Life Excerpt 08/19/2015

Random thought occurred to me as I was looking up more information on Korean history: I am part of the indigenous population in Korea. In a way, that term has become so synonymous with the First Nations that at first, the thought struck me as odd. But I suppose that I am ethnically part of the indigenous people of the Korean Peninsula.

The Travel Bug

I don’t remember how I stumbled about this thought, but it has been floating around my head for a month or so now. I really want to do a self guided bike tour. A bike tour simply means that I’d be touring a location, whether that be another country, or someplace close to home, on bike instead of by car or any other means of transportation.

Alas, as a poor grad student, I don’t have the time or money right now to make these dreams into a reality, so on the bucket list it goes! One of the first websites I had stumbled upon was travellingtwo, who have published a few resources to help people with starting out on bike tours.

But my question is this, does anybody know how you’d go about using the bathroom when there isn’t one available on the road or in the woods? I understand how one would relieve themselves of their liquid waste, but what about the other end of things? Would a hole have to be dug, like a cat in a litter box?

Well on the bright side of not being able to do this trip right away, I’ll at least have time to figure it out!

Life Excerpt 06/13/2015

So today I was crossing the street, but had decided to start crossing even though the hand sign had started flashing. Midway through, I noticed the hand had stopped flashing and the left hand turn signal had come in, so I proceeded to run. The car still stopped at the red light (so perpendicular to the direction I was walking in) yelled at me through his slightly ajar window, “HEY! Don’t walk stupid!”

I don’t know if he had intended for me to hear since his window was only slightly open, but I looked over at him from across the street nonetheless. Upon noticing that he had my attention, he just kept calling me stupid till his light turned green. I hope the fact that he was able to convey his heartfelt message made him feel better since he seemed upset on behalf of all road users.

So I apologize, vehicle users of Ann Arbor, for crossing at an importune time. But know this, road vigilante in a pick up truck is looking out for you.

Korean MERS Outbreak 2015

It seems that there has been a lot of panic recently due to the news that there has been an outbreak of Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in Korea. This coronavirus, the same family as SARS, was fairly exclusive to the middle east till this recent outbreak, but has never been of much concern due to its inability to spread efficiently from person to person. (Not to say that there haven’t been cases elsewhere!)

As I was perusing several different articles, I came across a few written by the media, sensationalizing this outbreak. There were people commenting on forums on how they cancelled their travel plans due to this outbreak, and crying out, “why aren’t public events being cancelled?” And it irked me that these people, without looking at the facts, were publishing these articles and creating more hulabaloo.

Here is an article published in nature that explains why this outbreak is of little concern, which will explain it much better than I could. If you are very worried about your travel plans, please keep an eye out for WHO’s travel restrictions. I spoke to one of the infection preventionists at the hospital, and if you are worried about quarantine, don’t fret, the most action that they are planning on having to take is to add another question to their Ebola screening questionnaire. In fact, based on this article, it seems that WHO is asking for South Korea to reopen schools. In one of our epidemiology classes this year, we had a guest speaker who had actually mentioned in previous infectious disease outbreaks, closure of schools did very little to stop the disease since people did not necessarily stay at home when schools closed.

I hear that a lot of individuals are going out wearing facemasks in Korea at the moment, but they do less than you think they do. They don’t stop transmission of aerosols, which is not a problem in this case since MERS is not spread through the air. (But it would not for instance, stop the spread of TB.) And they are more effective if the person that is sick is the one wearing it since then they can’t cough out spit droplets loaded with viral particles on innocent bystanders. They will protect you from accidentally inhaling or having other’s droplets enter your system, but it certainly won’t be as effective as practicing good hand washing hygiene.

MERS hasn’t spread in the community, and it is unlikely it will since its transmission has not shown to be very effective at spreading between healthy human individuals. So as long as you’re not rubbing your face all over hospital bed sheets, becoming blood brothers with MERS patients, and/or being heavily slobbered on by a patient, you should be pretty safe in Korea.

But still wash your hands, because it’s always good to practice good hand hygiene.

Sad news.

Today I got news that my elementary to high school friend had passed away yesterday. It has been about less than a week that we were told that he didn’t have that much longer to live.

I never really liked talking too much about the death of my friends because it felt like by talking about it, I would somehow make it about me when it’s all about them, but I know he would have liked for people to know about his journey.

We were never that close, which is a disclaimer I feel like so many people give when writing on people’s Facebook walls, but it doesn’t really matter as long as your heart is in the right place. We haven’t spoken in five years, and we probably would have continued to not speak since our lives went in different directions. But I will still miss you. You were an important part of one of the most important times in my development as a human bean. Perhaps I am attaching too much significant on something inconsequential.

You were diagnosed with cancer around the same time as Victor. About four years ago. Although he didn’t make it, I was extremely happy that you had even if you had lost a leg to cancer. With the news of the re-occurrence and metastasis I rooted for you, and I will still keep rooting for you. Thank you for having been a part of my life in a positive way. I am sending you lots of love.

Chicago!

The Bean Outside     The Bean Inside

I had visited Chicago this past weekend since it is only a 3 and a half hour drive from Ann Arbor. Long story short, I loved it. Having been living in a smaller town since August, I loved being back in a big city. I loved feeling tiny next to grandiose buildings. I loved being back close to a body of water (Navy Pier!). I loved being back in a city with a Chinatown. And I loved the diversity of people.

Also, I didn’t realize that I missed seeing so many McDonald’s until I went to Chicago. But Chicago, is a two story, huge ass Pantheon of a McDonald’s really necessary?

McDonald's

Don’t get me wrong, I really like being here in Ann Arbor, but since umich is such a huge part of the city’s identity, everyone I meet here seems somehow affiliated with the school. I’ve met students, professors, more students, employees, guest lecturers, people working to pay for their schooling, etc, who all have the University of Michigan in common. So the network is pretty fantastic, but it was also a nice reprieve to see people go about their daily lives who are not all linked to one institution.

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Life Excerpt 03/26/2015

Today my TA went over the Poisson distribution in lab.

But instead of saying poisson like you would in French, she kept saying poy-sson with the stress on the penultimate syllable as you would in English. (In this case, the first syllable of the word.)

I cringed, and then I cringed again at myself for being enough of a snob about it to cringe in the first place.

Dreams: A Cancerous Toe

So I just had a dream last night where I came home to find my family all huddled around together. They tell me that my Dad has cancer in his toe, which then proceeded to fall off. For some reason they kept the toe in the bag that I keep my pencils. It looks like it was a very clean break with no blood: like almost how breaking off a piece of chocolate looks. They also tell me that he’ll need my bone marrow.

Of course instead of thinking how ridiculous all of these facts are, my first thought was: Oh okay, if it’s the toe, I don’t think it will have an easy time metastasizing to other organs like lung cancer.