I’m heading into the PCR lab in a bit (yup…it’s a Sunday, I’m not resting, guess I’m not God) and I thought I’d share a little bit of myself with you. Yesterday’s post about my experience as a nursing assistant was only a small tidbit of my life yet it was definitely a huge chunk. You don’t spend 12+years doing something and then just toss those days out the window. But grad school is definitely a one of a kind experience. I’ve blogged a bit about this before. Will do so again if you’re interested…but for now I’d like to share with you a little bit of my driving motivation/keeper-of-sanity…The Mountain Goats. From middle school through my years at a community college I was always involved in music. I played four instruments (my favorite will always be the bassoon) and have always felt the arts are an all-too-often neglected portion of our educational system. This may sound strange coming from someone who is in the sciences, but contrary to popular belief, the brain isn’t divided between artsy and sciency folk.
That being said, music has, and continues to be, an important component of my life. Whether it’s karaoke or just screaming along with classic rock in my car as I drive down the highway, music is important to me. Many artists provide the soundtrack for my life and I will forever be grateful for their work. Whether it’s Elton John,Jim Byrnes, Dvorak, or Aaba, I appreciate and even love their work. Here’s a little tune that I listen to when I need a little reminder of why I do what I do.
“Do every stupid thing that makes you feel alive…”
I’m going to take a bit of a break from my normal ramblings about bugs, science, and weird random things to talk about something hugely important to me. Those that have known me for a long time know that I spent a significant amount of time employed as a nursing assistant. Split rather evenly between nursing facilities and home care I spent in total about 12 years dedicated to this. Though a few of my clients/residents were sound of mind and body, needing help with things such as cleaning, cooking, and shopping, the majority of my time, and by choice I might add, was spent with people with dementia, Alzheimer’s, or some other developmental disability. I worked with a few children but the vast majority were seniors, and that’s what I preferred. When I say I “by choice” I am quite serious. I vastly preferred working with someone with dementia than some one who was “”sane””. The facilities I chose to work at were dedicated to care for those with dementia. When providing home care those were the clients I would choose. Yes, this did often mean I would eventually be providing hospice an end of life care but that wasn’t so much of a burden as it was just a natural progression of things. Some people have problems with that but I never did. I couldn’t handle the kids, let them do it and every one will be happier for it, that’s what I thought.
The way we treat the elderly in our society is quite troubling to me and often confusing. We supposedly teach children to respect their elders but when things get too tough we ship them to a facility. Yes, in many cases the level of care needed and cost associated make it difficult to provide an idea home care scenario (and egregiously inefficient, money-grubbing way many private insurance companies handle these situations). Home care is great but, even in an idea situation, not always a possibility. A few years into my career as a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) I began work at my first dementia-focused facility. When built the designers had a simple idea, make it resident-friendly. This line of thinking also played into the next place I worked at (for the record, I worked at both of these places for a time…why? because I’m insane). Circular designs allow for continued movement. Chairs and couches throughout providing resting areas when needed were in place and occasionally someone had a pet. Simple little touches made so much of a difference in the resident’s lives.
Taken to the next level (or a few levels) is a new “facility” in The Netherlands. It’s not so much a facility as it is a village. Yes, an actual village. Complete with shared apartments with live-in staff (in street clothes, not scrubs), supermarkets, etc. And while I may not care for all of the design elements incorporated and don’t particularly understand some of their choices, I brush that off to being cultural aesthetics or similar. Either way, this is some serious mind shifting in how we address the aging population and the fact that 1 in 3 seniors have dementia. When I say “aging population” I mean us. You and me and everyone who isn’t reading this rambling bambling blog. I’ve seen many times over the realization on a person face when then know their mental faculties are fading. When they realize they’re in a place that’s not their home but is. It broke my heart years ago and it still does. But breaking heart or no, reality needs to be addressed. Places like this need to get more air play. Designs and thinking like this needs to be more readily accepted and appreciated. Whether it’s your grandmother, your mother, or you, remember this will affect you.
There’s been a lot of talk tonight about the “debate” between Bill Nye and Ken Ham. Some attempt to be the placating middle man by saying both raised valid points and we should all just learn to get along. Sorry, but the stated topic of the debate, “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern, scientific era?” has a very simple answer; at least in regard to how Ham views creationism. Nye was very good about qualifying his statements by saying “Ken’s creation model” or similar because he knows that Ham doesn’t represent all creationists. If you are one of those who thinks similarly to Ham, that humans and dinosaurs coexisted and the planet is only around 10,000 years old with all modern live springing from the 7000 “kinds” which were on the ark 4000 years ago then NO, your model does not fit with a modern scientific era.
Not all creationists believe the same as Ham. There are even a select few out there who would accept evolution in the same manner as modern scientists only with the added notion that God gave it a push in the beginning and then everything took off from there. I say select few because this is not the same thing as Intelligent Design. ID lies somewhere closer to Ham’s notion, only with a little more leeway for actual science. The acceptance of evolution and natural selection does not preclude one from believing in a deity. It should preclude you from a fundamentalist interpretation of whatever belief system you have. “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution” are some pretty famous words spoken by a devout Catholic scientist.
I have absolutely NO problem with theology being taught in schools, public or private. However they should be taught in the context of a theology class, not a science class. Theology is a very fascinating field and happens to be one of my favorites. But it does not belong in a science classroom. Period.
Some parting thoughts regarding those who think like Ham I’ll put it simply for you: To believe the Earth is only a few thousand years old is to deny every branch of science. You must deny and reject all of the scientific understandings and advancements based on clear and objective observation, experimentation, and analysis. Therefore you can no longer accept the treatment recommendations made by your doctor; nor undergo surgery for any medical condition. All of these things are based on reasoning which you find invalid.
I’ve mentioned before that I am arachnophobic (araneaephobic would be a little more accurate) but I’ve gotten better. I am now the proud momma of a Rose Hair (Grammostola rosea) tarantula that I have named Chaka Khan and a baby Pink Toe (Avicularia metallica) tarantula that is as yet, unnamed. BUT, these new adoptions into my family do not preclude me from getting severely wigged out when I see crazy sh*t go down! So, in honor of the coming holiday, Darwin Day, I present to you a week of Darwin Award: Arthropod Edition nominees.
Let’s start with an oldie but a goodie. Just because you own a tarantula, doesn’t mean you should. Our first contenders demonstrate just how much common sense they are lacking. If you owned one of the most venomous tarantulas in the world, what would you do with it? Well, our guys think that the best thing to do before holding said terror, is to royally piss it off. Good luck boys!