Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2009 Resolutions

It's that time of the year where we all commit ourselves to the "honored tradition" of declaring our resolutions for the year, and pray to God we keep or meet them. I sincerely hope I achieve all of mine. Many of them are on-going ones that'll probably carry over until next year and years after.

2009 is a year of change, not only for the US and the world, but also for me. A lot of things will be changing this year. I intend on taking it all in stride. My 10 resolutions for 2009 are:

1. Lose 20-25 lbs from my lowest weight in 2008. It should only take me 2 weeks or so to get back down to that 2008 weight from what I currently weigh (though I'm not sure I want to know). Hopefully I can go to the gym (almost) every weekday. If I can lose 10-15 lbs by Spring Break (end of February) that'd be ideal, but I want to lose all the weight by August and maintain my weight thereafter. Any tips and/or suggestions?

2. Update my wardrobe. I've been wearing most of my clothes since the beginning of undergrad. I've lost weight since freshman year of undergrad, so I went from an XL to a L and now to somewhere between an M and L (shirt size). A lot of my clothes are loose on me, so I need to get new clothes. The problem is that I hate shopping and I don't know what's fashionable, stylish, and will look good on me. Help?

3. Learn to cook new things! This is one of my on-going resolutions. Foremost amongst things I want to try are steak, various soups, and desserts. Got any recipes?

4. Get better grades in grad school. This may be a bit challenging, as I got 3 A's, 1 A-, 1 B+, and 2 S's (aka, pass for my pass/fail courses). I suppose I could get all A's . . .

5. Be a kick-ass GSI for Genetics. :D This one will be intense, but it might be fun as well.

6. Rekindle some old friendships, maintain current ones, and make new friends (both online and in real life).

7. Not let med school consume or destroy me when I start in August.

8. Begin to explore a romantic relationship. Don't care too much if it leads to sex or not. I just want someone to cuddle with and talk to at night.

9. Make progress in coming out. A resolution in progress, this one is.

10. Live by my philosophy for the year: Whatever happens, bring on the day.

I suppose there is one more resolution . . . but it's not one I can do much about. I would like more Followers on my blog (points to the 3 current Followers in the sidebar to the right). I want some blog love. :P So if you read my blog regularly, please Follow it (especially if I'm following your blog, ::wink wink::).

Now, to look back to my 2008 resolutions. Hmm, it actually seems like I've met most of them to some degree. Go me!! I hope I can do the same (if not better) for 2009 as well. :D

---TANGENT---
I don't know why, but I'm in a rather happy and silly mood. For your entertainment, I've provided the following.
Found at this link.

Hamster on a Piano (Eating Popcorn)


Kevjumba - Girls are like m&m's

---END TANGENT---

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008 in Summary

I feel much better since my last post. I had lunch with a friend, SA-F, at Panera who I haven't seen since graduating high school (5 years ago, o.O). Whereas my life has been straight as the arrow flies, hers has been less than ideal. She's had quite some time throughout her undergrad years and then took a year off to work, I think. She couldn't get into any Bachelor's of Nursing programs, and so will be doing an Associate's of Nursing first. I hope she eventually continues with her Bachelor's and hopefully her Master's after that. I wish her the best of luck. Maybe one day we'll be working side-by-side, who knows.

It was really really really nice to get out of the house and talk to a friend. We talked from lunch until almost dinnertime, lol. I think she was relieved to finally have an intelligent conversation with someone (apparently, the customers where she works can sometimes be idiotic). A good conversation, some laughs, and some fresh air and sunshine (must've been the first time in weeks) was what I really needed.
-----
And now, as many other bloggers have done, 2008 in summary:

(My mind thinks of the year in three parts: Winter Semester, Summer, and Fall Semester.)

Winter Semester (January - April)
- Taught a class (mini-course) to a small group of freshman on HIV/AIDS with my best friend, JW-M
- Felt the closest thing to "true" (aka, clinical) depression. :(
- Came out to the person I had a crush on (didn't even realize until too late), RZ-F. She didn't believe that I was bi. I still think she doesn't.
- Came out to JW-M. He was great about it, I just wish I had talked to him more about it.
- Had 2 med school interviews - crapped the first, rocked the second.
- Applied to 1 grad school (public health).
- 4.000'd my final semester of undergrad (first time in all of undergrad).
- Graduated (with Distinction, :D) with my Bachelor's of Science - Biology.

Summer (May - August)
- Worked in my old lab as a lab tech from May till July. Fun times.
- Completely re-designed my experiment (cue made scientist laugh).
- Abandoned my experiment before it was completed; I was sick of it after 3 years and just wanted to go home for the summer.
- Organized a volunteer trio/quartet together to play in the hospital lobby for about 2 months.
- Arranged Tetris for strings & piano instrumentation (such happy music, :D).
- Got accepted to grad school (public health).
- Got accepted to med school (albeit, delayed admission to the entering class of 2009).
- Started talking to a bunch of "new" bloggers online. :P

Fall Semester (September - December)
- Started grad school.
- Started work in a new lab - this time in genetic cancer epidemiology (used to work in human genetics).
- Went to go see my friend's, JR-M's, 30-minute movie.
- Met two bloggers in person.
- Got intimate with someone (a guy) for the first time, which entailed:
-> Kissing for the first time
-> Giving a handjob for the first time
-> Getting a handjob for the first time
-> Giving a blowjob for the first time
-> Getting a blowjob for the first time
-> Showering with someone (non-relative) for the first time
- Talked to a few more bloggers online. :)
- Got a grad student instructor (GSI) position for next semester; hence I'll get a tuition waiver and about $8000 as stipend. :D
- Had lunch with a friend, SA-F, who I haven't seen since graduating high school.
-----
In retrospect now, quite a bit has happened this year (though it didn't always feel like it). It's surprising what happens in a year, isn't it?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Straight as the Arrow Flies

Okay, I'm done with break now. I tend to think too much, my brain doesn't want to stop. I need something or someone to keep me distracted periodically so I can stay focused (weird as that sounds). If I'm left to my own devices, my brain gets bored and I start to brood in dark thoughts. This has unfortunate ramifications.

I go to bed between 2am & 3am and wake up between 10:30am & noon. It's so hard to go to bed at night because my bed is freezing, and it's so hard to get out of bed in the morning because my bed becomes an island of warmth in a room of cold. I've found it particularly difficult to get out of bed the last several days. I would wake up and lay in bed for an hour or more before getting out. I also wake up with this . . . soreness at the base of my sternum. I think it's psychosomatic. But I digress, a little.

My life has been, by and large, "straight as the arrow flies." It has always been about the next step - about preparation and delayed gratification. I worked hard in elementary school so I could do well in middle school. I worked hard in middle school so I could do well in high school. I worked hard in high school and practiced the SAT/ACT (a lot) so I could get into a good university. I got into a good university, but then I had to work on keeping my grades up, doing well on the MCAT, doing research, getting clinical experience, and etc so I could get into medical school. I haven't deviated once from the path of this arrow's flight, though there were many instances that made me wish I had. I had set my mind on something I and I stick to it.

I've worked so damn hard, always to get to the next step thinking I'd breathe a sigh of relief when I get there. But I never do. I never took a break, I went straight as the arrow flies to the next step according to plan. I followed the damn Asian model. Granted, grad school for a year instead of med school is just a minor misstep along the path. I'm tired now, and unmotivated. I feel like I'm married to my career (which currently is grad student).

I can't help but wonder how many chances to hang out with friends I've turned down in order to study. Or how many other experiences I've forgone in order to prepare for the next step. I can't help but ask myself what I've missed out on all these years. Don't get me wrong, I've learned a lot about people, life, and myself over the years. But just as everything in my life seems about set, something feels like it's missing.

That something is that I am lost in all matters of the heart. I've never dated. I've barely kissed, so I know I'm no good at it. I'm not sure how to flirt, or how to tell if someone's interested, or pick up on hints. I don't know how to get someone interested in me. I don't know what to do if a person IS interested in me (hasn't really happened before). I don't know who I am romantically or sexually. I want so badly for love to just fall in my lap and steal my heart away - to be so enthralled by someone that it defies all logic, to hold someone and cuddle for hours while listening to his/her day, to learn how to kiss and make myself vulnerable. I've had a taste of this once, but it was quite ephemeral; what remains resides in memories. I think the scariest part is that I might've suppressed this part of me for so long that I'm not sure I would recognize if I'm attracted to someone.

And you wouldn't immediately know upon seeing me, but from time to time it tears me up inside. It's like, my chest is heaving and trembling on the inside, and that soreness below my sternum comes back. It would be unfair for me to do something now at the end of a step and right before the next, so I'm cursed to suffer in this limbo for another few months at least. Come med school, will I have time still to figure all this out? Or will it be too late? I feel strangely alone.

Wow, and just skimming through, I've just seen this post plummet into the darker corners of my mind. And so the arrow continues to fly, ever nearing its target (whatever that is) and flying by a whole ton of things that I probably have missed along the way.

Cuttlefish, eh?

Found at this link.

Hmm, maybe this is the branch of biology I should've done research in, and not fiddled around with the E. Coli genome or cancer cells. Cuttlefish are certainly more interesting to observe than colonies of bacteria growing or cancer cells on a slide (or dish).

I've kind of been lethargic the last few days, and my head feels cloudy for most of today. It's late and I'm going to bed. I'll post something more substantial later.

---TANGENT---
So I remembered this JUST before I went to bed last night. I caught up with two more blogs! :P I think my eyes are going to assassinate me for trying to catch up with a blog each day/night. Left a bunch of comments as well (so to Razz and gatechguy1, sorry for the sudden influx of comments if you find that annoying!). Their blogs are:

Doin' me head in
Thoughts of a College Boy...

As always, if you haven't done so you, head over, check out their blogs, and say hi! :D
---END TANGENT---

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mask of Caring

---DISCLAIMER---
This post is a continuation of my last post, here. Be careful when reading this post. The tone of this post may not come out as I intend. It is not with sadness or loneliness that I post. For now it's merely an observation, a musing over the last several days. This post is rather long.
---END DISCLAIMER---

The more I come to realize about myself, the more I realize that my life is not always my own . . .

What I'm about to say I've never told anyone, and I doubt anyone remembered the event at any rate. When I was around 7-years-old or so, I wasn't all that well-behaved (are there any well-behaved 7-year-olds?). Once, my mom got so pissed that she swore at me in Chinese. It was the phrase 该死 (gai1 si3). I didn't know it meant "Damn it" as the second character, 死, means "death." I thought that she wanted me dead or something. So I went to the kitchen, took out a knife, walked back upstairs, and gave it to my mom. And told her to just kill me as clearly my life was causing her problems, and that if she didn't do it, I would. Of course she freaked out and never said that about me (or later my brothers) again.

Flash forward a decade or so. In high school and in my undergrad, I was the friend that others went to for help. I may not have been at the top my class (particularly so in my undergrad), but I had a way of explaining things that others understood, even if I myself didn't quite completely understand. Many of my friends weren't as eloquent at explaining things back to me, so I didn't get much out of this. My mom found this very annoying actually, and she would often say, "Why does so and so ask you for help? You always help them, but they never help you back! You're always giving them knowledge and get nothing in return. You need to be more shrewd and say 'I don't know' every now and then, you can't just let them take everything you know and then do better on the exams than you."

Even now this rings true, perhaps more so. And yet I continue to do it. I continue to help. I think my one jewel, perhaps my one defining characteristic and curse is that I sometimes care too much for others I know and get relatively little in return. Ironic how it's almost eerily similar to the doctor-patient relationship: you want a caring doctor who listens, yet you're "done" with them once you leave the office. This then, is my Mask of Caring.

When I was in high school, I would wake up an extra 20 minutes early or so and make breakfast and pack lunches for my brothers. Everything would be ready by the time they woke up, brushed their teeth, and came downstairs. I would proof my brothers' college application essays. I was the one to truly push and motivate them where my parents failed. In my own small way, I guided them without forcing them (unlike my parents, lol).

I'm no saint by any means. I hardly do much volunteering anymore. In high school I would volunteer for all these community service clubs, but I found too many of them shallow and purposeless. I would do things but never interact with - or even see - the people I was supposedly helping. I've found that in some respects, such undergrad service clubs are similar. Instead I did biomedical research. Although I'll never see the faces of the people my research may one day (in the distant-ish future) help, I know that it will help someone, someday. I've had a hand in breast cancer research, human genetic deafness, and colorectal cancer. These are not uncommon things that plague society. Yet I know I will never gain any glory (aka first authorship) from my research.

And whenever a friend needed help with something, no matter how reluctant I was, I would do it unless I had a legitimate excuse that trumped (which doesn't come up often, except during finals week). I was the one constant, the "rock" in people's lives. JW-M would rant to me, RZ-F would rant to me, SR-F would vent her frustrations to me. I took it upon myself really - no matter how much they didn't want to tell, I would elicit it out of them because I knew they needed to talk to someone. For a long time I was able to listen, passively, stoically, process, then give advice. I let things pass through me so they didn't affect me personally.

Then things changed, I don't know when. When someone was down, I became down. When someone was happy, it would temporarily lift me out of whatever state I was in. Reading the events surrounding other bloggers the last month or so has been rougher on me emotionally than I even realized. It was difficult to study for my final exams. I may sit here passively, stoically on the outside, but inside I cared. And it hurts, almost physically, when I find out a person can't confide in me. And although it's easy to just ignore my Google Reader while I studied, I had to know what's going on if at all possible.

It's easy for me to care less (aka, not think about) people I've never met, don't know in any way, and are removed from my life. But once a person enters my life, even at the very periphery, I can't help but care. Even if they don't talk to me much, don't reveal much to me, I will care. I don't know what it is, it almost feels like a duty for me to care. As if caring is a duty that we as humans owe to each other - to care unconditionally, without any real thanks even. How many times my friends have asked me why I cared about x, y, and z. Because I do, because I must.

I don't reveal much about my inner self, not even on this blog where I'm quite open, considering. I wonder how many people care to find out. I wonder what readers out there think about me - if I'm just talking out of my ass or actually being sincere. I know I don't come across as the most emotional blogger. That's just how my writing is. In caring for/about others, I've left little room for myself. Hence, my life is not always my own . . . I live, in a good part, for others I think.

And again, I don't really get much out of it. It's not like my brothers help me much. Actually, they try to get out of helping me wherever possible, lol. And despite helping others - in my lab, my friends, etc - it's not like I'm rewarded. Heck, most of the time I'm not even invited to things as they simply "forget" to invite me. Even the best amongst my friends - JW-M, SR-F, RZ-F, etc - will sometimes invite me as almost an afterthought at the last moment.

It's all okay, I suppose. I don't dwell on this much. I suppose the one thing I want most in this world is someone in person to love and care about who cares and loves me enough to want to figure out everything about me, and then reflect my care back on to me. I think, that's the only way I can truly care about myself in a positive way. At any rate, my Mask of Caring is almost a duty I undertake - to care almost unconditionally about others that I personally know.

---TANGENT---
So, for the last 2 days, I've been relentless catching up on two blogs in particular. Two blogs that many bloggers who read mine are well-acquainted with. They are:

Mirrorboy's Blog
Right Time and Place

If you haven't had a chance to go over and say hi, I suggest doing so. :P

Also, I'm still fighting for my A in Pathophysiology. The ONLY way I could get an A- is if they "standardized" the letter grades, which is weird and unfair. I can't let the ONE class I actually really CARED about give me an A- when the average according to the average points on my exams give me an A. Grrr.

I also read something in the news that made my blood boil. I won't talk about it here, that's for another post in the future.
---END TANGENT---

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Jewel

I've been mulling over a particular thought the last few days. To those who I talk to online and have been absent the last couple days, I apologize. I will frame this thought in this post and then follow-up on it in my next post.
-----
The title of this post is from the 5th scene of my friend JR-M's 30-minute movie. The main character, Jeremiah, goes to a church to talk to a priest. An excerpt of the scene is as follows:

Jeremiah: Think it's possible for one man to change the world, Father?

Priest: The world?! Oh, heavens, that's an awfully big piece of pie. But I think a man can find his jewel.

Jeremiah: His jewel?

Priest: You see, I think of us all as empty rings, or pendants. Each one of us is searching for that one thing that we can do to make ourselves, and our place in this world, complete. And when he sees it, it will be as brilliant as heaven itself.
-----
And so I ask myself, and you, what is my (your) jewel? Who, or what, are you going to devote yourself to?

JR-M also included in the insert to his DVD the following pic:
Cryptic words with no punctuation. It's difficult to say what is truly meant by these words. However, I'd like to interpret the phrase as the following:
"In shackles we have awaited yet torn asunder. We're born to light and new worlds, ye great minds of true men . . ."
If my interpretation is correct (and if I accurately know a thing or two about my friend), the above probably means something to the effect that many of us somehow feel stifled or suppressed by some unseen force. It wears us down, it literally chains us. But we all have a chance to do something, to shape this world. All that lacks is the mind, and the will.

What do you think?

---TANGENT---
I'm mildly annoyed that I got a B+ in Intro to Epidemiology. The class wasn't even hard or anything, but that final (posted briefly here) was ridiculous! I bet it single-handedly brought down my grade from an A/A- borderline.

The one grade I AM pissed about is Pathophysiology. As I've said before, I freaking loved this class. I did really well on the first 2 exams. I didn't do nearly as well on this last exam, but then again I studied for less than 24 hours and still got a B on that exam. However, that B dragged my overall grade down to an A-. BUT! When I calculated my grade average, it should've been in the "A range." I'm fighting for that A for the mere principle that I deserved that grade. Apparently, the difference between an A and A- in grad school is bigger than in undergrad (my grad school is on an 8.000-scale that I have yet to figure out).
---END TANGENT---

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Winter Break!!

ZOMG, I'm done with exams and Winter Break has finally arrived for me. I don't even care what I get on those exam, haha. Now that I'm home, it's going to be a pretty chill break with me not going anywhere really. This break I hope/plan to (in no real particular order of importance):
  • hang out/catch up with a few friends in town
  • catch up on several blogs and link them
  • sort my blog list
  • sort my pics on my laptop
  • sort my music on my laptop
  • sort my bookmarks on my internet browser (I've way too many bookmarks)
  • watch TV shows, anime, and movies I have on my USB
  • watch, sort, and delete porn off my laptop (too much that's just there and that I don't watch)
  • finish reading The Spanish Bow by Andromeda Romano-Lax
  • read The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  • watch all of the Planet Earth series on DVD
  • draw the pic "commissioned" by my friend, SA-F (like 2 years ago, lol)
  • draw the pic "commissioned" by Hish of Minding the Heart
  • draw the pic(s) "commissioned" by James of Just me
  • play my piano
  • master DDR (or at least get to 5-feet/5-star solidly)
  • finish the game story plot for the Neverwinter Nights module my friend JW-M and I are making
  • write 2 chapters of my story (I'm not the only blogger out there writing a book, though this story's not meant to be a published book)
  • do my "homework" for public health (I know, right?!) and other online "errands"
  • come up with a workout plan and "diet" that I'd actually follow next semester (and hopefully lose 20 lbs - I only went to the gym like 4 times between Thanksgiving and now)
I think that's about it . . . If I can get through all that it'd be pretty amazing, honestly. And now, some Lolcat. :D


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Must Be Productive . . .

So . . . I had my epidemiology final today. It was EPIC. Epic in the sense that it was literally impossible to finish. I guess the 2nd-years weren't joking when they told us that, haha.

Here's the breakdown of the exam. 2 hours. Open notes/resources (as long as it's not with another person or utilizes technology). 30 questions. Each question has its own page. Most questions had multiple parts to them.

I got through like, 2/3 of all the questions (so I finished like 20 questions). I skipped most of the questions I didn't answer not because I couldn't (eventually) figure them out, but rather because they take a long time to figure out how to do. When time was called, I just drew smiley faces on those pages I didn't answer. At least there's (hopefully) going to be a MASSIVE curve, because very few people (if any) actually finished that exam.

It's snowing hardcore outside and I'm procrastinating. I have one more exam to go - pathophysiology - tomorrow. I figure, I might as well post and get some of the procrastination out of my system.

And here's an entertaining YouTube vid: Tetris with lyrics.


Enjoy. Now I'm off to study the nervous system, skin, muscle, gastrointestinal tract, and liver for tomorrow.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Just Gotta Press On

What's it like to have the ground freeze beneath your feet, the mud tracks becoming solid, within the span of a day? A little disconcerting I must say. I think I must utilize the final evolution in my winter-gear. Time to bust out the eskimo-like coat. I hoped it wouldn't have had to come to this this year, but alas.

I apologize for not blogging in the last several days. I've been quite busy studying for my finals this week. Two down and two more to go! On Wednesday I'll be DONE.

You know, it's kind of sad when in order to study for an exam, you need to think about all the ways people die. For one class it's cancer - breast and colorectal especially. For today's toxicology final I had to review things like alcohol poisoning, drug overdosing, heavy metal exposure (lead, mercury, etc), and such. And on Wednesday is pathophysiology - so basically what happens when something goes wrong with the body. So. Much. Death. No wonder doctors have some of the highest rates of suicide.

Here's my public service announcement. Do NOT take alcohol with Tylenol (acetaminophen). Both damage the liver in large quantities, but the combination creates something called reactive oxygen species that literally use electrons to punch holes into the surrounding liver cells, resulting in liver failure. Death soon follows liver failure. See?! Death!!

What's sadder is when you see something that makes you initially get excited before you realize what's going on and then get sad. For example, KS-F told me her cousin has colon cancer. At age 22. Right away I suspected FAP genotype (basically, you start getting colon polyps at age 10-12 and these have a 100% chance of becoming cancer by the time one's 17 if left untreated). I was excited to know what's the likely cause of colon cancer in such a young person, and I suggested genetic counseling for her family (though she seems to be fine, so she didn't inherit it). Then I realized how ridiculously sad it was to have colon cancer at 22.

Later I talked this over with AG-F and she agreed. The genetic counseling students would get all excited over an interesting/unique case in conference, but then they meet the people. And when you meet the people these diseases affect, you can't help but feel sad (and a little ashamed that you were so excited by the disease in the first place). Such is the world of health care professionals. The day I stop seeing people as people and start seeing people as just walking symptoms/diseases is the day I've lose my humanity.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Last Day of Classes!

I thought this day would never come. The semester dragged on and on until Thanksgiving, then suddenly it's all over now.

I went to work (research) today. I won't go into the details here, but my experiment epic failed on me and I lost 3 hours of my life. I want them back. I did nothing wrong! Stupid buffer. This exemplifies why I hate research sometimes.

I got my anti-pharmacy grade back from the exam I took last night. 24/28, the mean was 22.9/28. Not bad considering I studied for less than 2 days. This'll probably end up as a B+ or A-, or maybe an A if I'm really lucky. So as long as I don't get lower than an A- on the final, I should get an A of some sort in this class. Oddly, I don't find myself caring much.

It rained today, which sucked. It melted most of the snow. As much as I hate the cold, I hate cold icy rain even more. I would take the snow over icy rain any day.

A clothing store in town was going out of business. So I went with SR-F and we each bought a T-shirt for $4.22. That's a pretty damn good deal. It took me FOREVER to find a medium-size shirt; most were L, XL, or XXL. I mean, honestly, an XXL can almost fit two of me.

JW-M sent me an email today with the subject line as "oh yes, they do exist." Refer to the pic below:
This was in Xi'an. Those are the "famous" biang biang noodles. Notice how ridiculous the first two characters are (the two large characters on the left and middle)! I mean, "biang" isn't even a legal pronounciation in Mandarin! Anyway, the old Asian man icon thing is pretty badass, as well as that super-char composed of very common component-chars.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I Missed You!!

Picture from here.

Hey, I'm back! You may have noticed a few minor-ish changes to the blog format and the pic in the header. I bet you missed me as much as I missed you (or maybe you didn't notice my absence). A few things to update.

Yesterday was my friend JW-M's birthday. He's in Beijing studying abroad right now. I wished him a happy birthday online and on Facebook. I also told him that I loved him as a friend, something I've never said to a friend before (I think). And it's true, I value his friendship very dearly. He also told me that I was the one "true friend" he made in college, so that was really touching. I almost teared up a little.

I took my toxicology (anti-pharmacy) exam today. It was kind of rough but shouldn't be too bad, considering I just started studying for it yesterday.

I finished my term paper!! It is epic 12 pages with 13 references. The policy proposal I came up with is quite novel, if I do say so myself, as it doesn't involve government legislation to proceed with regulation. My topic is the need for regulation on PGD (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis).

In a nutshell: PGD is where they take 1-2 cells from the early embryo and do a genetic test on the DNA to see if that embryo has any genetic diseases. The embryo isn't destroyed in the process and can be implanted into the womb.

Now, some issues I had to address in my paper:

1. Cost and access. PGD isn't cheap at about $5000 and most health insurances won't cover it. That's clearly a health disparity along economic lines, and the poor who may need this technology can't access it.

2. PGD for controversial medical use. There is the case of Molly Nash. She was born with Fanconi's anemia, a fatal childhood genetic disease. Her parents used PGD to conceive a second child who was born free of the disease and was an HLA match with her sister. Because he was selected as an embryo to be an HLA match, doctors could then transfer his bone marrow into Molly to save her life. Were the parents ethically/morally right in "commissioning" a second child to save a first?

3. PGD for sex selection. Should PGD be used to select the gender of one's child? The only accepted indication in the medical field is when there's an X-linked disease in the family that would be bad for a male offspring. But the private sector can do whatever it wants in this respect.

4. PGD for non-disease genetic traits. Let's put it this way. Should deaf parents use PGD to make sure that their children are also deaf? Should straight parents use PGD to ensure their children are straight, or gay parents use PGD to ensure their children are gay (assuming the children is conceived via surrogacy and there is a single gay gene - which there is NOT)?

5. PGD and public health. If we could use PGD to eliminate genetic diseases from the population, should we? Can we? There are dire ramifications when we mess with the diversity of the human genome. For example, when a person only has one copy of the sickle-cell anemia gene mutation that person is resistant to malaria, but two copies of that gene mutation causes full-blown sickle-cell anemia. We don't know enough about the human genome to mess with it. And even if we do, I don't think we should.

So those are the interesting issues I had to consider and ponder and come up with some kind of regulatory policy on. If your head's spinning, don't worry. Mine was too on Saturday as I was on page 4 of 12.

Anyway, I realize (for the 100th time or something) that I post really long posts. I apologize, but that's unlikely to change, and that's probably why I don't have 20,000+ page-views. I mean, I'm not THAT boring am I?

Picture from here.

I really liked that picture. A lot of bloggers have been down lately. If you're one of them, and you see this, or you know a blogger who is in need of some cheer, send them this or an e-hug or something.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving Thoughts

A belated Thanksgiving thought. I went to bed a couple nights ago with a random smile, as I thought of how my grandpa will be 80 in about 3 months and how he's still so ridiculously healthy (no medication of any kind). I'm thankful that he's in amazing health, that he wakes up with a smile almost every day, that he's still enjoying what life has to offer.

In a different vein, I'm thankful for all the e-friends I've made through this blog. I'm thankful for the (seemingly) handful of readers that come my way. While it hasn't felt like I've changed much or grown since I started this blog, I know that to be false. The bigger question is, what's the next step?

I want to make a massive overture to a particular subject that I'm thankful for. Those with access to it probably don't think much on it, but rather, just expect it. My next post, the one on this, may be a while from now. I'm considering taking a mini-hiatus for a week or so (somehow I don't think I'll be misssed) to finish my term paper and study for my 4-5 exams. In the mean time, I hope these random thoughts below amuse you.

1. So, for the last few days, I kept thinking I had an appointment with my adviser at 2pm tomorrow (Monday, Dec. 1). But I knew that I'd have to miss my pathophysiology lecture about 30 minutes early, and that's my favorite class. I agreed, and she was meeting with all her advisees at once I think, somewhere on the 6th floor. I realize now that it was all a dream. There is no appointment meeting. Now I wonder how much of my other scheduling events are the result of a dream. Hmmm.

2. I had a dream last night where I was traveling to Beijing, China. My dad was with me for some reason. We drove to the airport, where we got on a plane but we had to transfer to another plane for some reason in Chicago or something. My dad got in a fight with the pilot and was then handcuffed to his seat. So we're on this plane to San Francisco (my dad handcuffed to his seat), where we stop before arriving in Beijing. For some reason I was really anxious and/or apprehensive about flying, which I rarely am. There were storms expected ahead and I wasn't sure if the pilot was going to attempt to fly through them or go around. Anyway, I woke up mid-dream and I tried forcing myself back to sleep to finish the dream. I hate waking up mid-dream. Anyone else do that?

3. Some Lolcats pics. From this site, of course.

I love this site, haha. It's the most addicting distraction I've come across in a while. My friend and I just kept sending each other links for about an hour.

4. Last, but not least, I'd like to introduce (who haven't come across it yet) the blog Equal Eight. It's rather hilarious, so go over and say hi! :D