Thursday, October 1, 2009

Happy Belated Blasphemy Day!!

Usually I avoid posting shit that would bother the theists. Today is not an usual day. Nothing is sacred, and everything should be open for questioning. Even here, in a country where there is supposedly both free speech and a separation of church and state, open criticism and questioning of religious institutions can result in exaggerated pious whining, violence, and threats of violence. I lack the creativity to make some cool blaspheming so I'm turning to blasphemous music!

Monday, August 24, 2009

PR Police Fucking Blows

I'm probably making a longer post about this at some time, but although enraging, this is unsurprising behavior by cops towards the students from the state universty's main campus. They even shot students that were telling others to get into the college residence with tear gas. And by shot I don't mean into the air like they are supposed to. I mean to they aimed those things at the students and caused bleeding.
And again, unsurprisingly, the media coverage of the incident is full of air quotes around police brutality and the insinuation that the students deserved getting beaten by batons and thrown tear gas for swearing at the police.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Stupid is as stupid does

I skipped going to the lab on Saturday because I was too hungover. So I went to bed early, got ready to take the 1st bus, walked 10 min to get to the bus stop and 30 min to get from the closest bus stop to the lab.
I wished for another shower as soon as I got to the lab. I don't remember being this sweaty in Ithaca ever - this is something I only associated with PR, not the north-fucking-east. I put on some music and started working. Everything was going fine until I chose the wrong centrifuge tubes. I lost my goddamn samples for being stupid and not running the centrifuge with empty tubes first. GRR. Wasted Sunday due to my stupidity. I would have been comparatively ahead if I just skipped coming to the lab yesterday.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Cuando respiro en tu boca

I'm too hungover to go to lab today. Thankfully my culture pellets are stored @ -20C. I'm doing my Sunday chores today and going to lab tomorrow- so lets start the Sunday cleaning and dancing music!

Me alzo y salto entre tus dedos sabré caer
ojalá que sea cierto que odio tus dedos
me estiro y espero que algo enrosque tu
espalda en flor ojalá que sea cierto que
odio tu espalda cuando respiro en tu boca
y penetra tu ojo en mi ojo cuando respiro
en tu boca me escondes como sangre a la herida

me pongo de pie y perdono al daño que
a mi oído destrozó que sea cierto que
odio el silencio cuando respiro en tu boca
y penetra tu ojo en mi ojo me precipito
hacia el cielo cuando respiro en tu boca
cuando respiro en tu boca de par en par
tu flor tensión y caída cuando respiro en tu boca

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sensing your Clitoris

Let's talk about sensing. You have touch receptors over all your skin. The number of touch receptors in the skin depends on the body part. For example, your fingertips have more of those receptors than your arm. The motor cortex in your brain processes this sensory information from all your body parts. Unsurprisingly, those body parts with more touch receptors are processed in a larger area of the motor cortex.

This can be represented in a sort of body map, called homunculus, in which the size of the body parts is proportional to it's representation in the cortex, and is placed onto the region of the cortex that represents it.

However, although a bunch of body parts have been localized in this "body map" in our cortex, it was still unknown where the clitoral stimuli is processed. Swiss scientists worked to fill that gap of knowledge and studied 15 healthy women to map the somatosensory representation of the clitoris (Michels et al., 2009). The Neurocritic gave a great discussion of this paper. Go visit and take a look at the brain image and where the clitoral stimulus is processed.
Curious about their methods?
Prior to the imaging session, two self-attaching surface disc electrodes (1 × 1 cm) were placed bilaterally next to the clitoris of the subjects so that we were able to stimulate the fibers of the dorsal clitoral nerve. Before the start of the experiment, electrical test stimulation was performed to ensure that subjects could feel the stimulation directly at the clitoris. In addition, the strength of electrical stimulation was adjusted to a subject-specific level, i.e. that stimulation was neither felt [as] painful nor elicited – in case of clitoris stimulation – any sexual arousal.

(It makes me want to make a pin-the-tail type game with a fMRI image of the brain and some body part cartoons.)

Friday, July 24, 2009


OMFG you guys, 2 of the colleagues with serious issues are out! One graduated, and my PI ran out of money to pay for the research associate. Also the crazy visiting professor is MIA. I can work! Uninterrupted by stupid comments! I can drink coffee without people making an issue of it!

A couple of weeks ago I finally solved the project boundaries issue with the senior research associate. I told the PI to please make a list of the projects within the grant project and specify to whom each task belongs to. I also asked to pump up the projects of the sen. res. assoc. and make mine look simple and uninteresting to avoid having him feel cheated/taken advantage of.
The PI gave us both the list and the sen. res. assoc. approved - and actually quite liked- having things set down on paper like that. So my professional relationship with him is good now, and we are collaborating nicely.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Update: Lab Wars

I have a new Twitter account, and due to that and the unfolding lab drama I haven't been posting here as often as I would like. Lab-wise, up to now, I have been able to avoid getting into the petty lab war currently going on.
After the first, open phase of Lab War, I made the point to stay far away from Lab War conversations by anyone involved. My theory that the war started by a failure to communicate properly about a collaborative project still stood, so I don't necessarily think anyone is on the right.
Despite the warnings not to go to the next groupmeeting, given by RA2, I went. I expected him to bash the guys involved, certainly, but I didn't expect him to appropriate basically all the projects in the lab - including my thesis project.
This was a low blow. Up to this point I hadn't had any problem with RA2. Au contraire, he has always been very kind and respectful towards all the women in the lab. So I went out to have a really good lunch, some awesome blueberry vodka with champagne, and some venting time away from all the other people pissed off about the meeting.
Mid twitter venting- by this time I was having a sangria in some other place- my boss emails me to go talk to him. Damn. I calm down as best I can and head back to the lab.
The boss agreed that what RA2 had done over groupmeeting was wrong and over the top, and promised to talk to the guy about it.
Then on Saturday, when I came over to do some benchwork, RA2 showed up to talk to me. He apologized if he had 'hurt my feelings' (my feelings? WTF? That has nothing to do with anything!). I listened for about an hour, trying to make him understand that I just needed to have my part of the project to myself without him going paranoid over people 'stealing his projects' and/or taking advantage of him.
I told him that the umbrella project that has my thesis project, as well as a lot of other projects was not clearly divided by our PI. I told him I wasn't upset at him, just upset there weren't some clear boundaries between the different projects to allow us to work without stepping in each other's toes, and that it was our PI's responsibility to place those boundaries.
The conversation with him made me realize that, regardless of how things have actually happened, RA2 feels that a lot of the projects of the lab work thanks to him and people don't give him enough credit. He also thinks that basically all the projects with my protein - with the exception of the electrophysiology studies- are his. And no matter how you broach the matter, as I later learned from another of the female grads that had also talked to him that day, he would not change his mind.
This meant that somehow I had to get my professor to set boundaries in the project without upsetting RA2. Regardless of people's personalities I have to collaborate with lab members on both sides of the Lab War, and I rather work on good terms with people.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Britni's moved!

Brit's got a spanking new address, so update your bookmarks!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Another smart woman murdered

A student of one of my much-loved chemistry professors was murdered back home. She was chilling out in la calle San Sebastian at Old San Juan when a 15- year old kid from La Perla (a nearby black market slum) opened fire trying to get some dude that was hiding behind her.

La calle San Sebastian is part of the tourist areas, and everybody hangs out over there. I have cousins that live in that street. Usually the bichotes know better than to mess with the tourist areas because that means the cops will be all over their asses. But apparently the bichotes are now recruiting minors as shooters because they get served lighter sentences.
Puerto Rico, like Miami and NYC, is one of the biggest drug ports in the US. However, the resources it has to deal with the drug market are minimal. And every year the violence related to drug traffic gets worse.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Science research extravaganza

I finally had enough time to go through my research rss feed. Here are the links to the posts I find the most interesting and/or important for everyday living. Enjoy!

  • Jonah Lehrer (remember cute guy pic from a recent CEFAD post - him) explains the Endowment Effect - or why I paid a ridiculous amount for a gorgeous ring I bought impulsively after my A exam.
  • The first group of Bonobos is being relocated from the Lola Ya Bonobo sanctuary and into the wild!
  • Dave explains a model of how we perceive maps, directions, and finally - video games.
  • Isis's husband receives a very serious warning over eating the last ice cream sandwich - that's cold, man.
  • Your stomach is a lying bastard. Dave explains a curious study that measured satiety when the control group was served by waiters and the others had a self-refilling bowl.
  • Neuroskeptic has a very thorough post about the marketing of some antipsychotics when they are new, and just about as effective as previous treatments.

Hidden beliefs in science stereotypes predict size of gender gap across 34 countries

Please go read Ed's excellent piece on how biases and the gender gap in the sciences feed off each other.
Among the findings:
So the more a nation believes in the stereotype of the scientific male (even unconsciously), the greater the gap in performance between boys and girls in both science and maths. In fact, these hidden biases were a better predictor of the gender divide than what people actually said about science stereotypes. These explicit opinions accounted for about 2% of the international variation in the science sex gap, while implicit associations accounted for a much larger 19%.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Oh fuck it's on...

War has come to my laboratory, and although the root of the problem is my advisor's lack of boundaries regarding data and research ideas the blame is (of course) being slung about among the original parties of the problem (2 research associates) and the gossipy idiots that egg-on the people involved.

It all began in a groupmeeting. Research assistant 1 (RA1) gave a groupmeeting in which he discussed crystallographic data and some subsequent analysis of it. The problem? That crystal data was gathered by RA2, and the idea for the analysis was his as well. RA2 had not been notified and had not given permision for anyone else to use that data. Scooping someone else with their own data in the same lab = not cool.

RA1 is a young American, and RA2 is a senior researcher that had already retired from his professorship at the university of his country, and has been working under my PI for many years. His move to this "lower" position was mostly done to provide better opportunities for his kids . RA1 is from a segment of the lab that believes that RA2 doesn't know jack, and that everything RA2 does has to be, by extension, trivial and easy to do. This, of course, ends up showing in the interactions RA1 and RA2 have while working on a collaborative project. A lot of the projects in my lab overlap, exacerbating the 'lack of boundaries' problem our PI has.

After the groupmeeting, RA2 sent a very strong-worded email to RA1 stating that what he did was unethical, disrespectful, and illegal according to the university's code of conduct. RA1, instead of talking it out with the PI and RA2, proceeded to complain loudly and indignantly to everyone at the lab about the horrific and preposterous email he received from RA2.

And then everyone and their cousin had to stir the fucking pot.
An incredibly arrogant grad student went on to say that RA2 had to be 'put in his place'. A visiting scientist stated that all data belongs to the PI and he doesn't have to say anything to whomever acquired the data if he chose to share it (said visiting scientist almost scooped another labmate with her own data last year). RA3, who had serious issues with RA2 at the beginning of his post-doc in the lab, insisted they all go bitch about R2 to the PI with the hopes of having him let off.

Suddenly, when I didn't know anything of what was going on, RA3 and Arrogant Grad Student popped into my side of the lab, which is (due to my unwillingness to deal with their constant gossip, prejudices, and bitching) a very strange thing. They were trying to convince me of going to the PI to bitch about the problems I've had with RA2. I have made myself as scarce as possible after that.

Yesterday one of the non-gossipy grads, who shares the office with RA2, told me to skip the next groupmeeting because some serious shit was gonna happen. It's gonna be RA2' s groupmmeting. It's on and it's gonna be pretty bad.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Unexpected Violence

Early this month, a postdoc who was part of my umbrella program was murdered by her husband, also a Cornell grad, near Taughannock falls. I took a couple of classes with her, and we had friends in common. This was beyond unexpected. She was upbeat and outspoken, and her husband was a quiet grad from information sciences.

If you go by general descriptors, there was little difference on how would an acquaintance describe them and Mr.B and me. Yet he went at her throat with a knife and she died from blood loss in the woods. Most of us are just horrified and confused. It's like conceptually I totally get that some abuse victims do go on with no visible signs of their abuse. And maybe he was good enough at it that not even her close friends noticed. Or did he suddenly go insane all of a sudden? But my mind can't really wrap itself around it.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Caminante, no hay camino.

Todo pasa y todo queda,
pero lo nuestro es pasar,
pasar haciendo caminos,
caminos sobre el mar.

Nunca persequí la gloria,
ni dejar en la memoria
de los hombres mi canción;
yo amo los mundos sutiles,
ingrávidos y gentiles,
como pompas de jabón.

Me gusta verlos pintarse
de sol y grana, volar
bajo el cielo azul, temblar
súbitamente y quebrarse...

Nunca perseguí la gloria.

Caminante, son tus huellas
el camino y nada más;
caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.

Al andar se hace camino
y al volver la vista atrás
se ve la senda que nunca
se ha de volver a pisar.

Caminante no hay camino
sino estelas en la mar...

Hace algún tiempo en ese lugar
donde hoy los bosques se visten de espinos
se oyó la voz de un poeta gritar
"Caminante no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar..."

Golpe a golpe, verso a verso...

Murió el poeta lejos del hogar.
Le cubre el polvo de un país vecino.
Al alejarse le vieron llorar.
"Caminante no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar..."

Golpe a golpe, verso a verso...

Cuando el jilguero no puede cantar.
Cuando el poeta es un peregrino,
cuando de nada nos sirve rezar.
"Caminante no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar..."

Golpe a golpe, verso a verso.

- Antonio Machado

No Control

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Brigit, finally Ph.D candidate

So I finally took my candidacy exam yesterday, and passed. [YAY!] The whole process has been the most nerve-wracking experiences in my life. I had a ridiculously high stress response. I had to reschedule once due to dehydration/high-blood pressure/sleep deprivation/exhaustion.

After one of the worse experiences with college emergency medical care, I reopened my stomach (that was shrunken and spastic), re-hydrated myself, gave up caffeine, and slept over the next 48 hours. I returned to the doctor (who's this awesome lady) and talked about my extreme fight or flight response to the A exam. We decided to go with beta-blockers, since they reduce the social anxiety experienced in performance situations, and won't make me sleepy/fuzzy as opioid anxiolytics would.

I do have an anxiety disorder - along with a hereditary depressive disorder- but I self-regulate my treatment along with my psych. nurse, and I had kept panic attacks at bay for years. But this exam changed everything. This was even knowing I chose an excellent committee, full of pretty hard-core people in my fields (pharmacology and biophysics) that are all genuinely dedicated professors, and just very good people all around. And maybe that was part of it, since under-performing (as I anyways feel I did, because of the nerves fucking with my memory) was one of my worst nightmares.

After they told me I passed they gave me the very constructive and accurate criticism of my proposal and performance, and told me I did a good job. By the time I packed the stuff with the help of the hubs (who went out of his lab to give me support while they deliberated) my body was just begging to cry.

And although I used beta-blockers my body found a way to tell me it was freaking out. I have a contraceptive implant - I have "periods" very, very rarely now [yay]. Guess who came down for a visit the moment I went out of the exam? Yup, bitch aunt Flo.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

My husband fucking rocks

Tomorrow's my Ph.D candidacy exam. So I can study uninterrupted my husband (without asking or saying anything) went grocery shopping, bought a lot of healthy snacks for me, made dinner, cleaned the huge dish pile, took out the trash, cleaned the living room and office, vacuumed the whole house, and is doing the laundry.
He got me string cheese and protein smoothies!!!! :D

Feliz Dia de las Madres

Happy Mother's Day to all women and transwomen that work hard to raise the next generation of people that cherish equality!

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Don't you hate it when family members grow up to be jerks and douchebags? A little cousin of mine is apparently now one of the entitled little snot-nosed jerks that hang out in the Natural Sciences Library taking pictures of their sports cars at my alma mater. He also hates at female DJs. I wish I could un-see his facebook pics. And maybe remove him (but not his dad- he's cool) from my relatives.

Giving up looks so good right now.

I want to quit everything and move into a Llama farm. Alpacas might be nice too.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

If she had opposable thumbs, there'd be a chancleta involved

Mota is the mom of my other 2 feline overlords, Johny and Ewok. Apparently, even though she had them while she was a kitten herself she hasn't forgotten who's mom. In the past few weeks she has started to bitch-slap the others if they scream or hiss while play-fighting.
She gets up, runs after one, swats him a couple of times and then turns back, looks for the other one, then slaps and hisses at him. I swear if she could wield a chancla, those two would be fucked.

From Kittehs galore

Sunday, May 3, 2009

About cookies and mental zooms.

I made way too much chocolate chip cookie dough so I have enough stored in the freezer for about 3 more dozens. Yay munchies.

The A exam is in a couple of days. Sometimes it takes an effort to mentally change the scope of what you're dealing with. Starting with memory formation, you go down to receptor trafficking, followed by receptor- and then domain- structure.
However to properly explain how you obtain your data you start from how electronic spins behave in the magnetic field up to the manner in which different amino acids interact with each other's electronic envelope.
I've got one hell of a headache.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Friday, May 1, 2009

Thursday, April 30, 2009


In honor of the pigs being maligned by the new virus strain, lets focus on the other pigs.

Real message in a bottle

A Spanish sailor and his friend (José María Casi Ferrer and Jose Antonio Mayo)were sailing in Cabo Verde, finished drinking a bottle of wine, and decided to run a little experiment to see if they could communicate via message in a bottle. 2,709 miles later, the bottle was found by kids in a small key off the Ceiba shore in PR.
This would have made my year so badly if I were a kid! What's the probability of them finding a message in a bottle on their same language with a call back number? Well, the news got around both in PR and Galicia. Both the sailors and the kids were really happy and wanted to meet each other. But meanwhile, they have begun to exchange letters and pictures.

Here's the message:

The adventuring kids that found it

And the cool Spanish sailors

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Yet another reason to be ashamed of Puertorrican politics

Take a look at this:

La delegación popular en a Legislatura, salvo algunos casos, entró esta tarde al hemiciclo de la Cámara con indumentaria negra y con lazos color púrpura en la solapa.

Según había explicado horas antes el representante popular Luis Raúl Torres, el simbolismo detrás de la vestimenta y los lazos representa el "luto" que siente el país ante el inminente despido de 30,000 empleados públicos.

The governor has issued a statement in which he explains that 30,000 government employees will need to be fired. The Puerto Rican government is the largest employer back home. The opposition Party's response: dressing in black with purple bows to symbolize the mourning of those who will be fired.


Honestly, every.single.politician and their uncle have known since decades ago that the public workforce needed to be reduced. However, both parties (the statehooders and the colonialists) paid lip service to the fact and kept adding employees in a politically biased manner in order to increase party influence in state agencies and unions.
Although the State budget has not been balanced fordecades, its solvency became increasingly strained after Dr. Rosello's government (1993-2001). He began several high-cost projects (not necessarily a bad thing) and had such a corrupt government that more than 40 of his government officials - from Undersecretaries of Governance up to Heads of Agencies- were indicted, and to the most part convicted, on fraud and corruption charges.

The two following terms were ran by the colonialist party (PPD). However, instead of dealing with the problems at hand they dedicated themselves to adding patches to the budget (at the expense of the working class, natch) and blaming the last guy. Their inaction concerning both the changing economic climate and the terrible condition of the State's coffer led to state agencies closing down for days and being unable to pay employees. Also 9 officials were indicted on corruption/fraud charges on Calderon's term.
After the PPDs inaction, and the boon of the Obama campaign, the statehood party (PNP) had such a resounding victory at the elections that the two minority parties (pro-independence PIP and non status-based PPR) lost inscription rights and the PPD became a minority in the Legisature.
What the people forgot (though heavens know why) is that the guy they chose as the Governor is a Reaganite Republican. So obviously, the brunt to the economic debacle resulting from decades of crooks and idiots in office will be shouldered by the working class. Wich brings us back to the 3oK workers to be fired and the moaning and gnashing of teeth of the colonialist party by picketing with the unions and playing dress-up.
Sigh. I have no hope you guys. The place is going to the shitter.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Turkey's first female-designed mosque is breathtaking

I think this is one of the most serene-looking places I have ever seen.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Thanks for the doughnuts, dude!

Foreskin Power!

I was watching biochemistry/physiology documentaries (as always) and came upon this cool tidbit:

Organogenesis Company, Canton Massachusetts, developed artificial made skin, from the cells of infant foreskin, called Apligraf. A Boston hospital provides the company with sample infant foreskin. The samples are broken down into their cellular components, were those cells are seeded into a petri dish, filled with bovine collagen. The cells grow in cell banks. A single infant foreskin sample produces 200,000 skin samples of Apligraf. Approximately, three weeks later, the human equivalent skin is teased out of the petri dish.
According to Organogenesis, in Canada approximately 150,000 people, with open wounds, such as venous ulcers and burns, can benefit from Apligraf. Major advantage of Apiligraf, no rejection and no imuno-suppression required.

In Podiatry Today they reviewed the use of these tissues to treat diabetic foot ulcers that do not respond to standard woud care.
Badiavas, et al., examined the grafthost interaction of Apligraf treated wounds via biopsy two weeks after application. Histologic examination found degeneration of the Apligraf collagen and dermal cells, and the presence of excess mucin indicated a mutual stimulatory interaction between the host wound bed and allograft.This finding indicates that the Apligraf fibroblasts may serve as a living tissue that stimulates host and graft cells to produce excess ground substance, which elicits a wound healing response.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Escape from the endocrine disruptors

From the bajillion zillion natural and artificial compounds that can mess with your system, I usually focus on trying to get rid of the pesky environmental "estrogen mimics". As I've said before, there is a high incidence of ER+ cancerous tumors in my family, and I like my natural boobies/not undergoing chemo.
But that shit is everywhere.
  • I changed my plastic containers to glass and aluminum, including my water bottle. But I still buy vending machine soda. Think about it, soda is acidic, and acids will dissolve small molecules (like phtalates) from plastic better than water. Smart going, me.
  • I have a skin condition, called Pityriasis Rosea. It itches like crazy, and your skin becomes really dry. So I make a quick run to the store and grab the sensitive skin Lubriderm. When I look at the ingredients the preservatives (parabeinzoic acid)were on the do-not-want list. I still use it because I'm broke and I rather not itch like crazy.
  • My scrub! The cheap girl's scrub from St. Ives also has those preservatives.
  • Some self-tanning lotions have those preservatives too. I threw mine away during Spring cleaning.

Prelude to a candidacy exam

I have never felt so tired before. I'm thisclose to getting gastritis due to my ridiculous caffeine consumption, and I'm physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted.
Sometimes I just feel like this is not fucking worth all the trouble, because I'm terrified of failing this test. I admire every single one of my committee members, and really do fear under-performing on the exam.

My frontal lobe feels so heavy all the time, sometimes turning into a headache. My neck and arm muscles get all achy and it doesn't go away, no matter if I sleep. For the first time in 7 years, I'm having despairing thoughts.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

WTF - old time assholes

Ok that does it; Facebook purge commence! This dude I knew from undergrad, a fucking med student, reached his assholery quota. I ignored his right wing colonialist messages and his climate change denialism, but posting pro-ana bullshit on facebook while attempting to become a doctor? Fuck you pendejo.

Viva el mal

Since now we're dealing with the aftermath of his "enlightened" reign...

Weathering the hate storm.


I don't know if you bishes have noticed that the comments at Jezebel have been all over the place in a totally illogical, random, non-sequitur, and combative manner. Sometimes I'm out of a post without commenting because dealing with the amount of FAIL in some particular comments is just too much.

I loved hanguing out in Jezebel because it was a place to talk to highly intelligent and motivated people about sensitive topics in a rational, and even amusing manner. Now, some people seem to target those posts to pick fights, engage in 'holier/leftier than thou' arguments with others, and randomly criticize political figures for totally unrelated shit.

So I may take a Jezebel hiatus. It makes me sad, because some of you bitches are awesome. You make my day with your wit, and with the ability of many of you to explain complex ideas from your fields of knowledge.

But screw it, I have massive amounts of studying to do and the awesome:wtf? comment ratio has decreased too much. I'm still hanging out with Jezzies in other places, like facebook, so if you're over there as well tell me so I can add you!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Desicions, desicions

First of all, I wish I could just post this as my status on facebook and get immediate jezzie suggestions. Damn you, stupid serious expectations *grumbles*.

I've been thinking about getting new sex toys from a couple of months ago, but I'm broke and allergic to using my plastic. However, I have my Ph.D candidacy exam coming up, and I have to deal with the proposal. I think I deserve some new kinky sex, but using the plastic scares me. High %APR - it has it.

To state the obvious: this world is perilous for us

Nothing comes easier than madness in the world today
Mass paranoia is a mode not a malady
Yeah, I'd like to watch 1,000 cable channels but there's nothing on
And my high speed connection's monitored daily by the Pentagon

These things are seldom what they seem
I'm not inclined to enjoy my dreams
Won't go away

(no peace) No peace, (and no friends) and no friends
(we trace) We trace the mortal edge (with no defense)
To state the obvious,
This world is perilous for us
No sense (no sense) and no guide (no guide)
Ain't it beautiful to be alive (yeah, right)
I won't resign before the struggle ends
So I'll construct this sound defense

We are the prey and culture is the predator
I'm running out of time where conditions are positional
Shadows of a doubt cast reluctance and depravity
There's got to be a way to overcome this grim reality

Is there an option left for me
I'm not immune to despondency
There's no way

(No peace) No peace, (and no friends) and no friends
(We trace) We trace the mortal edge (with no defense)
To state the obvious,
This world is perilous for us
No sense (no sense) and no guide (no guide)
Ain't it beautiful to be alive (yeah, right)
I won't resign before the struggle ends
So I'll construct this sound defense

There's a signpost on the corner
And it keeps everybody safe
We were all made in the shade
And your mother's in the kitchen
Where she's patching all the cracks in the wall
We never had a care in the world

(No shade) Too much to sacrifice, (no light) it's hard to recognize
(Just black) Traps to compromise (and white) obscuring deadly alibis
(My plans) It's combinational, (designs) the pressure's so intense
So I'll construct this sound defense
(No way) Nothing's plainer than the madness in the world today
(No sign) I must conceal myself and steal myself and break away
(No grace) I seek initiative in matters that are black and white
(No sense) So I'll construct this sound defense

Monday, April 20, 2009

Discutiendo mi herencia.

Todavía me encabrona el hecho de que me crié en esta puta religión.

Too much uninsteresting work.

Dammit I hate that I'm over-caffeinated and still yawning. I also hate that I have mandatory journal club in the late afternoon and I could care less about today's particular topic. I haven't finished writing my proposal, my candidacy exam is in a couple of weeks, and I feel I'm going to fail it miserably.

La celda de la tortura

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Because I'm cheap.

Last week I bought a bag of oranges and was wondering what to do with the peels. Some years ago, when I was superstitious and new-agey, I made this really nice smelling pouch to guard myself against nightmares (yeah, I know, bear with me). The good thing was it smelled so good and it had orange peels. I decided to do something like it, and had pretty good results. I put the orange peels in a coffee grinder and got a really nice smelling, bright yellow powder. I added some lavender leaves I had frozen from last fall, allspice, and nutmeg powder . I put some of it in a lab watch glass and placed it under a small lamp. It looks and smells so pretty!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Traga "democracia"

Nada dice 'democracia justa' como el poder torturar a cualquier juan del pueblo con la bendición del cabrón gobierno. Y que no me vengan con la mierda y los cuentillos de que solamente se torturó a los oficiales de Al Qaeda. Parte de esas técnicas de tortura se usaron a través de los años con presos políticos borinqueños (Pedro Albizu Campos, Lolita Lebrón, y Rafael Cancel Miranda, entre otros). Con alguna otra excusa y el pasar del tiempo, ¿cuanto nos vamos de que encuentran alguna justificacion para torturar a cualquier nuevo oponente/crítico? Los derechos humanos, de universales aparentemente no tienen tres carajos.

Nothing says 'just democracy' like being able to torture with the blessing of the motherfucking State. And seriously, don't come to me with cheap excuses saying that Al Qaeda operatives were the only ones tortured by our institutions. Some of those torture techniques have been used previously on Puertorrican political prisoners. With another excuse and some time in their hands, how long do you think they'll take before they find another reason to torture their opponents/critics? Human rights shmuman bites apparently.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ant Wars- continued.

In grade school one of my favorite things to do was watch the black and red ants wage war in the playground. Later, I thought the coolest organisms on earth were the fungus and parasites that hijack ant brains. I wish they'd make a movie with human-targeting variants of them. Guaranteed bio-gore!
Now check this out. Further proof of the awesomeness of ants. You know that ants take prisoners of wars as slaves and force them to take care of the larvae. Well the slaves can become rebellious motherfuckers:

Achenbach and Foitzik collected 88 colonies of the slave-making P.americanus ant that had abducted workers from three species of Temnothorax. They found that the workers clearly care for the larvae, and nearly all of them were raised until their pupated. But at that point, the slaves' behaviour changed dramatically, taking on a more homicidal bent.

Two-thirds of pupae died before they hatched. The mortality rate was even higher (83%) for pupae containing queens, but very low (3%) for those containing males. The duo saw that the captives were deliberately killing the healthy pupae. In about 30% of cases, as in the photo, the workers would gang up to literally pull the developing ants apart. Another 53% of the pupae were killed by neglect, by workers who moved them out of the nest chamber.

These murders were solely the acts of the slaves. No P.americanus worker ever lifted a mandible against its own pupae. Nor are the deaths a reflection of a generally poor standard of care on the part of Temnothorax. In their own colonies, the majority of pupae hatched, with just 3-10% dying before that happened.

This rebellion takes its toll on the slave-makers and may explain why the nests of P.americanus tend to be very small. The captives may never reproduce themselves, but they do their part for their relatives back home by crippling the workforce of the slave-makers. These indirect benefits are particularly pertinent to Temnothorax ants because a single colony can occupy many different nests - a family of sisters spread out over a large area. If one nest is raided, it pays to ensure that none of the related nests are targeted later.

Random Goodies from Seminars

Sometimes part of the cool stuff during a research lecture is the peripheral stuff. Today, the topic of our lecture was this protein, porB, that hangs out in the cell membrane of one of the bacterias that can give you meningitis, Neisseria Meningitidis.
  • 2 amino acid mutations in one of its membrane proteins can give this bacteria both penicillin and tetracycline resistance.
  • There's no effective vaccine for children, and the adult vaccination has to be given every 2 years. 3% of all cases are fatal.
  • Global climate change means that the vectors of many of these bacterial infections are migrating into places they would not have at survived before.
  • There are receptors that specialize in targeting pathogenic bacteria, while leaving the good, symbiotic bacteria alone. When people have defects in these receptors (called toll-like receptors) and they can't differentiate a bacterial friend from foe, they get IBS.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Ridiculeces Boricuas

So I while ago Elvis Crespo, a merenguero, got caught jacking off in his seat during a flight to Miami.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lab dreams

I dream of a magical place you can crash if you're tired and on the lab. I would have nice napping areas.

With a clean and bright place to warm our food

a cool espresso machine...

And an awesome, albeit small, shower.
Seriously, it would take the same space as a normal office. And I'd sacrifice office space for this. They can even reduce the sleeping space to this:

It's not that bad in real life. We have the fridges and microwaves. I one of the labs I worked they even had cutlery, plates, glasses, an electric burner, and a dishwasher. But seriously, somewhere to nap and take a shower would be appreciated. even if means sleeping here

and showering here. Actually, this would be a nice shower to have in a lab area.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Que vida

Thinking about the A exam is like thinking of nonchalantly strolling into Mordor and asking for a cup of tea. Writing my proposal feels sometimes like sitting down for a root canal without anesthesia. And it's kinda crazy because *I fucking love what I study*. Somehow I've read a gazillion papers and book chapters, but I can't will the huge mass of acquired information into a cohesive background for my project.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

GAH! As if I didn't have enough on my palte already.

You know what is really awesome? When your boss decides to change your thesis project, and "tells" you by editing your study plan. Ooh, also awesome? It means yet another biophysical technique you have to know inside and out for May.

God, I haven't touched thermodynamics in ages.

But then I fell I'm just bitching because project he added is actually juicy, he could have easily given it to another student, and I can probably get to publish in a good journal because of it.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

WTF humanity?!

Ok humanity, we need to have a very serious conversation. I mean, I totally understand that a subset of the population is of the 'fucking assholes' persuasion but, sometimes I think that percentage has become far too large.

Welcoming News After Interwebs Hiatus:
  • The rape simulator games being sold in some sites and their supporters.
  • Racists asshats attack a pregnant woman for speaking Portuguese while in Switzerland. The woman miscarried her twins soon afterward.
  • A woman gets gang raped in Saudi Arabia. The result? She's sentenced to a hundred lashes and a year in jail for adultery.
  • 2 judges from Pennsylvania pocketed $2.6 million from bribes from some detention centers - and they sentenced tons of kids to them. Oh, they also ordered the state-run detention center closed.
Care explainin' yourself?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


I am a skeptic. Ever since I acquired my new outlook on life I randomly put away my fiction reading, unable to suspend disbelief, even for an instant. But yesterday- on a random impulse- I downloaded a huge collection of scifi, erotica, fantasy, horror, and suspense novels. And didn't sleep reading.

A part of me has returned, and my love of all things metal with it too. I've been without my pills for 2 days, have the fucked up withdrawal, and still feel all sorts of awesome. And I suddenly feel hopeful about halving gradually my daily dose.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Fuck Ratzi, you really had to go there?

As an ex-Catholic, I still feel embarrassed each time the Church is caught with its pants down. Unfortunately, that seems to be quite often nowadays.

So which of the current idiotic moves I'm ranting about? Ratzi's reinstatement of bishops that are Holocaust denialists. Here is a video, taken just last week, of Bishop Richard Williamson.

WTF Church? What's next, the Church endorsing goecentrists, or denying that the current genocides exist?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The cruelty of reality

This is where I need to be right now. It's approximately 20 minutes away from my mom's house.

And this is where I am:

Not Pleased.
Posted by Picasa

On Pins and Needles: Parenteral Injection

There are three major routes of parenteral administration.
  • Intrevenous
  • Intramuscular
  • Subcutaneous
This will be a quick summary on the important aspects to consider in each type of injection.

First of all, how does drug absorption happen in each case?

In subcutaneous and intramuscular sites, absorption occurs by diffusion from the drug deposit to plasma. The absorption rate depends on the area of the capillary membranes absorbing the drug, and the solubility of that drug. When you administer a drug intravenously, you circumvent all the factors relevant to absorption.

Intravenous Administration

This method permits controlling drug delivery with an accuracy and immediacy not possible with any other procedure. It also permits the adjusting of drug dosage according to patient response, for example with anesthetics.
This the best, and many times the only method for administering irritating substances, since blood vessel walls are relatively insensitive, and the drug is greatly diluted by the blood.

There are also downsides to this, of course.
  • Unfavorable reactions may occur, since you can obtain high concentrations of the drug in your blood and tissue quickly. It is reccomended that you administer the drug slowly, by infusion, rather than rapid injection, and that the patient's response should be monitored closely.
  • Once you inject it there is no going back.
  • Drugs that are in an oily matrix, precipitate some of the blood components, or screw up your red blood cells should not be administered by this route.
Subcutaneous Administration

This method is very often used. However, keep in mind it only works with substances that are not irritating to the tissue. If not, you run the risk of horrific pain, necrosis, and tissue sloughing.
The drug absorption rate using this method is rather slow and constant - making it able to provide a sustained effect.

There are some nifty tricks that can be used to vary the rate of absorption of the drug. A good example is insulin delivery. A suspension of insoluble insulin will slower absorbed slower in this method than the soluble preparation of insulin. You can also add a vasoconstrictor to the drug to make the capillaries around it absorb the drug slower.
Some hormones are administered subcutaneously in a solid pellet form. Absorption of these preparations occurs over a period of weeks or months.

Intramuscular Administration

Drugs in aqueous solutions can be absorbed by this method quickly. However, the absorption rate can vary depending on the blood flow to the injection site. Absorption can be modulated by massage, local heating, or exercise. You can slower the absorption of a drug administered intramuscularly by putting it in an oily matrix or in suspensions. This is done often with antibiotics.

A good example of blood flow modulation would be injecting insulin and running. If you inject the insulin to your thigh and then run, you'll probably get a sudden drop in blood sugar. The increase of blood flow to the leg due to running causes an increase in absorption. Injecting in the abdominal wall or arms before jogging could decrease this drastic drop in sugar levels.

The amount of fat covering the the muscular tissue is also important. When we woman are injected in our butt, for example, we absorb the drug slower than males because we tend to have more subcutaneous fat there than the men, and fat is relatively poorly perfused (fatty tissue doesn't have many blood vessels). In very obese or emaciated patients drug absorption can exhibit unusual patterns in both subcutaneous and intramuscular administration.

Monday, January 26, 2009

I'd like to save my boobies, kthnx

I come from a family of huge, luscious boobies, and breast cancer. Thankfully, my grandma does breast cancer surgery, and along with my GP monitors my screenings.
However, a family propensity for Estrogen Receptor positive (ER+) tumors (my dad's 2 sisters and 2 of his cousins have already dealt with those) is not the only danger.

My environment is full of estrogen receptor agonists (an agonist is any molecule that binds to a receptor and elicits a response) that can increase my chances of getting one of those tumors. So I've been, slowly but surely, removing all the ER agonist containing stuff from my life.

  • I don't reheat anything in plastic - Plastic is made flexible by adding small molecules like phtalates and Bisphenol A. These are released if the plastic is heated, cracked, or if a liquid remains in it for quite a while. The solution: bowls and containers made of glass, food-grade stainless steel, or lead-free ceramics.
  • I am phasing out my cosmetics and personal care products (shampoos, conditioners, face and body wash, etc.) that contain parabens (like methyl parabezoic acid), placental extracts, or benzophenons. I have to give up the St. Ives apricot scrub and am not pleased.

For those of you equally concerned about reducing the risk of brest cancer, Cornell's Sprecher Institute has written a very nice article explaning the research done to ascertain this. They have videos explaining things too, but I have no idea how to embed them here. Go watch!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Johny lost his friend

Mr. octopus went dacapitatey.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The evils of deer

I have a thing against deer. Sure they're cute, when they're not plotting to kick you and give you Lyme disease when you're down!

Once, I was jogging with a friend of mine through an incredibly cute area. It has a tiny creek and behbeh bunnies jump about, cute squirrels frolic, there's songbirds all over the place, and there's always deer and their cute behbehs too - and it was Spring!!
So anyways, we were running, and gossiping, and cooing at the behbeh bunnies and we passed some deer at the other side of the creek. We cooed and moved on. And then we went for the second loop, and the deer were on our side.
The males started coming towards us - flicking their tales and acting all macho- so ran like crazy bitches - fearing we would have to run into someone's apartment screaming for safety. Lesson learned.

I have never trusted those cute bastards since, they had to be plotting something, right? And then I saw more evidence of their evil plotting:

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Posted by Picasa

Friday, January 23, 2009

And he does it!!

Bringing yet again extreme awesome to the table, President Obama ended the global gag rule today.

This is me with my happy, happy uterus:

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Let's talk about Oral

The most common way to get a drug into the system is oral administration. It's the safest method, it's the cheapest, and the most convenient. However, sometimes this method is inadequate. It can be that the drug is destroyed by the high acidity of the pH, or by any of the digestive enzymes. Sometimes the drugs can irritate the gastrointestinal mucosa and make you throw up the medication. The absorption of some drugs can become irregular when accompanied by food or other drugs. And on top of that enzymes of the intestinal flora, mucosa, or from the liver can metabolize some drugs before they even get into your bloodstream.

So what regulates how much drug can be absorbed by the GI tract?
  • For starters the rate of dissolution of the pill, if taken in pill form.
  • The surface area for absorption - for example the stomach's surface area is small and covered by a thick mucous layer, while the villi in the upper intestine give it a large surface area that's able to absorb a drug better.
  • The pKa of the drug and its lipid solubility - Different areas in the GI tract have different pH, and you need to get the drugs through the membrane barriers into the blood plasma.
If the drug can be digested by gastric enzymes it can still be ingested as a pill if coated in a manner that avoids dissolution in the acidic environment of the stomach. This has a potential drawback; the coating may resist being dissolved and your body won't absorb most of the drug.

Controlled Release

The goal of this type of preparation is to produce slow, uniform absorption of the drug for 8 hours or longer. This is cool because the patient can take less pills (making it easy to comply with treatment), therapeutic effects can be maintained overnight, and you decrease the incidence of undesired effects because you avoid the peak of drug concentration the bloodstream that occurs when you use immediate-release dosage.

Of course not everything is unicorns and rainbows - there are several drawbacks. There is greater variability between patients on the systemic concentration of the drug. Another problem is that if the controlled release mechanism fails, and all the drug can be released at once. Since the amount of drug in the controlled release preparation is higher than the drug amount in immediate release preps, this "dose-dumping" can result in drug concentrations high enough to cause toxicity. Controlled release is best used with drugs that have a short half-life (<4>

Sublingual Administration

Your oral mucosa can also absorb drugs, especially if they are nonionic (has no positive or negative charges) and highly lipid soluble. Nitroglycerin is a perfect example:*Those plus and minus signs are partial charges, not formal charges, and arise from the electrons in those "tips" of the molecule liking the 2 Oxygens (O's) better than the Nitrogen (N's) and spending more time (in average) with the O than with the N.

Nitroglycerin also has various things going that makes it an awesome candidate for sublingual administration:
  • It's very, very potent. You only need to absorb a few molecules of it for it to have a therapeutic effect.
  • The mouth's veins drain into the superior vena cava, and thus goes straight to the heart, bypassing the hepatic first pass metabolism.
Rectal Administration

This is very useful when the patient is unconscious or is vomiting. About 50% of the drug absorbed through the rectum will bypass the liver and thus you loose less drug to first pass metabolism than with oral administration. On the down side, rectal absorption absorption can be irregular and incomplete, and lots of drugs can irritate the rectal mucosa.

*I have no idea how I resisted making many, many puns.

NEXT: On Pins and Needles: Parenteral injection

On drugs and getting to their targets

This will be a small intro to pharmacology. My goal is that after I finish this small series I can know the material well enough to be able to explain it to a layperson, and you guys can get some basics on what happens after you ingest any drug. Please ask questions, I will be grilled in my exam by the brilliant (and kinda intimidating at this moment) group I chose to be my committee.

First of all, what is a drug? You can consider a drug any substance that binds to some tissue in your body and produces an effect. So yes, a *lot* of things we ingest can be considered drugs.

Today, I'll write mostly about pharmacokinetics, in other words about what the body does to a drug. What does it do?

A - Absorption - is the movement of the drug from the site of administration to blood circulation
D - Distribution - is the process of diffusing or transferring the drug from within the vascular system to the rest of the body tissue.
M - Metabolism - is the chemical conversion or transformation of the drug into compounds that are easier to eliminate
E - Excretion - is getting rid of the drug and/or its metabolites via renal, pulmonary, or biliary processes.

These processes all have one thing in common- they involve the drug passing through cell membranes. In order for us to understand what's going on, we have to know the characteristics of both the drug and the cell membrane.

Let's talk a little bit about the cell membrane.

Take a look at the right end of the cartoon. Thephospholipid bilayer is the main component of the membrane. Phospholipids are a type of organic molecule that have water-hating tails (that touch each other in the middle of the bilayer), and water-loving heads (in the outside of the bilayer).

Since the middle of the membrane is hydrophobic it likes oily, non-charged compounds mostly. Charged or highly polar molecules would have a hard time passing through that, since they tend to be soluble in water. This membranes are also very flexible and fluid, and have a high electrical resistance. There are several proteins embedded in that membrane that transport molecules from one side to the other, among a lot of other things.

So if we want a drug to cross this membrane we need to know a few characteristics that can help or hamper its crossing.
  • Molecular size - Is it too big to pass through the membrane by passive diffusion across a concentration or electrochemical gradient?
  • Molecular shape - Can it be "grabbed" by one of the many molecules that have transporter proteins in the membrane? Can it be recognized by one of the transporter proteins by itself?
  • Degree of ionization- Depending on the pH of its environment some areas of the molecule can acquire or loose a hydrogen atom. The number of electrons in that end changes, and with that the polarity of the molecule.
  • Relative lipid solubility - like dissolves like. The more polar a thing is the more likely it likes water soluble and not lipid soluble.
  • Binding to tissue proteins - Here's where the tricky part starts. You'd like it to be able to bind to the specific receptors you want to have an effect on, but chances are it will also bind elsewhere.
Next, how are drugs distributed in the body, and more details about ADME.

If this is what a President sounds like, sign me up!

I know, I know that what's on paper is not done yet, but after 8 years of this:

"The most basic duty of government is to protect the life of the innocent. My Administration has been committed to building a culture of life by vigorously promoting adoption and parental notification laws, opposing Federal funding for abortions overseas, encouraging teen abstinence, and funding crisis pregnancy programs. In 2002, I was honored to sign into law the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which extends legal protection to children who survive an abortion attempt. I signed legislation in 2003 to ban the cruel practice of partial-birth abortion, and that law represents our commitment to building a culture of life in America..."

We now have this:

"Reproductive Choice

Supports a Woman's Right to Choose: President Obama understands that abortion is a divisive issue, and respects those who disagree with him. However, he has been a consistent champion of reproductive choice and will make preserving women's rights under Roe v. Wade a priority in his Adminstration. He opposes any constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court's decision in that case.
Preventing Unintended Pregnancy: President Obama was an original co-sponsor of legislation to expand access to contraception, health information, and preventive services to help reduce unintended pregnancies. Introduced in January 2007, the Prevention First Act will increase funding for family planning and comprehensive sex education that teaches both abstinence and safe sex methods. The Act will also end insurance discrimination against contraception, improve awareness about emergency contraception, and provide compassionate assistance to rape victims. "

More little good things to make one sleep at night.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


So with the crackdown on commenting over at Jezebel, I will probably muse here about whatever happens over there more often. C'est la vie. ¿Qué se va a hacer?

Lovely family

Chez Brigit there are two humans and three cats. Here I show the fluffy side of this family:

Here's Ms. Mota. She came as a tiny and stealthily pregnant kitten. She had 5 more kittens soon afterward, of which 2 were adopted by us.

She is made of extreme cuteness (if I say so myself-ahem) and softness. She is also scared of strange humans.

Johny Walker- or Johny the cat with a baseball bat, takes *vocal* to new levels. He'll talk to you nonstop even while he's purring. He also opens my bedroom door and wakes me asking for food with nose kisses. Adorable bastard.

If you think that Ewok's gray belly is asking to be scratched it's because
Vets Beware: He has to be scratched all throughout the visit, so good luck checking out his pulse with his constant purring.
He's also known to manipulate vets into giving him all sorts of treats- even cheese- so be strong! Don't let Ewok's mind control powers get you.

Might as well get it over and done with.

Yet another night without feeling sleepy (damn you stress!).

I've been thinking these past few weeks about starting a blog. I'm preparing for my A exam -after much procrastination- and it seems like an appropriate place to escape -for my sanity's sake.
Also a rather good place to put basic pharmacology principles as I review everything I've taken. So bienvenue chez moi!