Tuesday, August 31, 2010

On the topic of better writing

I randomly googled 'rules for blogging'

'cause everyone has an opinion on how everyone else could do everything better.

One struck a chord:

"Focusing on something that people have previously taken for granted,
That initially creates emotional resistance,
Then causes a light bulb [to] go off
and finally,
Causes the reader to look at the world differently all day long."

By Seth Godin, a million years ago (2006)

I love that! Look at the world differently all day long.


The pressure for science writing

The Genetics Otago Blog went live today - and the call for science writing is going out.

Writing (badly, you say - truth hurts, you know.) has become a bit of a hobby - along with baking, they seem my only leisurely employment lately. But this added pressure of writing to a scientific audience, or even merely writing where people are more likely to read it, and thus judge me - is scary.

Imagine your boss for example, reading your ramblings on some science paper and completely disagreeing with your point, or your style of writing.

Oh dear.

Perhaps I care less than I think I should - and I should be more worried about this. Ha! Now you should be worried!

I have a stock pile of pieces waiting - and even more ideas on the sideline.


What is with this straightening obsession?!

I had my hair coloured today - and cut, because she started before I could say no.

Coloured because:

1. My hair was like fruit salad. Layers of colour on colour with fade ins and outs creating complexity.
2. Regrowth. My natural hair colour is, unfortunately, not fruit salad.
3. I found grey hairs. Grey hairs. I am way too young for that shit.
4. I really, really like getting my hair done.

And I bloody pay for the privilege. My hair is ridiculously thick - so I get charged extra for colouring due to its needing more than twice the normal amount of colour volume. So they colour the mop - and then chop over half of it out.

They call it thinning.

Like on a bald man, only optional.

And not nearly this hot.

Of course, to make the cutting easier, and to have you (supposedly) walking away happy, they straighten it.

I know most of the people in the world are obsessed with GHD - I am not one of those people. I detest unnaturally straightened hair, I think it a waste of time and, well - unnatural. It also seems a bit of a cop out - hairdressers these days (look at me, all old and shit - "these days", honestly!) cannot cut unruly hair, or don't even bother to try. Confounding factors of course include the fact that my hair takes about 30 minutes to straighten, with two hands & an elevated view point, professional grade straightener and after blow drying with brush straightening.

Thus: I'm all about the fro.

What was my point again?

Oh yeah - the obsession. I am convinced hairdressers see my hair as a challenge. They want to pitch their skills against The Fro, and attempt to make it of a normal volume.

I shall forever have fly aways. And be paying through the teeth for my (amazing :D) hair.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A line *has* been crossed

One word - Trouble.


Had a new box of cocoa on my table - sealed in its plastic bag, within its box, wrapped up in a cloth shopping bag in the middle back of my kitchen table.

He somehow pulled a chair out, got up on the table, dragged the box out of its bag, the bag out of its box, and chewed through the plastic.

This entire saga has crossed several lines - from worry through anger to exasperation to now, finally, amusement.

Just imagine his face when he discovered the yummy chocolate smell emanating from the cocoa packet was not indicative of the taste within. He ate very little - but spread a lot very far.

Cocoa and dog slobber on the carpet - not the best thing to find late at night, and a bit of a bitch to clean up.

I think we are done now - I foresee nothing more he could possibly do with regards to chocolate and cocoa products.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ok, I think I'm over the cupcake frenzy now

Over one hundred cupcakes in one day. 4 batches, 4 flavours, 4kgs of icing sugar.

Urgh. My feet hurt.

I did have a co-baker for the actual batter cooking side of things:

and an avid watcher for the rest:

Sneaky weasel that he is.

Anyway - the cupcakes are for the SPCA cupcake day - make 'em, sell 'em, donate the proceeds to 'em. All well and good - but the next time someone suggests we do it 'as a lab fundraising thing' I might let someone else do all the work.

The plan was also to have them themed - little bees and animals and so on - but by the time I was decorating, and on my own - there was no way I was willing to put in the massive extra effort. So I apologise for the lack of awesome, just regular, boring old cupcakes this week. Perhaps next year we will go all out with the animal heads and chocolate skeletons and so on.

First: Chocolate Marshmallow. Chocolate batter and icing with marshmallow fluff c/o D.C supermarkets in the middle. (aka poo-cakes. Right?!)

Lemon curd, lemon juiced batter, my own curd in the middle and in the icing.

Vanilla bean, vanilla scented batter and icing with dark choc garnish, cause I was going for wings but got bored and did not want to waste the chocolate:

And finally: Raspberry Red Velvet. Red and raspberry flavoured this time, batter and icing. The pretty girly pink just screamed out for candy coloured sprinkles - and I bet some little girl somewhere is crying for her lost cupcakes. It's that kind of pink.

I had to get creative with the transport options. I do not have enough large serving dishes nor containers to transport a hundred cupcakes anywhere. So - kiwi ingenuity and all that - reassigned cardboard, baking paper and tinfoil.

And this is the most colourful my cake plate has been in a long time:

On a side note. my new piping bag ticks all the cupcake icing skill boxes, though the measuring cups could do with a wee handle or two - keeps grubby hands out of flour bags.

What a day. The bloody animals better appreciate it!

Not quite sharks with frickin' lasers

Got my new laser pointer in the post on Friday, had to test it out - though perhaps it might have been smart to try it out one animal at a time. Ask why I needed a new one - go on.

The story involves my pretending to be a sniper, morphing into my admiring the pretty reflections the laser made when shone into water...and on porcelain.

Yeah, I dropped it in the toilet.

Anyway - new laser and animals.


Trouble was trying to push Logan out of the way with his bigger body, and Logan would tolerate so much and then got apeshit with his claws on Trouble's face.


*inarticulate expression of rage*

Had some good friends over for dinner Saturday night, made some kai - and choc mouse for desert.

None of this is relevant - what is, is that I grated chocolate for decoration on top if the desert. Dark chocolate.

Did all the prep for dinner, then went to clean the bathroom. I had left the block of chocolate under the wee container of grated stuff, up on the bench - in a position I had though well out of the way.

Came back into the living areas toting my cleaning bucket and noticed the grated choc container on the floor, and the block missing off the bench.

The bucket got dumped, the cloths thrown, the bottles of cleaner tossed on the table and I busted out into the back yard like the wrath of gods to wrestle the damn chocolate off bloody Trouble.

Like a shark with the taste for blood, Trouble has had his first taste, and it appears he is able to contort his body sufficiently well to reach up on to the kitchen bench and remove things he wants as soon as I am not watching him.

Another block of chocolate wasted, another threat of chocolate poisoned dog. Luckily I clean like a demon - I wasn't out of the room for long enough for him to get into it properly, and he only had time to eat about 1 row, but it was torture throwing the rest of it away. Looks like I am destined to not have any chocolate in the house.

How will I cope?!


It's important for your future that you go here and take the quiz. What kind of scientist would you be?

Unsurprisingly, my result was thus:

Not very comprehensive, but obviously accurate.

Friday, August 27, 2010

What we do for love of science

We have been talking about tattoos lately. Namely what to get, where to get it - and how much it hurts.

I have a tattoo. I have a science tattoo.

Lets not get in to how inaccurate it is - you try telling that to a (lovely, and pretty cute...) tat dude in Sydney, in amongst ink and blood.

I love my tattoo. I designed it, I chose the place - and I don't care what anyone else thinks about it.

That is the key to a good inkin'. Someone, somewhere is going to judge - but the only person who has to like it at the end of the day is you, so if you ink your body to impress or please anyone other than yourself - its going to fail, and you will end up regretting your decision.

So if you have that sorted - you just need to pick what you want, and where. Nobody can really help with that. The pain? I am not the best person to ask - my pain threshold is wonky and ridiculous (for example, I currently have 3 rusty, dull serrated knives playing my womb like a violin and you don't hear me screaming in agony...) it certainly hurts a little more where the skin is closer to the bone (less fat-padding) but meh - I quite liked it. I see how the whole process could be addictive. And there is something inherently beautiful (and alluring...) about skillfully inked skin.

Not that you needed to know that about me probably. I surprise even myself. Three piercings and ink - you wouldn't guess it looking at me I don't think.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Oh, if I had the power

There is a shitload I would change.

Not talking world-wide here, people - just within my current host department.

Issues abound, none of which I have the power to fix right now (but in time, if I come back... you might want to start running now. Just a suggestion.) (also - you have no idea how much I want to start listing an inventory, but I have no doubt things would turn ridiculous extremely fast. It's like that.)

-but the most pathetic, the most annoying - the most pointless thing being an issue?

Passive aggressive notes in the women's bathrooms.

It started with a note on the inside of each stall door. A condescending, annoying, pathetic wee note that was entirely inappropriate and unneeded - the content of which I shall not reproduce (you innocent male ears, you). Not surprisingly all of the wee notes got torn down within a day. (as much as I wanted to - I refrained from doing so. Other people performed the task sufficiently well, and promptly.)

There were up again quick smart - laminated.

Cause, you know, that makes things more, like, permanent.

Once again, they were promptly removed. My floor's wash closet is still, thankfully, silly-note-free to this day. The floor above, however, is more heavily patrolled by the women's loo-police and the note posting has progressed to this, as you walk in the main door:




Take a step back and look at what you have become, host department.

A silly note on a bathroom wall.

How do you like my artful censure?! I'm all about the not-getting-lynched these days. Actually - I'm not. Fuck it. Lynch me - you all know who it is.

My computer loves me

Yeah, not actually.

You know the dread-paper? The paper you are supposed to write for submission to a peer reviewed, scientific journal? The first paper of your entire career, the paper your future prospective employers will judge you off, and your old supervisors will shake their heads over? The paper you will slave over, and agonise about till you have an ulcer and grey hair?

Well, I started it.

And my computer deleted it.

On a side note, I found 3 new grey hairs yesterday. I'm booking in a hair appointment today.

And starting that dread-paper from scratch.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

And in conclusion

The dog is still alive. No death-by-chocolate quite yet.

I gave in at about 4:30 in the morning, wrapped him in a big towel and shoved him in my bed. He slept for about an hour and then was up again. So, I let him outside and then back to his own bed. Up every 10 minutes to him whining and scratching at the door again and at about 6 I repeated the process - he slept for another hour-ish then I put him back in the lounge with the cat door open - it was light enough that it classified as 'morning' to him, and I passed out at about 7:30am.

Barring several barking-outside-my-window events, I woke at 11:30 in time to get in to school for teaching, and to find my maidenhair furn upended on the carpet and the crystal bowl shattered around it, in amongst the scattered dirt.

Shoved down some rice and a coffee, cleaned up a present-puddle and the plant mess, tied the little bugger up outside (had been dead to the world in his dog box, finally able to sleep), and then hotfooted it in to work to scavenge a car park.

It's a beautiful day - does that make things better?!

Not really. I haven't been this tired in a long time.

Lets take a step back

Yesterday, when the world still made sense - I went in to Total Food Equipment and drooled.

And bought.

I have been having crises lately due to leaving relatively soon (year and a half, fingers crossed) and their being no reason or need to buy stuff I will just have to store.

And I love buying stuff.

So it makes me sad. But I did splurge - a new piping bag, though only appropriate for cupcake work and not cookies (too wide a neck) but it is pretty and I look forward to using it on Sunday (SPCA cupcake day on Monday - so of course we are going to put in a couple of batches):

And then these.

Measuring cups - the best measuring cups I have ever, ever seen.

I love them!

So for a brief period yesterday (before the apocalypse-that-is-my-dog) my day was positively made.

Foolish sucker

Foolish, foolish sucker.

You are getting no sleep tonight - don't be stupid.

But where to draw the line between bad behaviour and sickness?!

I think it may have crossed over, or even be straddling the two. Not settling due to ill stomach - so wandering around the house and generally causing mayhem.

I am so tired.

Good god - and full of whinging. I cannot imagine having real children when it is like this all the time. I just want to drug the little shit!

I wish I had tied him up. I wish the door had not been left open. I wish he would fall asleep. If I had no flatmates I would let him whine it out - I'm pretty sure I could sleep right the way through it at this point.

Great - now he is outside barking at ghosts.

That wee nap earlier obviously revived him.


I have given up

Went out for quiz this evening (sorry - yesterday evening) leaving the dog loose, thinking that he was tired enough from his walk, and old enough to behave adequately well 'till I got home. He has done so in the past, it would not have been so surprising.

Unfortunately however, someone left the hall doors open and the little bastard got into the rest of the house. In my room he proceeded to find every sock and 3 hankies, my daffodil day flower - plastic, now nicely chewed. Sweep my glass ornaments off their shelf onto the floor, eat half a block of dark Ghana Whittaker's chocolate - so dark that I had half a block left in my drawer (should I even ask how he got a drawer open?!) and then about 2 kgs of cat biscuits out of both the automatic feeder, and the stock bag I keep in the opposite corner.

Oh yeah - he also left a present-puddle on the hall way carpet.

So I got home to find a super hyperactive puppy with a massively distended stomach which was making all sorts of unpleasant gurgling noises boding ill for the night ahead.

I was optimistic - I put him to bed and got into my own.

I was up straight away to him scratching and pawing at the doors - which he has never done before.

Twice later I'm cleaning up both types of 'present' after giving up smacking him and taking him outside for a run around, thinking he might run off some of the chocolate.

He did run.

And run.

And run.

And run.

And then started digging up old bones for a munch at which point I thought: "can't be that bad if he still wants to eat." So put him to bed and crawled back into my own.

It was midnight. Not to bad I thought - I'd had worse nights with him as a puppy.

20 minutes later, right on the freaking cusp of sleep - he is up and pawing at the door again. Not OK. Another smack. Another 10 minutes and the same deal.

So I gave up - it is almost 1 in the morning and I am in the lounge wrapped in blankies with tea and laptop and eyes that are half closed. Lil'shit has spent 30 minutes tearing around the living room, and in and out of the cat door. He has now crashed - finally, beside me, with a belly half as high again as the rest of his body. What are the odds that as soon as I get up he wakes up for round...56?

I can hear the gurgling, it is quite disconcerting. I do have to say though - with that amount of chocolate (which is lethal to dogs; I hate to think how much worse with such dark chocolate...) I should be extremely grateful to be picking up puppy diarrhoea and bile-piles in the morning: as opposed to dead puppy.

Shall I risk trying again for my own bed?!

Monday, August 23, 2010


Wicked bored Friday night - so gave the silicon cups a whirl. Not bad with regards to presentation, but ripping paper off (and tossing it straight in the bin) is still easier than popping cake out of silicon. Went for the plain choc cake recipe this time - with added banana (because I needed to get the little bastards out of my freezer).

I think I quite like the upright patterned cups after all - the bit of extra height, and added strength is quite acceptable.

And I just love fluro green. Finally got my swirling technique down pat - start from the center and go out, I have been trying it the other way - much better results this time. And sprinkles!

So that was Friday - got bit with the baking bug again on Sunday (have been infused with ridiculous amounts of domesticatedness these past couple of Sundays - mowing lawns and cleaning dogs and house and room tidying...I might be coming down with something hideous...)

Anyway - bloodcakes! I was fascinated with the red velvet cakes in the States, thought I'd give it a go. 3 egg choc cake recipe, sans cocoa, plus the last 2 bananas (I need to stop buying them - I never bloody eat the things fresh) and a shit load of red food colouring. But aren't they resplendent?!

Once again I was struck with the sad state of affairs my piping bag situation has become; Do not buy these, even in an 'emergency':

I went through an entire box, plus hand made plastic ones. The seams are just not strong enough. I yelled. (Inarticulate expression of frustration to the ceiling after the 5th bag bust open in my hands. The dog woke up.) Honestly - if you are going to market them as piping bags at least have the decency to double seal the seams. And look at the daft pair of hands 'decorating' on the box - no one holds a piping bag like that! Stupid! Urgh!!

*takes a breath* And the following to 'keep calm and carry on':

Right - so most of the batch got brained.

And the bite test reveals marvelous, toxic colour on the inside:


Blue next time...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Y'all have issues


"A three layer cake with an entire pie baked into every layer"

I have no words.

Except this: (of course - you thought you would get off that easy?!)
Note the banner at the top of the page - how apt.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ramblings. Typical.

I'm busy at the moment, can you tell?

I have so many things I want to talk about - and am just waiting for a chance to write it down. It might happen, it might not. Something to look forward to in the future eh?

Got into work late enough this morning that I saw the sunrise - all pastels and soft beauty. That wee slice of time before the rain clouds and mist roll in off the hills and obscure the nice weather over the bay. Story of my life really...

Just kidding - that line is just too good to not use sometimes.

Tried to go see Inception last night - thought the movie started at half 8, so I jumped in the shower thinking I had enough time for a quick one, drive all the way back into town, find a park and be at the movie on time. Turns out it started at 8:15 and there is no way I would have made it in on time to not miss the beginning of the movie.

So now I am quite possibly the only person in the entire world who has not seen the damn movie. I'm thinking it's a sign - do some real work, and watch the DVD later.

I haven't been to the movies in ages either - and I freaking *love* movies. I'll see anything that's not a chick flick. Partly due to having other stuff on - but mostly because my movie buddy broke my heart and we no longer talk. So perhaps I am a bit disillusioned with the whole institution.

Anyway - the most important thing on my mind at the moment is my immediate future - like writing papers and doing final experiments and *gasp* thesis writing. (you have to say the last in a whisper - it's a legal requirement). Also thinking about where I want to work after grad, and writing letters to pave the way. No pressure - it only has to be the best letter you have ever written in your life. So small a piece of work to have your own, entire scientific worth judged off of. *shudder*

Oooo - and, Latest True Blood episode out of the states - freaking awesome! Actual, good, bloody, chunky, vampire-exploding gore.

Beautiful. That's how it should be.

Best part: Removal of spine fragment, and holding it for the whole scene. Brilliant.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Cupcakes! Finally!

It feels like I have been wanting to bake cupcakes for weeks and weeks - finally got around to it during my epic Sunday this past weekend. I have new silicon patty cups that still need to be used - a friend got me some gorgeous wee paper cups that just *had* to be used first.

Basic vanilla cupcake recipe, in cups that look completely darling.

Slightly less so once cooked, but still an improvement on white boring. I like the wee bit of extra height too - adds a bit more something when on the cake plate...

I made up a lemon syrup and poured some over the top of each cake as soon as it came out of the oven - however I was far too cautious and they could have used a good dousing to achieve that moist-lemon-cake gorgeousness (My sister makes the best lemon cake in the world - I am convinced the key is in the syrup poured over the hot cake after baking.)

Lemon buttercream icing and silver cachous (bacause I love them) and all that is needed is some red satin ribon woven through the tiered plate.

Of course I barely waited for the icing to be finished before I cracked out the teapot and had a taste test - definitely needed more syrup, not dry - but not moist enough in the middle. Probably the best risen and lightest cupcakes I have ever made however.

Gone so soon...

Sundays rock.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Doctor warns:

Symptoms may include introspection and existential crises.

Take 2 and call me in the morning - of the third day.

Shall we get back to 'real' life now? Routine and aging and all that.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

And then...

She succumbs to the snot monster.

Honestly - all the intelligence and technology in the world and you cannot cure a cold?! Catch up! Urgh.

Have spent the entire day in bed not even noticing the passage of time - snot-drugs rock; but what a freaking waste!

The dog and cat spent big chunks of the day on my feet (I say feet - I mean taking up a good three quarters of the freaking bed) and the rest of it play fighting while I hid under the blankets too tired/slightly bemused to be able to tell them off efficiently. How children must love it when the parents are ill - get away with murder. Or at least a vast amount of cat-biscuit-stealing.

Have dragged my sorry carcase into the lounge so I can at least retire to bed (soon, no doubt) without feeling like I never left it, and have fed the animals. Must have a bit of a temp running because getting the dog bowl and tidying up outside felt beautiful - and the heat pump on a cool temp unbearably hot. The stars are lovely tonight - and I felt myself overcome with sadness. How can one bare to not see the future, be there to see it I mean. All the possibility and travel and extraterrestrial exploration and excitement and I shall see none of it.

I always have understood - but it is nice to have it reaffirmed - the allure of religion and reincarnation belief systems.

How bittersweet.

I wonder that we are living in a dull age. Not in the details - scientific discovery is brilliant - but in such specific detail. No new lands to discover or big wars to fight (fingers crossed?!) no major breakthroughs (round earth, solar system, atom, DNA *sigh*) no major paradigm shifting discoveries, no massive physical struggles. - I want to touch the stars - I want to have my mind blown with new information, I want common beliefs and knowledge to be proven wrong and understand new truth.

I miss laying out under the stars at the beach in summer - and just dreaming.

I don't dream much any more.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

And then...

She gets distracted by the newest two episodes of TrueBlood.

Maybe tomorrow night?!


(PS How much are they deviating from cannon?!)

I like it!

So where did all that time crap go then?

It seems to be running at an alarming rate - marked in passing by the accumulation of 'things I want to do/need to do/have to do - NOW!' and 'things that are so cool I need to write about them'; neither of which I ever get around to.

Anyway - life is so normal it hurts sometimes, and yet the normalcy rut is purely of my own doing. Break out of the mold! Do some work! Write up your thesis and leave the country - that would be exciting and change enough to satisfy any craving for it. I constantly feel as if I am waiting for my life to begin - a never ending list of things I need to do before it can really start. Get PhD before I can do postdocs - do postdocs before I can get an academic position - be academic before tenure - be tenure then Assoc. Prof and so on and so forth to the top and subsequent end of the world. Can ones life be marked by only potential and never greatness itself?! How depressing!

I want it to start now - which is ridiculous, because of course it started 24 years and 222 days ago (Oooo spooky!). So why does it feel like this? To much to look forward to - & not enough to enjoy in the present to balance it out. Again - how puce in thought colour.

Don't get me wrong - life is not bad, it's just so bloody normal. For example - new people visiting is such an excitement it makes you notice the normalcy of normal times more than...normal.


I feel my animals are all at a point where the formative stages are over - Trouble's personality and size have settled in as fixed, Logan is over a year old and no longer a kitten(though I doubt I should ever be able to stop calling him as such) the fish look like they could now either live for ever - or drop dead at any moment (truly indestructible fish, I worry about them the least of all my charges), the frogs are only getting fatter, and my sea monkey colony is at its longest running generation equilibrium yet.

I have new obsessions in the form of the Doctor (don't get me started - brain glitch much?! Urgh! How can you hate obsessions so much but revel in them at the same time? Stupid human brain! Sort your shit out!) and continuing interest in other such leisure activities. The lab is beautifully calm - as you would expect for the middle of the year; new students all settled in to the point where they are comfortable enough to start fights and nurse grudges, absent people gone long enough that the absence itself is normal, and work ticking along with a fairly even regularity. No major upsets or scandals - though perhaps we have had enough to last us through into the new year for the moment.

Makes you wonder - whats around the corner?!

Right - lets get this show on the road. Far too much introspection for so early in the evening. My fingers type fast this evening, a good sign if ever there was one. (though actually - maybe bad...?)

Hi! by the way - I feel like I haven't seen you in ages. Can we hug? I miss your hugs.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Oh no

So my writing deteriorates drastically when I am tired - I apologise!

(One should never read posts after they have been put up - same rule as reading a fresh thesis print...)

Alright then, just one

Redeeming quality.

Pretty sunset. Thanks Auckland (youpieceofcrapyou)

Also - our hotel is pretty flash and breakfast is included in our room rates - so we, of course, ordered room service and got breakky, coffee and squeezed juice - I worried when my omelet turned up in a massive pizza box. But it was not horrifically huge, and was actually pretty tasty. Who would have thought?!