Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Come Get Me, 2019!!!

   It feels like 2018 aged me about ten years. The national political drama, primarily generated by the stupidest and most repulsive person we could have possibly found to be President of the United States (T.R.U.M.P.), has aged me. The stories about immigrant children from Mexico being separated from their families at the Mexico-U.S. border has aged me. I cannot believe the administrators in MY government would do this to children. People who hurt children on purpose should be sent to prison. There are ways of managing our immigration issues without being so cruel to desperate people. I keep calling the offices for my Senators and Representative. I live in Arkansas, ya'll. This state is RED. 
   I have discovered the "Gaslit Nation with Andrea Chalupa and Sarah Kendzior" podcast (click on link above) and I became a proud Patreon supporter for it!!! 
Image courtesy of Stitcher

   I have been following Sarah Kendzior on Twitter for a while, and I am impressed with her knowledge of authoritarian leadership styles and her ability to clearly articulate her arguments. I get so mad about Trump and his crime family and his cronies I just start grunting and cursing. It is refreshing to hear someone who is highly educated talk eloquently about these important topics. 
   If you think the #MeToo movement has helped curb sexual assault and unwanted sexual advances, guess again. I have no real statistics to offer here, but I have an alarming story from my Ph.D. program at the University of Arkansas. A Master's student, a young boy in his twenties, told me a male professor at the University reached over and grabbed his upper inner thigh area this year while they were alone. The Master's student was mortified and he said to me, "Now I know how girls feel." He said he didn't know whether he should file a sexual harassment report or what. I of course encouraged him to file a report, but I don't know if he will. Graduate students are extremely vulnerable to professors who serve as their mentors. How can you be successful in your graduate program if you commit political suicide by reporting a mentor for sexual harassment? 
   This has been a tough, tough year. I needed a break from my typical day and academic career, so I got a part-time job at a Sephora in JCPenney! I have worked as a sales lady there for about two months, and I absolutely love it. I was a Mary Kay lady more than ten years ago, so I had some basic training in the cosmetics industry. Sephora has opened my eyes and my pores to a new, HUGE, glittering world of international cosmetics. I cannot express how much fun it has been trying out so many new make-up brands and skin-care products. 
The Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum and Framboos Glycolic Night Serum. 
Image courtesy of Sephora.

   My current favorite skin-care line is Drunk Elephant. I cannot live without their C-Firma Day Serum and their Framboos Glycolic Night Serum. They are both acidic serums and help remove the outer dead layers of your skin. I am convinced that microdermabrasion creams are for Neanderthals, and serums like the ones I just mentioned are the best ways to resurface your outer skin. The first time I used the C-Firma Day Serum, I didn't like how oily my skin felt. After it soaked in for a few minutes, my face felt GOOD. So good, in fact, I use it every day and I have recommended it to all my family and friends. 
   I hope to keep my job at Sephora in JCPenney after the holidays. I am a temporary worker right now, but I really do love working there. I will blog more about my favorite products later. 
   So, maybe I will get to graduate from my Ph.D. program in 2019. My program has been filled with YEARS of drama and closeted homosexuals and greed and lies and many things that are not academic in the deep South, and I'm sick of it. Maybe American academia is as corrupt and convoluted as the U.S. health care system. I don't see why I should cover for it. I am part of the institution, and I have zero tolerance for sexual misconduct in the system, particularly when it comes to students. Maybe that's why the young Master's student told me what happened to him. 
   I'm not very popular in my Ph.D. program at the University of Arkansas, and I am okay with that. 

Current mood.
 Image of The Expanse's Captain Camina Drummer (actress Cara Gee) courtesy of the SyFy channel.

   COME GET ME, 2019!!!!

Saturday, September 22, 2018

I Made The Pilgrimage To SpaceX Headquarters

The Falcon 9 B1019 rocket booster made history when it launched, deployed eleven satellites, and then made a successful vertical landing in                    Cape Canaveral, Florida, on December 22, 2015. 

   No self-respecting space fan would miss the opportunity to take a picture next to the Falcon 9 rocket on display at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California. Last year (August 2017), I was flying back to LAX from a horticulture meeting in Hawaii. I had a three-hour layover, and I asked the friendly space community in the Facebook SpaceX group if they thought I should leave the airport to go see this rocket late at night. DO IT was the overwhelming response. 
   So here I am, with my wilted Hawaiian lei and favorite Lava Lava Beach Club t-shirt, standing in front of the WORLD'S FIRST ORBITAL-CLASS ROCKET BOOSTER that SUCCESSFULLY LAUNCHED and then SUCCESSFULLY LANDED - VERTICALLY - at Landing Zone 1 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Watch this incredible video of the SpaceX employees cheering when they realize what happened:


   In more recent news, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has agreed to buy seats for himself as well as six to eight artists of his choosing for the first commercial flight around the moon. The Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) planned to make such a journey is still in development. In a public news conference on September 17, 2018, Elon Musk said he estimated the total cost of the rocket development for the moon trip will be around five billion dollars. Maezawa's total cost for the trip was not disclosed. 
Twitter post courtesy of Elon Musk. 

   Just for fun, I took a poll in all of the college classes I teach at Arkansas Tech University. 65 students responded to the survey. I do not have many art majors in my human anatomy classes, but I asked all of my students if they would fly with Maezawa on SpaceX's rocket if they were invited. The majority of them said "Yes!" 

                   Moon survey results from 65 undergraduate students at                        Arkansas Tech University. 


Sunday, September 9, 2018

Favorite Quotes #21 and #22

"I consider 'young' when you're still able to talk, walk, and drink."

On the idea of getting married: "That to me...was death."

                                                  -the unstoppable Liz Cantin

Image courtesy of GQ-India

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Meghan McCain's Eulogy For Her Father

   Meghan McCain's eulogy at her father's service was beautiful. "Love defined my father," she said. 
   Every American flag I saw in Arkansas today (September 1, 2018) was still flying at half-mast. 

The American flag on the famous Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs, Arkansas, flies at half-mast in honor of the late Senator John McCain.  

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

"What if Pixar did Alien?" by Monica Ion

Ripley and her cat Jonesy by Monica Ion

   I follow London-based artist Monica Ion on Twitter, and I am frequently impressed with her work. Her renditions of Ripley (above) from the 1979 movie "Alien" have been printed and then sold out on Etsy within hours. These are only two of Monica's images in a series called "What if Pixar did Alien?" I think they are fabulous!

Monday, May 28, 2018

10 Basic Science Lessons

   I get to work with about 80 high school students this summer. That might sound like a nightmare to some people, but I really like young people. I am teaching a science class I created called "Sciencepalooza." I didn't actually come up with that name, but I do develop the course curriculum each summer.

   In the college classes I teach, there are a few basic lessons I always cover for my students during the normal academic year, and I teach many of these same things to my high school students. I wanted to post some of these topics on here, just in case this helps anyone plan a class, or maybe this will start a conversation about what the most important science-related topics are that we should be teaching to our young people.

   Science literacy appears to be at great risk in the United States. Why don't we have more scientists in our highest government offices? We desperately need people in high power positions to support scientific education and research. 

   Here are some basic science topics I hope my students can learn to help stave off the encroaching ignorance:

1. The Scientific Method. I usually go through the steps of the Scientific Method, and then give a super-simple example of how we all actually use the Scientific Method in every-day life. 

2. Famous Scientist Quiz. I just type up a list of twenty or so famous scientists in a matching-style quiz with their major contributions. Of course there are MANY scientists you could put on a quiz like this. Benjamin Franklin is always on my list. So is Carl Sagan, Charles Darwin, Nikola Tesla, Kary Mullis, Albert Einstein, Galileo Galilei, Alexander Fleming, and Wernher von Braun. 

3. Hypothesis v/s Theory. People mess these up all the time. A hypothesis does not have much (or any) evidence to support it yet. A theory has a LOT of evidence to support it, and it is generally accepted as THE TRUTH by the scientific community...at least until someone provides highly convincing evidence that we were wrong. When people say,  "I have a theory...", what they should really say is, "I have a hypothesis." 

4. Bacteria v/s Viruses. This is a big deal. When people get sick, it is usually caused by a virus. (The common cold and the flu are caused by viruses.) Bacterial infections, such as a sinus infection, are usually localized and don't cause symptoms that affect your entire body the way a virus does. (Unless the bacteria have spread throughout the body, which is not good.) Key point here: antibiotics will NEVER work on a virus. If you are sick and it is due to a virus, there's not much a doctor can do for you. Also, some viruses actually stay in our bodies FOR LIFE. An example is the chicken pox virus, which can go dormant for many years in our bodies, and then it can re-erupt later as the painful shingles. This is also a good time to talk about vaccines and how there is NOT a single solid study that indicates there is a link between vaccines and autism. 

5. Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs). I have a really graphic PowerPoint with pictures of STD infections that I show my high school students. I talk about the STDs that are caused by bacteria and the ones that are caused by viruses. The viral-based STDs are generally the ones you get stuck with for life. We don't know how to get rid of viruses if you catch one, but we should have an antibiotic that could help you get rid of a bacterial-based STD. I also usually call my local health department to get statistics on what the current local outbreaks are. It seems to really make an impact on my high school students when I say things like, "Russellville has more cases of gonorrhea than any other STD." 

6. How to do conversions, especially metric v/s English units. The United States continues to cling to the old English system of pounds, feet, miles, etc. Learning how to convert English units into metric units is a very important skill. After all, do you remember when one of our NASA Mars orbiters burned up in the Martian atmosphere because someone did not convert English units to metric units? It was akin to setting $125 million dollars aflame. Students love this story. 

7. How to make a basic graph. I usually give the students a small dataset, some blank paper and colored pencils. I teach them about the independent variable (or test variable), and how to identify the dependent variable. I review what the x and y axes are, and how to label them. Then we usually look at examples of some really poorly made graphs so they can learn to identify a meaningful graph. We also look at pie charts and talk about how all the pieces should equal to 100%.  

8. The most common statistic: The t-test. What is a p value? It may be challenging for the students to grasp this concept in one sitting, but we have to try. I know  professors who struggle with basic statistics. Statistics is a basic and critical tool for scientists. The more you understand statistics, the harder it is for anyone to feed you garbage. 

9. How to look up a peer-reviewed science journal. Google Scholar is my favorite search engine for scientific papers. There are others, but this one is a great place to start. 

10. How to check to see if you've found a predatory journal. Scientists are under intense pressure to publish their work, so of course there are plenty of people around who are looking to take advantage of them. You won't ever need to rely on mainstream media to explain science news to you if you know how to look up peer-reviewed journals. You can learn to interpret the papers yourself, but you need to make sure the papers haven't been published by someone using shady criteria.  Librarian Jeffrey Beall created the best resource I know of to make sure you are not referencing a predatory journal. https://beallslist.weebly.com/