Truth: The American Museum of Natural History is awesome, but the H1N1 vaccine… not so much.

Dear AMNH,

My friends and I visited you on Friday because we figured, “hey, we just finished our biology midterm–what better way to celebrate?”

It was really awesome. We didn’t have much time, so we only really got to look at the Diversity of Life exhibit and the Hall of Ocean Life with the giant squid and huge model whale, but it was worth it. My friends and I ate freeze-dried ice cream for the first time! It was kind of awkward bringing it into the food court (because it said no outside food allowed), but we figured that since we had bought it at the gift shop it probably counted as inside food.

We shared the chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream sandwich and mint chocolate chip flavors. It didn’t taste nearly as gross as everyone always says freeze dried ice cream is. It just tasted kind of… fuzzy. Like marshmallows. The texture itself was powdery. It had that sickly sweet aftertaste of inexpensive ice cream.

Then I bought a birthday present for a friend of mine. It was probably one of the strangest gifts I’ve gotten anyone: candied bugs. It’s basically just a block of sugar with a cricket, insect larva, and fern inside. Really gross stuff. We had gone looking for chocolate-covered bugs, but the cashier said that they don’t sell them anymore, which is why we had to settle for candy.

Overall, it was a really nice way to relax after an exhausting week. I slept maybe three hours a night and was chronically on the verge of falling asleep. I also heard read about the huge number of adolescents who received the H1N1 vaccine in 2009 who have developed cases of narcolepsy–which is a medical tragedy, and likely occurred because of the pressure to develop and test the vaccine very quickly. People aren’t really sure yet whether it’s the vaccine, the booster in the vaccine, or the H1N1 virus itself that’s triggered the onset of narcolepsy, but whichever it was, it should have been caught during the testing process–the fact that nearly 800 cases of narcolepsy in children have been linked to this vaccine is not only tragic but an inexcusable mistake on the part of those developing the vaccine. I doubt this mistake can really be traced to a single culprit, so let it stand as a warning to all on the importance of caution when dealing with human lives, along with careful and standardized medical practices. Also, let’s hope this doesn’t happen again.

I still have three tests and three projects to go before midterms are finally over, so I’ll be pretty busy for awhile. I’m sorry about my lack of posts lately–it’s just that the semester is coming to a close and I have loads of work to do. I wish all of you luck on exams! (Although from what I’ve heard, lots of you have finished with them–congrats!)

Also hoping that any other FRC teams out there are making good progress on prototyping frisbee loading/launching mechanisms and the climbers! We have a working shooter, but are having issues with picking the frisbees up. Ah, well. Only 23 days left in build season!!!

Best,

Alouette

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