Saturday, January 31, 2009

I'm Back!

Returned last night after a week of doing virtually nothing on the Riviera Maya. It was fabulous, I'll post about it later - probably with pictures. 

In the meantime, I'll be going through all of your blog posts and commenting on everything I missed!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

JLK Has Left The Building

I will be leaving for Mexico tomorrow morning at the ass-crack of dawn. 

(Actually, it probably won't even be light out yet....yikes)

I may not be around for the next week, but I'm bringing my laptop because my husband likes to pass out some 2hrs before me, so you never know. 

Hasta luego, amigos!

The Phizzle and JLK

PhizzleDizzle and I met up this evening for some drinks and food after finding out that we were geographically close enough to each other for it to be feasible. It was AWESOME!!!

PD posted that it felt a lot like a first date with a match from some online dating website, and I totally agree with that though, like her, I never actually used any of those sites. 

I wasn't really nervous, but I did wonder whether we'd run out of things to talk about, what kinds of things would be off-limits if any, whether she'd like me offline, etc., etc. 

We talked for like 3 1/2 hours. About everything. Had it not been a weeknight, we probably could have closed the place down. It was fantastic to talk to someone so well-versed in so many different subjects! I learned a lot about computer science too!

If it was a first date, it would have been a freakin' awesome one. LOL.

PD is definitely one H-O-T chick, and her new haircut is fabulous!

It's very cool to know that one of my blogger BFFs now has a face to put to my blog and vice versa. PD is definitely as she presents herself on her blog. There is no "persona" going on over at The Phizzle. 

It was a great, great time and I hope it's something we'll make a habit of because god knows I need that kind of conversation in my life that doesn't involve typing and emoticons. 

(Don't worry - we talked about all of y'all too!)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

JLK's Personality Assessment Results

I took part in the study that everyone's getting emails about. Here are my results:


Neuroticism (sometimes also called Emotional Instability) is the tendency to experience negative emotions such as sadness or anxiety. People who score high on neuroticism are vulnerable to stress and tend to experience negative feelings more often. People who score low in neuroticism tend to be less susceptible to stress, and experience negative feelings relatively infrequently.

You scored 21 out of 50. This score is higher than 26.0% of people who have taken this test.


Extraversion (or Extroversion) is the tendency to experience positive emotions and seek out stimulating situations. People who score high on extraversion tend to be active, energetic, and enjoy being around other people. In contrast, people who score low on extraversion, known as introverts, tend to be quiet, low-key, and are typically less involved in the social world.

You scored 39 out of 50. This score is higher than 73.9% of people who have taken this test.

Openness to experience:

Openness to experience is a general tendency to appreciate emotion, adventure, and unusual ideas or experiences. People who are open to experience are intellectually curious, appreciative of art, and sensitive to beauty. People with low scores on openness tend to have more conventional, traditional interests.

You scored 49 out of 50. This score is higher than 96.6% of people who have taken this test.


Conscientiousness is the tendency to show self-discipline and persistence. People who score high on conscientiousness tend to be persistent, responsible, and duty-driven, but are sometimes perceived as being overly perfectionistic and concerned with order. Individuals low on conscientiousness tend to show less persistence and may have trouble seeing things through.

You scored 46 out of 50. This score is higher than 96.6% of people who have taken this test.


Agreeableness is the tendency to be sympathetic and cooperative towards others. People who score high on agreeableness strive for social harmony and value getting along with others. Disagreeable people tend to be more suspicious and hostile towards others.

You scored 39 out of 50. This score is higher than 63.6% of people who have taken this test.

Evol. Psych Introduction Cont'd

Comrade PhysioProf sent me this link to a blog posting that discusses the female orgasm in terms of how evolutionary psychology views it. 

(I've been a busy bee remodeling my kitchen, so I just got around to reading it.....just now)

Holy SHIT. I need to c&p some of this crap because I can't possibly paraphrase without using the f-word 3 times in every sentence:

Scientists have found that the pleasure women get from making love is directly linked to the size of their partner’s bank balance.

They found that the wealthier a man is, the more frequently his partner has orgasms.

“Women’s orgasm frequency increases with the income of their partner,” said Dr Thomas Pollet, the Newcastle University psychologist behind the research.
He and Nettle tested that idea using data gathered in one of the world’s biggest lifestyle studies. The Chinese Health and Family Life Survey targeted 5,000 people across China for in-depth interviews about their personal lives, including questions about their sex lives, income and other factors. Among these were 1,534 women with male partners whose data was the basis for the study.
They found that 121 of these women always had orgasms during sex, while 408 more had them “often”. Another 762 “sometimes” orgasmed while 243 had them rarely or never. Such figures are similar to those for western countries.
There were of course, several factors involved in such differences but, said Pollet, money was one of the main ones.
He said: “Increasing partner income had a highly positive effect on women’s self-reported frequency of orgasm. More desirable mates cause women to experience more orgasms.”
This is not an effect limited to Chinese women. Previous research in Germany and America has looked at attributes such as body symmetry and attractiveness, finding that these are also linked with orgasm frequency. Money, however, seems even more important.
David Buss, professor of psychology at the University of Texas, Austin, who raised this question in his book The Evolution of Desire believes female orgasms have several possible purposes:
“They could promote emotional bonding with a high-quality male or they could serve as a signal that women are highly sexually satisfied, and hence unlikely to seek sex with other men,” he said. “What those orgasms are saying is ‘I’m extremely loyal, so you should invest in me and my children’.”
The author of the blog, Amanda Marcotte, tears this research a new asshole as I would have done. She does a fantastic job - go read it. 

I'm going to comment on only one piece of this, because anything else would just be echoing what Amanda already said. Read this piece of it again:
He said: “Increasing partner income had a highly positive effect on women’s self-reported frequency of orgasm. More desirable mates cause women to experience more orgasms.”
They didn't increase a fucking thing. It's presented as though it was experimental research, when it was just a fucking survey! They also didn't manipulate "desirability" of these women's mates!!! It didn't "CAUSE" a fucking thing!

BAD, BAD, BAD science!!!!!! 

How do they know what made the mates more desirable?? Maybe it's BECAUSE these women are having a whole bunch of orgasms from sex with this particular dude! I mean, seriously - isn't it common sense that the better the sex is with a specific person, the more you're going to desire them??

It is going to be awhile before I delve into this field for my blog series, because I get way too pissed off when I read the journal articles - especially the "conclusions" sections where they pull BULLSHIT out of their ASSES and call it SCIENCE. 

Before I start offering my criticism to the body of work that exists out there, I need to calm the fuck down so I can do it from a detached point of view and can thus avoid the "of course you think it sucks, you're a woman" rebuttals. 

In the meantime, I'm gonna go stare at the balance in my checking account and see if it gets me all hot and bothered....


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Holy SHIT!!!!

I just got my first phone call for grad school!!!!!!!!!!!

The professor I am applying to work with at one of my top choice programs just called me to tell me how excited and impressed she is by my application and I am most likely flying out for visiting day next month!!!

Aaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!!!!! I'm so EXCITED!!!!!

Fig. 1: An accurate representation of how JLK feels right now! (Except JLK is most decidedly NOT blonde)

Monday, January 19, 2009

My Personal Brand of Hot Science

Psych Post Doc recently responded to a question I posed regarding what sparked her initial interest in psychology, and I decided to answer the question myself here. 

What brought me to psychology when I was around 12 years old was simple - my whole family is fucking nuts and I wanted to find out why. I read an intro to psych college textbook from cover to cover in the 7th grade and was hooked. (Granted, the text was printed in the 60's but it was still really cool and most of that stuff is still in current texts.) From that point on I knew I wanted to go to college to study psych. 

The more interesting (to me) portion of the story is why I chose social psychology as my sub-field. I didn't really want to go into clinical because the only thing I find really cool about clinical is the really obscure mental disorders - Dissociative Identity Disorder (the artist formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder), anyone? That shit is cool, but very, very rare and difficult to study. I had a short-lived fascination with criminal and forensic psychology until I realized that I just don't have the stomach for it. Working directly with criminals has to wear on you after awhile, not to mention resulting in some OCD-type door-locking behaviors that I just don't need in my life. I slept with the lights on for a month (at 22 years old) after reading a true-crime novel about sexual murderers written by a former FBI criminal profiler. 

Developmental is interesting, but if I wanted to work with kids all day I'd be a teacher. If I wanted to work with the elderly all day I'd work in a nursing home. I'd be interested in it until I had kids and they grew up, and then it would fizzle out. So that was a no go. Cognitive psychology is booooorrrring. The experiments are SO tedious and mundane. (Memorizing lists of words, eye-tracking tasks, sinewave speech, etc.) Those are really the big fields in psych, everything else tends toward the sub-sub-fields.

So what made me say, "Holy shit! Social psych is for ME!"?

The Stanford Prison Experiment by Dr. Philip Zimbardo. (THE MAN)

Zimbardo's name itself is contraversial in psychology because his experiment is one of the huge factors that contributed to the formation of IRB's. Any of you who have ever had to go through human subjects research ethics training probably know this name, along with that of Dr. Stanley Milgram. 

Before I get into my description of the study, I would like to recommend the following book to any of you who are interested in the "dark side" of human nature:

Fig 1: The Lucifer Effect by Dr. Philip Zimbardo

Zimbardo took a bunch of undergrad males, "normal" as defined by a battery of psychological scales, randomly assigned them to the roles of prison guard or prisoner, and stuck them into a specially designed prison replica built in the basement of one of Stanford's buildings. Zimbardo himself took on the role of warden. 

I won't get into all the details, you'll have to read the book for that. But basically, the experiment had to be shut down within a matter of days because the young men who had been placed in the roles of prison guards began to physically, mentally, emotionally, and sexually abuse the prisoners. 

Yes, sexually. 

It turned out to be, arguably, one of the most unethical experiments in history. But hindsight is 20/20, and there was really no precedent or reason to believe that it would turn out like this. His findings were, essentially, accidental. 

But this experiment begged the question: "What makes good people do really bad things?"

They were not encouraged to do any of the things they did to these prisoners. That wasn't the point of the study. They took it upon themselves to engage in abuse. Why???

Still, no one really knows. Zimbardo posits that the combined effects of a lack of clear authority, dehumanization and depersonalization of the prisoners, and an "us vs them" mentality are to blame. 

When the Abu Ghraib scandal came down, Zimbardo was able to offer explanations for what happened to our "good men and women" who abused those prisoners. This comprises the second half of his book. 

Social psychology is built on the foundation of "person + situation." There are aspects of human behavior that personality psychology just can't explain because individual differences can go out the window when the situation is manipulated. THIS is what fascinated me about social psychology. 

Although Zimbardo's work is not what I intend to pursue in graduate school (he retired last year otherwise I'd be all over him like white on rice), it cemented my interest in this sub-field. Things like the Bystander Effect, Milgram's Obedience to Authority experiments all contributed to my fascination with human nature as a whole. 

And now, a small rant....

The (in my opinion) BEST psychological research has stemmed from studies that were entirely unethical. Those studies have contributed the most to the field and now we are largely "stuck" in terms of what we can discover about human beings. The experiments that have the potential to answer "real" questions about human behavior cannot be executed in this day and age because of ethical concerns. For example, B. F. Skinner (or was it Watson...?) said that you could give him any infant and he could raise it in a lab to be anything he wanted it to be - a scientist, an artist, a musician, a criminal - resulting in a true study of the relationship between nature and nurture. But it can't be done. 

I'm not saying we should go ahead and do unethical experiments, but the field as a whole is very limited in our experimental power. In my undergrad research class I wanted to replicate the Bystander Effect by having a confederate pretend to faint (we wanted to look for gender differences in responses by participants) and I was told by the IRB that it might "traumatize" my participants. 

Really? They did it on Dr. Phil!

So my small rant is going to end with this: It is one thing to maintain ethical standards for research in order to protect human subjects, but restricting research capacities to protect institutions from possible (illegitimate) lawsuits hurts scientific inquiry. 

Unfortunately, JLK (or anyone else) will never be able to continue Zimbardo's line of research. 

Sunday, January 18, 2009


My Steelers are going to the Super Bowl!!!!!!

Troy is THE MAN!!!

Book Reviews

Leigh asked what my thoughts were on the books I just posted, so I thought I would post a (hopefully) brief blog in answer to her request. Here goes:

When You Are Engulfed In Flames by David Sedaris - I've never read a Sedaris book I didn't enjoy. This particular book had quite a few stomach-turning moments, more so than he usually includes, and seemed to always occur just after I'd started a snack while eating. My favorite part of the book is the last, large section about David's journey to Japan in order to quit smoking. If you're a smoker, you can totally relate to everything he says and it will have you laughing out loud. This was the first book I read after finals were over, because god knows I needed some humor at that point. 

Love and Will by Rollo May - This book was like a cross between existential psychology and philosophy of morality. It was up and down for me. There are brilliant insights, but they are separated by pages and pages of dry material. Just about the time when you start to think, "Okay, I think I've had enough of this" you come across a paragraph that warrants highlighting and later quoting, so you keep trucking on. I will probably never read it again straight through, but this is a keeper for my bookshelf so I can refer to the passages I marked and notes I made. 

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld - I LOVE this author. Her novel Prep is one of my all-time favorites. Her writing style reminds me of Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar, which I also love. This book is based around the idea of what it would be like to be married to George W. Bush, only with all the names changed. She did a lot of research into the lives of first ladies Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton. Only the last part of the book deals with life in the White House, the rest of it is a narrative of the life of her fictional first lady from childhood on through middle age. The book essentially ends with the question, "What do you do, what can you say, when your husband makes huge mistakes and you have no authority to change anything because you weren't the one who was elected?" It's very profound when one considers how identities become entwined through marriage. How much of your husband's mistakes are you culpable for?

Social Intelligence by Daniel Goleman - The first few chapters of this book seemed really promising and had me hooked. But it was downhill from there. Introducing the field of social neuroscience, Goleman described a number of studies that argue for the social nature of the brain. This book is great for the general public, but not for those who are in the trenches of social psychological research. 

Lipstick Jungle by Candace Bushnell - I am the biggest Sex & The City fan that there ever was, but I have never read any of Bushnell's books. I love Lipstick Jungle on NBC but they're cancelling it after just two seasons. When I found this out I decided to dust this book off as it had been sitting on my bookcase for a year or so without having been read. I am less than halfway through it at this point, but I'm diggin' it because the characters are largely the same as they are on the show but the plotlines are different enough to justify the read. I think it's gonna be pretty good.

If anyone is looking for some good reading material, I can make recommendations all day long. For some light chick-lit type reading, I love Jennifer Weiner (especially Little Earthquakes) and Emily Giffin (especially Something Blue). If you aren't offended by crude language and near NC-17 material, I highly recommend Augusten Burroughs (especially Dry if you're into addiction stories). For my romantic types I recommend Nicholas Sparks (especially The Rescue, True Believer, and The Wedding). 

But in general, if you tell me the kinda mood you're in, I can usually recommend a good read. 

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Little More About Me...

I consider my book collection to be a defining aspect of my personality. It seems to illustrate my quirks in ways that simple descriptions seem to fail at. 

To give you all a little better idea of the kind of person I am, here are the books I have read (or am going to read) since I graduated in December and regained my reading time:

Fig. 1: The first book I read once I was free. It was awesome, as Sedaris always is.

Fig 2: The second book I read.

Fig 3: And then I read some girly stuff.

Fig 4: Then I switched to some social neuroscience.

Fig 5: And back to the girly stuff I'm currently reading. I love this show but they're cancelling it. :(

Fig 6: This is what I intend to read next.

Am I strange enough for ya, or what? ;)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Rant on Evolutionary Psych: A Preview

I've been alluding to my intention of writing a blog about why I think evolutionary psychology is bullshit pretty much since I started this blog. Before I fully undertake this task, I am re-reading the relevant literature so that I am prepared for the inevitable shitstorm that will follow once google search starts leading certain parties to this blog. Nonetheless, I offer this preview of what is to come. Consider it an introduction to to my intended rant while I get myself armed with data and obnoxious quotes from articles.

I think at this point just about everyone who reads this blog regularly is a scientist of some form, in some field or other. Most of you are from the "hard" sciences, so I am not going to waste your time (or mine) discussing the basic principles of evolution and natural selection. Nor will I waste your time (or mine) discussing the proper methods for conducting research such as the use of controls, the value of double-blind studies, random sampling, etc. I merely ask that you keep those things in mind as you read through my posts on this topic. 

Important Note: Whether evolution and natural selection contribute to human behavior is NOT in question. So please don't comment/flame implying that I am saying something to the contrary. On the other side of that coin, if you are a creationist fuckwit please don't comment implying that I somehow agree with your wackaloon ideas about how the world came to be. 

Okay. Now on to the preview. 

The first concept that I would like to introduce that is highly relevant to the subject at hand is determinism, or the belief that human beings are slaves to their biology and that, essentially, free will is an illusion. *BULLSHIT* Evolutionary psychology claims to be the "metapsychology" of human behavior and that all other fields of psychology operate at a "lower level of analysis" because everything stems from evolutionary psychological forces. Evol psych is littered with determinist principles that I find to be incredibly cynical and, in some cases, offensive. A lot of it reminds me of Freud - ideas that might make sense on some level but are incredibly flawed, biased, and not subject to scientific analysis. A perfect example to keep in mind is Freud's beliefs about women. If you don't know what they are, google them. Then come back here and keep reading. 

Fig. 1: Freud slippers. Yup. 

Second on my list of major complaints is falsifiability. Every good theory needs to be falsifiable - it must, at least theoretically, be able to be proven wrong. If there is no way for a theory to be wrong, how can we know that it's correct? Freud's work is a fantastic example of this. He proposed that each of us has an id, an ego, and a superego, each of which exerts its will on our conscious mind. Sounds great, except how do you prove it? Better yet, how do you prove that this isn't the case? The best scientific research stems from the perspective of trying to prove something wrong. An example of a good body of research based on a falsifiable theory is the work on attachment. Attachment theory can be proven incorrect. If there were no correlations between infant/caregiver dynamics and later patterns in adult relationships - the theory would be invalid and would need to either be scrapped or revised. That has not been the case in attachment research, but it has been investigated from that standpoint. Falsifiability is also important in determining the limitations of a theory, which generates future research and even new theories. 

Keeping that in mind, take a look at this excerpt from a journal article on evolutionary psychology that sparked my desire to write this blog series:
The multitude of male psychological mechanisms associated with cuckoldry avoidance tells us that female infidelity was a recurrent feature of our evolutionary past (Buss, Larsen, Westen, & Semmelroth, 1992; Buss & Shackelford, 1997; Goetz
et al., 2005; Platek, 2003; Shackelford, Pound, & Goetz, 2005)
Obviously offensive implications aside, how would one go about proving that to be false? We have no way of time-traveling back into our "evolutionary past" to find out what kind of whores women were back then! This claim is not falsifiable. Therefore, it is not theory, it is mere speculation. (And sexist speculation at that)

Fig. 2: Self-explanatory.

Which leads me to the third major theme of my rant: circular logic. A lot of evolutionary psychology arguments go something like this:

Evol Psychologist: Men have much stronger reactions to infidelity than women do because women were major whores millions of years ago. 

Critic: But how do you know that women were whores millions of years ago?

Evol. Psychologist: Because men have much stronger reactions to infidelity than women do. 

I wish I was making this up, but I'm not. The entire basis of evolutionary psychology is that the ancient environment caused humans to behave a certain way, but we don't know what that environment was like. They're making two-way inferences that sound logical. That's the extent of it. 

Some of my *favorite* evolutionary psychology "theories" are the following:

- Women use lipstick and lip gloss because men are attracted to women whose lips remind them of a sexually aroused vagina. (Again, I am not making this shit up)
Fig 3: If your vagina bears any resemblance to these lips, I suggest you see a doctor. Pronto.

- The seemingly insatiable sex drive of men comes from the need to maximize their reproductive success with minimum investment. Women invest 9 months into the birth of a single child, so they are much more careful about who they have sex with. Men just want to spread their DNA around and can do so as a "one-pump chump." (My phrase, not theirs.)

Here's another one for ya:
Psychological, behavioral, physiological, anatomic, and genetic evidence indicates that men have evolved solutions to combat the adaptive problem of sperm competition (Gallup et al., 2003; Goetz et al., 2005; Kilgallon & Simmons, 2005; Pound, 2002; Shackelford et al., 2005; Smith, 1984; Wyckoff, Wang, & Wu, 2000). For example, Shackelford et al. (2002) documented that men who spent a greater proportion of time apart from their partner since the couple’s last copulation—therefore facing a high risk of sperm competition—report that they find their partner more sexually attractive, have more interest in copulating with her, and believe that she is more interested in copulating with him (effects were independent of the total time since last copulation and relationship satisfaction). These perceptual changes may motivate men to copulate as soon as possible with their partner, thereby entering their sperm into competition with any rival sperm that may be present in her reproductive tract. Without an evolutionary lens, this exciting and fruitful line of research would have been missed entirely.
Really? So much for "absence makes the heart grow fonder." He's just trying to make sure you didn't get knocked up by some other dude while he was gone!

I won't even get started on how "fruitful" this line of research is. 

Now keeping in mind my main points about determinism, falsifiability, and circular logic, go ahead and read those examples again. Remember that people are getting paid to come up with this shit. Evolutionary psychology is considered as "sexy" as the fMRI in cognitive neuroscience (see previous blog on the topic). Headlines that proclaim men's sex drives as due to evolutionary forces sell papers and journals. And the two fields joining forces? Well, that's just orgasmic!

Explaining things in retrospect is convenient, but that doesn't make the explanation accurate. 

My last point before I end this preview rant - evolutionary psychology cannot explain the maladaptive behaviors of people in society. When asked to address this point, evolutionary psychologists say that "evolution and natural selection are painfully slow processes and the mechanisms we have were not designed to deal with modern society, but rather the ancient times."

Ok. So by that logic, women either emerged from the primordial soup as whores, or evolutionary history is not long enough to explain how that adaptation both developed and has failed to fall by the wayside. Yet HIV, the common cold, and the flu have all rapidly adapted in order to survive a society that tries its damndest to get rid of them. Men are just too damn complex to evolve enough to keep in their pants!

This concludes my preview. I will get into these points in more detail and with many more examples at some point in the near future. 

Source for this preview post:

Goetz, A. & Shackelford, T. (2006). Modern application of evolutionary theory to psychology: Key concepts and clarifications. American Journal of Psychology, 119 (4), 567- 584.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Hotness: Shoes Edition #2

These shoes are HAUNTING ME!!!!!

I know that they're made by Nine West, because this picture is from their website. But I can't find them anywhere!!!

Those peep-toes are whispering my name while I try to sleep.....

Monday, January 12, 2009

Art as Instinct?

I read this post over at The Frontal Cortex this morning, and I felt the need to blog about it a bit. See, Jonah has reviewed a new book called The Art Instinct by Denis Dutton in which the author tries to claim that art is a function of evolution. As I have said before, evolutionary psychology is bullshit (the explanation post is still in the works). BUT I do believe that art is instinctual. Just for a completely different reason than this guy. 

This is a topic I wrote about in my journal awhile back, so I want to c&p some of that here for your reading pleasure:

From 8-25-08:

"So many of us struggle for a long time just trying to figure out who we are that sometimes we wonder which aspects of us are fluid and which are immutable elements of our essence. We can easily list the things that we like to do, the music we enjoy, and various personality traits that have been spoon-fed to us through pop psychology and our everyday social interactions. While it is true that everything we know about ourselves we learn from others, there are certain things that over time we come to be aware of intuitively. They no longer need reinforcement or validation. These are the things that are impossible to describe. These are the things that comprise our dreams and our nightmares, our hopes and our fears. They are the things of which art and music are made. 

Everyone has art and music that simply speaks to them in such a way that is indescribable. I don’t believe that anyone has ever truly loved a piece of art or a piece of music that went by the wayside with changing and evolving tastes. You cannot rationalize or insert logic into the enjoyment of art or music. You can change appreciation, but not love. No one will ever be able to change my lack of love for Andy Warhol, though they can tell me until they are blue in the face why they think I should love his work. No one can ever talk me out of loving Alice In Chains or Nine Inch Nails. Or, as Pandora puts it, “a minor-key tonality with a vocal-centric aesthetic.” I believe that the feeling you get when you view a piece of art that you find irresistibly beautiful or hear a piece of music that brings you to tears by vibrating your very core, that is when you are truly experiencing who you are. You will not be able to explain it. You will not be able to share it. Those moments are yours alone, and no one else but you will ever get it. A person who has never experienced that feeling has no idea who they are inside.

Literature, as much as I love it, does not have the same effect. It is not sensory. Doing a job that you love, enjoying a hobby, neither these nor similar things can tell you who you are. They can tell you what you do. They can tell you through logic and reason about your likes and dislikes, but they do not speak to your soul."

The point that I was trying to make in my journal was that everyone reacts to art, but only art snobs can "describe" what it is they love about a piece. If you go to an art museum, you are likely to find yourself drawn to certain works as if by magnetism, while others repulse or offend you. But those reactions are highly subjective and vary widely among individuals. Art and music are reflections of WHO YOU ARE - the person inside of you that you cannot describe. That, to me, is the extent to which art is instinctual. It has no survival function, so don't try to bullshit me into believing otherwise. 

Have you ever LOVED a work of art or a piece of music to where it quite literally moves you? Have you ever then shared that work with your significant other, who then says "I don't get what's so great about it?" 

It arises within you a feeling of being dumbfounded. We respond by saying, "How could you possibly NOT love this???" and we stare at this person like they're an alien being. But what we are really saying is, "That is ME - and if you love ME, how could you NOT like this?" and it feels almost like a betrayal, a sign of profound misunderstanding. 

People get really pissed when someone insults or otherwise derogates their art and music preferences.  It feels like an incredibly cutting insult and we tend to immediately go on the defensive - "Well, you just have NO TASTE!!!"

In my experience, growing up with a grandmother who is a professional painter, the creators of the art and music are not as attached to their work as the viewers and listeners are. They see imperfections where we see beauty. 

To be sure, some people collect art for the sake of collecting art. They view art as an opportunity for investment. But most of us aren't like that. Sure, we'd all love to own an original Picasso or Monet - but that's more about having it as a status symbol than actually loving the work. 

When we love a piece of art, we want to own it because we feel like it BELONGS to us, like it was meant for us all along. Art and music, I think, are the only things in life that truly arouse that feeling in us. It is instinct, to be sure, but it is instinct in the sense of wanting to know ourselves - that human condition of feeling isolated in the world and perpetually seeking out connections. Art and music allow us to connect with our pure, inner selves. 

THAT is the reason for art. Evolution has nothing to do with it. 

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Are You Ready For Some Football???

JLK is very excited about the playoff matches this weekend. I am not a football expert though, so please do not place bets using my analysis. If you do, I do not accept responsibility for any $$$ you may lose. I'm just sayin'. 

First up, the Tennessee Titans at the Baltimore Ravens, game starting in about an hour. This is probably going to be a close game, with the Titans eventually pulling out a win. BUT, I really want the Ravens to win, because my Steelers have a better chance against them in the next round than they do against the Titans. So root for Baltimore, but expect the Titans to pull this one out. 

Second game is the Arizona Cardinals at the Carolina Panthers later on tonight. I loved watching Arizona last weekend play their first playoff game at home in something like 60 years. They had tons of energy, some of which led to some ass-riding in the endzone which had me laughing for days. I can't seem to find a pic, but if you can find it it's hilarious. However, the Panthers are probably going to stomp the Cards. It will be a little sad for me to watch, because I don't give a flying fuck about Carolina. 

The most anticipated game of the weekend (by everyone except me) is tomorrow afternoon - the New York Giants at the Philadelphia Eagles. This is going to be a good motherfucking game. I decline to make a prediction of the outcome, because many of my friends are Giants fans and so that's who I'll be rooting for (sorry, CPP). 

And in the early evening tomorrow, my team, the Pittsburgh Steelers will be playing the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers have been playing some good fucking football lately, so I think this will also be a close game. I will likely spend most of my time on my feet, screaming at the TV, pleading with Big Ben not to fuck up and cheering for Troy Polamalu and his Matrix-like takedown moves. I think (and hope) that the Steelers will bring the pain, moving on to the next round but allowing the Chargers to experience a respectable defeat rather than a slaughter. 

For now, I am off to get ready to watch the first game and enjoy some alcoholic beverages and Mario Kart Wii during halftime. I'm sure I'll be checking back into the blogosphere periodically. (Have to maintain the addiction!)

***Update #1: True to my betting disclaimer, I am 0-1 so far on my picks for the playoff games this weekend. Baltimore just beat the Titans 13-10, who played a rough game tonight. As long as the Steelers win against San Diego tomorrow, I'm expecting a very low-scoring kick-ass game next weekend. 

***Update #2: Wow. THAT was NOT supposed to happen. Arizona killed the Panthers, 30-13. Panthers QB Delhomme threw 5 interceptions!!! 5!!!!!!!!! It was not an exciting game. In my humble opinion, it is not so much that Arizona played really well as it is that Carolina just sucked tonight. Which does not make for good football watching. JLK is now 0-2, but JLK is not alone, because a lot of the so-called football experts are as surprised by today's outcomes as she is. 2 more games tomorrow - one that I did not make a prediction for, and the other is the one where if I'm wrong, I'll be too sad to blog. On second thought, it would probably just be a rant blog. 

***Update #3: Congrats to Comrade PhysioProf. The Giants absolutely sucked today. It was, in my opinion, a long series of very bad decisions by the Giants that led to their demise. It wasn't even a good game. It was just a boring pile of steaming shit for 3 hours of my life that I can't get back. 

***Update #4: Goooooooooo Steelers!!!! THAT was an awesome motherfucking game. The Chargers played well, they just got outplayed by my boys - which is the kind of football I enjoy watching. Big Ben played an incredible game, the best I can remember for a long time. They got the job done, and I had a helluva time watchin'. And now onto next weekend - let's keep that momentum and beat the Ravens!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Dammit All To Hell

I'm really, REALLY mad at myself right now. 

I had 2 grad school applications left to complete because of their later deadlines. I have kept all information in a spreadsheet, columns for each school in order of the deadline. The last two had due dates of 2/1. I figured if I got them done in time for vacation, I'd be all set. 

But no, JLK went and fucked up. It turns out that one of those programs actually had a deadline of 1/2, not 2/1. SHIT!

It was the only other program in New England besides Ivy U #1. Which means that now my chances of NOT moving next year are now cut in half. Probably less than half, actually. A lot less than half....

Granted, I did not really want to go to this particular school. I did the first year of my undergrad 8 years ago at a regional campus of this school. I hated it then, and I'm sure I'd hate it now. It would be just like the MRU I graduated from, just in a different state. But I was hoping to get the option of not having to move. 

On the bright side, now I only have 1 app to finish, and that one definitely has a 2/1 deadline. (I triple checked yesterday and did everything but the personal statement).

Regardless - fucking shit fuck. 


Scienceblogs is down until sometime tomorrow. Which means I have no new blog posts to read, and even if I go and read older ones I missed, I can't comment on them. And if I can't add my $0.02 when I feel the urge, what's the point?

I think I'm having withdrawals. 

Where are all my Blogger bloggers at? Get on it, folks - JLK needs some reading material! Pick up the slack!

Anyone Been To Mexico?

So I'm going on vacation 2 weeks from today, heading down to Puerto Morelos on the Riviera Maya. I know I've got some readers who are big travelers, and I figured I would see what y'all had to say about this area. 

What to see? What to avoid? What's a waste of money and what's totally worth it? Etc., etc., etc. 

Keep in mind, I will not have a rental car while down there. That may affect your recommendations. 

So far my only plans include the following:

1. Drink. (Let's hear it for the all-inclusive: Hip, Hip, HOORAY!) 
2. Relax.
3. Buy and smoke some Cuban cigars.
4. Swim with dolphins.
5. Horseback ride on the beach.
6. Swim in an underground river. 
7. Drink some more.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Question of Value: What Does Cognitive Neuroscience Really Contribute?

I was checking out some of the blogs listed on Sci's blogroll today and found myself over at PsyBlog reading this post on whether or not the field of cognitive neuroscience is really contributing anything to the study of "mind." It is a fascinating discussion. 

Cognitive Psychology is not my field, neither is neuroscience. That said, I have a decent level of knowledge of CogPsy and I think I know enough about current neuroimaging techniques to post about it on my own blog, though I neglected to comment on the original post. 

The main question being asked is this:

"There's no doubt the mind's cognitive processes are a function of the brain's physiological activity but these two things are nevertheless (currently) separate questions. Cognitive neuroscience's strength is in physiological processes, and as imaging technology improves, so will the importance of its findings in this area. But, again, why should a psychologist care that much which part of the brain lights up in a scanner, if the mind's functioning is still so far removed from our understanding of its physiology?"

Debate ensues in the comments section about this "split view" of mind versus brain followed by an entirely pointless discussion of whether the "hardware versus software" analogy is appropriate. 

An anonymous commenter provides the following brilliant analogy for using fMRI as a means of understanding cognitive processes:

"Here's the problem as I see it.... using current cognitive neuroscience techniques to understand brain-behavior relationships is currently like trying to understand the functioning of a car's motor by measuring the heat patterns on the hood of the car. We can tell when it's working harder (and which areas show the biggest changes), but that's a far cry from truly understanding motor function."

Yes! Abso-fuckin-lutely! Now don't get me wrong - I love sexy fMRI images just as much as the next gal, but answering the question "WHERE" is indeed a far cry from answering the question of "HOW" - which is what Cognitive Psychology traditionally pursues. 

The problem that is leading to this debate in psychology is the fact that those sexy fMRI images are dazzling the sources that provide funding and diverting much-needed dollars to these programs when they could be supporting more "valuable" lines of research. Cog-Neuro has become the new "sexy" field of psychology, drawing more and more students and money each year. 

I agree that a LOT of money is being wasted on these programs right now. We cannot learn a whole lot looking at a computer screen saying "What part of the brain lights up when we ask someone to memorize a list of words" compared to "What processes underly HOW a person memorizes that list of words?" The latter question cannot YET be answered from an fMRI image. 

However, I wholeheartedly support this branch of neuroscience, especially the funding that goes to support new advances in the technology. The problem is when money is being sent off to researchers so they can play their new toy - scanning for the sake of scanning. 

The fMRI is totally fucking cool, and if I had one I would play with it ALL THE TIME. My walls would be covered in poster-sized reprints of fMRI images with titles like "This Is Your Brain While Masturbating" and "This Is Your Brain While Listening To Nine Inch Nails." It would be awesome. 

But it would also be a tremendous waste of time. 

The fMRI is a valuable tool in all branches of psychology, but it needs to be remembered that for all intents and purposes, it can only tell us WHERE something is happening. Combining that with lesion studies, single-cell recordings, EEGs, and TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation), and the brain mapping that neurosurgeons do can provide us with a wealth of information about the brain. But in truth, it tells us very little about cognition. 

We just don't have the technology yet that we need to study the human brain while preserving ethics. And sometimes, even the technology we DO have, that IS ethical, is still difficult to find participants for, as in the case of TMS. Imagine a researcher tells you, "We're going to apply this magnet to your head, and it's going to turn off a part of your brain for a little while. Is that cool?" Most people don't, in fact, think that's cool, even if it is temporary. 

The argument for Cog-neuro has been that once we have a whole bunch of data, we'll have some answers. Sure, that's great. But answers to what? And do those answers justify the billions of dollars spent on these studies? I'm guessing probably not, but I could be wrong. 

The bottom line is this: Cog-neuro IS valuable as long as everyone remembers that the amount of speculation going into the analysis remains unchanged whether you use a computer model or an fMRI. There is a lot of very cool data coming out of this discipline, but it's not particularly useful in a manner that justifies its level of funding and visibility. Some people are hailing the fMRI as a divine gift to brain science, and it's just simply not the case. Let's not ignore the fantastic techniques and methods that traditional neuroscience has given us, because without using those in combination, the fMRI is practically useless. 

Now I know I have a lot of neuroscience blog buddies out there who might disagree with my assessment depending on their specialty. I invite you to do so, as I am more than open to learning something new. And if any of you have answers to the following questions, I would really love to hear them because I have not been able to figure them out:

- How can an fMRI image explain how the brain processes information from short-term and working memory into long-term memory, and why some things are lost while others are kept forever? (I know we have theories, I just want to know how this particular tool can help)

- How can fMRI images explain how mental imagery works? We know from fMRI scans that the visual cortex is activated when imagining a scene just like when you're actually viewing the scene, but what can it tell us about how and why?

- How can the fMRI aid in our understanding of the serial position effect or the learning curve? 

I have many more, but I think I'll stop with these. I really need to start posting blogs when I think of them rather than hours later, because this was much better organized and complete in my head around 3pm today than how it's turned out. :(

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Reality of Grad School & Beyond?

I was doing some venturing outside of my normal realm of blog reading, and came across this post  by Dean Dad through an elongated trail leading from Dr. Isis' latest blogrolling post. 

To give you the basic background, this story tells us that the number of students taking the GRE has dropped this year, and there's all sorts of concerns about this. Dean Dad and many of his commenters take the position that this is GOOD news because it means that fewer students are getting led down the garden path of academia only to find themselves un- or underemployed in the long run. 

The way I see it, there are two separate sides to this whole issue involving getting advanced degrees and getting paid. There is the master's and other comparable degrees side, and the PhD, PsyD, JD, and other comparable degrees side. 

Based on my experience in the "real world" of work, a master's degree is generally a good investment, the all-too-common and too-easy-to-get MBA not included. A Bachelor's degree generally isn't enough to get you a job - a master's puts you in a much better position. A PhD, (in my humble opinion) is fucking useless unless you want to go into academia. If you want to work in the private sector, a master's is generally more than good enough. (Flame away, dissenters.) And I don't care what field we're talking about. 

Let's make a comparison, shall we? A psychology major, fresh out of undergrad, who wants to work with people has a few options available to them - the PhD or PsyD in Clinical or Counseling psych, a master's in Social Work (MSW), or a master's in counseling. All 3 of those degrees qualify them to take the state licensure exam that allows them to counsel the community. If you could complete a degree in 2-3 years and have the same end result, why the hell wouldn't you take it? Granted, the pay is slightly higher for a licensed psychologist (PhD or PsyD only), but it's not enough to justify the additional 2-3 years of grad school plus a 1 year internship. 

Now Clinical is not my area. But I considered it at one point as a specialty still with academia in mind. Clinical psych is THE MOST competitive area for grad school admissions. Why? Because it's the default option. It's for the people who major in psych because they want to "help people" and that's as far as they've thought about it. There are a lot of well-qualified applicants for clinical programs who really understand what they're applying for and what they'll be doing who get booted out by applicants who don't have a fucking clue, and they just know they want to be called "Dr." someday. These are the same people who think that a PsyD is "less than" a PhD. 

And that is where the distinction is made between the two degrees - it even says it on the program websites - the PhD in clinical is for students who want to pursue academia, the PsyD is for students who want to "help people." 

Okay I've gone a little off-topic. Back to the issue. 

I WANT the number of applicants to grad programs to drop. I WANT more men to pursue doctoral degrees in psych because women are the vast majority in this field and I hate that, because I'd rather be a token than a stereotype. (I know, I know......)

There was a time, in my lifetime, that a HS diploma was enough to get you a decent-paying job that would allow you to care for a family. This was back when we had a "middle class." People with undergrad degrees went to work in suits, made really good money, and were looked up to. There was a push for everyone to go to college, and suddenly you became worthless if you didn't have a 4yr degree. The undergrad degree has become the new HS diploma. 

So now it's moved on up the ranks. Now the grad degree is looked to as the ultimate accomplishment, attainable by anyone and everyone. Don't believe me? Take a drive through New England and count the number of billboards advertising for MBA's available "in your free time" or all the online colleges charging premium tuition dollars for unaccredited programs. 5 minutes from my house is a college that offers an MBA in a saturday-only class format that gives you a degree in a year and a half. While I applaud the convenience, a flood of MBAs into the market doesn't help anyone - it just pushes the bar up higher. Supply and demand, folks. 

We actually have TOO MANY lawyers in this country. And law school costs a FORTUNE. But still, shitloads of undergrads every year are applying to law school as their "default" option. What no one tells them is that even if they get in, unless they work their ASSES off to be in the top 2-5% of their class, they are not guaranteed a job anywhere. 

Just to be clear, I am a huge fan of education, especially higher education. But sending a ton of people off to college where they will amass huge debts just to end up as a manager at Starbucks is not smart. This whole higher-education-for-profit shit is killing everyone, because they'll hand out advanced degrees to anyone who can pay the tuition or is willing to strap themselves with student loans. Those degrees used to be reserved for the most ambitious, most talented students who would go on to high-power positions where they could reap the rewards of their effort. Not so anymore. Do you know how hard it is to get a fucking scholarship or "real" financial aid these days??

And the aspect of the problem that really hurts academia? They're not hiring more professors. You'd think that with increased demand for education, there would be more tenure-track faculty positions available. But there aren't, because that would hurt the bottom line. Instead, they hire adjuncts and lecturers in the best cases, and don't hire anyone in the worst. This is why we have overcrowded classrooms, stressed-out profs, and why it's so fucking hard for an undergrad to find a mentor at a university. It's bullshit. 

I WANT to work in academia. It's what I've always wanted. I WANT to be a scholar in my field. But if we keep going on this track we've been on, I'll need a PhD just to have the fucking job I have now. 

We have been lessening the meaning of higher education while simultaneously widening the class gap. Because college is getting more expensive, we continue to tell underprivileged populations that the almighty degree is something they can't have, trading the ability to afford it for its worthlessness. I might be an idealist, but I want to see a bright, talented first-generation college student earning a degree on scholarship over a fucking overprivileged, c-average, prep school brat buying a piece of paper so they can go work for daddy's company. 

The fucking GRE should be FREE. It cost me over $1,000 to apply to 9 grad programs this fall. The ETS charges $20 PER COPY of your official score reports to be sent to schools ELECTRONICALLY. I wonder how many lower-income, super intelligent students don't make it into advanced studies just because they can't afford to apply. Shit, I couldn't really afford to apply, I can't imagine how they could. 

Wow, this turned into a rant. My bottom line points: Grad school needs to MEAN something again - intellectually, not financially. In order for that to happen, we need to stop giving away degrees based on who can pay for them. We need to do a better job at educating undergrads about their options after graduation instead of providing grad school as a default. I want to see the best and the brightest moving on to advanced degrees, regardless of their financial status. That's how it's supposed to be, goddammit. 

And you know what I REALLY want to see?? Our K-12 teachers getting paid as much as full professors. Because they're the creators of the best and the brightest, not DNA and trust funds. 

Friday, January 2, 2009

On Being an Egg Farm

I've been meaning to blog about this experience for awhile, as most of you know. So on this cold January evening while I wait for my husband to return from work and subsequently drag me to Home Depot to look at shower doors, I figured what the hell. No time like the present!

I offer this knowledge to anyone who is considering becoming an egg donor or using one. When I was researching it I found very few accounts of what it was actually like, and the accounts I did find tended to be on donor agency websites....translation = useless and biased. Here's the truthful tale of what it's like to have your DNA harvested. 

Fig 1: My awesome DNA.

A little over a year ago, I received a message on myspace from a donor agency. I was immediately suspicious, but it was personally addressed to me and some research on the agency found it to be legit. I replied and asked for more information, including the all-important "why me" question. Turns out that a couple had been searching for awhile to find an egg donor who looked like the mother and possessed certain attributes that clinics do not approve of as legitimate donor criteria. 

What do I mean by that? Well, there have been no proven links between genetics and intelligence or educational achievement. That means that most fertility clinics do not include this information when intended parents are looking through donor profiles. The couple was using a highly reputable clinic, one of very few left in the country that allows couples to bring in a donor that they find on their own. That's where the agency came in. 

The only information I was willing to give the agent was my home phone number, (also the only thing she asked for) and she called me at home. She explained that I looked a LOT like the mother and that was what led her to contact me. The couple was offering more than 3x the average donor fee, plus all expenses including travel and medical. 

I was put in contact with the clinic, affiliated with a very major university so I knew this wasn't a scam. I filled out a very lengthy questionnaire, went in for a checkup to make sure that I could donate, everything came back fine and the intended parents decided that I was their donor. I received a check for $1k just for signing the contract, after my awesome fertility lawyer went through everything line by line over the course of 3 weeks. 

It took forever to get their surrogate's cycle all straightened out, so even though I was technically ready to go in January, none of the real stuff went down until the end of April. I got a call from the clinic to come in and get all my medications and to learn how to inject myself. 

For the next 3 weeks I was driving an hour each way to go to the clinic first thing in the morning for ultrasounds and blood work several times a week. 

I started on Lupron, injected once a day into my abdomen to prevent me from ovulating. Once my uterine lining was below a certain mark, I was ready to go with the hormones. I started taking Gonal-F in addition to the Lupron - so two injections every night. I didn't really have any side effects from either of the medications, though I was expecting to get loopy and whiny and all that. Nothing, it was totally fine. 

My first ultrasound went fine, I was progressing normally so they kept the medication dosage the same. But within a few days I started to feel extremely bloated, and there was so much pressure in my lower abdomen that it hurt to sit down. I went in for another ultrasound and the doctors were shocked: "You're carrying the same volume in your abdomen as a woman who is 14 weeks pregnant." But rather than schedule the retrieval right away, they kept me on the Gonal-F for another 2 days. By the time I went in for the retrieval I was so impatient just to be done with it. The night before I had to take one more injection, of the medication that would make me ovulate. I forget what it was called. 

Fig 3: What my ultrasound looked like. Except instead of a baby, it was all eggs.

The retrieval was quick and easy. I was put under twilight sedation, so even though I was awake I can't remember anything until I "woke up" in the clinic bed and they fed me crackers and juice. I went home, and short of some cramping I was fine. I had donated 36 eggs. A number that is practically unheard of. The intended parents must have been ecstatic, because most couples are lucky to get 10-12 out of the deal. 

The next day I started to feel like shit. Dizzy, the cramps seemed to get worse. I was bloated again even though I hadn't been when I left the office after the retrieval. By the next night, I was calling the clinic and they had me come in the following morning. 

I had gone into hyperstimulation. Apparently, my body is amazingly good at producing eggs. But because I had never donated before, the clinic didn't adjust the Gonal-F accordingly because they couldn't have known. It was a known risk, so I felt okay about it. But there was a huge amount of fluid collected in my abdomen and I was back to the 14wk pregnancy volume. I had to have a fluid reduction procedure, which was highly unpleasant. Nothing like sticking a huge needle up your no-no parts to turn you off to doctors. 

But once they were done sucking out the fluid, I felt a million times better. I had to stick around for them to do blood work though, because if my hematocrit level was too high I would have to be hospitalized. I had no idea what that meant, you physio and bio folks I'm sure could wax poetic about it. For those of you who were like me, apparently if your hematocrit level is too high, that means your blood is too concentrated because of fluid being deposited elsewhere (my abdomen in this case). Short version = blood is too thick. It was actually kinda scary to be told that, because I was at the clinic alone (an hour away from home) and the thought of being taken to a hospital so far away and by myself freaked me out.) But luckily the level was the minimum it needed to be for them to send me home. They said to keep them informed if anything changed. 

The next day I was bloated again and in a tremendous amount of pain. Literally, I would get attacks of cramps that forced me to my knees on the floor, crying. I had vicodin, percocet - nothing was helping. I went to the ER and had them call the clinic doctor on call who told them not to do anything to me except treat the pain. The logic was that they were going to pump me full of fluids, which was exactly what I did NOT need. 

At this point I was like "I am never doing this again....EVER." I went to the clinic again the next day, and they sucked out more of the fluid. I felt better, and the procedure was much less worse this time. (I had a female doctor who did it, and she took the time to wait for the numbing agent to work before sticking the needle in.) 

This turned out to be the last time I visited the clinic. After the final fluid reduction, I returned to normal. The first period I had after the whole ordeal was wicked heavy, but no more painful than normal. The clinic explained to me during my last visit that if I ever donated again, they would reduce the amount of Gonal-F I was taking so that the hyperstim would not occur. 

I have to say, after all was said and done I would do it again in a heartbeat. When I was in miserable pain I felt like it would never go away, and in my despair I felt like I wouldn't put myself through it. But now that I know it was temporary, it was totally worth it. 

I would never have sought out egg donation on my own. But they came to me, and offered me a disgusting amount of money to do it. I paid off all of my credit card debt, my car, and still had a substantial sum left over. I would be lying if I said I didn't do it for the money, because I had no other reason to do it. But the fact that I gave a couple a chance at making their dreams come true makes me smile every time I think about it. And they did as much for me as I did for them. My only concern had been whether it would affect my own fertility and I was assured by the doctors that it would not, as long as I complied with their instructions. 

They are completely anonymous to me. I didn't care if I was anonymous or not. Their lawyers have my information in a file, because I agreed that should the child ever want to meet me, I would be willing to do so. In exchange, they agreed to inform me that a live birth was successful and let me know what the child's sex was. This was info I felt like I needed to have, rather than just send off my DNA and never know what came of it. 

Forgot to add in the original post: Of my family, only my husband and my sister know that I did this. My mother has been aching for grandkids since I got married, and I felt like she would think it was slighting her to donate my eggs. I didn't want to deal with it and so I chose not to tell her. The rest I neglected to tell because I didn't think it was any of their business. A couple of extremely close friends know, but that's it. 

I haven't received any word yet, and don't expect to until later this year. I anticipate feeling very excited for them, and grateful that I was a part of something huge, even though my contribution was small. 
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