Andrea Harner
andreaharnerblog AT gmail
This site is a member of the Blogads NYC Blog network!

February 27, 2009

Belly @ 24 weeks in sushi pjs!


Sunset #20, Sunsets from Brooklyn apt series, February 2009


Air Traffic Controller Tells Gripping Tale of Hudson Landing By Liz Robbins, NY Times


Most touching part, excerpted - warning, tears may fall:

But it was Mr. Harten’s testimony that gave a new perspective on the conversations leading up to the water landing. He said he had worked in 10 to 12 emergency situations, but never one like that. On the tapes, Mr. Harten was the last person to speak to Captain Sullenberger, when he said the plane was going into the river. “I asked him to repeat himself, even though I heard him just fine. I simply could not wrap my mind around those words.”

The plane disappeared from his radar, Mr. Harten said. “It was the lowest low I ever felt,” he said. “I wanted to talk to my wife. I knew if I spoke or heard her voice, I would completely fall apart. I settled for a hasty text message — ‘Had a crash. I’m not O.K. Can’t talk now.’ ”

He said his wife, Regina Harten, told him later that when she received the text message, she thought he had been in a car accident.

“The truth was, I felt like I was hit by a bus,” he said.

As he put it: “It may sound strange, but to me the hardest, most traumatic part of the entire event was when it was over. During the emergency I was hyperfocused, I had no choice but to think and act quickly. But when it was over, it hit me hard.”

He added, “Even when I learned the truth, I could not escape the image of tragedy in my mind. Every time I saw the survivors on television, I imagined grieving widows. It’s taken me over a month for me to be able see that I did a good job. I was flexible and responsible, and I listened to what the pilots said, and I made sure I gave him the tools he needed. I was calm and in control.”

Mr. Harten is scheduled to return to the job on Thursday after 45 days of paid leave. Mr. Harten admitted that “it might take me time to regain confidence,” adding, “I know I will get there.”

After Mr. Harten finished, Captain Sullenberger told him: “This is the first time I’ve heard the detail of your experience, and I’m greatly touched by it.”

Students Stand When Called Upon, and When Not By Susan Saulny, NY Times


Seems like a pretty good idea to me!

February 25, 2009

Brunch with Annie & Omar & Melon Drop Demonstration! February '09























* Thanks to Omar Wasow for the great pictures!!

After Abuse, Changes in the Brain By Benedict Carey, NY Times
For years, psychiatrists have known that children who are abused or neglected run a high risk of developing mental problems later in life, from anxiety and depression to substance abuse and suicide.

The connection is not surprising, but it raises a crucial scientific question: Does the abuse cause biological changes that may increase the risk for these problems?

Over the past decade or so, researchers at McGill University in Montreal, led by Michael Meaney, have shown that affectionate mothering alters the expression of genes in animals, allowing them to dampen their physiological response to stress. These biological buffers are then passed on to the next generation: rodents and nonhuman primates biologically primed to handle stress tend to be more nurturing to their own offspring, Dr. Meaney and other researchers have found.

Now, for the first time, they have direct evidence that the same system is at work in humans. In a study of people who committed suicide published Sunday in the journal Nature Neuroscience, researchers in Montreal report that people who were abused or neglected as children showed genetic alterations that likely made them more biologically sensitive to stress.

The findings help clarify the biology behind the wounds of a difficult childhood and hint at what constitutes resilience in those able to shake off such wounds.

The study “extends the animal work on the regulation of stress to humans in a dramatic way,” Jaak Panksepp, an adjunct professor at Washington State University who was not involved in the research, wrote in an e-mail message.

He added that the study “suggests pathways that have promoted the psychic pain that makes life intolerable,” and continued, “It’s a wonderful example of how the study of animal models of emotional resilience can lead the way to understanding human vicissitudes.”

In the study, scientists at McGill and the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences compared the brains of 12 people who had committed suicide and who had had difficult childhoods with 12 people who had committed suicide and who had not suffered abuse or neglect as children.

The scientists determined the nature of the subjects’ upbringing by doing extensive interviews with next of kin, as well as investigating medical records. The brains are preserved at Douglas Hospital in Montreal as part of the Quebec Suicide Brain Bank, a program founded by McGill researchers to promote suicide studies that receives brain donations from around the province.

When people are under stress, the hormone cortisol circulates widely, putting the body on high alert. One way the brain reduces this physical anxiety is to make receptors on brain cells that help clear the cortisol, inhibiting the distress and protecting neurons from extended exposure to the hormone, which can be damaging.

The researchers found that the genes that code for these receptors were about 40 percent less active in people who had been abused as children than in those who had not. The scientists found the same striking differences between the abused group and the brains of 12 control subjects, who had not been abused and who died from causes other than suicide. “It is good evidence that the same systems are at work in humans that we have seen in other animals,” said Patrick McGowan, a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Meaney’s lab at McGill and the lead author of the study.

His co-authors, along with Dr. Meaney, were Aya Sasaki, Ana C. D’Alessio, Sergiy Dymov, Benoît Labonté and Moshe Szyf, all of McGill, and Dr. Gustavo Turecki, a McGill researcher who leads the Brain Bank.

Because of individual differences in the genetic machinery that regulates stress response, experts say, many people manage their distress despite awful childhoods. Others may find solace in other people, which helps them regulate the inevitable pain of living a full life.

“The bottom line is that this is a terrific line of work, but there is a very long way to go either to understand the effects of early experience or the causes of mental disorders,” Dr. Steven Hyman, a professor of neurobiology at Harvard, wrote in an e-mail message.

* via The New York Times.

As a grammAr nazi, I appreciate this Op-Ed: The I’s Have It By Patricia T. O’Conner and Stewart Kellerman, NY Times


When President Obama speaks before Congress and the nation tonight, he will be facing some of his toughest critics.

Since his election, the president has been roundly criticized by bloggers for using “I” instead of “me” in phrases like “a very personal decision for Michelle and I” or “the main disagreement with John and I” or “graciously invited Michelle and I.”

The rule here, according to conventional wisdom, is that we use “I” as a subject and “me” as an object, whether the pronoun appears by itself or in a twosome. Thus every “I” in those quotes ought to be a “me.”

So should the president go stand in a corner of the Oval Office (if he can find one) and contemplate the error of his ways? Not so fast.

For centuries, it was perfectly acceptable to use either “I” or “me” as the object of a verb or preposition, especially after “and.” Literature is full of examples. Here’s Shakespeare, in “The Merchant of Venice”: “All debts are cleared between you and I.” And here’s Lord Byron, complaining to his half-sister about the English town of Southwell, “which, between you and I, I wish was swallowed up by an earthquake, provided my eloquent mother was not in it.”

It wasn’t until the mid-1800s that language mavens began kvetching about “I” and “me.” The first kvetch cited in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage came from a commencement address in 1846. In 1869, Richard Meade Bache included it in his book “Vulgarisms and Other Errors of Speech.”

Why did these 19th-century wordies insist “I” is “I” and “me” is “me”? They were probably influenced by Latin, with its rigid treatment of subject and object pronouns. For whatever reason, their approach stuck — at least in the rule books.

Then, why do so many scofflaws keep using “I” instead of “me”? Perhaps it’s because they were scolded as children for saying things like “Me want candy” instead of “I want candy,” so they began to think “I” was somehow more socially acceptable. Or maybe it’s because they were admonished against “it’s me.” Anybody who’s had “it is I” drummed into his head is likely to avoid “me” on principle, even when it’s right. The term for this linguistic phenomenon is “hypercorrection.”

A related crime that Mr. Obama stands accused of is using “myself” to dodge the “I”-versus-“me” issue, as when he spoke last November of “a substantive conversation between myself and the president.” The standard practice here is to use “myself” for emphasis or to refer to the speaker (“I’ll do it myself”), not merely as a substitute for “me.” But some language authorities accept a looser usage, and point out that “myself” has been regularly used in place of “me” since Anglo-Saxon days.

Our 44th president isn’t the first occupant of the White House to suffer from pronounitis. Nos. 43 and 42 were similarly afflicted. The symptoms: “for Laura and I,” “invited Hillary and I,” and so on. (For the record, Nos. 41 and 40 had no problem with the objective case, regularly using “Barbara and me” or “Nancy and me” when appropriate.)

But an educated speaker is expected to keep his pronouns in line. Here, then, is a tip, Mr. President. Nobody chooses the wrong pronoun when it’s standing on its own. If you’re tempted to say “for Michelle and I” in tonight’s speech, just mentally omit Michelle (sorry, Mrs. Obama), and you’ll get it right. And no one will get on your case.

* via The New York Times which I still read in print!!

February 23, 2009

Cat licks lollipop over and over and it's awesome to watch over and over

* via BuzzFeed!

Inochi: Your daily dose of Japanese weirdness

* via BuzzFeed.

Interesting, self-aware quote by Hillary on what she and Obama have in common...her to a lesser degree.
Mrs. Clinton said she was skeptical that these appearances alone would lead to changes in the policies of foreign governments. But by connecting with people on a personal level, she said, she believes she can help mold public opinion, which, in turn, can influence governments.

“President Obama has an extraordinary capacity to do that because of the really positive feelings that he personally engenders,” she said. “To a lesser degree, I have some of the same capacity.”

From: Clinton Reshapes Diplomacy by Tossing the Script.

February 20, 2009

The light in our Brooklyn apartment!!!


* Thanks to Jaime Fazzone for the daffodils!!

Wildlife Conservation Society Event, February 2009!



















* Thanks to Mary Dailey Pattee for the invite!

Obama Inauguration, Washington D.C. 2009!

















Can you help a girl out? Message from a long-time reader and therefore I'm flattered enough to help out :-)

Hi Andrea, This is off this topic, but...since I don't know any people in New York City I'm grasping at straws. Nothing ventured nothing gained. I've been a regular visitor to your blog for years, writing occasional comments - or emails when you had your address on this blog. I have an amazingly talented young singer friend who needs to be in NYC during the month of March and part of April to mix her recently recorded cd. Do you by any chance know anyone in New York who could offer accommodation for the month of March and part of April to Emily Braden, a young (27)amazingly brilliant singer/musician from Victoria, BC, Canada (originally from Boise Idaho)? Emily is a good friend of mine and a major talent. She's having a tough time finding a place to stay. She is sweet, clean, tidy and respectful and just needs a place to sleep at night. Of course she is willing to pay (though she's certainly not hugely wealthy.....yet. If there is any justice in the world she will be one day.) Here is a link to her myspace page, which features some of her music.

Anyone I have ever known who listens to Emily falls in love with her and her music. She's a special human who is obviously born to sing and entertain. I know she sang around NYC in various places while she was there last - living in Harlem and recording her album. Even if you're unable to steer Emily towards accommodation I hope you'll be able to see her perform there sometime.

The upcoming cd is going to be brilliant - definitely goosebump inducing Grammy worthy material. I've seen Emily play with the best of the best (ie Wynton Marsalis and co and others) and seen their obvious respect for her musical talent and work ethic.

As I said, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Sorry if this is irritating, but I know Emily is having a tough time finding a place, and it kills me to see such an amazing person have to stress out about things that should be easier for people like her (who give so much to the world through art).

February 19, 2009

Hilarious Letter to the Economist.


* Thanks for this Althea Wasow!

** The articles linked above are here: Gasping for gas and To the barricades.

February 13, 2009

Ian Bassin named Deputy Associate Counsel to the President: I'm so proud of my friend!!


February 9, 2009

Captain Sully & US Flight 1549's reunion video with passengers

This video is so touching and worth watching that if you don't watch it now you are defective in some way. I nearly choked on my tears imagining if Jonah were one of the fortunate passengers and I was able to thank the Captain for saving Jonah's life, for not making me a widow and for not depriving our little one in my belly of a father. Ugh. The tears.

Lily does a great post of this event and related videos here:


February 5, 2009

Science Found Wanting in Nation’s Crime Labs By Solomon Moore, NY Times


Forensic evidence that has helped convict thousands of defendants for nearly a century is often the product of shoddy scientific practices that should be upgraded and standardized, according to accounts of a draft report by the nation’s pre-eminent scientific research group.

Robert L. Stinson, convicted of murder in 1984, was freed from a Wisconsin prison last month after tests found that bite-mark and DNA analysis did not match evidence from the crime scene.

The report by the National Academy of Sciences is to be released this month. People who have seen it say it is a sweeping critique of many forensic methods that the police and prosecutors rely on, including fingerprinting, firearms identification and analysis of bite marks, blood spatter, hair and handwriting.

The report says such analyses are often handled by poorly trained technicians who then exaggerate the accuracy of their methods in court. It concludes that Congress should create a federal agency to guarantee the independence of the field, which has been dominated by law enforcement agencies, say forensic professionals, scholars and scientists who have seen review copies of the study. Early reviewers said the report was still subject to change.

The result of a two-year review, the report follows a series of widely publicized crime laboratory failures, including the case of Brandon Mayfield, a lawyer from Portland, Ore., and Muslim convert who was wrongly arrested in the 2004 terrorist train bombing in Madrid that killed 191 people and wounded 2,000.

American examiners matched Mr. Mayfield’s fingerprint to those found at the scene, although Spanish authorities eventually convinced the Federal Bureau of Investigation that its fingerprint identification methods were faulty. Mr. Mayfield was released, and the federal government settled with him for $2 million.

In 2005, Congress asked the National Academy to assess the state of the forensic techniques used in court proceedings. The report’s findings are not binding, but they are expected to be highly influential.

“This is not a judicial ruling; it is not a law,” said Michael J. Saks, a psychology and law professor at Arizona State University who presented fundamental weaknesses in forensic evidence to the academy. “But it will be used by others who will make law or will argue cases.”

Legal experts expect that the report will give ammunition to defense lawyers seeking to discredit forensic procedures and expert witnesses in court. Lawyers could also use the findings in their attempts to overturn convictions based on spurious evidence. Judges are likely to use the findings to raise the bar for admissibility of certain types of forensic evidence and to rein in exaggerated expert testimony.

The report may also drive federal legislation if Congress adopts its recommendations. Senator Richard C. Shelby, Republican of Alabama, who has pushed for forensic reform, said, “My hope is that this report will provide an objective and unbiased perspective of the critical needs of our crime labs.”

Forensics, which developed within law enforcement institutions — and have been mythologized on television shows from “Quincy, M.E.” to “CSI: Miami” — suffers from a lack of independence, the report found.

The report’s most controversial recommendation is the establishment of a federal agency to finance research and training and promote universal standards in forensic science, a discipline that spans anthropology, biology, chemistry, physics, medicine and law. The report also calls for tougher regulation of crime laboratories.

Continue reading...

Wanna be Maddy's lifesaver???!!! The poor little guy will love you and thank you and be sweet to you...


From his foster parent:

Madison "Maddy" is a male, 10 years old, mutt, looks like a half German Shepherd half Corgi.

Maddy needs a home right away. He's been down on his luck lately, and as an older dog he needs a comfortable place where he is the only animal and can get all of the love. I have been fostering Maddy for a few months now, and it breaks my heart that I can't keep him, but I am moving into a living situation with many other animals.


Maddy came to me very upset, and confused, and scared. His owner, an elderly man, had been in the hospital for a week and Maddy was left alone in their home. When his owner found out he was dying, he checked himself out of the hospital and brought Maddy to a city shelter, begging them to not kill his dog. From what I was told, Maddy and his owner were hysterical to let each other go. The woman at the shelter promised she would find Maddy a home (usually at his age they would put him to sleep).


Maddy missed his owner and was very depressed when I got him, but he has since turned into a different dog. He loves being outside, walking and smelling flowers. He loves snacks (even though he's on a diet). He is friendly to strangers when he is outside. Inside, it takes him a few meeting to feel comfortable with new people and doesn't like other dogs in his space. Indoors, he's not a high energy dog but he does love being outside. He is also 100% housebroken - I work all day and he doesn't love being left alone but he has never once had an accident.


The other day he was playing in the dog park and was attacked by a Boxer. He has just had surgery on his front leg, and will be back to normal in a few weeks. I hate to leave him, especially now that he is sad about his leg (he can't run and play right now), but it is down to the wire. His picture has been on an adoption website but it is not the best time for adoptions right now, and people tend to be turned off by his age. He's really the perfect combination of an inside/outside dog.

Maddy needs to find a home by March 1st.

February 3, 2009

True Stories in Just One Sentence! I love this kind of stuff

Thanks BuzzFeed! Here's a sample:


Robotic Crib Takes Care of Your Baby so You Can Go Out Drinking

It appears to work!

* Thanks Chelsea!

Video projects

This Website was designed by Cat Savard