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I got lucky, and I don't know why.

I'm lucky because I'm gluten-intolerant. I'm lucky because the headaches are lessened, the depression is lessened, the GI problems are cured through a dietary change. In the chronic illness roulette, I got the disease that can be completely mitigated through excluding certain grains from my diet. Eating gluten-free has caused me to lose weight and gain energy. Massive energy, from my point of view. I'm no longer dragging through my work day, hoping I'll have the energy to do the dishes at the end of it. It is – dare I say it? – normal energy, the kind of energy a not-sick person has.

This is enormous for me; if I had known this five years ago my dissertation might have been easier, I might have put less stress on my loved ones, I might not have spent time in the hospital. I'm not focusing on the ifs, but I see them out of the corner of my eye and I'm a little wistful about the pain I might have been spared. Instead, I'm focusing on the tremendous luck I'm experiencing.

I'm lucky, because my friends with Crohn's disease and MS and fibromyalgia and lupus won't get this. I'm lucky because most people with depression and migraines won't find a factor that's exacerbating their conditions and that they can fix. I'm lucky because I've been supported in my illness and I'm now being supported in recovery.

A lot of people aren't this lucky, and that's why we need research to find cures for their illnesses. That's why we need to remember that not all disabilities are visible, and why we need to make our work schedules flexible, our buildings accessible, our health care available, and our actions cognizant of the fact that just looking at people doesn't tell you who's lucky and who's not.

If you're looking for information about chronic and invisible illness, I suggest the website http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/.
Current Mood:
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Dear Friend,

If you're receiving this letter, then you either are or have been a gifted student, a parent of a gifted student, or know or have known a gifted student at some point. No matter which of these categories you fall into, you probably know very well some of the trials and tribulations gifted students face, even in the best of schools. Many of you also probably know some of the extracurricular programs developed for gifted students within the schools, as well as some of the summer programs. Unfortunately, in this economy, many of these programs are drastically underfunded, many of the summer programs find themselves needing to cut corners wherever possible, and overall, the quality of education is not as high as we all might like it to be. While we cannot fix everything at once, we would urge you to consider making a tax-deductible donation to SPARC, the Summer Project for Academic Reach and Creativity. As a 501(c)3 organization, SPARC is aiming to create a summer enrichment program to serve gifted students not only academically, but also socially and emotionally. Our goal is to use charitable contributions to help us attain the best faculty and staff, as well as campus rental, all without having to be so expensive that it becomes difficult for most families that currently have gifted children, i.e, the ones who need it most, to afford it. Any and all contributions to add up, and will have the effect of improving not only the academics of the students, but helping to enrich the lives of all involved.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Rebecca Robare, President

Gil Cnaan, Vice President

SPARC INC 501 (C)3
111 N. 9th St #300
Philadelphia, PA 19107
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Follow link. Read down.  Help?  Which you can do by buying books, so, you know, it's not like we weren't going to do that anyway...
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Watch, think, pass it on.  Maybe to our representatives and senators?  http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/07102009/watch2.html
Current Mood:
pissed off pissed off
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Yes, this is shameless promotion.  My friend Lyndsay Faye has written a book.  Not only has she written it but it has been published and is available in bookstores as of today.  The book is called Dust and Shadow, a story about Holmes and Jack the Ripper, and it is highly enjoyable.  She has done a fantabulous job and Simon & Schuster is already looking forward to publishing her next novel.  If you are buying a book this week, I highly suggest this one.  If you are not buying a book this week, go and ask your library to get it!
Current Mood:
cheerful cheerful
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Some of you already know about SPARC.  Actually probably all of you, since it's a small group that reads this lj.   :)  SPARC's first big fundraising event is coming at the end of this month.  The Totally Normal Event is being put together by Jeff Mach of Wicked Events and promises to be an exciting time for all.  We have

-great performers -- Voltaire, Freezepop, Brian Viglione of Dresden Dolls fame, for a few

-vendors selling cool stuff -- think along the lines of swords and sex toys

-tribes of people who share common uncommon interests -- I myself am a Mad Scientist

-and more!

The event is taking place at a very nice hotel in Whippany, NJ, nice in terms of both the hotel itself and the attitude of the management to our strange group.  Tickets are, I believe, $30 at the door, but less in advance.  You can come for the day, but if you can, get a hotel room and stay the night -- these folk are famed for their afterparties!  It will be a fantastic time, and is in support of SPARC.

PSA ends.  Thanks for reading!
Info about the Totally Normal Event: http://www.wickedfaire.com/TNE/index.html
Info about SPARC: http://www.sparcsummer.org
Current Mood:
excited excited
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Eight hour day number two.  Got lots of stuff done -- some things actually finished (at least till my advisor sends them back for rewrites) and some bril results on my model.  In an environment with 25% labeled data, addition of the Hebbian term to the learning algorithm results in approximately 100% improvement in generalization performance.  The only downside is that I may have uncovered a ceiling effect.  This is what we call a good day.
Current Mood:
accomplished accomplished
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I am unnecessary.  Harvey Fierstein rocks (but we all knew that, didn't we?)

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The Phantom Menace.  George Lucas got a few things right, there.  "Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hatred, hatred leads to suffering."  Right on Master Yoda.  I'm not even going to talk about suffering, it's too obvious.  I'm going to stick with the first part of the lesson: fear, and hatred.  Specifically hatred.

See, Don Imus has been suspended.  Not that I care specifically about him; I don't think I've ever heard his show. (Stay with me here; it doesn't matter for what I'm going to talk about.  This isn't about Don Imus.)  His crime was some sort of racially offensive remark.  I have no idea what it was; obviously the news programs are not repeating it.  I'm going to assume, since the whole world seems to be up in arms over it, that it was in fact pretty offensive.

As offensive as Michael Richards?  As offensive as Mel Gibson?

See, I'm not interested in these people, particularly, or in what they said or even who they managed to piss off.  I'm interested in the fact that they managed to piss off somebody.  That in a moment of bad judgement, of not thinking about it, what emerged from their mouths was hateful speech against one group or another.

Hateful speech is a symptom.  If we accept Master Yoda's assertion, these people express hatred because they are angry.  And they are angry because they are afraid.  (Spider Robinson has written artfully about anger always being fear in disguise.  The next time someone gets mad at you try to figure out what they're afraid of.  Interesting things happen.)  If hateful speech, or any other act of hatred, is a symptom of fear -- what are these men afraid of? 

But there's another symptom, here, and that is the reaction of society to hateful speech.  We suppress it, hide it, publicly condemn those who have spoken it.  We do not expose it, or question it, or talk about racism or anti-Semitism or other form of bigotry.  In fact, we hate the people who say it.  Because we're afraid.  I think this fear is a little more obvious than the other kind.  We're scared that people might believe untrue things about us or our friends.  Scared that if we let the rhetoric of hate have free rein that we will permit oppression, even genocide if taken to its extreme.

But we forget that suppression is never a solution.  A school that refuses to talk about bullying is a safe haven for bullies.  A school that refuses to talk about sex is one with a high number of pregnant teens.  A country, a world, that does not talk about its hatred is one where hatred is, perversely, allowed to flourish.

There's not much we can do about the celebrities, the ones with the microphones, the ones with the cameras.  But if we are seeing this fear in people who are so much in the public eye, how much fear is there not recorded by the tabloids?  All we can do is watch ourselves, and each other.  When someone speaks to you in a hateful way, ask them what they are afraid of.  If you hear hate in your own voice, ask yourself about the source of your fear.  Maybe interesting things will happen.
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Oooh, a second post. This is one better than I've ever done on a blog before. I've been taping my dissertation notes to the wall and will probably have to start moving furniture to accomodate it. My trip to England was fantastic, by the by, and here's a pic to prove it:

This is from the Sherlock Holmes Museum in Baker Street, London. Sherlockians are not to miss it.

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