Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mirror mirror

So a paper came out which I found interesting - not interesting in and of itself, but because of my reaction to it.

The basic premise of the paper is that your level of activity on facebook correlates to a higher score on the narcissism index. (a simplification - the scales are actually entitled spiffy things like "grandiose exhibitionism subscale" and so on).

Not such a stretch for the imagination - if you're constantly taking new photos of your ugly mug to update your profile picture on the bluebook, you have to have had a moments inkling about your self-love levels.

Side note - in being one of the few peeps not on facebook (yep, definite self congratulation going on, such a hipster) I've noticed a trend amongst the hip, cool young things, when faced with the knowledge of my not playing the game - to tell me all about how "little [they] use facebook anymore", and how they only "use it to keep in touch with [their] friends overseas". I cannot tell you how often I hear both of those phrases or variations thereof.

Anyway, my point was thus: my reaction to the paper was self-congratulatory, and I mentally gave myself points for avoiding the narcissism-evil-pitfall.

Of course, I immediately hit myself in the forehead and docked myself a bajillion narcissism points for not only having the thought - but maintaining a blog; perhaps the most narcissistic activity possible on the internet. 

Definitely a witch

Honestly, sometimes I just completely forget myself.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012


"Its tongue weighs as much as an elephant.

Its heart is the size of a car.

And some of its blood vessels are so wide, you could swim down them.


Its tail alone is the width of a small aircraft's wings"

So I'm taking a wee Dave-break while I eat my dinner (yes, I do live at the lab) and have jumped 22 years forward in time from the series I'm currently working my way through (Life on Earth, 1979) to a sneaky ep of Blue Planet (2001), where, of course, Blue whales are blowing my mind.


I wish for one sneaky moment the camera man would zoom back into the helicopter, because I bet their minds were blown, looking that far down and seeing something that huge just cruising along in the ocean.
And speaking of retro-Dave, that shit is gold.  Look at the man's sweet, sweet jumper!
Gold, I tell ye.

On Repeat

I'm just full of clichés this week. It's getting tiresome.

Would that I could help it (the clichés, not the "crying in the morning light" - I'm not doing that.  Sheesh - how clever do you think I am?!  Waaaaaaay too deep for me, I just like the sweet beats.)
What is it about gratuitous self photography that elevates a mood?!

Perhaps I just really like pulling faces.  And fucking about on photoshop.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


There is a brill piece here by Adam Ruben about science writing. It is an entertaining and enlightning read. From one recently reminded that I was writing a thesis and not a novel, I feel his pain.

“You don’t write like a scientist,” he said, handing me back the progress report [...] In my dream world, tears would have come to his eyes, and he would have squealed, “You write like a poet!”

I asked for an example, and he pointed to a sentence on the first page. “See that word?” he said. “Right there. That is not science.” The word was “lone,” as in “PvPlm is the lone plasmepsin in the food vacuole of Plasmodium vivax.” It was a filthy word. A non-scientific word. A flowery word, a lyrical word, a word worthy of -- ugh -- an MFA student. 

This is beautiful!:

"But in his mind, “lone” must have conjured images of PvPlm perched on a cliff’s edge, staring into the empty chasm, weeping gently for its aspartic protease companions. Oh, the good times they shared. Afternoons spent cleaving scissile bonds. Lazy mornings decomposing foreign proteins into their constituent amino acids at a nice, acidic pH. Alas, lone plasmepsin, those days are gone." 

The list of rules for 'science' paper writing is complete gold:

1. Scientific papers must begin with an obligatory nod to their own relevance, usually by citing exaggerated figures about disease prevalence or other impending disasters. If your research does not actually address one of these issues, pretend it does, because hey, that didn’t stop you on the grant application. For example, you might write, “Twenty million children die of scabies every day. OMG we built a robot kangaroo!

And the breakdown of authorship is scarily apt:

FIRST AUTHOR: Weary graduate student who spent hours doing the work. 
SECOND AUTHOR: Resentful graduate student who thinks he or she spent hours doing the work. 
THIRD AUTHOR: Undergraduate just happy to be named. 
FOURTH AUTHOR: Collaborator no one has ever met whose name is only included for political reasons. 
FIFTH AUTHOR: Postdoctoral fellow who once made a chance remark on the subject. 
SIXTH AUTHOR: For some reason, Vladimir Putin. 
LAST AUTHOR: Principal investigator whose grant funded the project but who hasn’t stood at a lab bench in decades, except for that one weird photo shoot for some kind of pamphlet, and even then it was obvious that he or she didn’t know where to find basic things.

Read it when you have a mo!


From the mortification I bring upon myself.  (I'll get over it.  Eventually.).

And a trailer for the new Doctor Who season (I've missed you!):

Looks like fun.


I feel like I spent the weekend in the Twilight zone, best to forget all about it, I think.
Went to see Hunger Games, finally.  The Old one and Homeboy's girly half put up with both my loquaciousness and elbow jump-poking to see it with me.  I'm...not blown away.  I know, I know - everyone is raving about it.  But, I'm just not...blown away.  I don't know how else to put it.  I'd definitely recommend going to see the movie, and even more so to go and read the books.  I definitely don't have anything bad to say about it.  I just didn't love it.  I'm not gagging to see it again.

Setup and background for the second movie is going to be a bitch.

The trailer was up for Avengers - and there was gagging involved.  Can't freaking wait.  We're totes totally going to geek it up and head to the midnight prem.  Can't wait.

Mmmmm arms...

It was the Mini One's birthday on Sat and we had party food for lunch - sausage roll slices, cheerios and a bowl of T-sauce, fairy bread and mixed lollies.  Brill times.
I saw this yesterday morning, and was surprised (hence the unexpected thing)
The cell phone is not even anywhere near the fastest adopted gadget in the last 50 years, nor the digital camera.  Via.

Speaking of cell phones - mine shits itself once a day now, and powers off.  I was hoping it would last till I left the country, will squeeze it out for a bit longer.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Friday, March 23, 2012

Oh Gross! Emotion!

So we had the same debate thrice yesterday - whether it is necessary to say the words, or if it is sufficient to just know its true, and avoid the self gratification of frequent utterances forcing the recipient to either reciprocate, or get in trouble.
Perhaps you can guess which camp I'm in?  It is, surprisingly to me, a completely polarising issue.  I fully believe actions speak louder than words - you might say the words, but if I know you to not show them, how can I believe them to be anything other than false?  And if you show them - why do you need to say them?

We do not throw about the phrase in my family - and yet I am completely secure in my knowledge of the familial love.  There is not an inkling of doubt, there never has been, and I cannot imagine either a time or event which would prove otherwise.  I cannot even imagine an existence in a family where that is not the case (not to be confused with my knowledge that it does indeed exist).  To voice the phrase, to me - is completely unnecessary.  And that is OK.  I'm not judging, becalm yourself!

On the other side of the triangle (bear with me, the third side is coming up, and its your fave!) is the love between friends - I have, along with almost every person alive and awake, experienced both having it said and proven not to be true, and had it true without acknowledgement; each alongside both the claim and the evidence in concurrent honesty.  Waters presently perhaps too deep within which to dive without a saddle bag of strong constitution, wine and a fresh block of chocolate.

The third side, that of romantic declarations, was the most vocally argued.  How can you know if he loves you, if he says naught?  And perhaps most poignantly - how can you understand the euphoric feeling of hearing it from a beau, if you never have? (amid much speculation as to the level of gooeyness to which I will descend when it does, eventually, happen.  Urgh.).  Are you saying it because you want them to know?  Because you want to hear it back?  Because you need the ego-stroke?  If you say it without reciprocation, is that enough for you?  Should that not be one of the fundamental values of 'love'?  Do you actually, genuinely love them - or are you just being needy-with-a-side-of-low-self-esteem?  If your feelings are not reciprocated, do they diminish? And if they do - was it perhaps less true in the first place?

All of this philosophical stultification means little, but is a topic not often brought up in mixed company, and as such proved most fascinating.  Though the rapidity of risen voices and completely unshakable opinions makes for a futile debate.

There is, however, a vast difference between not saying it - and not feeling it.
Do you need me to say it?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Go on, grow it in a bit

There's a paper in Behavioural Ecology at the mo which is making the rounds of the popular, mainstream press. The main conclusion is thus: beards are not attractive to females, and their evolutionary history lies in complex visual signalling to other rival males, rather than in their heightened ability to attract mates of the fairer sex. (I say fairer; its not true).

 The study took photos of 20 bearded men, had them shave and took another set - both were presented to approximately 200 females from New Zealand (reprezent!) and Samoa, both of which conclusively, consistently chose the clean shaven faces as being the more attractive for each of the men.

The authors (Dixson & Vasey) do allow that people still consistently rate bearded men as belonging to a higher social status group and the bearded version of the same man to be perceived as older. Also, in what I bet was fun to pose for, the men gave an 'aggressive' pose in both bearded and clean-shaven states, the bearded version of which was (again) consistently chosen as being more aggressive by the women, despite being the exact same expression.

The first two paragraphs of the paper give a delightfully droll summary of the types of hair on the human body throughout its entire development from fetus to adult (coughpubertycough) and moves on to the theories as to why we lost our thick matted pelts to evolution. As a delightful aside - did you know that in the UK, men experience a 50-60% increase in beard growth during the summer? One briefly mentioned theory suggests protection from UV damage - but then what about the fresh-faced females of the species? (See? Proof that you should stay in the kitchen - out of the sun! Its for your own good).

Some more awesomeness - due to the beard providing a opportunistic yanking-lever during a fight and its attributes for an ideal parasite home; men with beards may be signalling to women both their ability to outfight even a beard-yanking opponent and a superior immune system to fight off parasitic infection. Things we look for in a man already, right? 

The study itself used European only NZ females, and Independent Samoa-native females. I loved this: "NZ is a modern industrialized country with a population of more than 4 million people and has a high exposure to Western popular culture". Gosh - we have a high exposure to Western popular culture?! I thought we were Western popular culture.

Any way - my point is thus: I like a bit of facial hair.
"Hey! I know that dude!" 

However, the more I study the picture, the more I notice about each face, and the more I imagine about their personality and intelligence, which changes my vacillating opinion. Perhaps this has to be a snap-decision-rating sort of thing?  How much would my decision change if there were a couple of facts included with each face? Or over 100 faces, including the same dudes with and without beard, so you don't even realise you are seeing the same people twice - I bet I would contradict myself hopelessly depending on arbitrary information.
Wait, which one did I like? 

See? This is why Psychology was my minor, and Genetics my major.

So, do I prefer the beards because I just genuinely find them attractive, or am I attracted to the subliminally perceived heightened ability of the male in question to fight off other males, and protect myself, my children and my home? Or is my physical attraction dependent on how I perceive the man's personality? (it needs be said that I have loved a man I thought to be hideous on first meeting). Am I a product of evolution or learned, conscious thought? Do I like what I like...or do I just think I do?




...urgh, glass of red time?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

On Repeat

I know its very cliché of me, and the internet hipsters are railing against it, but this shit is tickling my audio-bone like crazy.
You'll forgive me my random taste in music, just like you do my taste in movies, I'm sure.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tomorrow, and its tomorrow, and the tomorrow of that one too

Comic by Doghouse, via.  I'm feelin' in.


So; new movie to be stoked about - Thor's arms making a delightful reappearance in Snow White and the Huntsman.  I'm pretty excited, it looks like it might be cool and dark and slightly scary and a complete mash up of the original.  Whoop! (lets hope Stewart has facial expression in this and redeems herself a little...)

Is that a wee Scottish accent I detect, Huntsman?  Mmmm


The computer is going in to the IT peeps today to be ripped open and guts fiddled with, hopefully shit copies over neatly and my life doesn't fall apart.  Fingers crossed, yeah?

See you on the other side...of a new hard drive.


This blew my mind last week:
The coordination!  Such a sweet idea.  Dig it.  Via.

Monday, March 19, 2012


My feet are delightfully warm.  I'm not sure what's going on, whether its the socks, or the shoes or the cold morning - so the feet are warm in comparison, but I'm liking it.

Warm feet.

I have a fresh mug of tea and see many in my future - how can you write without tea?  I'm thinking about investing in a flask - so I'm not running up to the tea room on the second floor 5 times before lunch.  (its ok, because its bedmate - the bathroom - is just a wee way down my own corridor).  Tea is good, especially this early in the morning.
Tea is good.

The weather on Saturday was sublime - I sun-screened up and still have a wee array of tan lines.  We had a massive epic breakfast including green scrambled eggs and green toxic pancakes and then pretty much sat about in the sun for the day.  Beautiful.
Sunshine; speaks for itself.

I am anticipating the arrival of my new hard drive early this week and hoping for a clean, easy transfer of data and programs, god only knows where my install disks are at; probably in a box in storage up in Matamata, knowing my luck.

TCO is back from her Phuket holiday and by all accounts had a brilliant time.  Which is good, because I missed her.  We are going to have High Tea at the new-ish British restaurant this week, and I look forward to judging their efforts.

In prolonging a good trend, a new documentary series starts this Tuesday in place of Frozen Planet, so the desert efforts continue.  This week - this, I think.  And the lab is joining with the one next door every other week for a combined lab meeting from this week on - I'll make two, and take one to each.  Plum, I think...maybe apricot.  Speaking of apricots (well, close) the Mother and Grandmother made the annual pilgrimage to HB this weekend, to visit the ickle-little-brother, his girlfriend, and to pick up several bushels of Golden Queens for this years bottling.  Can't wait for my ration :D
I finally finished Game of Thrones last night while waiting at the laundromat.  That shit is intense.  I had to have breaks fairly often just to calm my brain, and it is perhaps the longest it has taken me to read a good book, because of it.  The end was rather abrupt, but luckily my kindle held the sequel and the frustrated pain was lessoned, some.  I cannot decide if I want to watch the TV series or not, from the trailers they seem fairly true to the original book plots, but its already fantastic in my head...guess it will depend on my free-time sitch.  After hand-in maybe?  Good stuff, if you are looking for a new read! (but then I suspect I might be the last to read it, again).

Speaking of being the last to read something: Hunger Games movie is out this week!  And by all accounts should be brill; looking forward to a movie night with my fav girls.  The trailers look epic.

How have you been?  I missed you, lets hug - later.

Friday, March 16, 2012

On Repeat

At 3:20 is perhaps the best scene known to man (ok, so 80's music standards, at least) and only gets more gold from then on - up to the epic knuckle tapping-hug combos amongst victorious ladies on the street in the early morning light.  Brilliant.

Need to get me some early morning knuckle-tapping going on. (I know, I know - I cringe at my own poor use of English).

"It would help me to know 
Do I stand in your way, or am I the best thing you've had 
Will you turn me away or touch me deep inside 
And before this gets old, will it still feel the same 
There's no way this will die 
But if we get much closer, I could lose control" 

I hear ya, sweetheart.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Too cute not to note

Tiny kinetic wing sculpture:
Wings by Dukno Yoon
Wings by Dukno Yoon
Wings by Dukno Yoon
By Dukno Yoon, and completely beautiful.  Via.  The kind of thing I was in my china cabinet when I'm old, so that the kids can sneak it out on the sly and play with it and be amazed by the magic in it.

Also, because this shit delights me, and in my current reading of Game of Thrones, the godswood and heart tree's baffle me a bit, they're something of the like, perhaps (though, you know - less dead).  (how intense is that book, btw?! Sheesh!)
Tommy Craggs, Guerrilla Tree Sculptor 

Tommy Craggs, Guerrilla Tree Sculptor
By Tommy Craggs, via.  More coolness on site.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Oh man, where am I?!

So last week ended with a hiss and a roar - the lab adjoining ours flooded, and my computer killed itself.

The fan was broken and the laptop was turning itself off all the time to save itself from burnout - in the middle of important, unsaved shit, of course.  So inconsiderate.

Took him in to the computer peeps who fixed the fan and informed me the shutting down was only partially heat-related - my hard drive is corrupted and needs replacing.  Mechanical fault or some bollocks - they quoted me $400 to swap a new one in and transfer all my shit.  I don't bloody think so!  Christ - first the car with its 1500, and now the computer?!  What did I do to you, world?  What?!

Um, yeah...this.

So I ordered a sweet naked hard drive on line and one of the awesome, amazing, fantastically brilliant IT peeps in the dept are going to do it for me.  There will be cake, and profuse thanking.

The flood was exciting - a pipe split inside the hand-washing basin by the main lab door - of course it was a pipe inside the bolted on enclosure and we had to stand about watching the water piss out in torrents before we got someone with tools, and then tool-guy to unscrew about a billion screws all about the outside.  Epic.  Lab coats are not absorbent enough to withhold a flood when thrown on the ground, in case you were wondering.  Also - the building massively slopes in a Northerly direction - always good to know.

Tuesday's last Frozen Planet ep saw my making chocolate pastries for desert - pre-rolled puff pastry (life is too short to piss about rolling pastry, let alone making it) spread with chunky chocolate spread, rolled up pretty-like and topped with egg and sliced almonds - delish hot.

This week is the last, the last, week of my PhD experimental lab work - ever.  Ever.  Ever.

*I'll give you a moment to sufficiently appreciate the occasion*

I ran 65 RNA extractions on Monday - was in the lab from half 7 till 10pm.  Good effort if I do say so myself - and I have a sweet blister to mark the occasion.  (there's something about grinding flies with home-made pestles that always gives me a blister in the same spot; a reliable and trustworthy occurrence.  And you already suspected I was a blister-popper, right?).
War wound!  Booyah!

Six 96-well Q PCR plates are on the cards for the morrow, and a library-run quiz with the Authoress tomorrow evening.  It'll be a good day.  (Q-crazy, but good).

Friday morning - I'm a full-time thesis writer.

Oh shit...

Friday, March 9, 2012

Kony who what now?

Via Farm Girl, thus:
And because my ignorance shames me, this.
And now the fascinating fall out, thus:

Stupid racist children on Facebook.

Real voices from Africa respond.

A well written take-down and caution, if nothing else - read this one.

"If you want to write to your Member of Parliament or your Senator or the President or the Prime Minister, by all means, go ahead. If you want to post about Joseph Kony’s crimes on Facebook, go ahead. But let’s keep it about Joseph Kony, not KONY 2012. ~ Grant Oyston"

And the slowly NZ Herald jumping on the viral bandwagon with pilfered quotes and info.
Fascinating.  The vid was at 4 mil when I watched it yesterday, now it is ~39 mil = in-freaking-sane.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Les émotifs anonymes

I have just come off a 4 day injecting spree...

This beautiful syringe, only with much, much smaller needles.

Ok, not heroin, people - 4 days of injecting ~400 tiny Dros. with tiny needles and tiny volumes of liquid per day.  Fun times (it is, surprisingly, though the hand-cramps are getting old). However - this also means it has been 4 days without coffee, previously thought to be completely caffeine-symptom free, under a microscope the fine coffee-tremors in my hands equal ripped open abdomens.  Not conducive to either mine or my flies happy state of being.

So - the injecting is finally done, I take last samples today and then all my live-work is over.  Over.  Oveeeer!!



Took a lunch break on Saturday and went to see Romantics Anonymous with The Old One; a completely delightful French film about two chocolate makers who suffer from anxiety, and fall in love.

The title is a bit of a mistranslation, and I get the feeling they did it for English speaking cinema crowds, but the main sitch revolves around the heroine (whose coat-scarf combo is gorgeous) attending meetings for sufferers of various mental afflictions - called 'emotions anonymous'.  Just enough cringe-worthy awkward scenes to keep you laughing, a happy ending - and not nearly enough chocolate (Chocolat, anyone?).


Speaking of romantics, there's been a bit of love in the air about the circle lately, and I made pie for Frozen Planet Desert night in theme to celebrate such budding romances.
I boiled up 4 apples and a box of boysenberries with a cup of blackberry jelly, prebaked the pie crust and then layered 2 sets of lattice over top, with a final embellishment of love.
I'd like to think this pie has several applications - with a wee incision in the middle of each heart, the love pie would become the bleeding heart pie in moments.  Bloody berries, eh?

Of course we ate it both too soon and too late - the heat and the sitting in the dish for awhile meant the crust was a bit...limp, but the final uneaten pieces a couple of hours later were beautifully set and holding their shape - that would be the jelly.  So I think a cold pie, with beautiful slice-of-pie-shaped pieces, next time.  Brill.

The Mini One made vanilla sauce which mated with the pie in the most delightful manner.


So yeah.  Pie, love, flies, hand-cramps, movie.  What a week.  All the data analysis and molecular stuff to look forward to now.  Yay. *falls over and snores*

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Whoop!  I can't wait.
Thor's arms!  Ehehe.  And I love the in-fighting/bickering between ridiculously powerful boys.  Yay.

On Repeat

Evil has been stuck in my head for about 2 days straight now - my mind was singing it when I woke up, and I fully believe the only way to purge such hang-abouts is to put them on repeat (Ooo see what I did there?!) till your subconscious is satisfied and can move on.  That or start singing the song that never ends (Lambchop!), always a fave - and your peeps will thank you for it...
Its just so sticky!