Sicky McSickster

Ughhhhhh.

I feel like crap. Man, this is the season for me to be sick. I just got over a nasty bug a couple of weeks ago.

Ughhhhhh. Send chocolate. No wait, chocolate will feel like sandpaper on my raw throat. I coughed so much last night that I couldn’t sleep. Laying down increased the severity and duration of the coughing. I dozed propped up – almost sitting – until the next series of racking coughs took over. I coughed so much that my abdominal muscles hurt.

One of the thoughts I had last night was “this better not be whooping cough. Damned antivax…” But then I remembered that I participated in a Hug Me I’m Vaccinated pertussis booster clinic at DragonCon a couple of years ago and I felt better (well, 70% better as the current estimate is that Tdap protects 7 out of 10 who receive it. Don’t get me wrong, that’s decent, and I’ll take it, especially as we’re experiencing an increase in outbreaks this year.).

Fuck it. Send chocolate anyway. I’ll save it for later.

What are your favorite remedies for sore throats/coughing? And remember, a lot of you are skeptics, so I don’t want to see any colloidal silver, or echinacea down there in the comments, kay? And I don’t have to mention homeopathy, right? RIGHT? Anything that involves whiskey gets extra notice.

Ice cubes. Ice cubes sound good right now.

End Street Harassment

SWEndSH

I learned on the Twitters that today is the end of Anti-Street Harassment Week, a awareness campaign organized by a group called Stop Street Harassment. Stop Street Harassment has a heady goal of ending gender-based street harassment worldwide. Their front page shows a message that says “More than 80% of girls and women worldwide face street harassment: catcalls, groping, sexual comments and public masturbation.”

I number myself among that 80%. Here are a few of my stories. I invite you to share/unload/rage your own experiences in the comments below. And if you feel comfortable and/or want to share your stories on Twitter, you can do so under the #EndSH and #Ithink hashtags.

Street Harassment Haiku

#1

Unsolicited
I feel your eyes on my ass.
You weren’t invited.

#2

He hoots and slobbers;
They say it’s a compliment.
I feel small and used.

Years ago I was on a bus and I caught the gaze of a man who was sitting across the aisle. He saw me look over and gave me that…that look…that “you know you want it” sneer…and he slowly moved his hand under his coat to his crotch. He stroked himself while he stared holes through me. Much later I wished that I had caused a scene, that I had been like one of those YouTube heroines who calls out the asshole, that I had stood up, pointed and loudly exclaimed “Dude, are you masturbating!?” and shamed him off of the bus. Instead I scowled, moved as far toward the front as I could, took the next stop (making sure he didn’t follow me), and waited 15 minutes for the next bus on the route.

But back then I hadn’t heard of other women standing up to street harassment. I didn’t even know what street harassment was.

Next time I won’t be the one leaving the bus early.

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?

6 O’Clock BS – Seesaw

Today I was feeling down in the dumps for no particular reason, or at least no easily identifiable reason. After work I started to recognize the  down in the dumps danger zone: All I wanted to do was eat everything in my kitchen and watch an entire season of some stupid sitcom that I’m a little embarrassed to admit I like to watch (yeah – it’s gonna cost you alcohol to find out which one). At the time I was all like, “Hell yeah I could go for some cereal and ice cream and baby carrots and guacamole and a popsicle and some leftover pad thai. And those episodes are only – what – 22 minutes tops? I can be done with a whole season in 18 times 22 equals [rummage for calculator] 396 divided by 60 is … 6.6 hours. Hah! I’ll be in bed before midnight!”

But I talked myself down, mostly by guilting myself into walking the dog. Once I got outside, I decided we’d just keep walking to the end of the block. And then to the next intersection. And then I thought we’d head over to the park. I’m glad we went to the park, because I got to see a lot of people running around, shooting hoops, throwing frisbees, scrambling around the jungle gym, and having a lovely summer evening. And then there were these two grown-up kids laughing their asses off as they tried to get the seesaw going:

When I walked over and asked if I could take their picture they grinned and laughed and attempted to seesaw even harder than before. Their silly mood was infectious and I was pleased to notice that I was out of the down in the dumps danger zone.

I love taking photos. I am lucky to always have a camera with me, and I often find myself looking around wondering how a particular scene or moment would look framed in a shot. And sometimes, like today, I’ll get really lucky and find myself around people who are willing to let me share in their moment.

I shoot in all sorts of moods, but photography is a great way for me to get out of my head. Sometimes all it does is distract; the problems don’t always resolve themselves, and the moods don’t always abate by the time I put the camera down, but sometimes a distraction is all you need to get you over the hump, or out of the dumps.

Side note: I had to take my Nikon into Best Buy to get the lens replaced. A darling 5-year old knocked my camera off of the table during a wedding reception and it landed flat on the lens, and the UV filter shattered, and glass got in between the lens parts, and the lens parts are all wobbly… so yay for that 3-year accidental damage insurance! Until then I’ll be shooting with my smartphone. Because as awesome people have told me time and time again – the best camera to have is the camera you have on you.

Being Wrong

Last weekend I attended the Midwest Science of Origins Conference at the University of Minnesota-Morris. It was a good conference, and I’m writing a longer article about my impressions of the event. But I sat down yesterday and this came out, so I thought I’d put it up now.

Last weekend I was at the Midwest Science of Origins Conference, and I was wrong quite a few times. Not in flashy, obvious, foot-in-mouth ways, but in a myriad of little ways. And I’m not talking about having those enlightening “Hmmm…I’d never considered that before” moments. I’m talking about having ideas and preconceptions challenged in conversations with other people and in the lectures.

[Read more...]

Weekend Events

So, this was a heck of  a weekend.

Saturday marked the end of my 30DaysofBiking, so no more posts about bike rides to the grocery store or McFlurry runs. I know…you’re crazy disappointed. It was a good experience, especially because I was pushed to ride in weather that I normally would have avoided.  Now I may be less likely to skip traveling by bike in the face of inclement weather; riding in rain wasn’t really that big of a deal. I’m still probably not going to be a winter rider, though.

On Sunday we braved the cold to see the Heart of the Beast Theater’s (HOBT) May Day Parade on Bloomington Avenue in Minneapolis. We arrived early – 11:45am (we rode our bikes even though it May 1st and I was like 30daysofbiking is totally over and I don’t have to ride if I don’t want to but parking is going to suck so let’s bike) - to stake out a spot and watch the crowd arrive. There’s always great people-watching at the May Day Parade. I think I viewed most of the parade through the lens of my camera since this is the first time I’ve gone with the fancy DSLR. Of course that means I came home with about 500 photos, which may take a day or two to filter through. 

And then there was the twitter explosion at about 9:20pm last night. I’ve learned about huge breaking news on twitter more times than I can count now. The most recent instances that burn in my memory are the riots in Egypt, the attempted assasination of Gabrielle Giffords, the earthquake in Japan, and now the death of Osama bin Laden.  Last night someone tweeted a message to this effect: “Daddy, where were you when you found out about OBL?” “On the couch in my underwear with some cheetos and my iPhone, honey.” Oy, so true.

I’m not really processing the whole “hey, that terrorist leader who we’ve spent almost 10 years tracking is finally dead” thing that everyone is going on about today. My first reaction last night was shock, then joy that we had finally achieved our goal, then a sharing of elation, good cheer and snark on twitter (Trump wanting to see the death certificate, the undermining of the royal honeymoon, how President Obama must have been giggling at the Correspondent’s dinner, etc.), and a fleeting feeling of vindication for the victims of 9/11, the service members who have died or been injured in the search for bin Laden, the civilians in the Middle East who have died as a result of the last 10 years of conflict. Then I felt grief for all of the loss of life, the waste that has happened, and will probably continue to happen. I followed that up with a solid five minutes of overanalyzing all of my reactions of the past hour.

It’s good that we’ve officially closed this chapter, and now I’m waiting to see what the fallout is going to be. It IS a huge effing deal, and I want to see how this new information going to affect our men and women serving in the Middle East, how it’s going to affect our nation’s budget and priorities, the upcoming elections in 2012, and people’s perception of terrorism, security, the United States, Islam, President Obama, the military, the Middle East. Osama bin Laden has been a huge part of our lives…what’s going to happen now? Sorry, no words of wisdom or deep insights. Just questions today.

Minneapolis is a great city

I’ve been in a funny gray mood lately. 

It’s not anything you would notice if you saw me; it’s just an increase in the underlying noise or static – one of those little funks that everyone seems to have now and then. 

For the most part I feel great – my daily mood is happy and forward-looking.  This grayness really only strikes me when I’m by myself and undistracted by some pursuit or another.  Maybe it’s a seasonal biochemical change or just some issue or combination of issues with which I’m not satisfied. 

I’m a very optimistic person, and I really believe in the effect that forcing a smile and positive thinking can have in making me feel good about myself and the world around me.  It’s really been an odd week; between feeling down and trying to make myself feel up I’ve been having these odd jumps between elation – real, true joy – and meh-ness.

I went for a bicycle ride after work yesterday because I find that physical exercise is a good way to get the endorphins going and to clear my mind.  I went biking around Lake Calhoun and was once again amazed that I live in such a beautiful area of town.  I live less than a mile away from this gorgeous lake that offers bike and walking trails and canoe/kayak/paddleboat rentals.  Awesome!

My view of the downtown Minneapolis skyline from Lake Calhoun at dusk last night.

I wasn’t as enamored of Minneapolis when I first saw it as I am now.  First, I remember being shocked that downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul were about 10 miles away from each other.  I was bummed out because I had this image in my head of one large metro area, not two smaller cities with a bunch of residential and suburb-like areas between the two.

Second, I was taken aback by how small Minneapolis was.  I grew up near Chicago; you could see the city from all the way out in Tinley Park – the suburb in which I grew up –  and that was 30 miles away from downtown!  When I was little and we drove on the highway toward Chicago, I would watch from the backseat as the skyline would grow to fill more and more of the windshield until we arrived in the city and I had to start craning my neck up to see the tops of the buildings.

I was reminded again of how small Minneapolis is when I visited New York City.  When we got off the plane at JFK I was struck by how buildings filled the horizon.  I didn’t just have to crane my neck up in NYC, I had to crane my head from left-to-right just to see the entire skyline.

From a distance I can stretch out my arm, hold my thumb up and close one eye to “hide” Minneapolis.  In Chicago, I have to hold up both hands, and in New York I couldn’t hide the skyline at all.

Minneapolis skyline

Chicago skyline

New York skyline

But being in a smaller urban city definitely has its advantages:  Rent is affordable – even right downtown, parking is reasonable, and traffic is tame.  Most events and festivals aren’t exorbitantly priced or over-crowded.  It’s pretty easy to get involved in community planning and local politics.  I have the culture and variety that inevitably pops up when you cram a lot of very different people together in a small space.  If I want to get away to the country all I have to do is drive 20 miles in any direction and I’m in prime motorcyle riding land, pumpkin patches, state parks, etc. 

There’s a lot to love in Minneapolis. 

At least for another month or so until the blizzards start. 

Photo source 

I found this photo at Nokohaha – it looks like an awesome Minneapolis blog with a lot of other Minneapolis sites in it’s blogroll!