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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
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 yesterday 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 4 days ago 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 7 days ago 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
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I went to bed before game 7 was over last night, because I knew I would be miserable if I stayed up. I told Brian to record it for me and I would watch it this morning on my rest day. This is what I saw when I woke up: You guys, I couldn't stand the suspense. Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2016 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
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I guess I asked for this. 1 mile @ RPE 9 (sub 8:00) walk the remainder of 10 minutes (so, about 2 minutes) repeat x4 = exactly 40 minutes. Whereas I might program short intervals for myself (I like those, I probably would), there is no way I would ever do 1 mile repeats by choice. Nope, nope, nope. And it was just as horrible as I expected. Ran the first mile in 7:30 (my fastest mile yet), second one I stayed under 8:00. 7:50. Third one...well, I ended up crazily running back and forth on about 100 feet (not... Continue reading
Posted Nov 2, 2016 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
One of the advantages of having an online coach is that I have to write something about every workout. If I were just training myself, I would probably just walk away from most workouts without much thought. If I had a coach who saw me in person, I would resort to platitudes, "it was fine." Having to write everything out forces a much more detailed and informed analysis, "I died a little bit in the middle, but then pulled it together again and finished." It has also, quite unexpectedly turned out that I feel the need to find the lesson... Continue reading
Posted Nov 1, 2016 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
And now we come to the part of the story that I don't want to tell, don't know how to tell and still mostly just find confusing. Simply: when I left the company, I told one of my friends why. What it came down to is that I didn't feel respected. They continued to hire young men who saw the women in the company only as potential partners. Unfortunately, I forgot that my friend was also a manager in the company and he felt obliged to tell HR. We all got called in to talk about it. There were no... Continue reading
Posted Oct 30, 2016 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
Of course, this assumes there are consequences. Perhaps then, this is where my anger came from. This man, this boy really, because he was younger even than I was, could say whatever he wanted. It seemed like he could tell me to go home and have babies because he was one of the engineers and in the culture of the place at the time, that put him above me. An engineer could comment on the clothing choices of the female tech writers and, in the same breath talk about how he wasn't paid to look good. In my own way,... Continue reading
Posted Oct 28, 2016 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
The funny thing about his statement, is that I took it the way he intended. It was a joke. A stupid, misguided and completely inappropriate joke and I told him so. I told him that he shouldn't say everything that popped into his head, "think before you speak", I said. His response? He wasn't going to censor himself. He would say what he wanted to say and it wasn't his problem if someone took it the wrong way. And that is when I got angry. Because I believe in free speech as much as anyone does. I believe you have... Continue reading
Posted Oct 27, 2016 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
We were young people drowning in frustration. Frustrated at work, at a corporate culture that was heirarchical and arbitrary. Sexually frustrated in the way that young geeks often are, and frustrated in a generally young and idealistic way. The first week I worked at the company, I was asked to make a new CD of the software for a client. This was a patch that was supposed to fix whatever specific problem they were having. I failed to check that I could read the CD before sending it out. Of course, as my luck would have it, they could not... Continue reading
Posted Oct 27, 2016 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
When I don't want to run any farther, I tell myself that I only need to run to the next telephone pole. Sometimes, when I reach the pole but sometimes I don't stop at all. In the best case, I find that somehow running has gotten easier and I don't even need to count the poles. I feel like I live my life this way, telephone pole to telephone pole. I just need to get through this meeting, this project, this day. Only if I can't see the next pole, I'm lost. What is the reward for getting a little... Continue reading
Posted Oct 27, 2016 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
Can you see how there is no blood in my fingers here? Sometimes things go wrong and sometimes they go right, and sometimes they go wrong and right at the same time and you just end up deciding that this is not going to be the day when you run 45 miles. The day started out great. My number was 427, which happens to be Brian's birthday, so I thought that was a good sign. It had been raining, but wasn't doing much of anything and it was kind of muggy. I packed pretty light. I had a ziplock bag... Continue reading
Posted Oct 23, 2016 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
I don't know why I decided to start running ultramarathons. I suppose the simplest answer is because I could. Maybe a more complicated answer has something to do with always needing to prove myself over and over again. The reason I keep doing it is because it seems so simple. All I have to do is keep moving forward. When things are bad, remember that they will get better. When they are good, remember that they will not stay that way and don't get too carried away (apparently, I'm actually supposed to enjoy it when things are good, but I... Continue reading
Posted Oct 21, 2016 at Evil Genius(es) in Training
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I haven't been swimming in about two weeks. I have some very good reasons (not excuses). For example, the pool was closed and then I was out of town. On monday, I was feeling sick. Was I really sick? Yes. Was I contagious and sick enough that I shouldn't have gone swimming? I don't know. I probably would have felt better after swimming, but I came home from work early and took a nap, so probably it was a good call. The problem is, every time I make the decision not to go swimming, it makes it easier to skip... Continue reading
Posted Oct 20, 2016 at Evil Genius(es) in Training