Come see me tonight at the Seattle Skeptics!

I’ll be giving my Skeptical Genetics talk from Skepticon, with plenty of time for your genetics questions in the Q&A. Here’s the info:

Bluestar Cafe
4512 Stone Way N, Seattle, WA
Hosted by the Seattle Skeptics
Event starts at 7pm
My talk starts at 8:30pm

Before my talk we’ll be hanging out and eating dinner, so join us!

RIP Borimor

Borimor the Apprentice

1/15/2012 – 2/14/2012

The video game gods are cruel when they take away our characters before our time. My boyfriend and I hoped dear old Borimor would pass away peacefully from old age (aka when we lost interest in Dungeon Defenders), but no. He was snatched away from us just shy of his 40th level, all because of an accidental bump of a controller and poor menu design. He will be fondly remembered, even though my boyfriend always called him Boromir by mistake.

Seriously though, Dungeon Defender’s menu designs are just awful. The game is fun enough that we’ve been totally addicted, but I could really do without the insane menus. Especially when the difference between selecting your character and deleting your character is a single click on the joystick.

Thankfully after a day of mourning, we moved on. My boyfriend started a new Archer, I started a new Monk (named Mendel). And because we’re dorks, we keep my old Squire on a third controller because we need his blockades in order to beat the levels.

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about…just nod and move along.

Well triple fuck :(

I had a ray of hope for a little while about my car. Because some of you tweeted my blog posts at State Farm, I got a call at 8:30am yesterday saying how sorry they were about how poorly I was being treated, and that I was bumped up to a regional claims office and had the attention of Executive Customer Service. Later that day someone came to check on my car (yes, at a random time and I had to run home from work).

And today the same guy who couldn’t answer my questions gave me a call (aka, not some new regional claims person like I had been promised). He seemed much nicer this time around, kind of like someone told him he was dealing with someone who is happy to bitch on the internet.

And he told me they couldn’t cover the damage to my car.

The reasoning? Apparently the water got in because of some leaves that were blocking the drainage area around my trunk, and since my parking spot is slopped slightly downward, the water ran throughout the car. Since leaves take a while to build up, it was not a “sudden” accident, and so they won’t cover it.

I’m feeling shitty and beat down by the whole process. I’m not sure what I’m going to do next. I’m hoping the mold damage isn’t quite as bad as everyone thinks, and that I can save my car with minimum costs. We’ll see.

Sigh.

Women should just keep their legs shut, amirite?

Republicans have gone a long time attempting to hide their motivations for being against contraceptives and abortion. But as the debates ramp up, their true colors are becoming more and more obvious. For example, take the discussion surrounding Virginia’s disgusting ultrasound bill (emphasis mine):

This week, the Virginia state Legislature passed a bill that would require women to have an ultrasound before they may have an abortion. Because the great majority of abortions occur during the first 12 weeks, that means most women will be forced to have a transvaginal procedure, in which a probe is inserted into the vagina, and then moved around until an ultrasound image is produced. Since a proposed amendment to the bill—a provision that would have had the patient consent to this bodily intrusion or allowed the physician to opt not to do the vaginal ultrasound—failed on 64-34 vote, the law provides that women seeking an abortion in Virginia will be forcibly penetrated for no medical reason. I am not the first person to note that under any other set of facts, that would constitute rape under state law.

[...]During the floor debate on Tuesday, Del. C. Todd Gilbert announced that “in the vast majority of these cases, these [abortions] are matters of lifestyle convenience.” (He has since apologized.) Virginia Democrat Rep. David Englin, who opposes the bill, has said Gilbert’s statement “is in line with previous Republican comments on the issue,” recalling one conversation with a GOP lawmaker who told him that women had already made the decision to be “vaginally penetrated when they got pregnant.” (I confirmed with Englin that this quote was accurate.)

That’s the same logic that animates the bill’s sponsor in the House of Delegates, Del. Kathy J. Byron, who insisted this week that, “if we want to talk about invasiveness, there’s nothing more invasive than the procedure that she is about to have.” Decoded, that means that if you are willing to submit to sex and/or an abortion, the state should be allowed to penetrate your body as well.

Santorum’s main donor puts it a little more crassly:

Appearing of MSNBC with Andrea Mitchell today, Foster Friess, the main donor to the Super PAC backing Rick Santorum’s presidential bid, dismissed the controversy surrounding President Obama’s new birth control rule by suggesting that women should just keep their legs shut. Asked if he worried that Santorum’s Puritanical views on sex and social issues could hurt the candidate in the general election, Friess offered a more home-spun family planning scheme:

FRIESS: On this contraceptive thing, my gosh, it’s so inexpensive. You know, back in my days, they used Baer Aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.

That’s the real reason Republicans care about restricting access to birth control and abortions. It has nothing to do with religious beliefs or concerns about the lives of cute little babies. It’s about punishing sluts.

How else can you reconcile the platforms of anti-choicers? If you truly were against abortion, you would be fighting desperately for comprehensive sex education and easy access to contraceptives – things that actually reduce abortions. If you truly thought abortion was murder, you would never make exceptions for cases of rape or incest. If you truly were concerned with women’s health, you wouldn’t use HPV statistics to scaremonger young girls about sex while simultaneously fighting against a vaccine. If you truly were pro-life, you’d want improved child care, education, and family leave instead of losing interest in someone once they pop out of the womb.

It’s simple. These people want you to catch STDs and have unwanted children, because you’re a dirty slut who deserves punishment. And they love babies so much that the punishment is babies.

The most glorious paragraph I have read all day

From Slog:

“About halfway through the handshaking, Santorum was glitterbombed. This was not just any glitterbomb, where a handful of glitter is haphazardly thrown at the candidate: Rick Santorum was glitter bukkake’d: He had glitter cascading down the front of his sweater vest, all down his back, through his hair, and his giant forehead shone in the flashes of photographs like Ke$ha had just vomited on it. But Santorum plodded onward with the weary grace of someone who had been sprinkled with glitter by strangers against his will many times before.”

State Farm Insurance is fucking worthless

After talking to a bunch of Seattle auto detailers, I decided the cost of fixing the water and mold damage to my car is going to be more than my deductible, so I filed an official claim with State Farm. I stressed that I do not know how the water got in my car – flood, rain, vandalism, who knows – and that I wanted an agent to come look at it ASAP before my problem got worse.

I get a call back that an agent was going to inspect my car. The conversation basically went like:

Me: Sorry I missed your call, I was at work and couldn’t answer right away.
SF Rep: At work? How is our agent supposed to inspect your car if you’re at work?
Me: Wait, he’s coming right now? No one told me.
SF Rep: No, not now.
Me: Well when is he coming, tomorrow?
SF Rep: Sure, maybe.
Me: What do you mean, maybe?
SF Rep: He could come tomorrow or Friday, but if not you should call me Friday afternoon.
Me: Well I kind of need to know when he’s coming if I can’t be at work then.
SF Rep: He’ll probably come tomorrow. You can let someone else at home talk to him.
Me: I can’t… I guess I can try working from home tomorrow… Do you know what time he’ll be by?
SF Rep: I don’t know.
Me: I mean, does he work 9 to 5, or what?
SF Rep: More like 8:30 to 4 I guess.

Seriously, fucking worthless. They don’t even know when their own agents are coming to inspect my car, and I’m just expect to sit at home all day. I have a fucking job, you know. Worse he was rushing me to get off the call, and kept saying how they don’t cover gradual damage like rust and mold, and how he can’t see mold forming in my car even in a couple of weeks. I’m not so fucking slovenly that I would let mold cover everything in my car while I was driving it around, christ.

Like a good neighbor…yeah fucking right.

Thanks for all the moral support and practical advice, and sorry if you’re getting sick of these posts. They’re partly for me to vent, but mostly for me to document. Not to mention them finding out I’m an angry blogger might help my chances at getting proper costumer service.

Spotted on my Facebook feed

From a high school acquaintance:

“So I’m excited to announce to the Facebook world: I passed my first Histology exam!!! I never knew I could be this excited about a C. Thanks for all who supported me and prayed for me. God is so good.”

You know, maybe you would do better in your veterinary school classes if you spent more time studying than praying.

Seriously, if God really is the reason that some students were doing well, they should be expelled. A supreme deity isn’t enrolled in school, you are. If they’re altering your grades, that’s cheating.

The sad thing is I’ve heard so many stories about uber-Christian/creationist vet students from some of my friends in vet school. The young earth creationist who hounded me at Darwin on the Palouse and wouldn’t give up the microphone? Vet medicine grad student at Washington State University. Talk about someone who needs to be put in a remedial evolution class.

Well double fuck :(

State Farm Insurance just got back to me about my wet, moldy car. They claim that since it was probably caused by a leak in my trunk (which they claim without ever looking at my car) the problem falls under “maintenance” and they won’t cover any damages. Because apparently you’re supposed to know you have a leak before you have any evidence of a leak. I have comprehensive coverage which is supposed to cover environmental things like wind, hail, flooding, but apparently “rain” or “melting snow” don’t count. They didn’t look at the car at all, they just decided this after my description over the phone.

I’m trying to decide what to do next. Some people have suggested getting a lawyer to write them a stern letter – is this typical for when insurance companies aren’t cooperating? If I file the claim despite them saying I won’t get anything, will that hurt my insurance premium? I feel like I should try something before finding a place who could potentially clean/repair my car and paying for it out of pocket. They couldn’t even suggest a place that might be able to do this.

And for everyone who is asking if they can donate to help, I greatly appreciate it, but let’s wait for a moment. I want to try to get my insurance company to do its job instead of relying on random kindness. And I don’t even know how much this is going to end up costing me.

A couple pics of the moldiness below. A lot of the general moldy grossness is a thin film that doesn’t capture well on camera, but there are some choice disgusting parts:

The standing water, which has evaporated (probably to other parts of the car) quite a bit since I originally saw it. You can kind of see how high it used to be.

Yum.

Double yum.

Buckle up. All of the seat belts look like this.

How many species can you spot?

Blotches of mold are on the floor, on the seats, in my trunk… Yeah.

I’m going to drown my sorrows in lunch and then try to deal with this in the afternoon. I want to get it figured out quickly so it doesn’t get even worse.

Well fuck :(

This morning I was getting ready for graduate student recruitment. I was all dressed, everything necessary was printed out, and I was just waiting to leave at 11:30am. At 11 I decided I should make sure my car had gas, since I was going to be driving recruits around in it all day. I hadn’t driven it in a couple of weeks (like usual), so I couldn’t remember how full the tank was. I wandered down to the side street next to my apartment where my parking spot was.

I opened the door, and the first thing I see is disgusting standing water filling the floor of the driver’s side. I blink for a second and then zoom out, looking around the car.

Everything is covered in mold. Everything.

The seats and seat belts had a fine film covering them. The windows were grimy. A lone old coffee cup I had been meaning to throw out was completely decomposed. I had some scraps of paper under my seat that were soaked through, a couple of books on the back seat that were soggy and disgusting. Even my trunk was damp and moldy. For a split second the biologist in me noted that there were probably at least four different species in there, but then I snapped back. Everything was wet and moldy.

I stared in disbelief. Part of my brain couldn’t comprehend the destruction of my car, since I was more concerned that I had to drive people in it in a half hour. I desperately started throwing things into the dumpster, thinking maybe I could frantically clean it. I muttered “fuck” repeatedly as a homeless person who had been dumpster diving nearby gave me a wary look and scooted away. I soon realized there’s no way I could clean this sucker, and contacted a fellow grad student working on recruitment. He picked me up and let me borrow his car, so recruitment went on without a hitch.

But now that I’m back home, it’s sinking it. I’m still wondering how the hell this happened. My car is a 2003 Camry in practically perfect condition and has never ever had sealing problems. I never have even a drop of condensation forming in my car. I’m wondering if the melting snow from “Snowpacalyse” is to blame, but I’m still skeptical – this car has survived feet of Indiana snow melting on it just as rapidly. A friend wondered if it was vandals who somehow got a hose in my car. I have no clue. I mean, this stuff happens to cars that have been abandoned for years – but parked for a couple of weeks? I’ve left it alone that long tons of times. At least my car still started, so the water didn’t damage the engine or something.

If anyone has advice as to what to do, it would be much appreciated. Where the hell do I take this kind of mess to be cleaned? Is it going to have to be re-upholstered? How much of a financial hit should I expect? My auto insurance covers flood/vandalism etc, but has a $500 deductible.

Sigh :(