Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Day Thirty: Self Portrait

Oh, I do not like taking pictures of myself and definitely don't like sharing them... Here it goes...

Yeah... But yes, that is an adorable Toothless shirt that I am wearing. My momma gave it to me. I love it.

Anyway, I enjoyed the photo challenge. It gave me a little break from school and my busy schedule and let me do something silly and new every day. I may do more in the future, but maybe not any that are so long. How about a week-long photo challenge? I hope you guys enjoyed it! I have to say, this was the most productive month, blog-wise. I managed to publish 33 posts: the 30 photo challenges and a couple on the side! Crazy.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Day Twenty-Nine: Light

I decided to put a nerdy spin on this one, too.
My brother got these for me! TARDIS lights! It fits the prompt, it's OK.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Day Twenty-Eight: Nighttime

A pretty easy one, right? Here is a picture of the nighttime sky from my window!
Until tomorrow!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Day Twenty-Seven: Daily Routine

Kind of a tough one, actually. My days tend to vary and be all kinds of crazy. Today was especially nuts. However, you can pretty much guarantee that I will, at some point, have coffee and read a book for pleasure (not always at the same time).
Haha! Coffee and a book. That's me in a nutshell! I love it.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Day Twenty-Six: Transportation

I figured taking a picture of my poor old car was lame. So here is a not-so-great picture I took of a not-so-great painting that I did:
That's right! Transport by TARDIS! Nerd alert! Seemed more interesting.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Day Twenty-Five: Artwork

I like art, and I have some artist friends. I didn't want to take a picture of artwork that a stranger made; it just didn't seem fair. I looked for pictures from the last painting party I attended and, sadly, didn't have any. So I took this:
I actually did paint this, with direction of course. It was one of those wine and paint parties for a girlfriend's bachelorette party (looking at you, Julia!). I'm pretty proud of it, actually!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Day Twenty-Four: Gratitude

At first, I was a little worried about this one. How do you take a picture if gratitude? Well, how do people show gratitude? Thank you cards? Gifts? Balloons?
I found this tied to someone's bike this morning when I left the dorm. And I thought, "That's a nice way to show that you appreciate someone!" So I took a picture and thought I could use it for this! Someone showing gratitude! And I am grateful to the person showing it! Anyway, it's cute.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Why You Should Vaccinate

I have been working on this one for some time, now. I think it is time to share it.

Most of my friends are well aware how pro-vaccine I am.

In the first place, I think that I have the educational background required to make a very well-informed analysis of the topic. (If you don't know, I have a B.S. in Biology [minor in Chemistry and an emphasis in Biotechnology, which both come in handy if we are discussing vaccines] and am completing an M.S. in Microbiology and Immunology.)

Vaccines were a huge development created in order to prevent horrible diseases like small pox, polio, rabies, measles, diphtheria, and so on. The thing about vaccines is, no, they are not perfect. Some of the people vaccinated (out of millions, mind you) will have bad side effects. Some of these, I believe, can be due to an underlying autoimmunity in the vaccinated person (which is there whether you get the vaccines or not—these types of conditions are often genetic. I don't think this has been proven, it's just an idea I've had). Regardless, some just have nasty side-effects that are general and go away. The thing about this is that vaccines prevent diseases that are MUCH worse than the side-effects of vaccination. The risk of you falling into maybe 1% of people who have bad side-effects are out-weighed by the benefit of being protected from these diseases.

I feel that most people who are anti-vaccine do not know enough about the diseases the vaccines prevent. To that end, I will attempt to give an overview of one of these diseases. You can tell me if you think the vaccines are worth it.

MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps, and rubella. According to the CDC Website (that is, the Centers for Disease Control) "Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus... Measles causes fever, runny nose, cough and a rash all over the body. About one out of 10 children with measles also gets an ear infection, and up to one out of 20 gets pneumonia. For every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die." One in 1,000 is .001% Not very high. However, according to the US Census Bureau, the estimated population in 2013 for the US alone was 316,128,839! .001% of this is 316,128. Over 300,00 people per year would die of measles in the US.

The CDC also states "The virus is highly contagious and can spread rapidly in areas where vaccination is not widespread. It is estimated that in 2008 there were 164,000 measles deaths worldwide—that equals about 450 deaths every day or about 18 deaths every hour." Now that is intense.

Common side effects of the vaccine include: "pain where the vaccine is given, fever, a mild rash, and swollen glands in the cheeks or neck." (CDC)

Also according to the CDC, severe reactions can happen. For example, less than one out of one million have a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine. Here is a direct link to the page: CDC: Side-effects of MMR. And for those of you who don't do well with math (like myself), that is less than .000001%! See? It becomes a numbers game where the benefits out-weigh the risks.

Measles is just one disease. If you are not sure about the symptoms of these various diseases, research! Make sure you know what you might be getting into by choosing not to vaccinate. Half-jokingly, my response is, "Do you know what happens when you get (insert disease here, ie: Tetanus)? Nothing good and then you die." I have various text books and resources easily available to myself. If you have questions about certain diseases, I would be happy to share the information.

Here is another thing that some people do not know/like to acknowledge. There has been absolutely no proof that vaccines cause autism. The CDC states "Because signs of autism may appear around the same time children receive the MMR vaccine, some parents may worry that the vaccine causes autism."

The guy who first published this study, Wakefield, is pretty notorious in my graduate program. He was the one who first observed this correlation between vaccines and autism (as a side note, correlation is not to be confused with causation. What this means is that vaccination rates rose as well as rates of autism, but that does not follow that vaccinations cause autism. No proof has been found to support Wakefield's claim.) Wakefield's "data" could not be duplicated and was later found to be fraudulent. In the scientific community, this is a huge offense—we call it scientific misconduct and it can get you into all kinds of trouble (which sadly, doesn't prevent it from happening—that is a topic for a different day, but I can answer questions if anyone has any). He was found guilty of misconduct and was forbidden to practice in the UK after that. I think he should have had his PhD revoked, personally (which can and has happened to other data fabricators and falsifiers). But alas, he didn't. Every time we talk about dropping vaccination rates and outbreaks of measles (or what have you) in the US, it is usually accompanied by a sarcastic, "Thanks, Wakefield" from someone in class.

Despite all of this, preservatives in vaccines were changed to help people not be so scared. People still harp on use of mercury in vaccines. For your information (and verified by the FDA), the mercury-containing compound that was used has been removed from many vaccines and reduced to the barest (we say "trace") amounts in the rest. I imagine that you get much more mercury from eating fish than you do from all the vaccines you get over your life-time.

And here, in my opinion, is the most important thing about vaccination: it creates a herd immunity. This means that enough people get vaccinated to block the infection in the general population. If most people are vaccinated, that helps protect the few that are not. This does not give you license to not vaccinate yourself or your children; that's not the point. The point is that some people are allergic to vaccines and some people don't have healthy immune systems. These people CANNOT get vaccinated, even if they want to. These individuals rely on the herd immunity to protect them. They rely on the people who CAN get vaccines to do so.

Lastly, say vaccines cause autism (I know they don't, but lets pretend). There is a chance that your child, following vaccines, will get autism. People, apparently, would rather not have a child who is autistic (and therefore a little different) than to have a sick/dead child. Not only that, but by not vaccinating their own child (at the horrible, life-threatening risk of autism<—this is sarcasm) endanger the life of their child AND the children around them who are relying on herd vaccination to protect them. To me, that is just selfish. The choice is death or autism and you are going to choose death? And the deaths of others? This is just sad, actually.

Here are a few resources and personal accounts for your purusal:
New York Times: Autism and the Agitator by Frank Bruni
Voices for Vaccines: Growing Up Unvaccinated
Violent metaphors: Dear parents, you are being lied to by Jennifer Raff

And here is a video that a friend posted on Facebook in response to a mutual friend posting the NYT article above. I am so glad this was made. It really hits exactly the point I was trying to make. There is some swearing, just so you know: Penn and Teller on Vaccinations

If there are points that I didn't address here (I'm sure there are) that you want me to address, please let me know and I will do my best.

When in doubt, you can always talk to a doctor or nurse, or, if you have the opportunity, a Medical Microbiologist or Immunologist!

Day Twenty-Three: In Your Closet

Because I know everyone wants to see my dorm room closet! Well, your wishes have been granted!
Weird prompt. I should have changed it... Oh well!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Day Twenty-Two: Clothing

Another kind of silly prompt. Since it isn't specific, I decided to take this picture of all of my David Bowie shirts. Or, those that I have up in my dorm room, anyway. At home I have TONS more. Really, who could only have four?! Not this girl.
Who doesn't love David Bowie? I always have room in my drawers for more DB shirts. I wish I had more of them up here with me.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Excited for Life!

I am supposed to be working on my big graduation paper/project that is due tomorrow. In my defense, it is getting there. As I am finishing this, I am finally feeling excited about everything!

My paper will be finished and I will be very close to graduating with my Masters! I have loved my program and having the chance to further my education.

After I finish up, I get to move back home to be with Isaac and my rats! This is a little bitter-sweet because I will miss classes and my group. We have worked together all year and we spend an awful lot of time together. We're pretty tight. I know that I will miss them. I look forward to seeing where life takes them.

On May 26th, I am participating in the Boulder Boulder 10K with Isaac, Katja, and Jhenn. I am not much of a runner, but I am trying to prepare and I am pretty excited.

The very next day, Jhenn and I leave for Indiana where we will kidnap Amie and bring her home. Jhenn calls it "Operation Rescue Amie." Honestly, I don't care that I will be helping her move, I am just looking forward to the drive and hanging out with a couple friends!

Towards the end of June, my mom, (hopefully my sister), and I will be hosting a baby shower for my brother and his girlfriend! I am super excited! First of all, I get to be an aunt (again). Plus, I love my baby brother (I know, I know, he isn't a baby anymore...) and his girlfriend is a sweetheart. I am just happy to have another niece! Ahh! So much pink! I love it!

And the day after the baby shower, Isaac and I will be leaving on a lovely, nearly two-week-long vacation to Washington and Oregon filled with good quality time, fun, hiking, beautiful scenery, good coffee, good food, and family! It will be so much fun! And I feel that I deserve a nice vacation. I could be wrong.

And in the midst of all of this, I can start looking for a career in my field (not that I don't like working at Starbucks, I just think it is getting time to move on). I feel like the doors are finally starting to open in my field and I am looking forward to seeing what is out there!

So here I am, right now, loving life! It's a wonderfully uplifting feeling!

Day Twenty-One: Where You Sleep

Silly prompt. Who really wants to see my dorm bed? Here it is anyway:
How's that? At least it was easy. My big paper is due tomorrow so I am great flu for that. Time to get back to work!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Day Twenty: Seasonal

At first I was thinking that this was a weird topic. I got lucky because today is also Easter so there were lots of opportunities for seasonal things. While I don't personally celebrate Easter, Isaac's family does so we went to his parents' house for the festivities. Here was one exciting moment:
Wren had her first Easter egg hunt! She wasn't sure about it at first, but she ended up having fun finding things (usually with help). It was so cute to watch! And she got lucky because there were several other kids there to play with! It was a good day.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Day Nineteen: Best Friend

How about best friendS? I have been blessed with many, many good friends. As far as I'm concerned, my life is not worth living without my friends. I have been lucky. I have very living, supportive, amazing friends. Sadly, I can't take a picture of all if them. Here is a picture of a picture of my largest group of girl friends:

I have awesome friends (I hope you guys know who you are). My friends are my most solid rocks. They mean the world to me! Thank you all for being my friends!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Day Eighteen: Something New

I looked all over my room for something new. I have some birthday and Christmas gifts, plus a David Bowie shirt from my mom. Then my mom and I went up to Laramie to spend my sister's birthday with her. We went to a shop called Hastings where I got these:
Just what I need: more books! In my defense, a few were used and all were cheap. I don't feel bad about it. I love books. My newest acquisition!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Day Seventeen: Memories

I have lots of good memories! Sadly, I don't even have pictures or mementos in my dorm room! Who am I anyway?!

So I searched my room for possibilities. And found these:
It's like going back to childhood! I love this show! I have all seven seasons! I grew up watching it. Well, that's what I've got: life lessons in DVD boxes.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Day Sixteen: Animals

Who doesn't love animals? Ok, some people don't, I suppose. I am an animal lover, however. I have TONS of pictures of my rats all over the place (as many of you know... that's almost entirely what I post on my Instagram account...). Being on campus makes this a little more difficult because all I have immediately available are squirrels. They weren't feeling cooperative. So I figured I could do yet another picture of rats (but really, how freaking cute are they?) or I could find something else. I don't have any real animals in my room (sadly). Here is what I came up with:
Bears! My comforter has bears on it. I love bears. I don't know if there are such things as spirit animals, but if there is, mine is definitely a bear.

As a bonus though, here is a cute picture of my sleepy rats keeping my knee warm!
Cutest rats ever! Ok, that's all for today!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Day Fifteen: Technology

I am not very technologically savvy. I use my iPhone ALL the time and I use it to take my pictures so I can't very well take a picture of it. I thought about taking a picture of my MacBook, which I like, but am not good at using yet. It would feel kind of fake. So here is a picture of something technological that I definitely know about and how to use:
My coffee machine! I definitely know how to make coffee! It would have been fun to take a picture of a nice espresso machine, but the opportunity didn't present itself. But I love my little coffee maker!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Day Fourteen: Movement

This was an interesting one. I thought about taking a picture walking to or from class. Or of my coffee brewing into my mug. I cheated a little. This is one I took about a week ago and hadn't deleted yet:
My rats moving! They do that a lot and I always go through and delete these blurry pictures after a while. I'm glad I found it! So there you have it: movement.

A Side Note

I just felt compelled to spill some of my feelings.

I realize that I am very stressed right now, and almost all of it is related to school work, so I am sure that some of what I am feeling reflects this, too.

However, I can't ignore the fact that we are coming up on a date that affected me greatly: almost a year ago, Isaac broke up with me. I suppose I can't help but feel a little paranoid about it sometimes. I don't remember if I wrote about it, but after we got back together and decided to work through things, I almost had a panic attack when I was moving my stuff back into his? our? bedroom. I had to leave the condo for a few hours and just get away from it all.

It's scary to know that I have deal breakers. By which I mean there are things I do or don't do that bother people (or Isaac) enough to break up with me. It's even more scary to know that, while somethings Isaac says or does annoy me, none of them are deal breakers for me. That's a pretty shaky position to be in. Isaac has been very good about trying to help me and not make me feel so insecure about my (in my opinion) rather precarious position in our relationship. I suppose it's because this makes me feel that, if (hopefully not "when") our relationship comes to an end, it will be by his terms, not mine. That's a pretty heavy realization. Isaac is good about letting me talk these things over with him and he does reassure me. And I really am trying to make improvements in my own life (with very mixed and inconsistent results).

I guess it boils down to the fact that, despite everything, I love him. And since I know that I can be OK by myself, I will be happy with the time that I get to be with him. I, personally, hope that it will be a long time. If it ends up not working out, I will be sad. But I won't regret the time I've been with him, because I've been happy. I still am happy. Anniversaries like this (if you can call it that... what is a word for this that has a more negative connotation? "Anniversary" sounds too positive) just tend to make me feel extra sensitive and vulnerable. That's why I felt compelled to share.

I hope this doesn't make anyone feel concerned. These are just thoughts that float around in my head. I really am doing alright, just feeling a little sensitive. But I am happy. Isaac is a good guy and a good person. I am finishing up a program that I love (even with all of the insane amounts of stress). I have lots of good friends and family. Life feels pretty good, right now. The tenderness that I am feeling will pass.

"So let your heart hold fast, for this soon shall pass." -Fort Atlantic "Let Your Heart Hold Fast"

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Day Thirteen: Written Words

I thought this was a cool theme. I read a lot of books and thought about taking a picture of the text in one of them. But I liked the idea of using something that I've written even more. The downside is that the only things I write these days are lecture notes. So here is an excerpt from one if my notebooks for my Biodefense and Emerging Pathogens class (possibly my favorite class--biodefense is like Defense Against the Dark Arts!):

This is from the Yersinia pestis (AKA Plague) lecture. Super interesting! I love the Plague. I mean, not that I want it personally... I also thought about taking a picture of some Brucella notes, which is another favorite pathogen of mine. I'm a nerd. At least I've found my passion, right? Anywho... I will stop boring you with my Microbiology stuff.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Day Twelve: Hands

I actually really like hands. I tend to look at people's hands. I didn't just want to do my own hands, so I tried including rat(s). Here was what I ended up with:
Romulus' hands! As he is licking my finger! I think that counts. As a bonus, here is a cute picture of Remus and one paw is showing:

And I worked this morning, so of course there is a Sharpie mark on my finger. Nice. Until tomorrow!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Day Eleven: Something Old

My something old:

These are my Gund bears, or B's as I called them as a very young child. I got these before I was two and I still have and love them! They used to be white and the fuzz has scraped off their noses and their eyes are scratched and chipped, but they are very loved. I keep them with me--they stay in my dorm room to keep me company. They are some of the oldest things I own (that are mine, not handed down from my mother, grandmother, or great-grandmother). They are pretty special to me.

My mom just bought a brand new Gund bear for my soon-to-be niece. It's all soft, white, and new. I hope she will love her "B" as much as I love mine!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Day Ten: Nature

This was an easy one! There is nature everywhere!

And there were even some leaves on the trees, not like last week when I had to take a picture of leaves... Oh well! This was taken at sunset, so it's a little hazy, but I like it!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Day Nine: Inspiring Person

This was another tough one. There are lots of people who are inspiring, some of whom I have written about in this blog before (David Bowie, for one). I was trying to think of someone I know personally who has inspired me recently. I decided to go with my Science and Ethics professor, Dr. Rollin. And since I couldn't get a picture in class (besides that seeming rude), I took this of two of his books that we are reading for his class instead:

Dr. Rollin is a philosopher who implemented many of the current regulations for care of laboratory animals. As a scientist getting an advanced degree, I encounter animal studies often. For years, they have made me sad and I tried to ignore them to read the papers and learn the science. Dr. Rollin talked to one of my classes last year about this very subject, causing me to sign up for his class this semester. I was hoping his class would help me come to terms with the use of animals in research. It didn't. It made me resolve to never participate in such things. More over, I hope to get to a position in my career that will allow me to help further his cause. That's why I chose him for this photo challenge.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Day Eight: Favorite Color

I like lots of different colors! For the last couple years, I have loved teal! So here is my teal scarf!
So that's that! More tomorrow!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Day Seven: Something Funny

A tough one! I find lots of things funny, but I can't take a picture of a conversation or of something I stumble across on Tumblr (well, I guess I *could,* but it wouldn't be a good picture). After searching around while walking to and from class, I started to feel discouraged. Later on, I stumbled across this article while reading through one of my editions of Scientific American:

The "Holey" land! Get it? Cause it's about sink holes by the Dead Sea? It's super cheesy, but I giggled when I saw it and then the light bulb came on, "Oh! Here is something funny! Hurry, pull out your phone and take a picture before you forget!" So there you go. Something funny in a very cheesy way. I hope it made you smile (even if your rolled your eyes after)!

By the by, this article is from the Scientific American that was released February of 2014. Arielle Duhaime-Ross wrote the article.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Day Six: Books

One of my favorite things! Here is a picture of all the books currently in my dorm room-text books and regular ones:
I love books!

Day Five: Morning Sky

I failed at this pretty badly. I had to be at work at 4:30 in the morning (the sky was just dark) and I didn't manage to make time to get a picture. So I took a picture shortly after sunset! So it's the night sky instead!
Not so horrible, right? I will get it right tomorrow!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Day Four: Leaves

It was slim pickin's for this challenge because most trees and plants aren't budding yet. Luckily, we have some plants at home do I took this:
This is our rosemary plant. It's a very happy plant.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Day Three: Happiness

This was a tough one, just because I feel like I have so much to choose from! Happiness is being with my family and friends. Or with my adorable ratties. Or sitting down with a good book and a cup of coffee. I chose this photo:

I cheated a little because I took it a little over a week ago at a friend's wedding that Isaac and I attended. I decided to use this picture (instead of one with my rats that was my second choice) because of how wonderful and supportive Isaac has been while I have been completing my Masters. I know it's hard for him when I am always away and not working enough to always help pay for things or not being around to do chores. Despite this, Isaac has been loving and supportive. I look forward to moving back home so I can actually be with him again (and with the ratties, of course). I suppose I am lucky to have so much happiness in my life. My friends and family mean the world to me. It was nice that this was a difficult choice.

On that note, I also considered sharing an ultrasound picture of my new niece to be! Speaking of happiness! I am super excited about that and am glad to share that tidbit with you, as well! More to come on that later.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Day Two: Smile

The photo challenge for day two is "smile!" I don't like to take pictures of myself (though I know I will have to at some point), so I took this one!
It's the bottom of a mug! It's the mama bear from Brave! So I love it for many, many reasons- Disney and Pixar movie, coffee mug, and of course that it is a bear! But she's smiling so it counts!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Day One: Favorite Food

Being in the dorms really got in the way of this photo challenge. Oh well. So my favorite food when I am up at school then...

Since coffee isn't a food *wink* I went with something else. Thanks dining hall.