as if inside our skulls, instead of the brain, we felt a fish, floating, attracted by the Moon.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


ahhhhhhh = a sigh
aaaahhhhhhh = stress
AAAHHHHHHHH = a scream
AAAAAhhhhhhhhhh = the baritone of a singing quartet


I wanted to make a *~BLOG POST~* (`・ω・´)~
because I got an incredibly high-detail MRI scan of my brain from TMS lab at Beth Israel in Boston. I'm participating in a study for them (Jack and his father were my in, obviously) and they need a pretty darn detailed 3D image of a brain if they're going to do TMS on someone.

So they gave me a copy on disc, and I downloaded some freeware application that reads this kind of file. It's awesome. Great for studying the brain for my anatomy final, too. And because they only did it for a good picture of my brain, it means it flesh renders to this:

You can so tell that I was blinking.

it's a fully-rotatable and transverse-through-able picture of my head cut off just below the level of the hard palate.

Also, even better, is noticing that my face is all smushed up from the padding they put around my head to keep me still!

I had two square cushions pushing into the sides of my head (see the ears/cheeks?) and a plastic bar touching my nose ever so slightly. The cheek thing is my favorite, definitely.

On to the good stuff!

There's an enormous amount of cool things to see in an MRI scan like this, but for the sake of practicality I'll just illustrate a few of my favorites.


You can see the turbinate bones in my nasal cavity! The turbinate bones help warm air as it's breathed in, as well as humidify and filter. They are one of the synapomorphies of Mammalia. Woohoo!


This program yet again proves its worth by including the ability to see a varying degree of averages of all the images taken. You can see the arteries in my neck! Jesus christ!


This is crazy. This is about half way averaged of all the images. It's interesting to see the brain nestled comfortably into a head. Its natural habitat, and all that.


Right before cutting into the eyes, the dorsal rectus muscle that moves my eye is visible, as well as some nice blood vessels.


You can see the optic chiasm perfectly! Half of the signals from your left eye get sent down the left fork, and the other half goes down the right folk. Same goes for your right eye. The optic chiasm is the name for the place where they cross over.
Also, you begin to see some of the squishing effect of the pillows lol.


Going a couple centimeters deeper, it's those arteries we saw before coming up from either side of my spinal cord and snaking between my cerebrum and cerebellum. I'm assuming they're the carodids, but I don't know the human circulatory system as well as I do the shark...

I wish there was a way to turn it all into a gif animation, but I don't know how I'd even begin. Oh well.

EDIT: I just figured out you can do 3D multilayer volume rendering!! Check out my cheek fat! Hahahahaha

Day 20 — A hobby of yours

This totally counts as a hobby.

Friday, August 13, 2010


I haven't posted in quite a while. Losing steam, perhaps.
I suppose that because all I do is read Reddit I've run out of downtime to ponder and kill time with a blog. I'm so sorry, legions of fans who read my blog religiously (there are so many!!!!!! I swear!!!!!!).


There's been discussion of me getting a tattoo in the past, and I'm still thinking about it.
I've added shoulder tattoo to the list of places I'd possibly get one done. I have rather round/wide shoulders, which I think would do well as tattoo perches. Also, I think that I'm not really the kind of person who could pull off a tramp stamp. There are only a handful of those rare individuals who look good with them. I'd rather not risk it. However, I think I would do well with a shoulder tattoo.

Placement example. I would not get this of course, it was just the easiest thing to stamp onto a photo quickly. I still like the wolf skull idea. Perhaps a wolf skull with some adornments on my right shoulder? Left shoulder? Don't know yet. Hmmm...


Day 19 — A talent of yours

mmMMMMMMMMmmmm... B-)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Day 18 — Whatever tickles your fancy

I hate all this fancy tickling going on in this list... :C

Using my usual method of googling "whatever tickles your fancy":

This totally tickles my fancy.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Ahh! I was just going through my monster project from comp lit and couldn't find this story on here! Did I forget it?
This is the Lamia story from my comp lit class...

+ + + + + + + + + + + ++++++++++++++++++ + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

For three weeks Adam had seen the ghost lingering in the back corner of his closet. She wasn’t a particularly threatening ghost, but still Adam would call his parents every night to come upstairs and tuck him in and turn on the nightlight.

“Adam, you’re a big boy now, aren’t you? Does my big first grader really need me doing this every night?” his mother would coo before kissing him goodnight. Adam would shrug and try not to look at the closet door.

Around midnight the door would slowly creak open, sometimes waking Adam up. On the nights it did, he would glance over at the source of the noise to see a woman hunched in the closet. She was fairly young, with long, tangled hair. Adam couldn’t tell much else about her, because she was always balled up into a fetal position and rocking back and forth. Adam was torn between being afraid and pitying her. She was obviously distressed, but he was too scared of the ghost and he didn’t dare approach or try talking to her.

After almost a month of this, Adam awoke to a new sight. The ghost was no longer in his closet. Instead, she was sitting in the shadow between the closet and the dresser, much closer to his bed, still rocking back and forth rhythmically. Adam barely managed to keep from crying out. He shut his eyes as tightly as possible, willing himself to sleep.

Adam hadn’t been able to sleep, and while his mother was pouring the orange juice he nodded off at the breakfast table. Annoyed, his father looked up the newspaper—he’d been reading an article about the bloody murder of a local high school girl driving home from a concert—and raised an eyebrow. His mother was furious. She knew “the ghost lady” keeping him awake all night was just another way of saying “playing videogames.” Adam was sent to bed early that night to prove a point, and locked in his room to prevent him from sneaking back downstairs to his Playstation.

Adam was petrified. He mimed sleep for a couple hours, and when the soft creak of the closet door pierced the silence, he opened his eyes. Adam didn’t even have time to scream before a soft, cold something covered his mouth. The woman was kneeling beside his bed, hand over his mouth, other hand brought in a hush motion to her lips. She was very beautiful. Her tangled hair fell in mossy curtains around his face and he saw that she was crying.

“Why are you crying?” he whispered when she lifted her hand. “Are you sad?”

She said nothing; she opened her mouth, moving her lips in what appeared to be the motions of speech, though she made no sounds. She closed her mouth, shaking her head. She continued to cry, dripping fat clammy tears onto Adam’s cheeks. She bent forward, kissing his forehead.

“You don’t have to be sad,” he whispered, “I’ll be your friend. You seem like a nice ghost. Let’s be friends.”

She only cried harder, bending down to kiss his cheek and then his neck. Adam turned slightly to look at her. She raised her head from his neck and he saw his own blood spilling from her mouth, running down her face. Adam screamed once and then the house was silent.


I've not been very good about posting lately, so here's this.


Day 17 — An art piece (painting, drawing, sculpture, etc.)

Drawn on my folder during Autreat.
(If it's too illegible, those are the lyrics to Light My Fire...)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Autreat, Autism Speaks, Blah blah blah

Disclaimer: This is a really long entry. Sorry.

So I just returned from Autreat, a sort of "autistic retreat."

I met plenty of interesting people and promptly forgot their names.
One of the many things I observed were the apparently stark differences between myself and those with more pronounced symptoms (I would say "low functioning," but I've learned that many regard that as an offensive term). What was curious about that aspect of my time there was that I can see myself so clearly in these individuals.

As I explained to Steve Silberman of Wired magazine, to an outside observer, it would appear that someone like me is very different from those further along the spectrum. I pride myself in my ability to the imitate speech tone and inflection, body posture, gesticulation and facial expressions of "neuro-typicals" (though I hate that term; no one is truly "NT" in my opinion), whereas many people at Autreat were much more noticeably autistic. Lack of tone variation, expression, coordinated motion, etc combined with what is referred to as "stimming" and verbal tics make many autistics stand out from the crowd, so to speak.
This is the reason people like me (high functioning autistics, aspergians, or whatever term you want to use) often go undiagnosed.

However, autism really is a spectrum deal. Many of the traits that are thought of as classic "low-functioning" autism are traits that I share, just to a lesser extent. I "stim" quite a bit, though I save the obvious stuff for when I'm alone (bathroom breaks, red lights, etc). Anyone who's spent time around me knows that I can't help cracking my knuckles, playing with my hands, rubbing my palms up and down my thighs as though I'm cold, squinting my eyes tightly and blowing air out my nose. These aren't nearly as odd as hand flapping, hence the necessary bathroom breaks. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and public hand flapping, or spontaneous moaning and squeaking noises warrant attention.

And even though I am able to imitate inflection and expression, there's a substantial difference between my communication and the communication of someone who the autistic community would call an "NT." I didn't even fully recognize this myself until attending Autreat and seeing the few NTs amongst those with ASD. The difference is astonishing.

There's a sort of flow that accompanies NT speech that even the most practiced autistic seems to lack. Voice, facial expression, body posture and gesticulation are all smoothly integrated, and seemingly as unconscious as coughing when food gets caught in the wrong pipe. Watching two NTs having a conversation is like watching a well acted film, or like music. There's a noticeable rhythm, an ebb and flow, that can't be faked. There are no breaks in the conversation, at least not the kind that accompany an autistic conversation; there are no hesitations to calculate cause and effect of an action. It's really quite amazing to watch.

The closest comparison I can think of is learning Latin. Imagine learning Latin in high school; learning to translate, memorizing roots and vocabulary, guessing at pronunciation. Then the high school Latin students are transported back in time to ancient Rome for a day. Would they be able to communicate with the Romans? Probably. Would they be able to communicate like the Romans do? Probably not. The might be able to understand a conversation, or at least the literal translation, but they would have a hard time creating a natural, native-sounding response.

I know that body language and facial expression, etc, are all obvious parts in communication, but I'm using only language here because I feel that language is a larger part of communication.
I've read over and over that non-verbal cues are "98% of communication," but personally I think that's bunk. If that were the case, deaf people wouldn't need sign language, and Ariel would have been able to woo Prince Eric no problem. Perhaps it's just because I don't even think about others' non-verbal cues, so I don't consider them essential. Perhaps it's because I'd like to think that I'm not only picking up on 2% of what people are saying to me. Though I do think that even the most charismatic, well adjusted "NT" would disagree with the 98% thing; it's probably closer to 30%.

I also learned that a large portion of the autistic community absolutely hates Autism Speaks. I understand their reasoning; Autism Speaks' method of raising donation money is to play off the pity of NTs outside the autistic community. They put much weight on a "cure" for autism, and even the front page of their site reads, "Autism prevalence figures are growing. We need answers," as though autism is some sort of infectious problem or a disease.

Autism isn't a disease. People think of it this way because it is called a syndrome, but a syndrome is "a pattern of symptoms that characterize or indicate a particular condition." It doesn't have anything to do with whether a thing is a problem or not, it's just a collection of traits shared by a group that can be named.

Autism probably can't be cured, and if it can, it shouldn't be. It would be like curing men of being male, or curing people who like high-fructose corn syrup. It's not like depression, which has only a handful of causes and a handful of effected areas. Autism effects so many parts of the brain that, to quote a classic autism slogan I'm fond of, it's not a processing error, it's a different operating system.

However, this doesn't mean that we should cease all research into autism treatment (TMS, for example). "Treatment" and "cure" are very different things. A treatment wouldn't get rid of autism, it would simply help ease some of the problematic symptoms. I can understand the autistics who take pride in their identity, but autism isn't quite like homosexuality. If you asked a gay man if he wanted treatment, he would probably ask, "for what?" If you asked an autistic if he wanted treatment for, say, sensory issues, he would probably accept. I for one wouldn't mind no longer being terrified of and made sick to my stomach by loud noises, or being blinded by normal daylight. I'm sure non-verbal autistics would love to be able to communicate. Many autistics are labeled as "retarded" despite being incredibly intelligent, simply because they have trouble communicating. If you know me, you know I'm pretty clearly verbal, but it would be very nice to figure out how to ease whatever block sometimes exists between my thoughts and my speech. I can't imagine struggling with that daily.

I think that demonizing Autism Speaks is a bad move. What we should be doing instead of protesting them is talking with them. The majority of their staff aren't autistic; they have autistic family members, but it's very different from living it. As long as Autism Speaks uses pity to raise funds, they are going to be hated by many autistics. All they need to do is change their advertising campaign. Autism Speaks is a huge organization, and throwing away a valuable resource like that without trying to cooperate is simply immature and reckless.

Day 16 — A song that makes you cry (or nearly)

Hard to Concentrate - Red Hot Chili Peppers

Hustle Bustle
And so much muscle
Our cells about to separate
Now I find it hard to concentrate
And temporary, this cash and carry
I’m stepping up to indicate
The time has come to deviate and

All I want is for you to be happy
And take this moment to make you my family
And finally you have found something perfect
And finally you have found…

Death defying, this mess I’m buying
It’s raining down with love and hate
Now I find it hard to motivate
And estuary is blessed but scary
Our hearts about to palpitate
And I’m not about to hesitate

And want to treasure the rest of your days here
And give you pleasure in so many ways, dear
And finally you have found something perfect
And finally you have found…
Here we go.

Do you want me to show up for duty?
And serve this woman and honor her beauty?
And finally you have found something perfect
And finally you have found
With me...
Will you agree to take this man into your world?
And now we are
As one.

My lone ranger,
The heat exchanger
Is living in this figure 8
Now I’ll do my best to recreate.
And Sweet precision.
And soft collision
Our hearts about to palpitate
Now I find it hard to separate.

And all I want is for you to be happy
And take this woman and make you my family
And finally you have found someone perfect
And finally you have found

All I want is for you to be happy
And take this woman and make you my family
And finally you have found someone perfect
And finally you have found…

Friday, June 11, 2010

Autism: the battle of official vs. unofficial diagnoses, and other such things

Disclaimer: I hate talking about this so plainly, because of reasons I will address further down, but I feel like I should. And this is a blog, so even if people have reactions I don't like, I don't have to deal with them in person. Yay internet.

As many people already know, I have Asperger's syndrome (or, as I like to call it, ass burgers). The latest edition of the DSM, coming out in 2013, I believe, is going to remove Asperger's as a seperate condition, and lump it together with autism. I don't really have as much of a problem with this as a lot of other people in the autistic community do. I guess it's because I'm not offended by the thought of being autistic, because Asperger's is, after all, a form of autism. Also, I think Hans Asperger had a really unfortunate name. Really, the word Asperger's just screams "retard."
So, depending on which DSM you're following, I either have Asperger's or I have high functioning autism. Take your pick.

I don't have an official diagnosis. I've been to two therapists as well as my primary care physician, none of whom were qualified to diagnose autism. Very frustrating.
Though I have no doubt that I am autistic. I know it is common knowledge that autism is a spectrum disorder, but I don't think the layman really understands what that means. I'll admit that even I was always under the impression that autism was a debilitating disease, made famous by its drooling, blank eyed poster children who don't speak until they're six years old. Asperger's has an even worse rap; the only famous aspergians (by famous I mean famous outside of the autistic community) are people like Chris W Chandler (who, personally, I think is lower functioning than your average aspie). Where autism means a silent, creepy child who never makes a sound other than the all-too-common unprovoked temper tantrum, Asperger's means a crazy permanent-virgin who lives in his mother's basement and collects Star Wars action figures.
Autism is much more than both of those definitions.

I think that "spectrum" doesn't even fully explain how autism works, though it is easier to explain. The simplest way of explaining the spectrum is that, on the far end you have the drooling, child-like 16 year old who can't be touched without screaming. On the opposite end you have the awkward dork who watches way too much Doctor Who and tries to make friends by spouting Doctor Who references.
When I say that "spectrum" is not accurate, I mean that what would be more accurate is a spider diagram. If you don't know what a spider diagram is, here is my diagram result for the Aspie-quiz (lame title, but it's pretty agreed upon to be one of the better online quizzes).
A spider diagram is pretty intuitive, so I won't explain how to read it. But when I say that autism is not a spectrum, and is instead a spider diagram, what I mean is that everyone has different areas in which they are low and high functioning.

For example, I'm much better than Jack at mimicking voice tone, inflection and body language, so I tend to do a better job of "passing for normal." However, I'm much worse on the whole "black and white thinking" aspect of autism. When someone is mad, they must be mad at me. When someone is upset with me, they must hate me; there is no in between emotion, everyone either likes me or hates me. Etc, etc.

There are plenty of people out there who are clinically, "more autistic" than I am, but are better at some things. It's not as though a person is, say, in the 80th percentile for making friends, so they must be in the 80th percentile for every other symptom of autism. I've talked to adults with autism who are seemingly completely "normal" except for the fact that every few hours they take a break to run to the bathroom and scream for a few minutes. I could go on forever, in case you can't tell.

What really bothers me is that the first thing everyone always asks me is why I want a diagnosis. Usually it'll be somewhere along the lines of, "Do you need it for court or something? Or for special needs in school?" No. I don't "need" a diagnosis.
I've tried replying, "If it were you, wouldn't you want to know?" but it never has the intended effect. Everyone seems to think that self diagnosis is enough, and I should be confident in my abilities to know myself.
I am confident. I know I am on the spectrum, but the thing is, I can't tell people I have Asperger's. I could never write a book about it, or be a public speaker for a college or committee, or have any sort of authority behind my claim. People will forever think that I'm a hypochondriac who's using autism as an "excuse" for who knows what, unless of course I can get a goddamn doctor to say it for me.

For example, here is the list of criteria for Asperger's Syndrome, according to the DSM IV:

A.Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:

(1) marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction.

(Anyone who's known me for longer than two or three years will understand when I say that, before I was taught how to pose my body and be aware of my face, this was me to a tee. When talking with someone, I never moved my hands at all, or any of my body for that matter. I sat hunched over with my hands in my lap, fidgeting, not looking at anyone, and keeping up a monologue instead of a conversation with little to no vocal inflection. I still am like this, unless of course I feel the need to make a good impression on someone, or if I'm trying to seem "normal.")
(2) failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level.
(I remember in Kindergarten, there was a girl in my class I didn't get along with. The teacher called our moms and told them to make us be friends, so my mom said I had to be nice to her. I had no idea how to be nice to someone, so I brought her presents. She didn't react well, probably because the presents were things like a really round acorn I found at the bus stop that I thought was cool. I still have a hard time making friends. There's a sort of flow and rhythm to normal conversation that I can observe, but am still unable to imitate.)
(3) a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people (e.g., by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest to other people)
(I still don't understand this. I don't think I've ever met someone with Asperger's who hasn't been aching to show off their newest whatchamacall it.)
(4) lack of social or emotional reciprocity
(I've gotten pretty good at keeping this inside, so this is something I usually only feel in my head, unless I'm tired. It's hard to explain, so I'll provide the example that when somebody's grandma dies, I honestly don't give a shit. If it's a close friend, I care, but not because of the grandma, because my friend who I care about is sad. The not caring is sometimes bad because I'll forget about the dead grandma and a month later make some really awkward dead-grandma joke that will offend everyone in the room.)

B.Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:

(1) encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus.
(Anyone who knew me in elementary school: animals, dragons and wolves should ring a bell. Right now it's physiology, pathology and death. It's a big misconception that autistic people have only one obsession at a time. No one dedicates their life to just one thing forever, it's phases.)
(2) apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals.
(This is why I hate the shower. If I take a shower, there's a long to-do list that goes with it. If I don't have more than 20 minutes, I usually just won't take a shower, because I can't deal with not being able to do the rest of my list. This is also why I don't like spontaneous plans, unless it's a spontaneous plan I've done before [ie: swimming at puffers out of the blue is ok, because I've done it before. Hopping the train to NYC would be terrifying]. This is also why I don't like unexpected guests.)
(3) stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g., hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements)
(Thankfully, I stopped doing this in public in about 6th grade. If you knew me in elementary school, do you remember how I would wave my fingers in front of my face? Yeah. Awkward.)
(4) persistent preoccupation with parts of objects
(An example of something I thought was normal. Do other people really not love gears and bolts and pieces of machinery? How could you not! AH!)

C.The disturbance causes clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

D.There is no clinically significant general delay in language (e.g., single words used by age 2 years, communicative phrases used by age 3 years).
(This is the main difference between Asperger's and autism. Autism is marked by a delay in speech. Though, again, some aspies have delayed speech, and some with autism are early talkers. Usually they say either early talking or late talking can both be signs of autism.)

E.There is no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or in the development of age-appropriate self-help skills, adaptive behavior (other than in social interaction), and curiosity about the environment in childhood.

F.Criteria are not met for another specific Pervasive Developmental Disorder or Schizophrenia.
(It fascinates me that schizotypical disorder is often misdiagnosed as autism or Asperger's. They're very similar, except for a few differences. The most obvious difference, in my opinion at least, is that where autism is marked by a very logical, scientific thought process, to the point of often squashing religious beliefs, schizotypical disorder is marked by the opposite. "Magical thinking," says the DSM. These are the people who see a coincidence and believe it to have meaning in their lives, people who sense changes in energy waves, etc etc. That sort of thing.)

I hate that a doctor needs to agree with a person to make a diagnosis official. I suppose I understand why that's true; it's very important. But it's frustrating. I'm somewhat of an outsider in the autistic community, as there's a large group who believe that those who are self diagnosed "aren't really autistic."
These, of course, are the people who were diagnosed as children because of their watchful parents. People like me, with parents who say, "Oh, yep, my child is very textbook autistic. Oh well, it's cute," never get diagnosed.

Getting a diagnosis is not about... well, whatever the hell it is that people seem to think it's about... it's about knowing for certain, and confirmation. If, for your whole life, you felt something was wrong with you, and people constantly made fun of you because of this mysterious something-wrong, and one day you learn that there's a reason you are like this, wouldn't you want to know? Because if there's a reason, it means there's not something wrong with you. You're not just as normal as every body else, and for some reason you're broken, you just can't do it. It's not your fault.
I remember what was always hardest for me to deal with was the thought that I was normal. I have the same brain as everybody else, the same potential, so why can't I explain myself? Why can't I talk to people? Why do I act like this? I'm not supposed to be this way, why can't I fix it?
Learning that there's no way to fix it, that it's not something I'm doing wrong, it's just the way I am, was unbelievably wonderful. I'd gone through so many break downs and so much insanity because I thought I was just doing something wrong.
This doesn't mean autism is an excuse to be offensive. There's a very big difference between something fixable, and something that can be dealt with. I'd spent my whole life trying to fix myself, when this isn't something that can be fixed. I can compensate for it, but I shouldn't feel bad when I can't change who I am inside.

If you were in a position like this, wouldn't you want someone to agree with you, to tell you you're not crazy?
And yet no one seems to understand why I want a diagnosis so badly.


(ps) Day 15 — A fanfic

What the fuck. I don't know.
Once upon a time Ron and Hermione had sex and got married, in that order. Harry died in a tragic car accident. No one cared very much.
-the end-

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Thoughts on Justin Bieber

Disclaimer: I'm lame.

Ok, so, I've been hearing the name "Justin Bieber" for a few months now, and honestly had no idea who he was. I didn't learn until a couple weeks ago that he's a singer...
So I looked him up on youtube, and apparently all the songs on the radio I'd thought were by a woman were by Justin Bieber. (I thought "One Less Lonely Girl" was by a woman, singing about a girl committing suicice hahahahahaha.)
So I've been listening to Justin Bieber music and I actually kind of like it.
He's got a lot of decent people to do duets with (his bro-friendship with Usher is really adorable) and whoever does the mixing for his tracks is really good, so the results are usually sort of nice.
(I may or may not be listening to Eenie Meenie on repeat.)

Some of my opinions/thoughts on Justin Bieber:

1) He is not sexually attractive. He is a child. Girls over the age of 13 who fawn over Justin Bieber are pedophiles (and yes, I know he's 16, but he is at the developmental stage of a 13 year old; being attracted to him is still gross).

2) He is, however, a pretty hilarious person. And the fact that he looks so young makes it all the more adorable.

Honestly, this is totally how I would act if I were famous. I feel ya, Biebz.

Also, I just want to say that his music videos always frustrate me.
I swear I've abandoned my obsession with anime and Kingdom Hearts, but bear with me here.
All his music videos introduce an arbitrary pubescent girl as the love-interest-of-the-moment, and somehow it just wrong to me. Justin Bieber does not look like someone who should be in love with girls.
This isn't because he looks gay, he just looks like a child. Honestly, this is because he looks like a real-life Roxas...

Justin Bieber can't be in love with girls, because he needs to find his real-life Axel. Seriously.
(Because most people aren't as lame as I am, I'll include this video, which is a pretty accurate summary of Axel and Roxas' interactions in Kingdom Hearts II...)

Though if they ever make a movie of Kingdom Hearts, Biebekins gets 100% of my support for the role of Roxas.

Just my two cents on the matter. Don't judge me...

(ps) Day 14 — A non-fictional book

(Luke, if you've stumbled across my blog by now, I still have your copy of this in my car! I'll return it to you some time soon.)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tattoos again

I keep thinking about tattoos. I wanted a jellyfish tattoo, but I've been thinking about it, and I'd rather have something with more meaning to me.
When I was in elementary school I was obsessed--and I mean absolutely obsessed--with wolves. I knew everything there was to know about wolves (though I've forgotten a lot of things), and I wore those grandma-style dark blue tie dye howling wolf shirts basically every day. I also loved werewolves.
I'm not so obsessed anymore, but I do still consider wolves to be my favorite animal, and I feel like I'd like to combine my wolf obsession with my physiology/osteology/pathology obsession.
So I decided on a wolf skull.
Not sure where I'd get it, but I'm leaning towards a tramp stamp. I hate the connotations of tramp stamps, but I honestly do love the way they look. I once saw a girl bicycling though town with a tramp stamp of a photo realistic freshwater bass. It was awesome. I'd love to have a realistic, non-cliche tramp stamp like that.
I googled up some wolf skull photos and naked-lady-back photos and combined the two until I found a design I liked, adjusting the jaw on the skull so it's mouth isn't gaping quite so much.

Of course, whatever I decide on wouldn't be something I'd get right away. I want to be absolutely certain about my design, and once I'm 100% sure, I'll wait a year or so, just in case. I'd hate to get a tattoo I'm going to regret.

I'm also still pretty set on my Stephen King quote tattoo for my left wrist. Times new roman font, as clean and simple as possible.
"He thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts."

Speaking of IT, apparently they're going to remake the movie version! I'm so pleased. The movie is good, but it's nothing like the book, and no where near as good.


Day 12 — Whatever tickles your fancy

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Ele e fodao, mas eu sei que eu sou tambem

I'm super bored with the music I've been listening to lately, so I've rediscovered my love for iTunes' genius feature. My favorite find so far is the playlist created based off of Jimmy by M.I.A.

Waxing nostalgic lately, but in a strange way...
I feel stagnant. I want to move, I want to get things done, I want to be exciting and alive.

Day 11 — A photo of you taken recently

lol gross apple core. I swear this photo has context to it, but I don't feel like explaining because it's unbelievably lame. I'll just... whatever. Nevermind.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Living arrangements and other such things

Hahaha. I was browsing tumblr and found this photo, it made me chuckle a little. This is photoshopped to look all horror-movie-esq. The original was a photo of one of the first patients to receive a facial transplant; I think her black lab attacked her. I still find it surprising that a black lab did that. They're usually such nice dogs, I wonder what provoked it?

In other news, I realize I keep forgetting to write anything about the container house.
Jack's father, in a sudden bought of insanity/generosity decided that if Jack arranges everything (finding land, materials, planning out and setting up the whole thing) that he would pay all expenses to build a house for us out of shipping containers.
This is an example of a shipping container house, for those who are skeptical of how "home"y it would be. Shipping container houses are becoming more popular with the energy efficient/green crowd, and they're super cheap to build. Each container is about $1000-$1500, and four containers would be more than enough to build an average sized two-story house.

Though, at the moment, the biggest issue we've run into is buying land. Land is very expensive (there's a $100,000 budget on this project) and the towns in which land is cheap are way out in the middle of fucking nowhere (nowhere as in no cell service and no cable TV). It would be nice to live in the woods, but not nice to have to drive 1-2 hours to get to school every day.
So Jack's father proposed that if we can't find a suitable place to actually put the container house, he would be willing to up the budget to $200,000, and consider just buying us a house. Which, holy shit, would be fabulous. With mortgage + bills it would probably be about $1100 a month to live in, so we'd probably rent out some rooms to pay for it.
Either way, all of this is awesome.

By the way, whether or not we build a house or buy one, this would all be happening over the summer.


Day 10 — A photo of you taken over ten years ago


Monday, April 26, 2010

the drug war in a nut shell

I'm anti-prohibition. This is probably obvious.

I'm in the camp that believes we should legalize all drugs, hard or not. A lot of people think this is ridiculous and dangerous, and I want to explain why it's not. At least, it's far less dangerous than keeping them illegal.

For one, think back to your childhood. Remember D.A.R.E? Remember "just say no" and "don't do drugs"? Because all drugs are treated equally by health education programs for kids, kids don't get good information. We're all told that coke is bad, heroin is bad, ecstasy is bad, pot is bad... Because some of the drugs out there really aren't so bad, eventually kids are going to try them. You can't eliminate a technology or an invention once it's been made. It works the same for guns. Banning something doesn't keep it from existing, and it'll always be there, so somewhere along the road the child who was told "just say no" is going to try marijuana.

This kid will have a little pot with his friends in high school, decide it's actually pretty good. He's had alcohol before at one of his parents' parties, and he's smart enough to know that, based on how he's feeling right now, pot is just as safe as alcohol, if not safer. (Now, we know for a fact it's safer, but play along with my naive-as-hell-teenager story.) This kid's been drunk a few times, and he knows what it's like to feel out of control and drugged when he's had a few too many beers. He feels that, even though he's pretty stoned out of his mind and laughing way too loud at adult swim right now, he's not out of control. His morals and self control are the same, he just feels a little silly. He'll think back to "just say no" and laugh.

Now, I know not all teenagers are naive, many of them (especially in western Mass, it seems) know a lot about drugs. They have relatively open minded parents who've educated them about which drugs are safe, which drugs one has to be careful with, and which drugs to stay away from entirely. But for the sake of my argument, this kid comes from smalltown, USA with hard ass parents and no drug education outside of his 8th grade health class.

He thinks, hey, weed isn't so bad! Adults are just lying to us. I wonder what else I'm missing out on! He'll move on to something a little more intense, but still keeping within his comfort zone. He's naive, not stupid. He tries mushrooms cause he's heard they're natural and pretty safe. He eats a handful and has the time of his life. Hey, he thinks, mushrooms are ok! I wonder what else is out there. He eventually tries acid, ecstasy, adderall he got from a friend... Eventually he's at a party in college and someone offers him methamphetamine. He says, hey, why not. I mean, D.A.R.E. told him not to, but what do they know? He's done adderall, which is amphetamine, and that was totally fine, so why not meth! He takes a hit and is overcome with happiness. He buys a baggie of the stuff to take home. Once it wears off he finds himself staring at the bag on his desk, aching to do more, to feel that good again. He decides to go for it; it's saturday night, he's got the day off work tomorrow, nothing to lose.
He doesn't know how it happens, but all of a sudden there he is, buying another baggie of meth. He can't seem to stop doing it, but he doesn't really care because it feels so good. He was worried about school but meth makes him unstoppable; he can work for hours and hours. He doesn't need to sleep anymore.
Eventually it stops getting so good. Instead of euphoric and productive, he starts getting paranoid, jittery and mean. He stops going to class, he quits his job. All he cares about is meth.
Blah blah blah, a meth addict is born.

So basically, what I mean to say is, prohibition-style drug education does not work. It's the same as abstinence only sex education. Teenagers are going to do it anyway, and we need to educate them on how to be safe when they do. Tell them what drugs are, what they do, how they work, how neurotoxic they each are, and how to handle a drug overdose, etc.

Now, I don't think that all drugs should be legalized and sold in convenience stores. That's just stupid. I think that things like pot and LSD (and maybe even things like heroin) should be sold how pot's sold in california right now. Licensed vendors who specialize in their product is the way to go. One should need a valid photo ID, and for harder drugs, there should be limits on purchase size, and one should maybe even need to present medical documents to prove health and sanity. Things like coke and meth should not be treated lightly. I also think that the providers should have the full authority to deny purchase. ("But what about the raging lunatic meth addict who pulls a gun on the shop keeper," someone asks. Well, that plays into my stance on gun control, which is a whole 'nother can of worms. In short, I think the shop keeper should have a shotgun under the counter and be fully prepared to use it.)

I think there should be laws about drugs similar to cigarettes and alcohol; don't do it on the street, don't do it in public places. If you're going to do heroin, at least do it in the comfort of your own home, not on the sidewalk.
I think that police should have the authority to arrest anyone carrying an amount of a drug over the allowed limit, but said person should not go to jail. They should be evaluated by a psychologist and, if need be, sent to a free, public rehab facility.

I think consenting adults should have the right to do what they want to themselves. Nobody else. If someone wants to have sex with whips, it's ok. If someone wants to drink, smoke, and do coke, so be it. It's their choice. As long as substances are controlled in a smart way, education is provided from a young age (as in, don't start teaching kids about drugs when they're 14, start when they're 10 or 12), and help is available for those who need it, we'll be ok. Just look at portugal.

What's not ok is making everything illegal. What's not ok is putting the drug trade in the hands of an unregulated market run by criminals looking to make money. We need to end the war in mexico before it gets to america (it already has, of course, but I'm worried it will only keep spreading).
Fuck the cartels, fuck the gangs, fuck the criminals cutting their product with even more dangerous shit.

And it's not just the "hard" drugs that are cut with more dangerous ingredients. Did you know that ecstasy pills rarely contain MDMA? They're usually a cocktail mix of BZP, caffeine and several other things that produce similar side effects, except they're way more neurotoxic. LSD is almost never LSD, as LSD is difficult to make and expensive, just like MDMA. Instead of letting teenagers take PCP thinking it's MDMA, we should regulate the market and make sure everything is pure. Don't you want to know for sure what it is you're putting into your body?

My father lives in orange county. He told me that once he stopped in a cafe for coffee in a neighborhood that was right on the border between two gang territories. While he was sitting, drinking his coffee, a couple cars pulled up down the street and a bunch of guys got out and started shooting at each other. They were on opposite sides of an intersection shooting for a while, and then got in their cars and drove off. No one was actually shot, and no one in the area was hurt, and no one called the cops. He asked the woman behind the counter about it, and she shrugged and said, "No big deal. It happens all the time. Usually they don't actually hit anybody. We just go indoors if we hear gun shots. The cops have given up."

Meanwhile, somewhere in new york, a 23 year old kid is put in jail for a year and forced to pay a $1000 fine because he was pulled over and had 2 oz of marijuana in his glove box that he smokes on friday nights to relax after a long week working at the car shop.

I think my father put it best, when he was telling me why he believes all drugs should be legalized:
"If you take away the drugs, gangs are just a bunch of kids running around in costumes playing cops and robbers. There would be no point to it anymore."

Day 09 — A photo you took

Bubba Brown.

Day 08 — A photo that makes you angry/sad

I don't think a photo has ever evoked...sadness or anger in me...
So I'll just post this instead :D

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Day 07 — A photo that makes you happy

I hate to be cliche, but I was browsing tumblr for something that made me happy and...
what can I say?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Short hair vs. Long hair: a summary

Now that it's summer, I'm again faced with the extremely powerful urge to cut off all my hair. I know that it would be a terrible idea, but I just remember how much more comfortable and easy my short hair was. I've made an excel chart to demonstrate this: (ignore the typo lol)

Despite taking less time, short hair makes me look like a slightly chubby, slightly Korean man. It's also pretty boring, as I can't do anything [sane-looking] with it.
So, I'm sticking with long hair.
To further demonstrate my point with visuals, I present to you two very unflattering photos. (But the most recent/long haired photo is still obviously better.)

See? How did this happen? I had no idea that the only (major) reason I was always so unattractive was because of my hair. There goes about 8 wasted years of my life trying to make myself attractive with short hair-*COUGHandnofashionsense*.
I suppose on the bright side, at least I look like a girl now.


Day 06 — Whatever tickles your fancy

Ok, apparently one of the first image results on Google for "whatever tickles your fancy" is a still from this commercial from Coco de Mer, an eroic boutique.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Good news!

So, first off, I got accepted into the extremely intensive summer course I wanted so badly to take. I'm unbelievably ecstatic about this. I was certain that the unofficial transcript I had to send in with my application would be my downfall (I currently have a 1.7 GPA...).


Hi Kirsten-

I?m pleased to tell you that you have been accepted to ANT 497: Lab and Field Methods in Bioarchaeology and Forensic Anthropology. As a reminder, this course is being offered at the University of Massachusetts Amherst May 17-June 7, 2010. We will meet from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday. There will be no class on Memorial Day.

Please review the following course information carefully:

We will spend week 1 in the lab, week 2 in the field, and week 3 back in the lab. Transportation will be provided for the week we are in the field. We will work in the field rain or shine.

This course will cover lab and field methods in bioarchaeology and forensic anthropology. Students will be divided into teams when we do the field excavation?half will work on the pseudo-archaeology site and half will work on the pseudo-crime scene. Please note that you WILL NOT be able to choose which team you are on. Teams will be formed after I have had a chance to meet everyone and can get a sense of who I think will work well together. All participants in this course will leave with familiarity in both bioarchaeology and forensic anthropology (and you?ll come to understand the significant amount of overlap between these two fields) so no matter what your academic and professional interests you will be covered.

There is a considerable waiting list for this course, so I ask you to get back to me by May 1st with your decision about enrollment. Attached to this email is a list of necessary equipment and textbooks?please review this before making your decision regarding enrollment so you know exactly what you need to provide in order to participate in this course.

Once you have confirmed your interest in this course you will receive information on how to register.

I sincerely hope you will be joining me in ANT 497 this summer!

Heidi Bauer-Clapp

Also, I'm finally starting to get some headway with a diagnosis.
First I went to UMass therapy, thinking they could do it--and believe me, I love my UMass therapist, but unfortunately they're not qualified to do diagnosis at UMass--and then I went to my primary care physician, hoping to get a referral. She referred me to Cooley Dickinson's behavioral science department, so I called them up and made an appointment specifically for diagnosis, and they set me up with another therapist, who's also not qualified. She then referred me to a place in Northampton that specializes in ASD diagnosis, and I emailed the woman who works with adults. She not only specializes in adults, but she works mostly with women, which sounds extremely promising (long story, but it's a very different specialty to diagnose women instead of men. Google it).
However, insurance doesn't cover something like this, and so this woman told me that she would do an informal diagnosis for me--meaning no paperwork for court or school--so that it would be cheaper, but it would still take four sessions and cost me $750 out of pocket.
Jack called his father, who told him that his (Jack's) therapist is not only qualified, but specializes in autism and has experience diagnosing women, and he charges much less (and also Jack's father could possibly pull some favors).
So we're going to ask him how much he would charge. It sounds like it would probably be around $300 (because he's $100/hr and it takes about three hours).
That would definitely be preferable.
So, we'll see.


Day 05 — Your favourite quote

We fell into a special mood on those nights off the Zinc
Oiffs: gay, but with a touch of suspense, as if inside our skulls,
instead of the brain, we felt a fish, floating, attracted by the

-Italo Calvino, Distance to the Moon

Friday, April 16, 2010


Day 04 — Your favourite book
Wanted, wanted: Dolores Haze.
Hair: brown. Lips: scarlet.
Age: five thousand three hundred days.
Profession: none, or "starlet".

Dying, dying, Lolita Haze,
Of hate and remorse, I'm dying.
And again my hairy fist I raise,
And again I hear you crying.

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta. She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita. Did she have a precursor? She did, indeed she did. In point of fact, there might have been no Lolita at all had I not loved, one summer, an initial girl-child. In a princedom by the sea. Oh when? About as many years before Lolita was born as my age was that summer. You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, exhibit number one is what the seraphs, the misinformed, simple, noble-winged seraphs, envied. Look at this tangle of thorns.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

thoughts on the DSHEA of 1994

(That is a picture of a hookworm, by the way. Don't they have great teeth?)

Ok, so, in Nutrition today my professor was talking about how we all really should know about the DSHEA, because it's vitally important to us as consumers. This is very true, though my fellow students' reactions worried me.

She put up a slide with a few bullet points about the act, which (in a nutshell) states that all supplements/vitamins/minerals/etc are food, not drugs, and thus can't be regulated by the FDA. This is why we see sites like marketing their "miracle cure" without needing FDA approval, as long as they include the fine print disclaimer. It also means that companies selling supplements don't have to sell what the bottle says it is, because there's no regulation. If something unsafe is being sold as a drug, it will get pulled, but there's nothing stopping a company from selling lactose powder and saying it's actually something else.

Now, upon hearing this, the class filled with gasps and murmurs or horror at this act, seemingly passed by selfish supplement companies. Of course this is true, the companies that support the DSHEA have only themselves in mind, but this act is very important for another reason which I'm sure will turn into a big issue in the next few years.

Recently, the FDA and other such organizations have been claiming that supplements (including vitamin C, zinc, iron, and all the other things our mothers had in the cabinet when we were sick) could possibly cause cancer and other horrible things, and should be controlled substances.
Wait, wait, since when does vitamin C cause cancer? Since when are these to be deemed "chemicals of concern"? Does this mean citrus fruits should also be regulated as drugs?

No, what this means is that the pharmaceutical industry wants to expand its already overwhelming monopoly over what we can and can not use as medicine. If vitamin C is a "chemical of concern" and heavily regulated, of course instead of vitamin C and zinc, children will be given FDA approved cold medicine instead. We will be forced to purchase (and get prescriptions for) drugs we don't need, because the companies that make drugs would much rather us buy their expensive product than buy something natural, cheap, healthy, and just as effective, that they don't have the power to sell to us. Because of the DSHEA, they can't sell us vitamin C as a prescription medication, so they just want to get rid of it.

If this continues to grow as an issue, I'm worried that people like those in my Nutrition class will be in full support, not realizing what it could mean for them and their families.

Monday, March 22, 2010


First off, I'm a little on the fence with my opinion about the health care bill being passed. On one hand, it's definitely a great thing that everyone can get coverage, and everyone agrees that our current system is pretty damn terrible. However, I think there are several problems that make me dubious of the newly passed health care reform bill:

1) Starting in 2014, it will be mandatory for all US citizens to buy the government health care. If you don't, you will be fined and possibly worse, depending on the situation. I think this is terrible and pretty damn unconstitutional. What if I don't want the government health care? What if I don't want a plan that covers maternity leave or drug abuse treatment, but I still have to pay for it all? What if I don't have the money for it? I'm not saying I'm not going to purchase the government plan (I'll have to), but there is definitely something wrong with forcing everyone who doesn't want to take part to do it anyway. That's not very fair.

2) Vaccines will also be mandatory. In the case that anything similar to swine flu comes out in the future (which it definitely will, but that's another barrel of fish) everyone will have to get vaccinated. It will be compulsory vaccination under the guise of volunteer based vaccination. Those who refuse the vaccine can (and likely will) be put into quarantine. This gives the government the power to essentially imprison those who don't follow their rules. And with all the bad shit surrounding vaccines in the past (the avian flu vaccine scandal, for example) I don't think I want to be vaccinated, but I certainly don't want to be quarantined. This illusion of "choice" also conflicts strongly with both my personal morals, and the whole idea of "American freedom."

3) Doctor-patient confidentiality is going to be essentially non-existent. Because health care will become a government run operation, this forces the health care system to share information with other government run operations. This probably won't effect you or me (hopefully), but it will effect a large amount of people. Say the FBI or homeland security decides that schizophrenics are at risk for committing terrorist attacks, or are just a general threat. This means that the FBI, now having access to all medical records, can simply put all schizophrenics on an FBI watch list. Does that sound constitutional to you? Just because someone has a mental disorder doesn't give anyone the right to tap their phone.

I'm sure there are more things that others are in an uproar about, but these three are my main concerns. I am glad that we'll have a better health care system, but is it worth it? I for one was definitely one of the people who would have liked to see the bill changed. I guess it's too late.

Related Links

-I wonder what will come of the states suing the feds over the bill.
-The fact that Obama, his senior staff, and congress are the only people NOT required to purchase the government plan makes me really fucking suspicious.
-Fact sheet about the health care bill.