Vertigo sucks

As a mostly neurotypical, healthy adult, I’m not used to being in situations where my body betrays me. But vertigo has laid my ass out. The diagnosis from the PT is Unilateral vestibular hypofunction, and she says it usually resolves in 3-14 days (that’s a wide range, innit?) as long as I regularly practice these focusing exercises  that she gave me (which I’m supposed to do for about two minutes OR until I feel slightly horrid – nauseous, off-balance or out-of-focus)

photo is of a Popsicle stick with a smiley face drawn at one end. At least my PT equipment is low-tech, and thus, cheap. I’m supposed to hold it in front of me, keep my eyes trained on the smiley face and move my head back and forth, then up and down, for two minutes or until I feel like I’m going to hurl. Good times. I’m already done with that smiley face.

The most debilitating part is not the loss of balance, but the associated nausea and the extreme concentration that’s needed to do almost everything (typing this blog post is ending me).It hasn’t affected my desire to get work done, and has increased my anxiousness about everything that’s not getting done, but it has made everything extremely difficult and tiring.

Big shout out to those of you who routinely deal with these kind of symptoms. Imma go lay down now.

Woe is Moi

CN: Injury/medical

I can haz sprained/strained ainkle? Yes, can haz.

The Hubby and I have been having a lot of fun in the spring weather – walking, bicycling, flying kites and hiking. Yesterday we went to Minnehaha Dog Park and managed to get a little way in before I fell. It was a scary fall. I lost my footing stepping down a small hill – my right foot slide down out in front of me and my ass landed squarely on my heel and back of the left ankle, as if I was in a kneeling meditation (plantar flexion?). There was an audible pop and I thought I had finally lost my record of no broken bones ever. I yelled “That was a bad one! That was a bad one! That was a bad one!” and laid there in a daze while the Hubby checked for broken bones. After a few minutes I was able to flex my ankle without much pain, no grinding sensations and there was no immediate swelling or darkening of the skin. We hobbled back out a half mile to the car. The muscles did swell up later in the day, in spite of much resting, ice, compression, elevation and Advil. We ended up grabbing some crutches from Walgreens because hopping around on one foot got really old, really fast and I was entertaining the idea that I would go to work today. [Read more…]

Yay for spring!

CN for negative body image.

Boo for having to come to grips with winter weight gain. Last winter I was pretty awesome and pleased with myself. I started jogging regularly in January and kept it up until early July. I ran my first ever 5K! I can pinpoint exactly when I dropped the routine (thanks apartment flood and sudden move). Then it was too cold to run. Then it was too dark to run. Then it was too November to run. And who runs in December? Yuck. Of course it was waaaaay to January and February to use my gym membership. [Read more…]

Home in Minneapolis

I had an unexpected emotional reaction yesterday. I had just left a meeting with a friend in what I’m calling “my old neighborhood” – the part of south Minneapolis called Lyndale. I was driving up 35W North to get around the city and over to 394, which would take me to my current apartment in Saint Louis Park. I got to a stretch of the highway where the tall buildings of downtown Minneapolis are laid out in front of you: The IDS building, Foshay Tower, Wells Fargo, Campbell Mithun, Capella Tower, and the newer Grant Park apartments. My first thought was – as it often is – it’s such a small downtown. I grew up playing in Chicago and I’ve stood before the magnificent sprawl of New York City, and after those Minneapolis is a wee thing. But then a nearly overwhelming rush of love and admiration flowed through me and I realized that this city is my home.

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A Big, Painful, Good Decision

There’s something that I’m finding myself saying more and more often these days that is very painful for me to say:

I’ve decided not to apply to medical school. I’ve decided not to apply for nursing school. I’ve decided not to pursue any advanced degrees in medicine.

(but I always whisper “For now…who knows what the future holds?”)

You see, I really, really like medicine. I like the science that is medicine and the art and politics that is health care. I like when people have the most current and accurate information that can help them make informed decisions. I like leading teams. Working in a field that has a direct impact on people’s health, safety and empowerment would be a dream for me. I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was a little girl. I’ve wanted to be a doctor all through high school, and in college I majored in a field that would prepare me to apply for medical school, joined Pre-Med Club and studied for the MCAT. I’ve wanted to be a doctor when I took time after graduation to work and gather experience, and while I tried to figure out how to get all of my ducks in a row so that I could go to medical school.

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Sicky McSickster


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


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


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


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“:


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.

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