Monday, August 24, 2015

Old Professors

In 1985, I was 21, pregnant, alone.  My parents had disowned me, pushed me aside for their country club set and stopped talking to me.  The supportive friends from my sorority and classes stepped in and helped me figure life out.

When my son was born, he was put up for adoption.  Back then, the parent did not get to meet the parents or have any contact with them. The best one could hope for was a semi-open adoption with yearly updates redacted by social services for any personally identifiable information.  However, the parent could choose the parents by reviewing their files (also redacted) and making a decision.

The first part of the process is to terminate the parental rights.  It's a legal document stating the understanding the parent has that terminating the rights is final.  It is done in court, in front of a judge without counsel.  Or at least, it was back then.

On April 16, 1986, my son was 30 days old, in foster care when I signed away my rights.  At 21, I'd been pressured by my parents to give him up... the courts, however, also require a 10-business day reprieve after signing the termination agreement to allow the parent to change the decision.

Starting April 17, 1986 I started reviewing family files the social services department had given to me, trying to decide who would raise my son.  Narrowed it down to two families and went to have dinner with a lifelong friend.

It was April 23rd or so.  The clock was ticking.  On April 30th, my rights would be terminated.  I had to choose the family.

At dinner that night, talking about the two families, my friend asked me a question, "Why are you doing this?"

I responded that I was too young (despite having had 16 year olds in my labor classes), and she quickly said, "I don't believe you.  I think you're doing this because of your mom.  This is not a puppy you're rehoming but your flesh and blood; you'd better think long and hard about this."

To which the discussion changed to, "How can I do this alone?  without help without anything while in college?"  (and failing, I might add).

Enter my psychology professor.  The one who taught me Piaget, and Erickson and the others.  The one who let me cry when I'd terminated my rights.  The one who now sat with me as I asked her, "What am I missing?  I've got a place to live, funding for school, daycare for the baby.  I have 5 days left to decide."

Dr. Jane Maddy spent probably 3 hours with  me as we mapped out everything.  Diapers, housing, food, clothing, healthcare, AFDC, school, and my life.  She supported me every step of the way through my decision ...

I kept my son.  Named him Austin.

Of course, life always throw me a curve ball.  Diagnosed with CF that summer, Austin passed away in the fall of that year.

Dr. Jane Maddy was there for that as well.  She tried to help me understand that it was not my fault, that I'd saved another family who could not have a child the horror of losing an adopted child that they'd waited so long for, that this family that I was going to choose had indeed adopted and loved their child.

Today, in trying to find old syllabai from those old schools, I found out she'd passed away 4 years ago.  My heart sunk.  In reading her obit, I was absolutely astounded at what she'd been involved with.  Way back when.

Below is her obituary.  RIP Dr. Maddy... will think of you for the rest of my life.  And by the way, THIS is how you enact change!

Dr. Jane Ellen Maddy, 79, passed away in her sleep on Tuesday, May 3, 2011.

Jane Ellen Turner was born July 19, 1931, in Centerville, Iowa, to Merle and Beatrice (Brown) Turner. She was raised in southern Iowa, graduating from Chariton High School in 1949, as valedictorian, she noted. She then attended Iowa State College, now ISU, where she graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in 1953. While there, she met the love of her life, Clarence Maddy. They were married in Chariton, Iowa, on Jan. 11, 1953, after Lieutenant Maddy returned from service in Korea.
Following brief stays in Columbia, Mo., and Fridley, Minn., the growing family moved to Duluth in 1960. Despite the joys of raising four sons, Jane was involved in several community activities such as WADSO, Congdon Park PTA and the Newcomer's Club, which she chaired for two years.
The next chapter of Jane's life was to return to her love of education. She completed her Master of Arts degree in educational psychology from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 1968, where she then began teaching in the psychology department. She continued her own studies and received her doctorate from Walden University in 1987, with her thesis "A Study of the Impact of Social Change on the Development of Mid-life Women". She officially retired from UMD as an associate professor in the department of psychology and mental health in 1996, although was frequently asked to come back and teach some of her specialty classes such as abnormal psychology, psychology of adulthood and aging, and her favorite, the changing roles of women. She last taught college classes in 2009, at the age of 77, having literally taught thousands.
While at UMD, Jane was twice recognized for her outstanding teaching, first with the University wide Horace Morse Award for Outstanding undergraduate teaching and the Jean Blehart Award for excellence in teaching at UMD. She established the first women's studies course at UMD, later working to establish it as its own department. She served as the first chair of the UMD Women's Commission. Much of this was the result of her efforts as part of the Rajender decision which addressed the issue of employment discrimination on the basis of gender in the university system. She was the only woman on the faculty union negotiating team for the first three contracts. For these efforts, she was recognized as the UMD Woman of the Year in 2006 by the UMD Commission on Women.
Jane was also very active in the community. She was a long time member of American Association of University Women, including being the state president. She was on the board of the Women's Health Center for 10 years, and the board of the Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse. She was involved with the Human Development Center where she was past chair and still active on the HDC Foundation. Jane was an initial supporter of University Nursery School. She traveled to Peking for the International Woman's Conference as an emissary for the University. She served on the Duluth Human Rights Commission which she also chaired. In her retirement, she was instrumental in the development of the University for Seniors program at UMD, where she had continued to teach until this year. In honor of all of these efforts, she was recognized by the YWCA as a Woman of Distinction in 2010. She was a leader in the struggle for women's rights. In the 1960s and 1970s, she worked with the Greater Minnesota Women's Alliance to pass the ERA.
Even with all of these responsibilities, she was always to be found in her snowmobile suit and pack boots on the snow bank of a local hockey rink or on the sidelines or in the stands supporting her sons and then her 10 grandchildren in their many school and athletic activities. She and her wonderful group of friends were constantly at local theater and symphony events and she was a member of Chapter BY, PEO. Let's not forget being a Bulldog Hockey fan forever, or being home with her grandchildren baking and sharing recipes.
In lieu of flowers, Jane has requested that memorials be sent to the Jane Maddy Scholarship at UMD, the Jane Maddy research grant at AAUW, the Human Development Center, or University for Seniors at UMD.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

AAMC Q-Pack Biology 1

More on this later.  Posting just for my work product of plodding through the questions.

Monday, August 17, 2015

To My Friends & Their Pets

Life sucks sometimes.  Really sucks.  We get a puppy, love it, teach it, and watch it grow old.  Well, hopefully, we get to watch the puppy grow to teenager to adulthood and then old age.

Recently, friends of mine have lost their dogs.  To many, hopefully not too many, a dog is a dog is a dog.  To the rest of us, the dogs are as much a part of our family as our human children.  For me, there were days where I think I DID love my dogs ... well, no, I've always loved my son more than anything else on earth.  There were just days where it was easier to love my dogs than him.

Over the past few days, my friends have lost their show dogs to weird circumstances.  I weep with one of them for it was his dog through whom we met.  I weep for the other friend because she's had so much loss in her life these past few months - mother, sister, and now her canine love as well.

A few years ago, I stumbled across this and I keep it ready to send to people.  Am posting it here.

Dogs never die.  They sleep.  Forever in our hearts.
Some of you, particularly those who think they have recently lost a dog to “death”, don’t really understand this. I’ve had no desire to explain, but won’t be around forever and must. 

Dogs never die. They don’t know how to. They get tired, and very old, and their bones hurt. Of course they don’t die. If they did they would not want to always go for a walk, even long after their old bones say:” No, no, not a good idea. Let’s not go for a walk.” Nope, dogs always want to go for a walk. They might get one step before their aging tendons collapse them into a heap on the floor, but that’s what dogs are. They walk. 

It’s not that they dislike your company. On the contrary, a walk with you is all there is. Their boss, and the cacaphonic symphony of odor that the world is. Cat poop, another dog’s mark, a rotting chicken bone ( exultation), and you. That’s what makes their world perfect, and in a perfect world death has no place. 

However, dogs get very very sleepy. That’s the thing, you see. They don’t teach you that at the fancy university where they explain about quarks, gluons, and Keynesian economics. They know so much they forget that dogs never die. It’s a shame, really. Dogs have so much to offer and people just talk a lot. 

When you think your dog has died, it has just fallen asleep in your heart. And by the way, it is wagging it’s tail madly, you see, and that’s why your chest hurts so much and you cry all the time. Who would not cry with a happy dog wagging its tail in their chest. Ouch! Wap wap wap wap wap, that hurts. But they only wag when they wake up. That’s when they say: “Thanks Boss! Thanks for a warm place to sleep and always next to your heart, the best place.” 

When they first fall asleep, they wake up all the time, and that’s why, of course, you cry all the time. Wap, wap, wap. After a while they sleep more. (remember, a dog while is not a human while. You take your dog for walk, it’s a day full of adventure in an hour. Then you come home and it’s a week, well one of your days, but a week, really, before the dog gets another walk. No WONDER they love walks.) 

Anyway, like I was saying, they fall asleep in your heart, and when they wake up, they wag their tail. After a few dog years, they sleep for longer naps, and you would too. They were a GOOD DOG all their life, and you both know it. It gets tiring being a good dog all the time, particularly when you get old and your bones hurt and you fall on your face and don’t want to go outside to pee when it is raining but do anyway, because you are a good dog. So understand, after they have been sleeping in your heart, they will sleep longer and longer. 

But don’t get fooled. They are not “dead.” There’s no such thing, really. They are sleeping in your heart, and they will wake up, usually when you’re not expecting it. It’s just who they are. 

I feel sorry for people who don’t have dogs sleeping in their heart. You’ve missed so much. Excuse me, I have to go cry now.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

1st Year Anniversary - Robin Williams & WoW

Many years ago, actually, the day the game came out, I bought the collector's edition (it had a cool pet!!) and started playing, leaving the world of EQ behind.  Video games have always been fun, an escapism.

As the years came, I started traveling overseas but still played to keep in touch with my son.  We would log on (he at 4 PM in the afternoon, me a 5AM in the morning, generally in the Philippines).  He and I could chat about the day, talk about homework and my parents who nannied for me.

In 2007, I told my very public company to restate their financial reports to the SEC because as the VP of Internal Audit, that was my obligation to investors and to the other company stakeholders.  It was not a decision I arrived at easily.

Quarters before I arrived, the company had made some very poor investment decisions, and then worsened them by putting people in place without the skill set to manage a new IPO and a new acquisition under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.  They'd had to tell the Street that they had a material weakness.

What they didn't tell the street is that had several according to their Auditors, PWC, but decided to hide them under an overarching umbrella called, "not enough people and resources to adequately fulfill the requirements" and called it a day.

I started fully aware of the material weakness.  In my past roles, I'd been the one in charge of fixing those for clients of mine who were pre-IPO or pre-divestiture.

Anyway, after telling my CFO that I thought between two plausible options in the face of the latest debacle in accounting, the right thing to do was restate.

Prior to that, I'd been the top of the crop.  People asked to join my team, the team I'd built across the planet in this country and in others.  People asked for me to take interns to teach them how to lead and how to manage.

After talking to the CFO, I was fired.  And my life eroded.  The rest of the story about that time of my life is buried in the blog, one only needs to go back to 2008 or 2009 or 2010.  The despair and agony was horrific.

I still played WoW. I still paid my $15 a month to play, to escape, to laugh, to fish and to cry.  In the solace of my home, I could escape the realities of what was transpiring.

One particular night, trade chat - home of the best trolls in the world - was in full force.  Acerbic, if not hilarious; pointed, and also true.  On that one solitary night ... a human priest named Jett started picking on me, unknowing that I was sitting under my desk in terror as flashlights went around my house, peered into windows.

Terrorized.  And this human priest started in on me.

In private, I wrote him and asked him to stop.  He kept on for a few seconds until I finally told him, I was in tears and terrified of what was transpiring in my life.

The tone changed.  He asked what he could do.  Said he had people who could help, that he himself was wealthy and would do what he could; even if that meant saving my home.  I declined but thanked him.  In game we always hear stories about how someone is the this-or-that of some big company and can help a guild mate out with this-or-that and largely, they are lies.

As I type this now, my eyes are welling up.  Because I know that most of you who read this will think it's untrue, but those who know me in RL, also know I don't lie.

Jett and I talked for probably an hour.  I asked him how he liked LA, told him I had friends out there associated with Columbia (my friend was the former EVP Legal of Sony) and the stories went on.  Terrified to laughter and I'd made an in-game friend for life.

Every time he logged on, he'd say hi; we'd talk about my life and his.  He would talk about his kids and we'd share stories of having teenagers.  I never really knew what he did for a living, we never talked about that.  We talked about places we'd been, cultures, movies and music.  Normal things.

Eventually, my life turned around.  I got a job.  Stopped living with centipedes crawling on me and moved to FL.

Last summer, a year ago yesterday, those conversations stopped forever.

To many he was the beloved character they knew from the movies, and the TV shows.  Mork, Mrs. Doubtfire, Jumanji, and the list goes on and on and on... and who can forget Patch.

Robin played Jett.  I did not know that until last year and never knew it was him.  The rumors of course swirled that many celebrities played on our server but Robin?  Yeah.  Never dawned on me.

Robin probably saved me all those years ago.  Talked to me in the darkest of nights when I did not know how I would wake in the morning to face the day.  Robin made me laugh in private chats and in public trade.  He'd poke fun at me - gently - and encourage me to pursue my dream.

I don't really remember the last time we talked, I wish I could.  I wish I could tell him what he did for me in 2009 and 2010.  I wish I could tell him how much ... we all miss him in /2 and in life.

Yesterday, I did the only thing I could.  Pay tribute to him in game and say a quiet thank you.

RIP My Captain, Our Jett, The World's Robin

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

That Point Where MCAT Prep = Confidence

Because no matter how confident I am becoming (still in progress), having someone say I can do this > all.

Thank you, E!  You are one of the best :)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Panic Set In

Might have had something to do with the brazen thunderstorms that moved through our area last night.  While rain is common here, generally the storms are of the splash-n-dash variety, not the clinger ons of the northern states.

I woke up terrified.  My dream was about the MCAT and that I showed up and forgot that I knew anything (a common theme among the pre-MCATers).  In lying there, my head starting going through all the physics I know, all the general chemistry I've learned and anything else related to MCAT.

Eventually, slumber found me.

Until the next bolt of lightning and screaming thunder claps!

At 9:30, rolling out of bed, it did cross my mind: IS THIS WORTH IT?!?!?

Quickly followed by a, "HELL yeah!"

Whoever might be reading this: we did not come this far to stop now, despite that we might not know every single minutiae detail, molecule, equation, or passage type and answers.  We did not come this far to stop.

I didn't. You didn't.

So, MCAT?  You're mine.  All mine.  And if I should forget:

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Amino Acids - 101

Below is a picture of the amino acid drawing I learned in biochem a few years ago.  By using this method, and repeating the drawing until I could do from memory, biochem became easy.

Notice the purple outline indicates what changed between the molecules.  For the most part after Leucine, CH2 is a part of every amino acid so the backbone becomes the one with the CH2.

PLEASE NOTE: As of 8/23/15, this HAS been updated for the extra CH2 off the backbone.

If you're wondering WHY draw?  From the best biochem professor ever:

One other site to check out: