Winter Blues

I’ve been majorly blah lately. I haven’t felt like writing; the world seems full of problems that seem way too big to tackle. Rapes, gun violence, gun rhetoric, environment going to shit, shitty people in political power doing shitty things to the people who put them in power, prejudice and privilege running rampant everywhere I look (including in the mirror), normal background online crappiness. And then there’s dealing with the aftermath of the flood plus super-long hours at work. Ugh. Where to begin? The 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade yesterday was almost enough to get me to put fingers to keyboard, but when I sat down to write I just started at the screen for a while and my mind wandered off. Which was a shame because I had already composed the article in my noggin and just needed to get it out. I finally closed my laptop and went off to bed feeling like a failure. But the feeling was kind of muted and detached, like a voice said “Well you botched that one up.” and I responded to myself matter-of-factly, “Yup. G’night.”

All of these things lead me to believe that I need to start taking Vitamin D pills again. My doctor prescribed them last year because I tend to be on the low end of the normal range, and last winter I dipped way below the low end. Winter blues suck. But I promised myself that I would write and publish something – anything! – tonight. I’m hoping it will kick start a more regular pattern of writing. And hopefully the Vitamin D will help kick start me.

So…let me think. What’s coming up that’s exciting or inspiring? Hmmm… Well, I’m being sent to California for some work-related stuff. I’ll be just outside of Los Angeles (Brea) for a full week. February is a good time for a Minnesotan to visit California. The weekend prior I’ll be at Con of the North, a gaming convention here in the Twin Cities. That’ll be fun. In March the Chicago Skeptics are holding their second Skepticamp on March 2nd – I’m hoping to make it down for that. In April the Campus Atheists, Skeptics and Humanists from the University of Minnesota are holding their first major conference called SkepTech. I’m speaking at that one along with some awesome people y’all might have heard of before.

So yeah, there’s stuff to be excited about. That’s good. Good reminder.

But that’s all in the future. I feel the need to share some happy now. Here – have some scientist kittehs from the blog “It’s Okay To Be Smart“:

deflexion_curvature

Hey – we’re looking for a new floor rug (in the 5′ x 8′ size range) and would love to find something geeky or sciency-themed. We’ve already ruled out the Wampa rug from Think Geek, and we’re not in love with the astronomy/night sky rugs we’ve found. All of the stuff designed for class rooms that we’ve seen has been very primary colored/designed for elementary school-aged kids. I want something sciency-artsy like this on a rug, but to do it I’d probably need to do a custom logo printing deal (and, you know, permission from the artist and all that). Any suggestions?

Bits and Pieces

First – whadaya think of the new theme? After spending a few days with it, I have to say that it’s growing on me. I think it looks more sleek and modern than the old primary blue and yellow that this replaced. If you haven’t had a chance to report bugs on other FtB blogs, put ‘em in the comments and I’ll pass them up the chain.

Second – the radio show I work with, Atheists Talk, recently put up a new Facebook page and Twitter account. Pretty please consider liking us on FB and following us on Twitter because more numbers help make us look awesome to potential sponsors and guests. Oh yeah – and because you’ll get the occasional sweet update about show guests and photos from the studio and stuff like that :D

Third – Someone wrote an article that I really disagree with on western attitudes about female genital mutilation. I really, really disagree with it. Really. A lot. Essentially it’s a cultural relativism argument, and all I’m hearing is “cutting up girl parts isn’t really so bad because they want to do it so quit being all judgmental ” But the early comments on the article give me hope for the human race (if you get over there quickly you might get to read them before the ZOMGWhatAboutMaleCircumcision!? derailing starts!) and Zinnia Jones has done an analysis of the article here that picks apart why the author’s arguments fall short.

FourthProlife advertisements on coat hangers. Oh hell no.

FifthAnti-abortion Christian reality TV show featuring women who regret their abortions. Repeat: Oh hell no.

Sixth – Kitty is back from dental surgery. Poor thing had to have three teeth extracted. It’s my own damn fault for not bringing her in more often, and I feel really shitty about it. I have to force feed her painkiller drops for the next three days, and what appears from her reaction to be nasty-tasting antibiotics for the next 10 days. She’s a little dizzy and confused right now, but she’s managed to eat some soft food and use the litter box, so there’s that.

Chasing the dragon – kitty in a buprenorphine daze.

Prada is 13 years old and I had somehow worked myself into a tizzy that she was going to die in surgery because surely she’s too old to survive general anesthesia!!! Thanks, asshole brain. Way to put that non-existent veterinary license to good use. At some point I caught myself thinking about how it sucks that I don’t believe in an afterlife, how I don’t have the comfort of thinking that she might die but-at-least-she’ll-be-in-a-better-place. Actually, that was a turning point in the emotional roller coaster that was my morning while I waited for the vet to call with an update on the surgery. The fact that there is only this one life, that there is no better place that she’ll go when she dies, that I won’t get to see her again in heaven, that there are no do-overs…those thoughts made me more determined that I would do what I could to get her home and healthy again. Even the life of a little cat seems more significant when I remember that this is the only one she gets, and the only one I get to share with her.

Gangland Turkey Killing

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who celebrate the holiday! I have a few odds and ends for today’s post, and then I’m getting back to the party!

Things are all a-flurry in the Bilyeu-Hubby family households. Over the past two days I have made gluten-free mincemeat pie, Mom’s made cranberry sauce, many board games have been played, and much 12-year Glenlivet has been drunkified.

I’m hosting Atheists Talk on Sunday. You can listen live at 9am CST when we interview Dr. Ivan R. Schwab about his new book Evolution’s Witness: How Eyes Evolved.  I can already tell this interview is going to be a blast; in 2006 Dr. Schwab won an Ig Nobel award in ornithology and he wore a giant, red woodpecker hat for his acceptance speech! Silly + Science Talk sounds like a good reason to wake up early on a Sunday to me! If you listen live, remember that you can always call or email us with questions during the show. We love that. Doooo eeet!

Here’s a little holiday-themed stupidness that my brain did when I was glancing at the newspaper yesterday:

Of course, the image is associated with the article beneath it, but at first glance I thought Thanskgiving had gotten really weird this year. Considering the seriousness of the first story, I have to say that’s some odd article formatting, Star Tribune.

Here are links to the first, very not-funny story about a gang feud in St. Paul, and to the second story about the weird not-really-a-pardon-more-of-a-stay-of-execution for the turkey named Bipartisan. 

And with that I’m back to the holiday chaos!  Have a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving weekend!

Crazy Faith, Adoption and Zombies

Here are a couple of odd signs that have caught my attention over the past couple of days:

Seen on the back of a car in a parking lot.

Short version: No arguments here.

Deeper version: I think this might be a reference to Susan William Smith’s Crazy Faith: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives. According to one of the reviewers, the book “challenges ordinary people to let God use them for impossible tasks. Such submission requires “crazy faith,” knowing God will bring success even when the task seems impractical and illogical.”

*blink blink*

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Cross-Country Connections (Plus): Vegas, Baby!

Cross-Country Connections is a Biodork weekly blog entry dedicated to telling stories in pictures of three family members – me, my sister and Mom – living in very different locations across the country. Every week we choose a different theme and then take or contribute a personal photo that fits the theme. 

Normally I would now display the three photos that we had each contributed down below. However this weekend we were able to bridge the divide and meet together in Las Vegas. So this past weekend there was a physical cross-country connection:

Erin, me and Mom in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, about 20 minutes west of Las Vegas. I believe the rock behind us is Aztec Sandstone. Somebody go get Dana Hunter; she’d know.

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying myself since last Thursday, but now I’ve got a lot of housekeeping to do around here. I’m playing Google Reader catch-up – it sounds like there were a LOT of things broken on the internet this weekend. I’m catching up on all of the blogathoning that went on around this place for SSA Week (which looks like it was wildly successful). I have to announce the winners of the cute cuddlies giveaway – I’ll do that tonight at the 6 O’Clock BS. And of course I have to show you the awesome that was Vegas. And then this weekend is Twin Cities Pride, and the weekend after is CONvergence and SkepchickCON!

Imaginary hellfire! When am I supposed to find a moment to breath and play Mario Kart? Nah, just kidding – I love it. And there is always time to play Mario Kart.

6 O’Clock BS – Work Silliness

Today’s 6 O’Clock BS centers around silly work stuff:

Another edition of “Scientists Know How To Have A Good Time”

I was reading an article from Clinical Chemistry (45: 616-618, 1999) and thought this was a funny sentence:

“We enjoyed reading the interesting article entitled, “False increase in C-reactive protein attributable to heterophilic antibodies in two renal transplant patients treated with rabbit antilymphocyte globulin”, by Benoist et al. (1) in this Journal.”

Because who wouldn’t enjoy reading that? Enjoyable and interesting. I looked it up; you guys don’t know what you’re missing. Boogie down y’all.

Another edition of “Things That Don’t Go Over Too Well” 

“There’s a little bit more of art than science to these things.” – HR guy trying to roll out a new performance review program to a room full of scientists.

Another edition of “I <3 Gary Trudeau So Freaking Much”

Okay, I couldn’t find a way to tie this one into the work theme…Oh wait – I read the comic during work and comics are silly = work silliness! We’re good to go. Except, this one isn’t funny or silly. This week Trudeau is running a series that points out how not-silly the beating up of a gay kid by a presidential candidate is, and how pathetic said candidate’s runaround with the press has been:

Visit the Doonesbury website for the rest of this week’s strips.

This and That

I got nothing.

Stephanie and JT have posted some thought-provoking posts about men, women, flirting, sex, harrassment and safe spaces at conferences and conventions, and that’s taken up a lot of brain space over the last 24 hours. Add in the 9-to-5 job, grocery shopping, hanging out with a friend who’s going through a rough patch and that hasn’t left me with much in the way of original thought (also, last night I was tricked – tricked I tell you! – into watching a show on the History Channel called Pawn Stars and that killed any brains cells that may have still been functioning). Also I’ve just read/browsed through about 100 posts in my Google reader and I feel like none of the thoughts in my brain are my own.

But I am excited about my masochistic garden project (why do the things I love always die!? *sniff*). The seedlings are actually doing alright this year. I brought a few pots and potting soil in today and will be transplanting them later tonight.

Nasturtium, Nemophilia, Viola, Cynoglossum (Firmament), Impatiens, Sweet Basil, Catnip, Scallions, and more Nasturtium

 I have more soil in the trunk but was too lazy to go out and get it for the photo.

Random Fun Stuff

What if all the Avengers characters posed like female superheroes?

Seen on Twitter.

Awesome USB drive

Thanks for the tip, Paul!

Pro-Vaccination Billboard

Photographed by moi on southbound 94 in Wisconsin

This billboard on southbound 94 in Wisconsin made me happy. There are so many church signs and pro-life billboards along this route that I could have cried upon seeing a rational, science-based message. Vaccinate Your Baby is an awareness campaign that was launched by Every Child By Two, an organization devoted to raising awareness of the critical need for timely immunization and to foster a systematic way to immunize all of America’s children by age two.

Porn and Pancakes

Thanks to Louise for the tip!

Sign says: PORN AND PANCAKES – A morning filled with straight talk about porn and the issues surrounding porn. From the people who get it. XXXchurch pastors, porn industry insiders and people who have struggled without hope. The breakfast is open to men and boys in junior high and up.

Louise had this to say about the poster: “I was really excited when I first saw this. You know 2 of my favorite things until I realized I couldn’t go nor did they show porn. Boo!”

Go ‘way I’m busy.

No blog posts today. I’m too busy freaking out about speaking at the University of Minnesota tonight. CASH – Campus Atheists Skeptics and Humanists – was kind enough to invite me to speak about blogging, atheism and activism. I started really working on the slides/notes a couple of days ago, but it’s crunch time now and eveything that I’ve put together seems awful and trivial and it’s all going to be horrendously boring and like “Hurr durr, I write sturf on the internetz”.

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