Miss Pym and a Friend

Miss Pym and a Friend

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A New "Squeak" on who is an Excellent Woman!

I often bond to the female of any species, even though all my dogs and three of my cats were male.  I love my boys, true, but, well, girls rock.  I even feel sorry smacking mosquitoes and shooing spiders, because often, those that bite and build web are female.  All science, nuisance, fear, and pain, aside, it doesn't seem fair, somehow, to swat one's own kind.

Same with mice.  They  and I do not get along!   Well, I suppose they are close to a hedgehog. But, see this article below from the NY Times!



Why Science Needs Female Mice

Scientific research has a gender gap, and not just among humans. In many disciplines, the animals used to study diseases and drugs are overwhelmingly male, which may significantly reduce the reliability of research and lead to drugs that won’t work in half the population.
A new study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience suggests that research done on male animals may not hold up for women. Its authors reported that hypersensitivity to pain works differently in male and female mice. For males, immune cells called microglia appear to be required for pain hypersensitivity, and inhibiting their function also relieves the pain. But in female mice, different cells are involved, and targeting the microglia has no effect. If these differences occur in mice, they may occur in humans too. This means a pain drug targeting microglia might appear to work in male mice, but wouldn’t work on women.
Failure to consider gender in research is very much the norm. According to one analysis of scientific studies that were published in 2009, male animals outnumbered females 5.5 to 1 in neuroscience, 5 to 1 in pharmacology, and 3.7 to 1 in physiology. Only 45 percent of animal studies involving depression or anxiety and only 38 percent involving strokes used females, even though these conditions are more common in women.
In 1994, the National Institutes of Health confronted gender imbalance in clinical drug trials and began requiring that women and minorities be included in clinical studies; women now make up around half of clinical trial participants. In June, the N.I.H. announced that it would begin requiring researchers to take gender into account in preclinical research on animals as well.
A lab mouse.
Zach Wise for The New York Times
Under the new requirements, researchers applying for N.I.H. grants in January 2016 and later will need to show “strong justification” if they plan to study only one sex. Justifications can include study of sex-specific conditions like ovarian cancer or limited availability of subjects of both sexes (as with primates).
This new policy for grants sends a good message to scientists and drug makers on the importance of considering sex in designing research projects, if they want to understand diseases that appear to affect men and women differently and develop medicines effective for those diseases.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Antique Doll Collector on Twitter

Dr. E's Doll Museum Blog: Antique Doll Collector on Twitter: See our Tweets yesterday from Love, Shirley Temple.  Look for posts here, on Doll Museum, my other Blogs, Antique Doll Collector Magazine So...

 There will much more soon on this most excellent of children and women! Shame on Graham Greene, who accused her of being a midget!  Especially heinous since his wife Vivienne, a friend of a friend, had a fantastic collection of doll houses and related items!!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

For my Friend Bruce Carter

I met Bruce when he joined our faculty several years ago. From the first, the halls echoed with comments about how great Mr. Carter was.  Over his time with us, Bruce taught ethics, humanities, and our college intro course.  His students created art in humanities class.  Others encountered concepts of ethics and diversity for the first time in his courses.  Just watching him teach inspired me.  We often used the same classroom, and I would hear him and watch him gesture as he taught.  Bruce didn’t walk, he flew down the halls, carrying on conversations and writing down ideas in his notebook.  He and I soon became friends, and I was privileged to be a guest on Art Talks, as were a couple of my other colleagues.  Bruce inspired us just by being himself; he lived at being an artist, and his generosity of spirit was contagious.  I will miss his enthusiasm, and above all, his friendship.  Room 100 will never be the same.

Elegy for a Friend

I see him still,
Sailing down the hall,
Writing in a worn notebook
All the way.

How the beret
Stayed in place,
I’ll never know.

He reigned the
The Radio his
Second home.

Art he talked,
Believers he made
Of those he interviewed.

Believers in ourselves.
He called us writers,
Artists, playwrights and

And, we were.

His students he taught-
Taught them to, to
Believe in their

And they did.

It’s true as FDR
Said, that
Every time an artist
Part of the vision of
Mankind passes with him.

He’s taken part of our
Visions and dreams
He inspired with him,
To another realm,

And there,
Like Chaucer’s man,
Gladly will he learn,
And gladly teach.

Oh, Mercy Me

Mercy by Jodi Picoult

The work of the late Dr. Jack Kevorkian has pushed euthanasia and mercy killing into the media and public consciousness for some time now.   My students watched a video about some of his more famous cases, and wrote about them in legal and ethics classes.

In this novel by Picoult, we have to wonder where Mercy is being dispensed.

The plot revolves around the Clan MacDonald, transplanted to a small New England Town.  Shades of Brigadoon haunt the setting; the MacDonald patriarch, Angus, is transplanted  from his family castle to the New England Town.  He Time Travels in his dreams to the Braveheart Era of Scotland’s history that would have made Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scot proud.  He fights battles with his Scottish ancestors that parallel the struggles of his 21st century family.

A lot of battle cries shriek through this book.  The female protagonist, wife of the police chief,  who is also a MacDonald, sells all her husband’s possessions at a yard sale the whole town attends, even his Clan heirlooms and dress uniforms.  In fact, the book opens with the yard sale, a seemingly vindictive act, that contradicts the book’s title.  Is Picoult being ironic? Where is Mercy for the Chief, who is Chief of the Clan, and not just Chief of Police.

As if that isn’t enough, a not-so-distant cousin and childhood friend arrives in town with his dead wife in the passenger seat of his car. Dr. Jaime MacDonald, a scientist of rare talent to creates Virtual Reality games ala Brainstorm and Total Recall, seeks The Chief to confess he has mercy-killed his wife, at her own behest.

Maggie, the wife, has been suffering from cancer.

Once again, the book is extremely well constructed and well written.  I have to applaud Picoult’s success.  She borrows from romance, melodrama, the macabre, mythology, fantasy, classic literature, and many other genres to weave a tale that is also contemporary and thought provoking.

Her subplots are as interesting as the main story; why does the Chief feel he must commit adultery with his wife’s friend and employee.  How can Maggie, in pain and deathly ill, engage in a very public make out session with her husband, a picnic, and several other bucket list social events the night before he smothers her with a pillow.

Why does a loving wife exact such a selfish, fundamentally immoral promise from her devoted husband?

Chief Macdonald hires the best lawyer he can for his cousin, yet must cooperate with the DA, who is, horror of horrors, a Campbell, member of a rival clan.  Enter a little Romeo and Juliet sprinkled with The Hatfields and McCoys and garnished with West Side Story. (Did I mention that my late cat Emma was part Hatfield?)

Moira, the “other woman’ is a true Celtic temptress,  Fey, but also frumpy, staid in her profession of flower arranging, but her arrangements smack of herbal magic, love potions and witchcraft.  She has no trouble being the friend of the Chief’s wife, but also usurping her place in his bed.

At this point, I can’t help myself, I must say, “Hail to the Chief!”  He manages to up hold Clannish honor, maintain the peace, and satisfy two women at once.

Jaime MacDonald is both pathetic and grotesque.  There is something carnivalesque about his  role as Maggie’s doomed lover and sad clown.  One scene has him standing nude by her gurney as EMT’s attempt to revive her after one of her near death, but pre-homicide experiences.

All kidding aside, the trial scenes are detailed and well written.  We forgive the author any technical issues in the name of poetic license.  She certainly understands reader response theory and holds our interest as a storyteller.

I’m just disturbed that murder in any form is condoned.  What takes place between Jaime and Maggie is not so much mercy killing, as giving into Maggie’s ego and dominant will.  Maggie is not the only victim in Picoult’s homicides that becomes unappealing by the end of the novel, the same  is true of teenaged Emily in The Pact.

The Passing of an Excellent Woman

My Blog, Dr. E's Greening Tips is still taken over by malware, though I am closer to contacting the site that's taken it over.  I want them to remove their malware.  I'm not interested in monitizing, and I've tried to reach Google and Blogger.  Help!!

Meanwhile life goes slowly on.  We lost my aunt in Europe suddenly, and have gone through a very sad week.  My Dad takes it the hardest, of course.  But, I will miss her.  Outside of my grandparents, and one cousin of my dad's who was a well known lawyer, and a poet, she was the only one nice to me on that side of the family.  To say the least, she had mellowed.  She used to send packages of cookies and candies, small gifts, cards on holidays and birthdays.  She sent one to me not two weeks ago.  I looked forward to these secretly, since I am past the age where anyone gives me presents, or even remembers my birthdays. I got a kick out of the European tupperware she used, too.

She was nicknamed Bebe, also the name of a certain kind of French antique doll that represents a little girl.  She sewed and designed clothing under her own label, and she loved Coco Chanel. I wrote to her in Greek, and she answered in English.  She put in touch with a renowned professor of philosophy because she felt we had things in common, and she wanted to come here to see us, like her father before her.

Because of her, I, the oldest grandchild, have my grandmother's wedding ring, which I wear with my own. She was fashionable and beautiful, and loved to go out. Recently, she took up antiquing, and would send me a bibelot or engraving.

She was never sick, and joked she would live to be 100.  A few years ago, her high school boyfriend looked her up, and asked my Dad's permission for her hand in marriage.  She never wanted to marry, and enjoyed her success and her business on her own terms.

Yet another person gone.  She had gotten to be good friends with my mother, and called her nearly every day, just to talk to her, when mom was very sick.  Usually, my dad's family only calls for him; my mother and I were excess baggage. He told me Bebe died.  None of them has even tried to call or email me; they only talk to Dad to upset him.  Let's hear it for relatives.

So, the other day, in her memory, I took a piece of the baklava she sent us for lunch.  I made meatballs by hand the way my mother and she made them, along with the stuffed peppers my mom liked.  I took some to my inlaws because it was also my Father in Law's 85th birthday.  He works full time, bicycles, plays tennis, and wants to renew his pilot's license.

My husband is also recovering from a staff infection in his knee, and a lot of other nasty little things are happening. Below is my mother's and aunt's meatball recipe. Make them for some one you loved.

Meat balls a la Europa

1 lb ground turkey or other ground meat

about 1/2 c bread crumbs, I use Italian flavored

1 egg, beaten

1 finely chopped onion

Italian seasoning, oregan, basil, fresh if you can get it

Mint leaves, fresh, if you have them, just a handful

Salt and pepper to taste, or substitute garlic salt or Fresh Garlic

Mix all ingredients till well blended. Drop by round teaspoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet, and bake in preheated 425 degree oven for 15-20 mins.  Serve over pasta of your choice, or rice.  You can make a tomato bisque sauce to go with them.  Or, serve with spaghetti and meatballs.

They can also be fried in vegetable oil or olive oil.  In that case, lightly coat with egg and dip into flour.  Rice flower, or flower with cornstarch mixed in works best, but coat lightly.

For curried meatballs, add about one TLBSP curry and a little sesame oil and sesame seeds, toasted. They are good served with rice or rice noodles with oyster sauce, or Mongolian barbecue sauce.  I used Campbells Mongolian Barbecue Sauce for Slow Cooking, but I just stirfried it with meatballs and noodles.

For Swedish meatballs, serve with a dill sauce, brown sauce, or other favorite gravy.  Use them in a Beef Stroganoff recipe, too.

My mom served them as mezadakia, or appetizers, with feta, Calamata olives, sliced cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and other cheeses.

One of my little girl friends loved to come to my house to eat these, and my mom made them for her sometimes, just as a a snack.

Stuffed Peppers and Vegetables

1-2 lbs ground meat, I like Turkey or a mix
1 small can tomato sauce
3/4 c bread crumbs
2 eggs, or enough to bind the mixture
1 chopped onions, or 1 c chopped shallots or green onions
I Tblsp of wine, optional
1/c cooked white rice, optional
Oregano, Basil, Italian Spices, fresh if available, to taste
1c grated Parmesan, Romano, or other hard cheese, like Mdzithra or Ricotta Salata.
6 red, yellow, green peppers, a fresh tomato, zuchinni

Wash, halve, and seed the vegetables.  Halve peppers and tomatoes by cutting off the tops and saving them.  Set them aside.

Prepare meat mixture, stir and blend well.

Stuff the vegetables and cover with "caps."  If you wish to add an optional slice of cheese of any type five minutes before the vegetables are baked, leave of caps till after you place the cheese on them.

Place in a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.  Place vegetables in about an inch of water.  Bake about 45 mins or till meat is browned, at 425 degrees.  You can included sliced, peeled potatoes to make a complete meal.

Sometimes, I blend a pat or two of butter into the mixture, too.

Serve with wine and Greek peasant salad, tomatoes, onions, cucumber, feta, Calamata olives, oregano, salt and pepper stirred with olive oil, enough for dipping bread.

Rice pudding makes a great dessert.

Kali Orexi!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Addison Embroidery at the Vicarage: Barbara Pym

Today, I found my book was alluded to in this very nice blog:http://www.addisonembroideryatthevicarage.co.uk/2014/06/22/milk-chocolate-cake-chocolate-fudge-icing/#comment-340281  .

My title was also borrowed for a work on an author from India.  Go figure!  And, I have an authors page on Amazon UK, and am listed in Amazon France.   The paper from India is by Amitra Basu,  Sadat Hasan Manto’s BuSubversion of Romance in http://literaryjournal.in/index.php/clri/article/view/40