29 September 2010

I can haz migraine?

Unfortunately, it seem that I can.

Some of my friends have been troubled with migraines recently. Much as I enjoy sharing things with you, I would prefer that YOU. KEEP. YOUR. MIGRAINES. TO. YOURSELVES.

Thank you.
Brainzz Management Services

28 September 2010

Helpful pie-charting

So, as I said in my last post, one of the things I do for a living is read (and evaluate) clinical trials. Much of the math and statistics remains beyond the ability of my pea-sized math brain to understand. But I do often catch it when the authors are trying to pull a fast one on me. And that irks me.

Dear Scientist,

If you insist on including graphs as scientifically "meaningful" as the one below in your really, really important medical study, you will be laughed at. Then I will wield Janiece's Shovel of Doom (TM) and make you go away.


24 September 2010

Thank God for Biostatisticians!

I work in the medical field. That's a big "Duh!", I know. Part of my job as a physician is to keep up-to-date in my field (neurology). Most of the meaningful neurology articles published in reputable journals come in the form of clinical studies. And those clinical studies, whether prospective randomized placebo-controlled trials or retrospective observational case series studies, include statistics.

I hate statistics. Really, I do. Why, you ask? Well, that's because my stats course in medical school consisted of lectures from a biostats grad student on 8 or 10 successive Friday afternoons. This grad student did not want to be there, and neither did we. It was poorly taught, and (certainly in my case) poorly learned. I swear that I came out of med school with only one statistics "fact" in my head -- p values should be greater than 0.05 (P> .05) for the study results to be significant. Let's just say that this minimalistic view of biostatistics was not really adequate for a practicing physician.

I'm not here to teach or explain statistics (God, no!), but I have learned quite a bit more useful methods of evaluating the adequacy of statistical analyses over the past few years. I greatly appreciate the biostatisticians in my (professional) life (thank you! thank you!).

And so I present this video for your viewing pleasure (found on youtube, of course). If you aren't interested in statistics or scientific analyses, then feel free to move along. But it had me laughing out loud.

14 September 2010


Just wanted to share a nice picture I took. Apparently, this is a begonia. My non-floral brain simply says "pretty pink flower".

13 September 2010

Lice (and Mousie)


And yuck.

ThePinkThing's been scratching her head for a few weeks. I'm not stupid, so the first thing I thought of was lice. I (being a researchy kinda person) looked up lice is diagnosed and followed the instructions. I saw nothing, nothing I tell you. I looked behind her ears and at the back of her head but didn't see nits or bugs. I changed her shampoo and conditioner, I changed our laundry detergent, I even had her use Neutrogena's T-Gel a few times. But she still kept scratching.

I must be blind or something. Since TheHusband was going to TPT's pediatrician's office anyway to fix one of their computers, I sent her along for an evaluation. (TH fixes the computer, KidDoc fixes TPT's itchy head, right? It's a fair trade.) KidDoc apparently saw the nits right away. Eeeeuw. And gross. (Yes, yes, I know that I'm a Brain Doctor, and the sight of brain slices fazes me not in the least. But ooogey bug eggs in my kid's hair gross me out, okay?) When I told KidDoc that I had looked and didn't find anything, there was silence on the phone. I know he was thinking "God save me from these adult specialists who can't even diagnose something basic..."

I followed KidDoc's instructions (Rid shampoo, followed by Prell shampoo, followed by some serious hair inspection/combing). I stripped the beds, washed all of the bedding in hot water, dried it on high, put the pillows in the dryer for 20 minutes on high (Oooo, toasty!), washed the towels, and vacuumed the carpet in her room. I washed everything again before nit-picking session number 2, as well.

I was also instructed to put any stuffed animals she sleeps with in a plastic bag. Note that TPT is not terribly fond of stuffed animals, which is strange considering how stuffed-animal-obsessed my brother and I were (I guess she takes after TH, in that respect). She does have two favorites -- Mousie and Cottontail. Cottontail is a generic rabbit, but Mousie is special. My brother gave Mousie to me in 1989, when I had to have surgery. She is a big, fat, white mouse with personality (though all of our stuffed animals had personalities when we were kids). For some reason, Mousie's signature activity is screeching "MOTHER" at the top of her lungs (yes, I am the voice of Mousie...). TPT thinks it's hilarious and appropriated Mousie for her own a few years ago. She also decided that I am no longer Mousie's "mother", she is. Kids are strange, yes? When I told her that Mousie would have to spend 2 weeks in a plastic garbage bag, TPT became distraught and started to cry. She told me that Mousie doesn't like being in the bag and wants to come out. Eventually she stopped crying and decided to throw Mousie a party in 2 weeks to make up for her captivity. When I mentioned the Mousie-situation to my brother (via text), his response (also via text) was as follows:




When I showed these texts to TPT, she ran around shrieking "Mother, get me out!" at the top of her lungs. Perhaps she does share some stuffed-animal-genes with me and her uncle, after all.

Looking forward to the lice going away and Mousie being sprung from prison. And anytime I scratch my head now, I am paranoid.

11 September 2010

Was Yellow, Now Orange

ThePinkThing has earned her orange belt in karate. I've done my best not to live vicariously through her -- i.e., making her do stuff I couldn't do as a kid. I have made her try various activities, like gymnastics, ballet, and ice skating, more for the exercise and experience than anything. She hasn't enjoyed any of them and happily gave them up as soon as she was allowed. Some of them really happily (not a future prima ballerina...).

However, karate has held her attention for more than 6 months, and she insists that she is going to get her black belt. It is a big time commitment, because the students at her karate school are expected to attend class twice weekly. She has been assiduous in attending her karate classes all summer, only missing them when we were away on vacation. And so, today she took her belt test and progressed from yellow to orange belt. And in keeping with her girly nature, she wore a t-shirt with a pink frosted cupcake on it underneath her uniform. Much to TPT's glee, her friend NT got her yellow belt, so they will be back in the same class again.

Don't mess with TPT or she'll knock your block off!

Round kick! (friend NT in background, behind instructor)

Jump Round Kick!

Broken board

Now an orange belt!

10 September 2010

10 on the 10th

Just like last year, I'd like to take the time to wish TheHusband a happy anniversary. Can you believe it's been 10 years?!?!

Right, me neither.

TheHusband says the tune for this song is from the William Tell Overture. Given my consistently tone-deaf state, I'm forced to agree with him by default (just like an obedient wife, I guess). Is he correct?

09 September 2010

Happy New Year!

I had a friend in college whose parents were both Jewish, but neither were practicing Jews. I don't think either one cared a bit about religion in general, or Judaism in particular. My friend grew up in Southern California, where there are probably half as many Jews as there are in Israel, so she and her sister were (sort of) exposed to Jewish culture.

One fine fall day, my friend's father and sister went to the supermarket to do the grocery shopping. My friend's father was apparently annoyed by the signs and displays in the grocery store. He turned to the sister and said "Why the heck does this store have New Year's signs up? It's September for goodness sake. We haven't even had Halloween or Thanksgiving yet."

The sister replied "Uh, Dad, it's Rosh Hashanah."

Her dad responded with the ever useful "Oh."

Happy New Year and L'shana Tova to those who celebrate it. We're having apples and honey today. And I even took the day off.

07 September 2010

The Curse of Lake Wallenpaupack

Yes, it struck again. I've mentioned that whenever we visit my friends at their house in the Poconos, something bad seems to happen. Even when they come to visit us, badness occurs. I did threaten to leave TheHusband home if we went to the lake house again. This time, he wasn't the problem.

We wanted a low-key, relaxing summer vacation this year. Last summer we went to Great Wolf Lodge right before school started, which was fun but frenetic (add friends with 4 kids and frenetic is definitive). So we tempted fate and stayed at our friends' lake house in the Poconos for a WHOLE WEEK, from 8/21-8/29. I was really tempting fate with a whole week's stay.

Our trip there was mildly annoying, because we left an hour and a half later than planned, forgot the blow-up mattress (thankfully our friends brought theirs), and left the car adapter for the DVD player at home. A Radio Shack along the way didn't have the right tip. So we had a 4 hour car ride with an only child and no obvious method of entertainment (it was dark for almost the whole ride). We survived. And, yes I am fully aware that everyone in my generation (and a million generations before mine) all went on long car trips without such nice methods of entertainment. Yes, yes, I know that. But it does make things so much easier.

The first weekend was nice, although the weather turned against us on Sunday (low 70s and rainy). Seven and four year-olds don't mind going in the lake or hot tub when it's raining. Their parents don't love standing around in the rain quite as much. Later that day, our friends went home and we had almost a whole week of relaxation and fun ahead of us.

It was fun and relaxing. Perhaps a bit more relaxing than expected, as it rained and was cool from Sunday through Wednesday. It was like 500 degrees every day this summer, except that week. Where's the justice in that, eh? We went to 2 different "family fun" places, and ThePinkThing played skee-ball, air hockey, and other arcade games that (of course) promote mental development. TheHusband and I had our usual no-holds-barred, cutthroat game of air hockey, for which I will sacrifice a certain level of back pain. I WON, OF COURSE. We went to a mall to buy some of her school clothes. We drove to NJ to see my grandparents, who live about 2 hours from Lake Wallenpaupack. I even worked one of the days. Not exactly the activities I was expecting for a vacation at the Poconos lake. I figured that our badness this year was the weather. No biggie in the real scheme of things.

Thursday the weather cleared up, although the lake temperature was, um, cool. TheHusband had promised ThePinkThing that he would take her Jet-Skiing, and Thursday was the day. Riding on a Jet-Ski was basically forbidden by SpineDoc for me ("Are you nuts? You had a lumbar fusion a few months ago. You know better than that..."), so I was the cheering section on shore. TPT enjoyed it but got really cold. She also said that she liked going 10 mph better than 40 mph. I wonder what that says about my husband's aquatic driving skills? Friday we went to a very nice beach at the lake. Sunny, nice, cold water, few people, lots of sand, very attentive and hungry ducks. (Did you know that ducks eat ice cream sandwiches? I didn't until that day.)

Friday night (8/27) my friends and their daughters arrived. (Yay, PinkPlaymates! And grown-ups to hang with, too!) Saturday was another beach day. One nice thing about kids of a certain age is that you no longer have to hover over them or watch them every minute.

On the Sunday morning I was silently congratulating myself for surviving the week at Lake Wallenpaupack unscathed. In retrospect, I just should've kept my (internal) piehole shut. TPT and the 7 year-old PinkPlaymate were riding their scooters on the back deck, while the four year-old was alternately begging to join in and whining that the big girls weren't playing with her. The wheel of TPT's scooter must've gotten caught in between the slats of the deck, and she fell over, hitting her face on the edge of the bench. She immediately started crying. She is the kind of kid who cries at the drop of a hat, and I have learned to differentiate the "Wah -- that hurt" cry from the "OMFG WAAAAAAHHHH, a limb is hanging by a thread" kinda cry. She let out one of the latter.

I may have mobility issues, but I can move quickly enough when I need to. She hit her right eye (the eyelid, thank goodness) and the bridge of her nose on a square edge of a bench. She ended up with a laceration on the eyelid and some pretty impressive swelling/bruising of the right eyelid. She may have had a hairline fracture of the bridge of her nose, but if she did, it was asymptomatic and non-displaced.

One other bad thing about this most recent evidence of the Curse was that she had her first day of school on the day after the injury. Poor thing was in a total tizzy about going to school with a black eye -- to the point where she "couldn't fall asleep". Once she got to school, she was fine, but boy it was a chore getting her to go. Note that a swollen eye and bruise on her nose didn't stop her from climbing the street pole, as usual.

A week after the injury, you can't even see it -- the healing power of children. TheHusband has now refused to visit my friends' lake house next summer, in hopes that the Curse of Lake Wallenpaupack may dissipate, if we stay away. He said that if we go to Alaska instead, it might not find us there. I'm game.

06 September 2010

Forsooth, 'twas a funne tyme!

Yes, yes, yes, I know that's a bit precious, but what do you expect from me after I just spent the day at the Maryland Renaissance Festival?

This was our second visit to the MD RenFest, and my third overall visit to a Ren Faire (I went to the NY Renaissance Faire one summer when I was in college). I really like these kinds of events -- people in costume, a variety of performers, music, food, and lovely crafts. It's tame compared to the World Science Fiction Convention. Just like at WorldCon, there are plenty of people wearing costumes that they just shouldn't. Let's just say that there was one woman in a corset that elicited a comment from TPT ("Mommy, why are that lady's boobies coming out of her dress?"). I had a bit of a cat-fest about that costume with another woman. Eeeeuw, it was truly appalling.

We went to the MD Renaissance Festival last summer with friends. It was 15 degrees cooler, 4 kids less, and about 3x more crowded than last year. It was less hectic (nobody got lost, ran off, or got left behind) but TPT had to wait about 25 minutes for a 5 second ride down the big slide. Though I missed my friends, we did meet up with a coworker. I noticed that her Facebook post said she was on her way to the RenFest, so I called her to see if we could meet up. We did, and she was even in costume (much to TPT's enjoyment). It was extra fun wandering the "streets" of Revel Grove with a wench.

  • ate turkey legs (yum!)
  • watched Irish and Scottish dancing (complete with bagpipes)
  • caught bubbles (you can't imagine how disgusting TPT was after this...)
  • went down a big slide (which TPT said was "a little scary")
  • practiced juggling
  • ate chocolate-covered cheesecake on a stick
  • saw a jousting match (couldn't understand a thing the MC said, but apparently our team won)
  • got our (well, TPT's) hair braided
  • went through a maze
  • bought a birthday present (some lovely glass work for ME!)
  • got a magic wand
  • and took lots of pictures
We're hoping to go again in October. Wanna come, too?

TPT plus a passing wizard

TPT catching bubbles (bubble soap plus dirt = messy kid)

Turkey (or brontosaurus?) legs for all!

Wheeeeeeeee! Down the slide...

TPT juggling 2 balls, semi-successfully. Perhaps she'll be as good as Uncle Doug someday.

TH, not as successful as TPT, but game to try.

The jousting was fun, but, holy cow, the knights had to have been boiling inside those tin cans!

Braiding successful. Lavender flowers this year.

02 September 2010

In the Stinky Club

I like to eat interesting foods. I have a pretty wide palate. I am gastronomically adventurous. But my dinner tonight stretched my palate practically to the breaking point. I tried a bite, a very small bite, of stinky tofu. What is stinky tofu, you ask? It is tofu that has been soaked for a day in a fermented brine. The brine consists of a bunch of nasty ingredients, apparently. Wikipedia says that stinky tofu smells worse than it tastes. Clearly, I ate a different kind of stinky tofu than the Wiki experts did.

I ate a minuscule piece. It was a not-to-be-repeated experience, but I am glad that I did give it a whirl. But HOLY CRAP, THAT SHIT TASTES BAD.

Why did I eat it? Well, I had dinner with John the Scientist, who is a connoisseur of the stuff. He's even convinced a relatively normal friend of mine to try this stuff. I figured that it wouldn't kill me, although I did worry that I would cast up my crumpets, so to speak, at the table.

I got to the restaurant first. I have a very sensitive nose and smells easily bother me. As soon as I walked into the joint, I noticed a slightly perturbing smell of rotten fried, dirty sweat socks.

We ordered a bunch of different foods -- I allowed John to pick, just telling him that I hate ginger and black pepper and I prefer not to eat items that look like what they were prior to cooking, like chicken feet or shrimp with the eyes still attached (barf!). John ordered Taiwanese hamburgers (which are pork bits and cilantro and some sweet stuff -- totally yummy!), oyster pancakes (I liked everything about those except the oysters), a beef noodle dish (also really good, can't remember its real name), and jellyfish. I have issues with food consistency and was worried about the jellyfish (see it wiggle? see it jiggle?). It has a softer consistency than really good fresh squid, but is along that continuum. It was also yummy. A really boring squid/mushroom soup rounded out the food choices. Well, except for the (dum, dum, dum...) stinky tofu.

John ordered a stinky tofu appetizer. It arrived with the rest of the food and sat on his side of the table about as far from me as possible. It stared at me. It attracted me. I couldn't stop looking at it. It made me nervous. John said that it was much less overtly smelly than the stuff he ate in Taiwan and the stuff he ate with Nathan. However, I could smell it quite well, even though it was as far from me as possible while still remaining on our table. At the end of the meal, John lined up the food that would be his stinky tofu chasers and bit off a sizable bite of a piece. His face sort of scrunched up and screwed around to one side. Then he ate his chasers. Apparently, though this stinky tofu was less smelly, it was pretty strong stuff.

I kept eying it. I wanted to try it, but I didn't want to. It smelled awful. Truly disgusting -- like fried, 10-day-old vomit. John picked a piece off one of the big chunks and gave it to me. It sat on my little plate for a while. I picked it up and looked at it and (unfortunately) smelled it. That was the barrier. If I ate this damn thing, I knew that I'd be putting something that smelled that nasty into my mouth. On purpose. By my own choice. John didn't pressure me at all. (It stank!) But eventually, after much waffling and hesitation, I broke off a smaller piece and put it in my mouth

HOLY FREAKING SHIT! It tasted WORSE than it smelled. But I swallowed quickly, chased it down with some noodles, and didn't puke up my dinner. .I won't ever try it again, but I'm glad that I did eat it, if only for the bragging rights. That shit should be bottled as an appetite suppressant. I am not sure when I will want to eat again. Perhaps next week. But I now consider myself a lifetime member of the Stinky Tofu Club.

And John went back to his hotel (on the Metro) carrying the leftover stinky tofu. I wouldn't want to share a seat with him on the train...