Saturday, September 11, 2010

Shopping Rant

About a year ago, we purchased a compact, portable booster seat to use at the grandparents house or when we travel other places. It was a generic kind of seat, it was made by a recognizable but smaller brand but it had all the features we were looking for. We paid about $15 for it.

Fast forward to yesterday. Brian and I decided that we wanted to put away the highchair and get a booster chair for the house. Since the other one worked so well and had really held up to the abuse I went back to ToysRUs to buy another one. I was browsing the selection and found the exact same seat, no changes or upgrades of any kind, but with a Fisher Price label slapped on it and the price tag was jacked up to $25.

It totally sucks that Fisher Price thinks that their name means so much that they can buy someone's product, make no changes except putting their tag on it, and price it for 66% more.

Friday, September 3, 2010

I took the time to read the recent New Yorker article on the head of the NIH, Dr. Francis Collins. It was very interesting to learn of his unusual upbringing and his progression from, as he puts it, a fundamentalist atheist to a devotee of the Christian faith. The path started with an encounter with an dying patient who asked what he believed in. He felt uncomfortable that he did not have an answer and decided to research to "affirm his atheism." Part of this quest involved a discussion over a golf game with the pastor of the church is wife attended which ended with Collins writing on the score card -

"When God knocks on my door, in a way that I—not my wife or pastor, but I—know that it’s God who’s knocking on my door, I will then accept Jesus Christ."

He then gave it to the pastor and who signed it and the contract was sealed.

After the passage of several months and a hike in the Cascades in which

"...he turned a corner and saw a frozen waterfall, perfectly formed into three separate parts. He took it as a revelation of Trinitarian truth, the sign that he’d contracted for on Sam McMillan’s golf card. The next morning, he vowed to devote his life to the Christian faith."

This seems rather coincidental that he spoke to a Protestant minister and saw what he perceived as sign of the Christian triumvirate. Would he have seen a crescent moon and star if the contract had been with an imam or a star of David if the contract had been with a Rabi? Those would certainly be more spectacular to see a waterfall frozen in the shape of but that probably would have been written off as being created by man and rightly so. Could the symbol of three be the Triple Goddess (Maiden, Mother and Crone) of the Wiccan religion or the Hindu triumvirate of Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu? It is only because of his upbringing and immersion in American society which follows, predominantly, the Abrahamic traditions that he can makes the assumption that the beautiful display of nature is a sign of the Christian God.

The paragraph above is really just an aside, I am more amazed frustrated concerned dismayed that an individual who is so well educated in the scientific method can jump to such a wild conclusion with regards to an easily observable, testable and repeatable natural phenomenon. He seems to think that an appropriate response to a spectacular and seemingly miraculous occurrence, such as water freezing, is to attribute it to a supernatural cause (a la 'God did it') rather than taking the time to research (or even think about for a few minutes) the possible natural ways it could have occurred.

I recognize and applaud all the positive steps he has made in improving the standing of science in the US most importantly his work towards repealing the ban on stem cell research. I continue to give him the benefit of the doubt because he has shown himself a staunch defender of the scientific method in all public domains within his control and of the research that has received funding from the NIH that has drawn criticism because of the oddity of the explanation of the research and the fact that lay people do not understanding its value. But I can help but have the smallest amount of apprehension that the unscientific conclusion jumping will rear it head again but in a way that will effects others and not just what Dr. Collins does with his Sunday mornings.

Read more about Francis Collins in the article in the New Yorker.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Todays disapointment

Since I was old enough I have given blood and/or platelets with the red cross or other blood services. Some time in my early 20s I had to stop donating whole blood because it totally wiped me out and I took ages to get all my red cells back. After that I started donating platelets as often as 2 times a month. I viewed it was a way to give of myself that would not only help others but could save someone life.

When I got pregnant with my son I had to stop donating platelets. It has been over three years since my last donation and I have been preparing myself to start again as my son has been slowly weaning himself. A new hurdle to jump, for anyone who has been pregnant, is an HLA antibody test. They instituted this test because the Red Cross found that there were more transfusion reactions with blood from donors who were HLA positive.

So on Monday I went into the donation center and had them draw a vial of blood for the test. Today I called for the results and, unfortunately, I am positive for the HLA antibody and can no longer donate platelets. I am unable to express how hugely disappointed I am.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Might Does Not Make Right

I was happy to hear that Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that voter approved Proposition 8 was unconstitutional and that it

"fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples"

Although nothing will actually change in California based on this ruling, the judge has also granted a stay until appeals can be completed, this is just another step in removing another form of institutionalized discrimination from our country.

The comments that I see repeatedly from the supporters of Prop 8 have to do with the judge (who stands as a symbol of the elite who are out of touch with the common man) ignoring the voice of the citizens. They seem to think that if they get enough votes then they can ignore the constitution. They want to pretend that "majority rules" is a covenant of our republic. They conveniently ignore the fact that convincing a majority of registered voters to cast a particular vote on a particular issue has nothing to do with the legality or constitutionality of that issue. The Constitution and its amendments are designed to protect the rights of the citizenry from the whims of the majority.

Throughout history of the United States, the voting majority of each time has sought to propagate discrimination on many fronts including denying women and blacks the right to vote and prohibiting the marriage of interracial couples. In turn, each of these were revealed to have no rational basis and that continued support of those ideas were based solely on animus. The same applies to the continued prohibition of same-sex marriages. At its most basic a marriage is a legal contract between two consenting adults. There is no rational or reasonable excuse that two men or two women should not be able to enter in to this contract and receive all the federal, state and local benefits afforded to a male and female entering into the exact same contract.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Shopping Frustration

This past weekend I spent some time looking at clothes and shoes for my 2 year old son. I encountered the same three problems at each store.

1. The toddler boys section is about a quarter the size of the toddler girl section.

2. The sales in the girls section were significantly better than in the boys section (Huge clearance section with 80-90% off in the girls section and the most off in the boys section was 50%).

3. There are very few shirts and shoes that don't have some kind of print or logo. Everything from the cutesy 'little slugger' type things to huge brand logos and TV characters to ridiculous plaids and strips.

I would like some nice quality solid color shirts, tennis shoes without mass marketed characters on them and some cute summer waterproof sandals but I guess that is just too much to ask for.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

"Never-Out" my a**

About 3 years ago, Brian and I purchased a pre-lit artificial Christmas tree. We decided on getting an artificial tree because we decided that we did not want to continue killing a tree every year to celebrate this holiday. The choice of a pre-lit tree was done for convenience. However, even with our extensive research to ensure that we got the best tree that we could (75-A Martha Stewart), it has turned out to be anything but convenient.

The first year we had the tree it worked beautifully until the a couple of days after Christmas when a single strand of lights on the very bottom when out. Since it was after Christmas and we were about to take it down we decided to deal with the lights when we put it up next year. It was not put up last year because of space constraints but when we put it up this year we discovered that nearly the entire bottom section was out along with a small portion of the middle section. For several days we made multiple attempts to repair the sections that were not lit. We even bought a Light Keeper Pro which helped us to repair several other stands of lights but would/could not fix any of those on the tree.

Eventually we started going bulb by bulb to find the problem. What we discovered was that in each section of lights that were about 99 lights that could be replace and a single bulb that could not. In ever strand that was out this 'keystone' bulb was blown and there was nothing that could be done to revive that strand. This type of planned obsolesence really pisses me off. So finally out of desperation I purchased several new strands of lights and strung them on the unlit portions of the tree and commenced with decorating. Over the 2 weeks leading to Christmas the the remaining strands on the bottom and middle sections failed and the day after Christmas the entire top section when out.

So utterly frustrated, today I proceeded to removed 600 lights the three sections of our tree. This task took the better part of 5 hours to complete and made the tips of my fingers raw from removing the clips that held each one of those 600 lights to the branches. We purchased some LED lights to string on it next year and hopefully we will have better luck with these.

My advice to anyone thinking about purchasing a pre-lit tree is...DON'T. Find a nice looking artificial tree, several good quality strings of lights and clips to hold the lights to the branches and hang the lights on each section independently so that you can pack it away with the lights on. So the first year you will have to do a little more work but hopefully the lights you put on will hold up better and you will have your pre-lit tree for many year hence.