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elpf
An intellectual nomad.
Interests: running, weightlifting, taekwondo, snowshoeing, hiking, reading, biking, sewing, scrapbooking, science, gene therapy, drug development, fabric, american football, neuroscience, history of science
Recent Activity
My sister B posted a picture of herself with President Obama the other day. My other sister, M, said the following, This is my sister, who has been working at the UN and then UNICEF in Iraq and Afghanistan for the past four years. She is now the Chief of Child Protection Services in Iraq and works to help alleviate the suffering of refugees and IDPs there. More than almost anyone I know personally, she lives her values. For me, this isn't about politics. I don't care if you agree or disagree with Obama. I don't care what your politics... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Evil Genius(es) in Training
It started with this: I like how descriptions of nobel prize winners often sound like me except without the crushing self doubt. And smarter. And not risk averse. And older. And male. Just like me. Well, I was reading about Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky and I came across in my mind it started with the thought that Nobel prize winners sounded like me, sometimes even with the crushing self-doubt, but with the ability to turn that self-doubt into a positive, self-doubt as a means to promote critical thinking and questioning of one's own assumptions. In fact, often when I'm... Continue reading
Posted Jan 12, 2017 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
We were playing a game over New Year's. It was one of those word-guessing games. My partner gave me a clue and I became convinced that it was inside knowlege and that the three other people in the room knew the answer and I did not. Once I was convinced of this, I became completely incapable of thinking of any other possibilities. I mean, my mind went blank. This got me thinking about all those times when I sit down and think about how I have to be creative, I have to come up with a good idea. When the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 11, 2017 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
We remember things differently. My parents never came to my field hockey games. Field hockey was really the only sport I cared about growing up. To be honest, I still love it. A couple years I played on an adult league. I was still no good at it, but I loved it nonetheless. Anyway, my parents never came to my games. I never really questioned that and suppose I thought it was because they were busy. The way my mother remembers it, I told them not to come. That seems reasonable enough too. I was probably self-conscious about it. I... Continue reading
Posted Jan 8, 2017 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
I keep telling myself this, but it is true. My faith in this surprises me, because I spend a lot of time thinking I'm not good enough (working on it), but I'm really good at big goals and terrible at small ones. Ask me to do something every day for two weeks and I'll probably fail. What the heck, write me a list of things to do today and I'll probably fail. In the short term, I'm easily distracted. On the other hand, when I decide to change my life, I usually succeed. Ask me where I am in one... Continue reading
Posted Jan 8, 2017 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
I think, to be honest, that I am not the courageous type. I like to climb mountains and I like to be alone, but I'm too afraid to climb mountains alone. I like to travel and I don't really have much use for talking, but I don't like to go places where I don't speak the language. I like to read books. Sometimes I wish I'd been born in another time, but I'd probably just have been unhappily married, angry and bored. I like to read about what science was like before it was really science, when it was every... Continue reading
Posted Jan 6, 2017 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
Lets just suppose for a moment that you can be really and truly self-sufficient. You create a world where you have all the answers and you go through life taking care of your own problems. You don't really need anyone else. For a while that feels good, no one ever lets you down and you never have to bother anyone. You are a ghost in the world, or everyone else is a ghost in yours. I had this idea a long time ago for a story about memory. You see, memory isn't really like a video recording, every time you... Continue reading
Posted Jan 3, 2017 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
New Years day has its own gravitational pull. It marks an anniversary of sorts for me. Remember that time when you almost took your own life? Being alone in a crowd is the worst feeling. I tried it out before I went to the party. I took a razor blade from the lab, the sharpest I could find. I cut myself high up on my arm to see how deep I could go. I patched it up with butterfly bandages and tape. Then, I went to the party. I stayed for three days or as long as I could take... Continue reading
Posted Jan 2, 2017 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
Sometimes thoughts spiral uselessly, like water circling the drain. It is what it is. Sometimes thoughts are not really thoughts at all, just a flash and the empty feeling that something has passed, like a headache. It is what it is. If I let everything go, what is left? Blink. Breathe. It is what it si, empty thoughts, circling, spiraling. Let them go. It is what it is. Let it go down to nothing... Continue reading
Posted Dec 23, 2016 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
"I am worth something" is something you have to prove to yourself, not the world. I would rather be a good person. I would rather be someone who believes in good in the world than be cynical and self-serving. Sometimes that means I'm going to get trampled. I'm not stupid or naive. I know that I'll get trampled. I also know in the long run, it matters more to me to be a good person, to live in the world as I choose, than to protect myself. It doesn't mean it doesn't suck. It doesn't mean I don't get hurt.... Continue reading
Posted Dec 13, 2016 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
Running slow teaches patience, at least, that is what I keep telling myself. You see, a while ago I got myself a coach. I don't know exactly why, maybe just because I tend to do better with someone else telling me what to do, maybe just because I wanted to see what would happen. Unfortunately, I tend to do the slow runs too fast and the fast runs too...something. I have this theory that my coach keeps adjusting my target slower and slower to try to get me where he wants me. Perhaps. The problem is the voices in my... Continue reading
Posted Dec 10, 2016 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
The other day I said, "I was in a kind of abusive relationship at the time." I'd never said it like that before, but it seemed like the easiest way to explain things at the time. It's complicated. Everything is always complicated. I wasn't blameless. I recognize that. He never hit me. In fact, I threatened to punch him in the face once. He was trying to kiss me and I told him to stop. I told him to stop more than once and when he didn't, I told him if he did it again, I would punch him in... Continue reading
Posted Dec 8, 2016 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
When I was in college, my singing group sang at one of the White House Christmas parties. I spent the whole time embarrassed because all the other women in the group were so giddy with excitement that they could hardly contain themselves. Somehow I guess I thought this wasn't appropriate. In some ways, maybe I missed the experience. I don't know. When I was a child, people called my shy. I objected to this word, hated it, in fact. I hated that it made me feel weak, not confident. I preferred to think of myself as "reserved". Reserving judgement, rejecting... Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2016 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
Jennifer Lopez to produce new NBC bio terror drama C.R.I.S.P.R. What is CRISPR? Well, for starters, let us talk about names. CRISPR stands for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats. As the name implies, these are short, repetitive sequences of DNA, part of a bacterial immune system. In organisms where the CRISPR system is naturally found, these repeats combine with proteins, called CRISPR associated proteins (Cas) to find and cut foreign DNA. The CRISPR repeats provide the guide, while the Cas proteins provide the cutting activity. The CRISPR prokaryotic antiviral defense mechanism So how do we use this in other... Continue reading
Posted Dec 4, 2016 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
In 2004 or thereabouts, I was injured. The exact details of the injury and how it happened are important to me, but ultimately unimportant. I spent about a week in the hospital, during which I had a stent placed from my kidney into my bladder, twice. (the first one was temporary, done in the immediate aftermath of the crisis to stop fluid from leaking into my abdominal cavity). This procedure is done via a small incision in your side via radiology. The general term for this type of surgery is "interventional radiology". It is minimally invasive, image-guided surgery. It is... Continue reading
Posted Dec 2, 2016 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
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Functional magnetic resonance imaging/neuroscience in court. What is fMRI? fMRI is a neuroimaging technique which measures changes in blood flow and oxygenation in response to neural activity. In simple terms, active areas of the brain tend to "light up" on MRI. Here is a good explanation. In the lab, it has generally been used to elucidate the areas of the brain that are active during particular tasks. For example, what parts of the brain are involved in facial recognition? How can fMRI potentially be used in court? 1. Lie detection and validation of witness testimony. 2. Compentency and mitigating circumstances.... Continue reading
Posted Nov 23, 2016 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
I spent yesterday learning about mindfulness. Specifically, I was learning about mindfulness as a method to prevent relapse in depression. I didn't set out to learn that, but when you listen to science podcasts at work all day, sometime you don't know where you are going to end up. In the process, I came across and interesting experiment. I had encountered the concepts of avoidance and approach before, but to be honest, they are generally described in non-scientific terms which I find unconvincing. Here was an experiment that convinced me that there was something to them at least as convenient... Continue reading
Posted Nov 22, 2016 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
Today, on my drive home, I noticed that the sun was setting behind some low clouds. The clouds were grey, but tinged with pink. Today I chose to notice the sunset, not the clouds. Today I chose the narrative of competency. I am a fully functioning human. I got up and went to the gym. I prepared the small humans for school and made sure they would not starve (unless they choose to, because they have free will). I went to the dentist. I called the doctors. I scheduled a haircut. I sent out samples to a collaborator, wrote a... Continue reading
Posted Nov 16, 2016 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
Zoe "accidentally" painted the side view mirrors of my car (her version of accidentally, meaning it didn't turn out the way she wanted). This makes it very hard to see clearly when driving. Some days are like that, I thought, things just don't want to come into focus. This is the narrative we tell ourselves. A simple, cute little story about our kids which somehow becomes the story of our day. A side effect of our mind's attempt to put everything into perspective, to tell a story. There was a blister on my heel, a rock in my shoe, I... Continue reading
Posted Nov 14, 2016 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
If you've been there before, you can tell when you are slipping into depression. At first, it just seems like everything just goes a little sideways, nothing is really wrong, but you are seeing the world through a different lens. Negative thoughts creep in. You become afraid to do everyday things, sending an email becomes a minefield, picking up the phone, impossible. You start to avoid, procrastinate, delay. With certainty, this avoidance comes back to bite you and the unavoidable result is that you spend hours, days, castigating yourself for your shortcomings. By this time, you know something is wrong,... Continue reading
Posted Nov 12, 2016 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
On Friday on the way home from school, Alden asked me if he could use the computer to do some research. "What kind of research?" I asked. "I have to look up the presidential candidates and decide who to vote for." He answered (I'm paraphrasing. He said it like a six year old would." I proceeded to ask him some questions, what did he want to know? (He wasn't sure, anything.) What did he think the requirements were for a good president? (To keep the "town" safe.) In truth, he didn't really want to talk to me, he just wanted... Continue reading
Posted Nov 8, 2016 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
Workout called for 12 miles, conversational pace. This went well for the first 6 miles (net downhill) and then my legs started to get angry and I started to get angry and I stopped to walk and feel sorry for myself. Funny thing is, often in retrospect I don't even know why I've stopped. Was it really so bad? No, not really. After I've stopped though, getting started again and keeping going becomes more difficult. So I stopped, I felt sorry for myself, I even cried a little. Then I took a shortcut and only made it 10.5 miles. I... Continue reading
Posted Nov 5, 2016 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
I've been listening to this. Popular science and entertainment. The British are far better at this than we are. One serious thing I love about it is about the nature of science: "Be less wrong tomorrow." Joy the baker is real about the holidays "On this day in 1842 Abraham Lincoln married Mary Todd. Peace be with them. Thanks for all the crap you went through to try to make us better. We’re in an awkward phase right now but y’all knew what fear and anger looked like. We still have some of that." I came across this quote. I... Continue reading
Posted Nov 5, 2016 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
Endless Sunrise For most of the running season, I was lifting at home in my garage. As the weather grows colder, I'm back at the gym but I'm still waking up at 5AM. Too early to go to the gym, too late to fit my run in. So, time alone with the echoes in my head. They are loud at this hour. I suspended my facebook account. Those were different kinds of echoes, some good, some bad. Perhaps on balance more good than bad, but echoes nonetheless. Still, it would have been something with which to fill my mind or... Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2016 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
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RNA? Originally uploaded by Avelino Maestas *This was originally published on February 27th, 2009, exactly one year before Alden was born. I went off medication for depression when I was pregnant, but for some reason I was OK. I was OK through two kids. I even stopped biting my fingernails. This year, I have not been fine, so I'm re-publishing this, to remind myself. I started this blog when I was keeping a paper journal. Except I've never been very good at keeping a paper journal. The problem is, I'm not very good at keeping a single book. I write... Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2016 at Evil Genius(es) in Training