SHAKE IT OFF – STEM STYLE

Originally posted on STEM Howler:

The moment you have all been waiting for has finally arrived! After two months of planning and a whole lot of creativity, the Lip Dub 2014 is here. Enjoy and please share with your friends and family.  This amazing project is due to the efforts of Nancy Peng, Shannon McWilliams, Francesca Coyne, Maham Quraishi, and Vivian Ferris.  Great job ladies!

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Awesome new Downingtown STEM Academy Lip Dub

Shake it off Stem Style

This is just plain fun. The entire school was involved. I spotted Julianna about 1 minute 43 seconds into the video.

All about that bass (no treble) Megan Tranor, I know you’re trying but you’re missing the point

The first couple of times, I liked this song. New voice, sort of sassy attitude but something irritated me about the song and now it has reached saturation and I change stations when it is played on the radio or Julianna’s play list.

What is the problem? In one word…..

BOYS

It’s still all about what the boys want or like.

Yeah, it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two
But I can shake it, shake it
Like I’m supposed to do
‘Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase
And all the right junk in all the right places

She’s “supposed to (shake it)” Why? So all the boys will give chase?

Are we on the set of a Grease production?

And the apple doesn’t shake and boom boom far from the tree with her mother’s advice…..

Yeah, my mama she told me don’t worry about your size
She says, “Boys like a little more booty to hold at night.”
You know I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll
So if that’s what you’re into then go ahead and move along

I come from a long line of strong women none of whom have ever been heard telling a daughter or granddaughter that her body is something she shouldn’t worry about because the boys can hang on at night for a good ride.

It is truly still all about that Bass without even mentioning for consideration the Sopranos and Altos.

A good example of how to deal with hate-mongering

If you combat hate with hate, hate wins but if you drown out hate with love, love wins. watch this video.

What happens to ambitious women

Eleanor Abernathy isn’t real but there are too many elements of her character that rings true in academia where white male privilege still reaches out and punishes women who are too ambitious to know their place.

I love being in school and I love learning.

I love the life sciences but I do not want to end up like this…..

If God wants me to become a researcher with a PhD (thus opening doors for me) He will provide a way.

I will not be stripped of my dignity by going through the application-rejection cycle this year.

I need to heal.

 

 

Rearranging Furniture

Last week, Josh moved to San Francisco and the only child left is Julianna.

This makes the house just a little bit too quiet and a little lonely particularly for Julianna.

It also makes no sense to have Julianna in the smallest bedroom with three bedrooms empty most of the time so I’m cleaning out the red room formerly Josh’s room, formerly Jeanette’s room, formerly the Boy’s room, formerly Jennifer’s room with the intention of giving this space with its queen sized bed and large closet to Julianna.

Julianna’s room will become my office (insert evil laugh) and I am seriously toying with converting Josh’s room into a lab (insert evil scientist laughter.)

This is all, of course, a metaphor of the changes going on in life in general and how the way I have ordered my life before isn’t efficient now and how it is healthy to take inventory of resources and rearrange things to more effectively meet the needs at the moment.

I am restoring household homeostasis (cue in the evil nerdy scientist laughter again.)

“There but for the Lord’s kindness am I”

Julianna is finishing up her summer reading assignment and the book is To Kill a Mockingbird and she read the part wherein Tom, a black man falsely accused of a crime, was killed. 

The similarities of his murder at the hands of prison guards is chillingly familiar and makes me wonder how far we’ve actually gone. Has any progress been made.

I am quoting from Chapter 24

“Tom is Dead.” Aunt Alexandria put her hands to her mouth.

“They shot him,” said Atticus.  “He was running.  It was during their exercise period.  They said he just broke into a blind raving charge at the fence and started climbing over right in front of them–” 

“Didn’t they just try to stop him?  Didn’t they give him any warning?” Aunt Alexandra’s voice shook.

 

“Oh yes, the guards called to him to stop.  They fired a few shots in the air, then to kill.  They got him just as he went over the fence.  They said if he’d had two good arms he’d have made it, he was moving so fast.  Seventeen bullet holes in him.  They didn’t have to shoot him that much.  Cal, I want you to come out with me and help me tell Helen.” ……skipping to the next page….”The handful of people in this town who say that fair play is not marked white only, the handful of people who say with enough humility to think when they look at a negro there but for the Lord’s kindness am I.”

Even that comment creeps me out because of the privilege it carries with it but the parallels just stuck with me.

Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” video has some problems

opinemine:

Excellent analysis of a racist music video.

Originally posted on Defeating the Dragons:

If you haven’t seen Taylor Swift’s new music video “Shake it Off,” I’ve embedded it above. I don’t think you need to watch it for my commentary to make sense, and there’s no reason to listen to the song since I won’t be critiquing the lyrics extensively– so, if you really don’t like Taylor Swift as an artist, feel free to skip it.

Before we get started, I need to admit to some bias: I’m not a Taylor Swift fan. In fact, I’ve gone out of my way to avoid her ever since she released “You Belong to Me,” which practically screamed I’m not one of those girls. She also believe[s/d] that the definition of feminism is “women who are against men and also want everything without working for it.

Because of all that, I was happy to hear this:

I go on too many dates
But…

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I was consulted as a Biologist this past week

I had a depressing post all ready to go but who wants to read that crap and who’s reading this anyway but I digress. Last Thursday, I had no (as in zero) people who needed to be tutored in Bio or A&P. I got a text from my sister, Sherri, who had a friend, G., who was in the process of writing a book and G needed some input to determine if, for example, someone with the knowledge could make a batch of penicillin in a post-apocalyptic reality.

penicillin molecule

Alexander Flemming discovered that the common mold of the genus penicillim inhibited growth of bacteria on his petri dish but he couldn’t figure out how to produce enough penicillin to treat a patient. This is a complex process that might be able to be accomplished by a knowledgeable person who stumbled upon the right equipment in a post-apocalyptic setting but it is not believable in seventeenth century Scotland that was apparently a plot theme in the series Outlander.

 

 

 

Fortnight

Far too much of life’s water has passed under my metaphoric bridge this past fortnight. I am finally home and able to relax, take a few deep breaths, and share my thoughts.

We were in Tahoe, California, preparing for Jeanette and Joey’s wedding when my mother collapsed and died unexpectedly.

My family came together in the most extraordinary way and we got through this time and somehow the wedding was among the most beautiful ceremonies I have ever witnessed which is a reflection of the inner beauty of Jeanette and Joey. Thank you all of you who made their day fun and deeply beautiful.

Julianna and I decided to stay with our plan to visit colleges in the Bay area and we spent Wednesday in Berkeley and on Thursday, Pat managed to arrange a tour of Stanford’s robotics lab and the PI gave her an opportunity to test out some virtual reality simulators and she got to see two Asimos which was a thrill for her. We spent time crying and comforting one another. Adriana and Colin were wonderfully supportive and Pat has been a solid rock in this storm.

I am glad to be home although my garden is a mess.

I will need my friends for awhile.

Letter to my future self (the product of an assignment from last September.)

The following is a letter I wrote to my future self last year. It is a direct quote unless I transcribed something wrong.

This is a letter from the present-tense self to my future self but will be read from the perspective of my past self to my present self.  To God, however, a day is the same as a thousand years and all of the aforementioned tenses are meaningless so here goes.

If this letter is being read in the latter part of spring (2014) most of the things that are occupying your mind have been resolved.  Graduate schools have made their decisions, the paper has been published or rejected, Jeanette will have a date and location for her wedding, Julianna will have almost finished at STEM, Joseph will have adapted to life at Duquesne, you better get off your ass and have the book finished by now , and (God willing) you have a new grandbaby and hopefully two more on the way.

Those worries will be replaced with a new crop of concerns but God will always be the center of your life and will gently nudge you when things get out of alignment.

A few words of advice….

Go easy on yourself. Before you open your mouth just treat yourself like you would treat one of the kids.

When you feel blue, reach out, do not isolate yourself.

Sometimes you need to say no and that’s ok.

Know your friends and your not-friends.

Try to remember this because it is a little experiment: Live the way  you want it to turn out. Sort of prime the pump and see what happens.

Blessings to my future self.

This is about forgiveness

It won’t surprise anyone that I was in church this morning.

It might surprise a few people that I paid attention. Emily and Frank Nefos preached together as a team and they related the story found in the last chapter of the Gospel of John in which Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him three times to address the three times Peter denied Jesus the night before He was killed.

Their message addressed the shame and guilt some sins cause and God’s capacity to forgive our sins.

Right afterward, we were worshiping and I got this word so I wrote it down and here it is….

Forgiveness is forward + giving = we can never pay God back for His grace and His great capacity to forgive and restore but God isn’t interested in us paying Him back, rather God wants us to pay it forward to give forward that which will never suffice going backward.

Plus, it really isn’t needed in that direction.

Think of this, think about how the world could change if we did this. An eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind but forward giving (forgiving) and paying grace forward would revolutionize how we relate to one another. 

“But I can’t forgive, I just can’t let go of what that horrid person did to me.”

We can’t and sometimes we can’t forget and we sure as hell deserve justice in this world and (and this is hugely important) we need to protect future victims from being similarly hurt but we still need to forgive the person because all of that held within our hearts is poison.

But I still can’t forgive.

Start by giving it to God, let God deal with it because God can handle it even when it is slowly sapping you of all your joy and strength but remember what forgiveness is and what forward-giving of God’s grace does to our spirits.

It is the difference between household pipes that are vessels of flowing fresh water and festering sewers filled with stagnant waste.

What happened to scholarship? (and I do not mean cash to cover tuition.)

I have noticed an alarming trend toward a demand for highly focused specialism instead of scholarship with a broad base of knowledge as desired qualities in PhD candidates and I believe that this as well as my age has played its part in me being rejected from seven PhD programs over the past three application seasons. 

I thought this was a problem limited to the sciences but it may be present in the social sciences as well.

This is a human rights issue.

This is a feminist issue.

Taking the dignity of scholarship out of PhD programs and selecting exclusively young people that are obsessively focused upon one narrow area of study is impoverishing our universities.

There is a lot of discovery in the life sciences and I dare say this phenomenon is changing our society and affecting the unfolding of the future and we are entrusting it to technicians who don’t seem to care for context or the disciplines of ethics, sociology, or logic not to mention rhetoric.  

I hope to expand upon these thoughts, I welcome your thoughts, and I hope that the lucid flow of thought that was once characteristic of a university might remain after these emerging technicians with letters after their names are, themselves, too old in some narrow-minded eyes. 

Monsters

Do not ever forget that we all have enemies seen and unseen. Monsters that are given power usually fan the flames of fear to their own advantage. Authentic love, the very thing that makes our lives of value is not unopposed. Those of us who love and are beloved find it difficult to comprehend others that seem to enjoy harming other people.  But the sister of Love is Hope and Hope is a powerful ally. She hears the song the Universe is singing and she is not afraid to stand by your side on your worst day.

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First Question, What Came First, the Chicken or the Egg? From Jenn R.

opinemine:

Here is the first post of my new blog, Bios.
If you like it, let me know. You could even follow it.

Originally posted on Bios:

So, was it the chicken or the egg?

Really.

The vast majority of the world’s Biologists believe that species evolved from other species and the chicken/egg question is a great springboard to launch our sorry asses to this subject. How does evolution work?

The first thing you need to know is that evolution happens to populations of species not to individuals.

But what happens to individuals?

Mutations?

Queue in zombie apocalypse or X-men at this point and, of course, I will implore you wipe such images to the side for the time being.  A mutation is a change in a gene. Most of the time, they don’t change anything, sometimes they are lethal, sometimes, they change the way something on the organism works such as eye color or clearing a substance out of your body, etc, etc.

When there are two or more ways that trait can be expressed, there…

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Completely different beginning to my book (please give me your thoughts)

Please let me know if you care about my characters. 

25,000 years ago 

U5b2C, blinked her eyes and closed them tight again. She was cold and wet. Soot from the fire irritated her newborn eyes. Little did she know she had a harmless new mutation in her mitochondrial DNA making her the foremother of all subsequent people with her haplotype. Before she could howl in protest, a warm fur was placed over her and her mom on whose soft belly she rested.

She quickly found her mother’s breast and instinctively comforted herself by suckling.  From that vantage point, she gave the world a second look and found herself staring into the loving brown eyes of she who will be the center of her universe for the next four or five years.

Since all was right in her little world, U5b2c fell into a long nourishing sleep giving her mother a chance to rest and heal from the hard work of giving birth.

When she was weaned, U5b2c was given a name, Tara.   Tara belonged to a kinship that lived farther north than almost any other people group. This was a time when ice could be seen regardless of how much longer the sun stayed in the daytime sky compared to the darkness of night.  Those glaciers were, however, in the early stages of retreat.  Although hunters in Tara’s kinship were known to follow game taking them deep into the vast inland coniferous forest for days, Tara lived in a coastal settlement from which the great water could be seen in the western horizon.

Each time the songbirds returned in spring  Tara’s mother made a record of her daughter’s progress toward adulthood by marking the height Tara reached at her tallest and carving a little line at that height that was symbolized by a fish icon which was Tara’s mark (these were the days before people knew how to read and write.)  According to the old custom, each generation of mothers used the trunk of a hawthorn tree that had been struck by lightning to track the growth of their children.  Tara grew tall and strong.  During those years in which Tara was busy growing and learning, more and more water was being liberated from ice.  When ten lines on the tree trunk belonged to Tara, the melting water created a trickle that rolled over the face of the ice cliff.  The water pooled at the bottom of the cliff for some time and was finally able to join a nearby stream.  Enough water collected in the eddy to allow Tara to wade knee-deep in the nearly frozen water and cast nets that would almost consistently yield a catch of fish.  In winter, when the water froze into ice in spite of its motility, Tara would manage to hack a hole in the thick ice allowing her to fish throughout winter in spite of harsh conditions.

 Tara had quickly become a critical member of her kinship because she provided many high protein feasts that kept everyone strong and alert. There was far more to her than being a good fisherwoman, however.  She was also perceptive of the spirit world.  When their wise woman died, it was Tara the elders chose as shaman in spite of her youth. 

Tara was fascinated by the ice caves and would explore them in spite of their obvious dangers.  At the mouth of the largest ice save, a sea monster kept vigil with rows of sharp teeth ready to devour anything foolish enough to cross its path.  Everyone in her kinship was afraid of it and would dare not look into its inky black eyes or venture past the mouth of the cave that it seemed to be guarding but Tara had looked and discerned that whatever life that had quickened when it hatched from its mother’s egg had long left and there was nothing left to animate what was frozen and had become part of the wall of the ice cave.

 

There were two types of people back in the time before people learned how to write, the tall agile people who could kill with their spears and the shorter hairy people that were clumsy but more aware of their prey and could anticipate future events by looking for clues of past behavior. These were also the people that left records in their cave-homes by painting pictures to enable future eyes to understand what they had experienced. Of course, the spear-throwers thought themselves better than the quieter artists. Bryn was among the most talented of artists and he captured Tara’s heart when she took an interest in his weaving.  She was able to adapt his design to create stronger fishing nets and he took her fish net design and incorporated a knot design for his cave murals. (yes, these were the first Celtic knots.)

 Because the tall spear-throwing kinships thought they were better than the hairy artists, it was forbidden to marry one of those inferior peoples. Some people need to feel better about themselves by denying the humanity of others. Tara, by contrast, could see the “In God’s Image-ness” when she looked into Bryn’s eyes. She saw something else that she hadn’t noticed before, love welling up. She was awakened to realize that every act of kindness, every gesture, every, “Do you like this?” and “Take it, it is a gift,” was actually a declaration of, “I love you.” Now, her heart had quickened and she became aware of every little tender gesture and created ways to reciprocate.  

The water from ice started to melt and form little riverlets that made their final dramatic descent as a waterfall. Falling water was a new experience for Tara.  There was a release of energy as the water tumbled.  Tara experienced, for the first time, a new dynamic energy that was previously captive to the frozen glacier.  Tara was wondering at the song the falling water made as it crashed into the ice-cold pool of water below.

The Universe was singing a love song. Tara and Bryn could hear it and sang songs to one another with its harmony.

Dynamic is the word. It is derived from the Greek, dynamo.  Dynamo is the source of words like dynamite and dynamo which evokes the mental image of energy expanding. Never created, never destroyed.  Water, frozen hard in the form of ice was absorbing more and more energy from the sun until it transformed into the fluid water making it animate. Eventually, it would become vapor after absorbing yet more energy from the sun. This was the end of the last ice age and although there have been many ice ages before, the change from solid to liquid and even to vapor was mirrored by the quickening of spirit within the human population.  Some of the ice sublimed directly into gas in a similar fashion, Tara was among the first to hear the love song the universe was singing. Little biological flash drives filled with information and coded in the most ancient of languages were coming together. In a dance that is as old as life itself, the little flash drives came together, all 22 pairs plus two large X-shaped pieces each one filled with thousands of recipes needed to make Unique, although the recipes are handed down generation to generation the most precious of heirlooms, each combination is unique, never before and never after. Naturally, she was the second U5b2c and the song the universe sings bore its most beautiful fruit, the fruit of love, reflection of divine.

But for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction and while Tara and Bryn’s spirits were being quickened into a consciousness that sought after things more real than what their eyes could envision, there were others that remained frozen and feared what they saw in the eyes of those whose spirits were subliming into enlightenment.  

Sharpening their spears, they hunted their own sister because she refused to send Bryn away because he was shorter and not agile. Why couldn’t they see he was the painter of the most beautiful wall murals? To them, none of his talents made a difference, they couldn’t see past their own hate and fear.  Even though he made a knot of heart and trinity and promised Tara that he would love her forever. Fear cannot hear the melody of the love song the universe is singing, it knows nothing of the dynamic of awakening life. It is unaware of love and the limitations of love which are none.

The first thing that was done was to spread fear by telling the people lies that Tara was using magic from Samhan. They said she would make their sons and daughters sick and die. They said she was the reason ice was melting and eventually it would become so warm that the great water would start boiling and kill everyone in their kinship. In their minds, Bryn wasn’t human and fear convinced them that he was to be sacrificed.  Just like love quickened into in god’s likeness, fear spawned Malevolent who remained solid using expanding gases to create the lift he needed to ride the thermals and survey his territory.

But all of this would take time and Tara and Bryn’s love was starting to show and Tara was keeping her own sweet daughter warm in a furry sling and the winters were shorter and summers were longer and the ice receded and green moss and other plants became plentiful on the island that would later be known for its greenness. When she was weaned, Tara’s daughter was given the name Mara and Malevolent was afraid of her because she, too, could hear the song the universe was singing.

Then it happened, fueled by fear, Malevolent, was able to influence the others such that they were going to carry out the murders but Tara and Bryn were prepared. They were going to hide in the ice caves.  The others were afraid of them because a frozen sea monster with rows of teeth could be seen frozen in the ice. The others weren’t sure it was completely dead so they stayed away from the creature and its teeth.

The little family was trying to slip away unnoticed but they were being watched and the fearful ones with the sharp spears were pursuing them and catching up quickly.  

When they reached the ice caves, the mouth of the largest cave was completely covered by the expanding waterfall. With no other recourse of escape from their pursuers, all three ran through the waterfall in order to reach the safety of the ice caves.

This is when things happened that could never be explained rationally.

Bryn crossed ran through flowing water to the ice cave and passed the frozen sea monster. Alone. He was alone in the cold wet dark cave in the shadow of the sea monster.   He could do little but wait for Tara and Mara.  Although he lost track of time waiting, Bryn was dangerously cold and frightened in the shadow of the ice monster and finally, reluctantly went past the sea monster and out through the waterfall and took a spear through his broken heart because the fearful ones were waiting for him.

Eventually the tall spear throwing people managed to kill all the cave painters but some of us carry the memory of them in a language we are just beginning to understand.

Tara and Mara were never seen again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday’s Adventure

I started today shoveling about three inches of snow and Julianna had a two hour delay and when I dropped her off at school, I started heading to Drexel because today was a poster presentation.

I need to back up a couple paces to say that I have an application in to the Biology department there and I haven’t heard a peep which is a bit disappointing because they’re my first pick but I have taking my own ambitious ass down there for events like poster and research presentations. Although I have made inquiry and have been assured no decision has been made, all I hear from Drexel’s direction are metaphoric crickets chirping.

Bear in mind this was a last minute whim decision and I invited Eve who almost went with me but it occurred to me to take the train so I got off the by-pass and quickly made my way to Exton Station.

Exton station had no open parking spots so I decided to pick up the By-pass and just rough it though construction so I could make it to Philly at a respectable time.

The traffic gods were not in a good mood and traffic was snarled on the by-pass and I got a creepy sensation that I had narrowly avoided catastrophie.

I went to Malvern and there was no parking and I missed the train. 

Who on earth names a place Malvern (bad spring? Are you kidding, after this winter, bad spring is an oxymoron but, once again, I digress.)

I got to Paoli and fortunes turned I got a good parking spot right by the part of the train station where I get off the homeward bound train. 

Then, there was a girl at the station that gave me her day pass for the entire public transportation system. In other words, I rode for free!

Isn’t that awesome.

The walk from 30th Street Station to the poster presentation was pleasant and the poster presentation was great.

I am an unashamed nerd and a poster presentation is like a Phillies game or being at the movies for other people. I got to ask willing victims detailed questions about their research.

I really want to get accepted at Drexel or Temple.

Not being able to be involved with research would suck but if God really doesn’t want me doing this, the alternative will be amazing.

 

 

Why this straight Christian believes it is my duty as a Christian to advocate for gay rights

 

 

First, I identify as a straight not because I’m afraid you will mistake me for a lesbian but because I have straight white cis hetero privilege and I choose to use it to advocate for the recognition of the rights that those without my privilege possess. Note: I am not giving anyone their rights, such a concept is an oxymoron because if they are rights, people already possess them and it is up to the majority (gulp) like me to recognize for others that which we enjoy and take for granted for ourselves.

This goes for all civil rights period.

I bring up my status as a Christian because Christians have and continue to oppose rights for GLBT folks and this must be acknowledged and seeking forgiveness from the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities is the beginning of healing.

About twelve years ago, I was in a discussion with a friend who is lesbian and I was in a “Hate the sin but love the sinner” mindset and she was offended. She told me that I was hating part of who she was and therefore hating part of her. 

That really led me to examine my heart and seek out alternative perspectives on some Bible verses and without delving into the verses, suffice to say, there are alternative views on the usually cited verses but the important thing is that we, as Christians, serve as ambassadors for Christ and the primary message from Jesus Himself is the supremacy of love. 

If people look at me and see something else, I am focused on the wrong thing.

Against love, there is no law, with love, there are no limitations.

Airborne

2013-12-25 01.49.51  When I was very little, my dad would toss me up in the air and catch me. I was supposed to enjoy the experience. My little sister would giggle and ask to do it again.

I was terrified of heights.

I feel like my life can be compared to that memory of being thrown airborne, this time by my heavenly rather than my earthly father and, true to character, I am terrified.

But I don’t need to be afraid because God, the same one that knows minutia about birds in the air and lilies in the field loves me and never misses the mark. I put my future into your hands and will enjoy the adventure of being airborne.

Thanks but No-thanks or why I’m not going to watch Ken Ham and Bill Nye debate evolution-vs-creationism

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If you know me, you know that two of the most important things in my life are my faith and my love of science particularly life science.

You might also know that Bill Nye the Science Guy and Ken Ham (the fellow that is the force behind the creation museum where people and dinosaurs lived together).  It is only natural to think I would have watching this great debate on my agenda but you would be mistaken because I will not be watching this for several reasons. A few are as follows…..

These two men are basing their position using two different and opposing sets of rules. Creationism is part of Ham’s faith and hypothesis testing is central to Nye’s scientific method.  Evidence-based faith is an oxymoron and faith-based science is a contradiction of terms.

Although I am a Christian and believe that evolution is a fact, my faith is not affected by this nor does my faith hurt my ability to look unbiasedly at evidence.  Others do feel threatened, however, and I’m not sure a spectacle like this is the way to persuade someone that is afraid of what I consider the truth.

That’s enough for now but if you have anything to add, feel free to contribute.

Matthew 10:19 at the right moment

I was called as a witness last Thursday and like most people, I was nervous.  I was sequestered and unaware of the context my testimony would provide and I still am not at liberty to discuss the details but this is the backdrop of what I am trying to convey.

Some people from church are trying to read the NT by reading a chapter out of the Bible every day starting with the book of Matthew. Naturally, I am already behind in my reading and I decided to catch up by reading the chapter for that day and do catch up reading as the opportunity presented itself. Thursday was January 16th so I read Matthew 16 and caught up by reading chapter 10 and verse 19 blew me away I will quote, “.. but when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it.  At that time you will be given what to say.”

I was grilled and testified for almost an hour and half but I had the right words to say and with God’s help, the truth was made known and hopefully justice will prevail in spite of evil intent.

Thank you, Lord, for never leaving me or putting me into circumstances I cannot handle.

There are three Greek words for life in the Bible

When I was a kid, I was told Eskimos (pardon to the First Nations peoples of the Arctic) have 20 words for what is snow in English.  The logical conclusion was that snow is a large part of these people’s lives and they need more descriptive and practical words for what all gets translated into the English word snow than some white kid living in the suburbs of Philadelphia.  Getting back to the point, the Bible has three Greek words for what is translated to “life.” I will not be studying the original Hebrew words right now but perhaps another time.

The three words are Bios, Psyche, and Zoe.

I have two degrees in Biology and a minor in Psychology so those two words have obvious English parallels but in my world, Zoe is a girl’s name.

Not anymore.

Bios, Psyche, and Zoe are like body, soul, and spirit.

Bios is our physiology, all the processes involved in maintaining homeostasis so we can stay alive. That is Bios; our physical life.

Psyche is our selves, who we are, our personality. Our being, Psyche, is our soul.

Finally, Zoe is our spirit, the part of us that is quickened when our soul reaches out to God. Zoe is our in God’s Image-ness and is the part of us that can’t live without God.

There are three types of live that correlate to the three types of love found in the Greek, eros (physical love) phileos (brotherly love or a reciprocal sort of love and agapos which is a pure love that is unconditional.

I am so blown away at the fact that some very fortunate things are alive which is why I love Biology. Psychos and Zoe, look out!

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Nolite te bastardes carborundorum

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum

Ted talk on body language, imposter syndrome, and faking it until it becomes real

My daughter, Jeanette, sent me a link to a Ted Talk given by Amy Cuddy in which Dr. Cuddy discusses body language.  Woven into the talk is her personal narrative.  She was in a serious accident and was told not to finish her undergraduate work because she lost a considerable amount of IQ points as a result of the accident.

She developed imposter syndrome. I was beginning to identify with her.

Her advice was fake it and change your body language and eventually you will grow into the person you want to be.

Here is the Ted talk, http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.html

This is worth a try.

Editing this because it was written and posted in the wee hours of the morning when I didn’t have the sharpest writing or editing skills.

I watched this Ted Talk on the way to Pittsburgh and was initially interested in body language and our perceptions of people. Toward the end of the talk, she was discussing her feelings that she didn’t belong to her undergraduate and then her graduate program because she had suffered some damage to her cognition in an accident. Her story moved me on a personal level because I suffer from impostor syndrome and feel like a fraud but the idea that when a non-human primate is suddenly put in a leadership role, they fake it until their testosterone levels rise and cortisol levels drop. In other words, fake it ’till you make it is a legitimate strategy.

One of the non-verbal power stances is the so-called Wonder Woman hands on the hips strong stances. When I was in fifth grade, the teacher, a nasty woman, told me not to put my hands on my hips because “It isn’t lady-like.” I was frustrated with this woman and asked her what I should do instead and she suggested I hug myself by the elbows which is one of the most weak body language signals in the human repertoire.  I cringe when I consider the number of girls that had their legitimate selves robbed by that horrid woman.

Really? Is this the best we can do for our daughters?

I am outraged that we can’t produce anything better for our daughters to wear except vapid and inappropriately sexualized clothing declaring boys over books or shopping as a favorite academic subject.

Its bad enough that girls are socialized to center their activities around their favorite boys and to build their conversations around gossip while boys are socialized to build their conversations around their favorite activities, now girls have their clothing literally speaking for them.

This is a revisitation of the Barbie in the 1990′s that had, “I hate Math” in her repertoire.

This is derived from the same source that would socialize girls to want to become princesses (again, defined by the men that she can snag but limiting her own personal development as an individual, yeah, just what we want for our daughters.)girls math

boys books

Musings about girlfriends and math phobia and we can do anything

Note: I had to wait for nearly a month for Sofia to return from Mexico and give her permission. God continues to give me a “Do Not Give Up” message.

20130428_152507I have a friend, Sofia, who is Mexican.

I love hearing her talk about her childhood in Mexico and I love her bubbly personality. She is a powerful prayer and an amazing story-teller and she is brilliant but she was never able to get her high school diploma and has been studying for the GED. She took it in January and passed every subject save math. The reasons for this will become ovbious. I will not post her story without her consent but Sofia posted the following on Facebook.

“Many years ago, I was told that there was something wrong with my brain, something like a trauma or so. I was told not to ever attempt to study Math, because of that “trauma” my brain couldn’t put together 2 plus 2. I took this comment to heart and decided not to go trough high school. Today, the curse was broken! I PASSED MATH! Yeeeeeeeeh! I just needed 410 points to pass and I got 510 wow! Look at me, look at me, he, he, he. I am getting my GED diploma. Yes, it was a very hard test (for me). A good friend from church (who happens to have a brilliant brain) prayed for me two months ago, and when she asked God to “rewire my brain” a bright light pup off on my right eye. Two nights ago I had a dream were God was whispering to my ear, telling me that I passed Math already. This morning, before I left for my test, my husband Isaias prayed for me, and when he asked God to come to my rescue giving me his understanding in algebra problems, that light pup off again, the same way it did last time. When I was doing my test, I encounter I very confusing question, and I spoke this words: “Dear Jesus, let me use your brain, please” and the answer came right after I finished praying. TO GOD BE THE GLORY! I am so happy, that I could run and dance through the streets of Pottstown! Trust always in God and he’ll give you the victory. Do not ever give up. Thanks to all who have been praying for me, I felt your love and I love you too!”

My words could take me in so many different directions but I want to focus on one thing, “Trust always in God and he’ll give you the victory. Do not ever give up.”

Beautiful words, I will not give up, I am glad you are my friend, and I can’t wait to see how God is going to use you with your amazing brilliant rewired brain.

Yes, you guessed who prayed the rewiring prayer and I am not as impressed with the aforementioned brain (mine not Sofia’s.)

Now, all I need do is wait for permission to post this.

Where is Justice for Marissa Alexander?

Marissa Alexander thank you CBS News

If you REALLY want to do something about the privilege and the racial and gender double-standard do something about this woman.
Warning: I am about to be insensitive so if you are a member of Treyvon’s family please stop reading because I am going to make statements you won’t be able to handle.
The rest of you should think about this.
The Zimmerman case was poorly prosecuted and the jury handed down the only decision they could make because the standard was reasonable doubt and the defense produced enough legitimate reasonable doubt. Treyvon is gone, nothing you do can bring him back but, as that jury was deliberating, another black person, a woman, was sentenced by a judge in Florida. She could be President Obama’s kid sister if he had a sister or your brown auntie or whomever but she is rotting in a Florida jail for twenty years because she fired warning shots at an abusive husband.
Yup, crap on her.
She’s black…Strike One
She’s female….Strike Two
She’s in Florida…..Strike Three

Where is the Prez?
Where is Ann Coulter?
Where is Faux News?
Where are all the civil rights leaders?

To all my facebook friends that have blacked out their profile page, this woman is alive rotting in jail for far less than Zimmerman. She is in Florida and under the wacky self-defense jurisdiction. This is a *huge* double-standard. If you are sick and tired of dead black children and a frightened women rotting in jail, let’s do something about it. We can do something for Marissa! I’m thinking petition President Obama for a pardon. But some of you are activists and have the experience I lack.

Are we watching The Help?
Are we reading The Handmaid’s Tale?
Here is the story (credit to CBS News.) http://m.cbsnews.com/storysynopsis.rbml?pageType=national&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cbsnews.com%2F8301-201_162-57433184%2Ffla-mom-gets-20-years-for-firing-warning-shots%2F&feed_id=1&videoid=37&catid=57433184

An Example of the Asshattery of Racism (a story from my childhood)

This tale from my childhood has been remembered several times over the past few weeks and the real moral of the story is just how completely senseless and illogical racism is now back up the clock several decades to a 5 year old Debra……..

My paternal grandparents whom I called Nanny and Pop-pop were pretty cool for old people. Every summer, they would give us a break from our parents by taking us to Ocean City, NJ for a week or two. They would find the cheapest flea-bag place to stay but we didn’t care, we were a couple blocks away from the ocean and boardwalk, we were in heaven.

Please don’t ask me for a logical reason but one thing we loved was to swim in the pool in front of the Ocean View motel right on the boardwalk. We would pay $0.50 for the privilege of swimming all day but once you left the pool area, you were out of luck.

So it happened one fine morning down at the shore many decades ago, my sister and I mustered up fifty cents and started what should have been several hours of fun time in the boardwalk-pool but about a halfl-hour into my swim, Nanny and Pop-pop called us out of the pool.

Why?

We just got here and there were no clouds in the sky, no turds floating in the pool, no logical reason to leave so I protested and was stearnly told to get out of the pool.

At that moment, my grandparents were the most stupid people on Planet Earth.

Later on, my sister offered a reason, not logical, not rational but a reason.

Brace yourselves……a black family had the audacity to take their kids swimming.

That was it.

Proof positive my Nanny and Pop-pop were absurdly stupid.

Why?

They wasted my money
They wasted my time.
What were they thinking?
We could catch the black?
They had black people cooties transmitted in an aqueous medium?

It doesn’t matter, from that day, they were not the sharpest crayons in the box and anyone with racist views were drooling (can’t come up with a term that won’t offend so use your imagination here) in my world because no excuse anyone has forwarded is any better than the “get out of the pool” reaction I endured as a five year old kid.

My book is almost finished and I need some feedback. Like I need *your* opinion!

falls trailJessica said my book is, for all intents and purposes, done.
She also said she was going to have it as a bookclub book (yeah)
I need to edit it and refine it a bit but here come the questions.

I really need help particularly if you have had books published.

1) The book is really short making it a novella. Would you read a short book if it was reviewed well?

2) Julianna said it is read at a quick pace. I asked her if that was an indication that it was boring. She said, “No, you’re just cutting out the boring bits.” Is there any positive aspect to the boring bits of a book?

I put together a promotional excerpt, (I need to add later,) it appropriate? Is it good? Does it make you want to read the book?

Here is the excerpt…..

Excerpt of Book

Anna had been free writing the night she was given Avi’s lament. She reached into the pocket that bore the handprint of her little nephew and took out the small paper in order to make sure she really did write down the words that were so real in her mind. The crumpled note paper was stained with old dried tears mingled with fresh tears.
“Unwritten, what if you were given the opportunity to make things right? What if all you needed was to reject fear and act out of love instead?”
Anna was too shaken to even read what was written in the book she held tightly in her embrace.

Anna handed Viola the slip of paper and it was Viola’s turn to turn white.
Quickly, Viola regained her senses. The teen’s free-writing confirmed the plan that was gestating in her mind.

Miss Viola took Anna upstairs to the dressing room under the eaves. There, she revealed a full length mirror that had that creepy effect when two mirrors are facing one another.

“The mirror is a gateway to times and places,” Viola explained, “Where you go is up to you; you have free will. I can send you back to the falls if you wish but I could also send you to Zipporah to make things as they were meant to be.”

The tears in Anna’s eyes told Viola which choice the teen had made.

“There is nothing I can do to prepare you for this journey but you must have love in your heart.”

“But….” Anna was filled with doubt but also animated with excitement because she knew in the marrow of her spirit that she had been chosen to right a grave wrong and that she was doing what she was created to do.

Why couldn’t Anna shake the doubts that were brewing in her spirit?

“You will feel a bit of a shock because the body just isn’t used to shifting.”

“Shifting?”
“You will be either moving between parallel universes or going back in time in your native universe but it is quite difficult to tell one from the other at times.”
A heart filled with love wasn’t a challenge for Anna for her heart was overflowing with the type of love that makes her spirit beautiful. The only thing that threatened to dampen the power of Anna’s loving heart was self-doubt and a gnawing sense of fear that periodically gripped her heart.

In fact, Miss Viola sent Anna with two words of advice, “The heart of a person guides actions with intention. Do not let fear make decisions for you and what you do, do in love. Let love govern your heart for love is the currency of Heaven. Fear creates discord and interferes with the song that resonates throughout the universe. It is difficult to impossible to hear the sound of the universe and move in harmony when all you can hear is the demanding rhythm of your own naked fear. Love, on the other hand, is the very essence of the song the Universe is singing. When someone acts out of love, he or she is in harmony with the rhythm of all of creation. Things have a way of working out in spite of circumstances. There is no explanation but this is a universal principle that holds everything together and unites all of Creation to the other. Against love there is no law, with love, there are no limitations.”

Girls, body image, and the rest is in this post!

Jeanette 09Yesterday, I was running errands with Julianna (for those that don’t know Julianna turned 14 in March.) The entire eighth grade is going to Dorney Park. Dorney has a water park that is included in the general admission ticket so we usually split our time between the theme park and the water park but Julianna told me that she was only going to the water park with Abby.

I, of course, wanted to know why hoping that there was no girl drama in Julianna’s little social circle but the real reason was far more disturbing.

Julianna and Abby are the only girls that feel secure in their own bodies to feel free to go have fun in the water park.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Both girls are thin naturally and I can’t speak for Abby but Julianna comes by her thinness naturally (unfortunately for me from the other side of the family.) She eats “like a boy” and is extremely active.

Her other girlfriends are too self-conscious to be seen in a swim suit and this breaks my heart. Julianna mentioned a friend who is a little bit chubby. “But I eat more than she does.” and “But she’s beautiful” and she is. Sadly, she has already decided not to don a swimsuit today.

I wish there was some effective way to help girls through this stage without the girls spending the rest of their lives worrying about their bodies in a swimsuit.

My girls are relatively unscathed but I think it is because of their skinny genes rather than anything I have done.

Fear will not govern my actions

20130428_152507I am afraid.

I am being honest.

But I will not let this fear, no matter how relentless, no matter how valid, to govern the decisions I make nor will I allow it to define my character.

Chrissy, I will stand with you in spite of the consequences. I will speak the truth and justice will prevail.

Perfect love casts out fear.

Two pieces of advice, “Do not let fear govern your actions but what whatever you do, do out of love in your heart. Let love direct your actions for love is the currency of heaven. Against love, there is no law with love, there are no limitations.”

Mother’s Day Flowers (and what they say about my children)

a href=”http://dbaug2uga.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/jeanettemothersday.jpg”>jeanettemothersdayIt started yesterday, the day before Mother’s Day. Jeanette, who is getting ready to graduate from berkeley, shipped me a beautiful pink rose plant in full bloom. Perfect.

Jessica came early in the afternoon and presented me with a beautiful bouquet that she had arranged herself.
jessmothersday<

Jo and Matt and Brooke arrived an hour later and Jo gave me a beautiful heather plant because she knew I like unusual plants.
jomothersday

I am the luckiest mom in the world.

Finally, there is Joseph who arrived in the evening because he was working. There was a rose plant withered up and dying at a friends house and he rescued the plant from the trash and reasoned that water would help it out which it did so I received a flowerless and recovering rose plant and that is because he knows I like to nurture sad little creatures and the challenge of bringing a plant back to health.
joemothersday

I love all of you and the unique blessings you bring to my life.

Gardens are where miracles are nurtured

forget me notLife itself is a miracle. All I need to become hopelessly awestruck is to think of ATP Synthase.
ATP Synthase is an organic molecular machine (with moving parts and everything. Much of the energy the body harnesses to be used for all the work the body does is turned into easily accessable energy called ATP and most of this happens oxidative phosphorylation. Hydrogen ions are separated and forced along the electron transport chain because H ions are + charged and the electrons are – charged.

But I went down a rabbit trail.
I am tempted to start with photosynthesis but I won’t
According to the Bible, human life was started in the garden.
I suspect the story is metaphor but even as a metaphor of our evolution, it is a story of lost paradise.
But there is another garden much later in the Bible. We often forget about it because of the drama around that time and place and it is a little boring, so boring that it might put you to sleep. I’m alluding to the garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed and sweated blood and asked his father to let the cup pass but also gave his blessing and consent to the Father’s will.
I love to garden, it makes me feel as though God is using my hands and feet to do His will amongst the riot of color particularly midsummer.
I felt a little pull in my heart to share my plants with one of my besties. Liza wasn’t ready for a garden and Lori has crazy chickens not to mention three engaged and brilliant grandsons. LJ was over to make her treasure map with me and I perceived it was her.
LJ consented to go outside where I could show her something.
I showed her the new Stella D’ora day lilies and eagerly said “yes” when I offered to give her some. All in all, she said “yes” to five but started to cry at the last plant, the Forget-me-not.
Little did I know she was an avid gardener and lost her garden and hasn’t had the property to plant flower beds.
Until now.
I am completely excited to think of my plants being planted in LJ’s garden now that she has been blessed with a beautiful house on a beautiful property. Part of my heart is poured into my plants and to think of them growing and blessing my dear friend makes me ache with joy that I get to play a part in such goodness.

Treasure Mapping

WP_001062I had my treasure mapping party a little bit late this year because Pat’s Uncle Joe died and his memorial was on Sat and Lori Poli and Sarah Poli’s little nephew passed and his (Griffin’s) memorial was also yesterday.
Remembering with a moment of prayer.
But we had a lovely time to focus on what we want for the next year. I have included a photo of my treasure map and I love it as it is the most conceptual tm I have ever painted.
The sun in the middle represents Jesus and the words below are lyrics from a worship song.
Adapted.
Jesus
Be my center
Be my source be my life
Jesus
Be the fire in my heart
Be the wind in these sails
Be the reason that I live

Then something noteworthy happened. I was thinking I wanted to visit Ireland but then I thought of the rest of the world and I thought, “surprise me!”

But not for the world travel, no, surprise me!

I am like a foodie in a five star resteraunt telling the chef to surprise me. The chef will do his best to make my meal memorable and I am asking that of my Heavenly Father, go ahead and surprise me because I know you will give me something better than I could imagine for myself.

The man on the moon, The Fusiform Gyrus, and The Invasion of the Body Snatchers

My regular readers, if I have any, are likely wondering what the hell Debra has been smoking recently but, rest assured, these things go together like peas and carrots.

I am going to discuss visual pathways and prosopagnosia at the Neuroscience Journal Club at West Chester and I haven’t looked at my notes for a good week so constructing this post will help. Note: I have been unsuccessful getting the photos where I want them so if the post looks good, it will be a bit more of an accomplishment than you might expect.

Where to begin? The man on the moon! Humans are born with a preference for looking at a human face and will choose a face over other shapes. In fact, humans will see a face at the most basic pretense this explains why most of us see a human face on the moon. Many were convinced the planet Mars has statues of humanoid aliens when it was nothing more than opportune shadows on the red planet. The need to see a human face is reflected in the newborn visual field being about the distance between where the baby is when he or she is nursing and his or her mother’s face.

Isn’t that cool?

Faces are so important to humans that a special region of the brain, namely the Fusiform Gyrus, is dedicated to facial recognition.

To appreciate this region of the brain that is located at the bottom of the temporal lobes, I need to take the reader through the visual pathways. When an image hits the retinas, the light is transformed to an electrical impulse that runs down the optic nerve to the place where the optic nerve synapses with the next nerve. This part of the brain, found on the bottom of the thalamus, and is called the Lateral geniculate nucleus otherwise known as the LGN. The LGN has six distinct layers of neurons and these layers correspond wih different tyypes of neurons and different purposes.
The image is carried back to the visual cortex that is found at the back of the brain in the occipital region.

If someone has damage up untiol this point, they are blind.

From the visual cortex, the image gets transmitted to various regions of the brain to determine (in general) where, when, and what the image is.

We are looking at what and the image will go to the facial recognition area on the Fusiform Gyrus.

If there is damage between the visual cortex and the fusiform gyrus, the person cannot recognize the face. This is called Prosopagnosia.

Things get even more interesting as the image is identified as a face gets transmitted over to the limbic system and the amygdala senses whether there is an emotional response to the image. If there is damage the person recognizes the face but thinks it is an imposter because they aren’t feeling the emotional response that is normal and the most logical conclusion for these people is to think their loved one has been replaced with a stunt double or alien (like in the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers which was better in the remake.)

CBMW, the word, role, and its misuses

traditional gender rolesstock-footage-rolling-a-joint-macro-shotdinner+rolls7 baby fat rolls<

First, there are rolls, which are yummy

If you're not careful, your dinner rolls will become fat rolls and that only looks cute on a baby

Then be careful to avoid rolling a joint that might get you jail time unless you live in CO or Oregon (or was that Washington state?)

I am not writing about recrational weed or about healthy eating but another role which is the traditional gender role-playing that patriarchal groups like CBMW pushes in their complementarianistic teaching that they have elevated to essential doctrine.

These people are quite fond of the term role and encourage their followers to fill the role that they were given (by God) but the typical archetype is an image from the 1950's, the image is invariably white, upper-middle class, and everybody is doing what he is expected to do (Note: there is no he or she because if you were doing something worth reporting, you were a male.)

Role is right up there on my gag me words along with Bitter (and its misuses.)

What should I expect from an org. like CBMW, if you get rid of the C at the beginning and the W at the end, you're left with BM at the center which is appropriate since CBMW is full of shit.

I have a suggestion, let people live their lives as authentic beings created in God's image instead of filling someone else's idea of what plastic role they should be play-acting like so many Stepford women.

Why this Straight Christian Girl Advocates for Marriage Equality

atraightpropagandaequity

So I go onto Facebook and, Lo! and Behold! a controversy about marriage equity.

I am solidly and unabashedly on the side of equality for all that includes the right for my gay and lesbian friends to marry and I have a list of reasons why. This list will likely not be exhaustive so bear with me.

1) The law should apply to all.

2) Religious arguments should not impact secular law (1st Amendment.)

3) Extending rights to others does not diminish your own rights.

4) The extent to which the majority gives a minority group rights that they already possess reflects on the majority group.

5) We straights haven’t been doing such a great job of being married, why should we have exclusive rights to the institution?

Letting go

I have a lot to be in gratitude and I don’t want to take a single blessing for granted. I have been working on letting go of some of my dreams and being satisfied with life without them.

What I want is an insult to what I have.

It is audacious.

It would occupy too much of my time.

Of my person.

Of my identity.

I am not deceived into thinking there is anything about me that will not be replaced by others a little later on.

The forces at work have been slamming the door rudely in my face until I actually don’t want to like them, I don’t want to forget the intrinsic value of each human being and the dignity that is owed the other.

I will love others and wish to be so loved in return because of who I am and not for what I do.

I get to just be.

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