Thursday, January 31, 2008

Dissertation Woes

weI met with the statistian who's been helping me. I pushed pause on my dissertation months ago. As I panicked and realized I couldn't defend in October like I wanted, I slowly accepted it. I thought, well a little time to prepare the chapters in a less frantic manner is good.

So in mid Oct I slowed my pace. I was also overwhelmed (emotionally & psychologically) with my job. (Have I shared with you all how much I LOATHE my job, place of employment, and especially my idot boss?). Around the same time my statistician was on sabbatical. She had fallen ill was out of commission for 4 months. This is what really killed my progress. We were on a role. I had just presented a paper at an international meeting (it was like the trailer of the feature film called my dissertation). It was Sunday and we were all flying back to the States and she & I were scheduled to meet and do some follow-up stats that Wed, I think. And she fell ill on the way back. Bummer! We met and she still has some major questions about the topic and experiments. I just feel like I could have spent my time from Oct to now doing addressing those issues she brought up today. I feel like I wasted my time. (I did. I sat idle and whined about my job and didn't even pick up my dissertation bag.) I'm such an idiot procratinator.

Yes, I still have the job. No, I can't quit it....and that's another reason I'm sad. I meant to quit last week and my dern Financial Aid has yet to be processed. So no check for me until late Feb at best. And. the evil job house has GREAT insurance benefits. In the last week I've visited the Dentist and Doctor. Damn Health Insurance rocks. My university-subsidized grad student insurance never worked like this. Preventative care!!!

Per her recommendations, I'll be initiating a new liteature review for the dissertation (yes, new, the dissertation has changed directions mid-stream, too many times). So I'll stay busy and productive. Tomorrow, I meet with my advisor and let him know about all of the recommendations. Maybe the rest of the committee can help me salvage this and turn out a nice glass of lemonade to serve up in time to walk in May.

Shout Out: sTEm

Thanks to the BDPA Foundation for listing this blog on their Blog Roll. It's an honor to have this site listed along with other smart blogs. And though I generally blog about issues related to society and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), these posts are more like Stem. So, it's good to have some balance and include some capital T and E in the lineup.

Can I make some Math & Engineering friends? Hello....hello.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Black History Month is coming - Highlight contributions of African-American Scientists

Okay, the time is coming when students will be called upon to integrate Black History into their class courses. My one and only pet-peeve with this topic in science courses -- Everyone did a report on George Washington Carver. Now, don't get me wrong, Dr. Carver was a great man and a great Scientist. But c'mon, there are plenty of LIVING Black Scientists in the here and now.

So, if your child, younger siblings, little cousins, students, or other young people you teach mentor or are in contact with have to do such an assignment, please insist that they do a report on someone who was at least alive in or born after 1950.

To get them started give them a copy of People of Color in the Sciences: Astronomy to Zoology.
Also check out Science Spectrum Online, interviews with living Black Scientists on Delta SEE Radio, and AAAS Science Update: Spotlight on African-American Scientists.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Addicted to Technology??

Here is another article about the possibility of Technology Addiction. We all know someone who is attached at the ear and hip to a digital cell or Internet device. I know several people, some of them good friends who get frantic if they can't check their blackberry, trio, palm pilot every 15 minutes or so. Is it that serious? Most of the time, I think not. And with all of the hands free stuff...I mean, some people look like the Borg. Check out my man with his blue tooth in his ear and his computer screen LCD hooked right up to his eye.
I told you that Crackberry may kill you.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Crazy Mutated Monsters - A lesson on evolution

With all of the hoop-la about genes, genomes, cloning and etc., I thought this link this New York Times op-ed about random mutations was interesting.

In short, some propose that during the very early embryo stage some can go all hay-wire in the genomes. Usually if the embryo is all jacked up, then it doesn't survive. It is reabsorbed, expelled, nixed. But what if this mutated embryo makes it and develops okay and is born/hatched, etc.? And just maybe this weird thing is actually a superstar in its environment. And it reproduces? Well that's a new successful organism. Ta-dah.

But that's not typically how it goes. But, the neat thing about science, and what makes genetics and cellular biology so great, is that all the new technology and things we're learning about genes and the genome is still so new. Stay tunes

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ways of Looking at Hillary (Clinton)

Okay, how amazingly timely?! I was listening to NPR this afternoon and it's all about Hillary and why she evokes such strong, passionate responses from some people. It actually addressed the question I raised yesterday. So check it out. Ways of Looking at Hillary.

Also, part of me is rooting for Edwards for South Carolina. I mean how sad would it be to not carry your own state. These people voted for you to be senator (a few years back) but you're so less popular now that these 2 new (affirmative action, maybe) kids scooped you.

Well, we'll see.

Oh, and Imisspelled Ms. Clinton's name yesterday. Not on purpose. I got it right today.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hilary take a seat. Edwards stay in there.

I don't normally do this but.....I'll step into the Political Fray this time.I'm all for Edwards or Obama - why? They are the "change candidates"...maybe not. But they are definitely the consensus candidates. And as much as I like the Clintons (I voted for Bill in my very first election), and as smart and capable as I think Hilary is, I say no to her. I say no to her and yes to the gentlemen for the follow reasons.1. Hilary is a divisive figure. For whatever reason (and please feel free to let me know the many ways) lots of people just don't like her. Never have. In college, I remember the super-right Southern Christian conservative republicans getting physically ill because Hilary's husband won the election. Their words, not mine. The conservative right has always regarded her as an inappropriate "First Lady" who was way too ambitious and political for their taste. She is way too polarizing for my taste. Though it would be exciting to have a female president, I don't think it's her. And why is it that the very first viable female candidate is the spouse of a former president? Could not a female candidate be viable if her husband wasn't the former president? And is it me, or is Bill acting like he's running for a new term. Clinton election by proxy....2. Obama and Edwards are consensus builders. They appeal to middle and working class Americans, the Democratic parties base. This country is way too polarized as it is. It's time for the country to build consensus, not dig it's heels in. Hilary represents polarization. It's time for a change. That's the change I want. With that in mind, it looks good that McCain might become the Republican candidate. He is also a consensus figure. As Green as I am, I like McCain, alot of Dems and Independents like him. I'd vote for him.But I am concerned that many Americans may not yet be ready for an African-American president and vote for the other guy just because.So, I'm looking forward to an Edwards/Obama card vs. a McCain/?? card. Either way, I think our country will be in the hands of some well-meaning, willing-to-pay-attention-to folks leaders.Just my thoughts.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Crackberry may kill you.

Okay, that may be extreme, but there a professor and researcher at UC-Boulder is calling for efforts to study the health risks associated with our increasing use of wireless technology. How might those radio waves and high frequency devices affect our health, physiology, and neural functioning? Read about it here, from Science Blog - Think. It's not illegal yet.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Black Faces, White Spaces - Blacks and the Environment

Dr. Carolyn Finney of UC-Berkeley studies African-American participation in environmentalism and outdoor recreation. She has documented what many in the science, conservation, and environmentalism fields have noted for quite some time. African-Americans barely participatory in these activities - as students, as a career option, or even as recreationists. She posits that the environment, conservation, the idea of nature and the movement to protect it are viewed by most in the Black Community is mostly a White dominion. I have also commented on this because I receive similar feedback from many African-Americans (from different socio-economic levels). This may have to do with what she calls “racialization” of space, and can result in a narrowing of black identity and discourage African American engagement with the environment, whether as visitors to national parks and forests or as employees and activists in environmental organizations. Read more here: Black, White, and Shades of Green.

There is a need to engage more Blacks, particularly those that live in cities. I worked a nature center and supervise interns, if you will, from the inner-city. Man, it's challenging. They are the typical non-visitor who had their minds made up that state parks and natural areas wouldn't be interesting to Black people. Though I struggle to get them to behave and interact with others more professionally, I am proud to say that they no longer hold those views. They come up with interesting ways to try to get their friends and neighbors out to visit the nature center. The biggest issue for my folks is transportation. So, financial ability is a factor for some Black people... But what about middle-class, financially capable Black folk? Our work is still cut out for us.

Dr. Finney has some very interesting findings and recommendations for involving more Blacks in nature (as activist, recreationist, or as a career option). I'm studying it over. I hope to learn a lot it and I hope to improve my efforts to get more African-Americans outside and involved. Read her full report here.

Go Green!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Go Green for the New Year - Take Baby Steps

Okay, I will belabour this point...Go Green!
It is a world imperative that we (humans) use our natural resources wisely. Although being green is now an eco-political movement, it is not new. Not so long ago, many of our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents lived very modest lives. As a child (I grew up in the 80's), I remember my grandmothers restricting my access to the refrigerator (don't leave it open), making me turn off lights if I wasn't in the room, not allowing me to turn the light on if the sun was shining bright (open the window), scrapping my food scraps in a slop container, planting a vegetable garden, handing out scrap paper for arts & crafts, not letting us grandkids play with running water in the bathroom, no running in & out of the house, drinking from a re-useable cup, and insisting that we not waste toilet paper.

In memory of both of my grandmothers and their conservative spirits, I am faving Treehugger and their committment to helping us all Go Green! Green is for the environment and the money you save when you conserve natural resources. Read up and take a small step or three in the greener direction.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

10 Technologies that will change your life has again assembled a great top ten list, this time technologies (some in progress, others yet to be completed) that WILL change our lives. Check it out.

It is projected that these new technologies will improve our lives - individually and as a society.
However, some of these technologies will likely be expensive or use-specific, so the need for everyone will be hit or miss....but it will have an impact, nonetheless.

I'm especially eager about # 10 - Digital Libraries; # 6 - Better, Cheaper Solar cells to provide electricity to the grid (go green!); #2 - Therapeutic Cloning, and #1 - Creating a Hydrogen Economy and getting off the oil (go green!).

You techies, might be all geeked about #8 - Pervasive Wireless Internet (it's not quite everywhere yet, but they're working on it); #5 - Location Based Computing (just point at anything and click and you're at the website); #4 - Desktop 3-D Printing (create your own designs and blueprints at home or work); and #3 - Moore's Law Upheld (computing technology does keep getting better, faster, and smaller).

Monday, January 7, 2008

Food Science, Nutritional Security, and Social Justice

Okay, I'm sharing this article from Tree Hugger : European Food Scientists are seeking acceptance with the Afronet. At the heart of most any social equity program is meeting basic needs, Maslow's as some may refer to it.

What you eat, or rather what you're able to eat has a fundamental impact on ALL other aspects regarding the quality of your life. We all are able to make comments about the quality and variety of foodstuffs available to the economically disadvantaged and disenfranchised. Cheap is important, but why are cheap and high quality mutually exclusive? Health food and organic foods are typically available in wealthier neighborhoods or specialty stores. The good news, major chains like Whole Foods and Trader Joes does accept food stamps. But why can't some of the "healthier options be made available in all grocery stores. This is about Food Justice. I've posted on this topic before, here is a refresher: Food Justice & SES.

For the activist-inclined, advocating for quality food and produce for the poor is a laudable cause....and can be done without all of the messy political stuff. Everybody has to eat. And everybody deserve quality food at an affordable price. Or at the very least, be provided the training and resources to grow their own. Yes, urban gardening is a great option and can be done. Plus, it is perfect way to introduce people to environmental issues. Environmental education, environmental justice, and social justice, all rolled up in one.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Green New Year's Resolutions for 2008

Happy New Year!

Making resolutions? Lose weight. Stop cursing. Call home more. Study hard. Finish that renovation project. Reduce your carbon emissions.

Make 2008 a leaner year...on the environment. Even the New York Ball Drop New Year's Celebration went green. You can, too.
1st, Measure your environmental footprint. Then check out this simple list for 10 Ways to Green your Home. Many of the ideas are simple and easy. You can do it.

Have a green new year.