Sunday, June 28, 2009

Guaranteed to Make You Bawl

Children are our future. Okay, not all children. Just the children of PS22.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Brilliant (and Convenient)

That's right, for those who are on the go, BBQ Chicken restaurants offer the convenience of your chicken and your drink in one convenient container. It's brilliant!

What I can't figure out is if your nose ends up in the chicken when you try to take a drink, though.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Artificially Sweet Sorrow

I was in my favorite grocery store tonight, planning to pick up my favorite non-caffeinated, diet soda. This soda is not a well-known brand, but I have come to know and enjoy it over the past few months. It comes in interesting flavors, is only six calories a serving, is manufactured in a charmingly old-timey glass bottle, and is delightful to sip on warm summer days.

I happened upon it months ago one day in the corner of the grocery store, on some kind of special sale, near the kosher meats. That day I picked up a four-pack and I never looked back. Among the child-infested, yuppie-scum-complainer-soaked aisles of the store, I grew to look forward to my detour to the corner of the store to pick up this special soda. Week after week during these miserable shopping trips I have visited that corner, and week after week I encounter the boxes of soda stacked up high, like a cardboard-and-glass lighthouse in a storm.

Today, I approached the familiar corner, prepared to scan and pick my favorite flavors, or perhaps flavors I hadn't tried yet, or flavors I thought Mike3550 would enjoy.

Once at the stack, I surveyed my options. Lo and behold, there was only one four-bottle pack remaining. The rest of the stack was composed of a different, inferior soda brand, and non-diet versions of the brand in question.

There are certain things you come to expect in life. Apparently not included on that list of things are a job that can take you to retirement if you perform satisfactorily, protection from predatory companies, fair presidential elections in a democracy, elected officials who make an effort to deliver on strong campaign promises, labor leaders who act in the interests of their members, managers who can go a day without treating their employees like animals, a phone that lasts more than two years, and not catching deadly diseases from barnyard animals.

To my mind, grocery items that are usually well-stocked in your friendly neighborhood store should be able to go on, and stay, on that list. With all the stupid, unpredictable crap going on, someone should at least put out a warning - "We are selling the last of our ____ soda stock. We hope you enjoy it while it lasts." Or, "Starting next week, we will no longer carry ___ soda. We apologize for the inconvenience." Or, if they are just running low, simply: "We are running low on ____ soda. We should be in stock next week."

Grocery stores should learn to capitalize on the marginal value of someone liking one frickin' iota of predictability! Just one! I was so angry I wrote a haiku about it:

eagerly await
the one bright spot in my day -
- no soda! - hopes dashed.

Oh, and all you santimonious "at least you don't live in ___"-ers out there : please don't put this in perspective for me. Please allow me to wallow like a little piglet in artificial self pity over my stupid, inconsequential soda loss. Thanks.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Obama Ices Fly On Camera

I'm sorry, I know this is not serious news, but pile this CNN video onto Obama's sunk 3 pointer while visiting the troops on the campaign trail, and an eerie, sent-from-another-planet pattern begins to emerge. I love anchor #2's face after the clip rolls, it just continues to fall when anchor #1 attempts some incoherent banter about being scared of horseflies.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Score One for the Good Guys

Several months back, I wrote about that George Mason University was being sued by the makers of EndNote, Thomson Reuters, for breach of contract for the creation and development of the open-source bibliographic management software Zotero. Although I already really liked Zotero and severely disliked EndNote, Thomson Reuters' lawsuit made me bound and determined not to ever use their inferior software.

The good news is that today the judge dismissed the case against GMU. The Citizen Media Law Project, which has a description of the case said that they would post the decision when it is released.

In other Zotero news, a couple of weeks back, they released Zotero version 2.0 in beta, and it is pretty awesome. It allows people to collaborate over the web, build online groups where you can share your citations across projects, and has tools to allow researchers to collaborate and follow colleagues. It is amazing software that I would highly recommend.

Monday, June 1, 2009

In Memory of Dr. George Tiller

Mike and E have asked me for months and months to begin writing posts for the blog, and I have had several thoughts run through my head, but never seem to have the time to write them down. Ironic, then, that my first post comes at a time when I feel so lost for words.

Friends and family who know me may be surprised to learn that I don't want to play the blame game right now (hell, it surprised even me). But I'm just too speechlessly sad. Dr. George Tiller was gunned down in a senseless act of violence that stripped the world of a kind, caring man. His family, friends, patients, and colleagues grieve over the loss. There will be plenty of time for justice -- and I believe there is plenty of blame to go around, from the culture of violence the hatred-soaked anti-abortion rhetoric implicitly supports, to the individuals themselves who participate in such senseless acts -- but now is the time to simply remember a man who gave everything so that women might have the lives and families they needed or wanted; and oftentimes, gave them a compassionate option when the lives and families they so desperately wanted were shattered by fetal anomaly or devastating illness.

Yesterday morning, the women's health and reproductive rights/justice movement, the medical profession, and women in need of compassionate abortion services lost a great advocate, teacher, and professional. I had the absolute privilege of meeting Dr. Tiller at the most recent National Abortion Federation meeting. When he learned I planned to enter obstetrics and gynecology at the end of my medical training, he gave me his heartfelt thanks and some sage advice. I have only rarely met individuals like Dr. Tiller, who, in the midst of a large crowd of people all scrambling to speak to him, can make you feel as though your story and your thoughts are the most important things going on in that particular moment. He was a gentle, caring soul.

And that is how I imagine his patients felt, too. Dr. Tiller provided compassionate abortion care for women across the spectrum of need. Most controversially, and I believe most importantly, Dr. Tiller provided later abortions that other providers will not - largely for fear of the violence and retribution from anti-abortion extremists that eventually took Dr. Tiller's life. These women have posted comments across the web today, recounting the stories of the discovery late in pregnancy of a fetal anomaly incompatible with life - and how Dr. Tiller offered them an option. Lynn Paltrow said it best in her blog post today at RH Reality when she wrote:

One of the amazing things about Dr. Tiller, in addition to his determination and his extraordinary courage, was the fact that he knew and appreciated who his patients were. He knew them as loving women, daughters, and mothers who are the backbone of their families and, to a large extent, our country.

Many of the women who traveled to Dr. Tiller's clinic were not women who wanted to have abortions, or who even support the right to choose to have an abortion. Many were women with wanted pregnancies who learned that their baby had no brain, or kidneys growing on the outside of their bodies or things their doctors described to them as "severe fetal cardiac malformations." They were women who could not face two or three more months of pregnancy with people patting their bellies and saying, "Oh honey you must be excited. When are you due?" Some women deal with such crises by continuing to term even knowing the baby cannot survive. Others find that their dignity depends on being able to end the pregnancy.

Some women who went to his clinic were extremely young. Some who went struggled with health problems and disabilities that they felt would be exacerbated by a pregnancy they did not recognize until late. All together they represented women with the least desired and rarest abortions - ones late in pregnancy.

Dr. Tiller was extraordinary. When I met him he talked about why women have abortions and how they understand them in terms of their religious faith and spirituality. He described his efforts to serve them with respect, making possible rituals that would allow them to say goodbye to fetal life that they in fact valued.

Some women who returned from his clinic actually felt that they had been treated better through an abortion they wished they had not needed, than through a birth that they had anticipated with joy.
The shockwaves of this tragedy will ripple far into the future. Not only have we lost a great man, but his clinic may face difficulties finding another provider to take his place. And even farther down the road, medical students making choices about whether to provide abortions or not will feel the chill of violence on their decision. I know that I do.

Which is why I hope you'll consider making a donation in Dr. Tiller's memory to Medical Students for Choice, a group that supports and advocates for medical students who wish to learn about abortion provision during their training. We cannot undo Dr. Tiller's slaying, but we may be able to stem the aftermath of such violence -- a palpable chill that ultimately results in reducing women's access to safe, compassionate abortion care.