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pe·tard (pet-tard') n. 1: a small bell-shaped bomb used to breach a gate or wall 2: a loud firecracker. from French pétard a fart, or a type of bomb, from Old French pet a fart, from Latin pdere to fart, from the Indo-European root pezd fart. (the expression "to be hoist by one's own petard" first seen in Shakespeare's Hamlet, means "to blow oneself up with one's own bomb, be undone by one's own devices)

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Thursday, March 13, 2003
by the Writer's Guild of Wunderland

What's New?

What's Going On? Getting Inside Our Brains

My What's on the Stove? report, which I posted last week, still reflects the current state of most of the projects we are working on, and except for announcing that next week's update will be either late or canceled (because of the GAMA Trade Show), I have nothing else to say just now about Looney Labs.

So, instead I'll talk about Looney brains, specifically Kristin's and my own. Kristin has just gotten back from NIH where she was participating, along with her sister, in a study of the next generation of a group of subjects who are being studied because they have parents who have Alzheimer's disease. Sadly, Kristin's family has a long history of Alzheimer's, so when the current study of the children of Alzheimer's patients (in which Kristin's parent's were already participating) was expanded to study their children, the organizers were naturally very interested in having Kristin and her sister take part in the study.

That's why Ruth and her kids Jenelle and Dustan were visiting us this week. We had a great time hanging out with them on the night they arrived, and again after the tests were completed. Kristin's parents were amazed to hear that Dr. Trey Sunderland, the Principal Investigator of the whole project, had performed Kristin's spinal tap personally. Apparently they have made some real advances that have greatly reduced the legendary pain of getting a spinal tap, since Kristin had a perfectly fine time lying comfortably and chatting with Dr. Sunderland and her nurse Chris about card games and medical marijuana while they drained large amounts of fluid out of her back. It's really cool to think that they will be using these samples for various forms of research for years and years to come. They also did an MRI, and Kristin's mild claustrophobia made this a teeth-gritting experience for her (whereas I found her descriptions of the bizarre symphony of noise you hear during an MRI fascinating, and since I'm not claustrophobic at all, I'm kind of looking forward to getting one someday).

Meanwhile, we've recently gotten the sad news that my dad's Aunt Marguerite has been moved into an assisted living situation -- with locked accommodations for Alzheimer's patients. It's not yet scientifically possible to positively diagnose Alzheimer's until after an autopsy is performed, but it seems clear to cousin Julie that Marguerite has been telling lies in order to conceal mental lapses she's been having, and had begun imagining things to a degree that was dangerous. So it's looking like I also have a family history of Alzheimer's disease. NIH is still looking for study participants... perhaps I should volunteer. (If you are interested in trying to get involved with this study, they are actively seeking 20-35 year olds for their control group. Email Kristin to find out more.)

Speaking of my own brain, I'm still digesting the stunning realizations I had last week after reading an article by Jonathan Rauch called "Caring for Your Introvert." I read a lot of articles each week, and I often quote and link to the ones I find the most interesting, but this one, I declared, was "a must-read for everyone I know." Not only did I suddenly understand that I am indeed an introvert, but I also understood for the first time what that really means: that I live in a world dominated by those who are not only totally different from me, but also, by their very nature, are unlikely to understand these differences.

Some who read this (i.e. the introverts) will probably find it no surprise to hear me say I'm an introvert, but others will no doubt find this surprising. If you've met me, you may think me friendly and out-going, and even close friends like Gina disagreed with me when I said last week that I've realized I'm really an introvert. Two years ago, I wrote "I finally took (informally) the Myers-Briggs personality type indicator test, and came up as XNTJ." That "X" meant I'd come out as an Introvert-Extrovert hybrid, since many of my answers were E not I. But now I realize it's my outer persona talking when I give E style answers, and that my inner core is truly Introverted. So, it turns out I'm an INTJ (i.e. a "Scientist"). But perhaps I should take the whole test again at this point.

Kristin on the other hand is a total Extrovert. (That line in Rauch's article about reaching for the cell phone if alone for more that two minutes really hit home for Kristin.) It's been interesting to reflect on how we've been able to get along so well for so long despite our fundamental differences.

Anyway, I guess that's all I have to say about brains today.

AndyHave a Great Week! And Don't Forget Your Brain!

Thought Residue
"I'm sorry we burnt down your white house during the war of 1812. I notice you've rebuilt it! It's Very Nice." -- Rick Mercer's Apology On Behalf Of Canadians Everywhere

"What is ominous is the ease with which some people go from saying that they don't like something to saying that the government should forbid it. When you go down that road, don't expect freedom to survive very long." -- Thomas Sowell, seen quoted at mapinc.org
"Americans have been given the distinct impression that our federal budget is strapped for cash and that we need all resources to ferret out the terrorists in our midst. It seems a waste of resources to carry out Operation Pipe Dreams in order to ensure that 55 pipesellers will no longer be on the streets while terrorist cells await their orders in the heartland of America. Doesn't Ashcroft have better things to do?" -- Debra McCorkle, "Operation Pipe Dreams Is A Nightmare"


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