Friday, August 28, 2009

Birthday concert fun

On Wednesday night Carrie and I headed to the Palace for a concert for a birthday present (for me!) Yes, I celebrated my 30th birthday at the American Idols Live concert, me and thousands of screaming tweens. Let's be honest, I was really just there to see Adam Lambert and he didn't disappoint me. I think he played the longest set, and got the most cheers, way more than Kris! Check out the review

Friday, August 21, 2009

When I was a 6 year-old anti tobacco/smoking activist

While I was eating lunch the other day I noticed a whole slew of kids who had come to work with their parents. They seemed to be having a great time and asking their parents all sorts of questions about their job(s).

Suddenly I remembered a time I came to work with my mom. she was working as an academic advisor/counselor at a community college in Southeast Michigan. On the day that I was visiting the president of the college just happened to stop by the building for a visit.

I can imagine my mom may have been concerned--having her kid with her..or maybe not. She always worked full time as we were growing up, and there were rarely any childcare snafus. Anyway....I remember looking up at this really tall man in a black suit and bright tie (It was about 1985 and I was about 6 years old.) He was smoking a huge cigar (inside). Before getting intorduced I blurted out "Ewwww, that stinks! Get away from me." My mom was appalled, and clearly embaressed by my outburst. She tried to scold me and brush it off. I remember him laughing, and saying, "yes, it is pretty stinky and not good for you either."

I'm not sure where this random membory came from...LOL

But I kept thinking...WHAT...this was in the early 80's and someone was smoking inside a college? I quickly looked up The Michigan Clean Indoor Air Act that passed in the 80's, and was shocked that it wasn't passed until 1986. It seems so strange that before then people were smoking inside all kinds of buildings.

It makes me hope that in 10, 15, 20 years from now-someone will remember a time when folks smoked a bars and restaurants in Michigan, and it will seem so unbelieveable.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

"sex-determination testing" for athletes

I don't typically read the sports section, but this headline made me stop:
Caster Semenya Faces Sex-Determination Testing After Winning World Track Title

Aside from the ignorant quotes from the other athletes, I think the article is pretty well written and makes some good points.

“It turns out genes, hormones and genitals are pretty complicated,” Alice Dreger, a professor of medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University, said in a telephone interview. “There isn’t really one simple way to sort out males and females. Sports require that we do, but biology doesn’t care. Biology does not fit neatly into simple categories, so they do these tests. And part of the reason I’ve criticized the tests is that a lot of times, the officials don’t say specifically how they’re testing and why they’re using that test.”

Also...I had no idea that sex-determination testing was obligatory for female athletes at the Olympics up until 1999. Now the testing is just reserved for "special cases". It really does seem like they are just going to make a social decision about what "counts" as male or female and say that it was really scientific.

I'll be interested to see what comes of this...

Friday, August 14, 2009

What the hell is Bioethics?

A lot of people in my life have been very confused as to what I am doing now, what bioethics is, and why I took this research job. In an attempt to offer folks some more information I thought I would write a blog entry.

First, my undergraduate degree and coursework focused on medical sociology. I would describe medical sociology as the sociological study of of medicine-as a social institution, its knowledge, practice and effects on socieity. Medical sociologists investigate the social organization and production of health and illness, sociology of the health professions, and science and technology studies that relate to medicine and health care. They are also interested in lay experiences, or how everyday people expereince health and illness.

Bioethics is simply the study of ethics applied to the medical field. It often focuses on ethical controversies brought about by advances in biology and medicine. Bioethicists are concerned with the ethical questions that arise in the relationships among life sciences, biotechnology, medicine, politics, law, philosophy, and theology.

The field of bioethics addresses a broad swath of human inquiry, ranging from debates over the boundaries of life (eg. abortion, euthanasia) to the allocation of scarce health care resources (eg. organ donation, health care rationing) to the right to turn down medical care for religious or cultural reasons.

One of my main interests in the field of bioethics is human experimentation-protection of vulnerable subjects, informed consent, community participation in research, etc. The National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research was initially established in 1974 to identify the basic ethical principles that should underlie the conduct of biomedical and behavioral research involving human subjects. However, the fundamental principles announced in the Belmont Report (1979)--namely, autonomy, beneficence and justice--have influenced the thinking of bioethicists across a wide range of issues.

Currently I am working with numerous faculty members at the University of Michigan’s Bioethics Program on a wide variety of research including:

-Physician discipline
-Healthcare rationing
-patient/provider communication and trust
-Community input in setting research agendas and distribution of funds
-End of life decisions

Anyway, I hope this answers some of your questions! Feel free to check out the department website

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Massachusetts Department of Public Health LGBT 2009 Study

Massachusetts Department of Public Health just released a new study. they frequently have pretty good needs assessments and LGBT health studies. The study compares the health of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents to heterosexual and non-transgender residents. Here's the REPORT in PDF.

Some of the more startling info: about 31 percent of transgender respondents said they have considered attempting suicide in the past year, compared to just 2 percent for heterosexual residents, 4 percent for gay and lesbian residents and 7 percent for bisexual residents.

Respondents were asked about their smoking history and current smoking status. Gay men and lesbians (11.3%) and heterosexuals (11.8%) had lower percentages reporting current smoking,compared to bisexuals (14.0%) and transgender persons (15.4%). I don't think this is shocking (although these usage rates are much much lower than what we have seem for Michigan in the LGBT community as a whole-31%) however, I do find it interesting that Bi folks have quite a few similar health behaviors and negative health outcomes as trans folks.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The vanpool lane

So, since Carrie and I won’t be uprooted to Ann Arbor or Ypsi anytime soon I decided to join a vanpool. I decided to toss away commuter lots and 45 minute bus rides to and from my building (happily) peaceful me time, and listening to books on CD (sadly).

This whole vanpool thing that UM offers is pretty amazing. Each participant pays a small monthly fee ($25 pre tax) and they provide a brand new van, it’s like a Klatosch luxury van, for those of you who know what I’m talking about (lol). They pay for the maintainence and all other expenses related to the vehicle and the riders just share gas costs.

Of course you have to sign your life away and read the 20 page VanPool Program Manual which says some pretty funny things like: “We do not expect all participants to be great friends.” And “The choice of the radio station is at the discretion of whoever is driving the van and should be operated at a reasonable volume.”

This is just a little background leading up to today…My first day as the driver.

Initially I wasn’t too nervous about being the driver. I thought folks would drive carefully and slow 1). Since it’s a minivan; 2 )It’s owned by the University 3). Five of the other vanpool members are Asian Pacific-Islanders, some quite a bit older than me (I know…I know that’s a stereotype….)

Which proved to be horribly wrong. They all drive fast. Like…speeding, or just about speeding. They whip around turns and weave in and out of traffic. It’s not like a crazy out of control kind of thing, but there’s definitely a sharp contrast between my defensive, slow, and oftentimes terribly distracted driving.

(I want to mention here that I really like and respect all the members of the vanpool. Seriously, they are really funny and nice.)

All the way to the pick up location I keep repeating, “you can do this…you can do this” This makes me seem really really neurotic, and I’d have to agree with you.

As soon as I got in the driver’s seat I quickly adjusted my seat and mirrors and took off. (By observation of our/their vanpool culture there is no dallying, and you take off as soon as everyone’s ass hits the seat).

To make a long story short---because of the storms last night all the traffic lights were out for the majority of our commute. Of all the fucking days. LOL. This made for a hellish commute, with everyone watching every stop and go and lane change, etc. But after a while I got going and it was okay. I noticed people drifting to sleep or leaning back and play with ipods. SUCCESS, I thought. Now, I just have to drive home.

Thankfully I only drive once every 6 days. I don’t think I could take much more.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

What a waste of time...

Yesterday we headed out in the crummy weather to the Michigan Medical Marijuana Expo in Detroit.

Our first hint that things were not going to be good should have been when we read "very limited handicap parking available" on their flyer. Hmmmm, that's odd I thought. Why would an event largely for people using/or looking to use medicinal marijuana and their allies/supporters disregard the needs of people with disabilities?

But when we got there, it was beyond terrible. The event had a total disregard for accessibility issues. You can read a full review on GreenCrip's Blog.

Something has to change so that patients and caregivers are placed at the front of this movemennt.

Friday, August 07, 2009


I heard yesterday that my sister who lives in Cincinanti was in a very bad bike accident.

She was riding a new mountain bike on a trail alone and it begun to get dark, faster than she expected. She was coming down a hill nearing the end of the trail and i guess was going pretty fast. She didn't see the trail posts (going across the start of the trail to make sure no cars or 4 wheelers can get through). She hit one hard-was thrown from her bike, shattered her fibula and cracked her head pretty hard.

Thankfully she was able to use her cell phone to call for an ambulance....she was taken to the ER and had emergency surgery to repair the her leg...she needed to have metal rods, etc. Thankfully she was wearing a helmut (which was cracked in half from the accident).

It's so scary and I feel terrible that she went through that alone. Times like these I wish she lived in state. I'm going to send her a care package this weekend. :(

Thursday, August 06, 2009


There is something difficult about saying this, but here goes...

I am completely happy about being mediocre.

I enjoy waking up early and commuting. Not being in charge. Being a supportive person and not a leader responsible for so much. Having a little role at a big place instead of a big role at a little place.

I just want simple things-to do intellectually stimulating work, research work with real world applications in an environment that's healthy and free of stress (the unhealthy kind of stress, that is)

I'm overjoyed to be working in the Bioethics program at U of M. I suppose, in reality, many people wouldn't consider Bioethics research a mediocre career move. Ah...the ever critical Virgo strikes again.

But there is something peaceful and nice about getting out of the LGBT focused non-profit (industrial complex) world---that's a bit dramatic, but I feel that way at times.

Also, everyone seems so interested and concerned about the fact that I'm no longer doing queer/trans first I was concerned as well, but then realized my response was only out of guilt. I guess I could argue that I am in some way doing "LGBT work" by doing the work I'm doing from a queer/trans perspective. But I don't need to tell myself that to feel okay. I already feel great...and know that I will find ways to contribute that feel good to me.