Friday, February 26, 2010

Baby's got balls...Errr...

No he doesn't. Not any more.

And to make me feel even worse about taking away his manhood, he has to wear a pretty Elizabethan collar for no reason. The little bugger can twist his neck in enough that he can lick the... empty, and the stitches. So, not really doing its job *at all*, but any bigger and he wouldn't be able to eat...

And that dopey-for-24hours thing? Soooooo not true. 5 hours max and the little darling was back to the important business of dragging my couch cushions outside. Through the cat door.

Big sister and her male half are coming to visit,- made up the trusty airbed in the lounge, popped out to get towels and came back to find the dog, not only *on* the bed I had just made up, but digging a sleeping hole in the middle.

"What? I'm not done yet!"

"There we go. Now, what were you saying Mum?"

The best I could get with the no-sleeping-on-the-bed-rule, was a collapse on top of the blankets. And I am perfectly happy with that small win. I did, after all, just make up the bed for him to sleep on right?!

And the eldest child is getting jealous of all the camera action focused in different directions. So, a debut:

Ninja cat! Except when I'm sleeping, then he's 'walks, talks & eats like an elephant' cat.

Designed Money

I think they should redesign all American bank notes - but open it up to the public.

Some of these are just mind-blowingly awesome.

I have a lovely colony of sea monkeys in my office, I'm pleased to see they now have their own currency.

They sing!

Watch this. Funny, and disturbingly cool.

Scientists, inc. PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins "singing".


(I hope no one ever does that to my voice, I'm sure it would be very bad, even in synth)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Touchy-feely types

In general, its just not me. I don't casually touch my friends, let alone acquaintances. Not much of a hugger either and most of the time I detest shaking hands. But put me in front of someone I am *actually* comfortable around (namely - mother) and I am all about the being held and having my hair played with and blah blah blah.

Possibly because of this, when someone *does* do the casual-touch thing, I notice it a hell of a lot more, and probably infer a lot more meaning and significance from it than I should.

Was I not touched by enough randoms as a child?!

I agree with the premise that you get allot more meaning from a touch than words, but mostly due to the above, and is that particular to me? Admittedly, I get allot more meaning and significance out of most things people say or do, simply as a by-product of over-thinking everything (damn analytically trained mind - it must be so much easier to be dumb and blissfully unaware of the world you live in *coughreligoustypescough*).

But this news cannot really be news at all.

"Momentary touches, they say — whether an exuberant high five, a warm hand on the shoulder, or a creepy touch to the arm — can communicate an even wider range of emotion than gestures or expressions, and sometimes do so more quickly and accurately than words."

I like the study though. Human, or even just behavioural Psychology has always been a pet love of mine. Ever since that token psych minor in my undergrad years. But the science is just so different from mine.

Variables out the roof.

And I just love the link with sports teams - more successful ones are touchier than ones that suck. American football butt-slapping stereotype. Yay! Which of course leads me to the conclusion that the lovely All Blacks should touch each other more

...with less clothes on.


I love it how science and the news unexpectedly feed nefarious passions/obsessions

Mega Shark! vs. Giant...clam?

Nice to be people

There's a certain feeling of righteousness to be had when you have had 4 hours of sleep (due to student dinner, which incidentally is getter harder - we are up to 9 and the Supe keeps collecting...), are filled with cold, (and more importantly; cold meds - the *good*, P-filled kind) and still make it into the lab on time at the ridiculous hour of half 7 and witness this beautiful happenstance on the way through campus.


(Its not that dark here, I swear, the twilight is exaggerated to emphasise the sky. Oh, and Australia's large shadow lies right over us of course.)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I am.

Head cold in the middle of summer? You have got to be kidding me. I am *sooooo* not happy right now- that I have to share the pain.

Grossed out? Well, at least I feel better.

(image via I care deeply, who's first paragraph incidentally accurately describes exactly how I feel right now.)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

King Tut

When I was in Egypt (a lifetime ago), I always though Tutankhamun was the cute one - a depicted face that you could always pinch the cheeks of, nana-stylz.

Now he's in the news as the subject of what must have been some awfully fun science. Genetics, the way of the future - and the paaaaaaaaast *spooky voice*.

So his parents were brother and sister, (bad news right there, but not uncommon back in his day) and he died around 1324BCE at about 19yo from a combination of things including malaria complications and a broken leg. He had a host of genetic defects and the two foetuses he was buried with turned out to be his kids.

Interesting stuff? Yes. Important advances in science? Not really.

Pretty cool shit though. And I shudder to think how much funding this sucked up. But then the importance of interest-science might be held at least with the level of human-saving science or we'll find ourselves in a stupid world.

"Cancer", the Grant buzz word of choice anyone?

Gratuitous plug

I've been holding off, I really have. But sadly, I can no longer hold myself back from the inevitable basking-in-awesome-completion and sense-of-having-done-something-well, that looks awesome.

Behold! The amazing summer project quilt of amazingness!

Just shameless. (but cool right?!)

Fridge evolution

My fridge is an art work, a constantly evolving one.

About a week ago it read "Drosophila are awesome" which morphed into "Drosophila are awesomely crunchy" thanks to a flatmate, then "Drosophila are awesomely crunchy, yum nom nom crunch" by way of another flatmates artistic touch.

Upon visitation by fellow-office-sharing friends, it was altered to read "Apis melifera are awesome" with the vestigial "yum nom nom crunch", and has today ended its life thus:

And that is all.

Monday, February 22, 2010

I want to eat your cloooooones...!

Zombie scientist Cookies! Replete with blood and 2 types of green slime!

I'm just so proud I took about a million photos: zombie scientists with 2 heads, eating their own arms, breaking heads and the classic arms-out-front brain searching pose.

Double batch of cookie batter (because I'm a sucker for punishment - 5 hours of decorating alone) meant Dinosaurs made it into the mix - pretty, primary school dinosaurs!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Share the love

My product arrived. The one I've been in despair of having arrive on time to be of any use, after bollocksing around by the sales reps and the company, and expts hanging on by the skin of their teeth. (Drossie teeth - the best kind).

I planted a big sloppy one on it. I'm pretty sure I can rescue my expts, which has quite possibly made my day. Nay, at *least* my week!

Feel the science love people! Its just spilling out of me right now.


You're not a real scientist till you've done it.

Lets ignore the fact that the first time took me an hour, with tutorials, and am now at the unimpressive time of 10 minutes, with notes. Still counts right?

Such a feeling of achievement!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Oh the colours!

Photo realism painting always creeps me out a wee bit, but this stuff is just beautiful. I can't even imagine the time and exquisite attention to detail needed to get these looking the way they do.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

No Evo for kids?!

Ooo oooo Ooooo! I never knew! How has this lack gone on so long?

I want one! Now! Haha "Be the beast!" Just lovely. (first video)

And books! Ticky is my fav.


Ooo and clothes! Shit, my kids are going to be so *awesomely* dressed! "Meet your ancestor!" Ha.


This study has the most amazing potential, a 21 year study following currently pregnant women and their offspring through to adulthood with samples, measures and questionnaires galore.

I hope the funding doesn't get pulled. USD$6.7 bill? Wow. 100k women, 105 countries - I almost (almost!) wish I was pregnant just to take part.

"It will examine how environment, genes and other factors affect children’s health" spine tingle.

Who would have thought - "a co-principal investigator in Duplin, said “we had to reassure” residents that “the purpose is not to make the county look bad.”" Seriously America? Sheesh.

It sounds like meeting quota is their main issue at the moment, but then thorny issues arise like whom to tell of the scientific tests and when - for example if a test shows the child to be suffering developmentally from something it is exposed to in the home, but that the parents would have otherwise not known about or seen reason to change - are they told and encouraged to fix the issue? Will the study then be a mere exercise in improving the chances of 100k children and not gaining accurate measures of 'normal' children? How can you withhold information which could improve quality of life - but how can you carry out an accurate, scientific experiment without doing so?

Drosophila. Rats. Monkeys. And that, people, is why we have models.

There is a highly similar undertaking run in my own brilliant home town - The Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study which is about 38 years old. And brilliant. How long before every one is monitored constantly throughout their entire lives with intervention and adjustment measures to achieve your full potential?! Gattaca anyone?

My babies are growing up!

The taddies are graduating to the glass tank of life! Such cuties.

His slower brothers are busy getting into the tail-sucking business

And the runt brother is having issues with his kinkyness. It curves around a leg - so both swimming and hopping are a mite difficult just now.

You think they will be babies forever and then they go and grow up on you. Over the weekend. *sob* They'll be wanting to move out soon, and how will I say no?!

Teaching bone

I have a serious teaching bone somewhere in my body - I just spent a good hour explaining things and answering questions about Drosophila via email - and was supremely happy whilst doing it. Planning background research to back up my thoughts and ideas to share, new things to try, what to do if the point is still not understood, a myriad of other ways I could possibly help - and pride; that someone was interested in what I am in also, and that I could help.

I usually have the *crisis* at least once a year - usually around Christmas when I am up north in good weather and surrounded by family and the cousins adorably naughty kids etc - I could do TCol and get a nice science teaching job in a nice town, buy another house principle in 10 years? The truth of the matter is I would be bored if I didn't and then what comes next? Ministry of education? No thanks.

Guess I'll stick with lecturing and potential professorship. (I say 'potential' to be non-assuming. There is no way I wont push myself there at some stage, then VC here I come. Moon and stars while I'm up here anyone?).

Oooh but high school is where you need to grab them - where the science seed needs to be planted! First years are just so...drunk?


Monday, February 15, 2010

Science Heroism

Hero of the week - P Z Myers, who's writing is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

The further into the science world I get the more I especially love the point at which an eye is opened with regards to a science legend - Mullis, of PCR and resulting Nobel fame, is apparently - a tosser. (seriously - check out his photo poses on his website - some major PR bullshite going down)

Growing up in science, certain words lend a subtle spine tingle - 'Nobel', 'Professor' (where it is a title earned and not given for basic teaching), 'inventor/discoverer', 'first author', 'Nature paper' (though at this point 'any paper' is more honest) etc; and the mental associations with such persons are intelligent, successful, deserving of respect, infallible; but mostly - not stupid.

So I am still shocked when I discover people whom I have admired from afar, are not as infallible as expected. And are more stupid than ever imagined.

My favourite PZ call; regarding Mullis's aversion to statins for cholesterol management for fear of brain damage: "but anyone who knows Mullis's history knows he's been extraordinarily indulgent in mind-altering recreational pharmaceuticals."

How's that for a frank burn? I wish everyone was as brutally honest.


Unfortunately, hand-in-hand with the discovery that not all Scientists are smart, is the fact that the general population is approaching Pluto in its levels of stupidness, how can some people function with such a rotting crap pile between their ears?!

How can anyone be *that* stupid?!

I've mentioned Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus before, but things just got bat-shit-crazy-better with Sharktopus!

Could my life get *any* better?!

Sunday burn

Sunday morning was just beautiful, and spent on the beach with second-baby. Who got niiiiiiice and clean. I just got sun burnt. Yay.

A group of friends were taking surfing lessons which provided the entertainment, though for me surfing is definitely a *spectator* sport. Four scientists and a visiting German teacher-in-training on surf boards - not something you see very often!

Skulls for Valentine (the bastard)

I baked! Shocking, I know. I had to try out my new cookie cutters - skulls, for Valentines day (don't even get me started on the hating, I was aiming for Hearts with inscriptions as amazing as these, my favourite being, of course; "Die in a fire". Good.)


and frogs.

Oh, and Randomosaur.

I need a bigger fly cutter, you just cannot get enough mutant detail on such small flies!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Butterfly effect

Bored Thursday in the afternoon?

Live in an office full of people as crazy as you are?

Have a spare massive, massive bag of rubber bands lying around?

...and a whiteboard?


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Oooooooooh I want!

Amazing. How have I lived for so long and *not* gotten myself one of these?!
I *might* just be the proud new owner (in approx 1-4 weeks - damn international shipping/bottom of the world Dunedin) of a set of earrings and a necklace.

Etsy: A Super-fast time portal shipping option please!

Giant shark vs. Mega...


My super strong giant fearless baby-number-two has managed to succeed where mega octopus failed.

I wish that movie was real. No less for the way they solve problems in the lab...

Its exactly like real science. *Exactly*.


We have a terrarium in the office and before Chrissie all of our frogs-in-training died. We missioned to the pet shops last night and got a new batch - half of which are completely messed up! Awesome!

Apparently this can be quite normal, and happens when tail reabsorbtion begins. Other people say it can lead to a deformed pelvis and frogs that walk funny. I can't wait to see what happens!
On announcing to the lab group that we had tadpoles with 'kinky' tails, one delightful youth said "what, they look phallic?". Wrong kind of kinky.

Or right?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


I love it when after not using my camera for ages I discover a bevy of photos on its card that I had completely forgotten about.

My mothers garden is just beautiful. I don't know how she does it. My idea of gardening is to leave my beds till the weeds are up to my waist and have personalities of their own. Then ruthlessly slaughter the lot and leave the dirt bare till I decide what to do with it. Which never happens and the cycle begins anew.

On other random photo related stuff - A while back a friend introduced us to the delights of cookie decorating, (science themed, of course) with inspiration from here. Our amateur efforts have started a bit of a trend, and now every occasion calls for science cookies of different themes. I can't wait to bake again!


So my experiments at the moment require my being up to my elbows in nasty, eggy bleachy fly soup each day - cleaning out fly vials. Despite lab coat and gloves my hands permanently smell like chlorine and I can't help but think I am covered in eggs. Delicious.

Despite this, playing with jelly is a childhood delight and squishing the removed feed plugs between my fingers is just...awesome.

I get paid to do this?!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Good morning world!

Its a beautiful day in Dunedin today, and when D does good, it does *great*. (It also does complete shite of course, but on such a nice day ones memory is far from perfect).
Despite this - the beautiful summers day and all the temptations that holds - I am in the lab early as normal, about to lock myself in my secret-underground-volcano-lair (aka PC2 invertebrate windowless room) and am surprisingly not resentful. At all.

That has to be a good sign, right?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sundays were meant to be spent in bed

Its quite often the highlight of my week - an extended *extended* lie in on Sunday mornings. A good book and fresh hot date loaf and raspberries from the market. All the house work is done, the animals are fed and the only thing awaiting my attention is... my experiments.

Drosophila are ruining my life.

The Drossies have invaded my brain

The Hidden Truth by TGI

In the beginning of my PhD I was full of hope and joy
How could Postgraduate research be all such a ploy?!
I was to work with Drosophila, the tiny wee fly
A nicer project you could not hope to buy.

Oh dear model, how gorgeous you are
With gossamer wings, trapped in a jar.
Why won’t they let you free, you look so blue
But your eyes- they are gleaming with a demonic hue.

I should have taken the hint, and run a long mile
It could only mean trouble should I confine you to a vial.
I had no idea how deep the conspiracy did run
The following years were to be no fun.

I saw only your cute little face, your stripy little body
Your ulterior motives were far more shoddy.
More legs than normal, but still less than some
Surely a day with you could promise no greater fun.
So happy with your porridge, I thought you were so easy to please
A little promiscuous, and hard to disease.
Your bristly little back; your abdomen full of eggs
You work all day and of your thoughts a question begs.

All of a sudden it started, I began hearing voices,
Strange little things, offering me choices.
Fly, you look so angry- what’s wrong with your head?
Legs on your face? What do you mean “Kick’em dead!”?!

Your beady red eyes stare into mine
Whilst conveying the message “slave - bring us more wine!”
You’re a devious little critter, stealing my fruit
Though I couldn’t say no for fear you would shoot.

What nefarious purpose for me do you plan?
The laboratory conspiracy, the worlds biggest sham.
The scientists in charge? that’s what you always thought
Merely human slaves that can always be bought.

The innocent little fruit fly, doing all the work they can take,
You never would have guessed their ‘duty’ they would fake.
They start all the wars, and plan all the famine
Crop failures, plane crashes and death of the salmon.

Terrorist attacks are instigated by the fly
And prices shoot up because of all the petrol they buy.
Your grandmother’s cancer, your father’s hair loss
All caused by the fly who claims to be boss.

So how can we cleanse this blight off the face of the earth?
Certainly not by allowing the little blighters free birth.

“Death to Drosophila!” is the cry that rings out
But the politicians impede and are still full of doubt.
“How could such a tiny thing cause so much trouble?”
Because for their size their evil is more than double.

“Death to Drosophila!” Is the cry heard in the cities
Faced with the fly- dogs howl, and suicide is for kitties

“Death to Drosophila!” Is yelled on the farm
But the sheep are traitors and hide in the barn.

“Death to Drosophila!” Is called from out in the ocean
All the holes in the boats – the fruit fly put in motion.

“Death to Drosophila!” Is heard from the moon
While the astronauts scoop up the cheese with a spoon.

The fly planes in the hangers are running out of fuel
And the little fly soldiers are surviving only on gruel.
Their arms supplier has quit due to the recession
And they no longer get cut rate movie concession.
The flies are losing hope and starting to cry
“How can we live without movies, and guns to buy?!”

With ethanol and detergent we can still win this war
And end the reign of terror that the fruit fly bore.

You Research Scientists be strong and resist the urge!
To use the model organism in your research.

Friday, February 5, 2010

All the cool kids are doing it

Yeah, they are. I have so many favourite blogs and pages I follow everyday I figure I can give it a try. It can only end in apocalypse right?

Plus my favourite hobby is procrastination.

I spent 6 hours last night cloning myself in my oven, and have managed to make a team of 'lab minions' who will do all my experiments flawlessly and deliver accurate data and exciting writing straight to Nature Genetics with my own (I mean *our*, of course) name first author. Perfect.