Posts tagged Science

Things about cancer, both bad and good

This month has really sucked in terms of cancer.  The father of my childhood best friend (and next door neighbor of my parents for the past 33 years) died of complications from esophageal cancer earlier this month, and just yesterday my dad’s own childhood friend died of pancreatic cancer.  This is coming off of having 2 other people I know dying of cancer earlier this year as well.

I suppose the people of my parent’s generation are at an age where cancers are, sadly, somewhat common.

But basically? Cancer sucks.

And I’m really sick of that being my only answer to things.

So I figure it’s time for some good cancer news.

Earlier this year I posted a story about a former coworker who is receiving the first every trial for a new ovarian cancer vaccine which uses her own tissue and immune system to fight the disease.

Basically it’s pretty bad ass.  And I could prattle on about how fantastic my coworker is, and how much I admire her, but that’s just really icing on the cake to this portion of the Feel Good Story Hour

The real good news part comes in by this: The latest scans show that the tumors present have shrunk – BY HALF.

If that’s not amazing news, I don’t know what it.

Science is awesome.


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Ovarian Cancer Vaccine

Shameless plug:

This is my coworker who is the first person in the nation to get this vaccine.  I think this is so bad ass.  So far she’s received all the shots and now has had one CAT scan and so far so good – has another CAT scan scheduled for May.

So, basically… watch this… and be amazed. And then support science.

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*Zing!* HIV Negated!

Dear Grad School applications:

Please stop sucking.

No, seriously.

I’ve put up with your asinine requirements long enough.  I know, I know. I bitched about having to take a test that determines my academic worth and potential in four hours.  I whined about having to get recommendations which every applicant is required to have, but which all basically say the same thing.  I begrudged your insane fees to have the privilege to even apply to your institutions of higher(er) education.

But it’s all becoming a bit too ridiculous of a hoop-jumping act. Now one of you (COUGH*GWU*COUGH)  has the nerve to require possibly the stupidest essay question I’ve ever read.  Because at this point, not only do you already have my personal statement (which is essentially an extended answer to the “Who are you, and why the hell do you want a degree which will likely put you $60,000+ in debt?”), you also have my CV, my undergrad transcript, my 3 glowingly asinine recommendations and blah blah blah, but now you want me to PAY YOU SIXTY EXTRA DOLLARS to answer this question?!:

How will the degree from SPHHS advance your goals to become a leader in improving the health and well being of our local, national, and/or global communities?

But…?  But…!  BUT!

Here’s the thing:  You are basically asking why your own program exists.  I feel like I should send you that information packet with all of your brochures and booklets on your various programs and opportunities. No, honestly, do you want it?  Because it’s currently somewhere in the vast wilderness of ‘Under My Bed,’ but I’m fairly confident I can battle the many Dust Demons and unearth it.

In protest of this inane and unoriginal essay question, I would like to submit this as my response:

A degree from SPHHS will allow me to be awesome.  I will be so awesome in fact that I will fly around the world with a cape and tiara, fixing health problems willy-nilly.  *Poof!* Malaria eradicated!  *Zing!* HIV negated! *POW!* Cancer? What cancer?

Well, probably that… but on a slightly more bureaucratic stage.

*ZING!* HIV negated!

*ZING!* HIV negated!

Please reassess the absurdity of your question.  If you find it acceptable in its current state, please thwhack yourself in the face with a tennis racket. Repeatedly.  The second essay prompt (“Within the program area to which you have applied, what public health issue concerns you the most and why?”), to which I still protest the requirement of PAYING ADDITIONAL MONEY TO HAVE THE ADDITIONAL PRIVILEGE TO ANSWER, at least has a purpose involved in it, and provides insight into the individual applicant.

Thank you for your consideration.

Grad School Applicant #PO409873

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Science, HO!

I may or may not have inferred previously that I enjoy science.  I think I recall something along the lines of raving about space exploration and a giant ‘projector’ for the Chicago planetarium.  Plus, you know, we never really learned anything from science in the past 10,000 years or anything.  Excuse me while I go give some penicillin to my cow over in my irrigated field while calling my sister on my cell phone to tell her of the great new fact I learned on the internet.

I recently took the GREs and, as irony would have it, my ‘position’ essay was about whether or not government should have a say in regulating scientific research.  I believe my answer was along the lines of “FuckNOmothafuckahs, that ain’t the government’s job, YO.”  Naturally, I expanded upon that and whose job it should be, and surprisingly I scored higher than one would think after using such such fucking asshat profanities and slang.

Anyways, as it would appear, Obama agrees with me:

President Barack Obama will lift his predecessor’s restriction on federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research on Monday and will give the National Institutes of Health four months to come up with new rules on the issue, officials said on Sunday.

Obama will not lay out guidelines himself but will let the NIH decide when it is ethical and legal to pay for embryonic stem cell research, science adviser Dr. Harold Varmus said.

Researchers and advocates have been invited to a White House ceremony at which Obama will make the announcement, said Melody Barnes, director of Obama’s domestic policy council. He will also sign a pledge to “restore scientific integrity in governmental decision making,” Barnes said.

And goes on to my favorite line:

“Hallelujah! This marks the end of a long and repressive chapter in scientific history. It’s the stem cell ’emancipation proclamation’,” said Dr. Robert Lanza of Advanced Cell Technology in Massachusetts.

I often wonder: When we look back in history and great scientists and innovators, do we ever wish they had been given fewer resources so that we might be less knowledgeable than we are today?  Because countries so very often are frowned upon for advancements in science, yes?  And shouldn’t it be the scientific community, and not the government (the majority of which, last I checked, are actually not scientists) who says when science might be crossing the line?

In the mean time, a big fuckYAY for science today.

ETA: I love the smell of Enlightenment in the morning.

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My computer needs an exorcism?

My computer may be speaking in tongues.

I am aware that my computer is not, uh, say, the apex of technology.  In fact, a tech-nerd friend recently looked at my computer and more-or-less insinuated my computer belonged with some men painting pretty pictures of buffalo and deer on the wall of the cave.

It’s about 4 years old, and was bought as a replacement laptop my junior year of college after I’d spent an entire semester sans-functional computer and fighting with our on-campus computer-fixer service who didn’t so much “fix” my computer, and instead did something closer to “break” said computer. And then charged me $30. Fuck that.

While I had some hard-earned money, I did not necessarily have a great deal of it, and therefore I bought the cheapest computer available at CompUSA, and declared that in order to preserve its life for as long as possible, I would download as little as possible and use it only in the capacity of a) word processing, b) iTunes and c) basic internet services.

Four years and four cities later, I have stuck fairly close to that vow.  In fact, I never even upgraded my operating system to use Microsoft Word. No, I still have the (utterly craptastic) Microsoft Works Word Processor, which is compatible with nothing, and makes for turning in work electronically super-duper fun annoying.

Despite this all, I think my computer is starting to rebel. Or it’s slowly becoming possessed by some sort of demon.  See evidence below:

  1. In the time it takes to start up my computer, I can watch nearly half an episode of the Daily Show.
  2. Internet connection disappears arbitrarily and the computer utterly refuses to find any available networks until I restart (see #1). This can happen anywhere from zero to five times a night while my roommate’s computer remains connected to our wireless network.
  3. Suddenly one night about a year ago, the computer decided it will not work unless plugged into the wall.  The battery dies less than 2 minutes after unplugging (see #1).
  4. Every so often the screen will blank out, giving me a screen with white vertical lines on a whiteish background, sort of like this (but more white):
    Vertical White Lines of Death

    Vertical White Lines of Death

    Have to restart (see #1).

    And my favorite and most recent addition to the “Computer Slowly Possessed by Evil Spirits” Theory:

  5. My computer has started typing backwards.  Every so often I’ll go to type in a URL or something into the Google Search bar, and instead of coming out “pink fish”, I end up with “hsifkni p”.  Yeah. I have no idea. And fixed how? That’s right, see #1.

My computer is in serious needs of an exorcism.

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Environmental research can be scary

See, this is why I shouldn’t be allowed to work at an environmental company, because then I get to sit around and do ‘research’ on the new developments in the field, which basically allows me a lot of time on the internet.

Occasionally I stumble across interesting or hilarious findings, such as the Mafia racketeering wind power.

And then I find things like this, which leave me half super-horrified half, and laughing hysterically:

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Or a scientist… same diff.  All wishful thinking.

Marketing pictures we took for our lab services. Ignore the fact that I am very much not a scientist at all.

Hmm this water is so interesting

Hmm this vial is so interesting

I totally know what this machine does

I totally know what this machine does

Why look it's a jar of stuff! How fascinating.

Why look it's a jar of stuff! How fascinating.

Totally pointless post.

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