Tuesday, December 28, 2004

club caltech

my asthma, which is worse in cold weather, was terrible when i was east. i was using my albuterol inhaler there. it helped, but i noticed that it had expired in 2003. on my dog walk this morning, i walked over to the student health center. leaving mac on his long leash outside the doorway, i walked in far enough to let the coordinator know what i wanted and asked if i could wait outside. she said yes. shortly, mac and i were visited by a nurse who handed me an inhaler, made sure i knew how to use it, and admired the loveliness of bad dog. i am sad that i will be leaving the shelter of student health centers when i graduate from caltech and cross the PhD threshold. i suppose this level of service is a type of concierge medicine. being able to bring the dog and incorporate health care into a dog walk is the mark of a high standard of care for me.

500 year tsunami

I am horrified by the consequences of the tsunamis in the Indian Ocean. The New York Times is reporting 50,000 deaths so far. It seems that some of the smaller islands moved as a result of the event. Another new horror is the unearthing of land mines:
A new danger emerged today: UNICEF said uprooted land mines in Sri Lanka threatened to kill or maim aid workers and survivors. "Mines were ... washed out of known mine fields, so now we don't know where they are," said Ted Chaiban, the Sri Lanka chief of UNICEF.
I'm afraid that we'll be seeing many more unexpected consequences of this disaster.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Yet another reason not to read the LA Times

Recently I've been willing to sound like a member of the so-called "liberal elite" and decry the newspapers published out West. I followed a link to the following article in spite of my reservations because the article mentioned a geographic change resulting from the tsunami in the Indian Ocean. In the second paragraph I found the following hideous sentence. And really, what does "recorded by scientists" mean? In my book, anyone who can record the magnitude of an earthquake is a scientist. Yeesh.
The quake was the largest since a magnitude 9.2 temblor struck Prince William Sound, Alaska, in 1964 and was one of the biggest ever recorded by scientists.

Friday, December 10, 2004


Thursday night HC and I went to see Dolly Parton in Orange County. We got dressed up in my finest clothes, like kids playing dress-up.

Dolly was in great form. Apparently she hasn't done this kind of tour in a while. It was all kinds of stuff, old, new, popular, more obscure. I've been reading reviews from around the country about it, and it sounds like she makes changes based on region. In Georgia, she is reported to have said, after singing (John Lennon's) "Imagine", "I don't want to imagine no religion." After playing some enormous number of instruments on "Thank god I'm a country girl," in Orange County she said "Take that, Dixie Chicks." She is reported elsewhere to have continued, "How do you think they liked the election?" It's funny because I think of her as being very plain spoken and straightforward, so I'm a little surprised that she modifies her patter based on her audience. Naive of me, I guess.

The other dissappointment was the pre-recorded singing. I noticed it in the first couple songs, and not much after that. It's so commonplace now that I can't really hold it against her. She's certainly got the pipes; it's not like she's Madonna or something. She's 58. Still, I'd rather hear her sing imperfectly than hear recorded vocals.

Disappointments aside, she was fantastic, and I'm so glad I got to go see her.


Sunday, December 05, 2004

better living through psychopharmacology

i was at ross to buy some clothes for my trip east. when i saw a man trailing a woman through the through the store while watching football on a mini portable tv, i knew it was time to head home and watch the game. i'm watching the broncos-chargers game.

saturday i played scrabble with one old person and 6 young people. the visit was part of a caltech program where students visit the nearby retirement home. it was a lot of fun, but seems a little pointless with so few old folks. but i liked the folk we had; she was fun and interesting. i also got to be the embarrassingly obsessive player, the one who knew that fo isn't a word but xi is. i was playing as a team with my roommate anne, so i managed to keep my competitiveness in check.

in the past week, i've come to the conclusion that my series of down moods have been part of a trend. it's such a hard thing to assess: is it just situational, etc. i've been really unmotivated for a while. i had a hard summer, but i attributed it to the house-buying pressure and taking time away from research to teach. other times i've attributed my foul moods to hormones. i think it's time to take an aggressive pharmacological approach to making some improvements.