Thank you, Robin.

Oh me, oh life!

Oh me, oh life!

I wasn’t going to add my voice to the millions across the world mourning the loss of Robin Williams. I know it will get lost in the noise and the virtual tsunami of outpourings remembering this great man. But after a week of feeling pervasive sadness, I turn again to writing down a few thoughts and putting out my thanks to the man who was the absolute embodiment of my childhood.

His suicide also hit home closer for me than I could have anticipated (as it did for many), having lost a friend to suicide just a few weeks ago. We weren’t particularly close, but we lived together for almost a year. She had always suffered severely from depression. None of her therapies or drug regimens seemed to help for long, if at all. I never understood it. I tried to be as sympathetic as I could be, but I was young and this was my first up-close and prolonged encounter with real depression (I say real, I mean clinical. Bi-polar. Deep, real, physiological depression. Not just a really bad bout of the sads).

She was waiting for me once as I came home after a particularly long day at the lab. She had a massive plastic container in her hands. It contained all her medication. She looked like she had been crying all day. She asked me to keep her medication locked up in my room for the night, because “she didn’t feel well”. I was tired and while I was concerned about her, I was also worried. At that time, I saw it as attention seeking. She looked disappointed when I agreed but didn’t really react more than taking the box from her. Looking back now, I still don’t know if I honestly thought she would have through with it that night, or if I was just trying to be nice in what felt like an incredibly awkward and unusual situation. All I know for sure is that I didn’t understand it then. I lived with her, I saw her struggle but I was too young to appreciate what was going on. I still don’t, but I’m more sympathetic. I know more about depression and the disease it really is.

I know the Academy’s tribute tweet to Robin was criticised by a suicide prevention group and I understand why. But knowing my friend and how hard she tried to be free in other ways and how she could never shake the iron grip her depression had on her, I can’t not agree with the spirit of the sentiment. She’s free now, form the pain and darkness and the hardship that her life had become. Coming to realise this in the light of Robin Williams’ passing has helped me say goodbye to her and be more appreciative for my own health, family and happiness.

As for Robin; I don’t have to say much about him that hasn’t been said already. YouTube is overrun with tribute videos, produced by movie houses, TV networks and even just thousands of fans posting their thoughts and self-made video tributes to him. The recurring theme being that not only was he a brilliant actor, but a loving, passionate and beautiful human being, despite his illness.

One of the seemingly more forgotten movies in his vast and impressive repertoire was Jack, the story of the child who grows up four times faster. Towards the end of the movie, Jack delivers his valedictorian speech, and in it the most appropriate and heartfelt words are uttered.

A fitting tribute, not only to Robin but to all that have been lost to us, by whichever means.

“In the end, none of us have very long on this earth. Life is fleeting. And if you’re ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky, and the stars are strung across the velvety night. And when a shooting star streaks through the blackness turning night into day, make a wish and think of me. Make your life spectacular.”

Thank you, Robin.


August and everything after.

It seems it’s that time of year again. Winter has hit hard once or twice, but the general state of affairs seems much colder and more dismal than the weather.

Aside from the usual stresses of work that crop up around August of every year, bad news is in abundance lately. It feels as if early everyone I know or work with has been touched by a tragedy of some sorts.

I feel the heaviness of it all, pressing down on me. The bad news has touched me and mine too, though (and I cannot possibly overstate this) myself and my family remain in good health and are well. A blessing. And a fact I remind myself of every day, to be thankful.

Yet everywhere I turn, I see those dear to me having a bad time of it all. Worry, stress and grief permeates. Hope seems to shrink away and faith is hard to keep hold of.

And I’m afraid. I’m afraid the bad things will happen to me. But I’m even more afraid that I’ll be a bad friend, a disappointing confidant. Too weak to make a difference, too cowardly to be brave when they need it.

Admittedly, I have been handling all this sadness quite badly. I haven’t been the friend I should be. The friend my dearest friends deserve. This will change.

So. To my friends: despite the greyness of the situations and the sadness tainting your days, hold on. Hang tight. Vasbyt. Keep the faith. It’s easy for me to say, because I’m doing OK. So I’ll keep reminding you, until you’re doing OK. And one day, when the sadness finds me, you can return the favour.

It’s August. But I have hope for everything that comes after.

Anti-science morons and the people that will be the end of us

I’m writing this post on the fly, so excuse any lack of elegance in my writing (espcially the title…).

I just had a lengthy exchange with an anti-vaccine, anti-GMO, anti-science nutter all the way from the UK. The exchange ended up with her calling me a “misinformed twat who believes in fairytales”. Now – for those who don’t know me or haven’t read my bio – I hold a Masters degree in biotechnology and currently work in a virology research laboratory. So while I’m no PhD, Nobel prize-winning scientist, I do know my genes from my Levis and my science from my quackery.

Below a tweet-by-tweet account of my exchange with the quack. It started with my tweeting of a link about the new HPV vaccine finishing up its clinical trial.

I received this reply (I do not follow this woman at all and I’m quite unsure as to where she found me on the Twittersphere) The cretin in question is @ursulariches if you want to go look for her on Twitter. I’m pretty sure she just blocked me. I also think she deleted the tweets directed at me. But too late, I have them all right here…

Admittedly, I was more annoyed towards the end of the exchange than I should have been. The woman is clearly a loon and a troll. Her lack of sensible reply or willingness to discuss anything rationally coupled with her insulting and blocking me really tells me all I need to know. And I know I shouldn’t waste my energy on these idiots.

But the problem is, these idiots are everywhere.

The make me feel so very, very tired. They  may very well be the end of us one day.

Rethink, Revamp, Refresh.

Dear readers.

Looking at two of my previous posts here and here, you would perhaps notice that this is not the first time I have joyously rediscovered my own blog. That, of course, infers that it is also not the first time I have grossly neglected my blog. Erm. Oops.

The last year has been one for the books, in more ways than one. Highs and lows, ups and downs, the beginning and the end of a job opportunity, lots of studying, a few weddings, a couple of funerals and everything else life has decided to dish up for us in between. While I love writing, life always seems to get in the way of me doing it. A poor excuse, for if I truly considered myself a writer (which I don’t) I would make time or the writing would simply find me. But this is how it goes. Also, I seem to suffer heavily from the information overload syndrome the internet causes in many of us. So much to read and explore each day, as my Twitter stream fills up, or my alerts me to a new article that is begging to be read.

As a result of this information overload, I am considering splitting my passions and interests and creating a secondary blog, separating my more personal entries and keeping them here and launching a second one aimed more at the factual. The question is: will I be able to keep up running TWO blogs when have so often not been able to maintain just the one? Well. We’ll just have to see, won’t we? I think a secondary blog will allow me to manage my interests more efficiently, as well as give me the opportunity to carefully craft posts of a slightly more detailed calibre. I’m going to have some extra time to potter about during the next month or two and I hope to be able to use that time to plan, design and launch my secondary blog. I suspect it will be related to current events, both of a general nature and also related to science and technology. And wine. Lots of wine.

A bit diverse, perhaps? Then it suits me perfectly.

I trust I can count on you for some feedback if/when the new blog is up and running. If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave me a comment. Always fantastic to hear what you think.