Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Pedometer Experiment

The Happiness Project talked about the importance of a list of goals that you figure will make you happier. One of the author's goals is to try to take 10,000 steps a day. (About 5 miles) So in a very slow attempt at making a list of goals, I decided to pursue this. So I bought a pedometer. I tried it for one day, and then I forgot the second day. But, I still have some thoughts on the matter. I think it's totally possible that I get more than 10,000 steps in a day, since we have stairs in our apartment, I walk around on Stanford campus a lot, and since I babysit a two year old. In fact, I think following the two year old for a few hours probably gives me more than half. I've also discovered some possibilities for error. Because the pedometer counts steps when it gets shaked, being on a bouncy bus - and all buses are bouncy - means that some fake steps get counted. And I've decided that jumping up and down with a two year old counts as steps... so I guess that's not error any more. But anyway I'm super excited about this project! :)

Friday, April 6, 2012

2 Quirky things I've discovered lately

So I've discovered two amazing, and kind of quirky, things lately.
The first is yet another use for the ever-versatile mason jar. I was bemoaning the nonexistence of glass jarred personal blenders (like a glass jar magic bullet!) when the internet told me that most blenders will fit a mason jar! As it turns out, you can screw the blade part of your blender jar right onto a mason jar, creating a glass blender jar that you can drink from. And of course, mason jars come with lids, so it's a to-go cup! Apparently back in the day, blenders actually came with a mason jar in the box. This discovery has been an amazing addition to my mornings, as I can now put smoothie ingredients in a jar in the fridge at night, and in the morning all that's left to do is blend and run. :)
The second is just in time for Easter. Natural Easter egg dyes have been circulating the internet forever, and Martha Stewart popularized silk printed Easter eggs, but have you heard of Onion Skin Eggs? As far as egg decorating goes, it's a relatively easy process. All you have to do is wrap onion peals, and then white fabric around the raw eggs, then boil to cook as desired, and then unwrap and admire! This is one of my favorites so far, as you get to do much more designing than with other forms of egg decorating. And it's kid friendly!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

I finished the book!

Hey world,
So I finished the MWF Seeking BFF. I thought it was enjoyable and full of good ideas. In fact, I totally plan to do it, as soon as I get that driver's license I'm totally in the process of getting. It might be harder since I'm not closer to 30, like everyone on sites like or are. On the other hand, this is because people my age theoretically meet people more easily because of classes and stuff, so maybe it will balance out to be fair. I've only been in this area for 5 months, but I've made one sort-of-kind-of-except-we-never-get-together-except-that-one-time friend. I'm so glad I picked up that magazine in the airplane, because hopefully I can fix this friend-less problem before I've been here for 2 years.

It's even possible I'm on a self-help kick lately. I've decided to read The Happiness Project next. I'm not sure if these books count as self-help. They're slightly different than The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, for example. But whoa, as I was making that link, I just realized I can read an electronic version of it for free, since I have Amazon Prime. I guess I'm officially on a self help kick.

So in the last five years or so, I've been trying to sort of keep control of my internet presence. I only used Facebook until it became popular, and even then I only friended people I really knew well in real life. I used twitter the same way. I've recently switched to Google Plus, solely because it's not widely used. It was fun for me, since I basically haven't used Facebook in 5 years, at least. Now I'm making the active decision to get over that, I think. I mean, clearly I've started a public blog, right? I always refrained from reviewing things on Amazon because I wanted to have less of me on the internet, plus, how much weight can one review ever have? But I think I might even start doing that. Blogging and Facebook are probably overall a positive thing for friend-making, right? I think I'm even going to embrace things like... texting. I have this silly feeling that this will make me less interesting. But I think mostly that's insane, and my dislike of texting is probably more annoying to the world than interesting anyway. Best case scenario, I'm super interesting because I don't text or facebook, and so no one knows I'm super interesting.

More about the Friending Plan:
My favorite part of the book was at the end, when she gave some statistics of her 52 dates. She mentioned how many she only saw that one time, how many she only saw one more time, how many moved, how many she tried to pursue but it didn't work out, and how many she considers actual friends. It's nice to have this basis for reality, I think.
So currently I have a few ideas, like cooking classes and book clubs, etc. But I also think I'm going to get (personal) business cards. Maybe it's because Rick has been taking me to too many parties lately full of lawyers, but, I've come to think it's much easier and less awkward to hand someone a card with your information than to attempt to find a pen, or look like an idiot (in my case, at least!) when you don't know how to use someone's smartphone. Plus this way, I can just tell them how to internet-stalk me, which (since I'm sure everyone does it anyway - especially girl potential friend date people) is sort of a courtesy. Plus with the images and colors and fonts I choose, the person can get an extended sort of feel for me. So yes, this is the plan. Now only to procure glasses so that I can drive.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Women's Health in our culture

So today, I'm going to talk about something that is super important to me. In our culture, the way that women's health (and other issues) is talked about - or not talked - about hurts people.

Today I stumbled across Penelope Cruz. A while back, she made a controversial tweet about her miscarriage. (See this, this, and this) Basically, she expressed relief, joy, even, at her miscarriage, as she would not have to go through the insanity of acquiring an abortion in Wisconsin (where this is difficult, to say the least). The world was enraged. It's in poor taste to publicly share something like that, the world complained. It's WRONG to be happy about such a thing, the world fumed. It was suggested she only tweeted it to advance her career. Or even that she made up the whole thing to advance her career. People pointed out she's strange (she changed her name! she has Asperger's!), so let's just all discount her, okay? Abortion is evil, and she meant to get one, so her miscarriage is evil too! She shouldn't have been such a slut if she didn't want a baby!

The entire reaction to her tweet hinges on a lack of education and a strong desire to keep such topics private.

Miscarriages and abortions are actually really common and very emotionally difficult. The public's lack of education about such things removes a huge factor of social support and understanding.

75% of women have had a miscarriage - Penelope Cruz interview, CNN
33% of women have had an abortion - Planned Parenthood stats

If it's so common, how is it culturally tolerable that Penelope Cruz's CNN interviewer didn't even know how miscarriages happen?

"According to the Guttmacher Institute in the US (a not-for-profit organisation that works to advance reproductive health), most women who have abortions were on birth control the month they got pregnant" - Penelope Cruz

Our culture is so uneducated and yet so obsessed with non-science based health politics, that people assume that her abortion can be driven by nothing other than a soul-lacking, monstrous wickedness combined with slutiness. The fact that most people who get abortions do so for health (of the baby or the mother, also including mental) or financial reasons is completely lacking from the stinging comments on articles discussing the situation. It turns out that Penelope Cruz has an autistic child, and the rates of second autistic children is high. It turns out that she alone financially supports her family, and another child would be difficult to support. But I think this is all really irrelevant. The fact that the public doesn't even think of these things is devastating to me. Whether or not she made the whole thing up is also irrelevant at this point. And the suggestion that there could be a correct feeling for any situation is simply absurd.

At the very most, Penelope Cruz's only transgression was tweeting something that was offensive to others. But clearly in a culture of Family Guy, jokes about everything from dead babies to the Holocaust, and a desire to show off a puppy you've purchased from a breeder for $1000, this isn't an issue.

So how does this hurt people? How is this even unfair? We don't allow men to talk about the volume and texture of their semen, why do we have to allow women to talk about their gross quirks? The problem arises when this same mentality affects science and health.

Everyone from grade school students to the doctor at the fertility clinic is taught that women have a 28-day cycle, and ovulation occurs in a two to three day window, starting on the 14th day. If you are a women with a longer cycle, you're abnormal, but it's okay. Don't ask questions, don't worry, just move along. And if you have an extra heavy period, just make sure to take some iron. Oh, but if you take birth control - which you'll need if you have an irregular period for more than 4 years, because it will never become regular - you don't even have to remember because the pills for the last week of every month already have iron in them. But it turns out that it actually isn't normal to have a 28 day cycle, it isn't standard to ovulate on the 14th day, iron deficiency and periods don't work like that, and it can take a lot longer for a woman's period to become regular (lost my citation!).

A desire to keep women's dirty laundry hidden led to men with iron deficiency anemia automatically being given an endoscopy, because IDA is most commonly caused by upper-gastrointestinal bleeding in men. Meanwhile, for women it was assumed to just be menses-related. These women have the same GI disease, and yet are untreated. Meanwhile, childbirth, a healthy normal process has become a frightening medical procedure, run by surgeons, controlled by drugs not safe for pregnant women, and with a curious (unsafe) efficiency surrounding weekends and holidays (Citation: Born in the USA, documentary). Maternal mortality is inexcusably high given how modern we are, and somehow, everyone has forgotten how to deliver a breeched baby without cutting the mother open (Citation: Birth Matters by Ina May Gaskin).

The mentality that our society has affects women's health directly in so many ways. We pay women less than men for the same jobs and we pass them over for promotions. We call them mean names that there is no male equivalent for. We have fun jokes about sperm, but not about eggs and uterine linings. Penelope Cruz says that every time we have culturally not spoken about a women's issue, women get hurt. So this is me talking about it, and asking you to talk about it. Talk about the female experience: the good things, the bad things, and everything else. This is how we change the world.

* I'd like to note that this is feminism, and in no way does it have to do with hating men or being ugly and hairy women.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Pet Microchipping

At first glance, pet microchipping is brilliant. The idea is, you have this little electronic chip that you inject into your animal. The chip has an ID number that will identify the animal as yours. So if your pet gets lost, someone will wave a scanner over it, the number will come up, they'll look it up in the database, find your name and phone number, call you, and voila! you and your pet are happily reunited. And a lot of times, this is exactly how it goes down. It's a lovely thing. It's not a GPS system, but it's still a lovely thing.

But sometimes, it's not so straightforward. Here's what they don't tell you.

- There are four different types of microchips. Many more companies, but four types. Meaning that if someone finds your animal and scans it, they may have a type of scanner that doesn't match up with your chip, and your chip will go completely undetected. There are of course, universal scanners. But they're extremely expensive, and not all shelters and vets have them.

- Microchips can stop working. They can just wear out and turn off. It's recommended that at your pet's annual check up, you check to make sure the microchip is readable by your vet's scanner. But even if you remember this, a year is a long time for the chip to die without you noticing.

- Microchips can "migrate". Meaning that when it's injected into your kitty's shoulder area, it may slide down to the kitty's underside. I've seen people check for microchips at my vet, an ASPCA rescue effort in Joplin, and at a rescue I worked at. I've never seen anyone check an animal's underside thoroughly.

- Every single microchip detector I've seen someone use is "temperamental".

- I once saw a study claim that adverse reactions were noted in 10% of animals at the microchip injection site.

- In my vet's experience, around 50% of strays who have blank microchips. This means that someone either paid for a chip and neglected to input their information in the database when they got home, or that they adopted an animal which already had a blank chip, and they neglected to input the information after adoption. I'm not sure what happens if you microchip an animal and then don't pay the maintenance fee. The info might get deleted, I suppose, although that seems like a really mean move by these companies.

I already knew all of these things though. I figured the system was reasonably flawed, but still better to do the chipping than not. Now here's what happened today: A while ago, we scooped a stray cat up off the street and brought it home. It looked reasonable that he belonged to someone and we could find them. He's a beautiful neutered male tabby. Only probably two or three years old, no fleas, no worms, and loves to have his neck scratched. He's kind of stocky. Not fat, but a lot of muscle. We found him in a parking lot by a lot of Asian restaurants. He was eating a lot of lean protein scraps, clearly. Ideal food for an obligate carnivore. He was a little beat up, but he didn't look much like a stray, and definitely not like a feral. So we take him to the vet.

And... He has a chip!



Not so much.

The chip reader (a universal reader) pulls up "petlink ############". I figure Petlink is a company, so I look up the number and I call them right away, ready to find some people who have been missing their kitty and will come and pick them up tonight. Because you don't pay so much for a microchip unless you lovelovelove your indoor kitty and you miss them dearly, right? I argue with their phone menu, and finally am promised transfer to a human. But then I'm told I've reached the wrong number. Okay. The internet! I type in the number to the petlink website. The number isn't registered. I'm immensely let down. I apologize to kitty, promise him we'll find him an amazing new family. Then an hour later, I notice the tiny text. The petlink website suggests I look the number up in a universal microchip registry. So I try it. This page tells me the number is a "HomeAgain" chip number. And the date the information was last edited. I'm concerned that this webpage disagrees with the scanner, but I call. The woman the phone menu finally allows me to speak to confuses me. She wants to know the street I found him on, the zip code, the street I live on, my zip code. When I finally ask her if I can tell her the chip number, she tells me that there is no phone number that she can give me. I'm ready to call it quits and she tells me that she recommends that I take him to a shelter because there's some information that the company "may be allowed to give a shelter". At this point, I'm confused. Is there information or isn't there? Is this chip number a HomeAgain number? I understand the need for confidentiality, but why would they be able to give me a phone number for the owner while not other information?

So at this point, I have no idea what's going to happen. He's a lovely cat and he may need a new home, which I can certainly handle. But it's really irritating that this microchip system can't even tell me if he has owners. I mean, people who care less might not take a stray to the vet to be scanned, call two different numbers, check two different websites, and take him to a shelter. So will my microchipped animals even find their way back home if someone goodhearted finds them and wants to help? For a while I considered finding a microchip of each scanner type for my animals, so that any scanner would at least pick up some information. But my vet "strongly advised" that I not do that, because of adverse reactions. Clearly there is a need for a better system.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Things I'm Loving Lately

Spinach balls. I really enjoy food, especially finger foods. This recipe is lovely and easy and addictive, and I love it.
Of course, I can take no credit whatsoever, although there is a minor amount of pride associated with putting something in the oven and retrieving it unburned.
Check this out:

 And this stuff. I'm always on the lookout for the non toxic, fair wages, environment saving product that works as well as the mainstream version claims to in the national commercials, so I'll probably post a good number of natural products over time, if this blogging thing sticks. My skin loves this moisturizer, and it's mostly organic. The company is pretty great too, although stuff can be pricy. This is the less expensive wild rose version, but it's fantastic. :)

This is a book that I discovered by chance. On an American Airlines flight, desperately bored, I started looking through their airline magazine (why would an airline have a magazine? for moments like this, apparently) and I found a little blurb about this book. This woman moved to Chicago with her husband, found herself BFF-free. So she went on a journey to fix this situation and wrote about it. So since I moved recently to the bay area, and have found out recently that it's apparently difficult to make friends, I bought this book as soon as I got home from the flight. I figure, worst case scenario, the book is boring but I take note of some of her methods to try out, and best case, the book is really entertaining and I learn some stuff about me and the way friendships work, and the book helps me make a bunch of friends. So far, which is only page 44, I'm enjoying the book, but I've only come across one method so far (because I skipped ahead in the book to the list of girls in the back [because it was available on the amazon preview and I read everything available on there while the book was shipping]). This method,, is basically online dating, but for friends and only available to women. So I filled in my profile and sent messages to a few girls and now, like any online dater, I wait, while lacking self esteem and fretting about no one replying to my "friend requests" or ever messaging me first. Meanwhile, I read on!

Awkward first post!

Hello world,
So this year is my year of actually doing stuff. I'm very good at getting close to doing stuff, and buying all the stuff for craft projects before giving up. So this year, when I get an idea, I will do it, and then decide if it's a good idea, instead of the other way around. I figure these days everyone has a blog, and I'm better at talking and being opinionated than a lot of people. So I got a blog, I will babble, and maybe I'll even have an audience. And for the record, if this blog takes off, I will totally delete this post. So if you see this post, and there are actually comments on this blog from actual strangers, you're a limited set of people. :)