Friday, January 27, 2017

Biotechnology and the Holocaust

It's my first week of teaching high school (hooray, I survived!), and I came in two weeks after the Winter Break so I'm rushing to get the students ready for their state performance quizzes in Unit 5 Genetics. We've been slamming through presentations and notes, and just took our last quiz (before Monday's unit exam). I wanted something easy on them for Friday, but still worth the time.

The last section of Genetics is biotechnology. We talk about genetically modified agriculture, karyotyping, and the bacterial production of insulin through recombinant DNA. I decided to include part of the TED Talk "The Ethical Dilemma of Designer Babies" by Knoepfer and use the last half of class to engage the students in an ethics discussion.

As a small sidebar, I like to have the National holidays on the board (National Pie Day, etc) and I'd forgotten to look them up. My co-teacher noticed and wrote "International Holocaust Remembrance Day". It was a perfect thing to tie into the biotechnology information, because we had a lot of really good "pros" for genetically modifying humans (removing cancer genes, autism, etc) but not so many negatives. A brief discussion outlining eugenics and Hitler's Dr. Mengele and suddenly the students had some "cons" to go with it! We got responses like "we could make super humans that enslave us" or "we might be racist against the genetically modified people (maybe not think they're human". Students were willing to say they were pro or con on the issue and tell us why. Once we reminded them they could be neutral or unsure in an ethical dilemma, more piped in with why they were unsure. Even in the rowdy class it was a huge success.

Stuff I'd like to tie in next time:
SC.912.L.16.10  Evaluate the impact of biotechnology on the individual, society and the environment, including medical and ethical issues.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Master of Environmental Science

Master of Environmental Science, 2016. We did my graduation photos in the Marshall National Wildlife Refuge, the focus of my research.  — at Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.
There were so many days when I thought I couldn't finish. I suffered from Imposter Syndrome the whole time! There I was, in a Masters of Science program, with other scientists, with my teaching degree. I had to work hard to catch up. When my project exploded and I had to switch to non-thesis, I wondered if it was proof that I couldn't be a scientist. I still don't really know, but I know it didn't stop me from getting a masters degree. We took my photos in the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, which was the focus of my research.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

20161112 FAU vs UTEP - Veterans Day Game

My husband and I were invited to attend the FAU vs UTEP football game, which  would honor veterans that attend the university. Neither of  us are big football fans, and neither of us have attended an FAU game before, but we accepted.  We were shown to an MVP box next to the Presidential Suite,  with other FAU vets (student and professor).

The food was complimentary and delicious. It's nice to have a tasty and filling vegetarian  option. The view was fantastic. The glass has a wall-sized sliding window, opened for perfect viewing. If games were like this all the time, I'd go more often.

Monday, November 7, 2016

2016 Halloween

I've allowed myself to get back into Halloween. For some reason, though it's my favorite holiday, for the past few years I haven't decorated or celebrated other than through our department group Halloween costume.This year I picked up some lights (half hung one of them) and bought a haunted gingerbread house kit (still unbuilt). I did put good work into the costume(s). The group theme was Superheroes/Villains. We get dressed up, take a group picture, and attend the university's Fall Family Festival as a group. They have free food, rides and games for kids, and usually stuff like face-painting, caricatures, and free university-themed swag. I'd originally planned on going as Kim Possible (from the cartoon of the same name)... but...

Always on the lookout for a good trenchcoat, I finally found an affordable ladies London Fog that fits (and even still has the flannel liner)! So, a pair of black-feathered wings from the Halloween store, and a bloodies up white-button-up shirt later and I am Castiel (from Supernatural)! A slightly bloody tan Army t-shirt and flannel included, and Husband is Dean Winchester (also from Supernatural)! He was NOT keen on the costume, simple as it was, because he's just not into Halloween. His buddy wore a doo-rag and went as "Prison Mike" from The Office, so Husband wore three circles taped to his shirt, and was "Three-hole-punched Jim".

Green Lanter, Superman, Spiderman (bottom), Green Arrow, Harley Quinn, Blossom (Powerpuff Girl), Three-Hole-Punch Jim (from the Office), Castiel, Jessica Jones, Star Lord.
FAU College of Science.

We found the Fall Family Fest to be underwhelming this year. No big inflated chair for our traditional group photo, only one bounce house and no shooting gallery (maybe because it was SO windy). There was an odd "ice-skating" rink, with polyurethane flooring and a snow machine. While the burger buffet was decorated with fall leaves and pumpkins, the seating area was decorated with huge snowflakes and blue-and -silver garland. We hung around a bit, and then reconvened at a friends house for a very low-key Halloween party. Monster cookies, adult beverages, Exploding Kittens, and some balloon volleyball. All in all, my kind of party.

I am an angel of the Lord. I'm the one who gripped you tight and raised you from Perdition.
(Windy night = showing off "Angel Power (TM)".)
OH, before we left to said Party, Husband surprised me by changing into the Dean shirts! (Love)
Our best "angry Supernatural faces", but I couldn't stop smiling.

Since Halloween was on a Monday this year, and Fall Family Fest was on a Friday, Husband and I also attended the Halloween party of a friend of ours on Monday evening. A garage party (so we could all hand out candy to the neighborhood kids), I once again wore my Castiel. I plan to... often.

The garage was decked out with bloody sheets, and while the kids got candy, their parents are offered beer from the keg! Then... Daniel, aka, The Butcher, ran his table saw and laughed maniacally.  A few screamed,  a couple bolted. It was hilarious,  and near the end of the night neighbors came over to compliment the event.  It was so much fun!

Halloween is the best holiday.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Review: First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers

First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers by Loung Ung
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this book for the 2016 Goodreads Read Harder Challenge: Read a book by a Southeast Asian author. Just looking for an author that satisfied that category, I learned I didn't even know what countries were considered "Southeast Asian".

This book is yet another example of a war I knew nothing about. I'd heard the name "Pol Pot" and heard he was "worse than Hitler*", but that's all. This first person account of the genocide of the Cambodian people was, skillfully written, beautifully narrated, and heartbreaking to read. What violence there is isn't any worse than any fiction novel I've read, but the true accounts of hunger, sadness, loneliness, helplessness... it's terrible. Loung Ung was five when the war started, and ten when it ended for her. Though she was so young, the author inserts history and fictionalized accounts of actual brutality (imagining the deaths of family members, in tried-and-true Khmer Rouge methods). Though it was so heartbreaking, it was a fast read; both the narration and the storytelling made me anxious to continue.

I never would have read this book without the Goodreads challenge, and that's happening a lot lately. As with previous books on real-life accounts on wars I didn't know about, I'm curious to learn more about what happened.

*As a statistical aside, Pol Pot killed about 2 million Cambodians, Hitler killed about 6 million Jews alone.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Frankenstein, Nation Theatre Live

Frankenstein by the National Theatre Live,  starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller (from Hackers!). Filmed live, the result is simulcast to movie theaters. I missed seeing it last year, since the closest theater showing it was 100 miles away. This year, the NTLive newsletter from June told me it would be playing at my local theater and I bought a ticket that day.

The play is based on the book, so many might not have really known what was going to be in it.  In fact, on the way oyt I heard an older man asked if it was bad on the book,  after an older woman said it wasn't what she expected and didn't like it. I assured him they did a very good job. It was condensed, as it would have to be, and done in such a way that the disjointed, jarring nature played well with the grotesque and tragic acting, set, and direction. It was fantastic.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Review: East To The Dawn: The Life Of Amelia Earhart

East To The Dawn: The Life Of Amelia Earhart East To The Dawn: The Life Of Amelia Earhart by Susan Butler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this book two two reasons: Secondly, I was tasked with a biography for the 2016 Goodreads Read Harder Challenge; Firstly, I own "The Sound of Wings" by Mary Lovell but haven't been able to convince myself to continue it, though I really liked it when I started it in May 2014.

"East to Dawn" is interesting, providing a wide view lens on Amelia and her life, motivations, and background. Some of the technical details made the reading dry at times, and I was thankful to be reading it by audiobook, though the calm and not-quite-monotone voice of the narrator didn't help in those dry spots. (She did have good enthusiasm at times, but what altogether reserved.)

This book has me curious to read Eleanor Roosevelt's autobiography (due to their relationship in the book). I also wonder if the The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR)'s 2015-2016 work on what they think is the remains of Earhart and her plane, will make it into any revised edition in the future. I found some of the speculations on her disappearance, presented at the end of the book, to be very interesting, as the world seems to as well. The narrator white-knuckles the reader through the play-by-play of disappearance and search, and swoops perfectly into these speculations. A good job on her part.

So, while it might be a bit of a challenge in pacing, I do recommend this book. I can't say it would have been better or worse than "Sound of Wings", but it was the one I was able to find on audiobook (a Must for me, at this time in my life).

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