consignment store that I was certain would fit him when the start of second grade rolled around. Lo and behold, I have 6 pairs of pants that he never wore and are now too short.
He's a tall kid already, one of the tallest in his class. I'm thankful that he won't be picked on because of his size (one less thing to worry about). I did tell him, though, that his size then more or less obligates him to speak up for the kids in his class that come up to his shoulder. I don't think he gets it yet, but one of these days I imagine he'll get the opportunity to stand with some kid who is being bullied and hopefully be of some help.
We went back to the consignment store last weekend and bought some more long pants and hopefully he'll be set for a while.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
In other news
I walked around to see the props and scenery (the theme was "Neverland") before they let the kids in, and thought about my days at school dances. I went to an all-girls school (which probably explains a lot...) and getting dates for dances was always a challenge. As I think about it, there didn't seem to be an option for a person to attend with a group of friends or without a date. This seems grossly unfair as I look back, although I don't think the nuns intentionally meant to force us into the mindset that we had to attend social functions with a date.
So as I walked around (it's been some time since I've been in a high school anyway), and saw the advertisements for class rings and senior pictures, I felt a significant sense of..... relief. Relief that I'm well past the uncertainty and insecurity that were a big part of my social interactions in high school. I commented at dinner, 'if I knew then what I know now', and well, I'd have had a lot more fun. And I'm glad I'm here not there.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Cuttlefish, which are smaller relatives, have an incredible capacity to change the appearance of their skin in order to communicate with their squidly counterparts. Ed, over at the blog Not Exactly Rocket Science (a good all around science blog, btw) has a great post on the subject and here's a quote about how it works:
The top layer consists of specialised sacs of coloured pigment called chromatophores, which can expand or contract on command. By switching them from concentrated specks to flat plates, the squid can produce rapid bursts of colour.
But the key to secret signalling lies in the bottom layer. This consist of cells called iridophores, which contain stacked plates of protein separated by liquid. When light hits each plate, some is reflected but the rest passes through to the other plates below. The squid can control the size of the gap between the plates, so that they match the wavelength of different colours of light.
Go read the rest of the post, it's very interesting.
Seeing it reminded me of when I worked a couple of summers as a seasonal naturalist for the state park system in Ohio. At the training, we'd go through this catalog of films (yes, like we saw in grade school) on various topics that we were supposed to show at the campfire program on Saturday night. I tried to pick things that were either just entertainment ("What's that Lassie? Timmy's down in the well?") or sciencey.
One was on cuttlefish, and it was one of those things that you think, 'well, that looks OK' and after you see it, you think 'I can't believe there are creatures like that!' As they say in the video below, from a PBS NOVA episode, it's pretty wild that something related to a slug has such a complex brain. Did you notice how big their eyes are when they're not trying to hide them? Wow.
The NOVA link is to their website that has a lot more info on this phenomenon.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
After I was divorced, I didn't contact her much, and she, I guess, felt like the first move should be mine, so I've not really interacted much with her for the last few years. She's in town, and I'm happy that Mr W gets to see her on a regular basis. I of course have thought, "oh, I should call her and stop by" but I never seem to get there.
I don't have any reason anymore, if I ever did. It felt awkward, when I was first single, to think about including her in my life. But now, I can more easily remember that she and I have a relationship that stands on its own. I feel weird for waiting so long, but it's time.
So I think I'll stop by the hospital and see her tomorrow. There are still some nice flowers in my garden and I think she'd appreciate a little bouquet.
Monday, September 29, 2008
After I got off the phone, though, I thought about the things that had been going on over the last few days. You know, the stuff you talk about with someone who wants to know what you've been up to, and it went something like: hanging out with Mr W, doing housework, doing garden stuff, knitting, oh, a friend stopped over on Saturday, um, I think I'm going to have to go back to the dentist, um... umm... I'm still sore about having my manuscript returned... and that's about it.
I thought, 'god, I'm so boring'. Things seem exaggeratedly routine (if there is such a thing) when the other person is traveling on the other side of the world. And I've been on this knitting kick; I really like to sit down in the evening after the kid goes to bed and work on my stuff. I'm getting better at it and I enjoy it a lot. I'd post a picture of the socks I'm working on, but they're for CB and I don't want to ruin the surprise...
I don't know, it was this weird juxtaposition of doing things like gardening and knitting that I really do enjoy and actually don't think are boring, and having to talk about them, which made them sound boring.
I know I'm not really boring (I hope!), it was just a strange feeling.
In other news,
My boss gave a talk today that included the project I recently completed, as well as my coworker's ongoing work. There were four talks in the session, he was the first, and they asked people to hold questions until the end.
At the end, our director asked a good question about my stuff, and then someone else asked another question and both questions addressed areas of research I've told my boss that I want to pursue as a result of the work I did. He said we were working on those things and would eventually publish what we found out. Yea!
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
I think about what she would think of 'how I turned out' and I think she'd be proud. There are times when I could use her guidance, and it makes me feel that much worse that my sister's kids have to continue without their mom. It's not fair.
And I'm a little scared that if I'm not vigilant, I'll get sick and have to say goodbye to the people I love too. But this is more about missing Kris and Mom. So I will take a few minutes today and remember what these extraordinary women meant to me.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
So of course after I bought the first round, I was looking around Ravelry and found patterns that I really liked and wanted to try. Back to the yarn store, where I purchased the rest. I'm pretty sure I'm done buying yarn (and needles) for the season. The project list is loooonnngg. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to work on the socks for a while.
It's a reflection of her coworkers, too. She had nothing to do with this gesture. What I mean is that it's the awesome (and I don't mean that glibly) people that she worked with that made this happen. I wish I could be there.
She took a lot of pride in her work, and even though she didn't have an official title beyond being a floor nurse, when she worked, everyone went to her for answers. She filled up the supplies and kept the less engaged nurses on their toes.
It's an appropriate way to honor her.
I have a long history with nerve-wracking dentist visits. Family lore has it that when I was around 6, I asked Dr. Rossi if he would shut the door so my mom in the waiting room wouldn't hear me cry. He was sort of the "let's see if we can do this without Novocaine", but not always; I remember that I got poked plenty.
It seemed like I usually had cavities when I'd go to the dentist, but I suppose I have fewer teeth than there were visits, so that can't be true. When I was a freshman in college, I was persuaded to be the state boards patient of someone working in Dr. Rossi's office. I agreed because I would get several fillings done for free, and she was a good dentist.
After that, the anxiety sort of snowballed. I remember one visit where I actually (and involuntarily) kicked the dentist's elbow because he hit a nerve while drilling. Then the nice dentist at the health center at school introduced me to the benefits of gas and Valium.
I have to get a ride home, but that combination works really well. I still get a little nervous, but by and large I'm just there. I'm able to be still, think about other things and get through it.
On the up side, my teeth are straight and I don't have any signs of gum disease. And hopefully future trips to the dentist will entail only the replacement of work already done, like the fillings I had replaced today. And one more up shot - one is a white filling - it's like I got a new tooth!
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Monday, September 8, 2008
We grew up in Ohio, but she's worked around the US and overseas in the last decade or so, and is ready to settle in NY state. She's passing through CO on the way, so I'm excited to to get the chance to see her, and have her meet Mr W.
I wonder if it's because we shared some of our most formative years, but this friend is one of those people that I can pick-up-where-we-left-off with. Isn't that cool? It gives me a bit of insight as to why I am the way I am.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
My dear sister in law lost her dad to cancer over the weekend. Not unexpected at all as he was at the end and everyone knew it. It was going to happen any time now, and she said he passed peacefully.
But it is still a loss.
My other dear sister in law's grandfather passed about a week ago. I still am amazed at how long her grandparents have persisted. These grandparents who lived in the same house for a very long time, a lifetime, and who just recently moved "to town" so that they could be cared for in an assisted living situation. Imagine being 6 (the age of R and L's oldest daughter) and to not only have a doting grandma, but a doting greatgrandma as well. One of life's bonuses, to be sure. And it's a similar thing - not a surprise, but yet a loss, a hole is there.
To add insult to injury, R and L had to euthanize their nice little cat yesterday. Geez. Named Muenster (like the cheese), he was the companion of the now-passed Colby (big, orange, you get the picture) and was this geeky, bad-hipped little goofball of a cat that was a lot of fun to watch because you would swear he saw things the rest of us mere mortals could not.
Life does that sometimes. We have to sift through a lot of stuff at once, and only when it's passed and we've processed can we look back and say, "wow, that was tough." It reminds me to appreciate the times when life is not like that. When the big things I've got going on are getting the place ready for a CB visit, and trying to get Mr W and I into a smooth school-year schedule. Work is good, I have a good idea for a project that I'm going to pitch to my boss after having lunch tomorrow with one of my mentors and I'm happy the warm weather is done for the year. My kid is healthy and so full of questions lately (transportation using giant magnets, etc.). Heck, I even have three nice pumpkins from the garden that will look very nice on my porch.
It's what you make it, usually.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
So my job involves both finding markers that we can use to characterize species at the level of populations, and analyzing samples of mosquito populations from wherever. Still doesn't quite roll off the tongue, though.
I use DNA markers to examine differences between species of disease-carrying mosquitoes.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Around here, we have nice lab notebooks, Sort of a hard-back cardboard cover, black, with the words "LABORATORY NOTEBOOK," as well as the division where I work, written on the front in silver. Said notebooks are not just laying around for the taking, oh no. They are kept by the secretary of the branch I work for, and one must ask Vickie for one. She always gives them out when asked, but this strikes me as a little odd. Sort of like making sure we don't take more than our share.
Although I don't think anyone else has ever looked at my lab notebook, I like to think I keep good enough notes so that if someone had to replicate what I do (yes, I'm working on that post) they could do so. It's not particularly neat, but it has lots of information and references back to important pages and that kind of thing, so I'm pretty proud of it.
This is my fourth lab notebook since I started this job. I think they're getting more interesting as time goes on.