Monday, February 26, 2007

One lie and three truths

The other day, I did the three truths and one lie post. And we have a winner, KermittheFrog, and for almost exactly the right reason! Good reading, Kermit!

The lie is that in college, I worked in a lab and did histology on rat brains.

In truth, I worked in a lab in college, and doing histology was part of the job. We didn't work on rats, though. We worked on cats.

I learned amazing things, the most important of which was that I didn't want to work in a lab like that as a career. The theoretical stuff was mind-blowingly fascinating. Once I'd learned the basics, the day to day practicality wasn't.

I've heard somewhere along the line that if you're going to lie, you should stay as close to the truth as possible. I guess it worked in this case, mostly.

The issue of telling the not-quite-truth, of changing details, is at the heart of pseudonymous blogging, and interests me of late. When I write here, I try to get at what's important about whatever issue is on my mind, without revealing so much that my identity is obvious, or that someone can google my school and hit my blog. But I change details and stuff. I sometimes write a post and don't "publish" it for a couple months. I especially change mundane stuff, because that's beneath the radar, or so I think, so people will be quickest to identify it.

On a certain level, the difference between cats and rats is minute and mundane, one little letter. On another, the differences aren't at all minute. And in the lab where I worked, the specificity of cats was vital.

Since more people love cats than rats, there's more of a chance that revealing that I did lab work with cats will offend peoples' sensibilities. I've thought a lot about the ethics of using animals in research. I hope the research we did was meaningful, though there are never guarantees of that before the research is done. And I know we treated the cats with basic respect, never subjecting them to pain, and making efforts to keep them from even feeling frightened. I still feel uneasy sometimes about animal research; in the end, I value human lives and the potential of helping humans more than I value cats' lives. Or dogs' lives. I can draw a clear if uneasy line. But maybe I'm too inclined to be easy on myself?

As for the others:

I rode on the top of a train down the side of a large mountain range, through tunnels and all. These aren't my pictures, but they'll give you a good idea of the ride I took. You'll notice that there are a lot of people riding on top. Incredible experience, one I'd do again in an instant and highly recommend it to others.

I swam with wild penguins in the wild, close enough that I could reach out and touch one; it felt rubbery. Yep. I spent a week vacation in the Galapagos Islands, and along the way, we did some snorkling. Once, while we were snorkling, a group of penguins came around, swam by, close, taking a good look, and scooted around. I never saw them coming; they were that fast, but there they were, swimming around with absolute ease and grace, making us truly aware of what land lubber mammals we were.

I reached my hand a little bit out, and one swam against it for a hint of a moment. I was probably wrong to reach out, but I don't think it hurt the penguin. When they were done looking at us, they sped off.

I officiated at a wedding ceremony. I'd known C and A for a while; when they needed someone to do the honors, they asked me. It was a casual thing, purely for their friends in a small community. The ceremony was completely and totally outside the legal system and purely symbolic for those who participated.

(Christine might actually remember C and A; she'd know the Oasis where we did the ceremony, at any rate.)

I'd love to see some other folks do this little game! Pick it up and pass it along if you'd like.


  1. Congratulations, Kermitthefrog!

    And you....sneaky, sneaky Bardiac. Good one.

  2. Hooray! I had a feeling you were being sneaky.

    And that train ride looks totally incredible.