Christmas Update 2018

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So it’s been a long time since I updated this blog in regards to anything relevant to me and my life thusfar, so let me start this by wishing y’all a Happy Holiday.  A great deal of my absence in writing this year stems from the fact that this has been a CRAZY month in regards to work.

Last November, we had lots of turnover and it was all up to me, my P.I. and my Research Nurse to steer our clinical research ship in the right direction while we searched for new staff members.  It was a tough year filled with lots of mishaps and lessons.  I got schooled in Phase 1 research, regulatory submissions and Phase 1 enrollments.  All good things of course, but this was while I was overwhelmed with my own Phase 2-3 research, so let me be clear:  this was NOT easy.   I can safely say that as of this year, we are now fully staffed with 2 awesome and talented individuals who are riding the reigns of Phase 1 with an awesome manager, and I’m now back to my old workload.  It’s still lots of research related stuff that I’ve been catching up with again, but I’ve come away from this experience with so much under my belt in the CRC (Clinical Research Coordinator) realm.  Also, I survived my first research audit, and, to me, that’s even more ammo on the shelf.  Lastly, I can safely cap off this year with a certification that, I hope, can go a long way.  It’s been a brutal year in terms of work, but yes….I survived it!

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An old photo of Byron’s Hot Dogs from Chicago.  Miss this place so much!

Another highlight for me to reminisce about was that my Wife and I finally got a chance to go back to Chicago after a six-year absence.  She was presenting at a conference over there in April, and we had a chance to enjoy the food and scenery with snow!  I even got to introduce her to Byron’s, my neighborhood Hot Dog joint, which, I am proud to say, is the only one to serve their fare in the White House in 2009 since Barack Obama is a huge fan of the place.  She also got a chance to try Al’s Italian Beef in Downtown, and even my local taco place, Taco & Burrito House.  However, the place she pointed out that was super awesome was the Chicago French Market, where you get BBQ chicken, banh mi and even pastrami under one roof.  For those that haven’t been to Chi-town, if there’s nothing that interests you there, then go and focus on the food.  I’m biased of course, but for good reason.  I swear Chicago, we WILL be back!

As a few of you know, I spend a lot of time here reviewing movies and such when time permits.  Although 2018 wasn’t a great year for that, it WAS a great year for movies in general.  In terms of Superhero films, 2 stand out for me:  Black Panther and Aquaman.  Not sure if I’m going to do reviews on them in the future, but those two had EVERYTHING a Superhero film needed:  a good story, excellent background for our protagonists, imaginative backdrops, decent fight scenes, forty scoops of diversity and tons of entertainment.  You can totally see Black Panther on Netflix (you should….you REALLY should) and revel at history in the making while Aquaman should totally be enjoyed at your local IMAX theater TODAY.  And speaking of diversity, this was a BANNER year for diversity in film.  Crazy Rich Asians?  Black Panther?  Into the Spider-verse?  Roma? And what about TV?  Yes, it’s still a LONG way to go in that front folks, but can’t we celebrate that for 2018, we at least had a small glimpse of how diverse the world really is on the silver screen?

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And lastly, the only other goofy thing I can chat about myself for this year is that, yeah, I’m finally playing something on my PS4.  We purchased a few retro mini consoles over the year, like the NES mini and the Neo Geo mini, but the Missus gave me this really awesome birthday gift: Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise.  I’ve been jamming on that whenever time permits and it’s been soooooo cool.  If you haven’t seen the anime, or the comics for that matter, then the game might seem a bit weird for ya.  However, for fans like me, it’s a dream come true.  This is especially the case when I get the chance to slug somebody a hundred times a minute.

So yeah, that’s the lowdown on me.  It’s been a wild year and hopefully, I’ll write my year-end review sometime soon.  Until then, enjoy your Holidays folks!

Goodbye 2017: Naika Looks Back on A Year of Hatred, and a Year of Resistance

Hi folks.  Yes, it’s been a loooong while since I wrote anything, but to be fair, things have been uber busy for me.  I’m taking on a lot more responsibilities at work which more or less keep me there longer throughout the day.  The best thing about it however is that I am learning a ton of stuff related to research and will no doubt learn a lot more through trial and error.  It’s a lot of stress and anxiety, but I’m glad to be helping the team at a time when we’re short of staff (I’m sure you’ve ALL heard of that story before).  Bottom line is that it leaves me less time to write and study.

However, when I do get home, I basically shut off and hang out with my wife, and that’s the most important thing.  If there’s anything super duper good that I can say about myself in 2017 on a more personal level, then it’s about the two of us getting hitched.  Yeah, I know.  That’s a big deal, but yeah…I didn’t wanna write about it because that’s private.  Furthermore, we opted out of the big ceremony because in this economy, who could afford one?  We just got affordable rings and went to a courthouse.  We did the deed and boom, we were married.  That was my 2017.

Now I generally go super detailed in these end of year write-ups, but not this time.  As I mentioned, work has really enveloped my creative time, so I’ll just spout out some stuff that really hit me this year and you can take it or leave it.  Sounds like a plan, right?

So first off, me and the missus participated on our first protest, and that was the Women’s March in D.C.  after we witnessed the worst inauguration in modern history.  It was a lovely yet crowded event, but I can’t complain.  It was the largest single-day protest in U.S. history, and it was awesome to be a part of that (thanks Rachael!).

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I participated in another protest in September called the March for Racial Justice.  It was more or less a big fat rebuke of Trump and White Nationalism where there were die-ins in front of the Department of Justice, taking knees, Native American drumming, solidarity and lots of lots of cussing in front of Trump Tower.  That to me was the single greatest march that I’ve participated in thusfar, and it was my third protest of that year.  There was so much energy, anger and togetherness as we took over the streets of D.C. to have our voices heard, especially after something as harrowing and awful as Charlottesville.

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Who’s that asshole in the background there?

While we’re at it in regards to Charlottesville, this year for me, in a lot of ways, will no doubt be synonymous with violence and hate.  From what so many people experienced in the Las Vegas Shooting, to the utterly horrific attack in a Mosque in Egypt to the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya in Myanmar, this to me was a year where those in power who demanded that we all turn inward, away from out better selves, got the upper hand and used it to eliminate others with hatred. With violence.   If there was any year of my life thusfar that painted a sad and grim reminder of how horrible humanity can be when it succumbs to darkness, look no further than to 2017.

Violence alone doesn’t always destroy us.  Sometimes, it’s also disaster.  Puerto Rico, Texas, the Dominican Republic and other regions in and around the U.S. experienced widespread chaos with Hurricanes Maria and Harvey.  While Donald Trump was busy insulting the plight of fellow Americans (oh, I’m sorry, they’re Puerto Ricans), tossing paper towels and victim-blaming survivors, folks experienced the loss of electricity, flooding, re-flooding and sickness.  Oh, and if we didn’t have enough to contend with from storms, we have wildfires out west as well that haven’t stopped burning.  Climate change, bad infrastructure and nonsensical housing in flood prone land can all play a part in exacerbating these issues, and without sound policy to resolve them, shit like this will continue to happen and leave tons of people out in the cold.

And speaking of being left out in the cold, another big story that caught my attention unfortunately involved the forced eviction of hundreds of migrant workers from Beijing, China (really recommend y’all to read more about it because there’s so many details regarding hukou and other things that I won’t have the fortitude to flesh out or explain).  It all started as a ‘safety evacuation’ after a fire broke out in an area filled with migrant workers.  Since these folks have lots of obstacles to attain affordable housing within Beijing (and mind you, these folks ARE CHINESE TOO), they’re forced to live in lots of derelict buildings that haven’t been properly maintained in order to make ends meet.  So if something like a fire does happen (like it did around Thanksgiving time), people get hurt BAD (19 died that day).  Thus, the CCP came on by to save the day by forcing EVERYONE to evacuate for their own safety…..without providing ANY sort of alternative housing for them, even though IT’S WINTERTIME.  Couple that with the disgusting, derogatory term calling said migrant workers ‘the low-end population’ from official documentation, and you get yourself a potent cocktail of outrage and disappointment from all walks of life in China.  And by the way, these derelict homes are now DEMOLISHED, so these folks more or less have NO WHERE TO GO except back to their homes IN THE MIDDLE OF FUCKING WINTER!

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Hua Yong, a painter from Beijing, soon became another focus during the ‘low’end’ controversy by filming the devastation from these evacuations, interviewing migrant workers and uploading his stuff on YouTube, with one video being his impending arrest by authorities in Tianjin (he’s since been released on bail in December and is now in Sichuan).  If there was ANY story that really made it’s mark on me from China, especially on a personal level, it would have to be this.

And let’s not forget the #MeToo movement as well.  Dear God has it wrecked the reputations of men who seemed untouchable.  Assholes like Mario Batalli, Kevin Spacey and yes, the asshole-in-chief Harvey Weinstein, are all out of jobs, while respected folks like Charlie Rose, Al Franken, Louis C.K. and Matt Lauer (he was always a jerk) have shocked the country as they’ve been outed as abusers, cheaters and filthy perverts.  Furthermore, this movement underscores just how widespread workplace sexual abuse is, and how much fear women (especially women of color) experience once it happens to them.

And yes, despite how perverted and deplorable people in power can be in the workplace (and beyond), the #MeToo movement was, and is, a positive movement meant to unshackle and empower those who are preyed upon.  These reactions, these movements, and this fierce resistance has been, for me, the most moving thing for me to ever experience on a social level here in America.  We marched against an elected pussy-grabber in January after he was sworn in.  We kneeled when the NFL season began because Football is a business that doesn’t give a shit about anyone.  Signs and voices were held up when the White House banned people from coming into America simply because they’re MuslimDisabled voters invaded a Senate hearing when Rethuglicans wanted to gut Obamacare.  Migrant workers from China protested CCP Police as they were forced out of their homes even though they were, and are, instrumental to the lifeblood of Beijing.  Kids stood up to torch-wielding American Nazis in fucking Virginia while our President basically said, on live fucking television, that they were MORALLY EQUIVALENT.  Young children and adults, who have only known the U.S. as their home, risked arrest and deportation in order to fight for DACA.  So yeah, I’ll remember 2017 for death, disaster, famine, hatred and rape, and yet, I’ll also remember it for resistance.  I’ll remember it for sign waving.  I’ll remember it for how sad I felt when I would see a child in Yemen on YouTube as I ask myself “Why am I not doing more?”  I’ll remember it for taking a knee.  I’ll remember it for Hua Yong.  I’ll remember it so that we can all think twice about how American hubris affects other nations.  I’ll remember it for for my healthy, democratically guaranteed contempt for an elected leader.  And most of all, I’ll remember it for finally committing to someone I love.  For finally doing the one thing I never thought would ever happen to me.

And you know what?  She’s now a Ph.D. too motherfuckers (#WomeninScience).  Goodbye 2017.  I’ll never forget you.

Happy Year of the Rooster!

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Year of the Rooster?  How about year of the Orange Clucker???  Here’s hoping that you’re ready to eat a ton of bird because this year will be so full of guano that the only comfort you’d have is knowing where all that shit came from.  It’s ONLY BEEN A WEEK and the Donald has shat on everything you could think of.  Please be merry, please enjoy dumplings or a hot pot and PLEASE think of positive things folks.  We’re in for a long one, so let’s celebrate now, and get ready to bring it to “Donny” in the coming year.

2016: The Good, The Bad and THE GOD-AWFUL!

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If you thought 2015 was god-awful, then boy do you need a slap in the face.  2016 is full of such madness, such despair and such fuckery that I cannot begin to imagine what 2017 will be like (have I said this before???).  With such an unprecedented turn of events happening at the speed of your stupid Facebook feed, it’s no wonder that we’d all like to just throw the year down a trash bin and burn it.  Where shall we begin everyone?  Who or what shall I discuss first?  What in God’s name were the positives?  Do snow monkeys make snow balls and eat them?  We’ll go over it all as we begin with….

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Naika’s 14 Tips to Help You SURVIVE your Thanksgiving Holiday

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Thanksgiving has finally snuck up behind us and we haven’t a damn clue of what we are doing.  Are we cooking anything?  Do you know what you’re going say to your Trump-loving relatives?  Can Gary Johnson make Pumpkin Pie?  Who died and made you King?  Now before you answer these questions, here’s 14 tips to help you survive this Holiday without setting yourself on fire.  They are all obvious nods to the Onion, but this is my blog and I’m sticking to it!

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F*CK SPARTA

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I kid you not. This is a gym around where I used to work in Tampa. Can you guess what kind of gym it is?

When you watch a film like Zack Snyder’s 300, there’s so much in it that appeals to us in a primitive sense.  There’s this sense that you, the hero (or in this case, Sparta) and his or her way of life is threatened by foreign hordes.  There’s also this inherent love of muscle and military might that borders on the fanatical.  Lastly, there’s this inherent feeling of righteousness in smiting the ‘other’, which is exemplified in the film’s last words from Dillios:

The enemy outnumber us a paltry three to one, good odds for any Greek. This day we rescue a world from mysticism and tyranny and usher in a future brighter than anything we can imagine.

I remember how twisted my feelings got when I heard those last words in the theater.  Sure I had fun, but I seriously never knew that in the years to come, that “world [of] mysticism and tyranny” meant me…meant us.

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