Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What is the meaning of Science?!

So I have to give an interview for a thing, and the topic is 'what is the meaning of science [to me]'.

So I had a think - and even drew a bit of a brain-storm. And really, when it all comes down to it (like gravy boiled to the point of blackened residue on the base of the pot) Science, to me, is the ability to question everything - and the skills and means to attempt answering of those questions.

It is not being satisfied with the stories told by your elders, or the public-majority held view. Its about having the confidence to not blindly believe, and to question for yourself.

Its about being able to analyse and critique the world, to attempt to understand everything, and the power to recognise when something is wrong. Its not being happy with the bare minimum, or a childish platitudes.

Its miraculous wonder at the complexities of life - without having to assign their existence to an intelligent designer, simply because you cannot fathom understanding. Its the constant seeking of new knowledge, and amazement upon understanding how something works.

Its a state of mind. An excuse to be filled with childish wonder over, and over again. Its the constant refining and filling of the mind, its not being mentally lazy nor a blind follower.

Science is what happens after someone questions some miraculous, wonderful thing they have seen in their world.

Science is not only having the confidence and curiosity to question the world you live in - its having the skills, means and inclination to go about answering those questions.

Its my life. And it makes me happy.

Oh how I'd love to think this is true.

What your email address says about you.

I have the same level of hatred for Hotmail as I do for Facebook.

Thank you Oatmeal. I love you.

Ewww - No!

Not ok. Jelly in savoury? No!

Umm, soooo...

...Is it a burger or a jandal?!

So. Freaking. Cool.

More secret stash stuff! A whole office of it!

Watch the video - there is stuff hidden in the drink cups for goodnessake!

Almost as cool as the playroom door hidden in the wardrobe.

Oh dear, Why?!

Dogs dressed up as lobsters. I don't even know why.

It continues in this vein for awhile -

-and then BAM!:


You always suspect this is what it is *really* for

Lawyers using Facebook to dig out dirt. A lovely account here of divorce lawyers and the Facebook tool.

Just brill.

People are stupid.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Not a good start to a puppy's day

At some point in the middle of the night Trouble decided not to sleep - but to get up, pull one of the couch squabs down and chew one side of the material off to get to the delicious foam center within.

I woke to said foam centre scattered in very small pieces all over my lounge room floor.

Didn't know whether to laugh or start yelling. (I chose yelling - I can't afford a new couch!) He was very subdued during breakfast. Thinking about his actions with deep reflection, no doubt ("how do I hide it next time?!")

Trouble has a toy box stuffed with toys - on average, one new one every month - just to keep him entertained. But last night, none of them were as good as the couch.

He has never had the urge to attack the couch before - nor take a nighttime foray into naughty territory.

He must be missing his cousin.

Little shit.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Road Trip!

Went up to Chch this last weekend to pick up a typewriter (shall massacre the keys to make jewelery!), took some friends and the dog. Trouble got to play with his cousin, went to the dog park - followed a bigger dog into the river after a stick and almost got swept away. Turns out dog swimming skills are instinctual and the rather abrupt lesson doesn't seem to have scarred him for life - hows that for a well adjusted little boy?! He must have a good mother...

Anyway - river swim in the cold and lots of mud - the kids got to take a nice bath when we got them home, such cute cuzzies in the tub!

I'm not a good friend

A friend gave me a cupcake from a batch he baked over the weekend.

The only decent thing to do when someone gives you a cupcake? Critique it!

Good first impressions- reasonable height, good icing coverage - not too thin, not too thick. Darling wee patty case. (anything with strawberries gets a squee from me - I blame it on my childhood; scoffing strawberries in the Berry Farm fields)

Good moisture content, not too dry (a common failing - nasty, crumbly, dry cupcakes make me cry inside) good intensity of chocolate flavour.

Nice buttery icing, minimal batter left paper clinging.
All gone!

People should give me cupcakes more often - that was fun.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Food explodes. 'Cause who wants to eat it anyway?

Slow mo food explosions - amazing!

For my imaginary iPhone I will have:

These cases. Beaut!

And they do custom designs - so I would of course get Sharktopus all up on that shiznizzle.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Brace yourselves

I've been stockpiling pieces.

Time to offload.

Note how they all file under 'insanity'...

Of Inappropriate Lollies and Rambles

No one writes about things that are embarrassing or might be considered to impact the opinion of oneself in the eyes of any potential reader (note: singular. Ha.) – indeed I think most blog writers write things that are cool, or just designed to impress or endear oneself to ones readership.

Of this I am no doubt guilty. Such stigma. It is also strange – because I honestly don’t give a damn. I don’t care what people think – if they think ill then odds are I care not for their opinion. People I like and value have, historically, had good to high opinions of me regardless.


So why not? For fear of damaging ones reputation? For appearing stupid or for fear of being embarrassed?

Well – this is my rebellion. Brace yourselves – I am about to ramble. I like rambling. Some amazing shit comes out of my rebellious, rambling fingers. I like typing – I think it’s the repetitive, borderline rhythmical ‘beat’. So;

Lolly pops.

Yeah that’s right. I firmly believe that lolly pops should not be allowed to be consumed by the opposite sex in view, or whilst staring one in the face. There is no way that shit comes off as anything other than provocative.

It’s just unsettling.

And I am in no way saying that it is a definite feeling or intent behind the action – just that perception of the action by the observer is never going to be anything other than wonder about ... the action.

Not OK.

Actually, lets refine the restriction. No sucking of lolly pops when in conversation with a single member of the opposite sex. I guess in a group situation it might be OK – the group distracts you from the action itself.

Perhaps it’s just dependant on the bent of the mind of the observer. Perhaps the action was supposed to be teasingly provocative and the naive mind goes to lengths to think otherwise. Perhaps I shouldn’t have started this ramble in the first place.

Chaos. I love it.

Maybe I am incapable of writing to a serious note. Nor do I particularly want to write about things that make me yawn. That actually happens a lot.

‘Actually’ you say? Yeah – not a big surprise. I think half my life is spent in miraculous wonder upon discovery of new/amazing/pretty/beautiful/cool things, and half in boredom – it’s like the ‘study’ situation during my undergrad years. I went to all my lectures. I listened. I marvelled. I understood. Revising the material come exam time just bored the craptasticals out of me.

Lucky I have Science and the Internet right?!

I see fairies

The midyear exam period is over (and holyshiteheads – midyear?!) and my exam supervising/invigilating career is finished for the moment.

It’s a bit sad to be at the end again – I actually really enjoy doing it. I like the company (its like having 50 instant grandparents) and watching the nervous little kiddies all getting their thoughts down and the scary scary exams over with. I like being super efficient at putting out exam books and collecting scripts and checking off ID slips and of course – the roving eye for dirty cheaters (more evil than an uncleaned bathroom or a messy lab bench). I like helping, and being a part of the epic machine that is The University, I like having access, or a reason to go to the Clock Tower (BooYah! Here I come position of authority and plush office...*cough*), I like being known to people about The University and seeing students not restricted to studying Genetics. I like being involved.

I always liked sitting exams during undergrad – it meant the complete bore of study was over and you could finally get all of your ideas down on paper and prove yourself. Its such an exciting time. Holidays are so close, you are being tested, everyone is nervous and the atmosphere is electric. Plus you know you will kick a little bit of ass – there’s no way someone with a modicum of common sense could fail an undergrad paper.

Anyway – during the long, quiet, mid-exam hours – the mind tends to wander.

And I see fairies.

Pretty little things that hover above the heads of students thinking hard. Of course, in every exam there is the odd person devoid of fairies (and certain of a fail paper).

The number of fairies correlates with the flow of thoughts – the colour intensity or brightness of fairies correlates with the uniqueness or originality of thought. Some of the honours students have numbers – but the best honours students have bright numbers of fairies. Fourth year Law students have masses of super dull fairies, and both Politics and Business Studies students attract mothballs instead of fairies. Or maybe it was fairy poop - it's hard to get close enough to see without coming across as creepy.

I wonder where they go during semester? Individual classes? I will have to look out for them in Departmental Seminars. There are several academics that are severely lacking in fairies I suspect. God – where do they go during the holidays?! It might explain the uplifted spirits of post grads when all the undergrads have left town – unconscious revelling in the increased fairy presence. I have a sneaking suspicion that The Sciences enjoy a greater fairy load than The Arts. Just a thought.

Exams are beautiful.

I like time.

It makes so many things possible. And the thought of it makes me smile – when thinking about growing my hair long for instance. All it needs is time, nothing else. (well, some bloody expensive – but amazing, shampoo to help things along in the “health” and shine department.). Or the improvement of less-than-desirable-skin when starting a new potion – all it needs is time to work and your skin won’t look like a 15 year old boys. Even the hope, that in time, you might one day encounter that one person who can match your strength of will. Consider that period of time to wait before you are a Prof. with a mill Nature/Science papers to your name and funding coming out of your ears, a beautiful house and a massive family...

Such a pleasant thought.

And then you think about how fast time is passing at the moment, and all that time you had left in your schedule to finish your PhD is running the fuck out.

But making your hair grow faster at the same time.

Is the trade off worth it?!

Do I sound that crazy out loud?

I like this piece. It’s about finding ones writing voice. It's written by a teacher – a teacher of children.

One of her activities to prime the mind for writing is 3 minutes of rambling – to begin typing (or hand writing – but who does that these days?! It's so hard to transcribe to ones blog!) and to keep typing for three minutes. To not worry about spelling or grammar or the ‘rules’ of writing. To break them even. And then see what comes out. The genius of uninhibited mind-spew.

I love it.

In fact, I think it describes my normal writing style – ramble; only I spend considerable effort on paragraphing and emphasis to make it sound in the head of the reader how it sounds in mine. I am unsure if this reflects in reality what it does in my mind – but tone and meaning are important!

Let’s extend the comparison to conversation – oral conversation. I speak faster than I ought, and cover more ideas and changes of topic in one breath than should be allowed. Why ask for an opinion on one thing when you can get 3 at the same time?!
It is a conscious effort to slow down and make my voice normally comprehensible. It’s the rare friend who thinks in the same style that you can talk with unrestrained, and share complete understanding.

I’m pretty sure I’ve covered this before (waaaaay to lazy to go back through months of posts with completely freaking random titles to find the singular case) but I always claim this as the reason behind my love of freaking loud and eclectic music – sometimes it’s the only way to shut my head up and get some peace and quiet. Most nights (unless I am very, very tired - but not too tired, then it’s worse) I have to consciously meditate to calm down enough to drop off to sleep – a technique I started using a long, long time ago. (in fact, when I think of it my memories link with my bedroom in Havelock North – so when I was 11 years old?). A tendency for Thought Ramble = Writing ramble-styles.

And then of course you ramble so long you forget the point you were trying to make all along...

Oh yeah – ramble writing as a tool. Perfect example given no?!

I’m hilarious.


Stupid iPhone 4. All cool and awesome and shit.

Stupid Apple. I hate you.

Photos. Oil. Sad.

These photos break my heart.

Go on and look. Break your heart too.

Porridge is good for you

I love The Oatmeal. So funny.

These are my fav's this week; and in related news - apparently I could take 25 Justin Biebers in a fight. On a bad day. Booyah.

This is so freaking true I don't know where to begin:

And goddamn A-hole Scientists! Letting those Zombies in:

Go see the whole infographic - it's amazing.

Someone thought this was a good campaign?!

Go here to read the rant from the Friendly Atheist (how freaking cool is that ambigram?!)

"Women’s rights? Really?! The woman saying that is wearing a hijab, something that many Islamic women are forced to wear!"

and see the more truthful version (now with citations!) of the ad:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tha' bird don' fly no more

Logan has found a vulnerable nest somewhere and has been sharpening both his claws and teeth on sparrows.

That's all well and good - diet supplementation, and I'm beginning to think he needs the exercise (though it could just be winter coat...)

The problem is, however, that once he has taunted and played with them till death - he gets bored.

And 'gifts' them to Trouble.

Trouble treats them like his favourite toys. He walks around in circles with it in his mouth for about 15 minutes whimpering, because he cannot find anywhere safe enough to stash it. Runs in and out of the cat door with every "Get that dirty bird OUT of my house Jasper!", until finally he sneaks it in when I'm otherwise distracted, and pushes it into the best safekeeping spot in the house.

Between the couch cushions.


3 birds so far this week. I'm hoping the damn tree is empty. Its that Mohawk, I swear. Trouble-causing-factor increased by half.

Oh shit yes!

"Are Killer Viruses, Rendered in Glass, Also Things of Beauty?"

I want some! But ridiculously expensive...or not - a lot or work I imagine.

The NYT article starts a moral rant about how its wrong because "I know people who have died" from these viruses etc - but then goes on to say he owns GiantMicrobes! Plush toys (also freaking awesome) - seriously, did you proof read that shit before you published it?! Loser.

By Luke Jerram

More oil: fact-o-metre!

This page is measuring the accuracy of facts stated from politicians etc.

Pretty cool.

How did I not realise this about carrots?!

Pretty! and all for the Dutch royalty.

"The reason modern Western carrots are orange is because they were bred that way, in the 16th and 17th centuries, in tribute to the Dutch royal House of Orange."

Oooo pretty!

Aurora Australis from the International Space Station.

I want to be there!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Now thats a cool calendar

Produced from a company that makes x ray equipment, and unfortunately not for sale. Here's hoping they make a male version for 2011!


Crazy kids and their alcohol

These are a strange idea:

"made by first crystallizing the drink of choice on a lab slide. Using a standard light microscope with a camera attached, the light source is polarized and passed through the crystal. This creates the magnificent colors we see in our favorite drinks featured on this site. Each color is a result of the ingredients contained in each beverage"

Hows that for a bit of a cash cow?!

Oi! Not allowed!

More of my peeps are leaving me.

Big EvoDevo conf in Paris, most of my lab is emptying out, only the bestest of us staying home to hold the fort, so to speak.

And by 'hold the fort', I of course mean 'party it up and do no lab chores for a couple of weeks'.

Though to be honest - we all know I couldn't handle that. Dirty lab for 2 weeks? Oh hell no!

In fact - it might just stay clean after one of my sneaky weekend cleaning mish's - no people here to mess it all up again! Whoop!

Anyway - peeps leaving. Roro leaves this Sunday, and isn't back for 2 months; visiting labs in Europe and all that jazz. Luck witch.

But - two months.

Also, my home boy is going away to some Giant Snail Meeting.

Its not fair. I never get to go anywhere, or do anything fun. I haven't been away in ages...



Ok, so its been 2 months since I was in the States - but its hardly the same! And it was a whole 6 months before that that I was in the UK...

Yeah, that's a
sheepish grin.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I might just be a freaking genius

for my dinner. Bangers and mash - only; herbed chicken sausages with a rich dark gravy and caramelised onions, on rustic (read 'half mashed') potato seasoned with garlic salt and a bit 'o herb - and a smattering of pale cheese on top.

(mine was soooo much betterer than that)

I came home completely wrecked - for a pathetic whinge, I'm busting out 10.5 hr days in at uni, plus trying to do work in the evening to make up for missing lab time while supervising exams.

So - was tired and wrecked when I got home, but now - I feel happy and content with such delish comfort food in my gut.


I'm all about the lamps today

Also a very cool lamp:


Want these lamps!

Forget about all the 'meaning' behind them, they are just plain cool.

From here, not yet able to be brought...

32 ways the world cup could be improved with technology

Wait, - it could get better?!

Yeah, just kidding - I don't give a shit. But this is cool:

And for recent reasons...

I love photoshop.

But what about the demon in my *head*?!

This is brill:

Boing Boing leads with the title: "Jesus in a tortilla, meet Satan in an oil spill"


Censorship - all the big companies are doing it

Reports from Al Gore's blog that peeps are not being allowed to photograph the spill - from planes etc.

Not surprised.

The white pith problem

I'm supervising exams this week (14 exams in 10 days), and today (its my break right now) I have a mandarin.

Do I spend the majority of my break pulling all the nasty white pith off each piece before I savour them one by one or do I just gob the lot in an attempt to save time?!

I'm pretty sure there is some kind of psych study to be done here - the types of people who pick it off and the types who leave it on.

Alternatively I could spend my break writing a blog post and not eat mandarin at all.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New obsession.

'Cause its like I really needed another.

Anyways - it seems unavoidable in retrospect. It pretty much has every element required to make me happy: science fiction, fake gore, outrageous costumes and monsters; charismatic, enigmatic male lead...

Yeah, its The Doctor.

A friend gave me seasons one and two; they got watched over Queens Birthday weekend. All of them. And I have to agree with the better half of my home boy, Tennant is waaaaaay cuter than Eccleston.

Luckily, I have seasons 3 and 4 to look forward to, plus Torchwood, and the new season 5 - a random episode of which I caught on Sunday (s05e07 "Amy's Choice").

Smith definitely needs some getting used to, but I wasn't immediately opposed. But notably - "Only one person in the universe hates me that much" - how devastatingly sad is that?! Let me at him, I'll hug it out!

(Notably; watching multiple episodes of the Doctor is far, far cooler than Sabrina The Teenage Witch like some people have been doing....)

Ooooo Lego!

This is another of those 'some people have too much time on their hands - others have just enough'. Like, a years worth of it. And US$30,000 worth of bricks, and 4 people.

Look at the knights legs! They move as the piece moves!!


From Gizzy, here.


It burns!! (it burnt)

But before it burnt - it was a "Touchdown Jesus, a.k.a. Drowning Jesus, a.k.a. Big Butter Jesus, a.k.a. Quicksand Jesus, a.k.a. King of Kings, in Monroe, Ohio"

Just beautiful. Who thought that was a good idea?

Thanks Hemant.

Does this smack of opposition press to you?

Several news pieces are coming out encouraging people to not help the clean up effort, to not help clean up the environment from the BP Gulf of Mexico oil disaster - because it is bad for your own health.

Also - don't bother to help clean or relocate oil-mired wildlife, because its useless anyway: they all die. It is supposedly a futile exercise.

I have yet to read anything convincing - a few accounts from people who worked the ExxonValdez spill with smokers voice, and the general effects of washing/human handling stress on birds and marine wildlife. Though stats for wildlife death or return to oiled areas is slim to none on the ground. Very much like the snow promised for Dunedin that I was so looking forward to this weekend past.

The most noticeable feeling from all this, is that slight twinge of suspicion, that some shady dark lord is behind this.

We shall see.

I love you - but I'm pretty sure I just took a hit of Oxy.

This is good stuff - the hormone supposedly responsible for a mothers 'protective instinct' is "present in soldiers during the heat of battle". Oxytocin (aka 'the hug drug') is supposedly what causes a mother to love and forgive her family group more, and resent (and become more aggressive towards) outsiders or threatening persons.

The abstract for the paper (from Carsten De Dreu's lab at the University of Amsterdam)is brilliant, pure Psychology research bollocks. -Look at me, 'purer' science snobbishness and all.

Parochial altruism, socialists/communism, Marx and all that (my extrapolation, not theirs - not the biggest fan of parochial altruism). Not my cup of tea. Give me a good unethical, but scientific, psychological twin study any day.

Humans regulate intergroup conflict through parochial altruism; they self-sacrifice to contribute to in-group welfare and to aggress against competing out-groups. Parochial altruism has distinct survival functions, and the brain may have evolved to sustain and promote in-group cohesion and effectiveness and to ward off threatening out-groups. Here, we have linked oxytocin, a neuropeptide produced in the hypothalamus, to the regulation of intergroup conflict. In three experiments using double-blind placebo-controlled designs, male participants self-administered oxytocin or placebo and made decisions with financial consequences to themselves, their in-group, and a competing out-group. Results showed that oxytocin drives a "tend and defend" response in that it promoted in-group trust and cooperation, and defensive, but not offensive, aggression toward competing out-groups.

As usual (I exaggerate), it was sensationalised and is all over the Internet on various sites and blogs with the header "I haven't read the article but..."

For example, The Telegraph leads with the title "Love hormone Oxytocin helps soldiers like each other and hate the enemy", and includes lovely soundbites such as "Researchers have found that in the heat of battle they have the same chemicals running through their bloodstreams as protective mothers", note that in this study 'in the heat of battle' is a wee computer game with a financial reward. Not so much of the guns and war in this paper. I have both run and participated in such experiments, and while I fully believe the results - the extrapolation to soldiers in battle is brilliant.

This is another favourite: "Study says hormone could also trigger war"!! OMG!!! We should be banning that shit! No more of these bad, war inducing "hormones" for any one! Honestly - the 'drugs' these kids get in to these days.

Sounds like potential for American-soldier-drugging much?! Awesome!

De Dreu, C.K.W., Greer, L.L., Shalvi, S., Handgraaf M.J.J., Van Kleef. G.A. Baas, M., Ten Velden, F.S., Van Dijk, E., & Feith, S.W.W. (2010). The neuropeptide oxytocin regulates parochial altruism in intergroup conflict among humans. Science Vol. 328. no. 5984, pp. 1408 - 1411

Monday, June 14, 2010

Now I feel better

Have donated money here for Gulf-oil soaked wildlife, but really - what a paltry contribution.

Gizmodo has a nice wee article here outlining places you can contribute too - including funds to help the locals whose trade has been devastated.

It is interesting that BP estimates 11.5 mill gallons of oil have 'spilled', when realistic estimates put it at 54.9 mill gallons to date. Massive difference there, BP.

You suck.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Photos that make me want to cry Part V

Bright sun, clean water, warm, warm beach.

I want to be there, with Clark.