Sunday, May 31, 2009

Another Giant Falls

Chrysler has already fallen into bankruptcy. GM is next, as it's expecting to announce bankruptcy tomorrow. And thus, another giant falls. Ford is hurting, anyone want to bet it's going to be next?

It's troubling to me that to help speed GM through and out of bankruptcy, the US government is offering GM $50 billion in exchange for a 72.5% stake in the company. In essence, the US government will own almost 3/4 of GM. I can't speak for anyone else, but I personally find it a bit unnerving for the US government to have such a strong hold over the largest auto company in the US. Apparently, polls show that a majority of people find this potentially worrisome. I'm not well-versed in the issue and especially not in the politics of it all, so I can't comment if this "government take-over" is/will be a good thing or not.

So many people will be hurt by GM's bankruptcy. It's not just UAW union workers and manufacturers, but also auto parts suppliers such as Delphi. When a major auto company like GM tanks, it drags a ton of other people and companies down with it. Many people I know personally - especially parents - will be impacted by this. The Midwest will hurt. Badly.

These are scary and troubling times economically. For GM to lose $90 billion in the last several years, I have to wonder, how the hell did it get this bad?! It boggles my mind that we - someone - "allowed" it to come to this.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The License

I thought this was a poignant YouTube clip. Granted, it may be a bit offensive to the religious out there, but it's still thought-provoking and the message is clear.

Anyway, in other news, there isn't much going on in my life now that I'm not going to China. The only things worth noting: I now have a roommate and almost certainly an apartment for med school. So in that respect, hurray! Oh, and my dad got me a 500GB external hard drive today (specifically this one except 500GB and not 320GB). W00t!! That's right MSTPBound, I've got a 500GB external hard drive now too. ;-)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Cancellation in Plans

First of all, to those who wished me a Happy Birthday, thank you!! Especially since I didn't make any announcement of it on my blog.

My birthday was actually pretty meh. I spent most of the time on the road to Chicago with my parents (my brothers stayed home). I celebrated Memorial Day weekend with my uncle's family and my grandparents (who were in town for a wedding). Consequently, I wasn't able to get on the internet long enough to post.

Anyway, as originally mentioned in this post, I was supposed to leave for Beijing on May 31st and come back to the US on June 27th. It was going to be awesome. Well, cancellation in plans. It looks like I'm not going. And here's how it went down.

3-4 weeks ago my grandparents called my great-uncle in Beijing to see if I could stay with him and his family. Also around this time, China was becoming a little worried about swine flu. So my grandpa also asked whether my great-uncle could find me somewhere else to live instead if I couldn't live with him. My great-uncle agreed.

Then suddenly cases of swine flu began popping up in Beijing and especially in Japan. As most US flights into Beijing must first stop by Japan, Beijing was getting nervous. About 2 weeks ago, my great-uncle called my uncle and grandparents to inform them that people were being quarantined as soon as they stepped off the plane if anyone on that plane was suspected to have swine flu. Several hundred people have been quarantined for a week in specific hospitals; granted, the vast majority of those people were fine. It was suggested that it would be better if I didn't go.

Well, my friends JW-M (currently in Beijing) and RZ-F (landing in Beijing soon) both felt it would be fine for me to go, that the Chinese were just overreacting and that I wouldn't really be personally affected. I held my ground against my parents and was still fairly set on going and taking my chances. I suggested that I could stay with JW-M for a week or so and then reside in RZ-F's Beijing apartment, because she'll be living with her relatives. And I could live in a hotel or hostel in the interim as I move between the two places.

My parents were yielding, mainly because my grandparents were on my side all the way to the end. It was looking up. Until yesterday. My grandpa again called my great-uncle and great-aunt to see if they could secure me another place to live while I was in Beijing. My great-aunt had been looking into student exchange-type things, where I'd live with a local family and teach their kid(s) English and they'd teach me Chinese and give me tips on traveling in the area. However, no one wants Americans to live with them. Word by mouth had been passed down through several communities in Beijing to avoid foreigners if at all possible. If an American would to stay with a family, even if the American were a relative, that household would be temporarily "ostracized" until the swine flu hype was over. Social stigma by association - it's a bitch.

With that, my grandparents were convinced that it was best that I didn't go. My grandparents didn't want to "guilt" my great-uncle further into letting me stay with them. My grandparents and parents knew all too well how the Chinese think in this respect, and while they also believe it's an overreaction, it wouldn't be a good idea to go if the people were going to be unwelcoming. And because my grandparents effectively have the final say in the family, that was that. I'm not going. T.T

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Farewell "Happy to be in my skin"

One of my favorite blogs, Happy to be in my skin by Shane, will be going offline within the next couple of days. He started his blog as "The Real Ugly Duckling" and had transitioned to the title it is now.

Shane is graduating in 2 months and will be in a third-world Asian country for the next 1-4 years with a group delivering supplies and helping remote villages. It's going to be one crazy, dangerous, and wild ride, but I can see it also as really fulfilling. And because he won't really have internet access there, he'll be deleting his blog. So if you haven't read his blog yet, head over now and read it while you can!

So, to Shane, I wish you the best in all your endeavors and safe journeys. Come back alive and well, and take lots of pictures if you can along the way. I'm saddened by the inevitable loss of your blog (unless this convinces you otherwise), but if you ever return to blogging, please send me an email or an IM! Even if you don't return to the blogosphere, I still hope you send me an email or IM to let me know that you've come back safe with many amazing stories to tell.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

The "Gay Gene" Part III

In Part I, I presented a "single gene, single trait" model of sexuality. Simple, straightforward, black and white. In Part II, I presented a sample of the current literature on the biology of human sexuality. Not surprisingly, the current literature doesn't even come close to developing a complete biological model of how human sexuality works. The only conclusion science has reached at this point is that human sexuality is "governed" by several genes as well as environmental factors. Why is it so hard to pinpoint these factors?

In this post I will attempt to elucidate why it will be very difficult to develop anything nearing a complete biological model of human sexuality, at least in my lifetime. There will be terms and concepts that I'll try to explain in such a way that can be understood by non-scientists, but I apologize in advance if things start flying over your head. This is also a long post. You have been warned.
Additive Alleles
The first concept is "additive alleles." Recall in Part I, I mentioned how alleles are different "versions" of a gene. When a trait is controlled by several or many genes, the alleles could have an additive effect on the trait.

Example: let's say there are 5 genes (genes A, B, C, D, E) that affect height. For each gene there are 2 alleles, an "upper-case" allele and a "lower-case" allele (i.e. A/a, B/b, C/c, D/d, E/e). Assume that each gene contributes equally to height, and that each upper-case allele contributes 3 inches to height and each lower-case allele contributes 1 inch to height. Thus, if an individual has alleles ABCDE, that individual will "gain" 15 inches total, whereas an individual with alleles abcde will "gain" only 5 inches.

In the example just given, each gene contributes in a completely additive fashion. However, each of the genes may very well have a different inheritance pattern and may contribute or otherwise affect the observed trait differently, such as one of the following.

In co-dominance, different alleles of a gene are equally dominant and expressed at the same time.

Example: a plant has a gene that determines red/white flower color. The "red" allele and the "white" allele are co-dominant. Thus, a flower with both alleles will have red and white striped petals.

Incomplete Dominance
In incomplete dominance, the dominant allele does not completely "mask" the recessive allele. That is, some of the recessive allele "bleeds" through.

Example: a plant has a gene that determines red/white flower color. The "red" allele is dominant to the "white" allele. But because the "red" allele is incomplete dominant, a flower with both alleles will be pink.

Penetrance refers to the degree, or "likelihood," that an allele is expressed.

Example: a woman has the BRCA1 gene mutation that causes breast cancer. The BRCA1 mutation is 50-80% penetrant. Thus, that woman has a 50-80% increased chance of developing breast cancer.

In epistasis, one gene masks the effect(s) of another gene(s). That first gene is said to be "epistatic" to the other gene(s).

Example: 2 genes partly determine fur coat color in cats. Gene A is epistatic to Gene B. If a dominant allele of Gene A is present, then the fur coat color is black and Gene B is never observed regardless of what Gene B is. If only the recessive allele of Gene A is present, then the fur coat color depends on Gene B. Gene B produces either a white fur coat, an orange fur coat, or a white/orange striped fur coat depending on the alleles; again, Gene B can only be observed if only recessive alleles of Gene A is present.

Topics I chose not to discuss include: variable expressivity, linkage, developmental pathways, biochemical pathways, cis-acting and trans-acting gene regulation, repressors, activators, maternal effect, and X-linked traits. To discuss all this would probably bore you all into oblivion.
Now, to tie this all together. How might all the above apply to the biology of human sexuality? Well, to begin with, we know that the genes affecting sexuality must be additive in some fashion. Several genes "stack" their effects to influence a person's sexuality.

Let's say a gene is co-dominant for sexual orientation. Thus, for some guy, 2 copies of Allele 1 = straight, 2 copies of Allele 2 = gay, and 1 copy of each = bi. But bisexuality here might be a little strange, as that guy might find himself more attracted to females at one point in his life, and more attracted to males at another point in his life. The attraction might "alternate" between males and females, or depend on the situation.

Let's say a gene is incomplete dominant for sexual orientation. Thus, for some guy, 2 copies of Allele 1 = straight, 2 copies of Allele 2 = gay, and 1 copy of each = bi. Assuming both alleles give equal weight, a bisexual would find himself equally attracted to males and females.

Let's say having the dominant allele of a gene is 70% penetrant. Assume that the dominant allele represents heterosexuality. Thus, possessing 2 copies of the dominant allele = 100% straight, 2 copies of the recessive allele = 100% gay, and 1 copy of each = 70% chance of being straight and 30% chance of being gay.

Let's say there is a gene that is epistatic to the gene with incomplete dominance just mentioned. As long as there is a dominant allele of the gene the guy will be straight; it doesn't matter if the "incomplete dominance" gene would "make" a person straight/bi/gay. But if only the recessive allele of the epistatic gene is present, then sexual orientation would depend on the "incomplete dominance" gene mentioned above.

If there were multiple genes (well, there are), and all the inheritance patterns above are expressed at least once within this "set" of multiple genes, then this could easily account for the spectrum of human sexuality from straight to bi to gay. It could explain why some people who're bisexual associate more with being straight or gay, or how some people are attracted to women at one point in their lives and men later. The complexity stacks upon itself to yield a spectrum of results.

So far, this is a completely biological model that ignores environment, and yet it "can" explain everything. But how might environment play a role? How does the environment affect genetics? Through something called epigenetics.

In the end, just having the gene "for" something isn't enough. It must be expressed, or in other words, the gene must be turned on. Our genes turn on/off in response to environmental cues. The "environment" is a very broad term and can refer to: the air, the water, the food we eat, the uterine environment of the fetus, social and cultural factors, the people we meet, etc.

To put a more accurate twist or spin on the strictly biological model above, each of the genes affect one's tendency to be straight/bi/gay. Whether or not people actually become straight/bi/gay might depend on various environmental factors. Here things get tricky. It can be assumed that for most people, the genes are aligned such that the tendency to be heterosexual is overwhelming and the tendency to be homosexual is minimal. That is to say, that the tendency to be heterosexual is so great that it's nearly impossible for the environment to turn that person gay. The opposite may very well be true - a person's genetic alignment (genotype) may be so skewd towards being gay that the tendency to be gay is overwhelming, thus any attempts to be straight will almost certainly fail. In this sense, these people are truly "born straight" or "born gay."

But there is a huge gray zone between the extremes of either end. What about people in the "middle?" Their sexuality might depend on the circumstances that "trigger" certain genes to go into high gear. For example (I admit, not the best of examples), a cute boy (or girl) passes along, "flips" on this gene or that, and gets the ball rolling towards one direction or the other (or it may just stay put).

The "epigenome" is thought of as a genetic landscape of hills, plains, and valleys. On either extreme end is a deep valley, and it'll take a lot of genetics and environment to move a person out of the extremes. But between the extremes are hills, plains, and smaller valleys. Where a person is along this genetic landscape determines his/her sexual orientation. The environment merely moves that person along until the he/she settles in a valley.

If you have reached this point then totally pat yourself on the back, you've reached the end. I hope you can see just how complex the genetics of human sexuality can get, as well as how both genetics and environment probably play a role. And again, despite all this, this post is BARELY scratching the surface of how complex it actually might be, as it's just a model to demonstrate that it's not easy.

Please comment, ask questions, etc. ^_^ I'm always happy to discuss biology and particularly genetics, which I've sort of "specialized" in towards the end of undergrad and in my one year of grad school.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The "Gay Gene" Part II

This is Part II on the discussion of the genetics of sexuality. Part I is here.

Medical and psychological research literature have underwent major shifts in regards to homosexuality (and bisexuality). Once it was deemed as a psychiatric illness to be "fixed," and gays "converted" into straights. This thought prevailed until somewhat recently (in the US).

A recent NY Times article questioned the classical Masters & Johnson "gay conversions." It questioned the science and reality behind the studies, suggesting that the conversions may have been faked. These conversions may have been "at best composite case studies made into a single ideal narrative, and at worst they were fabricated."

Yet despite this and a shift away from homosexuality being a psychological "problem," some psychological therapists still attempt to "help" homosexuals and bisexuals become heterosexual. In this article, Gay 'cure' still sought by some therapists, it was found that 1/6 of UK therapists have attempted to "help" gay people become straight. It certainly doesn't help that another recent article, Some Gays Can Go Straight, Study Says, only seems to reinforce the notion that, if a gay really wants to try to become straight, it may be possible. I have not read the primary literature of the study, I do not know the design or the biases, and I'm certainly not versed in psychological or psychiatric research, thus I cannot personally comment on how valid the study may be. However, this is not the focus of this post - it is not my purpose to prove or disprove a study. I shall merely mention them as food for thought.

Down to the biology of it all. What does the literature say? What has the body of scientific knowledge determined about the "biology" of homosexuality? One thing is for certain: there is no single "gay gene." In fact, there are almost certainly many genes that influence sexuality. Furthermore, are there environmental factors that influence sexuality? Research hints that there might be. First things first.

Genetics and Sexual Orientation
Article 1: Genetics has a role in determining sexual orientation in men, further evidence
In my last post, I posited the simplification that a single gene governs a single trait. Science now knows this to be false for most (if not almost all) genes. A single gene may affect several traits, and a single trait may be affected by several genes. Scientists have looked for correlations to see what physical traits appear to be more common in gay men compared to straight men. What have they found?

Left-handedness tended to be more common in gay men (39% higher, as quoted here, thus about 14% of gays are left-handed compared to 10-11% of the general population). Notably, left-handers and gay men tended to have a larger corpus callosum. The corpus callosum connects the two hemispheres of the brain, allowing greater communication between the two halves of the brain. Each half controls the opposite half of the body (e.g. left hemisphere of the brain controls the right side of the body) and "specializes" in different kinds of thinking (e.g. language is in the left, music is in the right).

What does this suggest? Possibly that whatever genes affect sexuality also affect the brain and handedness preferences. Of course, it makes sense that genes affecting sexuality primarily act on the brain. But this is hardly fool-proof, as not all homosexuals (most aren't, in fact) left-handed, nor do all homosexuals have a larger corpus callosum. The genetics is incomplete here.

Genetic Regions Identified
Article 2: Genetics regions influencing male sexual orientation identified
A study by Mustanski has identified stretches of DNA on 3 chromosomes - 7, 8, and 10 - that may play a role in affecting sexuality. Quick note: in every cell in our body (excluding the germ cells - aka sperm and egg) we have 23 pairs of chromosomes. 22 pairs of chromosomes are somatic (non-sex chromosomes) and the 23rd pair is the XX or XY chromosome pair. This study has found that these 3 stretches of DNA on chromosomes 7, 8, and 10 were shared in about 60% of gay brothers in the study, compared to the expected 50% by random chance (assuming no genetic linkage).

This suggests that there is indeed something genetic to sexuality. Specific genes have not yet been identified within these 3 regions, as that's actually pretty difficult to do still. However, some words of caution: 60% is not that much greater than 50%. Thus the genetic effect observed here is still somewhat weak and alone cannot explain the whole story. Additionally, it also means that these genetic regions are not shared among gay brothers 40% of the time. What's going on here?

Genetics and Environment
Article 3: Genetics, environment shapes sexual behavior
This article suggests that both genetics and environment play a role in determining sexual orientation. In the study mentioned, about 3800 same-gender twin pairs were studied in Sweden.

The study found that genetics accounted for 35% of male homosexuality while non-shared environment accounted for the remaining 64% (I don't know what happened to that last 1%). Interestingly, genetics only accounted for 18% of female homosexuality while non-shared environment accounted for 64% and shared family environment accounted for 16%.

The study is, like any study, not without flaws and limitations. But it's certainly worth noting how genetics could account for so little of sexuality (still a significant portion, but certainly not all). How does one proceed in formulating a model of genetics and sexuality from here? Furthermore, the study population was pretty narrow (genetically speaking - all from Sweden), could this study be replicated in several other populations?

Article 4: Researchers revisit male bisexuality
For the vast majority of the articles above, bisexuality had been completely ignored. Only the dichotomous heterosexuality/homosexuality were more or less assessed. Part of the problem is certainly finding and identifying bisexual individuals.

This article brings back into the foreground the 6-point Kinsey scale, allowing a spectrum from "completely straight" to "completely gay." But how would a spectrum of sexuality like this fit into the results from the articles above, much less a genetic model?

So many unanswered questions. Clearly sexuality is determined by multiple genes. But what is the effect of each individual gene? How strongly do they contribute? And if genetics seemingly contributes so little (at 35% for men), then are people really "born gay?" Is there a way to modify the environmental factors, either willingly or not? Does the greater impact of environment mean that one can, in a sense, "choose" to be gay? I'm still going to say "no" to that last question.

And then there's Part III, where I attempt to present a somewhat plausible genetic model that accounts for environment . . .

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The "Gay Gene" Part I

I had an interesting conversation with Bob (and briefly with AJ) the other night. Currently biomedical science does not support the hypothesis of a single "gay gene." But suppose a single gene were discovered that overwhelmingly determines sexuality, what would the ramifications be? Would it be a boon or a blow to the LGBTQ community?

In this installment, I will make the argument that the discovery of a single gay gene would be one of the greatest blow to the LGBTQ community, judging by the direction medical genetics is headed. In Part II, I'll briefly summarize the current literature on the genetics of sexuality. And in Part III, I'll posit a possible genetic model of sexuality. Hang on and read slowly, otherwise things might just fly right past over your heads.

First, a review of Mendelian genetics. We have genes that control particular traits. Each person has 2 versions of any given gene (called alleles), one inherited from each parent. Alleles may be dominant or recessive, with the dominant allele of a gene "masking" the recessive allele. In regards to sexuality, let's say heterosexuality is "dominant" and homosexuality is "recessive." If a person has one "hetero" allele and one "homo" allele, that person will be heterosexual. The only way that person can be homosexual is if he/she inherits two "homo" alleles.

Now let's expand upon this model (and ignore bisexuals for the moment - there is a way to make bisexuality "fit" in this model, but the genetics of that is beyond the scope of this post). Let's say a single gene is discovered that overwhelmingly affects sexuality. With this discovery, sexuality is overwhelmingly determined to be "nature" and not "nurture" (a faulty dichotomy to begin with, but we'll ignore that). We can rejoice in knowing that individuals are born straight or gay and have little/no choice in the matter.

Initially this may be cause for celebration, but it won't be for long. If the gene has been discovered then it can be detected. If it's detectable, then it can be found and individuals screened for the "gay allele" of this gene. There is a technology available now, today, called PGD (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis) that allows scientists to screen embryos for particular alleles of certain genes. Through PGD, embryos can be screened so only the desirable embryos are implanted into the womb. If the "gay allele" is undesirable, embryos with that allele can be screened out so no homosexual individuals are born.

Alternatively, genetics is advancing at such a pace that gene therapy may become feasible in the near-ish future. If, through this discovery, homosexuality is viewed as a "diseases state," then research money will flow into the development of a "cure" to "fix" homosexuals and make them straight. Imagine taking a pill or getting a shot and changing your sexual orientation. If this outcome becomes a possibility, then the individual's consent might not even be necessary for these "cures" to be dispensed. If given to a minor before the age of medical consent, parents could force their "gay-to-be" children to take the pill or shot and "make" them straight.

Think for a moment: if you knew that your offspring could be gay, would you want him/her to go through the teasing, ridicule, and whatever emotional baggage comes with being gay because of societal and cultural norms? For most parents the answer is probably no - they would prevent such a future for their child if they could. And if a child is already born, well, a "cure" is on the way. Before you decry the above as science fiction, or say that even if it's a reality it will never happen, it's already too late. Similar cases have already begun. The prime example is deafness.

Deaf parents (the capital "D" is important) often wish to have deaf children so that their children may grow up as a part of the Deaf community. The Deaf community does not view deafness as a disability or a handicap; deafness is merely a normal variation within humans, and deaf individuals have their own culture. Deaf parents might utilize PGD to screen for embryos that may become deaf children, and thus screen out the "normal" children. In contrast, hearing parents view deafness as a disability/handicap. They will go to lengths to ensure their children are as "normal" as possible. This may include PGD, but more often than not they utilize cochlear implants to help their children hear. Deaf parents tend to find cochlear implants an abomination - a means to quash Deaf culture and suppress a minority.

How many parallels do you see between the LGBTQ community and the Deaf community in these regards? Because of this I find the prospect of discovering a single "gay gene" to be a very scary one. It only requires a tiny push from well-meaning genetics to tip into the dark history of eugenics. And I haven't even touched on the issue of health insurance and life insurance yet. Thank God that human behavior is too complex to be controlled by "merely" a single gene.

I've begun talking to a new blogger, AJ (yes, a "second" AJ), and have just caught up on his blog: coming out (on the net). Great kid, do go over to his blog, say hi, and make him feel welcomed.

Hey AJ, I apologize that I stuck this blurb at the end of a rather intense post. I just wanted to give you a shout out before I forget.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Time Limit's Almost Up

Okay, time limit's almost up.

Every time I come home, I seem to want to be home for a shorter and shorter duration. I mean, seriously, I've only been home since Tuesday and already I want to leave! Parental nagging gets more and more annoying. I would fire off my mouth like my youngest brother, but that would not lead to (good) results. No, best to let the wave hit and pass than fight the wave and be consumed by an even greater fury.

I must say, I am amused that my parents are nagging me about going to China for the month of June. As if I didn't know the proper etiquette and culture (which I DO know most of the "rules"). Seriously, I think perhaps my parents have issues letting go and recognizing that my brothers and I have/are grown up.

And my other brother is taking the MCAT and applying to med schools this summer. And so that round of all too familiar nagging begins - this time towards him and not me. It's interesting watching the exchange, the whole "good cop bad cop" routine. "You should do this!" says dad. "Well, we're not actually asking for that. Do only half that," says mom (and even half whatever is still an undertaking). And the bouncing of dialogue between one another, ganging up - I HATE that. Ugh.

Then they drag me in. "Why don't you help your brother? You've already gone through the process, you know what to do and what not to do. Tell him!" Why, I would love to tell him. But first he must ask me what he wants to know and also be receptive to hearing what I have to say. I also want him to try to wade through things a bit on his own so I'm not guiding his hand through the damned med school application process. It didn't exactly go peachy perfect for me when I went through that process . . .

Okay, enough ranting. Anyway, moral of all this ranting is: home is good for a short duration. But the time limit's almost up and soon I might go insane. Just a couple more weeks until China . . . speaking of which, I should REALLY get to planning what I'm going to do once I land (if for no other reason than to appease my parents and get them off my backs - but they have a good point, they usually do, it's just executed poorly).

A pretty new and still shiny blog! Check out Jeremy at Falling Through the Void. Great guy, great to chat with, even if he's a little shy on asking questions.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Summer Starts Now

Summer starts now.

I'm home now for the summer. Not working this summer; I usually work in a lab for most of the summer, but not this year. I'm taking this summer right before med school easy. I still need to find an apartment and roommate for this next academic year in med school . . . but I think I'll wait until the orientation stuff is available online. Supposedly they'll have a means to contact other incoming med students as well as housing info.

My parents bought me tickets to China!! I'll be leaving May 31st and coming back June 27th. The tickets were "free" due to my dad's frequent flyer miles (I only have about half as many miles as he does, so I could've bought a "free" ticket one-way to China). I'll most likely be staying with a great-uncle and his side of the family while I'm there in Beijing. I don't know them at all, so this'll be interesting. Additionally, JW-M and RZ-F will both be in Beijing during my time there.

I plan to spend a few days with JW-M and a week or so with RZ-F. That leaves about 2 weeks for me to bond (or whatnot) with my family there. I'm so excited! And yet, apprehensive. Same reasons as last time I went - what if my Chinese isn't good enough? This time I'll have to really step up my game, as last time I went with a group of people from school and we had each other's backs. Plus, my Chinese last time was mostly limited to "translation duty," which is easier than maintaining a full conversation in Chinese at length. Also, this time I'll have to find and coordinate correspondences with my roommate-to-be in the fall at med school (so having the internet is a necessity - but this shouldn't be difficult to obtain).

Anyway, other than that, I've no solid idea of what I'll be doing in China. Any suggestions/ideas? I am, however, somewhat bound by who I'm with at any moment.

In other news, my last final grade has been released to my transcript. Stupid biostatistics course - I took your final 2 weeks ago and you JUST post the grades?! Sigh. Whatever, I got an A! This means I got straight A's this last semester in grad school. W00t! Totally 8.000'd that GPA (I think it's out of 9.000 . . . not sure). Pwn. :D

Alas, I somehow managed to gain 15 lbs in the last 3 weeks. Fuck. Time to start running, and eating not. Fail. :(

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Things You Might Miss

We move ever quicker through life; the older we get, the quicker time seems to flow. If we were to slow down, would we know what to do with ourselves? What have you missed and passed by through life? Did you even notice?

The things you might miss, what will you see when you look:
Across the street?


To the Left?

To the Right?

Around the corner?


On your way to work?

In a corner?

On a fire hydrant?

Upon leaving the library?

After getting a quick drink and bite?


Yes, I'm glad I slowed down enough to see the hidden things before my eyes. I will miss this city. Chances are the next time I walk its streets, these scenes will be erased or replaced by others. All the more reason to value these snapshots in time.