Monday, August 30, 2010

rejection sigh...

Well, I got to be happy for a few days, but today all hope was squished. "Not clear of the kind of conceptual advance which would generate interest from our reader".... [paraphrasing] Ah, it's probably much better though, to get rejected without even getting sent out for review. At least it was very quick. Now the manuscript can get sent to another journal.... if I just can figure out a better [more appropriate] one.

Feeling a bit bummed though. Really wanted this to work. It would've been my best IF so far...

Then again, maybe that wouldn't mean too much ;)

Off to scout for a new vanue, and I think C/N/S style is out. (read: not general enough, nor conceptial apparently... duh) The hard choice is going to be which way we will have to rewrite it towards... huu....

I guess I can give it a night and grieve/feel bummed/mope before I pick it up and reformat the whole deal. Yack.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

You make a huge mistake

…in the middle of the day, aka lunch time. I started reading a little thing about the swine flu debate… and realized (again) that I won’t be able to be quiet nor calm. Some people are just too scary for their own good.

Since I’m busy today I can’t write my piece right now, but I will have too soon. I can however jot down a few bullet points. All of them since it makes me cringe how little people really understand “causality” and “correlation” and what this “statistical significance” really means.

Let’s start with simple biology;
*Virus infections can not be treated with antibiotics

*Actually, apart from some anti-virals that work against some viral infections, we humans have nothing real good to fight a viral infection. Hence the interest and need for vaccines

..and then on to the more hard to argue about since they are so… taken out of thin air?!

* Pharma is not out to kill us all, really not.

* Even if Pharma is only around to make money, they don’t want to kill everyone (especially not their potential clients who will buy drugs)

There are some mix ups of all these arguments which makes it really hard to argue the case. Why? Because the whole discussion focuses on A,B and then logically D,E and G. If you are to point out that in fact, “B is wrong, C and F are missing, and D doesn’t follow B, but sure, G is a bit tough” then the focus will be “G is a bit tough, huh I TOLD you so!!!” and all other points are forgotten since one of the statements were sort of true….

* I agree completely that the WHO screwed up on the “non disclosure” factor of which affiliation the researchers who were involved in the reference group had. I thought it would lead to, as it has, the whole “if you’re hiding it, it’s because it’s fishy”. That was real stupidly done. (Doesn’t influence what I think about the reasoning though…)

* If the vaccine hadn’t been done, and the pandemic would’ve flooded us, and people died en masse… you think anyone would’ve been holding back? Nah. We call this the classical “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”.

*The link between side effects of the swine flu vaccine and people, compared to the “seasonal flu vaccine” and side effects is going to be real interesting to study. Why you might ask. Because the swine flu vaccine was made exactly like the seasonal one… with the same mixings… apart from [drum roll] the actual virus. I guess my fascination as a scientist is key here- imagine if it is something with these epitopes that trigger something. Or, as some of us fellow flu scientists hypothesized, it might be a “huge cohort” and “underlying factors” that aren’t obvious to start with. Sure, x sounds like a large number. Comparing x to 10000x makes it less… so… still going to be investigated of course.

And my main source of irritation right now.

WHY are people so prone to listen to some person who hasn’t gotten any relevant experience (never mind degree) in the subject at hand and believe in them?!?! I mean, seriously. Would you believe Person A on the street telling you that newer models of air planes are unsafe to fly in because they have heard one other person telling them that and they liked this other person?

If you wouldn’t, why trust some person stating “anyone with a degree is associated with pharma, and therefore trying to make money of you, and not caring about your life. Me however, with no knowledge in anything related to life sciences or body functions, I know the real deal here”.


Time to go work and hopefully I can let go of this childish “let them all have viruses next time and see what they say then” attitude. Got to save the children, even if their parents are trying their hardest not to, right?!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

comfort pants got to go

I don't know about others but I have some comfort clothes in my closet. Clothes I never really wear, really should get rid of but never seem to do. Why? Because somewhere it feels better to me to look at 15 pair of pants and think that I have a choice of pants. In reality though, I only wear 3 pairs of them. 3 are too big, they fall off. At least 4 are too old and torn, that if I were to wear them, I'd be in risk of being asked if I wanted change. And then there are a couple I never should have bought in the first place since they don't really fit.... either in style or model. I mean, a pair of jeans in really light wash that are tight with rips?

Sometimes relationship are the same thing. The times I've heard "it is friendship", but could you really call them in time of need? Are they more of "acquaintance" than 'friends'. In Swedish there are three words many use in order to sort this out in your head; 'vän', 'kompis' and 'bekant'.

The last one, 'bekant', is most likely translated in to 'acquaintance'. Someone you sort of know by name/face in the circle of friends but not too much more than that. It's the other two that I have a problem with here in this new place of mine. Especially since I have a distinct feeling that there is no difference between them when I translate into English. My 'vän' (in Swedish) is someone I can call whenever I need them. My 'kompis' (in Swedish), is someone who usually listen if you're out taking a beer or something like that. Not the one who would bail you out, and probably not listen to you inner feelings or more serious stuff that goes on. Less messy, less strings... but it's nice 'friendship' and you can think of it as the group of 'friends' who you go camping with for the weekend, not all of them are you 'friends' but as a group you're friends. Maybe it would be 'associates' or 'pals' or something? But I think it's more likely 'friends' and 'close/real friends'?

I've had reason to think about this once again here in post doc city since I realise that I have plenty of 'kompisar' but not many friends. Although, for argument sake I would probably state that I personally don't have many 'close friends' '(nära) vänner' since that's in the definition for me about friendship.

I guess partly it's my thing, my mistake of not trying hard enough to socialize and let people in (but I don't think you get these friends easy or fast... and then you might still have some friends on the other side of the world - granted, hugs are hard to get through email and phone calls). And that things can be over analysed and over defined, since it is about emotions and not quantifying or intellectualize abstract things.

But, I have to say that it does hurt when you think you have a friend in someone, and then you understand that it's not true. Nope. They are really more of a 'kompis' or even an acquaintance you've know for a longer time and not a friend who really cares about you and the former friendship you shared. It sort of sucks. Although, to be fair, it's what life is. And you do assess, adapt to the knew situation and move on.*

And that's where the comfort pants come in. I'm starting to think I will clean out all the pants I don't wear, since the comfort of looking at the multitude of pants is severely diminished once realizing that I really won't be wearing some of them in case of the other ones being out of place - after all, I have a bunch of skirts and dresses and need not the fake comfort anymore!

Bad pants out, good pants stay; that will make a cleaner day.

[as a side note it seems like there's been some research (OK, it's not this year) about "Americans suffering a loss of quality and quantity of close friendships since 1985. Interestingly, 25% have no close confidants..." more from the same study, "it shows that the dependancy from friends to family rose." I guess it points towards one of those things I've found more obvious here, that men and woman are not supposed to be friends; and that the most important thing is to have one spouse with whom you share it all and no one else.

It's not all bad of course. There might be something to having a close family instead of friends... and blood is thicker than water etc. Still though, I think key thing is that you have someone, or three, people who care about you and whom you care about too. Opening up and trusting someone, the question is mainly to choose wisely on whom to trust.]

*in theory, it sounds easy.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

my life with cats and dogs

[I wrote parts of this earlier in the week but since I'm currently on my xth night of not sleeping well, I figured I'd share it. It has of course, nothing to do with science... almost nothing anyway. It was either this post, or a little one about comfort pants in the closet ... I'll save that one for another day.]

I have a little problem that people in general don't really understand. See, I'm not a huge fan of cats - nor dogs. I mean, I like small kittens.... and puppies are cute. Big dogs though, and big cats with teeth though, not so much. One could say I am sort of scared of them even. It's not better since I know that they can feel (smell or taste of whatever you call it) that someone is not loving them and they turn more nervous. It's that sad thing that the more nervous you are, the more on edge they become. You know, like in a horror movie when one person gets all the others riled up and then the guns, knives and craziness come out? And all could've probably been avoided if everyone just shut up and went in their own little corner.

Usually I'm fine with it though, if the pet's owner (or the one the cat owns looking at it from their perspective) is at the house with me. Well... that's not the situation when you are cat or dog sitting. Huh. One thinks a PhD could've figured that one out. (duh) Alas, it seems like this particular doctor didn't really put that into the equation when offering to help out.

To add insult to the injury - the cats (I've noticed it is more a problem with cats since I see their claws and fangs once they look at my) seem to take extra pleasure to be where I am to make me more fidgety. Sleeping? well... when the cat wants to snuggle in the bed I'm sleeping in, they can clearly sleep well. Me? Not so much. Not to mention that I am terrified of accidentally roll on top of them so they get a reason to claw me. (Hence loving the closed door, separate living quarters from the litter box, sleeping pad and the food. I don't feel that evil then for closing them out. Doesn't stop them from making all sorts of sounds when they want your attention though. But that's another thing. I can usually close that out pretty well... sort of.)

It's not out of nowhere this fear (or whatever one should call it) comes from. As a child my family cat sat a cat who turned out to be a bit on the bad side. Not to blame him really, he lived in a family of three kids who weren't gentle with him. He went after me one night in my sleep... and I clearly live to remember it. And have attributed most of the species with the same behaviour.

Ah well, the true kicker of the story is that I am not scared of other animals people tend to find scary. Horses for example. Not a problem. Could have something to do with the fact that I've been around them for a long time and have encountered a lot of tricks to do when they decide to play rough. A good thing to know might be that unless the horse is really out to harm you and takes aim from a long distance, you just cling to the head and hold on to that. Then they can't really hurt you. Of course, it helps if they have a "mouth/head thing" on since that is what you rear them in with. And clutch onto.

I'm clearly not mentioning the absurd idea of being a researcher with a fear of rats... and mice... the mice thing I got over real quick. Let's just say having a project that depended on you being alone with mice and working with them several hours a day for a really long time is a great motivator. Still not super keen on going after male breeder mice to pick up from their cage, but I can do it. To be fair, pregger female ones aren't too nice either - or when they have dropped a litter and you need to change the bedding. (And no, rats are still out of the equation. Even the dead one I saw a few days ago while out walking the dog I'm currently the best friend of. She loves me. And I have to say, she's not as scary as other dogs. And less scary than the cats.) Even rabbits are sort of on the bad side (big teeth and I'm sure you've seen the Killer Rabbit?).

And then I'm not even mentioning birds. huu.... virus and bacteria from I don't know what. And a viewing of "The Birds" when I was way too young. Still fidgeting when being outdoors and eating a sandwich and those sparrows or crows come hopping... guess that could also have something to do with seeing crows while mountain hiking and seeing what they can do to a deer... I know it might have been dead when they started, or at least half dead but still... those beaks and eyes, now I'm clearly not sleeping soundly too night. Way too vivid imagination for being a bright girl.

And yes, I can see that this might make me sound like a scared, slightly pathetic person. Then again, I've been confronting my fears about mice, cats and dogs (even if I agree that one of the cats really gave me hisses and showed teeth that I had never seen before and I wasn't the cockiest but then again, I was barefoot and in short shorts....) so at least I'm working on it... Loose dogs in the street though, still have a long way to go with that (and no, I doubt it will ever happen. I like my body too much for that ;) ).

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

the meme

I thought about the meme from ComeHunter (Alyssa) for a long time (ok, three days)... then I decided that I probably won't do any better with longer time to ponder. I don't like short things... I am a fan of Graham Greene and Kafka but I seem to be more of a three row sentences kind of girl.

So, without further ado - I think this is what it's going to be:

Sciencey blog with emotions, sometimes too personal, it's venting ;)

Of course, I could've mentioned something about feminist, female and the idea of science and work place... but that wouldn't fit in 10 words. I guess I think I am more complex sometimes. (or wordy. duh) Or it's just all venting... venting... and more thinking, dreaming and hoping...

(and ellipses... always too many of those)

Friday, August 06, 2010

TCM = August with stars = "movies this weekend"

TCM (Turner Movie Channel ) has this thing this August; a star a day. Today is Ingrid Bergman. And tonight I can watch Notorious (spy story in South America with a touch of Nazis). If I was awake in the middle of the night it will be a showing of Gaslight, in case you are interested in a very fascinating story on how an evil man wants to drive his wife insane before electricity was as it is now. And I guess I'll record Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde due to work hours, since she is quite remarkable in that one too.

All that talent and that face... she might be one of the most gorgeous women of all times... she managed something that was, especially in that time, quite extra-ordinary. She and an Italian director (yes, Rossellini) had an affair while both of them were married to other people. Although, I guess since they ended up being married to each other for 7 years, having three children (among them the beautiful Isabella Rossellini).

It got her on the bad list, took a toll on her career; she didn't do much between meeting R in the middle of the 40ies and early 50ies, even if I'm sure the children surely took some time. She was "too much of a risk" in Hollywood, not to mention what the intended audience thought... box office, ticket... revenues... But she got back in the game and made Anastasia, got an Oscar (then got divorced the year after that... in case someone is interested in counting all female recipients who get divorced after reciveing their Academy Award - a side note) and kept making movies until her death in 1982. Murder on the Orientexpress is another one of my old faves (closet Agatha Christie fan, that'd be me - kept a list and didn't stop until I'd read them all. It's like 82 books or something like that. Side note again.)

To me she's always been mixed in with Ingmar Bergman (no relation at all!) since they both were Bergmans, Swedish, famous and known by many outside of the little country in the north. If you can, watching her movies is lovely. Granted, I get envious about that face a lot of times. She made quite an impression in the start of her career since she filmed without much makeup at all - she had clear skin and a healthy appearance!

And tomorrow is Errol. I can enjoy Robin Hood in the afternoon (that fighting scene in the stairs is one of the first ones I remember seeing. There is that one and the Ivanhoe - not with Errol - from 1980 that I am quite certain triggered a slight interest in medieval reenactment and acting in general.)

Then it's a comedean Sunday; Bob Hope. Can't say I have even been a great fan of comedy but "I'll take Sweden" looks interesting, although it is Sunday morning but who knows? Maybe that movie from 1956 fits perfectly with waffles and a slow Sunday breakfast? I have to admit that I haven't seen it but the story about a man who moves to Sweden to stop his daughter from marrying a beach bum (in Sweden? in the 1950ies? Maybe the writers mistook California and Sweden...) ah well, it sounds like it could be a fun movie.

Monday has Warren Beatty and then after that I haven't picked all the movies to drown in. It's going to be a lot of options... Kathryn Hepburn, Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood, Olivia de Havilland, Lauren Bacall, Peter O'Toole and many many more. It looks like I am going to have lots of diversion from everyday life, which might be a good plan.

Dream a little dream with a movie... and prolong the nightly dreams.

Now, time for work!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

brain death vs heart death and DNR

This story "What broke my father's heart" in the New York Times made me cry when I read it. I remembered a feeling that I had many years ago, when I watched my grandmother in her hospice bed.

I remember talking about the guilt for a long time afterwards. The feeling that I had that "it has to be over soon" ... and I wasn't even talking about a long time, not in comparison to others.

And this story reminds me about another blog post about Alzheimer's (as well as about a friend of mine whose father had early onset Alzheimer's and what that did to her family). And the whole issue of "living the life" and what we humans can create nowadays.... now, when we have lovely medicine that help so many so much. But sometimes it creates these problems. And the decisions that are made, maybe not intentionally but they turn out to be "for our own good"... rather than the good of the other one.

I'm not trying to say we should stop invention or use of modern medicine. But just maybe, sometimes we should slow down.. and make the decisions a bit slower when we are allowed to think about the consequences of our decisions.

And if nothing else, that we all should contemplate the "Living will". If something were to happen to you, what do you wish would happen to you? Resuscitation? DNR? Organ donation? Medical research? All organs intact? And even more simple decisions what would happen with the body.... cremation or not? Spreading of ashes? Or not? Church services? Where? What?(And here where I am currently living they have a tradition of open casket and a viewing.... yeah... It's very non-familiar to me.)

I have had these talks with my parents. I mean, they have told me what they want for themselves. Actually, we have talked about it a bit too often for my liking. Funny enough (it's not funny at all but I can't think of another word), when I voiced my thoughts they replied "but you will not die before us so you need to write it down for someone else" (at the time I silently wondered who would be the one to take my thoughts and wants... since I did not have someone who had shared my life for 30 odd years like they have). I guess it will be someone involved with my life in the future when I finally die? That said, I made my first will when I was 23.

Why? Well, I was abroad in a foreign country and a few of my close friends back home came (well, come, I guess since it is still true) from not so fortunate upbringings and did not have too much money. And I didn't think my parents would want my savings and funds... (As it turned out, they both really want me to give my life insurance and other funds to someone I care about, and not them. As earlier mentioned, they really don't want to contemplate that I might accidentally end up dead before them. Since it is not "natural" I guess.)

So, along with all the other strange things I hope people talk about with their friends and loved ones - will and organ donations would be among that.

If you were in a car crash on the way to work tomorrow - would your wishes be known to your close ones? If not, please take a moment and think about it...

[on a side note, my Itunes turned on Placebo "Protect me from what I want" when I was in the middle of the post. Sounded fitting somehow.]