Monday, November 18, 2013
The Authoress is grad her PhD on the 11th Dec, and there will be celebrations. I can't wait.
How did this year go so fast?
I'll be 28 before I even know it. Urgh.
My plans at the mo are to "move" to Auckland on the 4th of Jan, but we'll see.
Oh! I got new glasses! They're stronger and its amazeballs. I got a 2-for-1 and a pair of prescription sunnies, which are fabulous and make driving a pleasure again.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
I haven't been to the movies in ages, and I missed a whole bunch I really wanted to see, but I wasn't willing to miss my boys Thor and Loki, so postponed the proofing of the two friend-theses I have on my desk at the mo and snuck out to see it yesterday.
Not surprisingly - I freaking loved it. I love Thor 1 in spite of its terribleness, and this one is so, so much better. I'm going to go again on cheap-Tuesday and take the parents. I think I'll have to make a particular effort to go to the movies even while busy from here on out. Gosh but I love going to the movies. So easy to forget. That trite old piece of wisdom - "make time for things you love, least you end up punching your boss in the face".
So - Thor 2. Excellent action scenes, a lovely Thor-washing scene (Heh), fantastic Loki, trickery and twists, a brilliant bad guy who used to be a Doctor, some lovely hat-tipping to Norse myths (and some...horrid deviations. A canon purist, me...sometimes (sorry comic books, I never read you)). And, to top it off - a delightful dry wit throughout. A couple times I let forth an involuntary 'Hah!' in an otherwise quiet cinema. Loved it. Very funny.
Gripes: The resolution is a bit weak, scientifically, but I doubt that's the point of the movie. A supposedly sentient 'monster power' is stopped after being unleashed, 'cause the leather-jacket-Doctor-baddie gets crushed? ...sure. And they think giving it to an obviously dodgy-looking dude for safe keeping a good strategy? (post-credits scene). The final, and very touching scene between Thor and Odin...isn't? So Odin is just kicking it somewhere all "wtf, where did Thor go now?!"
Sif loves Thor (her...husband), to the point of side-eye glaring at Jane? Oh dear. I'm sure a goddess would be wise enough and willing to wait for the little mortal woman to die. Or just kill her.
A bit of a casting change - Fandral is now Zach Levi, which I actually kind of dig. It took a while to recognise him, what with the blondness, but not at all a bad substitution. Apparently he was up for the first movie but had to bow out when Chuck wasn't cancelled.
Had a bit of a cracker-combo with the pre-movie trailers too: Captain America 2, and the next Hunger Games and Hobbit instalments. And, uh, Need for Speed, the movie?! Haha. Cap 2 looks fantastic.
Love that Thor's armour has a sleeveless summer version. Oh! Also, giggles, to make your epic armour combo 'smart casual' for a party? Just chuck a sweet looking wrap-cape over that shit. Yum.
This one, I'm going straight for the 5 out of 5 (where: 1=actively burning it, 2=waste of time, 3=don't regret having seen it, but... 4=good movie, recommended, 5=blewmymindwhyhaven'tyouseenityetI'vegottoseeitagaintalktoyoulater).
I love this shit.
Thursday, October 24, 2013
This evening we are leaving for the Great Hawkes Bay Visit, probably kipping the night in Taupo, depending on how late we leave. It will be a super early morning on Friday, as we all want to get to Hastings with plenty of time to spend at the HB Show. Can't wait. I haven't been in years.
Incidentally - we're hoping to get to a winery for tasting and luncheon at some point.
Will be good to see The Ickle Brother again, and his girlfriend. And some old favourite haunts, perhaps.
In the meantime I am trying to catch up on non-contract work, write a couple articles and ignore the two dogs sleeping on my bed behind me, and the kitten clawing up my ankles while pretending she is playing with a dead spider. She's fooling no one.
Tuesday night the Ohope fire station had their training - right out front of our house. They played with the flood lights, unrolled the hoses, sprayed some water about, rolled them up, ran about in their kit and then seemed to...chat. For ages. It was dusk when they arrived, and very late by the time they left.
On the wee cloud-hopper plane home to Whakatane on Tuesday, Dan Carter was a passenger - apparently visiting some peeps in Opotoki who won a Healtheries competition (he totally turned around and stared right at me at one point, before I knew it was him. I was all indignant for a couple seconds). He jumped in a rental car at the Whaka airport and tried to drive forward over a rather high curb; I had a good old giggle. Totally something I would do. The man is very little in real life. Quite short, too (though my height standards are above-average...). In more exciting anecdote territory, there was a wee girl sitting on her Mum's knee a row in front of me over the isle, staring. I pulled a face, she giggled. I did it again, she laughed. So on and so forth (I think the adults noticed but were politely ignoring us) until I licked my nose (yes, yes I do have that skill) completely forgetting the makeup I have on my face when working in Auckland. New knowledge: makeup tastes nasty.
It is a fabulous day here, and this is the view from my office chair. How is one supposed to not feel enticed to go lie in the sun?!
Monday, October 14, 2013
The short version played today and you can hear it here, should you wish to abuse your sensitive eardrums.
It universal, right - that everyone hates the sound of their own voice played back to them?
Thursday, October 3, 2013
When I got a job, I promised myself - I would get it made.
Well, I succeeded in landing a couple of part time contracts so treated myself.
So - it looks a bit naff now, but I suspect when the rest of the gold plating wears off and only the bead remains it will look pretty ok. The bead itself is copper.
No a perfect result - but a pretty damn good one. My only other complaint would be the centre chain being a bit too long, but that was probably as short as he could make it and still adhere to my soldering-only order. (I didn't want naff jump rings all up in there!).
There's something about taking photos that makes the animals come running. First the cat, demanding a pat, and then The Mother's Dog pushing my hand out of the way to get to the kitten. Ridiculous.
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
It was fantastic, and I loved it immensely. If I could do such writing and design for SciCom as a full time job I would be in heaven every day at work.
I don't think I actually have any photos of my work in situ at the Museum; we were all crazy busy playing with DNA models etc with the kids, but if I get more photos from the others I will be sure to pop them up.
Side note: If you are interested in seeing the resources I developed for re-use or adaptation, please flick me an email!
Another activity we had up was 'Find the Glitch' - a string of nucleotide AT/CG code with one base substitution. This activity allowed us to introduce the ideas of DNA base coding, what the genome looks like with regards the basic 'information', and mutation. If the kids found the substitution, they got a chocolate fish. Since I had somewhat carte blanche with writing and design, the snippet of code came from the sarah gene in Drosophila. Good times!
For each activity I made both sign posters and explanation/fact posters. It was actually super fun being able to use slightly more creative fonts than is usual with making scientific posters for conferences, for example. (though I believe we scientists as a whole need to do better with the visual design side of conference posters, too. SciCom baby! More important than you thought!).
We had a table running a basic DNA extraction from banana - hot water and ethanol, so- much more highly supervised than the other activities, but the kids finished with a tube of their own banana DNA and an appreciation for the basic principle of DNA extraction. You can see the activity table here, with a couple of the PhD students demonstrating and several enthralled kids.
There was a 'Build an Edible Helix' table, where we had bags prepared for the kids containing two strips of red licorice, various fruit puffs and toothpicks. The fruit puffs were attached between the licorice with the toothpicks, as 'bases' and the kids twisted the ladder form to make the helix. Again - lollies are always going to be popular with the kids, but those who managed to make the shape before consuming the lollies - now possess a basic understanding of the helix formation of DNA.
The old Supe had managed to get his hands on a bunch of DNA model sets from the epic Molymod, and both kids and adults alike seemed to delight in assembling the models. I know for a fact that most of the PhD students and helpers wanted to obtain a model of their own by the end, too. (Want! I want one!).
We ended up getting some delightfully interpretive DNA models. It was a lot of fun playing with the models, with the kids. I was actually a bit surprised with this one - I figured the older kids, if any, would be interested. But it was actually pretty much all ages - young kids wanting to play with the 'puzzle', older kids showing their mettle (more likely to want to prove themselves able of getting it perfect) and the adults again - playing with the 'puzzle'.
The last activity I wrote and designed was a colouring in competition - a series of 6 generic Genetics research-associated images with a paragraph of explanatory information.
They also had a wee stage set up and had several talks running throughout the day, and Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith was there with her sample collection table for her Africa to Aotearoa origins study (podcast, press release). The Genetics Otago Publicity Manager also had a host of beautiful banners up, highlighting a couple of their key researchers work.
From a learning perspective, I certainly gained a lot. The space was massive, and the sign posters looked tiny in perspective, despite all being at least A3. If I was to do such a thing again, I would run with the poster printing facilities of most printshops these days and have massive table-long title banners up. We also wanted to have a series of 'did you know?!' fact sheet posters up, but I just ran out of time. For writing and design of such a big work brief I certainly should have arranged a contract longer than 7 full-work days.
My major hiccup was the missing banana protocol poster - the departmental printer guy (who is amazing and a complete sweetheart) missed printing the file, and I didn't take the time to do a printing stock-take. This is certainly something I will always do in future. Luckily the Supe had access to the departmental A3 printer after-hours and just popped back to print some out.
Once you start thinking about a day like this too - you come up with more and more activity ideas. The potential is massive and I think the model very translatable to museums/schools around the country.
Overall - the best work contract of my employed life, to date!
Quick round-up of fantastic YouTube offerings before I get settled into writing something substantial.
First - the Desolation of Smaug trailer is out and spine-tingling!
Secondly - the ever fantastic Tom McFadden has released the next vid in his Battle Rap Sci History series: Alfred Wegener vs. The Fixists (Continental Drift).
And, because my taste in movies is permanently crippled and I am excited - the new Riddick movie, which I am going to catch with The Baby Cousin next week in Aux:
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
"Got into Dunedin for a most freezing evening yesterday. We woke to a frost this morning and had to water the car windscreen to go to work. That said (ok - complained) it turned into a completely beautiful day.
It was...very strange being back in the biochem department."
The words I had time to write at the beginning of my time in Dunedin, and now I am flying out today at about 1pm. Its been a crazy hell of a week-and-a-half. Mostly completely sublime - catching up with some most loved people again, always fantastic. But - I am exhusted and will expound upon my adventures after I get some sleep up north.
We're up early because today is the last day of Genetics Week - DNA day at the Otago Museum. I have written and designed the paper posters and resources - hopefully I'll remember to snap some pics for proof and for my SciCom portfolio.
Peace out homies.
(Lets test this tablets front-cam! I of course have it in a keyboard case obscuring the better back-facing camera.)
Monday, September 16, 2013
Last week was completely crazy. I was in Auckland for work, including a symposium for the Monday and Tuesday and then office-bee for the rest of the week. A delightful 50 hours plus logged.
I flew back home Friday night and then had two days of a rescued-dog training course at the SPCA. It was run by Sue from Dog Almighty and was absolutely fantastic. The aim of the game is to have a handful of volunteers who spend time training the dogs to do basic manners skills like sit, down, touch and 'go to mat' to make them more attractive to potential adopters.
Sue is Irish, so it was a delight listening to her talk, and talk a lot she did. It was a crazy amount of work to cram into two days, and following on a crazy week away - come Sunday night I was exhausted.
Exhausted, I say.
I haven't packed again yet (helps that I didn't fully unpack, of course...) and I am off down to Dunedin tomorrow, for two weeks on a short work contract for Genetics Otago to help out with Genetics Week, which by all means looks like it is going to be brilliant (no less due to my being there :P).
It was fantastic catching up with people over the symposium this last week (my main work contract right now is with the people who funded my PhD project and scholarship), and I am looking forward to seeing more of them for decent hangout time these next two weeks - and catching up with my other Dunedin people not involved in the current job sitch. I didn't realise how much I had missed the stuffing out of them till I was sitting in the back row of a lecture with The Crazy One and felt like crying and/or hugging her (probably lucky for my rock solid rep that I refrained...).
At some point I am going to have to sit down and write the big "Alternate Career" expose...there are still some people who don't know what I am up to, nor even my reasons for a change. Certainly you do not, which must have caused some confusion. Still, it can wait. At least untill I can put enough thought into it to be coherent.
We did indeed make it to the Craft and Quilt Show the week before last, it was very much like ComicCon for crafters - complete with the weird home-made outfits. There were less of the smaller oporations than usual, apparently it has gotten very expensive to have a booth there. Shame. I liked the quilt exhibition the best - some of the quilted art was beautiful and when I get around to extracting the pics from my big camera - I will be sure to share (its not like you're sick of seeing quilts, right?!). I don't think I would go again, but I don't regret having gone once.
In other news we have a new nightly war on our hands, within this house. The Mother has decided its time to stop locking the kitten in the lounge at night and somehow - the little possum decided that my bed was the best place to sleep. Trouble is fine with this sitch, as long as she stays off his side of the bed (yes yes our dogs are all spoilt little monsters). The war occurs when either The Mother's dog decides he wants to sleep on the bed too, or the cat tries to play with Trouble when he's sleeping (I say 'play' I mean 'attacks ruthelessly'). Waking up due to animals scrapping on you is not too pleasant.
I have a new toy! One which incidentally just deleted a paragraph so I'm not in the mood to speak overly nicely about it. Anyway - a Galaxy Tab 3 10.1", which makes work emails a heck of a lot easier, if nothing else. I wanted something middle range (I am very very poor) and not apple branded. I fully plan to replace my laptop the next time it dies with a desktop, and then work off a tablet and smartphone when travelling, utilising google synching of email/calendars/etc and dropboxing of files. However the main problem I have encountered so far - is the complete lack of any spellchecking functionality. So prepare to have slightly more errors than usual, at least until I can source a work-around.
See you at the other end of the country! Where I'll probably be freezing my butt off. I'll pack winter jimjams, thats a shock.
Right; to sleep, perchance to dream.
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Quite a shock.
More of a shock - my dressing like a professional, and not an academic hobo.
That's enough of that.
In more delightful news, the menagerie have been being monsters; including but not limited to: bringing in half rotten birds and flinging maggots about under the dining room table.
The three are getting along better and better as the kitten gets older and bigger, helped along by her being a complete/equal menace.
He's started playing with her a little, but the playing between the three is basically her sneaking up, whacking one with a paw and then haring off in a grand game of chase. My Trouble is especially fond of the chasing part.
Have caught her sleeping grumpily a couple times. Not sure who slighted or wronged her in this instance. Most likely the dog was kicking her back every now and again.
In the next couple of days we are hoping to get over to Hamilton for the massive Craft & Quilt Fair, which should be fantastic. Expect some make related posts over the weekend.
Next week I am back in Auckland, for a symposium in the first half (being held at the Villa Maria Estate), and the latter half of which I will be staying in Parnell, where exists some very lovely buildings and churches (are the two uncoupled?), so I'm looking forward to that (and catching up with some very special cool peeps wink wink (but not that kind of wink wink)), and getting a good swathe of work done. Good things.
The following week I am headed down to Dunedin for a different two week work contract, helping out with this sitch - which should be fantastic. And, of course - ample opportunity to catch up with even more very special cool peeps.
Love! Hugs soon.
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
They have their shop in Manners street, Wellington; which I seem to visit every time I am down there for work or friend-hanging, and carry a delightful selection (quite beautifully displayed, also).
Last time I tried to go was the Friday earthquake a couple weeks back, which shut shops and stuck me on a bus for 2 hours, from the airport conference centre to Lower Hutt. Yuck.
Anyway, my purchase list of tea for The Mother, The Grandmother and myself was postponed and internet ordered once I got home.
We tried the White Rose first, and dry; is gorgeous:
(the drained brew looks like baby skin shavings. Gross!).
My tea leaves - I like fermented.
The earl grey blue flower is a keeper, and I love the Christmas tea - nice and spicy warm. I had forgotten until I brewed a pot, but I had tried the Chrissie one before - a couple of winters ago at my dear Crazy One's old house. It evoked quite the set of memories. I shall try the Monk's blend within the next few weeks.
Funnily enough The BigSib got The Grandmother hooked on Jasmine tea, however - she thought it was pure Jasmine flowers and every shop-keep since has told her they don't stock it. I checked the old packet and it was actually a very normal green tea/jasmine blend. She was quite shocked to discover that she had, firstly, been drinking a green tea, and secondly - that she had been enjoying it. Oh the delights of misdirection.
Gosh I love tea.
Monday, August 26, 2013
Well, amongst cleaning up my work area last week I found the rest of the packet, and threw them in a bowl of water over lunch.
Turns out, my ire was well deserved and slightly premature.
Oh, what's this?
About the last, however, I was baffled:
Friday, August 23, 2013
More specifically, The Mother & Father's new kitten, who decided to survive and thrive, is causing havoc and generally being a complete menace.
We've changed one of the rooms around down stairs, so that now when I skype the possibility of various employers seeing my unmade bed is null. (I joke, it's always made. cough).
And I tidied my desk. Always a traumatic experience.
It was pouring with rain all morning and as such the kitten refused to go outside to burn off some of that mischievous kitten energy.
It began with the stalking: