What's on my mind.

29 June 2007

Public Service Message #69

Warning: This post may contain graphic descriptions of anatomy, sex, and "bad words." If you are easily offended don't read it.

A few weeks ago, I was hanging out with LS, her boyfriend, and some of their friends. One of the guys started talking about a friend of theirs (or at least known to several of the people there) whose recently-ex-girlfriend was "crazy." The primary examples given as proof was that when told to get off/up she would clamp down hard and stay put until the shooting match was over. It sounded to me like this couple were using the "pull-out" method of "birth control" (birth control is in qoutes because it is only birth control in the very loosest of definitions). I looked at LS with concern, she shook her head. I took this to mean that she didn't approve, either. (There then ensued a short round of comments on whether it was ok to just watch a girl spit or if you had to be sure she swallowed to be safe from fatherhood. I don't think I'd been in that crude of a conversation since high school.)

If you are considering useing the pull-out method as part of your no-baby plan, please read the following explanations as to why it DOES NOT WORK!

First of all, even if all goes as planned and 'coitus' is 'interuptus' there is no garuntee that one is safe from pregnacy. Pre-ejactulatory secretions (commonly referred to as "pre-cum") can contain sperm. Additionally, sperm deposited outside the vagina, perhaps on the labia, can make the journy up to the egg. (This is why "dry-humping" is not completely safe) Early withdrawal does almost nothing to protect from disease, as many disesase cuasing agents can be in the pre-ejaculatory secretions, as well.

Secondly, pulling out is hard to do. In my (admitadly limited) experience the last thing the guy or girl wants to do is pull out at the penultimate moment of sex. The instinct is to drive it home (forgive the image). (The more sperm deposited as far into the vagina as possible, raises the chances that one will make it to the egg.) It takes a lot of control on the part of the man to not only know when he is about to ejaculate but also be willing and able to pull out. It isn't easy on the woman either, she doesn't want him to pull out (her instincts are the same). Obviously, a more experienced man is more likely to sucessfully pull out before ejactulation than a younger, less experienced one, but see point #1. Unfortunately, young and less experienced men and women are more likely to believe this method will work and use it, instead of going to the drug store.

There are several proven, easy to use methods of birth control. Birth control pills are very reliable, as are condoms, and there are other methods that work well, too (diaphrams, sponges w/ spermicidal gel, and IUDs come to mind). Please, for the sake of your future, don't be stupid.

If you are going to have sex use condoms or birth control pills.

Better yet use both.

26 June 2007

That sucked.

While not on the same level as recent sucky events in my life - this evening sucked!

I was feeling a little crappy towards the end of the work day. As I started to drive home I debated go straight home or go to my ballroom dancing class (rumba part 2). I stopped at McDonald's to get a soda (no Tums in the car) and decided I would go. Class will be fun, I'll be around people, and it should be a nice distraction.

At class we start out lined up on opposite sides of the gym to learn and practice steps apart then we pair up and dance to practice together. First the teacher went over what we did last week, then she put on the music. Damn, if the guy who can't count to four walked over to me*. "It's OK", I thought, "I've got last week's steps down pretty well, maybe I will actually help him learn them better." So after three and a half minutes of not being lead around the floor, except to do outside turns instead of inside ones, I figure I've done my time and he'll dance with some other unaccompanied lady next time. NO SUCH LUCK.

So, now we learn the steps for the quick underarm turn. I missed some of the instruction to call Mom back but got back in there to get the steps. Cue music. I stand there and pray that one of the helpers will come grab me and whisk me off so I can actually practice the move. No. Can't-Count makes a bee-line for me. I only get a few decent turns in, with some help from the instructor's assistant. End of that song, or two, I say to the other single ladies as we line back up "OK, someone else's turn next time." They just kind of laugh it off. (We've commented to one another before about how bad this guy is.) We learn the cross-over break steps. I don't have as good a grip on these for some reason and keep getting my feet backwards. Guess who I got to dance with to practice these steps. That's right and I now have no f-in' clue how to do it right. When the music stopped, the teacher said for us to keep dancing (we had another 5 minutes or so) and she'd continue to walk around and check up on us. "Practice all the steps you've learned. Put them together." Whoopee. I told Can't-Count I had to leave.

Meanwhile my stomach feels about as good as it did when I arrived (really need to get some Tums). And my mood has most definitely not improved. In fact, when she said to just keep dancing I was about ready to cry. Once in the car I got mad; it was that or cry and it is really hard to drive and cry at the same time. (I know, I've done it bunches.)

So, now I get home upset, hungry, and with massive indigestion. And my home smells like shit. At first I can't see why, so I start to think "great my house just smells like poo now." (Honey had diarrhea a couple weeks ago and today is the first really humid day since) But the smell is awful strong to just be lingering. Then I see that she has had a mild bout of the runs. I don't yell (she can't help it if she's sick.) but I do put her outside while I clean it up to prevent my seething at her. Then I notice that there is a large puddle on the floor, too. That I yell at her for. I still haven't made up to her yet. She is looking very pitiful (and hungry) over there. I guess that that bread was moldy; couldn't tell after she pulled it off the counter and ate it (my fault, I forgot to put it up).

I'm feeling slightly better now that I have ranted to all of you on the Internet. Thank you.

*Quick note about dance class attendance with respect to gender: very few single men come. There are, usually, three guys without partners (tonight 2) and at least five girls most weeks. Gentlemen who are unaccompanied are suppose to make sure that all the ladies get to dance and not monopolize one lady (this goes for actual dances, too). Additionally, there are several of gentlemen from the intermediate class, who come to the beginning class to even out the sexes. Tonight there were two helper-dancers.

To Do List:

Spend more time with friends,
Have more fun,
Be less afraid,
Speak to strangers,
Live more,
Drink more (it will help with #2-4), and
Laugh more.

These are, I think, the things Anna would want me to do. I'll try, several will require some serious work.

25 June 2007

We'll Miss You.

Anna Celeste McIntyre
November 26, 1958 - June 24, 2007

I love you. I'll miss you. We all will. Give Grandma and Grandpa a hug. I'll try to have more fun and follow your example.

Could you put in a good word for me with the Big Guy?

22 June 2007

Damn it, I want PG-13 cachet!

What's My Blog Rated? From Mingle2 - Online DatingMingle2

I found this site from Uncertain Principles (also rated PG, now). Two of the blogs I read regularly are NC-17. I guess it's a good thing I'm an adult. Now I'm all curious about how the rating actually works. It only takes a few seconds - a quick scan of the front page for naughty words is my guess.

Update: Apparently I'm a complete idiot. The reason for the rating is listed below the rating "stamp". I have used the word shoot ten times (hmm, because I participate in Scalzi's Monday Photo Shoot, perhaps? oops, now it is 12) and the word zoombie once (zoombie is PG? now it is up to 3, brahahahahaha).

Update 2: It is hard to look up a word (particularly a foreign one) when you know how to pronounce it and the meaning but there are multiple possible spellings. Damn the French and thier silent 'T's.

13 June 2007

To treat or not to treat...

...and is it even a disease?

I ran across a series of essays in PLoS Medicine from last year on disease mongering and they made me want to have my say, too. Even if I'm not a doctor*.A disclaimer: I am not a health care professional, psychologist, pharmacist, neurologist, nor do I hold any degree or have any particular education making me an expert on medicine and health issues. I take three medicines daily and one as needed. I have asthma (1 inhaler twice daily, 1 inhaler as needed, and a nasal steroid spray once daily) and social anxiety disorder (Paxil's generic once daily). All information in this post is from my non-professional and, at most, semi-technical reading and personal experience.

First the idea of disease mongering - I agree with the essays that this is a problem. Convincing people (or putting the idea in their head to nag at them) that they may have a disease, when in actuality most individuals fall into the normal range and very few of the targeted audience has a problem requiring treatment is reprehensible. One article points to two different definitions of "health." The first, and probably longest held view, is that health is the absence of disease. I think when asked what health is, most people would give an answer that could be summed up that way - not sick. The second definition is potentially problematic, I think. Health is the "state of complete physical, mental and social well-being" (WHO definition). If we accept that complete well-being is necessary for health, then we must define well-being! The drug companies seem to be trying to convince us that if we aren't young, virile, out-going, and happy all the time than we need a medicine to make us that way.

Second question/point, is the existence of a disease suspect if it is suddenly and heavily marketed? I don't think so. I have seen the rise in ADD/ADHD diagnoses and the lower of age of diagnosis and treatment since I was a pre-teen. I believe that ADD/ADHD can be very difficult to live with, both for the patient and his family. I also believe that it is over diagnosed and over medicated. I have heard too many anecdotal stories about zombie-like kids over medicated and of kids who are, IMHO, to young for there to be a meaningful average attention span. How do you measure a two-year old's attention span and hyperactivity? I think everyone involved with a child who may be ADD/ADHD think long and hard about whether medical intervention is necessary, what treatment is best, and constantly reevaluate medication levels to prevent over medication. Nobody wants his child to be a zombie, just for the child to be able to concentrate on what she is doing.

On to my two diagnoses: Asthma is fairly straight forward to diagnose - either your airways constrict or they don't. Triggers for that constriction vary widely and the severity varies widely. (I suppose it is possible that everyone has something that will trigger an asthma attack and most have simply never come in contact with it, but I doubt it.) Whether one's asthma requires daily medication or only medication as needed is not so cut and dried. The decision to take daily medicine depends on the effectiveness of the fast-acting inhaler, the frequency of attacks, the severity of attacks, the effectiveness of other treatments (weight can play a role, removal of triggers...), and the effect the attacks have on normal daily activities. While there is debate about the cause(s) of the rise in asthma cases, I haven't heard of any suggestion that the rise in diagnoses being tied to increased public awareness of the disease.

Social anxiety disorder is a little bit harder to pin down. I think some people even doubt it is a real disease ("you're just shy"). Like all mental illness, different people have different severity of symptoms. Some people are just shy. Some people isolate themselves because of their anxiety to the point that they have difficulty functioning in society. Just shy - don't need meds. Can't function - meds might help. At what point medication is needed, how much, and for how long are all questions one has to discuss with one's doctor and therapist. I saw an article about social phobia and realized I wasn't the only one who couldn't go to the grocery store without panicking. I went to see a therapist. She recommended a psychiatrist. He proscribed Paxil. A couple of weeks later I was feeling better. Not a cure all, but I wasn't near panic at the grocery store. (I may go into pre- and post-meds in another post sometime but not today.) Again the degree and type of treatment is not a set in stone - it must be individualized. One of those essays pointed to a New York Times article where young adults are as likely to make decisions about medicine and health based on their own research as on a doctor's advice - I find that scary. We are all different and there are few simple treatment options.

While I'm writing a long-ass post, I'll go ahead and get this other medical rant off my chest. I recently found the web-page/blog of pharmacology professor, David Colquhoun, his "attempt to improve public understanding of science." From what I read it is mostly an attempt to prevent the use of alternative, natural, and/or traditional medicine. I am a fan of modern pharmacology. I am a fan of science and double-blind drug trials. I also think that at least some alternative treatments are effective. Dr. Colquhoun seems to say trials are lacking and the research that have been done is biased but doesn't support public funding of studies. I think we need to do the research! Not on all alternative medicines deserve close inspection(How could you ever know if laying on of hands worked?) but some do. (Ginger for motion sickness - can a thousand years of oriental sailors be completely wrong?) While I appreciate the professor's shining a spot light on treatments that have in studies been shown to NOT WORK, I hope he will keep an open mind about the possible effectiveness of some natural/traditional medicines. (Aspirin was discovered from willow bark tea.) It may not matter where the acupuncture needles go but if the patient feels better who cares, it worked. (What if it is a primarily stress-caused illness, like my current indigestion?) As long as the patient isn't lied to about the effectiveness and at best leave them at the same level of dis-ease, why not give them the option? To sum up my feelings on this - don't get defensive, modern pharmacology grew out of traditional medicines.

I'll shut up now. Don't worry, I'm not going to get tiny needles stuck into me. I'm really not fond of needles being stuck in me. Although all this talk of needles reminds me I need to give blood.

Cool Science

Too bad my work doesn't lend itself to YouTube videos.

Should add I found it here.

12 June 2007

Moday Photo Shoot

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Capture something in flight. Birds, insects, planes, bats, whatever -- if it's getting around in the skies, it's fair game for this photo shoot.

A kite over Wrightsville Beach, NC at Johnnie Mercer's pier. (I know - blurry and small, sorry)

A flock of birds there, too. (They were really far away by the time I got the camera on and up, sorry)

Some other none flying pictures from that afternoon:

Our whole group, except Bill who was behind the camera. It took two cars and a minivan to get the 11 of us from my sister's, across town, and back (total seating capacity - 17). Talk about inefficiency! LOL while shaking head in shame.

My sister and brother playing in the surf. They will be 9 and 50, respectively, next month.

My dad and sister at the railing. She had a good couple of days this weekend.

02 June 2007

Bars are bad for my sef-esteem

Friday (last night) I went out to have a couple drinks and dance. Primarily to dance but the couple drinks are usually necessary to get me on the dance floor. I’ve wanted to go for a while and there was finally a night when this band I like (my brother was their bassist), and used to go hear often (decent chance of running into people I know), and my Little Sister could go. I’ve gone out a few times on my own and it wasn’t good.

Let me give you a brief history focusing on my love life for the last 10 years.
March 1998 – boyfriend/fiancĂ© of 5 years breaks of our engagement. Spend one year in denial that this could really have happened.
Jan 1999 – Move to Andalusia, AL for job.
Sometime in 1999-2000 - Go on 2 dates with a dork who worked with my brother; 1st was blind, dork had asked Bro to fix us up.
Jan. 2001 – Move back to Tuscaloosa for grad school.
June 2005 – Go out to here my brother’s band and meet their “fan club”.
Oct 2005 – Make out with one of the “fan club” guys (real nice, smart, and cute). I’d had my eye on him for some time.
Late Oct/Early Nov – Learn that I have NO gaydar.
Spring 2006 – Get hit on by an old guy (50ish, no offense to the older set but I’m only 31). Actually contemplate calling him even though there was no chemistry on my part and he probably thought I was easier than I am.

Over the course of the dozen or so evenings I have spent shaking my groove thing at a couple of different bars only two random guys have come up and danced with me - one kind of gave me the creeps and I spent the entire song backing away from him and hoping a friend would come save me; the other I accidentally gave the brush off to by moving forward just as he started dancing behind/with me. I was just moving closer to the stage. Three random guys have talked to me/hit on me - one the owner of the bar (this was a different night than the other two), one a really drunk guy who was nice enough but seemed to think he was bothering me and wandered away when guy #3 walked up, and guy #3 who gave me his number.

Friday, LS and I got to the bar and two of the “fan club” people were there. So I walked over and said hi. We ended up sitting with them, since there wasn’t a pool table open and the band didn’t start for over an hour. Several groups of their friends showed up. The first group were three guys. Only one caught my eye, I’ll call him Sailor (he’s in the Navy).

Sailor hit on LS pretty hard until it became obvious that there was a limit to her flirting since she has a boyfriend. He and one of the others started working on a pair of girls, with whom they were possibly friends/acquaintances already, I don't know. I tried to be flirty. I went over and asked him, and the other two, if one would like to dance when the band started a slow song. Sailor said yes. I think I lost him when he asked how old I was. He said he would have guessed mid/late twenties.

I know I really blew it when later I told him, ‘here you are working hard on those two, just like you did LS, but I’m the easy mark’ and then when asked why I was the easy mark I told how long it has been since I got laid. It is a time period guaranteed to scare off the horniest of guys. (Normally I would, at best, just say it had “been awhile” if it came up at all.) He was nice enough the rest of the night and would have walked me to my car but I didn’t think he’d make it that far (he was having a hard time standing up straight at this point).

So here I was dressed in my best club-wear and up for anything a guy could want to do on the dance floor or saying goodnight at the car. (Because damn it, it has been a long time since I was kissed by anyone, much less someone who likes girls!) The dance floor was packed by midnight and yet there was usually a little empty circle around me.

So why don’t I get hit on? Am I too tall? Not skinny enough? Not pretty enough? Not drunk enough? Too old? Do I have “I crazy, but not in a good way” stamped on my forehead? What?