December 01, 2005

Proposal.

I came home from clinical last night to discover I had a message from my friend John:

JOHN: did you go to Holy Rosary on Sunday?
He had asked. I replied….
ME: no....
JOHN: ok
ME: why do you ask?
JOHN: well i was just getting to that. so in father phils homily, he began with a story
JOHN: so there was this guy who came into the rectory and was like father how come the church is all locked up
JOHN: and father was like well its winter and cold and it gets dark earlier so we close it up a little earlier
JOHN: and he was like oh, i thought it was always open
JOHN: then he said I actually wanted to propose to my girlfriend and father was like where is she
JOHN: and he said waiting outside
JOHN: so father said you all know the cupid that I am I opened up the church and turned all the lights on and went back to my office
JOHN: and as he left he waved with the a ok hand sign

John continued by asking me what I thought of a proposal in the church. He had his opinions, but wanted to know what a woman would think of the circumstance of her proposal.

Then, in today’s class, we were discussing the Motorola ROKR and its musical capabilities. It was mentioned that the ROKR stops the music as a person is receiving a call and then continues once the call has ended. Professor Yoo stated that he thought it would be neat if the music would continue playing while you answered the call. My immediate response was, “so when your parents call you, you can ignore them and continue listening to the music?” (just kidding mom and dad!) No. he meant that it would be great if they other person could hear the music as well. And presented us with a romantic situation… playing some sweet love song, and then proposing!

What?!? You want to propose to someone over your cell phone? As the class laughed at this and then made jokes about proposing through text messages, I immediately thought about my conversation with John the previous night. Both men were discussing the same situation, but in two very different ways. I’m a very traditional person; I don’t think I would ever appreciate a cell phone proposal. That’s a great story to tell your children (note the sarcasm). (Although I do see that a mobile telephone can be used to facilitate other romantic endeavors) But I feel like this is the direction our society is taking. Less personal interaction. More interaction through devices, cell phones, computers, webcams, etc. What happened to the traditional standards of proposing to people face to face? Will we punish our children via text to avoid any feelings of guilt?
One of the reasons I chose nursing as a profession was so that I could meet and interact with people. I love living on campus because it allows me to meet and interact with my peers. I love going to Croatia because it allows me to meet and interact with my relatives. Get it? Yes, I subscribe to using AIM, SMS, Gmail… all those good things to keep in touch with people as well… but that is sometimes because I have no other options. And yes, I have had many meaningful conversations with people through aim, sms, and gmail, but never do I feel that these medias should ever fully replace simple human to human interaction. What do you think? Where do you draw the line on how you use cell phones and e-mails?

November 28, 2005

The Beauty of SMS

First I’m going to include some quotations from Smart Mobs by Howard Rheingold that I find interesting:

“Even before the launch of i-mode, Finnish adolescent courtship rituals and the social norms of Finnish business managers had been transformed by the use of short messages” (12)

“Through SMS teens hate, gossip, mediate, and express longing, even when the writer lacks the courage for a call or in situations where other communication channels are inappropriate. The text message is the backdoor of communication… Text messaging is a way to share relationships” (16)

“Stockholm, in May 2001, was buzzing with mobile culture. My hotel hosted weekend private parties, open only to those who could display the right SMS message at the door. One of the party organizers told me that this floating network of hundreds started gathering at a different locale each week after each of four founders sent SMS invitations to everyone in their address books.” (20)

My first experience with text messing occurred when I was in Croatia for a summer (summer of 2000 I think). I was with a friend who seemed to be burning up the keys on her mobile every time the thing beeped, or about every five minutes. I was amazed by this. Given she still received phone calls, the amount of short messages that arrived to her mobile amazed me. Immediately I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Sms-ing has become such a major part of so many cultures. I have friends in Croatia whose parents have also learned how to text message!!! I don’t know many parents in the US that do this. Also, there are many songs (none that I have heard from American artists, but Italian, Spanish, and Croatian) that have incorporated something about short-messages into their songs… even as simple as the beep made when a mobile receives a text message. While in Croatia, I began borrowing her phone to text friends I was planning on visiting while in Croatia. This was fun!
As soon as I came back to the states, I began to use text messaging. My options of who I could text were limited, since not many people had embraced the technology. These days, however, I find myself sending text messages daily. I have a few people I text regularly which consists of my family and my closet friends. As I have mentioned in class several times, I often find myself sms-ing my international friends. Usually when I send a message, it is covered in my monthly allowance of text messages. I have also found websites that allow me to send messages directly to a friend’s cell phone overseas. I frequently send text messages to wish someone a happy birthday, let them know that something exciting has happened with me, or to simply say hello. This is much more convenient than calling my friends because doing that with my cell phone is ridiculously expensive (although prices are drastically dropping) and when I am usually at home where our international phone plan is amazing, it is usually too late for me to call anyone in Europe).

Then I got to thinking… why text messages are amazing…
- They can be used during class and are less disruptive. They don’t require you to speak and if you are in a large lecture hall, your teacher may never know you are sending someone a message.
- Allow people to avoid actually talking to someone. When sending a text you ask what you need and that’s it. No obligation to say more… most messages are only 160 characters long, so you are limited to what you can say and there is no need to waste it on unnecessary babble.
- Allows access to a greater number of people. Although I have never tried it, my phone enables me to send the same text message to multiple people in my address book
- Phone numbers can be easily sent through a sms. This way it is easier to copy right into my phonebook.
Needless to say, my thumb is very proficient at texting.

November 25, 2005

Cancer.


Barabasi states in Linked, “Cancer is the most researched human illness ever” (191). Ever. Although I do read up on cancer frequently, I guess this fact never hit me. I believe it speaks volumes about an illness…

Since I am a nursing student and cancer interests me, I had to seize this opportunity to share some of my knowledge about a current cancer treatment.
Back in the 50’s and 60’s there was this drug called Thalidomide. Thalidomide was used mainly as a sleeping pill and an antiemetic to combat morning sickness in pregnant women. The drug was distributed in many countries, mainly Germany (where it was originally produced) and Great Britain. To my knowledge it was not dispersed in the United States at that time. In the early 60’s it was discovered that thalidomide had some teratogenic effects in the infants whose mothers had used it. (Teratogenic is the medical term used to say that something will cause congenital malformations and result in serious abnormalities at birth, another example of something that can be described as teratogenic is alcohol.) The resulting birth defects included short or absent long bones and missing limbs. Obviously these are devastating side effects.
Only two-thirds of the children that were born with deformities due to the use of thalidomide survived their first year of life. Once it was discovered what was causing all of these deformities, Thalidomide was quickly taken off the market. (It was later found that this drug had never been tested on pregnant animals, so its tragic adverse reaction was not discovered until after it had been on the market for quite some time. When it was finally tested on pregnant animals, it was found to cause deformities on the offspring.)

How this relates to cancer…
The reason thalidomide caused such devastating results was that it inhibited angiogenesis. Angiogenesis is the process by which new blood vessels are formed. Consequently, if a woman took thalidomide while pregnant, the drug disrupted fetal development (and thus babies were born without limbs). Moreover, it was discovered that this mechanism of the drug has positive effects on those patients with cancer. Prevention of angiogenesis does not allow a tumor to grow (no blood vessels=no nutrients) and thus is pertinent in the prevention of tumors transforming from a dormant state to a malignant one.
Consequently, the drug is now used for multiple myeloma. It has even become a first line drug. Researchers in Australia conducted a trial of the drug on a group of cancer patients. What they discovered was that the thalidomide doubled the number of T-cells in the patients. (T-cells are a type of white blood cell that are involved in every immune system reaction in the body) Consequently, the patients were able to fight off the illness better than without the use of the drug.
What I learned from working at the hospital:
This past Wednesday I was at work (I work on the hematology/oncology floor @ UH). It just so happened that a patient on the floor was receiving Thalidomide. The nurse that was gathering the drugs for the patient had a nursing student working with him and they were going over all of the drugs their patient was receiving. I joined in on their conversation as they were discussing Thalidomide and found out some interesting facts about the drug (including some of what is listed above). I also found out that this drug is very regulated. Most hospitals have drugs drawers designated to each patient. Pharmacy comes and fills these drawers with the drugs prescribed to each patient for a particular day. If more drugs are ever needed, a nurse can always call and ask pharmacy to bring them to the floor. Every hospital floor also has a narcotics drawer. To access this drawer keys are needed and every drug removed must be signed out and the remaining drugs must be counted so that there are no discrepancies in the remaining total. If part of a narcotic drug is ever going to be wasted (for example if only half of a tablet is needed), another nurse must sign-off that he or she witnessed the wasting. At the end of every shift, the narcotics are counted and if there is an error, it must be corrected before any of the nurses can leave.
Thalidomide however cannot be obtained through the narcotic drawer nor can pharmacy stock it in the patient’s designated drawer. The hospital pharmacy never carries Thalidomide. Calling pharmacy and asking them to bring the drug to you will more than likely cause them to laugh at your request. The only way Thalidomide can be acquired is by having a company that produces it ship it to you. Thus, if a patient is at the hospital, it must be sent there and it remains locked until it is ready for use. Measures are taken to insure that the women using these drugs are not pregnant. These steps have been taken because of the devastating effects it can have on.

This situation is not unique. There are many other drugs that are not solely used for the purpose they were made. I find these “investigational uses” or “off-label uses” very interesting.

November 11, 2005

Links

I found the section in Linked about six degrees of separation very interesting.
I love meeting people, learning about them, what is important to them, what makes them happy, etc., In many of my encounters of meeting some people, I have discovered that they are very good friends with someone my very good friends, yet we met through different means. Seeing how everyone is connected to everyone else fascinates me. Also, I cannot count how many times throughout my life my parents have told me, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. This statement has certainly proved true. Many times my links have helped me attain things I had been striving for but was having trouble achieving without some outside help.

Instead of attempting to link myself with the rest of the world through six degrees, I will only list a few of the links that I enjoyed having and utilizing/think are pretty neat:
-Croatia. Last time I vacationed in Croatia, I made it to 6 different cities. In each of those cities, my brothers or I had a link. These links enabled us to have homes to stay in and not hotels.
-Austin, TX. I went to Austin for fall break. There are a couple of former Case students there that I know. However, my brother Mark is a part of an organization called the Croatian-American Association (CAA) and through this he met a Croatian that resides in Austin that I was able to meet when I was down there. Thus, I have one more link in Austin.
-My brother was a translator for one of the presidents of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Through this he has fostered relationships with many politicians and has also had the opportunity to act as a translator for the president of B&H to former President Clinton.
-Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing. I have met countless people that are graduates of this school. I was working @ UH not too long ago, when a patient’s wife told me that she used to be an instructor at the school and shared with me some of her insight on nursing.
-My brother Tom works for a man who is involved in the Porsche club of Cleveland. Consequently, my brother is involved in the German auto show every year and is sometimes “required” to drive a Porsche or two to the show… I have made it to the show in the past and that cars that show up are absolutely stunning.
-Dr. Ferry. My last SAGES professor appeared to have millions of links and we met several of them throughout our course. He was once the CEO of University Hospitals, linking him to pretty much everyone there (and one amazing oncologist named Dr. Overmoyer that I had the pleasure of interviewing). (if I remember correctly) He ran a health clinic on an Indian reservation and had Dr. Atkins (I think… if not him I think it was Dr. Heimlich of the Heimlich maneuver) contact him about testing some practices on the reservation.

I’m sure I have many more cool links… but this is all I will list for now.

November 05, 2005

Multimedia and the Internet - Technology convergence

In The Internet Galaxy, Castells flirts with the idea of technology converging. Examples he gives of what this might consist of in the future include:
- A TV being used as a display and being connected to the internet by a computer and a phone line
- Using TV channels when they are off air to transmit information to storage devices that can then be accessed by computers

Examples of this convergence that I have been exposed to include the following:

Case currently allows students to watch television on the personal computers. I myself have not tried this (although I certainly intend to as soon as finals are over with); but my roommate has tried it a few times and seems to enjoy this technology. She says the quality is pretty good and enjoys being able to watch TV on her computer since we do not have a television in our room. I think the technology is pretty neat and exceptionally convenient for poor college students. Almost everyone will purchase themselves a computer, but not everyone will be willing to shell out the cash necessary for a television. With this technology, we are not required to.
I love listening to music. I have music playing all the time in my room, whether I am doing work, trying to get to sleep, cleaning, anything. I love is that there are radio stations in Croatia that broadcast their stations over the internet. This is wonderful for two reasons. First, I do not have a stereo or even an alarm clock (I use my cell phone) that lets me listen to the radio. Secondly, even if I did have such a stereo, I would still not be able to listen to stations that were being broadcast in Croatia. Thus with my laptop and an internet connection, I am able to listen to the same radio program as people on a different continent.

October 29, 2005

The Takeover of the Internet

“The internet is a communication medium (as the pubs were), and it is the material infrastructure of a given organizational form: the network (as the factory was).” (Castells 139)

Although there are many excellent points brought up in the “Computer Networks and Civil Society” section of Castells’ book The Internet Galaxy (including the fact that the internet allows one to think locally and act globally as opposed to the quotation, think globally act locally, of many years ago), I am going to focus on the above statement.

Yes, the internet is a marvelous thing. It allows me access to all of my close friends, no matter where they are in the world, through e-mail. I am capable of researching almost anything and having endless amounts of sources at my disposal. I can monitor the events of the world as frequently as I would like with the news websites available. I can check local movie listings, look for suggestions on the next novel to read, pretty much anything I want to do, I can do over the internet. Except experience real human contact.

Anyone that knows me well knows that I LOVE hugs. Hugs are an important part of my every day life. Last year, I gave all of my roommates hugs before I went to sleep. They became so accustomed to this, that if I happened to miss a night or if they were going to bed before me, they would come and give me a hug.

The internet cannot hug you. In fact, I feel that sometimes our society is desensitized by conversing so much via e-mail, messaging systems etc. Yes, it is easier sometimes to write down your thoughts rather than having to say them… but a computer cannot properly convey a person’s emotions and facial expression (  is really insufficient). It does not replace real live human interaction and sometimes I fear that this will quickly be fully replaced by the internet. Pubs, coffeehouses, parks, etc. will no longer be necessary for people to hold conversations. All that will be necessary is a laptop and an internet connection. Will two friends find themselves enjoying the sleekness of their computers instead of the sunrise of a summer’s day? I hope not.
I think I will stop rambling now, but I hope you got my point. I’m weary of the internet replacing too much human interaction.

October 21, 2005

Ubiquitous Computing...

Throughout the semester we have frequently discussed ubiquitous computing and what it really means. - I have been thinking about writing a blog about this for quite some time -Scenarios have been presented in which wherever a person goes, from the office to right outside the office building to the inside of a car, ubiquitous computing would allow that person to continue working on whatever he or she was working on inside of his or her own office and the information would be transmitted to whatever devices were available.
Although this seems pretty cool, what is the purpose? Can’t a person just enjoy a car ride without having to do work every time he was on the road? I understand that sometimes deadlines must be met in corporate America, but that does not require one to do work during every minute a he isn’t sleeping. So a businessman can communicate with his office, as his ride transports him to the airport, using the screen that is implanted in the car. Does that mean he will use the television in his bedroom at home to discuss business decisions? When does a person cut off from work and have a life… a life that has nothing to do with a person’s day job?
The reason I bring this up…
My best friend graduated from Case in May. She is a Computer Engineer. (meaning I LOVE having her around whenever my computer breaks or flashes the blue screen of death) She is currently employed at IBM. Her job seems decent for several reasons: it pays well, she enjoys the team she works on, she can come and go as she pleases as long as her work is completed in a timely fashion, and they have foosball tables all over the place!
I find many of these aspects of her job wonderful. As a nurse I will have definite hours, 7am-3pm, 3 pm- 11pm, and 11pm-7am. Hopefully, I will be able to work the shift that best suites my personal life and sleep pattern. My friend on the other hand, does not have to worry about this. She can come to work at a different hour every day. This is a smart move by IBM because people are creative at different points in the day. Those that are best in the morning can come in and do their work earlier in the day and so on. The foosball tables… I understand these tables are a good addition to the office for a couple of reasons. She can take a break from work whenever she needs to and simply have fun. After staring at the computer screen all day, one needs to do something active, to be social, etc. Also, the game fosters a relationship with the team with which you are working on your project… this obviously has many benefits that I don’t need to get into here…

What I don’t like about her job….
IBM provides each of their employees with laptops (pretty fancy ones I might add!) These laptops can be taken with the employees wherever they may go… home, airport, vacation, etc. One many occasions I have found my friend working on her projects when she really should not be.
Examples:
She flew home to see her family. At one point, she had some down time so she brought out her laptop and started coding. EEK! Mind you… she lives in a completely different time zone than her family and does not see them very often… Why bring out the laptop? She was on vacation… why not enjoy it to the fullest?
It’s Sunday. She usually enjoys watching a football game or two and then some of the Sunday night television line-up. Sometimes, when she has a lot of work to do, she opens up her document (or whatever it is) and starts working. On a Sunday. She is going to spend the next five days at work… and wants a head start… last time I thought… Sunday was the day of rest…

These are only a couple of the many times I noticed her doing work when she could have found other things to occupy her time. I understand that sometimes she might simply be inspired to do work when she is not physically in her office, but where do you draw the line? With my future career as a nurse, I have a set shift, yes there may be times that I will be required to work overtime, but that will not happen all of the time. This leads me to the questions I have been tossing in my head…
Do we really need ubiquitous computing? Must we have access to the information on our laptops, palm pilots, whatever the item may be, all of the time? How will this change our lifestyles? I find that our society as a whole has already lost some of the social aspects that are vital for survival… how much worse can it get? I read Fahrenheit 451 in grade school and although I do not remember much of the book, I do have dreary images in my head of robots completing all of the tasks that humans once did and people walking around like zombies and participating in zero conversations that were meaningful with other human beings… somehow I picture ubiquitous computing leading to the same end result… this is certainly not something I want to witness.