Thursday, June 30, 2011

Animal husbandry?

A study on the correlation and causation of nausea in pregnant women.

Thesis: exposure to disturbing ideas, smells, and sights increases the duration of "morning sickness" in pregnant women.

  1. While the term "disturbing" is subjective, a preliminary study determined that certain ideas, smells, and sights are generally disturbing and upsetting to the population at large, including both pregnant and non-pregnant humans (see footnote a).
  2. "Morning sickness" is a general term used to describe the state of malaise some female humans experience in the hours before noon and attributed to the fertilization of a human egg by a human sperm; however, nausea and vomiting are universal symptoms of morning sickness that have both plagued and baffled mankind through the ages.  While no one fully understands the purpose of morning sickness, it is commonly understood to be a metabolic derangement evolved from early hominids as a way to prevent pregnant females from consuming toxic food products. 
Method of Study:

A double-blind study was conducted using control groups containing both human males and non-pregnant human females, and test groups of pregnant females.  The groups were both divided in half, where one half of each group were exposed to benign images, while the other half of each group were exposed to both benign images and images intended to invoke an emotional response.  

The groups were divided a such: control group exposed to benign images, N=15; control group exposed to both benign and emotion-evoking images, N=26; test group assigned to benign images, N=12; test group assigned to both benign and emotion-invoking images, N=16.  

The benign images, deemed neutral, included clouds, apples, picket fences, and overalls, while the pictures designed to invoke an emotional response included babies, ugly babies, baby cats, baby dogs, baby poop, spiders, vomit, crabs, genital crabs, crab cakes, and crabby babies.  

It was determined (with a standard deviation of s=1.2 (see footnote b)), that the pictures invoked the following emotional responses: clouds, none; apples, mildly happy; picket fences, calm; overalls, none; babies, happiness; ugly babies, horror; baby cats, affection; baby dogs, affection; baby poop, disgust; spiders, fear; vomit, a sense of overall grodieness; crabs, happiness; genital crabs, disgust; crab cakes, hunger; crabby babies, annoyance. 


Animal husbandry, when taken to the extreme, not only increases the risk of sexually based diseases, but also increases the likelihood of penile cancers in lab rats, and induces both pregnant and non-pregnant humans and non-humans to vomit, thus furthering the condition of morning sickness in pregnant humans exposed to such scientific studies. 

a.  It was determined that horror, disgust, a sense of overall grodieness, and annoyance could be classified as "disturbing" and were therefore used as benchmarks.

b.  It was determined that Blogger does not have the capacity for mathematical symbols, so "s" was used in place of the right-side-up-tonge-sticking-out-of-mouth-emoticon that is used to represent the Greek letter of sigma.

In response to some expected criticisms of this post, for those of you who haven't caught on, this was supposed to be both my attempt at writing a fictitious scientific paper, and a mockery of an actual scientific paper.  Additionally, I realize that the thesis talks about ideas, smells, and sights, while the study only deals with sights.  The limitations of the study when compared to the original thesis are due to a lack of funding.  Finally, I apologize for the lack of supporting graphs, tables, and charts related to this study.  I blame the laziness of the the lab staff, who simply "didn't feel like" making them.

Monday, June 27, 2011

On the question of God

I recently had a conversation with an old boyfriend of mine (not the crazy one), who is now also happily married, and it got me thinking about God. I know it sounds weird, but while there were a number of reasons why this relationship didn't work out, his belief in God and my lack thereof was, in my opinion, the main one. 

He was an active Christian, and while I describe myself as a Christian, I don't really do anything about it.  I celebrate Christmas and Easter, and I guess I believe God exists, but I don't  feel anything about it.  And isn't that what faith is?  Feeling and believing something you can't prove?

I believe in other things I can't see, like gravity (although I suppose that's provable), and love.  I know I feel love towards my husband, my family, and my friends.  I feel patriotism towards my country and servicemen.  I will confess, I'm on the fence about pi.  And this might be where my issue with God comes from. 

When I was little, and we went to Church, I always thought it was an act.  I really thought that all of these people in a room, listening to a sermon were pretending they felt the presence of God just like I was.  Even in college, where I met a ton of Christians, I really thought that most of them were pretending, which I totally didn't understand, because I was past the point in pretending to feel something I didn't.  I also don't feel a spiritual presence when I'm in nature, and I don't feel my chi when I do yoga.  And I really don't consider myself an un-feeling person. 

Now that I'm an adult, it doesn't make sense to me that a bunch of adults would pretend to believe in God.  I mean, I think we're sort of past the social stigma that if you don't go to Church you're a bad person.  So why would they all go, if they didn't believe? 

But here's why I can't believe in pi.  It just doesn't make sense to me that the circumference of a circle is it's diameter multiplied by 3.14.  I understand that it works every time, but why are mathematicians, who work in such an exacting field, content with an answer that contains an unending, non-repeating  decimal?  And if there's a God, why would He create such a ridiculous math equation?  If I were a god, and I were working on geometry, I'd come up with a better answer.

But now we're back to where we started, because so much of religion and faith is about seeking answers.  I don't know if there's a god, and I don't know what he was thinking when he came up with pi, but I certainly know that I don't feel his presence, which I sometimes think is a shame, because Christians seem so happy to believe.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Performance reviews

Clearly I've been busy doing other things with my life than blogging.  Like planning a trip to Aspen.  It's amazing how much less rantier I feel now that I don't hate what I'm doing for 40+ hours a week!

I love that my friends send me articles of things they think are related to my life.  Here's another example.  While I am no longer at that job that I hated, I still think this article is true. 

I've long thought that performance reviews are about as useful as the end-of-term evaluations of professors.  I've had very few poor professors; even still, what's the likelihood that they care what I think?  They've been doing this for years, and are tenured, so it's not as though a negative review has any weight now

The position I am no longer in, I held for 2.5 years.  I had three different managers, and went through 4 review periods.  The first three, each with a different manager were good, and the last one was poor.  I'm pretty sure I haven't changed.  But what did change were some of the expectations.  Except that wasn't communicated. 

I'm a no-news-is-good-news sort of employee.  It would never occur to me to change how I'm doing something unless my manager tells me there's a problem with it.  But it makes no sense to wait until the end of the review period to speak up about something.  It's confusing to me, the employee, and it just aggravates the manager. 

My company did try to be forward-thinking and also included goal-setting as part of the performance review process.  But I felt like that step was flawed, too.  The goals were only reviewed twice a year, so it was possible to lose sight of them, especially in the wake of other emergencies that cropped up.  Also, we were to set goals, but management didn't necessarily provide the time or support to carry them through.  For example, a number of people in my department felt we needed more cross-training, but whenever my coworkers and I set up time to do this, our manager would tell us something else was a bigger priority.  Why wouldn't training your employees be a priority?

If I ever get into a management position (which I think is unlikely, given that I think I might actually be qualified to do it), I would of course do employee reviews, but I would not only complete what my company thought was important, I would also work to make the reviews useful to both me and my employees.  I mean, who really needs another meeting where NOTHING is accomplished? 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The scariest thing I've ever read!

I was totally going to post about something else today, and then, during breakfast I read a horrifying article in the newspaper called "Expect a wider load ahead." I'd post a link to the article, but the spectacular San Diego Union Tribune rarely has the articles from their print version online, or at least not the articles for which I'm looking, and I don't want to waste my time (haha, and I just realized I unintentionally made a pun here!).

Anyway, the article basically says that we stop growing taller, but not wider, and apparently it's not all fat.  Our hips continue to widen as we age.  CT scans were conducted on 246 randomly selected patients of varying ages and it was found that the pelvic width of the oldest patients was, on average an inch larger than the younger patients, which, "by itself, could lead to an approximately three-inch increase in waist size from age 20 to 79." 

What the article doesn't state is why our pelvis continues to widen.  Do the hips widen to make us more stable as we age (if we're wider, we're less likely to fall, right?), or are women who've had kids throwing off the average?  And I totally don't understand why an inch of pelvic width equals three inches in the waist.  The article points out that this widening might "account for a significant portion" of the roughly one-pound-per-year increase in body weight people experience "during the same period."  Is it possible that our hips are widening to support the extra weight, and if we didn't gain it, we would stay thinner?  And the article doesn't talk about whether or not this roughly 50-pound weight gain is concerning from a health standpoint. 

So many unanswered questions! 

Monday, June 13, 2011

May's resolutions: the ever-evolving life of Virginia

I know I just published April's resolutions, but I resolve to do a better job of publishing my resolutions.

As you may or may not have noticed over the past few months, my resolutions are constantly changing and evolving.  I think this is totally reasonable, given the fact that life is not stagnant.  In May, I removed "tackle a nagging task" because it wasn't useful for me, and because I keep a daily to-do list, so my nagging tasks are really more like my reading lists.  Because there is NEVER enough time for all the reading there is to be done.  I have also removed "find a new job" because I have found a new job, or at least a consulting position through September.  I have added "arts and crafts" because somehow, when my old job took over my life, I forgot how much I enjoy arts and crafts.  Crocheting and cross-stitching in particular, because I find it very relaxing to do something that repetitive.  And it involves counting.  I am such an accounting dork. 

Anyway, on to what I actually did in May.  I had a 42% success rate, which is lower than April, but I've been feeling happier lately than I have, maybe ever.  If you recall, the resolutions checklist was part of The Happiness Project plan...something about accomplishing things that you should be doing (like exercise) along with things that you enjoy doing, but that frequently get pushed aside in the course of life (like arts and crafts) makes people happier.  I'm not sure this checklist is the cause of my happiness, but it's certainly nice to see all of the things I've been accomplishing.

Like usual, reading was the most successful task in May, with 27 days, followed by exercise with 22 and flossing with 20 (better than April!).  I know people who enjoy flossing, but I don't.  I also don't enjoy washing my face and removing my eye makeup, but I've been working on doing a better job at sticking to those routines, too.  Ironically, I love my bite-guard, and since I've had it, I've only forgotten to wear it once.
On the losing end of the spectrum was writing my novel with only one day.  **Sigh** I will get to this.  Also on the low end was a tie between tackling a nagging task (which I decided to remove on May 22) and arts and crafts with six days each.  However, while I crochet, I listen to books on CD, so each crochet session is the length of one CD.  I know I could listen to part of a CD, and finish it the next day, or whatever, so it doesn't take up such a huge chunk of my time when I do it (which would probably also make my crocheting more consistent looking), but I haven't managed to do that yet.

Life is a work in progress, right?  Or is it process?  I can never figure out which "p" word makes more sense.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Other Dog

This is a review of "The Other Dog" by Madeleine L'Engle.  For some reason both goodreads and blogger are behaving badly, and I have better things to do with my time than wait for them to get their act together.  So I apologize for the lack of a picture.

This book was also recommended to me by my mother, and I read it to my husband as a bedtime story (don't you wish you lived in my house?).  We both agreed that it was entertaining; however we both found "The Web Files" to be more entertaining and engaging.  As my husband quickly pointed out, "that's not a dog." (You can't pull the wool over his eyes).  Nonetheless, this is a charming story, and one I think fits well into the age 6-ish group.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

April Resolutions, and the most successful day of the month!

Wow, and I just realized how far behind I am that this never got published!  Hopefully, we will be back with our regularly scheduled ranting shortly!

I had a hugely successful April, with a 50% success rate on my resolutions, completing 119 out of 240 possible tasks.  My most successful task was reading, which I did EVERY DAY in April, for a 100% completion rate.  My least successful task was writing my novel, which I did only one day, but that fateful day, April 27, is the first day that I've completed every resolution. 

I also did a good job at looking for a new job (22 times) and exercising (21 times).  I was pretty bad at tackling a nagging task (9 times), but that sort of seems reasonable, given the name of the task.  While I flossed more than I blogged, I only did it 15 times in April, which is kinda gross, so I'm going to aim for a better record in May.