Archive by Author

Happy World Kidney Day!

14 Mar

Today I’m wearing orange for World Kidney Day.
To be honest, before researching for this post, my knowledge of kidney health was limited to a book I read as a kid called Saving Jessica in which Jessica needed a kidney and her boyfriend, Jeremy, gave her one. No need to read that book now!

But last summer, a friend of mine repelled down a friggin’ building to raise money for the National Kidney Foundation, so I figured it must be a pretty important cause. Most people know that we need our kidneys to remove waste and excess fluid from the body when we pee. But the kidneys also function to balance the salt, potassium, and acid content of our bodies, keep our blood pressure controlled, and produce red blood cells to keep our bones strong. Unfortunately, around 8-10% of the adult population have some form of kidney damage. There are a number of ways you can work to keep your kidneys healthy. First and foremost, maintain a healthy lifestyle by keeping a healthy diet, staying active, hydrating, and NOT SMOKING. Monitoring your blood sugar and blood pressure levels is also a good idea as is limiting your use of over-the-counter drugs. But some people experience some form of kidney failure anyway, so what can you do?

First, like me, wear orange today to show your support of World Kidney Day! Become an organ donor and donate money OR time to the National Kidney Foundation or attend a World Kidney Day event in your area. Finally, spread the word about kidney disease, and if you or someone you know seems at risk for kidney failure, get regular screenings from your doctor. Early detection can help prevent kidney disease from progressing to kidney failure!

And now, a word from World Kidney Day!


Happy International Women’s Day!

8 Mar

Since Neuronano and I have a lunch date tomorrow, which doesn’t happen too often since we live over 600 miles apart, I thought I’d celebrate by updating the blog that we haven’t posted on for over a year. What better day to get back on the horse than International Women’s Day! I know by the time this gets posted, you may be thinking, “It’s so late in the day to just be finding out now!” but the good news is, it’s also Women’s History Month!

I couldn’t even begin to tell you about ALL of the important women who have changed history, like Marie Curie who was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize in science and the first person to win two Nobel Prizes (one in physics and one in chemistry) or Sandra Day O’Conner who was the first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Instead, I offer a challenge this month to learn more about the great contributions made by women. Watch movies and TV shows created by women (I highly recommend The Mindy Project as Mindy Kahling is hilarious!). Read books (or other books) or comic books by women. Consume art and music by women. Appreciate women for all they have to offer.

And if you’re looking for recommendations to get you started, head on over to Captain Awkward and dig through the comments. Don’t be intimidated by the title, there are some really great suggestions down there, I promise!

Happy International Women’s Day/Women’s History Month!

Happy National Novel Writing Month!

1 Nov

November is National Novel Writing Month, and you can tell how special I think this month is since I’ve broken our nearly month-long hiatus from blogging.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) was started in 1999 with approximately 21 participants. Last year, over 200,000 people signed up to participate. The goal of the month is to write at least 50,000 words of a new novel from November 1st to midnight on November 30th. This is my 5th year participating, but I am yet to actually meet the goal. Some people have asked me what you get if you complete your novel during the month of November. I tell them ‘nothing’. So then they ask, “What’s to keep you from just entering random words to meet your 50,000 word goal?” Wait, what?

OK, so maybe I know some sketchy people, but the point of this month isn’t about winning a contest. It’s to stimulate creativity. I know personally as the amateur writer that I try to be, I over analyze everything I write, trying to be the next great writer, but NaNoWriMo gives you no time to quibble over such details. Instead, it allows you to do a process I like to call ‘thought dumping’ where you just write down everything you want to say and worry about polishing it in the editing stage (I do this a lot when I write journal articles). Also to help inspire your creativity during the month, the NaNoWriMo website has forums where you can discuss tips and strategies for writing, local “chapters” which sometimes host NaNoWriMo write-ins, and even a section with pep talks from real authors with their advice and thoughts on writing a novel.

So if you’re longing for a creative outlet, I highly recommend you check out

Happy writing!

Happy World Smile Day and Ada Lovelace Day!

7 Oct

A long long time ago when there was still some happiness in the world, World Smile Day was created.

Smiles All Around!

In 1963, Mr. Harvey Ball created the trademark yellow smiley face that you may recognize from such products as the Have A Day poster that adorned the back of my bedroom door as an angsty teenager.  Ball later went on to found the World Smile Corporation which in turn created World Smile Day to promote the yellow smiley.  And even though it seems a little screwed up that a day focused on smiling is really just a fancy advertisement, today is actually a good day.  Not only is the purpose of today to make people smile 🙂 but World Smile Day raises money for the Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation which is a non-profit organization that supports children’s causes.

So go out and make someone smile!

Also, today is Ada Lovelace Day!

Ada Lovelace was the first female programmer, which as a computational chemist, I think it pretty awesome.  Today is the day to appreciate all women in STEM (which includes neuronano and me!).  Head on over to the Flickr Blog for some more info on this cool holiday.

Happy Do Something Nice Day!

5 Oct

I think this day is pretty self explanatory, so just go out and do something nice today! My nice thing was not hitting the car next to me while pulling into a really tight spot just because he doesn’t know how to park in between the yellow lines.  I didn’t leave a nasty note on his car either, so that’s two nice things!  Maybe I’ll do something nicer later.

This is a day that should truly be celebrated early and often!

Happy Virus Appreciation Day!

3 Oct

Today is that day where we get to appreciate those nasty viruses that knock us on our asses every winter.  Ironically, the Nobel Prize in Medicine was announced today to be awarded to Ralph Steinman, Bruce Beutler, and Jules Hoffmann for “unlocking the secrets of the immune system”.

On a totally different note, I’ve recently discovered the show, The Walking Dead.  It’s about a group of survivors during the zombie apocalypse.  From my limited knowledge of zombie fandom, I’m pretty sure that the zombie virus is passed through saliva, much like mononucleosis, except that you turn zombie by being bit and get mono by kissing.  Interesting, one makes you like a zombie (mono), the other makes you actual zombie.  The new season of The Walking Dead starts October 16th, and if you need to play catch-up like I did, check out your on-demand selection.  Here is the trailer for season 2:

It’s pretty intense, and I can’t wait!

Happy National Remember to Register to Vote Week!

28 Sep

I have a confession to make, and it’s kind of embarrassing, so I hope you won’t judge me too harshly.  Alright, here goes…

I’m not registered to vote.

I have in fact voted in 3 presidential elections, each time by absentee ballot, and each time having to re-register in my home state of New York due to my still student status up until 2 years ago (something always went awry in between presidential elections that made me lose my voter status, hence the re-registering).

Now I live in the capital of Maryland just a short commute from Washington D.C. where the major politics happens, and I’m still not registered to vote.  For a while, I even ran with the speech writer for Governor O’Malley who was up for re-election last year, but was left saying, “Hey buddy, I hope he wins so you can keep your job, but I can’t vote for him.”  So yeah, I’m embarrassed, and I really should be.  I’m a young, educated, American citizen of legal voting age with strong opinions about important issues, so what right do I have to complain about government policy that I disagree with if I didn’t go out and vote on said issue in the first place?  America is in a bad place right now*, and if voters like you and me don’t go out and vote, that’s probably not going to change anytime soon.  From small town elections to presidential, they are all important because small change leads to big change, and change is what we need right now.

So I’m happy to report that this week, September 27th to October 3rd is National Remember to Register to Vote Week!  October 3rd is the last day you can register to vote in order to be eligible for the elections in November.  It’s so easy to register to vote that there is really no excuse not to.  You can either go to your state’s Board of Elections website and download a form or do it in person at a number of locations including the town hall, the DMV, the Board of Elections, or local universities and colleges (I would call ahead just to check because this may vary from state to state)  OR you can do what I did: go to and click “Register to Vote“.  It will take you through a few pages of questions, and then print out your state’s voter registration form for you to mail in (the form needs an original signature, so unfortunately the process can’t be entirely online and the form can’t be faxed).  I plan on dropping mine in the mailbox on my way to work this morning, so I’m on my way to being part of the American voice!  You should be too!

Happy voting!

*Before you go all anti-American on me, let me just say, I freaking LOVE America!  I don’t dream of living anywhere else. I own cowboy boots, watch baseball, and love apple pie. But listen, we’re in a bad recession, unemployment is rampant, we’re fighting two wars in the middle east, terrorists are apparently lurking around every corner, kids are being bullied to death, and bigotry seems to have lost its stigma.  So I’m just saying, I think we can do better.