Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Okay, so yesterday I noticed a survey on Universal Hub that asked whether or not Massachusetts should require the cervical cancer vaccine. I thought that this was odd; I mean, really, who would opine against something that prevents cancer? I logged my vote and was stunned to see the “no’s” winning. WHAT? (spoken in incredulous, Borat- voice). Seriously, who likes cancer?
As a microbiologist who specializes in infectious disease (yes, I know I’m only a grad student, but I know my stuff when it comes to nasty pathogens.) , I find it highly upsetting that people would be opposed to this vaccination program. HPV (human papilloma virus) is a serious problem in the United States. Here's an article with some good information about the disease, the vaccine, and infections rates, which vary from 1 in 2 to 1 in 5 in the U.S. HPV is the major cause of cervical cancer, which kills 300,000 women a year worldwide. The vaccine prevents HPV infection and therefore blocks the major cause of cervical cancer. Really, that’s all you need to know: Cancer bad. Vaccine block cancer. Vaccine good.
So, why are people against it?
There seem to be two major arguments. The first is of the "it's just a money maker for Merck" vein of skepticism. Or people who are opposed to vaccination in general (but that's a rant for another day). Yes, Merck will make money on the HPV vaccine, but Merck spent millions of dollars in funding research and development in order to create the vaccine. And it works. And it's a lot cheaper (and far more pleasant) to get a vaccine than to undergo treatment for cancer.
The second, and the one that really makes me angry, is the "it will encourage teenage girls to have sex" line of opposition. It's the same ridiculous argument that was used against sex ed programs the late 80s when AIDS came on the scene. Talking about sex, or STDs, does not encourage people to have pre-martial sex. Let's get realistic. Currently, 24.5% of girls ages 14 to 19 in the United States are infected with HPV. Like it or not, many teenagers have sex. Vaccinating them against HPV prevents them from developing a common and deadly form of cancer. Really, what's not to like about this plan? Vaccinate the population, reduce cancer rates. Does the opposition prefer that those sinful girls will get cancer? Wouldn't that teach them a lesson! Would these same people be opposed to an HIV vaccine, if it existed? "Well, they shouldn't be having sex anyways." Grrrr....
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
UPDATE: The correct answer for how I got my black eye is....
D. Lost my balance and fell while removing my shoes.
Congratulations to Kara and Tricia, the only two to guess correctly. Here's what happened*....I was wearing high-heeled boots, and instead of sitting down to remove them, I stood on my right foot, lifted up my left leg, and bent forward to undo the zipper on the left boot. Then, I lost my balance, pitched forward, and face planted on the floor. Because I'm awesome.
*Yes, I was drunk at the time. I don't know if that makes the story more or less embarassing.
To balance out the gross bruise pictures, here's one of Caro, José, and me enjoying a magnificent yacht of sushi. Carolina gave her first departmental seminar yesterday, so we celebrated by having dinner at Typhoon.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
B. Banged my forehead on the kitchen counter while sneezing.
C. Slammed into the wall playing indoor soccer.
D. Lost my balance and fell while removing my shoes.
Theo’s life gets shaken up when his ex-wife, a leader of an underground revolutionary movement, contacts him and asks him for a favor. She wants him to transport a young, female refugee to the coast. The catch? The girl is pregnant.
I won’t give away any more of the plot, but the movie soon turns into a long chase, followed by a visceral urban warfare scene It’s intense, and I wasn’t really expecting an action film. I did like it, though. Some of it reminded me a bit of 28 Days Later, or V for Vendetta (why are these futuristic disaster movies always set in England?) , and some of it is more biblical in allusion, like when Kee reveals her miraculous pregnancy to Theo in a barn.
As for what happened? Hmmm, it's like the lamest, dumbest thing ever. The truth need not be revealed. I am clumsy and ridiculous.
I'll post a photo in a day or two when it ripens.
Friday, February 23, 2007
Also, looks like Corey Dillon plans to retire instead of coming back to play another season for the Patriots.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
and now onto the frivolity.....
Something I hate...when someone asks to look at your cell phone and you have to try to slyly wipe off the face grease before you hand it to them. I never noticed it as much until I got the Razr- something about the wide, smooth, metallic surface is a magnet for face grease. Gross.
I don't like clowns much, either, but this is taking things too far. (Tragic, indeed, but I laughed out loud when I read the headline. So will you. See you in hell.)
Lastly, for the past couple of weeks there has been a HUGE spike in the number of people looking at my blog (I can track it using Google Analytics) and I just figured out why. People googling Ralph Fiennes and spelling his name wrong (Ray Fines) are all getting sent to this boring post of mine. Like, hundreds of people. Why is everyone googling Ralph Fiennes all of the sudden? Oh, because a stewardess was fired for initiating him into the Mile High Club. DIRTY!
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
BINGO! APR reduced from 18.99% (I told you it was high) to 9.99% - that's almost cutting it in half! It's going to save me like $300 a year in interest.
Yes, I do realize I should have done this years ago.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Caro and I snagged tickets to the Sunday night show at Fenway Park.
In celebration, here's Canary in a Coalmine. (Right click and save.)
Is anyone downloading the tracks I've been posting? Are they working OK? I think I may be getting a bit carried away with my new music hosting abilities.
Monday, February 19, 2007
Charles Barkley races a 67 year old ref. Question: How much do I love Charles Barkley? Answer: a lot.
Shaq, LeBron, and Dwight Howard breakdance. I like it when Shaq makes Howard's jersey move like he has an alien in his stomach.
Gerald Green's first and best dunk. (I do think the judges were throwing a bone to the lowly Celtics by letting him win.)
Dwight Howard slaps a sticker of himself at the top of the backboard. Impressive. Barkley calls MJ "the Russian judge" for only giving him an 8.
I have a special place in my heart for dunk contests because I once participated in one. In college, there was an annual all-night sports tournament called Late Night Olympics, and between events, they have various activities to keep everyone entertained. One of them was a dunk contest. They lowered the rim from 10 feet to 9 feet for the guys and 8 feet for the girls. It was the perfect height, because it was high enough to be challenging (I am 5'9" and was the shortest participant), but low enough so you could screw around a bit and still pull of the dunk. My friend Lauren and I competed against a few behemoth members of the women's varsity volleyball team. Luckily, before the competition, one of the guys took a shining to us and gave us some tips. "It's all about the flair, ladies! Be creative! Hang on the rim!" We cracked ourselves up practicing some of the typical show-off moves.
When the contest began, there were about 500 people watching, so there was a distinct potential for epic embarrassment. The volleyball mammoths just did straight-up dunks, whereas Lauren and I got fancy...spinning in the air, slapping the backboard, or slamming the ball off the ground to catch it in the air for the dunk. The judges loved our stuff. She came in first and I came in second place, in what was the highlight of my basketball career.
Here's the answer.
I got 23. The 19th century was kind of a blur for me.
Don't look at the comments until after you've finished, so we can discuss some names there.
Saturday- After spending the good part of the morning freeing my car from a sheet of ice (it required three persons, a burlap sack, and a file folder to get it out), I drove down to Newport and to meet a psychic at Applebee’s. No, I am not kidding. I’ve always wanted to go to a psychic, for pure curiosity’s sake, and one was recommended to me by a friend in Newport. Perfect excuse for a day trip. The psychic’s name was Darlene, she’s Cape Verdean, and she communicates with angels, who apparently suggested Applebee’s. The other two friends I went with (with whom I went….oh, proper grammar is so laborious sometimes) enjoyed it a lot more, and definitely had a few “how did she know that?!?” moments of amazement. Mine, however, was a bust. The couple of times she tried to guess things about me, she was way off. Like “You work in an office.” “No, I work in a laboratory.” “Well, to me, it looks like an office.” Her predictions were on the vague side. Changes are coming, you will be happy, etc…So, my curiosity has been satisfied, but I don’t think it’s something I’ll ever spend my money on again. Maybe I’m just disappointed that she didn’t predict that I was destined for greatness.
After the psychic readings, we tooled around the city a bit, and although it was cold, it was a beautiful, sunny day. I love going to the beach in the winter. New England winters are much more tolerable than those I spent in the Midwest; they aren't any warmer, but at least the sun comes out every once in a while. I hated the months of gray, bleak skies in Indiana.
I played soccer Saturday night and I'm still sore today from getting slammed into the boards. I can't complain, because I do it to people ALL THE TIME. Slamming people into the boards is the best part about playing indoor soccer.
Sunday- I woke up early, finished a book (I Capture the Castle….it was great; I’ll write about it later.), watched a German movie about a neurotic cook called Mostly Martha, made myself a pancake breakfast, but still couldn’t shake the blue feeling I had from the book’s sad ending. The main character reminded me a little of myself, in that her reality rarely lives up to her imagination. I got in the car and turned on the engine, and the song "Everybody Plays the Fool" was playing on the radio (here's the original Main Ingredient version...did you know that Cuba Gooding, the father of Cuba Gooding Jr., was their lead singer? Yeah, me neither.), which struck me as rather appropriate.
Friday, February 16, 2007
The highlight of the party was the no hands cupcake eating contest, which was much more difficult that it sounds, especially if you start laughing and chunks of cupcake fly out of your mouth and you have to locate and continue eating them. Team Chocolate won, but they cheated, so Team Vanilla captured the true championship.
And because it's Friday and I'm in a good mood, here's a delightful love song for your downloading pleasure.
Queen of the Surface Streets, by Devotchka:
I don't need the money
I couldn't care
'Cause everything I want is standing right here
I would live on the street in a cardboard shack
Just to worship your feet and the curve of your back
You'll be my only preoccupation on a permanent vacation
Now I will move these rocks for you my love
I will tear them up out of the Earth
And I will bend my spine 'til it's quitting time
'Cause I know what your love is worth
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
1. The Beatles - All You Need Is Love
2. Al Green - Love and Happiness
3. Barry White - Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe
4. The Partridge Family - I Think I Love You
5. The Arcade Fire - Crown of Love
6. Bloc Party - This Modern Love
7. Fleetwood Mac - Say You Love Me
8. Jamiroquai - Love Foolosophy
9. Madonna - Forbidden Love
10. Pearl Jam - State of Love and Trust
11. Talking Heads - Love-Building on Fire
12. Frank Zappa - Dirty Love
13. The Pixies - La la Love You
14. Beck - Think I'm in Love
15. The Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart
16. Pat Benetar - Love is a Battlefield
17. LL Cool J - I Need Love
18. Stevie Wonder - I Just Called to Say I Love You
Special thanks to Mr. Jinxy for technical support. Let me know if you experience any problems with the downloads- this whole music hosting is new for me.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Monday, February 12, 2007
I kinda look like I have man hands in this picture. I don't. Honest.
After the haircut, I met up with Ern and the recently engaged Jon and Heather for margaritas. Here they are (okay everyone, say “Awwwww.”):
Sunday- Spent all day cleaning my apartment, then Caro and I went to see The Cat Empire at the Paradise. They're an Australian rock group that plays an upbeat, funky, ska and Latin influenced pop. I heard the song "Sly" on the radio and bought their latest album, Two Shoes, a couple of weeks ago. I brought it into the lab to listen to, and it became popular among my co-workers, especially a middle-aged man from India: "What is this music? It is cool!"
Sunday, February 11, 2007
However, the best section of the book and the inspiration for the title, details Sedaris’ attempts at learning to speak French while living in Paris. Anyone who has suffered the frustrations of learning a foreign language can easily relate. The class is discussing Easter traditions, and a Muslim student from Morocco announces that she doesn’t know what Easter is. The teacher asks the class to explain. Because no one knows the French words for crucifixion and resurrection, they tell her things like “the son of your father died on two morsels of wood.” Her confusion grows when she learns that, in addition to the whole death thing, a rabbit brings chocolate eggs. The author himself is stunned to discover than in France, instead of the Easter bunny, a bell flies in from Rome to deliver the chocolates.
Overall, I don’t think Sedaris’ life is that much funnier than anyone else’s, he is just more astute at noticing the everyday absurdities and portraying them in a comical light. For example, yesterday, my roommate and I were running some errands in Framingham and stopped by my parents’ house. “Hey, there’s a Busch Light can in your front yard,” she observes. “Oh, that’s where my dad lines up the recycling and sometimes he misses a can or two,” I explain. We open the door, and are immediately greeted by the family dog, who is wearing one of those enormous conehead collars and keeps slamming into furniture. It’s late afternoon, but my mother is still in her pajamas. I offer my roommate a snack, and, naturally, the first thing I pull out of the fridge is covered in mold. So yes, upon closer examination, my family, and I suppose all families, are equally ridiculous to the Sedarises, which likely explains the popularity of his writing.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
My two cents re: The Oscars.....
So happy Mark Walhberg got the nomination!
I wonder if Eddie Murphy regrets making movies like Norbit, or if he sits on top of a big pile of money and laughs.
As for foreign films, I think Pan's Labyrinth will win, and I did like it, but I'm very pleased that Water was nominated. It didn't get much press in the United States, but seriously, people, rent it. It is an amazing film that will break your heart.
Friday, February 09, 2007
In other NFL news, my friend Buddah (It's a nickname, people. A while ago, I told a story about "my friend Buddah" to a new coworker, and he later confessed that he thought that I was a Buddhist referring to this guy, the way a born-again Christian might talk about "my friend Jesus.") is a reporter for the Army newspaper in Hawaii and has a press pass for the upcoming NFL Pro Bowl. He asked me if I wanted any autographs, and since I'm not much of an autograph hound, I requested a photo of his hand on Tom Brady's butt. And if Brady isn't there, it will have to be Belichick.
Anyways, back to betting. The most memorable bet I ever lost took place during college. For some reason, I was under the impression that Rob Lowe played the brother in the classic television series Mr. Belvedere. No one believed me. Mind you, this occurred in the time before cell phones, when the internet was a novel phenomenon, and no one had heard of Google, much less IMDB. Thus, it was practically impossible to verify my claim. The more everyone objected, the more adamant I became that I was, indeed, correct. Any small seed of doubt in my mind had long been erased. (For this reason, if it wasn't for the Catholic guilt, I would make a pretty good criminal. I could proclaim my innocence with such fervor that I myself become convinced.) Weeks later, someone happened to flip through a TV guide, and noticed that Mr. Belvedere, suprisingly, still aired weekly on a local cable station. Plans were laid. Bets were made. On that fateful day, a crowd of about fifteen dormmates huddled around the TV in the lounge. My palms were sweaty, my heart beat rapidly, but nevertheless, I was convinced that victory would be mine. The opening theme began....the credits flashed on the screen....Christopher Hewett.....
Ilene Graff....and...wait for it...
NOOOOOOOOOOO! The room erupted in cheers. I hid my face in my hands to hide the shame and agony of defeat. For losing, I think I had to buy everyone pizza or something inocuous like that. Well, at least I didn't have to change my name to Peyton Manning.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
1. The Wonder Years pilot. Before today, when I found the entire episode on YouTube, I had only seen it once, years ago, when it originally aired. And still, I remembered everything- the car up on bricks, Winnie's brother getting killed in Vietnam, Winnie and Kevin's kiss. I loved that show. I used to watch it every week with my dad. Kevin, Paul, and Winnie were the exact same age as me, and I think he liked it for the 1960's setting and soundtrack.
2. The Wonder Years "Friends? I'll give you friends!" episode. Kevin dumps Becky and she punches him in the stomach. Then, in a dream sequence, he and Paul are Star Trek characters investigating the alien life forms known as girls. Brilliant stuff.
3. Punky Brewster- Cheri gets stuck in the fridge. This episode possibly saved the lives of hundreds of curious children, who learned that playing in an abandoned refrigerator can be very, very dangerous. Don't do it, kids. Fun as it may seem, you might get trapped inside, and you could run out of air.
4. The Cosby Show- Theo's dyslexic! In my house, this episode caused led to: "Mom, you shouldn't nag me so much about my homework. What if I'm dyslexic like Theo? Then you'll feel really bad later. I'm telling you this for your own good."
5. The Brady Bunch- Hawaiian Vacation. I always liked the double episodes, and the Bradys' trip to Hawaii was the best of them. The cursed tiki doll? Greg's surfing accident? A tarantula? Forever burned in my memory.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
The Police, at Fenway Park, July 28 and 29.
I'm so effing there.
Monday, February 05, 2007
Sunday- Woke up after what seemed like a brief nap and rushed out the door to catch the bus back to Boston. Slept for the entire ride. So yes, I spent an entire weekend in New York without doing one remotely cultural or touristy thing, but since my objective was to spend time with friends, I was quite satisfied.
Friday, February 02, 2007
I am headed to NYC this afternoon to visit friends for the weekend. Yippeee! I'll be riding the Fung Wah, which, contrary to popular belief, is Cantonese for "Magnificent Wind," and not "Fire Bus." (The other day, someone told me it meant Fire Bus and I totally believed him. Because I'm THAT gullible.)
And lastly, Go Bears! I have forgiven them for spanking the Patriots way back in 1986. How could I stay mad at a team that made one of the most ridiculous videos in history? The Superbowl Shuffle, a true 80's classic.
Thursday, February 01, 2007
To sum it up, someone spotted one of these:
at Sullivan Station and was freaked out by a strange, electronic device placed in an area of mass transit. Alert sounded, station closed. 37 more found, many around subway stations and bridges, and the city was essentially shut down. Attack of the killer Lite Brites! Turns out the electronic devices were nothing more than an advertising stunt to promote the Cartoon Network show "Aqua Teen Hunger Force." Turner Communications says "Whoops." Furious, Mayor Mumbles shakes his fist and shouts "You will pay! You will pay!" Here's the full story.
So, who are the bigger idiots? The city, for freaking out over a bunch of blinking cartoons, or Turner Communications, who devising an advertising scheme in which electronic devices will be placed in public areas without any official permission. Both look foolish, but I say Turner deserves the blame. Hopefully, this will be a learning tool.
Lesson 1: Viral/guerrilla advertising is f-ing annoying. In general, people don't like the feeling of being tricked. Remember a few years ago when a mystery Santa was seen giving out money all around the state, and it turned out to be a promotion by WAAF and everyone was all disappointed and stuff? I'm also not a big fan of commercialized graffiti, another common tactic. Hopefully, this incident will nip it in the bud. Cause, yeah, viral marketing does have the potential to go very, very wrong.
Lesson 2: Those of you who know me already know that I abhor this whole "culture of fear" phenomenon that is so prevalent in modern American society. Especially when it comes to science, but that's a story for another day. Yes, terrorism does occur, but fear of terrorism, or bird flu, or any other theoretical worst-case-scenario shouldn't dictate how we go about our daily lives, or how we vote. Face it, people, you are far more likely to perish due to heart disease, cancer, or a car accident than in any doomsday disaster. Now, isn't that a cheery thought to start the morning? Yesterday's events showcased the overreactions that such a state of paranoia can cause.