Sunday, June 24, 2012

Attitudes towards Child Birth

I've been experiencing a bit of culture shock over the differing attitudes towards child birth here in the deep south. Back in NE, there is a trend towards natural child birth - no interventions or medications unless medically necessary. This trend has been going on since my mother was pregnant with me! Here in the deep south, attitudes are definitely a good 30-40 years behind! C-section rates are close to 70%, episiotomy (which in NE will only be performed IF medically necessary) is common and why wouldn't you want to be induced? I actually had one woman that I barely know tell me to schedule a C-section rather than go through labor. She couldn't fathom why I wouldn't want major surgery. Hmmm....pain for a few hours/days or pain for a few WEEKS? Thankfully, my doctor supports all of my choices. She fully understands that I will leave the hospital if staff isn't listening to me. Now I just have to find a good birthing class online or on DVD. See, we don't have any of those within a 3 hour driving distance. Well, we have 1 "Christian birthing class" taught by some local minister. From what I've heard, pain management in that class is "offering your suffering up to the Lord" and praying. Yeah, because I could totally make it through THAT class without making the instructor cry. Anyone have any recommendations for a good online class or DVD on natural childbirth?

Sunday, May 6, 2012


DH has some very important meetings this week, so we went to purchase him some new dress shirts. For some reason, every time he wears a dress shirt, he ends up in lab and the dress shirt either ends up with a hole or a stain. So after what seemed like 6 hours of shopping, he had 4 dress shirts. When we got home, I went to put the dress shirts in the wash, only to discover that the packaging on men's dress shirts is a total pain in the ass. There were 3 plastic tag things to cut off, 2-3 stickers, a plastic collar thingy on one side and a cardboard collar thingy on the other side, a cardboard piece the shirt was folded around, a piece of tissue paper and 12 pins. Seriously, what gives? This can't be an environmentally friendly way of packaging the shirts. Why are shirts packaged this way anyways? Doesn't it make it hard to try the shirt on?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Maternity shorts

Yes, it is official, I'm pregnant. Having a short torso and really long legs, I'm already having issues finding maternity clothes. For the most part, maternity tops just don't come in petite. This isn't a really big deal as I am compensating by wearing tank tops underneath so that when the maternity top inevitably slides off my shoulder, at least I'm not baring my entire shoulder and chest! Obviously, some styles just work better than others. I've also managed to find jeans, which is good because I live in jeans when I'm in the lab. The piece of clothing I'm having issues with is maternity shorts. In lovely Mississippi, the only maternity shorts I can find are Daisy Dukes. Really? Who thought THAT was a good idea? Then again, most of the pregnant women I've met around here are a good 10-15 years younger than me (Mississippi has a HUGE teenage pregnancy problem, probably due to the fact that they outlawed sex ed in schools). So maybe Daisy Duke maternity shorts make sense to the teenage crowd? In any case, I've been able to order a single pair of mid-length shorts online (only had one pair in my size). So it looks like I'll be wearing those and an old pair of DH's workout shorts from the Navy this summer....

Sunday, January 22, 2012

HHS Edict Controversy

I have been inundated with friends and relatives posting on Facebook about how it is illegal for the US government to force Catholic institutions to "provide abortions and contraceptives" as it is a violation of the First Amendment. My reaction is that 90% of these people need to go back to school and relearn reading comprehension and civics. I have 3 main issues with these Facebook posts.

First issue: The HHS Edict States that Health Insurance Plans HAVE to offer coverage for contraceptives and abortions under preventive care. This means that the big Catholic Universities, Hospitals and Schools (ie businesses) must offer coverage for contraceptives and abortions. This does not mean that anyone is decreeing that people who object to these services HAVE to utilize them. The only must be included in the health insurance plan by law. Direct employees of the Catholic Church (think priests, nuns, rectory employees, groundskeepers, etc) are exempt from this requirement because the funding for their paychecks comes directly from a religious organization. Why are the Catholic Universities, Hospitals and Schools required to offer them? Well, because most of them accept at least some form of money from our government: research grants, Medicare payments, education subsidies, etc. If they don't want to offer contraceptives and abortion coverage then they do NOT have to. All they have to do is stop accepting government money for ANYTHING. Yet they are Businesses, so they don't want to do that.

Second Issue: I'm not sure WHERE people are getting this, but they seem to think that the Government is going to require Catholic Hospitals to offer contraceptives and abortions. In any case, my argument is the same as above- as long as they take Medicare, they have to have a contract with the Government. If the Government wants to stipulate that in order to get Medicare payments, they must offer certain services, well guess what, they can! This is called contract negotiation and it is part of the foundation of free commerce. Once again, the Catholic Church is under no obligation to enter this contract. However, without the Medicare contract, the Catholic Church has only two options. One is that they will have to turn patients away - thereby losing their status as Emergency and Trauma Centers as in order to earn these designations, you have to accept all patients regardless of insurance or ability to pay. The other options is that the church will have to shell out a LOT of extra money to finance the care of patients with Medicare. Either way, this hurts their profit margins.

Third Issue: The US Government is "attacking Catholicism." This isn't something "singling Catholics out." Catholics are just the only religion making themselves look like uneducated asses over it.

OK, end of my rant. Feel free to disagree - I do enjoy debating!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Absence from Blogging

As most people know, I've had a lot of changes in my life in the past year. I moved 1500 miles to take a new job in Mississippi. I love my job. As any scientist knows, when you take a new position, there is a lot of setting up new projects and grant/proposal writing. In my first 4 months, I spent so much time staring at a computer that I just can't come home and do it, hence the limited blogging. My husband and I also purchased our first home in July (which is a long story). As any homeowner knows, it takes some time (and lots and lots of trips to Home Depot) to get a new home the way you want it. While we're not done by any means (does it ever really end?), we've now limited ourselves to one project a month. So there is life after grad school. Not surprisingly, it's just as busy as life IN grad school. However, the paycheck is a lot better. :) I'll try to post more regularly from this point on.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"Every time I think about it, all I feel is angry!"

"Every time I think about it, all I feel is angry!" These words were spoken by a friend who is in the same shitty grad student situation I was in just a little over 2 years ago. Like me, she wrote her doctoral dissertation and has been put off by an advisor who doesn't give a damn. Unlike me, she doesn't get weekly emails with lame-ass excuses from her advisor, she actually had absolutely no contact with her advisor for 2 years. Her advisor even took a sabbatical to work with the Obama administration without even notifying her! Her university, unlike mine, DID step in -after 3 years when she refused to pay any more tuition without any progress on her degree! Although all her university has accomplished is re-establishing email contact between her and her advisor. She was supposed to have a defense date by now...she still hasn't received permission to distribute her thesis. Boy, do I know how that feels. I don't blame her at all for being angry. 2 years later and I can honestly say that whenever I think about how I was treated, I still get angry. Not just the "it really pissed me off" abstract angry but "I see red and I'm bound and determined to do whatever I can to 1. make sure it doesn't happen to anyone else and 2. make sure that no one I know even THINKS that attending that university is a good idea!

Revenge is a bitch and I'm really good at being a bitch. Yes, it would probably be healthier to forgive and forget. However, NOTHING would change. That is just NOT acceptable to me. If just thinking about the situation makes me angry 2 years later, then it is not some minor annoyance. I lost 3 years to Professor Sunshine's decision to not give a damn about my dissertation. That is 3 years of having to depend on others to support me. That is 3 years of canceling plans with friends because I just didn't have the money to go out. That is 3 years of depression and self-doubt for which there was no actual reason. I can't let it go. However, the ONLY things I can do is steer people away from that university and do whatever I can to get graduate education reformed in the US. Clearly, with the same thing happening to different students in different programs at different universities is an indication that something isn't right with our system and something needs to change. I think the best change would be for your advisor to NOT have a seat on your committee and NOT have a say in when you graduate, similar to the British system. Yes, the British system can be a bit harsh at times, but if you aren't going to get a degree, they flat out tell you. I haven't heard of anyone being strung along like I was in that system.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

AT&T Internet Service Saga

The second full day I was in MS, I discovered that I live on the wrong side of the street to get the MLB package AND NHL center ice (some services I could get one, but not both). So I decided to keep the TV packed up (it is an old 13 inch TV, so no big loss) and went to obtain internet service. First, there is no Fios and no broadband (well, no broadband without a multiple-year contract- something I don't want as I plan to move within 6 months) available here. So that means my choices are dial-up (haven't had to use dial-up since 1996!) or DSL. Of the DSL service providers, AT&T had the best service rating and actually the best prices. So I set out to acquire AT&T internet services.

Day 1- Struggled to locate AT&T store. Based on their address, they are at the local mall (if you can call a building with 5 military recruitment centers, a Radio Shack, a magic store and a movie theater a mall). However, they are not actually even located within the mall parking lot. They have a separate driveway next to the mall. You can't even get to said driveway from the mall parking lot! Finally find the store only to be told that without proof of residence, I can't set up internet service. Arrgh!

Day 3 - On the advice of an AT&T service rep at the store, I order internet service online (no proof of residence check!). No email confirming my order, which seems a bit odd.

Day 4- Call AT&T because still no email confirming my order. Am told that I need to call again the next day because it can take up to 24 hours for an order to be processed and the confirmation email to be sent.

Day 5 - Call AT&T again. Get Angela, the bitchy customer service rep. Angela tells me that my order was canceled because the telephone number I provided, my cell phone number, did not match the service area in which I wanted internet service. What an absolute crock. You can't tell me that in this day and age, this isn't something that AT&T doesn't deal with ALL THE TIME. I figure out pretty quickly that Angela just wants me to purchase more services. She gets very annoyed when I say slowly that I only want internet service. She then tries to sell me a landline. I ask her what good a landline would do when everyone would call my cell phone anyways. "Then you'd have a local number to establish internet service with" is her reply. She didn't like my reply of "that is the dumbest reason I have ever heard. Are you going to take my order for internet service or am I going to hang up, call back and give my order to a customer service rep that is going to listen to what I want?" Angela was very annoyed, but started processing my order- right up until the point where she told me how much it would cost- 3x what it would if I ordered service over the internet. I then told her that I wasn't interested in internet service at that price and asked her to match the internet offer. When Angela then informed me that she couldn't match the offer, I thanked her for her effort, told her I wasn't interested and hung up. I then spoke with my boss about using my office phone number as the reference number, got his OK, and placed yet another internet order.

Day 6 - Still no confirmation email.

Day 7 - Still no confirmation email, so I call AT&T and am informed that no such order exists. At this point, I have a signed copy of my lease, so I decide to go back to the AT&T store. I reach the AT&T store at 4:55pm and am turned away because they close at 5pm. What is with all these stores being open only from 9-5 on weekdays?

Day 10 - Go to AT&T store on my lunch break. They can't activate internet service because there is already service at my location. I'm going to have to get the previous tennant's service turned off before I can establish service. They call my landlady who does precisely nothing. Then Tamara, a supervisor at the AT&T store, pulls up the account information- and discovers that my INITIAL order, that Angela told me was canceled, has actually been processed! Tamara is then incredibly awesome as she worked to verify that my second order was never processed because there was already an active account. Tamara then gives me the UPS tracking number for my router. I call UPS, and discover that because AT&T didn't put my apartment number on the router box , they couldn't deliver it! I ask to have the package held and race to the UPS shipping center to pick it up. Follow the directions and set up internet access. FINALLY

Day 11 - My laptop has been on its last legs for 6 months- it finally dies. Massive hard drive failure, it would cost $800 to repair- decide to put that money towards a new computer.

Day 16- Receive my new Mac laptop (ordered online by my husband because I, of course, have no way of accessing the internet now). My Mac won't connect to the internet via ethernet. The wireless works no problem, but no ethernet. Damn. Is it my new computer, or this router?

Day 17 - Bring my new computer to work, it connects to the internet just fine via ethernet. Bring my work laptop home (PC) and it connects via ethernet, but not via wireless, Call AT&T tech support. Am treated like an idiot by Jed, who sounds like "Peggy" from the Discover commercial.... Work PC connects via wireless, but can't do anything on internet because I don't have permission for my computer to use wireless networks. Finally get the mac to connect to the internet via ethernet. Hang up the phone with Jed and 20 minutes later, the Mac can't connect via ethernet again.

Day 18 - Have the work IT people enable my work laptop to use wireless networks. Initially, they are very pissy about this, but when I point out that I'm not going to travel for work with a computer that can't use wireless networks, they do the job and enable the settings at my request. Bring work laptop home- still won't connect to internet via wireless (although it connects to the wireless network at the local coffee shop). Mac still won't connect to internet via ethernet. Call AT&T and get someone that knows Macs (finally!). I am given new settings to type in and everything appears to work by the time I hang up. Never addressed the problem with the PC.

Day 17 - Receive bill for internet service (with my apartment number on it!), that states my service start date is one week before I even received the router. Call AT&T billing. Daniella is initially resistant to my complaint, but warms up and gives me a credit for that week that I didn't have the router after I offer to scan and email the slip from UPS saying when I picked up the package (I did think ahead to ask for one!). I am a bit disgruntled to find out that my internet promotion rate won't kick in for 1-3 billing cycles, something I was never informed of!

Day 18- Mac can't connect to internet via ethernet again. This means that I can't watch the Red Sox-Yankee game online. Call AT&T tech support again. I get Andrea. Andrea stays on the line with me for 45 minutes trying to trouble shoot my problems. She is a bit annoyed that I don't have the PC home with me so she can check that issue, but she gets over it quickly. After 45 minutes, Andrea concludes that I need a new router. She orders one for me and nicely double checks that the address contains my apartment number so that I will get the new router in a timely manner.

Day 20- Receive the new router. Can't get the Mac to connect at all. Call AT&T tech support and get John, who initially treats me like an idiot. After 15 minutes, John realizes that the issue is that my passwords don't match- the new router isn't configured to use MY passwords yet, but my account is already set up, so I can't use the passwords that came with the router. John resets the passwords and I breeze through the set-up just in time to watch my first playoff hockey game that night!

Day 30 - Get my second bill from AT&T charging me for the new router, even though I had already mailed the old one back to them. Call AT&T billing and spend 30 minutes going up levels of management until they finally waive the fee for the second router because I can give them the tracking number of the one I mailed back to them.

Day 31- Lose internet connection intermittently throughout a playoff hockey game. After game is over, I call AT&T tech support. They have no explanation, so they transfer me to the billing office, where I get absolutely no where. Have now written a letter to AT&T with my complaints as well as contacted the better business bureau. I'm sorry, but if I'm paying for a service and not receiving that service, then I should get a refund for the service I didn't receive!

and so the saga continues.....