Sunday, February 11, 2018

Cherished

I like to collect things and I think it is because growing up, my mother loved her “whatnots,” as she called them. She had shelves full of figurines and items I was never allowed to touch as a kid. I think I spent half my childhood with my hands behind my back and still do that when I’m around something expensive.

However, her love of collecting things made an impression on me and when I was younger I started collecting too. Maybe it was because we enjoyed doing it together, or maybe it’s something I would have done anyway but it was such fun. I started with bear collectibles simply because I loved bears. Usually they were inexpensive and cute – nothing that would cost of lot if it was broken.

Right after high school, I started collecting carousel horses; my first one was bought at a drugstore and seemed expensive to me at the time. I think I remember it was close to $40 or so, but with inflation that same item will set you back around $90. It was my first bigger purchase for something just to sit on a shelf to admire and it made me proud to have bought it with my own money.

When I was in high school, my best friend Janet and I went to World Bazaar in the mall and spent hours filling up an entire shadow box with tiny glass animals as a gift for my mom, all painstakingly chosen. Tiny elephants, little dogs, cute bears – a myriad of glass creatures with every piece having significance behind why we chose it. My mom cherished that and had it on the wall up until her death – 27 years later.

She also collected angels and kept them in a heavy, lighted curio cabinet with glass doors that kept them dust-free and away from her grandchildren’s sticky fingers and clumsy hands. Glass angels, porcelain ones with feathery adorned wings, and even whimsical ones with honey hair that looked childlike and full of saccharine. Every holiday I would try to get her something for that collection and after her death it moved to my dining room, so now I’m the gatherer of angels.

My mother also had a salt and pepper collection that would rival any country store or antique shop. Once she got started, everyone would buy her a set when they went on vacation or simply saw something they knew she’d like. The last set I got her was of Ricky and Lucy because she absolutely loved the I LOVE LUCY show – those too are in my home now.

Over the years I’ve collected many things – cigar boxes that sometimes still smell like tobacco, snow globes that create a blizzard in a tiny world once you shake them, decorative bottles filled with peppers I’ll never eat, honey colored oils, or amber colored vinegar, and wine that is never opened but instead displayed for their unique labels of dapper dogs or my favorite rock star’s brand. My interests have changed throughout the years but whatever I have collected in the past is still just as special to me.

Part of the wonder of cherished items is that something you loved is passed down to someone else, like my mother’s angels. I don’t have children so when I die, I imagine these things won’t be important to anyone else or then again, maybe someone will be able to enjoy it as much as I have and they will find a new home where someone else cherishes their presence.



Saturday, February 10, 2018

Genome Link - Use Your DNA Raw Data

Back a couple of years ago I had a DNA test done by Ancestry.com and along with the information about my ancestry, I also got my raw data which can be uploaded to learn more about traits and personality. One of the places I recently tried out is GENOME LINK which is based on the power of the data you upload which gives us even more information about our DNA. The reason they can provide you with more data on various genetic traits is that they read more various research papers about genetic traits. And also they can read whole genome data only if you upload whole genome data but again 23andme or Ancestry.com only read the limited parts of your DNA so the data that you download is not whole genome.

I actually found GENOME LINK through an advertisement on Facebook and thought why not try it out? I uploaded my raw data I got from Ancestry.com. This part is really easy. You get your raw data and it is usually a text file or something similar. You then upload it and the results are pretty immediate.

The kind of information you get are 26 traits like eye color, skin pigmentation, weight, hair color, caffeine consumption and if you upgrade to Premium plan, you get additional 40 traits, even things like longevity, sleep duration and excessive daytime sleepiness based on your genome data. Now, keep in mind that some things won’t be exact and there is a reason for this.

The insights derived from the research studies used to interpret your DNA data is based on population studies whereby they recruit research participants who all have the same trait (eg. have a certain eye color). Then they compare all their DNA data and see where in the genome they are aligned, or have the same nucleotide (DNA letter). This, combined with other studies, allows researchers to conclude that MOST people who have a certain nucleotide at a specific position in the genome have this trait (eg. brown eye color) that they are researching. And that MOST people who have other nucleotides at this specific position have another variant of the trait (eg. other eye colors). In short, they identify which variants in DNA are associated with traits. You can link to these research papers by clicking a certain SNP on each traits card on GENOME LINK.

SNP (single-nucleotide polymorphism) is a DNA sequence variation occurring when a single nucleotide adenine(A), thymine(T),cytosine(C),or guanine(G) in the genome(or other share sequence) differs between members of a species or paired chromosomes in an individual. For example, two sequenced DNA fragments from different individual, AAGCCTA to AAGCTTA, contain a difference in a single nucleotide. In this case we say that there are two alleles: C and T. Almost all common SNPs have only two alleles.

References: International Society Of Genetic Genealogy



Just because the data does not return what you believe to be your trait, it does not mean that it is wrong. It is likely that you are statistically one of the few people who have the trait regardless of the nucleotide letter, for some reason unknown to science, or that it was affected by other factors such as epigenetics, the environment or other. Remember that the bulk of these studies only show correlation and not causation. It is unsettling that science cannot be more conclusive, but that's how far science is at this point.

There is a raw data tab in the left corner of the screen that allows you view your raw data where you can link to public databases on research papers. This is especially important because it is another factor in having the most information possible and I don’t know of any other place where you upload raw data that actually links to outside resources.


DNA and genomes are pretty exciting in my opinion – especially since I am adopted and have no family history. The technology will continue to grow and at some point in the future, you will pretty much know everything you need to know in order to make good decisions on what to eat and things that will help you live longer and healthier.

If any of my friends have done a DNA test and would like to try out the premium version of Genome Link, I have five premium versions to offer. Just let me know. Either way, check it out and see how cool it is to learn more about your genome.

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