Our Mother’s Day Tradition

Elementary school teachers are extremely efficient about getting their students to make Mother’s Day presents for mom. After those formative years, the Mother’s Day present stream runs pretty dry, unless your child happens to get art class as an elective spring quarter.

For the past three Mother’s Days, my children wish me a Happy Mother’s Day followed by glances down at the floor, awkward shuffling of feet, and a mumbled, “I didn’t get you anything.”

“That’s no problem, sweetie. You can clean the garage for me!”

Any other time of year, cleaning the garage would be met with massive teenage-groaned resistance and copious excuses. This is probably why the garage is so dusty, cobwebby and cluttered by May. But the power of Mother’s Day gift shaming pulls them in the garage. The cement floors are swept and MOPPED, spider mansions are dismantled, old frisbees are pitched into the trash and outgrown bicycles are set on the curb with a ‘Free’ sign.

The result- a beautiful garage to last me through the year.

Starting Conversations

My daughter’s Spanish class was talking about immigration. The teacher asked the class how many people were born outside the USA. One child raised his hand. Then the teacher asked the students to raise their hand if one or both of their parents were born outside the USA. Out of a class of 23 students, 16 raised their hands.

Their parents had been born in Lithuania, Serbia, Croatia, Syria, Jordan, Pakistan, India, China, Vietnam, the Philippines and Mexico.

Keep in mind, this is an American public school.

Mother Courage

Many thanks to Julie Ganey, Dorothy Milne, Mary Bowers, Sandra McCollum and Cyn Vargas for their help with this story. Also, big thanks to the 2nd Story staff who helped me tell my story at the Teal Room in Pub 626 this past weekend. Our theme was “Mother Courage: tales of taking a stand.”

I am hoping to publish a longer version of my story somewhere “real” i.e. not just this blog that no one reads (and yes, I have the statistics to prove that. Ok, most of this is my fault. I haven’t been posting regularly.). Anyhow, if no one will take my story, then I’ll publish it here.


Spouse Prospectus

Dearest Child,

Choosing the right partner or spouse is one of the most challenging decisions you will face in life. To make it a bit easier for you, we have decided to provide you with some guidance.

First of all, choose someone who belongs to an enemy clan. You might be surprised at this advice but it is grounded in solid science. By choosing a partner from a family that we consider to be our sworn enemies, there is very little chance that any of your ancestors will have consorted with this person’s ancestors. Hence, your offspring will benefit from maximal genetic diversity.

In terms of her physical appearance, we suggest that she should

A) look like a winged messenger of the heavens,

B) appear like the sun who kills the envious moon and

C) have eyes like the stars in the heavens.

We recommend that you create a Venn diagram of potential partners who belong to A, B) and C). There will be very few who represent an intersection of all three so this will really help you narrow down your choices.

However, genetic lineage and physical appearance are not as important as her character and behavior. We believe that it would be ideal if your partner were somebody who loved you so much that she would undertake extraordinary efforts in order to secure a happy life for you. For example, she would be willing imbibe potions that would induce a comatose state and feign death, just to escape peer pressures in order to be with you. A true sign of her love would be that she would undergo this risky procedure without any clear backup plan, merely banking on the ability of a clergyman to verbally convey a message to you without considering the need for a second route of communication in matters of life and death.

But perhaps the most important proof that you have found the right mate is that you will be so madly in love with her that you would liberate yourself from the chains of reason and science. Upon hearing that she might have passed away in her youth, your love for her and grief over her purported demise would cloud your judgment so severely that you would commit suicide without checking her pulse or respiration or demanding an autopsy to understand the cause of her premature death.

We hope that this advice will provide you with the happiness you deserve.

Abu and Amma

Chicago Science March 2017

My daughter and I participated in the science march on Saturday with three of our friends. There were a lot of people, mostly young and white, quite a few baby strollers and a few dogs. Everyone was pretty quiet- scientists aren’t chanters? At one point someone even chanted “Somebody start a chant!”

So we tried, “Who speaks for the trees? WE SPEAK FOR THE TREES!”

and  “Who speaks for the bees? WE SPEAK FOR THE BEES!”

and “Any thing you do SCIENCE AFFECTS YOU!”


and “TURTLE! TURTLE! TURTLE!” which was in response to a “Yertle the Turtle” sign with the heads of the turtles as Trump and his advisers, with “GRAVITY” written on the back.

There were a lot of signs, but many I expect will be recycled to next week’s “People for Climate” march next week, examples “There is no Planet B”, and a picture of the earth with an arrow pointing to the planet saying, “I’m with her!”

I couldn’t get an idea of how many people there were because where we were marching (along Columbus Ave) was flat. There were a few helicopters overhead. Afterwards, when I tried to find footage from the Chicago march, all they would show was the helicopter footage of the  marchers for Chicago. There were marches all over the world, but since we were walking through a big park (three city blocks long) and they could get the helicopters in to film us, that was all that was shown for Chicago. I am one of those blips down there. The police estimated there were 40,000 who marched. I don’t think anyone was arrested. We were described as “cheerful”.

These are some pictures from the march at the STREET level:

Some additional signage that didn’t take good pictures:

“So bad even the introverts are here.”

“There is no vaccine for stupidity.”

“If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the precipitate”

“I’m just here to study the effects of clever signs on the science community.”

And our sign:


Chicago Science March

Sorry readers, if there are any of you out there. It has been a while. March was a bad month for me. Trying to get back into the swing of things. Jolts of spring sunshine and tulip color blossoms are helping the process.

I said I would write about the science march. It is coming this Saturday, April 22. You can read about the route, how to get involved etc, via this link:

March for Science Chicago

The march is not without controversy. People of color say they have not been properly included in the conversation and planning. The subtext here seems to be, “where were you for the Black Lives Matter march?” Also, some scientists do not want science politicized and “taking sides”. They argue that science and technology are for everyone and one should not put science as a pawn in the political fray. My husband is one of these kinds of scientists, and as a result, he is taking the kids to the FASEB meeting on Saturday morning because kids (with their school id’s) get in for free.

I am going to march with my friend. I didn’t march with her during the Women’s march, so I feel I ought to do at least one march this year. We’ll see how it goes. I will try and take pictures- and then post them on this blog.


Planning the Science March

Last night we sat around the dinner table discussing the science march. The date has yet to be determined, but my husband is convinced it will be as carefully planned as a grant submission.

Much to my disappointment, my husband immediately shot down my angriest ideas for poster display:

“Trump Makes Me Gag”

“GOP Proofs: Trump’s Mandate and Saddam’s Weapons of Mass Destruction”

Instead, he made me read an Op-Ed piece from the New York Times by a geologist who argues that the Science March is a bad idea. I was ready for another scientist ‘head in the sand’, dodge your civic obligation argument, but it was nothing like that.

I disagreed with one of the geologist’s conclusions, I don’t think the developers would have changed their course of action because they ‘knew’ him as a person and scientist. Look at all those mafioso types who always say, “It’s not personal, it’s business” just before they shoot their friend in the head. Money interests want their own way above any other consideration.

However, the article did bring up a very important point: what is the point of the Science March? Who is the target audience? Are scientists doing this for themselves, to show they have solidarity with like-minded people (ala the Women’s March)? Do they want Trump to pay attention to them (and what is the likelihood that he would)?

My husband, after reading the New York Times Op-Ed, wants the march to be non-partisan. He wants the scientists to show the world that science does not have to ‘take a side’, that either political party can and should use science to form good policy decisions for the country.

I said that if the scientists want to reach out to the Trump voters, then they need to show them that some scientists believe in God. They need scientists out there holding signs that say they are Christians, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, etc. My Evangelical Christian, Trump-voting neighbor always feels much more at ease with me knowing that I, too, believe in God. She is fine that we are from different religions, she respects the differences and likes that we are honest that there are differences. If the marching scientists only proclaim they are angry atheists, then that parks the march back in the Echo Chamber lot.

The kids agreed that if the scientists want to get apathetic people interested in science, then the scientists who are marching need to be diverse. They can’t be a bunch old, white men. We need women, minorities, LGBTQ- the whole rainbow out there showing that the common goal of science allows tolerance for all. Maybe if Americans can see scientists being tolerant, then they can be less divisive with their fellow citizens.

The protest posters that did pass the new standards are:

“Proud Muslim American Molecular Biologist”

“Proud German Scientist”

“Grrrl Science Power!”

A big list of “Scientists Who Were Refugees” which will be compiled from here and here.


When the march gets finalized, I will let you know and also as much as I can about which cities will be sponsoring marches of their own.



Empirical Analysis: Tabloids

Since I have a family of eaters, I go to the grocery store every week and in the check-out line I typically scan the weekly magazines and tabloids perched around the cashier. I had noticed that throughout the elections, the grocery store tabloids (National Enquirer, Globe, National Examiner) were virulently anti-Hillary.

Once Trump got elected president, all the tabloids were unilaterally flattering to the Trumpacy. Two weeks before the inauguration, the National Enquirer featured on its cover “The Presidential Family- Things you didn’t know!”, with captions under the photos such as “secret philanthropist”, “party planner”, “job creator”. The following week featured a cover of the Trump daughters, “He’s strict- no boyfriends, lots of homework, no parties on school nights!”. When the scandal erupted that Putin and his Russian hackers had deliberately divulged secrets of the Clinton campaign in order to swing the election in Trump’s favor, the tabloids reassured their readers, that “Trump and Putin meeting secretly to disarm Iran’s nuclear program, put an end to North Korean aggression.” At this point I was pretty certain that the best way to determine how Trump was doing with his base/puppetmaster was to watch the tabloid headlines.

I was very surprised to see the headlines this week. Only one on Trump, “The secrets of Trump’s advisers that you don’t know.” Now granted, perhaps inside the weeklie a reader would find the advisers are ‘secret philanthropists’ and “party planners”, but I didn’t bother to do the research. I had expected that the tabloids would be all about how the Muslim Ban/Extreme Vetting was “keeping America safe” and “foiling terrorist plots”, but no tabloid said that this week.

Well, perhaps they will change their mind next week, once the opinion polls have been tabulated and the puppetmasters have been consulted . Let’s see how they spin their webs next week.

Baking in the Time of Political Turmoil

Seems the current commander-in-chief wants to test how hot the stove is.

Thought we could be more productive in the kitchen.

Happy to report the oven is in good working condition

If we could, my kids and I would have given a heart cookie to each and every one of those protesters who turned out at airports across the country to demonstrate against the Muslim Ban/Extreme Vetting. They risked imprisonment to show that they cared. We love you.