Monday, December 29, 2008

In Which I Am Greatly Relieved

I was about to write an angst-filled post about My !@#$ Collaborator, Dammit, I'm Due In 12 Fricking Weeks. However! He has just sent me fifty bazillion gigabytes of files to analyze. Praise the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I will now be staring at boring videos of cells until cross-eyed.

My brain feels a little fried. It's been a couple months since I looked at, much less thought about, my paper/ results/ figures. Plus, I'm real pregnant and therefore a little fuzzy-brained and tired all the time. Maybe... I'll give it a go tomorrow. With lots of coffee. And maybe getting up earlier. And maybe without eight hours of travel the day before.

My new job starts in seven days; I guess my last week of freedom will be spent staring at a computer screen instead of sewing diaper covers. Can I defend before I deliver? Stay tuned!

(Also: the baby seems to be trying to get out. It does this every morning. It's aliiiive!!)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Yearly Departure For The Homeland

Tomorrow morning, we are off to the Scientist Parental Homeland. We will come bearing cheese, sausage, and representations of Surprisingly Popular Ugly State Mascot. I will attempt to not starve to death among the carnivores. With luck, I will not try to escape to my aunt's house before Christmas.

With equal luck, I will get some sleep. Although I am reliably informed that one's baby cannot kick too much, I begin to wonder.

May all of your holidays be filled with the tasty food items of your choice, and may all your relatives (including the by-marriage ones of whom one is tempted to say, "Well, she's no relation of mine!!") be pleasant company.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Reminds Me Of... Aliens

Who do these remind me of again?

Oh, right.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ask A Scientist: Genetic Testing For Rare Diseases

A (Jewish, Ashkenazi) friend recently asked, 'Should I have genetic testing for the Ashkenazi-Jew genetic syndromes?'

My advice to people, from a strictly practical level, is to consider the cost vs. the likelihood. If desired, one's personal making-me-crazy level may be added in.

Things like Tay-Sachs, while scary, tragic, and fatal, were actually quite rare even before genetic testing: 100 new cases per year in the entire country. The carrier rate is 1/27 for people of exclusively Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish heritage; if two such people reproduce, there is a 1/1000 chance their child would have Tay-Sachs. (Laurie points out in the comments that two known carriers have a 25% chance, of course.)

The other recessive "Jewish" diseases occur even less frequently. The carrier rate for Canavan, for example, is somewhere near 1/100, so two Ashkenazi Jews have about a 1/10,000 risk for a child with Canavan.

In my particular case: my father is not Ashkenazi. Therefore my basal rate for Tay-Sachs carrier-ness is half: 1/54. The carrier rate in the general population is 1/200. My husband is also not Ashkenazi. Between the two of us, it's about 1/11,000. For contrast, in the general population, it would be 1/40,000.

In 1970, there were about 3.8 million births (and 100 cases) That's 1 Tay-Sachs case for 50,000 births. And? Nobody tests the general population for Tay-Sachs.

If 1/10,000 is an unacceptable risk to you- the testing is a good idea. In addition, many of the "Jewish" diseases are fatal, and most parents choose to terminate.

If one's risks of genetic diseases are elevated- family history, prior history in pregnancies, etc.- it might be a better idea to test. As there are a lot of things that can go wrong with genetics, however, there are many diseases for which there exists no test.

But bear in mind that all risk is relative. There are 21 yearly vehicle-accident fatalities per 100,000 drivers in this country. That's a 1/4700 yearly chance of dying in a car wreck.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Friday Photos (a little early): The Boring Life of a Housewife

[Dear readers: please tell me what I want for Christmas. From my sweet husband. Sparkly things? A new teapot? Help.]

We went to my parents' house for Thanksgiving. I bring back photographic evidence of how spoiled the dog is:
Spoiled rotten, but very, very happy.

Upon returning to Cold Utopia, we resolved that, because my ever-expanding waistline, here at 24w:
makes it increasingly difficult to put on my beautiful, waterproof, insulated Red Wings,

I have replaced them:
with this gorgeous pair of boots.

Likewise, pursuant to the fact that it will continue to look like this:
out my window until May or further notice, whichever comes first,

I have felted and recycled a sweater into this stylish yet warm hat:

and invested in yet another kind of foot gear.
My shoes may not be as sparkly as Dr. Isis's Naughty Monkeys, but Naughty Monkeys don't come in wide sizes.

On a totally unrelated note, as I am shortly to be employed, I have been furiously sewing baby gear:
such as this very frou-frou changing pad. (Vinyl laminates if you iron it on a very hot setting!).

On an equally unrelated note, these horrible nasty buggy things:
are infesting my citrus tree and I must kill them all dead. What on earth ARE THEY??? (Updated: They are citrus mealybugs. DIE DIE DIE.)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Creepiest Pillow Ever

If Iwoke up next to this:

I would scream my head off.

Sunday, December 07, 2008


My mother: 'All babies kick about the same amount within a fairly narrow window. The mother's tolerance, on the other hand...'
Me: 'Four more months?!?!'

I went to my first big hockey game: over 10,000 attendees. College hockey. Why yes, we do live near a big state school! It's an experience. Particularly the 3000-student section dancing in unison. And the guy with the school-mascot-holding-hockey stick hat. Despite playing a team from Even Colder U, Sausage U won by an embarrassingly large margin.

We have purchased... snowshoes! Seeing as it snows practically every day here (no, really), and I needed exercise. Also, ow. I didn't even know I had a muscle there.

Mysteries of the universe: why do stores never carry a) decent maternity clothes or b) shoes in an 8.5 wide???

Thinking about the Work I Must Do To Graduate makes me really, really depressed. Snooty U, I hate you and I never want to go back. Sigh.

Friday, December 05, 2008


Favorite sign at local hardware store: 'Aisle 44: Part Organizers, Beef Jerky, Batteries.'

Picked up a Medela Pump In Style at a garage sale, with carrier bag and collection kit and freezer box (can't find a picture, looks like a giant ice cube tray) for a total of... $15. 'You're joking,' I said. 'And it works?' (Yes, apparently.)

My collaborator is finally collecting my !@#$! data. Thank goodness. Perhaps I will graduate one day. Please.

This baby? Kicks A LOT.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

In Which I Am (Like Every Parent Ever) Conflicted

Let me state, to begin, that I know when I'm doing well. I'm grateful. I have a wonderful spouse who is a good partner for me, a job in one of the few industries to remain healthy in this economy, an easy and uneventful pregnancy, a decent one-worker income, and no debt. And health insurance.

However. What I really wanted was a part-time job.

Like most working mothers (pdf) I'd love to be home with my baby- some of the time. I want to use my intelligence and education, and preferably be paid for it, since in a capitalist economy money is synonymous with valuation and, to some extent, with respect. But I also want to be there for my children. And, while I know some people who are perfectly happy staying home with their nonverbal children, I think I, personally, would climb the walls.

So... I'll work there for a few months, have a baby, take a few months off, work three months part-time while Dr. S watches the baby, and then decide if I want to work full-time or not. Frankly, though, I'm angry that I even have to choose. Part-time. Pay me half, I work half, no benefits to pay out. Why is this so hard for companies to understand???

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

In Which I Am... Employed?

I asked Big Tech for [a large-for-the-area salary]. They offered me [same].

I asked if I get FMLA maternity leave and if I can buy into short-term disability even though I'm pregnant now. Yes and yes.

I asked if I can work part-time. Yes, but only for three months (after my 3 months partly-unpaid FMLA leave).

I took the job.