Tuesday, October 21, 2008

More dreams, and school

Last night, I dreamt I was headed down SE 148th, trying to decide between Target and Fred Meyer. In my dream, I thought to myself, "Why am I banging my head against a wall trying to find stores that sell measuring cups when I can have these two stores to choose from?" Life is convenient in the States. Boring maybe, but convenient.

Measuring cups. You wouldn't think they'd be that hard to find! Looks like I'll be making another trip to IKEA. I need a full-length mirror anyway. How hard would it be for the residence hall to put a really cheap full-length in every room? No one in their right mind is going to mind having a full-length mirror in their room. Is there a suggestion box here?

I still feel like I'm getting sick, but it hasn't hit yet. I went to statistics today. Luckily, Mondays are short days for me. I'm worried about tomorrow, though. I have a full day, and I don't want to miss anything, so I'm hoping my illness will just remain kind of low-level like it is now.

Reading Sarah's blog about baby names, I was reminded of something someone told me on Friday. Some hospitals here have a policy of not revealing the gender of your baby, because on the NHS, you only get two ultrasounds during the course of your pregnancy. (Sarah, how many will you have?) With only one ultrasound later in the pregnancy, it's possible to misinterpret the photo and get the gender wrong. If the family then goes out and buys a bunch of pink stuff and it turns out to be a boy, they could get pretty upset with the hospital.

I'm really enjoying my course so far, especially the lectures that are specific to my group. Last week, we did an activity where we were all split into different groups representing different policy-making groups during a smallpox outbreak. You may be aware, smallpox is one of the few infectious disease that humankind has managed to completely eradicate. There are small amounts of smallpox samples kept in refrigerators at the CDC, as well as some samples kept in Russia. During the Cold War, the USSR split their smallpox supplies among many of their satellite nations, and it is suspected that some vials are unaccounted for. Our class was divided into groups representing the UK government, the opposition government (the other party in their two-party system), the UK health administration, a UK pharmaceutical company, the media, the US government, and the Russian government. Guess which group I was in? US government! A representative from each group was selected to sit on a panel deciding how to handle the problem. As the US government, our policy was written for us based on the US government's actual policy in case of a smallpox outbreak.

See, the US government is paranoid about an outbreak, so we've bought up all the smallpox vaccine stocks, and we've generated several of our own. The World Health Organization's plan in case of an outbreak is to contain it using a ring-vaccination scheme, where you vaccinate only the people who have come into contact with the infected person/people. All nations are supposed to contribute vaccines to the nation dealing with the outbreak. But unofficial US policy, supposedly until 6 mos ago, was to vaccinate every single American, regardless of where the outbreak happened, and donate any remaining vaccine. But we don't have enough vaccine to vaccinate everyone, so the UK wouldn't get a thing from us. As the US representative, I got to sit on the panel and inform everyone that we would not be giving them any vaccine to control their epidemic. I was also sitting next to the Russian rep, and I got to accuse Russia of starting the outbreak. It was really fun, but my heart was racing and my hands were shaking. Everyone did a really good job of representing their contingencies. The opposition party kept accusing the government of doing a bad job, and saying things like, "If we'd been in power, we never would have let this happen."

So my courses are fun and interesting, but I am getting muddled up with formulas. There are the standard error, confidence interval, and statistical significance formulas in statistics class, then the rate ratios, rate differences, population attributable risk fraction, etc in epidemiology class. Guh. Can't keep it all straight. What measures what? It probably doesn't help that I haven't been studying much. Should work on that.


  1. Hahaha! Yes I would object to having a full length mirror in my room. I mean, who wants a creepy, half-shadowed, alternate, evil self staring at you while you try to sleep? Everyone knows that when you turn your back, they will crawl out of the mirror and attempt to strangle you!...who, me? read too many sci-fi books? Don't be silly!;)

  2. "r" is right; mirrors in your bedroom are bad feng shui. I'm not making that up.

    I LOVE that you had to be the US and tell people you're not going to share life-saving vaccines. That's fantastic! It is, indeed, harder for a rich nation to share with the needy than it is for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.

  3. Long story short, I'm actually getting lots of ultrasounds. But only one Level-2 ultrasound specifically to determine the gender. The Level-1's I get at every checkup didn't have enough resolution early in the pregnancy, and later in the pregnancy you can't see the whole body at once, but occasionally you might get lucky and be able to see the crotch.

    Anyway, the technician at my Level-2 ultrasound didn't sound completely sure about Jellybean being a girl - only "mostly sure".

  4. Sounds like you're taking acting classes. :) It's cool if you want to follow in my footsteps, but why'd you lie about it and say you were studying science?