Monday, March 30, 2020

I Like My Husband

Recently, I've seen lots of online articles with titles like this:
  • Ways to Stay Married Amid Coronavirus Concerns
  • How Not to Tank Your Relationship in Quarantine
  • How to Work From Home with Your Partner Without Killing Each Other
I know I've only been married for three months, but . . . I never want to kill Daryl. We've been working from home and homeschooling for two weeks now, and I'm still not tired of him. In fact, I don't really like to be upstairs when he's downstairs. I like to be in the same room, if possible, and I even like working with him. I realize that the being-in-the-same-room deal may not last forever, but I guess what I'm saying is . . . I like my husband. I like being around him. We get along swimmingly, and it makes me sad that other people don't have a similar relationship with their partners. :(


Thing I'm thankful for: jogger pants!

Saturday, March 28, 2020

My Favorite Hobby

When people ask me what I do for fun, I usually answer first with, "I read a lot." And then I talk about how much I love watching movies or baking. Sometimes I bring up rowing, which I haven't done in a very long time, and maybe I'll mention that I like cleaning and organizing, too.

I realized today, though, that there's one answer I never give, and maybe it's because I didn't identify it as a hobby until this afternoon, when I did it for nearly TWO HOURS. That's right, I listened to celebrity interviews for two hours on YouTube. But they don't even have to be celebrities––I'll listen to anyone! Famous people, non-famous people, children, adults, business men and women, artists––you name it. I just love listening to people talk about their ideas and opinions, their reasons for the decisions they've made, their pasts and what makes them who they are, and their successes and failures. To me, it's the most meaningful activity. It's the hobby that gives me the most joy. I love going down an interview rabbit hole, as I did today. I learned about drug addiction and hitting rock bottom from Dax Shepard; I felt relief when Matt Damon described a moment of insecurity; and I found out that Kristen Bell doesn't believe in soul mates, either.

People are endlessly fascinating. They are complex and delicate and charming and wonderful.

Here are some of my favorite interview-style shows and podcasts:*

Listen to some of them! You won't regret it!


*Although I like watching clips from "Ellen" or late-night shows, I prefer long-form conversational interviews because that's where people get into the really meaty parts of their lives.


Thing I'm thankful for: lazy Saturday afternoons

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Let's Talk About the CDC

Not many people know or remember my professional history, and why should they? People usually only care about who you work for now. Today, though, I want to talk about who I used to work for: the Centers for Disease Control.

That's right. Once upon a time, I worked as a web developer in the Center for Chronic Diseases at CDC in Atlanta. I have friends who still work at CDC, and I either talk with them regularly or keep up with them on Facebook. I have friends who no longer work at CDC but are now at state health departments. I guess you could say that I'm fairly well-connected to people in the world of public health, and I wanted to talk about them for a bit.

People who work in public health care. They are some of the most thoughtful, generous people I have ever known. They genuinely care about their communities, and they usually prioritize the collective good over themselves. It was unusual for me to run into somebody at CDC who had not served in the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps. They are knowledgeable of the world and familiar with countries and cultures outside of the United States. They love to travel and meet new people. They care deeply about the welfare of people inside and outside of their country. They are curious and committed to keeping an open mind about everyone.

People who work in public health are educated. Almost everyone I worked with had an advanced degree, and senior leaders typically have doctorate degrees -- in statistics, medicine, epidemiology, or education. People often think of others with advanced academic degrees as being removed from reality or practical life, but every single person I know at CDC -- advanced degree or not -- is absolutely relatable. They are not stuffy or pedantic or overly cerebral; they are warm and friendly and concerned about real people. Epidemiologists, for example, track disease at an individual level; they call individual people who have likely been in contact with someone who has an infectious disease. That's not stuffy or pedantic.

People who work in public health are intelligent. They read. They stay up to date on current events. They have fascinating hobbies and interesting conversation. When I think back to those three years I worked at CDC, I can only remember one person who was difficult to talk to, and she was another developer! Everyone else -- every public health employee -- was a taker and a giver in conversation. They talked about themselves, but they also asked questions about me. They had interesting things to say and interesting questions to ask. I, personally, consider that a mark of intelligence.

Finally, people in public health are honest. They're not selling anything or trying to make a buck; they truly care about making the world a better place. They generally don't make a huge salaries, and the ones who do very well for themselves financially don't get there quickly -- it takes a long time and a lot of experience to work their way up the government payscale. They simply want to help people, and they want to do it in a very specific way -- by improving the health of the population. I can't think of many goals better than that.


Why am I writing all of this? Because I've heard a lot of misinformation about COVID-19 lately. And because I'm tired of people acting like the CDC (and the World Health Organization) doesn't know what's really going on or they don't have the world's best interest at heart. If the CDC admonishes us to wash our hands, we should wash our hands! If they advise elderly and immunocompromised people to stay home, they should stay home! Etc., etc. The CDC isn't just a big, faceless government entity; it's composed of thousands of good -- really good -- people who care about America and the world. They are the best of the best at public health surveillance, and we should trust them.

When commenting on COVID-19's mortality rate last week, President Trump said:
Well, I think the 3.4% is really a false number. Now, this is just my hunch, and -- but based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people that do this, because a lot of people will have this, and it's very mild. They will get better very rapidly. The don't even see a doctor. [. . .] Personally, I would say the number is way under 1%. (Trump's Gut Collides with Science on Coronavirus Messaging)

Folks, we have experts to do a job we can't do! We should NOT be listening to the President's "hunches!" Just as there are experts to fix a leaky pipe or pull a wisdom tooth or fly a plane, there are experts to monitor public health and make recommendations. Let's trust them!

What's more to the point, I suppose, is that . . . I trust them. I've worked with them; I'm friends with them; and I know them. This is my witness.


Thing I'm thankful for: my molecular cell biology class in college

Friday, March 06, 2020

Music Memories


I heard The Velvet Underground at a restaurant yesterday, and it reminded me of The Royal Tenenbaums soundtrack. I remember loving that soundtrack. It introduced me to a new world of music -- a world of punk rock, indie rock, and just plain rock. Until that movie and soundtrack were released, for example, I didn't know I could like Bob Dylan. I also didn't know I liked The Clash so much. Perhaps most importantly, I didn't know I liked weird and sometimes gritty non-pop.

Generally speaking, 2001 was a musical awakening for me. With "Oh, Inverted World," and "Is This It," The Shins and The Strokes opened the door to a new sound. I had never connected so much to what was playing on the radio. Sure, I liked grunge, but I was on the young side when it was really big, and I didn't connect much at all with the music of my high school days: boy bands and cloying teen girl music. At that time, I was listening to Led Zeppelin, The Cure, and a LOT of Pink Floyd. "Oh, Inverted World" and "Is This It" made me realize that I liked an . . . unvarnished sound in music. I didn't really know it until then. And then indie rock was everywhere. And then I was open to the kinds of sounds in "The Royal Tenenbaums." And then I realized that the 70s and 80s had some seriously good stuff that I had never heard before.

Hmmm . . . What am I saying here??? I guess I'm saying that there was a lot of great music in the early 2000s, and it set me up to appreciate other music, such as the kind Wes Anderson used for some of his movies. I listened to the soundtrack on my way to work today, and it was as good as I remembered. It was great. Give it a listen sometime.


Thing I'm thankful for: my sister Lexia and her fine musical taste :)


Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Meet Milo!



Well, we got a cat. A kitten, actually. We call him Milo, and he's five months old. I love him already. He's pretty cuddly, purrs a LOT, and doesn't meow much. His white feet are quickly getting dirty, but he's learning how to explore the backyard, so I don't mind.


Thing I'm thankful for: online shopping


Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Political Affiliations


Well, for the last several years, I've taken quiz after quiz about my political leanings, and the results always seem to say I'm a Democrat. (The image above is from isidewith.com, and according to my answers to their questions, those are the political affiliations I side with the most, in order.)

I'm always a bit conflicted over my results, though. It's probably because my mom is a staunch Republican and most Georgians are staunch Republicans and I think most members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are Republican. I don't feel special or unique or superior to anyone in those groups because of my quiz results, but I do feel a bit . . . Confused, I guess. And I also don't want to identify with any party, least of all Democrats or Republicans. Each of those have their drawbacks, and as far as I'm concerned, Democrats are often snobby and Republicans are often willfully ignorant. Both -- at least at the extremes -- are close-minded.

So I'll continue to call myself moderate, I guess. Or left-leaning. But it is strange . . . It's maybe the one label I don't like using to define myself.


Thing I'm thankful for: Advil liqui-gels

Monday, February 24, 2020

Trust God? Not This One!


I saw this image on Facebook last week and made a mental note to blog about it -- not because I love it, but because I hate it. HATE it. It's a horrible representation of Christ, and I defy any Christian to explain to me why it conveys trust in God. Let's work through it together:
  1. When it comes to actual, physical blessings, no one knows what God's promised blessings are. Maybe there are none. What we do know from scripture is that He promises peace, comfort, and happiness. That's pretty much it. 
  2. The teddy bear is probably a physical symbol of spiritual blessings here, but I think it's a bad one. Not only does it support a prosperity gospel, it also trivializes spiritual blessings, which are far greater than a physical blessing could ever be, especially if that physical blessing is a teddy bear, rather than say, a lifetime supply of food.
  3. This illustration depicts a tricky God, a deceptive one. When God has a blessing ready for us, He does not dangle it in our faces or hide one hand behind His back. His hands are always outstretched, with no deception or equivocation to be found. In my mind, if this illustration was on target, Christ would clearly show the little girl what He's holding, and He'd say, "I want to give you this bigger bear instead; would you like to trade?" But . . .
  4. . . . God doesn't usually take things away from us that make us happy* in order to give us something else that makes us happy. He adds to the happiness we already have. So again, in my mind, if this illustration was on target, Christ would clearly show the little girl what He's holding, and He'd say, "Here, take this bigger bear, too."
  5. Bigger is not always better. Perhaps the little girl likes the small size of her teddy bear because it's easier to hold and take with her on trips or to the playground. It's also easier to wash, so . . . I'm sure God would want the little girl to be exposed to less germs over time. Why would God give such impractical gifts?

*I would argue that God never takes things away from us that make us happy; we do that. Others do that. Biology does that. People die. Or they make choices. Or they abuse. Or they steal. Or they move. Or they change. Agency -- that's what life's about. It's not about God calling all the shots. It's about making choices on our own.


Thing I'm thankful for: my colleague Jacquie's incredible sense of humor and sass