Sunday, November 27, 2011

Birthday

A big deal? Yes, my birthday is always a big deal. It is a reminder of different times. It is when I remember how my Dad was so happy that he filled my Mom's hospital room with flowers, that he published a note in the newspaper thanking the medical staff that help me and my Mom that night. He also congratulated the other women that gave birth that night, they all had boys by the way. It is a time when I remember how I would go say Feliz Cumpleaños Tata! and he would answer back "a ti tambien niña" (to you too little girl) (even when I was over 20).
Those times are gone and this year I can't even celebrate with my family. I can't get my Mom to make me my favorite meal or a yummy cheesecake. I'm a little homesick and sad to not have them or my best friends with me. This year it doesn't feel like a big deal, it feels like any other day going to the lab, being a little sick on top of that. And it sucks! Oh well, I guess I can't expect anyone to be as excited about it as me. Is time to realize I'm not turning 5. Reality...checked!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Enchiladas de Mole

Talking about food the other day with my friends Jenn, Genie and Claire I thought I should post my recipe for enchiladas de mole here so everyone can see it and hopefully make it. I must confess first that I cheat when making mole and use flask one...just like 99% of Mexicans who make mole :-P. Making mole from scratch is absolute insanity as it's made with over 17 ingredients that range from several types of peppers, tortillas, different kinds of nut and, of course, chocolate. Lets start with the cheating recipe:

First I boil chicken breasts in water with some cilantro, onion and chicken bouillon. Note, you only use part of the cilantro but don't let the rest go to waste, you can divide it up, put it in ziploc bags and freeze it, it will be perfect for another time you are doing chicken soup or more mole ;-). Once the chicken is thoroughly cooked take the breasts and shred them. Filter out the onion and the cilantro but keep the broth! You might want to wait for a while to shred the chicken if you are doing it by hand, it's hot!

You need 2 very key ingredients, first of all the Mole paste; I use Mole Doña Maria. It usually comes in a glass with an aluminum lid. The second one is Chocolate Abuelita (Ibarra is also good), not only the best chocolate for hot cocoa but absolutely necessary for a good mole. On a frying pan pour about a cup and a half of the chicken broth at medium heat. Add 1/2 tablet of chocolate Abuelita (I have never done it with cocoa and I don't think it will work because this particular chocolate adds thickness to the sauce on top of the awesome flavor). Add 2-3 spoons of the mole paste, the amount depends on how thick you want your sauce, for enchiladas is preferable that the sauce is thick so it stays on the tortillas better. Keep moving the broth with the ingredients on it until the past and the chocolate dissolve making the sauce. I usually cook with no salt or very little and in this case none as the past has enough for me but you might want to try if it's good for you.


Once the sauce has a good consistency leave it boiling at the lowest heat you can. In another frying pan add vegetable oil (olive oil would ruin the flavor) and heat it up to high heat. Take a corn tortilla (I do not approve of substitutions here) and "pass" it through the hot oil. Here it depends on how much you want to fry the tortilla, I like them just a tad crispy but don't let them become tostadas or you won't be able to roll them. Once the tortilla is slightly fried on both sides pass it through the mole sauce. I don't flip over the tortilla because that tends to make them rip. Instead I do one side and take a little bit of the sauce and put it on the inside part of the tortilla. Add some shredded chicken (don't forget to warm it up if it's already cold) to one end of the tortilla and roll it up. Add some cheese, in Mexico I would use queso fresco (a crumbly cheese) but here I use mozzarella, you can also add raw onions and sour cream (not a fan of the latter so I skip it). Repeat the process for however many enchiladas you want and listo!



You can accompany the enchiladas with Mexican rice. Mole sauce is very versatile, if you don't want enchiladas you can just pour it on top of cooked chicken or use it as a bbq kind of thing for shredded beef. On top of rice and add some lime juice to it is fabulous! Some people don't bother with using chicken broth to make mole and use just water but I think that's too much cheating :-P. I find both mole and chocolate abuelita on every supermarket here but that might be because I'm so close to Mexico anyway. Check the biggest supermarket near you for a hispanic-food section and you will probably find both ingredients there. If you absolutely don't find them then there's Amazon, yep they have them, I checked ;-). I hope some or all of you make the recipe and let me know how it went and, of course, how it tasted!

One last thing, now that you bought a package of chocolate Abuelita make some hot cocoa! 1 liter of milk, a couple of sticks of cinnamon, one tablet of chocolate Abuelita and sugar to taste. I guarantee it will be one of the best hot cocoas you have ever had ;-). Provecho!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Butterfly trail #16

I guess that some of you guessed that this hike would be with someone special. Well, you were right. I had been seeing Colomriqueño (he is half Colombian-half Puerto Rican) for a couple of weeks and it was time to take him up to the mountain.

I pretty much decided for the both of us to take on Butterfly trail #16. I had read about it and wanted to try it. The page I use to log my hikes had amazing reviews for the trail and they did say that it was a hard climb in one direction. So, given the wimp climber I am, I thought that if we did it in the opposite direction it wouldn't be so bad, flawless logic right? wrong! Look at the picture on the left, that's the profile of the trail. It climbs down for about a mile and a half and then there's 2.7 miles up. The vertical change in those 2.7 miles is over 2 miles so you can guess how steep that was. Because of the climb people in HikeAZ recommended to shuttle 2 cars to do this trail. Meaning, leaving one car at the end of the trail (mine) and taking the other one to the trailhead (Colomriqueño's).

We started hiking at 10:30am. The first half was pretty awesome. So green, luscious and there were wildflowers and wildberries everywhere. I actually don't know if you can eat those and I didn't want to risk it. We came to a little spring, called Novio spring (btw novio means boyfriend in Spanish :-P). It didn't have much water but it had a good cliff to have lunch. I lost a bagel to the mountain for moving too fast, it fell of the cliff, I hope the fungi-eater beetles enjoy it. After our lunch we kept going and started climbing up and up and up. My heart started racing, I got out of breath and had to stop several times. It was pretty embarrassing given that it was the first time I hiked with Colomriqueño, I should have suggested an easy hike so he wouldn't see me like that. He was a trooper though, always checking on me and being patient when I had to stop and sit down because I was about to pass out. After half an hour we came to a sign marking where the trail divides to other trails, I took out my map to check where we were and I was not sure! Colomriqueño captured the precise moment when I was thinking we were lost. We looked at the map and figure out the way...up.

Colomriqueño is in much better shape than I am so he had no problem with the climb or the distance. My legs started giving up about a mile and a half from the end, it was painful and I was going very very slow. Around that time Colomriqueño asked me if I had the keys to my car in my backpack. I froze and realized that my brilliant idea of the 2 cars had just come crashing down on me. No, I didn't have the keys with me, I left them in his car, over 3 miles up the mountain. I had to sit down for a minute battling the urge to cry, I felt so stupid. Colomriqueño got a little bit upset (rightfully so) but calmed me down and said we would hitchhike a ride up the mountain to get his car and that we had to keep moving because there were clouds moving in and neither of us had rain gear (also thunderstorms up the mountain are very dangerous). He was right, I just had to shake it off and keep going. I knew from my research on the trail that we had to come to the summit of Mt Bigelow so when we got to a sign pointing towards it I thought that was the logic way to go. At that point a light rain had started falling so we had to hurry. After 200ft or so Colomriqueño realized that we had taken a wrong turn so we went back to the sign and figure out he was right. We found the right trail and went down to the road, right in front of a Ranger's Visitors Center. Colomriqueño ran down when he saw a couple of vans were about to leave the Visitors Center, it was our chance to get a ride. I tried following him fast and fell flat on my ass, jajajajajaja. I'm ok, it didn't hurt, I was going down on a steep slope so I wasn't too far from the ground anyway.

Colomriqueño talked to the people in the van and explained our dilemma. The driver was very nice and agreed to take us. It turned out she was transporting mentally-ill people so we had to ride on the back of the van. She apologized a lot for it but we really didn't care, all we wanted was to get the car not having to walk 3 miles up the mountain, after a hard hike, while it was raining. We finally made it up there and got the car. He dropped me off at my car and we drove down the mountain in between patches of really heavy rain. We were very lucky not to get caught in those while we were hiking.

So, even after I got us to hike a really hard trail, lost us a couple of times, forgot the keys to the shuttle car and got us to ride in the back of a van full of crazies Colomriqueño said he had not had such a good hike in a long time. Isn't he awesome? Oh yeah, he is cute too...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunset trail

This past weekend a friend from New Mexico came to visit and we decided to go up to Mt. Lemmon for a hike. As promised I applied the Doodologist's tattoo so I would feel like Claire was also there with us.


Hiking with my friends was quite a different experience. They have a very different approach to it. I'm all about planning the trails I'll do, looking at maps and a compass, knowing the elevation change I can expect and the conditions of the trail. They just park somewhere, find a trail and follow it. I had 72Oz of water, 2 cheese sticks, a pear, some bread and a couple of sausages. They had 32Oz of water, combined, and nothing else. Of course I shared my food and we didn't do a super-hard or long trail so it wasn't so bad. Still, despite the fact that both of my friends have hiked before and one actually considers herself a hiker, they were not prepared. They both got a little dehydrated, for obvious reasons, at the end.

The good part about it was having someone to talk to all the way, to have the chance to be plain silly and to have lots of pictures with me in them.




You can guess from the title that the trail we did is called Sunset trail. Very different from the other 2 I have done on Mt. Lemmon. Very rocky, not much tree coverage due to an old fire. The same spectacular views, peace and serenity though. We also found a couple of cute creatures:

Can you see the tiny little Horny Toad? ------------------------->



The lizard posed for us and didn't run away until we took a few pictures of it ;-). We ended up drenched in sweat, tired but with a happy heart.





After the hike we went to a social event that my department has every time the football team plays in house. We first have a scientific discussion (yes, on Saturdays) and then we hang out, eat hotdogs and play with bean bags.

It was actually fun but I'm not willing to give away many of my Saturdays for it :-P. After the tailgating we went for dinner and I completely forgot to take pictures. It really sucks because after dinner I saw my sister who had an impromptu getaway in Tucson. I only hanged out with her for 1 hour or so but it was good, it makes me feel a little less home-sick ;-).

I'm already planning my next hike and it probably won't be a lonely one again but, I don't want to give that away just yet ;-).

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Solo hike

One of the things I used to do with Germanman and that I enjoyed a lot was hiking. Now that he is gone I was not going to stop. So, I looked up the trail maps for Mount Lemmon, it's a mountain about 1h from Tucson where we can go to get away from the heat. I had only been there once before so I'm not familiar with the trails. I wanted to have planned what I was going to do so I could let people know about it and not end up like the guy in 127-hours, falling somewhere with no-one that knew where I was and when I was supposed to come back.

I decided to do a trial called Mint Spring, it had good reviews and was annotated as fairly easy. The thing was, I couldn't find the stupid headtrail so I did change the trail I was doing at the last minute but I knew the place was absolutely packed and I could get help if I needed it. I started a trail called Marshal Gulch, it's 1.2 miles long and follows a spring. It was very easy and I enjoyed a bunch of different wild flowers and a few pretty birds. It took me less than an hour to complete the trail, it ends in a saddle where 4 more trails start.

I knew about one of the trails, called Wilderness of Rocks because the German had considered doing it at some point. I knew it had really cool rock formations (ergo the name) but I saw on the map that it was very long (4 miles). I decided to go on it and if go back when I got tired. That angry guy on the right is the first rock formation on the trail. About 5 minutes into the trail I got to a huge flat rock and I couldn't see where the trail continued so I waited there for a couple of minutes until someone else came. It was a couple with their 11-12y old son, the kid knew the trail very well and pointed me in the right direction. Immediately after that the trail got very steep and rocky. I'm not a good climber so I knew that whatever distance I was going down I would have climb up on my way back. Because the trail is so rocky it was also very hard to follow it and after 20 minutes or so I decided that it was not a good idea for me to continue in it. I went back to the flat rock and had lunch there, with an amazing view of the canyon and the mountains. Lunch consisted of a bagel, 2 cheese sticks, 1 salami stick, a banana and a lot of water.

After my lunch I went back to the Marshall Gulch saddle and decided to go back taking the Aspen trail, it forms a loop with the Marshall Gulch trail so it would take me back to my car. The Aspen trail was considerably more difficult than Marshall Gulch, probably the reason why I didn't see anybody on the trail after I started it. The last people I saw, in the saddle, was a couple with their 1y old daughter riding on her Daddy's back. When I was 1h into the trail I thought I was close to the end so pulled out the map just to be sure, it was until then that I realized that the trail was actually 2.5 miles long, not the 1.5 miles I thought it was. There was nothing to do but keep going. I then realized just how quiet that place was and a sudden rush of loneliness came over me. I couldn't stop thinking about that couple with their baby. No, I haven't given up, I still want that. I want to hike with my husband while he carries our baby in his back. The feeling was very powerful and I had to stop for a minute and calm myself down, I was not going to cry in the middle of the woods...and I didn't. I kept on going. I had to focus on where I was stepping and how to get around fallen trees. There was a lot of overgrowth on the trail and at some point I started thinking I had lost the trail and was following a false trail because it was not maintained at all and I had not seen anyone in a long time. I panicked for a couple of minutes and decided that if by 3:00pm (it was around 1pm) I had not seen anyone of made it trough the end I would have to turn around and go back on Marshall Gulch trail.

Fortunately that wasn't necessary, at 1:45pm I saw the most beautiful thing my eyes saw today. No, it wasn't someone else. No, it wasn't my car. It was the restrooms by the parking lot, jajajajaja.

Someone told me that if you want to hike you have to do it on your own. Curiously though I didn't see anybody else hiking on their own. I saw a lot of couples, couples with kids and a 2 groups of elderly people hiking all together. One of the elderly women asked me if I was with 3 girls that were hiking in front of me. I said: "no, I'm all on my own". She said: "huh, well, have a good day". She was surprised by my answer. So, no, I don't think many people hike on their own. But, I will continue to do it...after I buy a compass.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

No more fairytales

I'm done believing in soulmates or in that concept of the almighty love. The one that makes us want to spend every waken moment with that other person. The one that thinks everything is perfect. The one that thinks you are perfect in every way. The one that blinds us.

Don't get me wrong, I still believe in love. I just don't believe I will ever find someone that loves me the way I described it above. Maybe that's ok though. I want someone that sees my faults and helps me improve on them. I want someone that despite being attracted to someone else doesn't act on it, because he would know that in doing so he could lose one of the best things that ever happened to him. Because he would know that in doing so he would hurt me and break me beyond repair. I want a friend who can talk to me about everything, from how boring his day was to what the future might hold if aliens come to Earth.

I want someone that holds my hand when we are walking on a slippery shore. I want someone that hugs me when I say I had a bad day. I want someone that hugs me for no reason. I want someone that kisses me because I said something funny. I want someone that kisses me just because. I want someone that wants to start a family with me but that would consider our relationship as a couple above the children, because children leave and then we would only have each other. I want someone that values me as a companion, a friend and a lover.

I guess I don't deserve any of that.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Noisy neighbors!

I'm currently staying at my complication's for a month or so. I sublet my apartment to help an incoming grad student (and to spend more time with the German, of course). The thing is, the back wall of his bedroom faces the backyard of a house. The house happens to be rented by a bunch of college students. You can see where I'm going right?

Well, they don't usually have loud music but, they built a half-pipe thingy and they skateboard on their yard every night. With the accompanying cheering and yelling. This usually goes on till 3-4 am...every fraking night!

Germanman talked to the landlord and in theory, he talked to the boys and they did keep their activities down for a few days but they have been at it again for the past 3-4 days. The German whistles and yells at them every night and we do use earplugs but it's still not enough. Do you guys think we should call the police? even though they don't have loud music?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Stranded on a deserted island

We have seen this question in a lot of forums: what would you do (or take) if you were stranded on a deserted island? Well, now I can say I really was.

It all started with Germanman wanting to visit Isla del Tiburon, the biggest island of Mexico. Located in the Sea of Cortez and just a few hours from my hometown. The island is part of the Seri country, a native tribe within my state. So, you need permission from them to have access to it. One of my friends contacted me with a Seri guy and we started making the arrangements. Two friends of us agreed to go too and we left Tucson on May 28th at the crack of dawn on our adventure.

The first mishap happened 2 hours into our trip. I thought that the turn towards the coast of the state was in the town of Magdalena but it actually was in Santa Ana. Mexico is not well known for its highway signs. A brief stop in Santa Ana to have some scolding hot coffee and ask for directions and we were on our way again. The next stop was Caborca to get cash and groceries for the island. I had never been to Caborca so, of course, we got lost but nothing that couldn't been solved by asking for directions again. We wanted to have lunch by the sea so we decided to wait to eat until we reached Puerto Libertad. After a couple more hours, we finally reached Puerto Libertad, only to find out it's a very small town with no restaurant in sight. We pulled out a couple of bagels from our stock and eat them at the beach. The final part of the trip was kinda tricky because we had to find a secondary road that would lead us to the Seri town of Desemboque. After we had been driving for 30min or so, I remember that fact and asked Germanman if he had seen any sign for said town. I started to look at the map and had the feeling that the turn was coming very very soon or else, we had passed it. We took the decision to keep driving for another half an hour and if the sign didn't come to turn around.

Exactly half an hour later we reached the entrance to a ranch and it had people there! so I asked them if they new the other road. A very old man told me we had passed it long ago, he said to go back and pass all the hills we had seen on the road and then we would find the sign. It turned out that the famous sign was only visible going North and we had been driving South. Anywho, we found it and 18 miles later we reached Desemboque. I asked around for the Seri guy I had contacted and he was there waiting for us. After a few minutes of buying the Seri's sculptures (made of ironwood) and other crafts we were on our way to the panga (small boat used to fish or for transport). Traveling on the panga to the island is one of the most scary experiences I've ever had, the sea was not calmed and we didn't have lifesavers, top that off with me not being a good swimmer and Germanman making jokes about the lack of safety. He realized I was terrified and started asking if I was OK every 3 minutes until I told him to stop because he was making me more nervous. My hands were completely white because of how hard I was grabbing the edge of my seat and I'm pretty sure I had a few brushes on my, ahem, lower back.

On our way to the main island we went around another, very small, island call "Isla de Patos or Duck Island". It is a protected island because of its great sea-bird population, the island actually looks white because of all he bird poo on it :-P. That island is also home to a sea-lion colony. Germanman said it is the biggest he has seen. There were over 200 sea-lions on and around the island. After an hour and a half of a bumpy ride worse than any roller-coaster I have been on we finally reached Isla del Tiburon. The Seris first wanted to drop us off at a small bay that had a sandy beach on one side and a rocky one on the other side, we had requested that because Germanman wanted to scuba dive and snorkel and sandy bottoms are not good for that. The bay was perfect, however, the Seris noticed there was a fishnet very nearby. Fishnets are a big danger for scuba divers, it is very risky to dive near one so Germanman asked the Seris to drop us off at another location that didn't have fihttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifshnets around. Another 10 minutes on the boat and we got to another bay with no sand whatsoever but we took it.



By the time we got to "our" bay it was getting dark very fast so we had to set up camp quickly. The 20y old girl that was with us didn't want to sleep close to the water because there were some rather annoying isopods that could crawl on her at night. So, she set up her tent on higher ground. My friend K set her tent up near all the camping gear and Germanman and I set up our stuff nearby but in an enclosed little bay that was very sheltered. Now, you dirty-minded people, no, it wasn't because we wanted privacy, it was actually the best spot to have our tent :-P.

At night we enjoyed that rare show that is the night sky when no human light is around. It was a-fraking-mazing. We also had a private show courtesy of the ocean, bioluminescence. We started seeing green spots on the water every now and then and given that we were a group of nerds we immediately knew what it was. I had never seen it before and it was awesome! We went to bed early as we had had a long day and my butt was sore. With the new day we could actually appreciate the beautiful scenery we had around us. We went on a hike along a canyon (possibly a river bed) that was behind us. I was expecting to see some big-horn sheep, they are endemic of the island, but, we only saw a dead and eaten one.

This picture clearly shows how deserted is the island. We were very careful when walking because it was hot and the rattle snaked could be out. Fortunately (or unfortunately, according to Germanman) we didn't see one. We hiked one of those picks and walked along the ridge and back down to the beach. I must say, the terrain is nasty, everything is out to get you. I stepped on so many chollas, got scratches from the ocotillos and fell flat on my ass sliding down the hill on pointy, sharp rocks. Sounds fun, huh? It was!

In the afternoon I went snorkeling for the first time ever. I was very scared and asked Germanman to use a floaty thingy that he could grab from one side and I grabbed from the other. Despite the fact that I was very scared I enjoyed the experience. Life underwater is so beautiful. We saw about 12 different species of fish, some mantarays (small ones, not the ones you see featured in scuba-diving videos), starfishes, crabs, etc. It was great! The water was too cold though so we didn't stay long.

That afternoon the weather changed and the wind started blowing up really hard. The sea started getting rough and the waves were 6-7 foot high. We couldn't hear the waves crashing anymore, it was a constant roar. It was a little bit scary, mostly because it meant that the Seris would probably not be able to get us off the island the next day. It was hard to fall asleep that night, I was nervous and the sea was really loud. We finally went to sleep and we were woken up at 3am by the Greek, she had a panic attack. She was very worried that her family in Greece would be worried about her if she didn't come back to the US the next day. After we calmed her down and she went back to sleep, Germanman and I couldn't fall back asleep. We were talking and discussing our options. We knew there was a chance we wouldn't get off the island in a few days if the wind didn't calm down. We had enough food for 2 maybe 3 days and water for a little longer than that, we were very careful with our water. So, in that sense we were not too worried. Also, the Seris had told us that in the case they couldn't get us off the island in a couple of days by sea, then they would come by land, from the other side of the island. Our last course of action was a Spot, a little gadget that can send an SOS signal, via satellite. We had used it a couple of times already to send OK messages, it has a GPS so we would know exactly were we where (our bay and while hiking) when we came back.

The sun was coming out and Germanaman noticed that the tide had gone very low, more than any other day. That meant the tide was going to come up a lot higher than it had been before too. What that meant was, we needed to move our camp to higher ground. We started doing so and discovered that we had had some visitors at night, our garbage was all over the place and whatever food we left uncovered was gone! Fortunately we had been careful the night before and had put most of the food in a hard box with rocks on top. We didn't know what animal had done the damage but we didn't worry, our main concern right then was to move all our stuff as quickly as possible. After we moved all the scuba gear, the food and the water we decided to move out tent without taking it down. We were putting the tent down in its new location when I felt like something had whipped me straight in the face. The pain was incredible and I tasted the familiar irony taste of blood inside my mouth. It turned out that one of the sticks of the tent came off and hit me on my lower lip. I immediately started crying and, of course, Germanman didn't know what to do. He just kept asking if I was OK, I wasn't damn it, it hurt! We were out of ice so there was not much we could do to reduce the inflammation.

After that incident I was emotionally drained and just wanted to sleep. I think I slept for 3 hours or something cra-ha-zy like that. I woke up feeling light-headed and headachy, not good signs when you have been under the sun for so long. The Greek had the same symptoms and we were worried that the 2 of us could have the beginning of heat-stroke. Two people vomiting would pretty much guarantee that we would run out of water quickly. We took some anti-emetic medication and I took something for my headache. I was very positive that my case was just that I had slept too much. I started feeling better early in the afternoon, specially after we played in the waves for a while to cool us down.

We walked (climbed) along the beach for a while and found some cool tide-ponds with tiny little crabs and fishes in them. We also found some interesting rock formations with quartz embedded in them. Our biggest discovery though, were some whale bones. We found a few ribs, vertebrae and teeth. Of course we collected them (not the ribs) to ask the Seris if we could take them with us. When we were walking back to our bay we saw a boat in the distance. Germanman immediately went to get his signaling mirror. It was the Seris. They came close to the beach but the sea was still very rough and they couldn't come closer. They signaled with their arms that they were going to wait for a while for the sea to calm down to approach the bay and get us. In the mean time we lifted the camp, except for the 20y old's tent, she refused to get her tent down arguing that the sea was not going to calm down enough for the panga to get to the shore. I was annoyed by her behavior but didn't say anything. It turned out she was right, after an hour and with the night fast approaching it was clear that the sea was not going to let us leave that day. The Seri signaled again that they were going to return the next day. We had to set up the tent again, no injuries this time.

The sea did calm down overnight so we were sure the Seris would get us that day. In the mean time Germanman and I went snorkeling again, it wasn't as good as the first time because the visibility was very bad. I still saw a few interesting fishes and a rare starfish. The Seris came mid-morning and had no problem getting to shore that time. We got more treats on our way back to the Seri town. A school of dolphins was swimming very close to us (unfortunately I had put my camera away). We went back to Isla de Patos and the young sea-lions were all excited and curious about us. The big bulls were not happy at all and were trying to shoo us out of there. We also saw some other birds that we (or at least I) thought they were ducks, but they were actually Cormorants.

We finally got to the Seri town again. We bought more crafts and the Seri women gave us some necklaces made with fish scales, as presents, for good luck. No other major incident happened on our way back and we finally made it back to Tucson around midnight. Despite all the problems and the scary part of being stranded on the island, and the bug bites, and the sunburn, it was one of the best weekends of my life.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Do you know the difference between Gonorrhea and Syphilis?

I was talking this morning with Germanman, we were discussing Lyme disease and he said: "it's from a spirochete, just like Gonorrhea" I was completely shocked. He is a 39y old man, who happens to be a science writer and yet, he doesn't know the difference between gonorrhea and syphilis. I don't expect everyone to know that they are caused by 2 very different types of bacteria but, EVERYONE should at least know they are 2 different types of diseases! Lets clear the air:

- Gonorrhea. Caused by the diplococci Neisseria gonorrhoeae (usually found in pairs, looks like 2 kidney beans together). In guys it causes infection of the urethra. It is very painful to pee and there is a profuse secretion of a purulent discharge (white-yellowish). In women it infects the vagina, they can also have purulent discharge and it's itchy. Sometimes it can be completely asymptomatic.

- Syphilis. Caused by the spirochete Treponema pallidum (looks like a piece of phone cord (remember phone cords?)). In both men and women it presents like an abscess (a nasty pimple) that can grow and it also secretes pus, sometimes it can look darker on the edges and it is very very painful. If left untreated syphilis can be a chronic infection. The spirochetes actually reach the brain and can cause early dementia (after 30y of being infected).

These STDs are not 100% prevented by the use of condoms, if there is any genital contact, not just penetration, they can be transmitted. The best policy is always ask a new sexual partner to be tested BEFORE you engage in sexual activities. Also, if anyone in the couple notices any of the symptoms I described above you BOTH should go to the doctor right away.

Monday, May 2, 2011

DNA match

After I saw today that "DNA matching confirmed that Osama Bin Laden was killed" my immediate response was: what are they using as reference?

Let me elaborate. To match someone's DNA you need to have a reference sample in file and then match a new sample to the old one. You can't ID someone based solely on one sample, you need a comparison.

So, someone in the US government needed to have a DNA sample from Osama from years ago. Here is the kicker, nowadays you can obtain DNA from almost any biological sample but, that was not the case 10+ years ago, the technology was not as developed as it is now. They needed to take a pretty big sample, blood in a test tube for example. But, why would the government have a sample like that from Osama given that before 9/11 no one cared that he was a crazy bastard. If the sample was acquired after 9/11 it would make no sense given that "no one knew where he was".

Granted they could use his son's DNA to compare (his son's DNA would be 50% similar to Osama's DNA) but with that they could only guarantee that the dead person was the father of the son, not that it was Osama bin Laden. I don't want to be a party pooper but I would not believe in a DNA test unless they told me how they got their reference. Just saying.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Arizona fraked up law

It all started with SB1070. Actually, let me step back a little, it all started with JB getting to the governor's office after JN got taken away by Obama. First thing JB did was support and sign SB1070. There was no going back after that, the right wing had taken hold of AZ.

This week, 3 laws were passed or are about to:
1) parents can decide not to send their kids to school if they thing the topic can be "harmful" for them, i.e. no right-winger child will hear about sex or evolution until s/he is old enough to find out for him/herself (or until s/he talks to his/her friends and hear all about it, in a 10y old-distorted way).

2) people are allowed to carry guns in schools; do I really have to say why this is bad? oh wait, they might make an amendment to this one: people will be allowed to carry guns in schools but not inside buildings... phew! It would be so bad to get shot inside a classroom, I like it better on the sidewalk, thanks!

3) people are allowed to carry guns inside buildings...wait just a frakking second, wouldn't this one contradict the previous one? am I the only one that sees that?
A few years ago AZ banned carrying guns inside bars and any other establishment that serves alcohol (good good thing). So, this new law will make the previous one null and we will go back to the good 'ol days were any drunk guy could shoot you if you refuse his advances. Nice!

One of my friends just said that the only good thing left in AZ is the scenery. I would like to think that he is wrong. A know a lot of very good people here, I just wish that the people in office were a little less conservative and a lot smarter to foresee the implications of the laws they are passing, probably without reading them. On second thought, the people of AZ are the ones that elected the people in office so, I'm going to have to agree with my friend, I just love the scenery.