Friday, November 30, 2012

30 Days of Thankful

I realize I'm behind, but I thought I'd use today to catch up! These are in no way ranked in a particular order, just things I am so, so grateful for every day.
  1. For the rain. We always need it.
  2. For my family, as crazy as they are.
  3. For my husband, who always manages to crack me up!
  4. For the kitten, Ducky, who is insane, but entertaining!
  5. For Moo, who's always miffed at something, the princess that she is :)
  6. For my job - I really, really love it, and I thought I might not like science any more.
  7. For my co-workers, who are truly, genuinely nice. And they put up with my weird questions and odd personality.
  8. For a home that's near a park and oh so lovely. We really lucked out in our desperation to find a place to live!
  9. For a car (actually, two!) that can transport us wherever we want to go.
  10. For living in the West and not the East anymore. Makes it so much easier to plan holidays.
  11. For having lived in Philly.
  12. For getting an education at Penn. I think it was the best thing for me I could ever imagine.
  13. For blogging. Although I don't do it as often as I would like, I really enjoy it. And I enjoy keeping up with friends near and far.
  14. For science. I just love it. 
  15. For kids. A good friend of mine just had a baby, and my some of my best friends have little ones. They always give you the best perspective on life and I love that.
  16. For Chamomile tea. 
  17. For my body, as broken and as amazing as it can be. It's the only one I've got and I'm pretty demanding on it. And, for the most part, it usually lives up to those demands!
  18. For my in-laws. I think I really hit the jackpot there.
  19. For my niece, Kaitlyn, who is just about the coolest kid I know. She's super mellow, even when things are a little crazy. 
  20. For the Farmer's Market in Mountain View every Sunday, where we can buy delicious, fresh, organic produce.
  21. That my husband cooks so I can rest my hands after a long day at work.
  22. For the bike commute. As much as I complain about it, it's generally a good thing. 
  23. For time spent driving across the country, visiting friends and family, and just hanging out with my husband. 
  24. For the US of A, as screwed up as we are. I am so thankful I live here and not anywhere else. 
  25. For art, any kind. It really soothes the soul.
  26. For live music. I grew up listening to my Grandma S. play the piano. I didn't know how lucky I was. Alex picked up the guitar last night and it sounded so lovely.
  27.  For my friends and colleagues all across the country. I am so blessed to know so many amazing and motivating people. I am so grateful for all those in my life.
  28. For my current boss, who is just about the coolest person to work for. She believes in pushing the envelope, doing some crazy, but risky things, and then just watching the progress. She's literally given me wings to fly, and I'm so excited to see where this project takes me. 
  29. For trees. Did you know they block the rain? You can stand under a tree in the greatest of storms and not feel a drop. 
  30. For you, dear reader. Whether I've known you for years, or just met you, or don't know you at all, I'm grateful for some sort of readership. Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year all rolled into one! xo

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Have you ever injured something that you use everyday? When I was in 6th grade, I fell off a horse and broke my right wrist. In high school, I screwed up my knee and was in a cast on crutches for quite a while. And I've had countless situations where I've hurt myself because I was stupid, say running to far of a distance, or doing a workout too vigorously. However, I have never had something quite like the injury to my hands I've been dealing with for a while.
It's hard to open jars and bottles, and it makes me sad for older folks who are struggling with arthritis or strength issues - why do we make things so hard to open?
I have issues cutting vegetables, so cooking has become a chore.
Working under the microscope has become difficult, requiring fine motor skills that I sometimes just don't have.
Typing is hard on my hands, as is checking the iPhone. I think it has something to do with the bend in my elbow.
Ibuprofen can help, but doesn't alleviate all the symptoms, making me think it's tendon or nerve related.
All of these things sound so lame to me. I mean, who can't use their hands? What a ridiculous thing to happen! I use my hands for everything, absolutely everything and they're a bit broken right now.
I've got a few exercises and I'm doing those. They seem to help in moderation. I'm also trying to take it easy on my hands, which is, itself, not easy. And I think it might be time to find a doctor.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Turkey Day wrap up

We spent the weekend at my cousins' house in middle-of-nowhere, CA. It was beautiful, and a great time to get together and see family and friends. We had a fantastic time!
Us: You + Me

Digger Pine



Purdy 2

Robber's Den

Dirt road


Rub my belly!


End of the day


Bear Valley

Regroup and Reassess Monday

I realize I'm supposed to reassess every first of the month, but I decided it's time to do another reassessment on how I'm doing with the goals I set for myself. I feel like I've been really slacking, so I want to give myself an update to determine where I need to work on things, and how to go about doing so.

As a reminder, here are my "big" goals
Financial: Buy a house someday
Spiritual: Live in and for each moment, appreciate, breathe.
Career: Become a professor at a university
Health: Eat well, mostly plants
Physical: Wake up earlier. Be strong.
Organizational: Be organized. Don't miss meetings, big dates, tasks.

And here are my smaller goals for the month of November and how I've been doing:

Financial: Put $200 away in savings this month. Pay off my one credit card bill. Bring my lunch to work each day.
Reality: The $200 this month is not gonna happen. However, I did get a little bit of birthday money, so that is going directly into savings.
I was able to bring my lunch most days - this is a manageable goal and I'm going to keep it up. When Dec 1 rolls around, I might add to this a little bit more.
I was not able to pay off my credit card, but will continue to chip away at it.

Spiritual: I'm stealing this one from Liz: meditate 5 mins every morning. Read a little bit in a book (for pleasure) every night.
Meditation? Not happening. I need to figure out a way to make this a better goal (more realistic) for Dec 1.
I have been reading a little bit each night, though. I finished two books (granted, one of them was Harry Potter, but...) this month, which is a great accomplishment, in my mind. I also got a new book for my birthday and I'm enjoying that.

Career: Attend my future faculty seminar class. Get my pilot experiments up and working before the end of November. Read more science papers.
I did attend a seminar, and I went to a couple career guidance seminars as well.
Pilot experiments are on the "to do" list, I am currently waiting for some equipment to arrive so I can get started, but a pilot experiment by the end of the month is likely.
Hmmm...more reading? Haha, I have been trying, but this is another area I need to concentrate on.

Health: Get used to biking 100 miles a week. I am still adjusting, but I would like to add in a little bit of time doing something other than biking, so maybe running once each weekend and stretching every morning or evening.
This has been a challenge. I've been struggling with my hands, so I stopped biking since it was bothering me so much. Now, I've got weak hands that hurt somewhat and I'm unsure whether I'm damaging them further or what. I've also completely give up on running, even though when I did run this past week, my hands felt better. So, again, I need to refocus.

Physical: Set a sleep/wake schedule and stick to it. Pushups every day.
Yeah, my sleep/wake cycle has been a little screwed up. And pushups are out of the question with my hands being so screwed up. Another situation to change come Dec 1. 

Organizational: Make a To Do list every day. Allow myself to not accomplish it, and put tasks on the list for the next day. Each week, reassess my To do list and make sure the goals are accomplishable (is that a word?). Get house under control!
 The To Do list has been a great idea. I find that I am fairly effective when I have one, and I feel lost without one. However, I do find that I avoid my to do list when I'm feeling down or tired or unmotivated. I also find that it's hard to keep track of my to do list (is it at work? home? in some pile on my desk?) And when I lost my to do list, I felt like there were a million things I forgot to do. I realize I should put my list on my computer, and send it to the cloud, but writing things down and crossing them off (excessively, I might add) makes me feel so much better than just checking a box on a program. So, this is something to think about....
The house, however, is coming along great. We've got the 2nd bedroom almost together, and just three boxes left to unpack. We've also got a couple areas to organize, but that's OK. I am hopeful we can get things done by the end of the year.

Some other things I would like to maybe add for December:
Holidays: there is so much to accomplish for the Holidays, and it so often flies by. I would love to be able to get my things accomplished and have some time to enjoy the season. Here's hoping...
Relationships: from my husband to my friends and family. I would like to focus more on my relationships with people, and making them better. I would also like to work on making some new friends here in my new 'hood.
New things: I would also like to "try new things" whatever that means - sometimes life gets dull, and there's not a lot to look forward to. I'd like to make things more interesting by "trying something new" each week. Could be a recipe, a hike, a museum, or a restaurant. Anything, really.

Well, that's what I have to show for my accomplishments. I'm actually quite pleased with my progress, looking back at it. I am also starting to realize that I can succeed, I just need to make smaller goals. Even if my "Meditate 5 mins every day" becomes "Meditate 1 min every day" that's OK. I feel more centered and more balanced and that's the best part!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Update, catch up, etc

  • Monday again, eh? I am taking today off for a number of reasons, the first being that we were supposed to head up to more Northern CA today for a wedding tomorrow. However, just a few short days ago, the wedding was called off. Dramatic, right? Anyways, since I had already planned my week to be off, and I can't exactly start expts in one day, I thought I'd use today to get my home life in order. Laundry is currently in and I am waiting for Alex to come home so we can hit up Costco for T-Day.
  • Another reason I am staying home is my hands. My hands have been bothering me for several weeks now, and I'm on the verge of making a doctors appointment to get them checked out. Honestly, I feel ridiculous saying that my hand bother me so much; it makes me sound like an arthritic 80 year old, of which I am not (yet!). However, I there is nothing in this world that I don't use my hands for, and them being in pain makes almost everything I do miserable. I currently have ace bandages on both hands, so you will have to forgive any typos in my post. 
  • Not being able to use your hands makes everyday tasks impossible. I spend Saturday cleaning and organizing the kitchen. Which meant Sunday was spent resting my hands. Even putting the books in the bookshelf really bothered me. Ugh. What the hell have I done to myself?
  • Moue had a bout of kitty illness, which she has thankfully just gotten over. The vet suggested also purchasing a diffuser that sends out kitty pheromones into the air to make her feel more at home. Did this voodoo work? Seems to - the kitten is calmer and Moo is out and about more in the house. Weird, right?
  • We hung pictures and rearranged the 2nd bedroom this weekend. Why do pictures on the wall always make everything seem more homey?
  • I turn 35 this week.
  • I just went to the bank and got $40 in quarters. I hate doing my laundry in a laundry room. Ugh.
  • Turns out, we live by a bike/walking/running path. Nice, right?
  • We leave tomorrow for Thanksgiving with the whole fan-dam-ily. Should be a great time! We'll be off the grid until Saturday - whoop, whoop!
Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Haiku Christmas Friday

When I started in
this lab, lots of equipment
needs. Today, granted!


My boss is so cool
Making sure we have the best
technology out.


I can do my job
well, supported and quickly
All I can ask for.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Snippets and Tidbits

  • I'm really amazed that Obama won the campaign. We were prepared for a long night watching the polls, yet they called Obama President at, what 8:30pm PST? I think they are going to have to study his campaign to see how they engaged young people and minorities. I guess it didn't hurt that the Republican party essentially alienated intelligent women and, mostly all minorities, right?
  • One thing that I heard that I thought was interesting is that if the Millenial Generation (of which my husband is a member, but not me! I'm Gen X!) votes one way three times, they will vote that way for the rest of their lives. This is the third Presidential campaign they have generally voted Democrat, meaning they are lifelong Democrats and the Republican Party has lost an entire generation of voters due to their restrictive, ridiculous pandering to only the religious right. 
  • This election made me feel really in touch with the rest of the country. Perhaps it's because we made an extended trip across the country and I felt like I spent time in places and really got to know what it was like living in OH, or SD. I can more reasonably understand people's points of view, and I can definitely see where people are coming from more easily. However, I was just super surprised when CO went to Obama, and when Prop 38 (the GMO one) didn't pass. I guess the average voter is smarter than I thought. 
  • I can't say that I cried when Obama was elected, but I can say I was proud to say that I contributed (a very little amount) to his campaign. I was also proud to call him my President after his Victory Speech.
  • I was glad he mentioned climate change in his speech. I have been really upset over the role that science plays in normal life and political debate. For there to be an entire group of people who deny science, and think climate change is not happening is appalling to me. This is a situation that requires our immediate attention, if we want the planet to be somewhat similar for our children. Period. Stop these stupid debates about whether it's happening. It is. Now, let's do something about it. 
  • I feel consistently in awe of and inspired by Michelle Obama. I want to be just like her when I grow up. I just love how she acts, how she is so fun, yet serious and intelligent. I love how she really fulfills all roles of women - she is a successful lawyer, she is a (seemingly) good mother, she takes care of her health, and she champions causes that are important (and really should be bipartisan). She just does it all right. I don't know how she does it all, but she does (likely with an army of staff to assist her). I just remember seeing an article talking about a dress she wore that was available from J.Crew (or something like that) for, lets say $400, while Ann Romney wore a one-off Oscar dela Renta suit that cost over $5,000. How out of touch are you that you would think visiting small town American calls for a designer suit, especially in this economic crisis?
  • Today is rainy and quite cold (or, should I say, colder than usual) and the snow level will be dropping down to 3500 feet tonight. I must admit, I miss Philly. I miss the fall (which appears to be extended and confused here - some trees are changing, but not dropping leaves, while other are actually blooming like it's Spring! Hello?). I not only miss Philly, but I miss my friends. I miss the familiar. I miss our little house. I don't however, miss working in the labs I worked in. At Penn, my frustrations boiled over almost every day, while at ChOP, my passion just wasn't in it. Here, I feel inspired and happy almost every day. The friends thing will come in time, and trust me, I am happy to be closer to home.
  • I've had the beginnings of carpal tunnel syndrome from riding my bike lately. It really sucks to tell your husband, who absolutely LOVES his bike, and riding his bike that riding my bike is hurting me, maybe permanently. He told me to absolutely stop riding, and that he thinks my current bike is just too small, putting all my weight on my hands to balance. We are going to a bike shop this weekend to try to figure things out. I hate to spend even one more dime, but I know this is something that needs to be done, especially with me riding literally 20 miles a day. I just hope they can help me. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Political Post

Nope, not gonna tell you anything about who to vote for, although you can probably take a wild guess who I'm voting for. I'm interesting in talking about this "Food Labeling" proposition that's on the ballot in CA. Normally, I am all for educated consumers, and knowledge is power and all that jazz. This is one case where I'm not.

Here's what the Proposition says:
"Requires labeling of food sold to consumers made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways. Prohibits marketing such food, or other processed food, as “natural.” Provides exemptions. Fiscal Impact: Increased annual state costs from a few hundred thousand dollars to over $1 million to regulate the labeling of genetically engineered foods. Additional, but likely not significant, governmental costs to address violations under the measure."

My suggestion on this proposition? Vote NO. Why? Well, let me tell you

1) This labeling of food is largely based on misinformation. People automatically think that "Genetically Modified" = "Bad". These are likely the same people who think vaccines cause autism. This culture of misinformation out there (and this complete lack of scientific knowledge) leads people to write ill-informed ballot propositions with little or no scientific knowledge. There are no guidelines for what is GMO and what is not. The guidelines are very very blurry, and actually won't provide the consumer much useful information.
So, what is "Genetically Modified Organism"? Let me break it down for you. Generally, "genetically modified" means that a plant or animal has DNA (genetic material) in it that is not native. What does that mean? It means that someone took DNA from another animal or plant and put it into the genetic material of the desired plant or animal. Sometimes this can change the properties of a species. For example, you can take the DNA that encodes green fluorescent protein from a jellyfish and put it in zebrafish, and the zebrafish glow. They sell these at your local pet store, I am sure. (They are, like $10 each, tho - which is a super big rip-off!) These fish are technically genetically modified since they don't normally have this protein coded in their genes. They have also done this same thing, but in cats, as illustrated below. All of this is genetic modification. As scientists, we do this all the time. We call this "transgenesis", or transgene insertion.
2) "GMO" can do GOOD. Sometimes, however, scientists actually THINK about a problem that might be occurring. Like, perhaps people in one area of the world don't get enough Vitamin A. This is a huge problem in a significant portion of the world. Scientists developed Golden Rice, a strain of rice that has Vitamin A in it. If we can utilize this kind of rice in the areas stricken with Vitamin A deficiency, perhaps that can alleviate that disease. You can also imagine that this could be done for a wealth of other Vitamins and Minerals that people might lack.
3) Everything is GMO. If you want to know what's GMO in your cupboard, it's everything. Have you seen what corn originally looked like? Do you know that our chickens are so ridiculously large compared to wild ones? Do you think that cows normally look like Arnold Schwarzenegger? Are tomatoes actually that large in the wild? Have you ever seen a wild strawberry? All of our produce, all of our stock farm animals have been bred and modified to provide more food and more abundance for us. Everything. In. Your. Kitchen. There is no escaping it. Everything you buy will be GMO labeled in some form or another. What's the point in labeling everything?
4) But what about Monsanto? Yup, they're bad. I agree. They took some DNA from a bacteria and expressed it corn and soy and all those large crops grown in the middle of the country. All other plants die from the pesticide Roundup, but Monsanto based plants do not. I agree it would be nice to know when I am buying things made with Monsanto corn or regular corn. Honestly, the way around this? Buy local and buy organic. Everything processed is made with Monsanto corn or soy. Everything. And any restaurant you are going to is serving stuff made with Monsanto products. Accept it and know it. You don't need a label. Yeah, your Activia? GMO.
4) I get it, you just want to know. Much like the organic movement, or the "locavore" movement, we want to know more about our food and where it comes from. I get it, I really, really do. I think this is a situation where the letter of the law doesn't fit the spirit of the law.
5) This law is intended to trick consumers. I saw a commercial the other day about this law. It said something like, "Oh my God! Did you know that when you eat that corn, you're eating GMO DNA? That DNA can go in your stomach and get in your DNA!!!!". OK, look, people. Anything that WAS alive, that you are eating? It has DNA. Everything. You eat DNA every day, and you will eat DNA for the rest of your life. Your stomach? Full of acid. Literal acid. What kills DNA? Acid. This is no Spiderman, your DNA in not intermixing with that Lettuce DNA from lunch, and all of a sudden you might get green and leafy. Trust me on this one. The human body has been eating for a long time, it's learned how to keep the stuff you eat inside your gut, and only let the good stuff out into your bloodstream. Again, this is the misinformation I am talking about. Assuming that the general consumer will be automatically scared about GMO.

Summary: This law won't hurt big food manufacturers, which I think is what it wanted to do. This law will hurt the small farmers, the organic ranchers, by forcing them to submit to more inspections and create further labels - more than they already have. If you don't like Monsanto, then don't buy their stuff. Stop buying processed food. Stop buying things you can make on your own. Don't buy chips or candy, frozen TV dinners or McDonald's. Start visiting your local farmer's market. Plant a garden. Look, I'm not saying that GMO is all good, all the time. I'm just saying that Proposition 37 will create more problems than it will solve. Get a better worded, more focused Proposition 37 and you have my vote. Until then, I vote no.

Recap and Reassess Monday

  • Well, folks, it was the first weekend with my goals in mind. How did I do? 
  • Financial: well, that kinda sucked. We bought a bed on Saturday (much needed, queen size, 10 year warranty - the whole she-bang!) and Alex found out that one of the wheels on his bike is broken. So, we spent about $1000 total, but we used up all our wedding gift cards (which is kinda nice, just to make sure we don't waste them). However, the current state of our credit card bill might warrant a change to this goal. Perhaps saving $50 in the savings account might be more reasonable. 
  • Spiritual: Yeah, I just did not meditate at all this weekend. I'll work on this. But, I did read a little bit before bedtime each night. And I think I might get some books (yay!) for my birthday coming up, so I absolutely LOVE this goal. 
  • Career: Realistically, this weekend I had no time to work on anything career-wise. My Seminar meets tomorrow, so I am planning on attending that. And I will try to read a paper or two this afternoon. 
  • Health: I spent the weekend recovering from biking 100 miles last week. I did not run at all, and I actually feel pretty good about that, even though I didn't hit my goal. I did sit down and stretch a couple times at night this weekend, so I will continue to do that. 
  • Physical: I did, weirdly enough, go to bed around 10-ish and get up around 6-ish every day. I'm not sure if that's because of the time change that I was able to do it (although I did wake up early Saturday morning, even before the time change). I did not, however do any push-ups at all. Maybe I'll get on that tonight.
  • Organizational: This I think I did pretty well. I made a To Do list for our house on Saturday, and we worked all weekend at chipping away at it. In my defense, the To Do list was exceptionally long, and included trips to Costco, Macy's Target, the grocery store, and REI. We also went to the Farmer's Market on Sunday, and I stocked up on veggies and fruits for the week ahead. This To Do list is really working for me, and I'm really happy I started it. 
  • In addition to all the things we did, we also got a lot accomplished around the house. I made chili last night, and I got some of our closets under control, which is a miracle. We also tackled some Thank You notes we've been needing to complete and did four loads of laundry. I'm much happier with how things are starting to look in the house and I think we might be ready to unpack a few more boxes, and even (gasp!) hang pictures soon!
  • This past weekend was also stunningly beautiful. Lovely blue sky, amazing pretty little clouds. It was lovely to appreciate.
  • We also have this "BeWell" program at Stanford, which is really nice. It assesses your health via a questionnaire, and makes suggestions for improvement. It also helps you list out goals and how to achieve them, and seems to be just a great asset to working here. I filled out my assessment on Sunday, and I have a couple of ideas on where to go/what to do, which is really nice. 
  • Tomorrow, I vote! Yay!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Haiku Stanford Friday

Smart, intelligent
wicked cool, pleasant, lovely
Stunning, fantastic.


I love it here so
much I don't want to leave; so
much to do and see.


People are super
nice and chill, but still intense.
Silicon Valley.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


We walked around the 'hood last night and one house had two projectors. One projected the lady from the crystal ball on the Haunted House ride. Another was playing "Gagnam Style". It looked like a Hollywood set for Halloween. I guess that's how Silicon Valley rolls.

Nov 1

If you don't already read my cousin Liz's blog, you should. I linked to a post that spoke to me, but, truthfully, all her posts are amazing. She is so wise at such a young age. Everytime I read her blogs, I get inspired.
In her recent post, she talks about goals. I remember goals. I used to have them. I even had them in Philly. I have them at work (sort of). But I usually don't have goals. Since our move here, I have felt fairly discombobulated. I just don't feel settled. We still have boxes. I don't have furniture. My schedule is all whacked. I'm not sure how to fix it. My life is so different from what it was in Philly. I don't really have friends here and Alex and I don't have the outlets we had in Philly (friends, bars, running/biking paths). I would like to feel more settled. I would like to have some goals. And I think that following Lizzie's advice is the way to go.
Since this is Nov 1, a brand new start to a brand new month, I thought I would set some goals. Liz suggests starting with these categories, although you can add or subtract any categories you would like: Financial, Spiritual, Career/Personal, Health and Physical. I've added Organizational. She suggests starting with big goals, and then make smaller goals to help you achieve those goals. So, here goes:
Financial: Buy a house someday
Spiritual: Live in and for each moment, appreciate, breathe.
Career: Become a professor at a university
Health: Eat well, mostly plants
Physical: Wake up earlier. Be strong.
Organizational: Be organized. Don't miss meetings, big dates, tasks.

OK, seems like a good start, but how can I address all these goals at once? Well, here goes:
Financial: Put $200 away in savings this month. Pay off my one credit card bill. Bring my lunch to work each day.
Spiritual: I'm stealing this one from Liz: meditate 5 mins every morning. Read a little bit in a book (for pleasure) every night.
Career: Attend my future faculty seminar class. Get my pilot experiments up and working before the end of November. Read more science papers.
Health: Get used to biking 100 miles a week. I am still adjusting, but I would like to add in a little bit of time doing something other than biking, so maybe running once each weekend and stretching every morning or evening.
Physical: Set a sleep/wake schedule and stick to it. Pushups every day.
Organizational: Make a To Do list every day. Allow myself to not accomplish it, and put tasks on the list for the next day. Each week, reassess my To do list and make sure the goals are accomplishable (is that a word?). Get house under control!

OK, so this is my baseline start. These are my goals for the month and I am going to try to accomplish them in some form or another. Everyday I will look at my set of goals and reassess. What do you think? Are you ready for November?