Friday, July 31, 2009

The inside of an introvert

Sketching does not feel optional at this point in my life.  There are way to many images in my brain and they need a way out.  So I am sketching.  I draw things from real life so that I can get better at drawing and I draw things from my head because those are the things I really want to draw.  Most of my sketches are pretty sketchy.  These are the first two from the inside my head stuff.  They have been in my head a long time and they needed out before I could move on to anything else.
The deal with the first sketch is that I am really grateful to Jews who have built families, places of learning, arts, technology, literature, math, medicine, economies, and societies even when lots of people were killing them.  In so many ways, they are the rock on which modern civilization has been built.

This one is because the tree of life is always described as a pregnant woman in the scriptures(except not in Genesis)  and in one case, Mary specifically.  Realizing that made me see that women are more important in the scriptures than I had previously understood.  Important references to women abound, they are usually just a little understated.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The agony of acne

I am not taking any pictures of myself for a while because I have acne worse than I ever have in my life.  I should probably go to a dermatologist, but after avoiding the doctors of Merced for over 3 years, and then finally finding a decent primary care physician, I went in with a whole laundry list of referrals I needed.  There was the opthamologist to check whether I had a torn retina (I didn't), a GI doctor for a 5 year cancer screen, and an ENT for a hearing check and possible laser surgery on my eardrums (hooray!).  I was about to mention a dermatologist even before my face was in this sorry of a state, but the doctor said "I think that's enough for now".  I am not sure if this was because the insurance companies look down on primary care physicians who give out lots of referrals, or whether he is concerned about me having too many doctors all at once, or maybe he just thought that I was overdoing it.  Probably all of them are legitimate reasons for not wanting to give me yet another referral, but here I am with a terrible complexion trying to find ways of improving it.  

I thought about getting a facial but they are A LOT more expensive in Palo Alto than other places.  I kept going to spa after spa thinking that one must be reasonable, but they got more expensive every place I checked.  When I finally hit a place that charged $760 for a facial, I gave up, went to the grocery store and got a shiny purple package of Stridex for $7.65.  It seems to be helping except that my skin is now a beautiful glowing red, yes...more than usual.  (I guess the positive aspect of this color change is that no one can tell when I get embarrassed.)  If it weren't for the fact that I have to get my whole sewer line replaced next week, I would probably go for a ridiculously expensive facial, but this seems like a good time to exercise some amount of financial responsibility.

Research seems to have started going well in earnest today.  I woke up at 3:00 AM thinking about citrate.  One should never take citrate for granted and I had been.  When I factored citrate metabolism into our results, it all started making sense.  We got rid of the citrate and the data are very pretty now.  

Monday, July 6, 2009


I am in civilization!!!!  This is day 1 of my adventures in Palo Alto.  While here, I plan to take full advantage of the research opportunities available at PARC (Palo Alto Research Center).  I am also keeping in mind that this is the only place in the continental US where single straight men outnumber single straight women.  (When Joanna worked in my lab, she decided it was part of her job to get me in a lasting relationship so she worked up all sorts of statistics and models to achieve this, but it always ended with getting me to Palo Alto.  As I'm here now, she should be proud.)

I showed up today with a box of lab supplies intended to last a full month if necessary, though the experiments should only take 2 weeks at most.  Those supplies include single use aliquots of very nasty bacterial strains that Tom sent me from the Naval Medical Center, San Diego.  The Pseudomonas strain is green and smells like grapes.  This is a classical description of Pseudomonas, but somehow it's worse actually culturing it than reading about it in a textbook. 

After setting up at PARC, I found the home of Richard Bruce, which is where I am staying.  He is away until the 9th, and we have only ever met for a couple of hours so there is a part of me that thinks it should be odd staying in his home, but it isn't.  It smells like Barry Hall's house (I don't know what smell that is except that it's familiar and comfortable) and is furnished with carved antique chairs and dressers that are cute but not so absolutely perfect that one is afraid to touch them. The walls are decorated with blue willow and delft ceramics and family photos.  It is clear from the toys around that Richard and his wife have grandchildren.  Several thoughtful things have been done in anticipation of my showing up.  I have been directed to towels and bedding and the cupboards that contain things that could be useful to me have been left ajar with directions to use whatever I need.  Despite being alone in the Bruce home, I feel warmly welcomed.

After finding my lodging I went to the Stanford Shopping center because everyone in Merced is in awe of the place.  In the online ads, they say that you can find anything you need or want there.  I wish there was a prize for those who find exceptions because I found two.  I wanted to get titanium earrings and some Patchouli perfume from the Demeter fragrance line.  I went to every jeweler, every department store, and every cosmetics store and no one had either.  It wasn't a wasted trip however, because I got a great haircut while there.  I think it's as good as Pat's and cost slightly less and it is only a 2 hour drive to get there instead of the 12 it takes to get to Pat.  I may switch stylists permanently.  

At the Stanford Shopping Center, I was amazed by the visible display of wealth of many of the people there.  I have never seen anything like it before.  I have been around people with old money who were good and sensible, and I have been around those who were a little snobby too.  I have been around nouveau riche who were good and sensible, and some who weren't but enjoyed what they could do with money so much it was impossible to be anything but happy for them.  This however was the first time that I have been around people who seem to not only believe, but actually know that their money and grooming or experience or something has elevated them to be members of an entirely different species along the lines of  Homo supersapiens or something. This very clear distinction was not just a product of the way they walked, talked, dressed and carried themselves,  or even the fact that their dogs were more perfectly groomed than most supermodels. It was the way that everyone who wasn't an H. supersapiens was simply invisible to those who were.  I happened to get in the way of an H. supersapien while I was waiting at La Baguette for my Greek sandwich to get toasted.  I happened to be in front of the place where her coffee eventually appeared. Then when I moved out of her way so she could get her coffee, I was in the way of the honey that she wanted to liberally pour into her coffee.  I moved out of her way again.  It was strange to be in the situation where I was simultaneously invisible, but also in the way of a person.  She communicated to me that I was in her way with no bodily sign that she acknowledged my presence and with the fewest words possible.  (I honestly don't remember what she said.  Perhaps "excuse me" the first time and then with a sigh or some other sound the second time.)  There were a lot of people like that today.  It was weird.  When surrounded by snobs, I sometimes secretly want to do annoying things to upset them, but with the supersapiens it wasn't even a bit tempting.  Where's the fun in being annoying if you are invisible?

I am excited for tomorrow.  I am going to start generating data!!!! It will be a good day I hope.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Titanium Studs...I think they are kind of sexy

So, after years of encouragement from Marie, I finally got my ears pierced.  My deal was that if I could find a place with titanium piercing studs I'd do it.  Amazon has a good selection of titanium earrings too so it seemed possibly worthwhile.  The Merced Mall of all places had titanium studs, which made it very easy.  I made the girl doing the piercing pull out a ruler and I measured the dots she put on my lobes from every reference point imaginable for about 15 minutes and then finally told her it looked good and let her go.  I have so far avoided infection and have finally learned to quit catching my earrings on my clothes, purse strap and pillowcases so they don't hurt anymore.

Other recent acquisitions include 6 t-shirts

Two new pairs of jeans (that are rapidly getting too big)

And a new pair of shoes

Laura said that she'd design me like a cereal box and I think that the predesign stages are ready.  (See you in August babe.)  I can't wait for some artistic sensibilities to get involved.