Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Yeah Baby. I Have Neanderthal DNA.

This, my dears, is a "spit kit." I am a naturally curious soul, and I recently read somewhere in some magazine about a company called 23 and me (23 as in the 23 pairs of chromosomes all human beings have) that will test your DNA and tell you your biological origins.

And I don't just mean your mommy and daddy and a generation or so back--I mean, your origins from as long as 15,000 years ago. They can even tell if you have any (gasp!) Neanderthal DNA in you. (Something like 2.5% is average for most of us--yes, Homo sapiens sapiens did mate with the Neanderthals, but our superior brains deemed us the fittest; we survived; the Neanderthals did not. I have approximately 2.3% of Neanderthal DNA. Ha! Maybe that explains the bushy eyebrows.)

Now, as we all know, the very first humans originated in Africa. So every last one of us started off there. But then there were migrations--to the north, then east, then back west and farther north, etc. Now, since I'm a female, the company could only test my maternal line (unless I were a bizarre anomaly who possesses a Y chromosome, which I don't), so I could only get results for my mother's bloodlines. I'm considering buying my brother a kit for Christmas, since Dad is dead, assuming we actually do have the same daddy, which I'm pretty sure we do, lol.... although he is the only person in the family with green eyes, hmmm.) But I'd be interested to see my paternal bloodline as well. Problem is, these kits cost $299. On the other hand, you get quite a bit of information for that amount of money.

So I joked on Facebook yesterday that I'm about as honky as a honky can get. My maternal bloodline is a subgroup of Haplogroup RO, known as Haplogroup V. Haplogroup V originated in Iberia during the Ice Age. After a last burst of cold conditions roughly 12,000 years ago, migrations carried the haplogroup northward along the Atlantic coast and through central Europe to Scandinavia. Today it is found in a wide variety of populations from the Basques of Spain to the Saami of Finland. My color coded "planet" chart put me in way northern Scandinavia, just a tick over from England--which is then probably where my mother's family migrated to and lived for many generations before heading over to America.

Other interesting things you can find out from the site are diseases common to your DNA group, responses your DNA group is likely to have to certain medications, and other interesting health-related things. One total non-surprise is that I genetically have a tendency to obesity, heart disease, and Type II diabetes, which does indeed run in my family.... so if it turns out we also get that on my father's side, well, we've got a double whammy and it's no surprise so many of us die in our 50s.

How it works: you pay your money, the company ships you a spit kit (pictured above), and you spend about 15 minutes gathering up enough spit to spit in the tube to the fill line. Then you ship your sample back in a pre-paid box and it takes about 2-3 weeks to get your results. The website is here: www.23andme.com.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Double Hummmmm, Baby!

OMG the neighbors are setting off fireworks and dogs are barking like crazy. The cats are running around the house with poofy tails.

I love my San Francisco Giants! Way to go, boys! To sweep in the World Series is no small feat.

Detroit gave us quite the fight tonight, sending the game into an extra inning, so congrats to the Tigers for showing a lot of heart. Better luck next year.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Winchester Mystery House

One of the most humiliating things that touristy places like to do is pose visitors in ridiculous positions with props and snap a photo in hopes of selling them to you at outrageously exorbitant prices.

So, today I visited the Winchester Mystery House with my friend Lisa, and naturally they had us pose with old model Winchester rifles. Because I am a person with a sick sense of humor, naturally I took the prop, immediately cocked the weapon, and pointed it straight at Lisa's head with my finger on the trigger just in order to make the other tourists behind us gasp. Silly people. If they think a tour guide at the Winchester Mystery House is going to actually hand anyone a working, loaded weapon .... well, they must believe the place is, like, totally haunted or something.

Anyplace that makes you walk into a gift shop first to buy tickets to get into the place is all about the money and not about much else.

Still, the story of Sarah Winchester is interesting, and anybody who is genuinely sensitive knows full well the old mansion has the random residual spirit hanging around---not because this place is anything special, but simply because the darn things are everywhere. Yes, I got poked, and since the only person behind me was Lisa (and she swears it wasn't her), and yes, there was one room where I definitely felt a presence. There was another area of the house that was a little harder on me because I couldn't feel an agenda (like curiosity) and I felt dizzy and nauseous. The rest of the place felt like mostly nothing, just a rickety, crazy old maze of a house--you know, with the doors opening to nothing or the stairs that go up and just end at a ceiling. I'd post pictures, but they don't let you take any from inside the house.

We also did the basement tour, which was kind of interesting because it would be a helluva place to be stuck perpetually shoveling coal into the furnace, dumping and sifting ashes. Mostly what I got was pictures in my head but I didn't feel anybody there--though Lisa (who is much more sensitive than I) said there was a grumpy old guy who more or less saw us as an annoyance and wanted to be left alone.

But that's me: I feel and hear; I don't see, and so for me I'm often left wondering "was that real or was that just my imagination?"

On the whole, it was still fun to visit but nowhere near as haunted as the USS Hornet.

To read about Sarah Winchester, go here.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Panda Man Can; Yes, the Panda Man Can

 What can I say?

Pablo (Panda) Sandoval hit not one, not two, but THREE home runs last night against the Tiger's star "unhittable" pitcher, Verlander.

So, the Giants are 1-0 in the World Series. Second game is tonight.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Giants Heading to the World Series! Humm, Baby!

OK, so I went to Sunday's game (we scored tickets in Club Section 106), which we won, tying the series. SO.... it went down to Game 7 after all. Now, this poor, hapless Tigger was so wiped out yesterday from the game on Sunday that, after being at work for a half hour or so, I knew I couldn't hack another game without making myself sick again (damn this thyroid issue anyway. I have virtually NO energy). With some reluctance--especially since it was raining buckets outside--I gave up my ticket to my brother-in-law, Jimmy, and so he and Chelle went to the game.

They were waaaaaaay up in the nosebleeds as this video will show. But that didn't make it any less exciting. Here's closer Romo tossing the last pitch, which is popped up and caught to win the game, 9-0, shutting the Cards out.

Favorite game moment: pitcher Matt Cain soundly smacks on the arm the guy on the Cardinals who tackled our Scutaro in the first game sliding into second base. You don't slide BEHIND someone, poor courtesy. He deserved to get hit by a pitch.

Oh.... in the video below, that's Jimmy who needs his mouth washed out with soap. LOL

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Let's Tie It Up, Giants!

Beat the Cardinals and stay alive!

Game's at 4:35 Pacific, 7:35 Eastern.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Hummmm, Baby!

Amazingly, the Giants managed to shut out the Cardinals tonight and stay alive in the race for the National League pennant.

So now the series is at 3-2 with the Cardinals up by a game, with two games left to go. Whoever wins 4 takes the pennant and goes to the the World Series to face the Detroit Tigers (who swept the Yankees).

Chelle and I already had tickets way up in the nosebleeds for Game 7 (if the Giants make it that far), but we are now thrilled to have scored three tickets to Game 6 to be played Sunday night. We're bringing along our friend Lisa, who will be getting the ultimate Giants experience: visiting AT&T Park for the first time in halfway decent seats for a championship game. The thing that would make it all perfection is if the Giants manage to tie the series up.

Of course the tickets are not cheap ($300 bucks a pop, ouch!) but tickets to the World Series games on Stubhub are already going for a cool $1300 a seat, and that's in the bleachers.

Considering that Tim Lincecum, our star pitcher, has totally lost his mojo and has not pitched well for much of the year and that Brian "Fear the Beard" Wilson, our star closer, has been out all season with an injury, it's actually pretty amazing the team has come this year as far as it has. Zito truly earned his paycheck tonight.

Oh, yeah, orange and black fever. We totally have it in this household. GO GIANTS!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Free Falling and Breaking the Sound Barrier

In case you missed this yesterday, Felix Baumgartner went up in a capsule attached to a cluster of balloons to an altitude of roughly 127,000 feet before leaping out of the capsule and plummeting to Earth.

It was a total freefall, with him tumbling uncontrollably head over heels and reaching speeds of over 700mph, so he broke the sound barrier doing it.

Even though I was home sick in bed, I watched it live online, mesmerized, and today--even though I'm still home sick in bed--I am still marveling over the fact that a man has done such a thing.

Even though I was too sick to go to the game last night--my brother-in-law, Jimmy, was more than thrilled to take my place--and even though the Giants lost 6-4, I am still marveling over the fact that a human being has done such a thing. He got his fall under control and his chute opened and he landed safely upright on his feet, incidentally.

If we can go to the Moon, put Land Rovers on Mars, and do things like this, why can't we as a species do something as simple as learn to get along with each other? To accept each other without condition as the beautiful creatures we all are? To embrace each other as the brothers and sisters we are, inhabiting just a single planet in a universe full of galaxies and, no doubt, housing other species on other planets besides us?

Video of Baumgartner's amazing feat is below.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Go Giants!

Well, all righty! The Giants are going to face the Reds with homefield advantage in the National League pennant race. Winner goes to the World Series.

We have bleacher tickets to Game One and nosebleed tickets to Game Seven (if the series goes that far).

So look for us on tv tomorrow. I'll be the big orange blob on the end of the front row bleachers in center field. Since it'll be a chilly night game, I've already decided I'm going to buy a Panda hat so that my poor ears don't get too cold.

This all assumes I can go to the game at all. Chelle has managed to give me the cold that kept her out of work two days this week, so I'll be doing everything in my power to fight this thing off today.... rest, hot tea, Yin Chaio and Gan Mao Ling (Chinese cold remedies that do seem to help), maybe some spicy sinus clearing food sometime today if my appetite wakes up.

Barring that, I still may go even if I feel like utter shit. It's not every day you get to go to a championship series game. I just may chug a bottle of Nyquil beforehand and simply hallucinate my way through the game.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Words With Friends

Well, today was the day! There was a President's Lecture Series on campus in which five members of the faculty who are published writers got to share a little of our writing and discuss our writing process. Here's me beforehand, all miked up and looking (I was told) just like a sportscaster.

Naturally, being the ham I am, I double-checked my mike prior to the beginning of the event by suddenly turning it on and quipping, "No, my name's not Janet; it's Miss Jackson if you're nasty." This, at least, brought laughter from the event coordinator, Helen, whereas the old ladies in the front row looked at me as if I'd lost my mind.

The event went well. Each of us read about a minute or two of a prepared poem or prose, and then the audience was invited to ask questions. There were none, so then our moderator (also one of the readers), Autumn Newman, went around the horn and asked each of us about the piece we'd each read. By that point, the audience had relaxed a bit more and we opened the floor to questions again, and questions--mostly directed to the entire panel--filled out the rest of the program.

It was pretty laid back and interesting, and it was nice to finally get an acknowledgment from the College of San Mateo that yes, indeed, there are members of the faculty who do creative writing and are published. Normally these events feature a "name" author--Anne Lamott, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Adrienne Rich are three who leap immediately to mind--so it's kind of cool to have now shared the same stage as writers of that caliber.

What I read was the first page and a half of the short story that is published here. It's called "How to Break Your Lover's Heart," and was, as I explained in the forum, inspired by a short story in Lorrie Moore's collection titled Self-Help. The title story was written in the 2nd person, which is pretty rare, so my story began as a writing exercise, really, and then grew and grew until it became something publishable.

Kudos to all those on the panel, who had some incredible poems and prose to share and who all answered questions thoughtfully and helpfully.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Letting Go

It is all about letting go. You cannot put down the big bag of garbage you're carrying slung over your shoulder if you're still emotionally invested in carrying it around. Why give the gift of forgiveness to the people who have hurt you? Because that damn bag of garbage is weighing you down so much that it's keeping you from moving forward. As for forgetting the bag of garbage, that's so you aren't tempted to go back and pick it up.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Guitar + Art: Life Off the Fault Line

I have no idea who this guy is or why he sent it to me on Youtube, but he did, and I'm glad he did. It's perfect for a Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

I Have to Brag on My Friend Matt

The husband of my BFINM (best friend I've never met) Dawn has created a wondrous thing that went viral on Facebook yesterday, so naturally I have to brag on Matt. Actually, I met Matt first because we are both big horse racing fans, and we used to hang out in a horse racing game on Facebook racing cartoon horses against each other. Oh yes, it was serious business. We each had stables of fine thoroughbreds all decked out with bug eyes and bling. Then the game developers reset the game and everybody had to start over from scratch, so Matt and I both walked away from the game in a huff.

But, we remained FB friends; his wife, Dawn, finally approached me online because it became clear from comments on posts that we both had the same zany sense of humor (as well as our other BFINM, Heather, who is presently on a Caribbean cruise so we are able to talk smack about her while she's away), and so we four have all become a rather tight-knit little group sharing the ups and downs of daily life. Yes, indeed, Facebook--it is a wonderful thing.

So, here is Matt's creation. It is a very clever use of the "Texts with Hillary" meme that Matt put together after Mitt Romney's declaration that he would eliminate funding for public broadcasting, despite the fact that he likes Big Bird.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

2012 Presidential Debates Drinking Game

Naturally, I don't recommend this for the alcoholics who follow this blog, but we can always drink club soda. For the rest of you, this just may be a good way to get through the debates without throwing things at your television set.

Hat tip to Lori Hahn.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Stinkin' Thinkin'

You want insanity? I'll tell you what insanity is. It's insisting you don't have an addiction problem when you do, and going out of your way to ensure other people don't think that as well. How do you do that? You cover your tracks.

I would sometimes buy a six-pack, then run back out to the corner liquor store to buy more when I ran out (until I wised up and started buying 12 packs or a six-pack of tall boys). When I went back the second time, I'd mumble some excuse about "my company drank up the beer" or "I didn't buy enough for my guests" so the cashier wouldn't think I'd drunk all the beer by myself. (Which, of course, I had.)

Or I'd go to two stores and buy two different kinds of beer and drink one six pack before my partner got home, then take out the garbage so as to hide the empties. Then I'd start in on the second six-pack, and when my partner got home, it'd look like I'd had only two when in fact I'd had eight.

Sometimes I'd keep a fifth of vodka hidden behind my guitar case or hidden in the bathroom under the sink behind all the cleaning supplies. Then I could sneak into the bathroom and have a shot or two, flush the toilet, and come out, my throat burning, looking for all the world as if I'd only gone in there to pee.

Never once did it occur to me this was crazy behavior.

In my way of thinking, I was just trying to avoid being nagged--because there was absolutely nothing wrong with the amount I was drinking. They just didn't understand that the amount was normal for me.

So let me be clear. When you lie about how much you drink, you have a problem. When you hide empties, you have a problem. When you hide booze so you can sneak drinks, you have a problem. It's not your wife; it's not your friends; it's not your family--it's you. The problem is in that glass in your hand.