Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Fatness I

A few days ago Dick Cavett wrote a column in the New York Times about how disturbed he was that fat people were showing up in commercials. After all, we know it is not ok to be fat.

Now, Dick Cavett is a slender fined boned little man who I doubt has ever had to think twice about how many calories he was eating. He thinks that fatness is primarily due to failure on the part of the fat person.

Undoubtably SOME of that is true. I know fat people who consistantly choose fattening foods. I know many more who read every label and do their best to cut out "bad" foods and to try to exercise. Some of the problem is probably genetic, another good chunk environmental, as we get fatter as a society over time. A prevailing theory at the moment is that we each have a natural weight range, and the environment factors push us one way or another within that range, but that gaining to be above your normal range or losing to be below it is incredibly difficult. There is data to support this.

All in all I was quite annoyed by the Cavett column because it showed the predjudices of the never-fat (or only fat breifly ever) against those that have a weight problem. And, as everyone who HAS a weight problem knows, fat people are NOT ok with their fatness.

So, I wrote a response, along with hundreds of others. Most of the others boiled down to 1) Thankyou for saying that! Those fat people are just pigs and need to learn to get up and walk and stop lifting only their forks, or 2) How dare you say that! Fat people have enough problems without that kind of nastiness.

This was my response:

There is a huge problem with advertising. Advertising is often aimed at making people want what they don’t need, and pushing psychological buttons to convince the viewer that they will be more cool, more sexy if they have some product or another. Part of the message is to tell us what we should want to be like. So we tell people, women in particular I think, that they need to look a certain way, leading to unnecessary self-loathing because we don’t look “perfect” enough and even worse, we damage our planet through rapacious consumerism.

Yes obesity is a problem, and can lead to specific health problems. Anorexia is also a problem. Cosmetic surgery can cause health problems or even death as well. I knew a women who was not terribly overweight, had lap band surgery and died from complications. Yes Americans are getting fatter. Fortunately we are also smoking less and cancer rates have been going down. It seems to me that over the decades more and more of us are becoming conscious of what may or may not be healthy.

In my family, most of the women are overweight. We also tend to live long lives. For whatever reason we are not plagued by type II diabetes or much heart disease. I have seen pictures of great-great grand mothers who were stout little women. Me? I am a bit of a gym addict, I spend roughly 10 hours a week at the gym. I take spinning classes, lift weights, and do Pilates. I am stronger and have more endurance than the majority of kids at my gym, and they are less than half my age. I eat no fried food, and avoid simple sugars. Currently I am keeping my calorie intake under 1,000 calories a day and I am losing a little, just a little bit of weight. I am almost 50, female, 5’5” and weigh 180 lbs. I am fat. And yes, not all of us who are fat won’t exercise, or only eat greasy, or sugar laden junk food. Fat people do not like being fat. A few chunky people in a commercial are not going to make us feel better about how we look. Do not worry. We are full of loathing for our fatness. At least I feel good about being fit.

I am a University professor. I see students who are thin as rails, never exercise, smoke, and down huge quantities of stimulants. I see obese students who always eat fried food and the 800+ calorie ice cream desserts they can get on their meal plan from our campus dining service. I see students who don’t sleep enough and push themselves too hard all the time. Type A people have been shown to stand a higher risk of death from a number of stress related disorders. I have seen students at the gym who I suspect are taking steroids to help them look more muscular and ripped.

So, should we be careful to not have overly muscled people in ads? What about type A’s who are doing everything? What about overly thin teenagers? Wouldn’t it be nice if ads were only allowed to present the facts about the product? If I had to pick something wrong with ads, the appearance of a few high BMI individuals would not even make my list.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

No Surprise

"Your score is 97 out of a possible 100

Usually a Procrastinator

You rank in the top 10% in terms of procrastination. That is, when it comes to putting things off, you often do so even though you know you shouldn’t. Likely, you are much more free-spirited, adventurous, and spontaneous than most. Probably, your work doesn’t engage you as much as you would like or perhaps you are surrounded by many easily available and much more pleasant temptations. These temptations may initially seem rewarding, but in the longer-term, you see many of them as time-wasters. Though you are likely incredibly productive just before a deadline, you might not get all your work done and there is a lot of unwanted stress. You may want to reduce what procrastination you do commit. If so, here are three tips that have been shown to work:

Goal Setting
This is one of the most established ways of moving forward on your plans. Take any project you are presently procrastinating and break it down into individual steps. Each of these steps should have the following three aspects. First, they should be somewhat challenging though achievable for you. It is more satisfying to accomplish a challenge. Second, they should be proximal, that is you can achieve them fairly soon, preferable today or over the next few days. Third, they should be specific, that is you know exactly when you have accomplished them. If you can visualize in your mind what you should do, even better.

Stimulus Control
This method has also been well tested and is very successful. What you need is a single place that you do your work and nothing else. Essentially, you need an office, though many students have a favorite desk at a library. For stimulus control to work best, the office or desk should be free of any signs of temptation or easily available distractions that might pull you away (e.g., no games, no chit-chat, no web-surfing). If you need a break, that is fine, but make sure you have it someplace at least a few minutes distant, preferably outside of the building itself. If you are unwilling to take the time to get there, acknowledge that you likely don’t need the break.

Routines are difficult to get into but in the end, this is often our aim. Things are much easier to do when we get into a habit of them, whether it is work, exercise, or errands. If you schedule some of those tasks you are presently procrastinating upon so that they occur on a regular schedule, they become easier. Start your routine slowly, something to which you can easily commit. Eventually, like brushing your teeth, it will likely become something you just do, not taking much effort at all. At this point, you might add to your routine, again always keeping your overall level of effort at a moderate to low level. Importantly, when you fall off your routine, inevitable with sickness or the unexpected, get back on it as soon as possible. Your routine gets stronger every time your follow it. It also gets weaker every time you don’t."


Sunday, May 27, 2007

What Harry Potter character am I?

Harry Potter character quiz. I did not come out as I expected, though apparently I am not a close fit to anyone.

You scored as Luna Lovegood, You are Luna Lovegood. You daydream and often seem to be drifting off into your own world. You have very strong opinions that many agree are not logical. You place a lot of faith in these beliefs. Possibly, you see more than what meets the eye. You are very accepting of others. You may have only a few close friends because you refuse to sacrifice your opinions and true self for social graces.

Luna Lovegood


Neville Longbottom


Albus Dumbledore


Hermione Granger


Bellatrix Lestrange


Severus Snape


Remus Lupin


Oliver Wood


Harry Potter


Percy Weasley


Sirius Black


Lord Voldemort


Ron Weasley


Draco Malfoy


Harry Potter Character Combatibility Test
created with QuizFarm.com

I always enjoyed Luna, though.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Ask and you shall...

Here is what I have and what I am working on in my spare time, which means not at all at the moment....

I use semi-precious stones, Japanese glass, and Czech glass primarily.



Sunday, April 29, 2007

Things to Do

It has been a looong time since I posted. I get very very busy in the end of Spring term, many high workload classes, many students, not enough sleep. When I do have or make a little downtime, I want to do something mindless.

But.... after seeing a list, originally from a Visa ad of things to do before you die, I started thinking of a things to do list. I found that it was easy to think of places I would like to go. I often get very wanderlusty at the end of Spring term, let me go! This term I have skipped the end of the season cat shows due to infectious agents in my household (a pity as I was showing a very hot show-cat) so I haven’t even had my usual long drives off to the shows recently. So I immediately thought of revisiting wonderful places I’ve been, such as Alaska, Paris, the Orkney Islands, as well as places I have never been that appeal to me such as Prague, Moscow, Tokyo, in fact whole countries such as Japan, India, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, and Thailand.

But in truth when I think of actual goals it shakes out quite differently. So here is a list of things I would like to do in a time frame of perhaps many years in some cases, but doable things that are important to me (in no particular order):

• Have my entire house clean enough, organized enough, decorated and fixed up enough that I would be happy showing it off to people.

• Get a grant funded by the NIH or NSF or other funding agency, sufficient to support a technician and/or PhD and/or Post-Doc student and truly get my research moving better.

• Publish my pombe data

• Lose 30 or 40 lbs

• Get the S. c. data finished enough and together enough to publish, and have it published.

• Sell my beaded jewelry at a craft fair.

• Publish a poem.

• Have a cat of my own breeding earn an International Win.

• Get back into ceramics again

• Get the Cell Disruptor that I want.

• Throw myself a big party on my next birthday, which might require the first thing on the list.

Hmmm... I'd better get to work

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Weird things Meme

Hmmm.... A meme, as I have just been told, is "In Blogspeak, a meme is an idea that is shared and passed from blog to blog, like a question posted in one blog and answered in many other blogs." So I am supposed to write ten weird things about me. And Titletroubles says I have to surprise her with at least one. There are of course more than 10, these are just the ones that occurred to me first.

1. I am weirdly strong.

2. Unlike my contemporaries, I seem to have avoided all kinds of physical and mental issues like PMS, bad feet, bad joints, phobias, issues with depression, major allergies, bad back, digestive issues, hypoglycemia... I can not eat for days without feeling icky. When I hear the litany of can’t do this’s and that’s from others I am just puzzled. Maybe I’m a Cylon (though I rarely catch colds etc either).

3. I can drink an entire bottle of wine in an evening with no ill effect, though that is something I very rarely do.

4. I have had 35 cats, and no it is not that unpleasant, though less is a lot easier. (I do not have so many cats now)

5. I used to stand on the outside ledges of my 3rd floor apartment windows to clean the windows when I lived in New York City. We had ten foot ceilings and it was actually 4 floors down to the street, so it was high above pavement.

6. I can see a little ways into the supposedly invisible to human UV spectrum, yet have a hard time telling some shades of navy blue from black, a peculiar allele of blue-sensitive receptor I suppose.

7. Though I like sex quite well indeed, I think I found my virginity decades ago.

8. Long empty well-lit corridors often make me want to do cartwheels down their length, and I have never been able to do cartwheels.

9. I strongly dislike the color yellow.

10. When I was a child I ate sand from the playground, and peeled gum off the sidewalk and chewed it.

Ok, will that do?

And, I am tagging (with permission) Emano.

Friday, February 16, 2007


I wanted winter, and it seemed it would never come. Now it is here and is as cold and beautiful as I could want. It is 5 (farenheit) right now, and it has not been above freezing in 20 days. They say it will on Tuesday. So it has been cold, but until this week, there was little snow. Then we got a nice big storm on the 13th and 14th. In this place of typically snowy winters the road crews have had an oddly hard time cleaning this up. To be honest, it took me two and a half hours to shovel my driveway on Wednesday though. I shoveled once on tuesday night moved a nice light fluffy 6 or 8 inches, but the next 6 inches had a heavy layer of sleet fall on top. The University actually closed though, so I had plenty of time. A snow day!

It was like a little mini-Christmas in the middle of the term.

Everything sparkles with pearls and diamonds and platinum of real winter, glittering

The big storm on February 13th and 14th! First in the evening as the snow gets going, then in heavy fall at night, Christmas lights turned on just so that I can see them once in snow, then in the afternoon on Valentines day.

Ice refracting light from the sky on the 15th.

Monday, January 15, 2007


I was in Atlanta Georgia yesterday. I had a 6:20 a.m. flight out on Saturday Morning. I left my house at 2:30 a.m. to go to my office to make copies of some handouts for the genetics seminar I was giving. It took longer than I anticipated and I didn't hit the road to Pittsburgh until 4 a.m. I got to the airport at 5 and had plenty of time to make through security and get on my flight luckily. Last time I was at PIT 1.5 hours was not enough. I flew back on Sunday morning on a slightly more humane 8:10 a.m. flight leaving the hotel on their 6:30 shuttle.

I will not do the whole rant here, but I find the new security measures to be intrusive, obstructive, and cause travel to be MUCH less pleasant than earlier, and I don't feel any safer. I just feel that I am living in a totalitarian state, not America anymore.

In spite of airport security invasions, I LIKE airports. I like the long corridors, the shops, and often good coffee, sometimes good food. Detroit is notable for the stores in its big concourse, a museum store, several art/designer boutiques, unique shops. Mineapolis is like a mall, with many standard mall chain stores with regular mall prices. Chicago’s has Chicago pizza, including frozen ones in insulated bags you can fly home with an cook in your own oven. Phoenix has decent southwestern food and good margeritas.

I like the atmosphere of airports, the sense of both hurry and waiting. I like the thoughts of travel to distant places. I like being alone in a crowd. One can people watch, or settle with a good cup of coffee and a good book, or do work with a laptop.

I like the design of many airports and the expanses of windows looking out at sky and planes. I like the long concourses and vaulted spaces.. I really like that many airports have doubled as galleries often for modern art, sometimes for science and technology.

In Atlanta I discovered it wasn't necessary to take the tram to get out. You can, in fact, walk through long underground corridors. I could stand to walk, having gained an alarming amount of weight over the 3 week break. It was a fairly long ways, and most of the tunnel was odd, fluorescent lights hanging at angles from the ceiling, loosely held by cables. Red tags hung from them with text assuring that they were in fact affixed and not going to fall.

The reward for the walk was in the last corridor, between terminal A and the main entrance and baggage claim. It was a gallery of contemporary Africa sculpture. Most of it was in stone.


What struck me was the creative use of the stone. In most case it was a dark stone used, that when polished was deep black or dark gray. When left rough it was lighter, the finishing of the stone provided color contrast of smooth dark skin, pattern cloth, and the roughness of nappy hair sometimes indicated by entirely unfinished stone.

The pieces were often inward looking and contemplative, several depicted the support of community or family, a group of friends, a protective father, a cluster of children.

Others held joy, dance, flight. I liked them.

It is too bad that most people take the tram and do not get to see these.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

I'm Dreaming of a White... day in January?

I love snow. We had a nice little fall of maybe 6 inches back in early December. It was lake enhanced, light and fluffy and full of glittering, lacey, perfect snowflacks. It lasted a few days. Usually in late December or early January the cold sets in and it snows and stays. Temperatures do not get above freezing sometimes for weeks. Right now it is bright and sunny and in the 50s (F). Our temperatures are not projected to make it down to the average HIGHS for the forseeable future. That projection is into mid-january, the coldest time of the year here. No snow.

I want a roaring fire and hot spiced wine, or a hot buttered rum on a snowy night. I want the lovely hush of falling snow. This winterlessness is making me cranky.

I just put brand new snow tires on my car. I will be driving back and forth accross the Alleghenies and Pocanoes in the next few weeks, who knows, maybe there will be some snow up there and I'll need them.

Glodal warming, El Nino, whatever, one of our four seasons may be missing this year. There is still live lettuce and chard down in my vegetable garden. I suppose I should eat some of it.