Wednesday, June 17

Nerd Camp For Nerds

In my quest to rule microbiology with an iron fist, I am spending six weeks this summer in Woods Hole, MA in a microbial diversity course at the MBL (formally: Marine Biological Laboratories). This is awesome news for my future as a scientist - as it has been three days and already I've learned an amazing amount of material.

[It is kind of bad news because my fledgling relationship with Bombshell may be strained as the six weeks drag on. She also happens to be studying for a major grad school exam, further adding to her stress level. I have complete faith that everything will be fine - it would so suck otherwise - but she may come and visit over 4th of July *fingers crossed*]

Microbes are funny things to work with. You can't capture individuals like in classical ecology and studying how they grow is limited to the species we can grow in a lab - which is not a lot. Maybe about 1% of all species can be cultured with our current know how, which is really small considering there is more bacterial species on Earth than there are visible stars. But some of the ones we can grow are ridiculously awesome. Like this one:
These organisms are bioluminescent. When cell densities reach a certain threshold, all the neighboring cells begin to glow. This picture was taken with my regular camera in a dark room - no other light source. No UV light - this isn't like a black light poster. They are so bright you can actually read my writing on the Perti dish in the lower part of the picture (it's upside down).

I am not sure which species this is right now. We'll be identifying it using molecular/DNA techniques later this week. I'll keep you informed because I know you are on the edge of your seat.

Friday, June 12

Also...

Anyone who has been reading a while - I have been dating Bombshell for 7 weeks now. It's been AMAZING!

My muse!

I know it's been a while.

I have been lacking inspiration for some time. But this cheered me right up. I have been musing on how to fix the out of date economies of several big industries in this country (and the world) - the music monopoly and print publishers. The internet should be free (and hopefully always will be). And ads don't work because unlike the limited space of a newspaper (where real estate is limited) the internet has limitless space and the ability to link endlessly away from a page where the ads are situated. Not to mention we all ignore ads to begin with.

But still the old guard refuses to admit defeat and devise a new way to weasel money out of the general public. They demand protection from us evil citizens - who "rob" them blindly.

And then I saw this article about France's attempt to curtail piracy - Top French court rips heart out of Sarkozy internet law. *BOOM* Completely stopped in its tracks. Access to the internet is an unalienable right. Plus - the government has no right to track an individuals internet use. Nor can a administrative agency impose justice. Especially without giving an individual due process under the law to defend themselves.

Stop complaining about being a billion dollar industry, music companies. Come up with a new sustainable business plan and stop whining. (I do in fact feel bad for print media - they are getting a bum rap and should be paid for the time. they were never paid much to begin with)

any revolutionary business plans you want to share?

Tuesday, April 21

Besides science...

which I am doing all the time, it seems. There really isn't too much happening in my scene.

Spring kickball season started this past Sunday. I'm not sure I want to talk about it because we lost so terribly. It was a building game. We didn't have the whole team. The beer arrived late, so we had to plan sober and clean. We are great a making excuses! But it seems that now I have full understanding of our league's rules, I have become a rule-lawyer. Which every team needs, I guess, because last season we got lawyered by senior teams several times.

On a girl note (because I think that is all some of you come to read about):

1) things with Bombshell are more complicated than ever. I have been trying my best not to be drawn in and there are several (read: everyone) who are acting a solid foundations to prevent this. I am reminded of something a friend used to say in high school "When you like a girl, everything she does is a sign." Too many signs for them to be signs I think.

2) I think ShowBiz has given me the old heave-ho. Not sure for what reason, but I like to pride myself on being able to read people. And what I am reading is total disinterest (maybe disgust, repulsion, etc.). I am promising myself not to ask her why. For the off chance that I am reading it wrong, I am not writing her off all together, but the ball is her court now.

3) Ophir is definitely the most realistic, down-to-earth person I know. She made it very clear that things are not going to work because she is out of here in less then 2 months. And I whole-heartedly agree. Never doing long distance again. EVER. LA is bad enough with having to wait in traffic for hours at a time just to see someone in the city. Too bad I didn't say something back in October/November. Oh well. You snooze, you lose. And I snoozed, and lost.

Where are your independent news source suggestions!?!?!?!

Friday, April 17

Insightful Quote #2

Years of studies of patients who don't take their meds, grownups who have unsafe sex, and other flawed decision makers have chronicled the irrationality of Homo sapiens. Some of our foibles are quite specific, like overvaluing things we have, overeating food in larger containers and overestimating the probability of improbable events — the quirk that made the Meet Barack Obama fundraising lottery such a smart idea. But in general, we're ignorant, shortsighted and biased toward the status quo. We're not as smart as Larry Summers. We procrastinate. Our impulsive ids overwhelm our logical superegos. We plan to lose weight, but ooh — a cupcake! We're especially irrational about money; we'll pay more for the same thing if we can use a credit card, if we think it's on sale, if it's marketed with photos of attractive women. No wonder we apply for mortgages we can't afford. No wonder our bankers approve them.

Michael Grunwald, TIME Magazine

Insightful Quote

In fact, Obama is betting his presidency on our ability to change our behavior. His top priorities — the economy, health care and energy — all depend on it. We need to spend more money now to avert a short-term depression, then save more money later to secure our long-term economic future. We need to consume less energy in order to reduce our oil imports and carbon emissions as well as our household expenses. We need to quit smoking, lay off the Twinkies and avoid other risky behaviors that both damage our personal health and boost the costs of care that are ravaging the nation's fiscal health. Basically, we need to make better choices — about mortgages and credit cards, insurance and retirement plans — so we won't need bailouts down the road.
Michael Grunwald, TIME Magazine

Wednesday, April 15

Change?

Does anyone else feel like the world is on the edge of something new? I am sure it has a lot to do with my rose colored glasses, but I get sense that things really might be different. Let's run through a few, sweeping generalizations --

it seems to me that our generation, the 20 something bloggers of the world are programmed differently then our parents. or their parents. or any generation before us. and maybe there is someone out there who knows empirically that this just part of cycle, one generation trying to buck the trends of the previous. but how many of you, how many of your friends, talk about doing something they love? and maybe it's hollywood. and maybe it's self delusion, but I get the sense that there are many of us out their who would prefer to find the thing they love to do, and do that. then be paid lots of money to do something they hate. something, where our parents would look grimly in the mirror and say "because I have to to." now this may not be everyone. maybe not even a lot. but it seems that way. it's more than it used to be...

and what about this financial meltdown? it seems for a long time, people, just sat there and took it. we knew that there were people out their monopolizing the system. using money, to keep the system the same. to keep change from happening. I am not talking about conservatives and liberals here. Well, maybe I am. But that is not my intention. For example, pharmaceutical companies lobbying to keep the government from stepping in an forcibly reducing health costs. Now, some will say that this is a good thing. that the companies fight such intervention because America isn't about having the government step in and run things. Fine. I agree. But many of these people don't realize that the pharmaceutical companies are doing it just to protect their bottom line. It's about profit. And exploitation of the system. Car companies, forcibly resisting stricter environmental standards for 15 years. Oil companies using Senators to espouse talking points like "Drill, baby, drill." News corporations owned by companies that stand to lose lots of money should things be seen for what they really are. It's a broken system. A broken system that started to fall apart and take everyone else with it. And the financial meltdown seems to being a step towards correcting this. But it's not everything. A lot of it won't change. Even with Obama as president. Even with the slight momentum the seems to pushing change through. It won't change without help.

There are lots of people angry about the government. Today's "teabagging" events should indicate that. But as I heard, many of those people were there for different reasons. Some hate Obama. Some hate taxes. Taxes that fix their roads and school their children and pay the police (I guess I could get started on people wanting something for nothing, but I won't)

so what can we do? what should we do? does anyone else feel like this?

here is my list of things I wish to see:
  • people reading and being taught (read:forced) to understand what America means. Not what Bush (1 or 2), Clinton, Reagan, FDR, Lincoln made it mean. But what was created out of blood sweat and tears to make America. People should understand the struggle that went in to deciding what makes this country great. The separation of powers. A federal system. Democratic elections. People should have to read at some point the Federalist Papers. Common Sense. Democracy in America. Books that capture the essense of a new nation ca 1783.
  • a full commitment by everyone in the country. every parent. every elected official. everyone! for education. easy access to education at a levels in every part of the country. ignorance will relegate the lessons of America to the history books. China will see to that.
  • independent news sources! this is the internet age!! if a friend of mine can be part of a magazine that publishes monthly on the internet, there must be somewhere that publishes news without agendas (by the way if you know such a place let me know)
  • people wishing to preserve the gifts of the present for the people of the future. Take a chance and visit a national park and tell me it's not worth saving.
  • unified action. I know there are lots of people out there who care. And each one of them is doing what they can to help in their own way. But little groups can only go so far. Despite asking people to read Tocqueville and his belief that America will thrive because of these small groups, one voice can be muffled. hundreds are slightly audible. thousands get some attention. millions make change.
I know none of this is perfect. And maybe much of this has been said before. But if you agree. Keep reading. If you agree, pass this along. I am starting something new here tonight, for myself. These will not be the only posts I make, because, hey this is still just a blog with 8 people following it. But it's a start.

Tuesday, April 14

A little vanity

At one point last week, Bombshell was around. And she "decided" that flirting with me would be a good idea. Well, needless to say my declaration of being over her has come to haunt me. But this time, I think I have it under control. Just a small, itsy-bitsy crush. Just a really tiny... speck of dust small crush.

I've recently been on a few dates with someone who is a great complement to my character and someone I really like spending time with. As I have described her to friends -- imagine me, then give her 100X more energy then I could ever muster, and for an entire day. After their moments of disbelief that such a person could exist (believe me, my high energy level takes a long time to get used to), they wanted to hear all about her. I am sure I will share with you all shortly. Things are currently in a deep lull due to conflicting schedules and illness. (Her codename from now on will be ShowBiz)

Third, I may have accidentally escalated things with a close friend. On her birthday. This is not a bad thing. And was something I had been wanting for a while because she is awesome in most every way. Especially in her ability to handle hanging out with me. And now I am writing about it. On the internet. For all to see. I am sort of hoping both ShowBiz and Ophir (my close friend's new codename) aren't reading this post and planning on never talking to me again. This would be bad.

Blogging

I have been pondering and thinking and pondering some more for the better part of a week now. I think a lot of it has to do with my self-imposed seclusion last week due to the amount of work I needed to complete for yesterday. Let's take a trip together to see how crazy I just might be:

1) Saw Adventureland. It was great. If you haven't seen it, go see it. Right now. I'll wait.....


back? Good! Upon driving home that night, I felt inspired. I wanted to create something similar to the movie -- write a story/novel that people would actually want to read, brainstorm some brilliant life altering new thing, find a deep romantic connection like the characters in the movie -- well that one is a strange version of create, but not far off from how I was feeling. In all, I realized I am looking/craving an outlet for lots of boiling emotions inside me. Still no such luck. No novel. No brilliant idea. No deep romantic love. Which brings me to why I am telling you this dedicated reader, I am going to try much harder to make this blog more creative. Not sure how, but I am going to try.

This brings me to my next point --

2) is a successful blog really about the number of people who read it and then comment on it? I am not too sure what makes a blog successful and what doesn't.

For instance, many blogs fall in to some very rigid categories. There are the blogs where the writers share WAY too much personal information. About sex (normally lack of sex). And orgasms etc etc etc. I dabble in that a tad, but honestly that single post was the only one I had.

Other blogs just seem to post things from other websites. A video they found funny. A news story. Excerpts from blogs about newspaper articles (sooooo guilty of this I am ashamed). And yet people will follow one blog over the other (just some jealously shining through).

But that's it. Sure you get news blogs (Planet Money, Wired) where journalists write small columns daily. But I guess I have yet to be wowed by a blog that truly blows me away. Have you seen any?

Again, I suppose my new goal is to try and be as creative as possible - make this as unique an experience as I can.

3) Is it weird that I have not been obsessing about sex? Now let me clarify this -- by obsessing I mean I am so busy that it isn't my number one concern. Ever. I am not out every Friday looking to hook. This is a stark difference from just a few months ago. But I have definitely seen a sharp decline in the amount of time spent on the subject. But as I have noticed about myself before, this lull comes in waves. Several months not caring. Several months uncontrollable... just been on my mind and I thought I would share.

Wednesday, April 8

More from the frontlines

This may be the most enlightened politician in America right now. Maybe...

Gov. Culver of Iowa, on why he will most likely NOT support an amendment to Iowa's Constitution banning same-sex marriage:
said the issue before the court in its unanimous ruling Friday involved only civil marriage, and that churches and other religious institutions do not have to perform them. "The court also concluded that the denial of this right constitutes discrimination," Culver said. "Therefore, after careful consideration and a thorough reading of the court's decision, I am reluctant to support amending the Iowa Constitution to add a provision that our Supreme Court has said is unlawful and discriminatory."
[The Daily Dish]

Limited Audience?

"My geekiness is getting in the way of my nerdiness."

Tuesday, April 7

Not gloating per se

Just a friendly reminder why SoCal is so amazing. Relaxing with some dolphins at sunset on Sunday :)


Posted by Picasa

Hopelessly romantic

I stumbled across this on my Digg feed. It's a very touching confession from CNN.com -

here is a key highlight, but please take the time to read the whole thing:
What I remember most about our first years together was our laughter. We giggled in bed at night and over the course of long weekend mornings, lying on our backs, legs draped across each other's legs. Shameless hilarity in restaurants, malls, on the sidewalk -- a private world of absurdity and delight, in love with the ridiculousness of the world and each other.
(Note to self: Keep looking until you've found this)

From the end:

So we must build on what we had -- what we still have. We're different people now, in different lives. We've changed, and so our love must change. The problem isn't really that something is lost. It's that we've been looking in the wrong direction, sitting there waiting for something to materialize instead of getting up and making it ourselves. We'll have to try a little harder to see past the day-to-day. If I do, I'll find my wife -- she's in the basement taking stuff out of the dryer. And if she can postpone bedtime for just a few minutes (please!), she'll find me down in the living room watching bad TV. I can't tell you how easy it would be to get me to turn that damn thing off.

4 Down, 46 to go

Another victory for civil rights! Congratulations Vermont!

Civil rights are never a distraction, Gov. Douglas. As Americans it is our duty to protect them. Crisis or no crisis.

Saturday, April 4

Another radical court out of control :)

Iowa legalized gay marriage yesterday! The only depressing part about that is now Iowa is more progressive than California in this department. For shame California. For shame.

You can read a summarizing article here.

A very fitting highlight, written in to the unanimous decision passed down from the Supreme Court:
The ruling also addressed what it called the “religious undercurrent propelling the same-sex marriage debate,” and said judges must remain outside the fray.
Some Iowa religions are strongly opposed to same-sex marriages, the justices noted, while some support the notion.
“Our constitution does not permit any branch of government to resolve these types of religious debates and entrusts to courts the task of ensuring that government avoids them,” the opinion says.
The ruling explicitly does not affect “the freedom of a religious organization to define marriage it solemnizes as unions between a man and a woman,” the justices stressed.

Friday, April 3

Because I can

I know this is a slight deviation from most things I write about BUT I am really stoked to see this movie. The trailer has looked funny from day 1.



And now the critics agree - definitely worth the viewing price.

Thursday, April 2

One final update for today


I've done it. I've defeated my inappropriate attraction to Bombshell.

Go me!

#1


I was told today that I was nominated/selected as the #1 TA for Microbiology lab :) I say nominated/selected because I am not sure if there more to it - some selection to pick the best TA on campus or just "winners" from each class.

But either way it comes with a free lunch (which I will be skipping class for) and a nice resume update!

Foreplay

I've been neglectful. I beg your forgiveness.
I have a very intense conversation with a close friend the other day. He was having some tough times with the girl he was trying to date. And to paraphrase his gripe - she was terrible. awful. horrible in bed. I believe the term he used was "dead fish syndrome." And while I am not the most prolific nor most skilled (I guess the term is) lover. I could feel his pain. Mainly because his description was so detailed and painful. There was no reciprocation. He did all the work and then was expected to then be ready for the main event.

Now, I feel like we've all grown up in a time where the running joke has always been that guys don't know how to perform foreplay. Or that they always rush things. Or they do not concentrate on their partner's experience enough. And this may be all true. I am not out there asking every girl their terrible sexually experiences. But I know I have, and according to my nameless friend he has too, tried to make any physical contact, be it over the shirt second base to passionate, sweaty, quivering... you get the picture..., to be as much about my partner as about myself.

We got to talking. We know that one experience does not make a trend. But could it be? Could the pendulum have shifted so much? That women are now the ones clueless on how to excite their men. "Dead fish syndrome" is not acceptable. Such interactions need to be a two way street.

I now come to you. This needs to be more of dialogue with any of my readers that are still left. I am jumping to many conclusions.

Friday, March 20

Never thought it'd be possible

As a tutor, I've visited some pretty amazing families in the LA area. I had a new client recently in Beverly Hills. Not in the fake Beverly Hills, that area between Sunset and Wilshire. But an actual house in the actual hills of Beverly. What made this house particularly amazing? When I stepped up to their front door, knocked, and turned around I was treated to a full panoramic view from Century City to Downtown. Stunning. Beautiful. Amazing. Walking through their front door, I was greeted with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the other half of the LA skyline - Century City to the ocean. With mandatory pool. Location, indeed.

It was so beautiful and stunning. To top it all off, sitting there on side table gleamed a SAG award and an Emmy.

If you had told me at any point in my life that I would ever walk into house like this, with Hollywood talent like that, I would have laughed. Only in LA.

Thursday, March 19

New Rule

At the first sign of picking up a tab at a bar that clearly does not belong to me - please just take my money/cards/wallet away from me. Give me a stern look. And just say "New rule in effect."

St. Patrick's Day was quite the experience. With my sister in town for the best holiday in March, I was adamant about starting early. So with my encouragement we hit our first bar at 12. A few games of darts and some green beer, we moved on down the beach to the Irish bar of choice, O'Brien's. It was great. $10 cover. No specials. No green beer. After meeting a slew on interesting people, using Kelly as old man bait and receiving free Jameson shots from the bartender who knew me as "a Sunday regular", we moved on to the next bar.

At this point things start to get a little more hazy. We left O'Brien's to meet up with V and C at another watering hole, which was not an Irish Bar and had specials. Lots and lots of specials. Without a cover. Hurray! Now here is where my memory starts to play hopscotch. When the bill came for the 6 people I was with. I refused to let anyone else pay. I was rewarded for my efforts with a delicious car bomb. But at this point, from now on, the new rule would go into effect. But let's all see what happens next :)

Andy picked up Kay, Kelly, and myself to head to the Parlor. I don't remember the car ride up to my apartment. There is a brief flash of taking a Patron shot, poured for me by Andy, and then we are walking up the street. So this is when I take the night to ludicrous speed. It may be obvious that I am a generous drunk. How generous you may ask?

(Being filled in on this the next morning)

As we passed some of SM's generic homeless people, they wished us a Happy St Patrick's Day. We returned in kind. They asked if we had any food. I offered to take them out to dinner. No. Seriously. To dinner. With Andy and Co staring at me in disbelief, I tried to get out two new homeless companions into the Parlor. No such luck. So I took them up the street for some India food. Sit down meal. Conversation. The works. They both had the lamb. They were really friendly guys. I do not recall what we talked about. And then after getting a $53 bill I asked them if they wanted/needed anything else. Off we went to CVS for an 18-pack of Bud and some cigarettes. Another $23. So for those unable to do quick math, I spent $76 in less than an hour on two homeless gentlemen.

I now met back up with Andy and Co at the Parlor. They were in awe. I was in awe. And then I had a green beer. We went from there to a diner to meet Ben and Shanee. I regaled everyone of my misadventures through the day. And upon leaving - this unfortunate diner has windows on all walls facing the street - danced for everyone still sitting in at their booths. Like danced. Alone. To the music in my head. Like Napoleon Dynamite. Don't worry. It's on video somewhere.

So that was St. Patrick's Day.
What we learned:
1) I am a generous drunk.
2) Starting a conversation with homeless guys, causes less anxiety than talking to women.
3) Non-Irish bars are a much better option than Irish bars on St. Patrick's Day
4) Sometimes you just have to dance.

Sunday, March 15

Dark Days Ahead

For those of you who have never been in grad school, it might come as a shock that there is an entire online comic dedicated to life as one. PhD Comics is spot on in their humorous interpretation of being a grad student and how the world treats you.

With that, this comic is not AS funny. It is slightly comical, but the message here is important, so take a second to read it. Ponder what it means. Start working on your emergency supplies. And start living life.

Saturday, March 14

Not Condoning...

But wouldn't it be great if California could make an extra $1 billion a year in these tight economic times?

Going beyond that a brief history of the way things are...

Friday, March 13

Make it a Trillion

I found this post on mint.com. It's very interesting trying to grapple with the amount of money being spent to stimulate the economy, see if this helps: how much is a trillion dollars?

Wednesday, March 11

Anyone can do it

Hehehe... lot's of fun

http://www.najle.com/idaft/

Catch Up

Even though I haven't posted in almost week, nor have I posted regularly for several weeks, I do spend a relatively large sum of time staring at my blog page. No. It is not a vanity thing -- waiting for the next person to comment on an old post. If this were the case, I'd be a very sad man. I haven't felt inspired to post much. There hasn't been anything glaringly important in the news (at least not that has absorbed my attention). My life hasn't taken a major, life-altering step. It continues on, day-to-day, much the same as it always does. Well maybe that's not true. Looking back, there might have been a major change, it just happened so slowly I didn't notice.

Let me give you a quick run down of some major milestones in the last few weeks:

1) I gave my first "big" talk about my work to the department last Tuesday. I felt really good, and I went in feeling calm, cool and collected. And happily for me, many of the comments I received were extremely favorable. People liked my work. They liked the way I presented it. Some even found it exciting -- so in all I came away unscathed and moving forward.

2) This led to a moment, experienced Wednesday evening of last week, where I looked up from a scientific paper I was reading and announced to no one in particular, that I LOVE what I am doing right now. I have been super busy and super absorbed in my work and microbiology, as a whole -- this is a monumental change. I find myself asking, "when did I become a grad student?" I have been putting a much larger number of hours into grad work than ever before. And it's great.

3) Much to my dismay (and others) I have been thinking about Bombshell too much and too often.

4) I attended a weekend long retreat with the department. And had a great time with everyone. It was amazing. It was fun. It was productive. It was a great retreat. It was estimated that the students were intoxicated 50-75% of the time. While the faculty was intoxicated 35-50% of the time. Definitely a great retreat.

5) I have finally finished grading lab report, which have been the bane of my existence for 3 weeks. I feel bad because I looks like I gave the smack down, while other TAs might have been more forgiving. I guess my policy is -- if you can't write English, minus points. If you can't follow directions, minus points. And if you have yet to grasp scientific writing, minus points. They are all seniors. They should know better. Or at least I think they should.

6) My car suffered a catastrophic tire failure on the way home from work Tuesday night. It has been replaced along with another tire to the tune of $320. HURRAY!

7) Did I mention I've been thinking about Bombshell too much? Need to make it stop. It's just getting frustrating/annoying now.

More to come soon. I promise. Please keep reading!! :)

Friday, March 6

Sidewalk Celebs

I literally just saw Stefan. The runner up from this season's Top Chef: New York. I said hi. We bonded. It was cool. He was trying on his new chef coat, that he received at his UPS mailing box. I knew the restaurant he worked at was in Santa Monica, but it was totally cool to see him.

I love this city.

With that, I am heading to Catalina Island for the weekend for a departmental retreat (read: "pretending" to work, nursing hangovers, and imbibing too much alcohol). I am super excited.

Wednesday, March 4

Petitions are so easy in the Age of the Internet

Am I right? Huh? Huh?
It used to be if you wanted to express your opinion to a member of Congress, you actually had to call or write or send smoke signals/carrier pigeons, sometimes smoke signals and carrier pigeons in unison. And then some aid used math mumbo jumbo to say, "Well, if 15,000 people in our 55 million person state sent in concerns, this equates to being important to 56.7896% of the population - let's do this to be re-elected." Now, you just type in your email address and zip code and wham bam someone else does the work for you.

For example: During the Bush Administration, the Bush-appointed head of the EPA blocked a waiver submitted by CA to increase the regulation on auto emissions. Because CA had it's Clear Air Act in place prior to the EPA, it has had the right to enforce regulations on air pollution that are more strict than EPA standards. Once CA enacts such a law, any other state in the Union can then follow suit if they so choose. For 30 years, this worked fine. Until the most recent regulation was blocked. The EPA is now considering allowing the waiver through, and letting CA enact stricter auto emission regulations. A law 13 other states have said they will also follow. If you do the math, it would require 40% of all future cars in America to be less polluting!!!

The EPA will be hold a public hearing in Washington DC tomorrow. I know, I know. Why do I always tell you this at the last minute? But you can be there, sort of. Follow this like to The We Campaign, and enter your petition. Add you name, and your weight of being a US voter, to help save the planet. You don't even have to leave your seat :)

Brilliant!!!

For any history buffs reading this. Or for that matter anyone who remembers the history of WWII at all. OR! For people who like to laugh at weird things --

here

Saturday, February 28

I want to stop this train

So it's happened. At 23, the first of my college friends have gotten engaged!!! How crazily awesome is that. They've been together for quite some time, so it isn't actually a surprise. She hasn't posted any pictures on the ring/celebration, but I am sure she will once everyone knows. If you are interested you can keep an eye on the The Sassy Kathy blog.

There seems to have been a whole shin-dig involving all my other friends from college. It's cool being left out of the loop. I guess I knew relatively quickly considering the circumstances. But they all got invited... hhhhmmmmmrrrr. However, if it means that I get to have beautiful days like today in February (76 and sunny) then it still may very well be worth it.

Congratulations Kathryn and Jared!!!! When's the date? I need to book a flight!

Friday, February 27

Clean coal? For realz?

A little something from the This Is Reality campaign.

Thursday, February 26

Spin, twirl, spin, kick

So I had one of those moments yesterday while I was teaching lab. As is custom, my fellow TA and I play music while the students are working on their experiments. I was in charge of music selection and chose to listen to LA's The Sound (100.3 FM) -- it's on those stations that just plays random music. Jumping from one genre to the other.

At one point "I wanna be sedated" by The Ramones started to play. The other TA and I kept giving each other looks as we subtly bopped along with the song. And I had this flash. Something my friends from college said often -- wouldn't life be so much more fun if people actually spontaneously broke out in choreographed dance, just like in plays and movies. I could see it. All the students standing up from their symmetrical lab benches, in their white lab coats, busting out in a well timed choreographed dance number. Specifcally at the part where the song goes, "Ba-ba-bamp-ba ba-ba-ba-bamp-ba I wanna be sedated".

It might actually look something like this:

Monday, February 23

Unsuspecting Cast Addition

So I would like to introduce Bombshell, into the cast of characters, that on occasion, enter the stories of my life. As many of you know, I have no problem using first names for the people in the story of my life, but Bombshell is different. Because I am totally head-over-heels crazy for her. Well, as crazy as one can be when you have limited time with a person, who has no clue you are interested in them. I will not be using her name because there is always that chance it will get back to her and that would be not good.... not good at all. There are several reasons why I can't broach this subject with her: 1) I am a coward, 2) she has personal reasons.

I am writing all this because I had a dream about her last night. No. Not that kind of dream. The kind of dream where I woke up and was convinced it had really happened. That we were happily in a relationship of some kind. I say some kind because mid-20s relationships are far to complicated and amorphous to categorize sometimes. [more on this later]

The dream was just kind of perfect. We are working together over the thing we commonly work over together (sorry, no specifics, would give it all away), when she looks up from the table at me. Her eyes meet mine, and linger. And then as she is talking, they lazily wander down my face to my lips. Her words are starting to slow and trail off, but she keeps talking. The way one does when there is something else actively on their mind. She then brings her beautiful eyes back to mine. I can see her breathe a little deeper. A little harder. I take a deep breathe too. She is leaning across the table, just the tiniest of bits. I start to lean closer. She follows suit. Slightly biting her lip. We meet in the center of the table. Sparks fly. From there the dream does not move to the bed or anything like that. It starts to fast forward through various parts of our relationship. It's near Valentine's Day and that's where the rest of the dream goes.

Now. I don't believe that dreams are signs or premonitions. That's just silly. But, on that note, it has happened to me once. Just once. Where a dream came true. One year later. So let's just say. I have my fingers crossed. And my toes. And my eyes. Everything that can be is crossed. Really, really hard.

Sunday, February 22

I would like some flab with that

So it seems my last set of posts was enough to make someone stop reading my blog publicly. That always stings just a little bit. You know -- right here. I definitely take it too personally and for those of you sticking around, thank you. For posts that you don't find exciting enough, please leave a comment ("boring", etc.) so I know that the zero comments are because people don't care, not because you have no comment.

So. On the six hour, 265 mile drive home from Yosemite, as a sort of project, my car decided to keep a tally of the number of fast food establishments we could see from the high way. We were quite amazed at the results.

In no specific order:
Subway - 15
A&W - 2
KFC - 6
Carl's Jr - 11
Jack in the Box - 15
McDonald's - 17
Taco Bell - 13
Burger King - 10
In-n-Out - 5
Wendy's - 4
Starbucks - 7
Denny's - 18

So I think there are two shocking things we can take from this list.

1) Denny's, unsuspectingly, is more prolific than McDonald's. Which is mind boggling because McDonald's, in my opinion, completely saturates the market as is. Not really sure how Denny's can do it. ESPECIALLY because it sucks.

2) In the same vein, along this route, there was a McDonald's restaurant every 15.5 miles. Amazing. That really just blows my mind.

Thursday, February 19

Last thing for today

WHAT FOUR POSTS IN ONE DAY?!?!

I know. Crazy. Just wanted to say that this weekend I am going snowshoeing in Yosemite National Park. I super stoked. As should you. Because come Sunday night/Monday expect some awesome pictures. Until then, enjoy your weekend.

Props

I want to give props to one of the blogs I read regularly. *Nic* writes to us from the UK. She posted a great story today about how she went to sleep drunk and woke up with a trip to San Francisco. Check it out here, at *PINKNIC*

A matter of time

As many of you know, because of I am a marine biologist, one of my favorite topics to talk about is ---

the current credit crisis... bet you new readers didn't see that coming.

I persistently follow the Planet Money Blog, a reliable NPR based source of financial news. A post today (found here, by Adam Davidson) should be heeded by anyone who has stock in a major bank, BoA, Citigroup, etc. The question of the day was: will the government have to nationalize the major banks of America to prevent financial ruin? And the answer was very eloquently, "Can't tell you even if we wanted to." Essentially, the government will not discuss such a move in an open forum for one big reason --

The government official told me that if word leaked out in any way that the government was even considering nationalization, it could spook the stock markets so badly that all those troubled banks would, instantly, become dead banks. Citi, Bank of America and other big banks, have shockingly low stock prices. But some people think that they are still overpriced--that those banks are insolvent and the only reason their stock has any value is because many investors believe the government will bail them out. Nationalization would, in most scenarios, mean the stock would lose all of its value instantly.

So any inkelling that the government might nationalize the banks, by any major news source or politician, could collapse the banking system of America in hours.

So if it does happen, expect the following events to occur. The US stock market closes Friday. Rumors start to fly of emergency meetings in Congress. Saturday more rumors and leaks become available. And Sunday, the Adminstration comes forward to announce the US banks are not the US Bank. All before the markets in Asia open. Crazy.

And we wouldn't even see it coming --

[the] government official is the kind of person who normally, well, leaks; tells reporters interesting things off the record. This person wouldn't budge. Not an inch. I asked: so, if you were just in a meeting where you decided nationalization is, clearly, the best option, you'd tell me you had never discussed it, right? This person said: yup.

Credit Crisis Video


The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

For anyone who is unsure how we got into this mess. This super fun animation gives a very amazing background as to why we are in a recession and why we may have to nationalize the banks.

For even more information, check out this This American Life episode.

Wednesday, February 18

A Story of Grad School Absurdity

So I felt that considering the title of my blog is Grad School Prison, I should actually write a post about graduate school, as opposed to the random thoughts that strike my psyche while locked in it's confines.

This is a story about the effort (and absurdity) used to lure next year's pure and innocent prospective students to select our bitter and used department for 6 long years of a cold, unloving relationship.

Each year, graduate departments in the major sciences around the country fly out prospective students to meet faculty and students and hold interviews (this is a prime example of academic wining and dining). My department hosted 25 prospective students. TWENTY-FIVE! This number may not sound absurd out of context -- but let's consider the number of research faculty in the department. I believe the number is currently around 11. Which means, that even if every faculty member was to invite a new student into their lab, they'd not be inviting 14. Here's the rub, approximately 4 faculty are accepting/have funding for students.

So as a current grad student answering questions, when someone asks, "What are the chances of me getting in?". I'd have to reply, "Not good. especially, if you want to work with [insert name here]."

Now let's consider how much money it costs to fly out 25 individuals. And then wine and dine them for 48 hours --
25 x $300/per flight = $7,500
2 x rental vans (+ gas) = $120
13 rooms in the Leows Hotel on Ocean Blvd, listed as $319/room, but let's assume the number of rooms resulted in a group rate, $250/room = $3,250
Dinner for 30 people at Budda's Belly = $900
Dinner for 30 people at Marisol's with an open bar = $???? (Any guesses?)

Again, you may be asking me what is the big deal? --

Historic fact: last year the 15 prospective students (6 of whom were accepted) stayed here. And the year before, for my year (20 prospective students, 13 accepted) they put us up here. It was in Palos Verdes. Not close to the beach. Not close to a bar. Not close to anywhere of interest.

While some of this may sound like resentment over not receiving the royal treatment myself. A lot my aggravation is due to the bait-and-switch method such used on graduate students. As they have shown, time and again -- once they have us in their clutches, the romance goes out the window and out comes the ball gag (forgot I was trying to use a romance metaphor). Such an example would be this year's attempt to cancel the yearly retreat. Something that had already been pushed back from last semester. Something that the new students need in order to be meet everyone in the department. I know too many 4th year students who have never met any of the 1st year class. And They attempted to cancel the event, using an excuse of lacking funds. I wonder where it all went.

I should get a tatoo that reads: "Modern Indentured Servant"

Tuesday, February 17

An Ode to America

A fun/disgusting food blog passed along to me by a friend. Is it terrible that I think many of the items on the main page look delicious and I would not be opposed to eating them? I.E. bacon burger dog with cheese... I am tempted to head home tonight and try and make one for dinner.

Sunday, February 15

Sad times

Sports Update:

Hard times have fallen on Balls and Dolls. After a cancellation due to weather last week, we picked up our first L of the season. So much for going undefeated. Some have postulated that we could have avoided defeat had 90% of the team not participated in a Valentine's Day bar crawl that lasted 14 hours in Hermosa Beach. Sure it seemed like a good idea yesterday -- but today's lack luster performance may be traced to yesterday's frivolity. However, it was definitely worth it. Yay bar crawls! Glad tomorrow is a holiday so I can recover... I need it

Balls and Dolls
W - L
2 - 1

Friday, February 13

Geeking Out

If you get a chance, check out this video. It may only impress some of you, but it is a rather awesome step in the right direction for next generation computers. And it's a great example of an idea so simple that you can't believe someone else didn't come up with it first.

Wednesday, February 11

You are NEVER going to believe this

But it is totally a true story.

So today, I am heading out of campus. On my way to my car. As I walk through the middle of campus, I hear from behind me, "Hey. Hey you!" I ignore it. I know who ever it is, is talking to me. But that has got to be one of the most awkward ways to start talking to someone in public. I pretend it's directed towards someone else. There is NO ONE else around me. For what feels like miles.

I keep walking. I hear, "You. You in the black shirt." Shit. Now it's definitely me. I stop. Turn.

A guy is approaching me. In a blue armed forces uniform. He is coming out of the ROTC building, so I assume he is a Navy equivalent of the ROTC.

"Yeah?" I reply.

"I know you. I know you from somewhere. Where do I know you from?" The SECOND most awkward way to start a conversation.

"I don't know, dude. I wish I could help. But unfortunately, I can't say I recognize you." I wish it came out as coherent as that. But of course because I was caught off guard, it probably came out: "What? mumble... not sure... mumble... sorry... I've got to go."

He snaps his fingers. Looks down at the ground. Looks back at my face. Snaps his finger again. "You -- ummm -- YOU write that blog!"
You've got to be shitting me.
"Yea, that blog. What's it called... Grad. Grad school.... GRAD SCHOOL PRISON. I knew it."
This has got to be some type of joke.
"It's a good blog. Keep it up. Later."

He turns. Walks away. I turn back the way I was going -- completely flabbergasted.

Un-fucking-believable.

Hi dude! Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, February 10

Debbie downer

And just so no one thinks I am only a Debbie-downer:

Wah wah trombones

For anyone who listens to Marketplace, you know the wah-wah trombones are for down days in the stock market. I have been mulling over a post about the terrible wildfires in Australia, and how they symbolize the future for CA. More on that soon.

But, I was just cruising the Internet, like one does, and came across this nugget of information at Daily Kos. In brief, the global economy was just three hours away from complete collapse in mid-September. Three hours away from a barter system and marshall law and anarchy. The end of civilization as we know it. You can read Daily Kos full post, but some choice excerts include:

Representative Sherman later revealed that members were warned that Martial Law would result if the $700 bailout plan was not passed, and Iguadland10 posted another video ascribing that particular warning to Paulson.

The New York Times quoted Senator Dodd as jumping in when Charles Schumer described the meeting as 'somber': “Somber doesn’t begin to justify the words,” he said. “We have never heard language like this.” Also from NYT: Although Mr. Schumer, Mr. Dodd and other participants declined to repeat precisely what they were told by Mr. Bernanke and Mr. Paulson, they said the two men described the financial system as effectively bound in a knot that was being pulled tighter and tighter by the day.

AND from Rep. Kanjorski:

Somebody threw us into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean without a life raft and we're trying to determine what's the closest shore and whether there's any chance in the world to swim that far. We. Don't. Know.
These are really, really terrifying points of discussion. Mainly because -- what the hell does the world look like the day after civilization ends? Daily Kos points out that things are still slipping, despite all the money being thrown into the problem. Assest prices are falling. And more assests are being affected as time progresses. (Remember $4.00 gas?) Economies are still "spiraling" downwards.

So with such scary thoughts before bedtime -- what do you think the end of the civilization would be like? If you heard on the news, that the economy had collapsed, would you go to work the next day? Would you buy a gun? Would you be the first into the streets looting? I can only imagine the carnage. But maybe I am missing something. What do you think would be the first to go?

Sunday, February 8

Sunday!!

So my whole, one-post-a-day plan fell through on Friday. Oh well, we'll try again this week.

Just found this video. I thought I would share. The video itself it awesome. Kind of baffling how they did all of it. Not too sure about the actual artist/song, yet. But the video is well worth the watch.

Thursday, February 5

Don't be a gayist!!

Here is a video from the Courage Campaign. It turns out that Ken Starr, on behalf of the "Yes on Prop 8" folks (read: Mormons), has filed a brief with the CA Supreme Court for a hearing that may retroactively instate Proposition 8. This would forcibly divorce the 18,000 couples who got married in the interim period of 2008, when gay marriage was legal in CA. The Supreme Court will hear arguments on March 5th, and make a decision within 90 days.

On a side note: what a great job to have... meh... I'll get back to you some time in the next three months. I want to be a Supreme Court judge.


"Fidelity": Don't Divorce... from Courage Campaign on Vimeo.

Wednesday, February 4

Locker Room Etiquette

Three days... must be a new record...

So I haven't been living up to my own expectations. I had hoping to make this blog a thrilling read about exciting science. No -- this is not an oxymoron. I had set out to INFORM the WORLD, about the evils of global climate change and the awesomeness of recent discoveries. And yet here I am ranting about locker room etiquette. But you know? There are plenty of blogs discussing global climate change and recent discoveries (see my recommended blogs over there --------->), so I guess someone has to rant about etiquette.

Okay first -- Old Dude, who is in the locker room what seems like every morning I am, it is not okay to dress in the order you do. Once you leave the shower, it is a locker room requirement that you apply pants to your body ASAP. For no reason, should the order be, leave the shower, take off towel, stand "proud" for the world to see, apply deodorant, put on shirt, put on socks, THEN put on underpants. It's creepy. Weird. And did I mention creepy? Maybe he should check out a site like this. (what I found when I Googled "instructions on how to dress yourself")

On a side note: how awesome is that you can use Google as a verb?

Second. Asian guy I saw two days in a row. It is not okay to self-induce engorgement of your own genitalia in a public. I know this may be confusing because normally a shower is a private thing and nothing is better than "relieving stress" with a hot stream of water running down your back. BUT this is not a private shower. In fact there are three other guys in the shower with you, wondering what the frack you are doing. No. No. STOP. We are not looking at you because we want you to continue. This is our way of letting you know that we can in fact see you and that is so not kosher! What, don't speed up. No! STOP! NO!!!! (no Danger, this is not my yelling because ejaculate is being sprayed everywhere)

That's it. I am sure I will update this list too as I spend more time in the locker room. Why are people so weird?

Tuesday, February 3

Balls And Dolls

Look -- two days in a row!!!

So I know Sunday had some major sporting event on TV... some ultra-bowl or something or other -- with two terrible teams that didn't deserve to be in the playoffs, let alone make it to the final game of the year (It wasn't all bad. I did win $40 because of the final score).

Sunday also was the second game for the drinking team I am on. Did I say drinking? I meant kickball. Sorry, must have been a Freudian slip. Suffice it to say, we are now 2-0 for the season. With a come back win in the 4th inning, against Blue Balls (the dreaded royal blue team).

It was definitely a quality experience. Yours truly got on base twice, with 1 run scored. I will keep everyone posted from a time to time on our season -- especially if we beat all the teams that have been around for a few years!


From our first game. I have no idea what is in those read cups!! And the rumors are definitely false that we finished two 30 packs in less than an hour. Or that we are requiring three 30 packs for all future games. It's going to be a great season!

Monday, February 2

Fate

A sign of things to come?

Last Monday, I was standing at my kitchen table at 7:30 in the morning. I had just finished my very adult breakfast (read: cereal without marshmallows or artificial flavoring) and was ironing my shirt for the day. Yes. People still do iron their clothes. Crazy. Simultaneously, I was watching the local morning news. I was quite content.

And then it struck me.

It had happened.

I had become my father. Sure. Nothing else had changed. But here I was, mimicking my Dad's morning routine from when I was in Middle and High school. My mind was blown.

Fast forward to Thursday of the same week. I finally remembered to inform my Dad of my terrible epiphany. As I completed the story, he left out a very loud triumphant "YESSSS!!!" Taken aback, he explained that my younger brother had purchased some new clothes. Luke, much to his dismay, had picked out a new sweater that my Dad thought "was very cool". Luke was no longer excited about his new purchase.

Now, you may be wondering why my father cheered so loudly after my story and how these two incidents are related... Well in his mind, he had won. The ultimate win. Not only has he passed along his genes successfully. BUT he has effectively corrupted his offspring to the point of actually being like him. I have adopted some of his habits, while my brother (unfortunately) seems to have his fashion sense.


The corrupter of souls!

Something new

So this week I am going to try and be more spread out with my posts. Writing at least one post a today and not 3 posts one day and none for the rest of the week. It's a new thing. Maybe we'll all like it more.

Friday, January 30

Vegans Win

And this is why you should think about NOT eating beef everyday --

  • Pound for pound, beef production generates greenhouse gases that contribute more than 13 times as much to global warming as do the gases emitted from producing chicken. For potatoes, the multiplier is 57.
  • Beef consumption is rising rapidly, both as population increases and as people eat more meat.
  • Producing the annual beef diet of the average American emits as much greenhouse gas as a car driven more than 1,800 miles.
Do your part fair readers. Epic change always starts with you!

Recession

Because I have been constantly thinking about it and listening to NPR about it and reading about it, I thought I would take a second to write about the economy. I know super exciting. It won't take long. I promise. For me, it feels like watching the scene of a car accident as you drive by. You slow down, you stare, you think about how much that sucks and how you never want it to happen to you, but you shrug your shoulders and speed up and drive away. That is this recession to me. Grad school is (mostly) recession proof. The money keeps coming for the next 4.5 years regardless of the rest of the world. Which is nice to know. Not to worry I will continue to do my part in stimulating the economy -- one beer at a time.

With that said, an interesting side effect of the world at large right now, is the idea of price actualization. People finally realizing that we have been shafted for years with super inflated prices compared to manufacturing costs. The business world has been growing at our expense. Profits are down because for the first time ever, people are saying I am not going to pay $80 for a new phone that costs $11 to make.

This was posted on the Planet Money blog -- an excerpt from a book published in the last Great Depression:

The psychic effect of the depression, it seems to me, is generally a good one.... It has taught people the difference between speculative values and real values. It has hastened the death of sick industries, and proved the vigor of sound ones. It has blown up the old delusion that the amount of money in the world is unlimited, and that every American is entitled to a police captain's share of it. Best of all, it has taught millions that there is really no earthly reason why there should be two cars in every garage, and a chicken in the pot every day.
-- H.L. Mencken

I hope this how America endures this recession.

How is the recession affecting you? Feel free to rant in your comment that you know you want to leave...

Tuesday, January 27

Suffice it to say

I am learning a lot about myself from some recent experiences. Involving the opposite sex. And I would like to get it off my chest. And I would type it all here and indulge/cringe at the feedback, BUT I know there are a plenty of trollers who would think it is way WAY too much information. Close friends and family, who would probably like to avoid the true inner workings of my brain. Nobody wants to read their big brother's opinion on foreplay, sex or the dating ettiquet of 20-something young "professionals". So for now I am going to hold off. But as the title states, suffice it say, I have learned a lot in a few short days. Now, I just need to try and figure out what it all means.

More posts to come!

Sunday, January 25

Oh California...

So I am reading this article from Discovery.com - in a recent study from Sweden, they have found that free-range chickens are more likely to have
more bacterial infections (the most common cause of death), more parasites, and more viruses. They were also more likely to become victims of violent pecking and cannibalistic attacks.
In California, in the last election, many people around the world found out that even the most progressive state in America has its limitations. The failure to block Prop 8 was a travesty to human rights and a disgusting view of civil rights and love. But one of the things that made me most upset was that Prop 2 passed. What is Prop 2, you may ask?

Well, it's a law requiring chickens and other animals to be grown in free-range conditions. All this despite warnings from farmers and veterinarians, that free-range chickens are not always healthier. Chickens are in fact filthy animals. They are constantly in contact with their own excrement while they peck the ground, consuming food and waster alike. This sort of contamination was avoided in cages elevated above the ground, allowing waste to fall away from the bird. Cages also prevented violent, cannabalistic attacks, mentioned above.

It was common site on the streets in LA, pre-election, to see minivans and SUVs, displaying "Yes on Prop 2" and "Yes on Prop 8". People were content and eager to give more rights to ANIMALS, for conditions that did not make their lives better, while taking away rights from other HUMANS, essentially creating a type of second class citizen. As a good friend of mine suggested, maybe we should be starting PETH, People for the Ethical Treatment of Humans, as a counter to PETA.

What a world we live in. Good job California. Way to drop the ball.

TWSS #3-7

San Diego Weekend Excursion

# 3 "and catch it all in my mouth" - Holly
called by Andy

# 4 "it's just so thick" - Laura
called by Andy and I

# 5 "she came first, then I followed" - Laura
called by Holly

# 6 "this thing keeps leaking all over the place" - Laura
called by Andy

# 7 "Just force it. It will work" - Andy
called by myself

Tuesday, January 20

New Highs

So I TA-ed my first class at USC today. Mind you, this is not the first class I've TA-ed in my life, just at USC. (And with that little tid bit of knowledge, I think anyone with half an interest can now find me in real life, but I guess it's not much worse than Facebook). It was quite the experience because, truth be told, there was nothing super exciting about it.

My lecture went well. The usual number of kids were willing to answer questions. My TA partner was 1000 times better at finding the iris in the microscope than myself. I spent the last half of the lab (approximately 1.5 hrs) starving to death.

The students seem to be the extra studious type. Shockingly many were prepared before class had even started. And to top it off some of them had actually read the lab protocols before coming to class. I was amazed! I guess I really shouldn't be, most of them are pre-professional students: pre-pharmacy, -optometry, etc.

All in all nothing, as normal as a first TA experience can be. I will keep you posted on any future excitement. But don't hold your breath.

The Man Who Should Have Never Been President

How did this man ever become President in the first place?

You Have Been Warned


[Squiffy's House of Fun]

Monday, January 19

A Bastion of Hope

As promised --

Kicking off this exciting weekend was an exciting trip to The Counter, a burger joint at the corner of 29th and Ocean Park in Santa Monica. There are franchises all over Southern California and smattered around the rest of the country. The Counter is an experience in and of itself. While waiting for a table (which you always will have to do) you are given a clipboard and check-able menu.

You customize everything about your burger. The type of meat (includes a veggie option). The size of the patty, 1/3 lb, 2/3 lb, or 1 lb behemoth. Four toppings of 18 possiblities. A cheese from 10 options. Your choice of sauce. And the type of bun. To get an idea of what these options are, look here.

Now this may all sound fun and exciting -- what a novelty, you can check off what you want to make, but really the burgers are AMAZING. I can not explain how delicious these burgers are. They are king of all burgers. When you take that first bite (which normally requires a knife and fork for anything 2/3lbs or bigger) you won't be able to put it down. The patty melts on your taste buds. All other burgers will be compared to this single experience. Sure. It sounds like I am exaggerating. Sure. Everyone claims to have had the best burger. But let me tell you -- I went there twice last week. TWICE. Because there were people in town who wanted to try the best burger in the world. Both of them left satisfied. And preaching the word.
This is yours truly enjoying a 1/3 lb burger, with Tillamook cheddar, fresh lettuce and tomato, jalapenos, spicy pepperoncinis, and healthy slab of honey cured bacon. All on a honey wheat bun.

Yes SassyKathy, you can visit me just to try this burger. I won't be offended.

PS - the 50/50 regular and sweet potato fries are amazing too!

Faithful Readers...

... do not despair. I have several posts I need to make about this past weekend. They are coming ASAP (hopefully later tonight), I just need to take care of one little itty bitty thing first.

Thursday, January 15

Just call me Digg Jr

Just a fun article from AskMen.com that I found through Digg.com. Too many .coms there?

It lists 10 commonly held myths and dismisses them. Like... humans only use 10% of their brains. Wrong. That Napoleon was short. Wrong. And that men think about sex once every 7 second. Wron..... well.... definitely not 7 seconds... maybe... 15 seconds... Got to let one thought finish first, right?

Not to Gloat

So I've been hearing from a few people (read: everyone) that the Eastern part of the country is not a comfortable place to be... something about cod weather... no... no... it can't be cod... OH right it's like frickin' freezing everywhere right? Cold enough for stuff like this to happen. Yes. That boiling hot water is freezing instantly in -20F air temps. CRAZY.

For those of you not reading this in Southern California... I don't want to sound like I am bragging, but I am just a little bit. Today was 85 with blue skies. Have I mentioned that I love living here?

Evite Is Useless

I think the title of this post speaks for itself -- mainly it's my frustration with having to use such a terrible, rigid structure that stifles creativity. WHY can't I add returns to my message? Why must it be a sold block of crap? And secondly, and possibly more importantly, why don't people respond to the damn invite!!!!??? I have been part of Evites before, hosting them at my place etc., so I knew you could see when people viewed the invite itself. But there is no reason not to respond. If you can't come, just respond accordingly -- don't wait to see if "something clears up". Write that! There is a maybe section. Select "MAYBE" and then write some lame excuse "I can't definitely come because I am getting the sand removed from my vagina blah blah blah, but if my doc cancels blah blah blah". So frustrating...

Any way that's my rant for tonight. Expect a less bitter and angry post in a little bit.

Tuesday, January 13

Because I love them

I think crows and ravens may be the coolest birds out there. They always impress me with their intelligence and resourcefulness. The ravens that inhabit Catalina Island are amazing at exploiting the stupid humans and their spawn. So when I saw this video, despite most people not caring, I just had to post it here to show everyone how cool these birds are.

Update: To make my main page less annoying, the video has been moved to this link: video!

Plus I think it's Sir David Attenborough narrating, which is always a treat.

Tripping Balls

So I found this article last night about self-inducing hallucination... I am going to try the first one for sure and see if anything happens. Most of the tricks aren't really hallucination, more like mind tricks due to how the brain works. It's pretty cool. If you try any of them, let me know. And I'll keep you all posted too.

Monday, January 12

For the Audience

So this morning while I was washing dishes, I had this lyric from Usher stuck in my head. A friend of mine, who actually might not be a consider a friend anymore, long ago, used this to jokingly describe herself. The lyric is
we want a lady on the street, but a freak in the bed

And then I got to wondering, would I be satisfied if I found a person who completed me in every way, but was not able to perform under the covers? And to be honest I didn't have an answer. Also, if dating two people at the same time and one was funny, caring, intellectually stimulating and all the other things people should, but sucked in bed AND the other was no where near as good, but was a sex goddess, who would I choose? (Now to be clear, Lady Number 2, isn't a terrible person, she just isn't perfect) I am still not sure. Hopefully, I don't learn through trial and error.

But fair reader, what about yourself? Do you know which way you would choose? Or have you had to choose in such a situation? Obviously, change gender when necessary.

How much does sex play in choosing a partner?

Sunday, January 11

Let me tell you a little story

At Rutgers University in New Jersey, there is a late night food vendor known as the Grease Trucks. They specialize in the ultimate late night solution to various substance induced hunger, the Fat Sandwich. The reigning king of the Fat Sandwiches, is the Fat Darrell. A Fat Darrell consists of golden deep fried mozzarella sticks, juicy chicken fingers, perfect french fries, topped with marinara sauce, and lettuce and tomato all on a single roll. Yes, that is 6000 calories on a single roll. Yes, I know how healthy these aren't for you. Yes, they are THAT amazing.

After receiving inspiration from friends back home with this video from Paula Dean (thank you JK). I spent the early part of the afternoon crafting sandwiches for my less blessed, non-New Jerseyan, Cali friends. Ingredients good to go.
Look at those fresh mozzarella sticks. Hot off the presses.
The first overwhelmed victim. Savoring the delicious-ness.
A true sign of a satisfied customer. Ben K. actually went back for seconds. He couldn't handle it alone and needed my backup. Of course being the good friend I am, I obliged.

For more history on the Fat Darrell, check out here. And for my specifics on the recipe, contact me. They are super simple, but slightly different than Paula's.

A Great Little Saturday

So I have two big posts that I need to write to recap today, but because today was so awesome I need to get some sleep first. Here are two pictures though -- to hold you through until I can update. Just to give you a sweet sweet taste
I know, it's just a sandwich. But it is the sandwich that rules all sandwiches with an iron fist. The Cadillac of sandwiches.
And yes -- those are monster trucks. More to come...

Thursday, January 8

Just me

Can I just say I love 30Rock? Easily the second best show on TV. No contest.

It's 2-fer time at Disneyland for Southern Californian residents, so I guess it's time to start planning two trips in one weekend :)

I heard a great joke that I've been sharing profusely today:
A priest, a rabbi, a black guy, a blond woman, and a horse walk into a bar.

The bartender looks at them and goes "What is this? A joke?"

Oh the woes of Wall Street

Another note from Marketplace today -- this was Kai's closing comment of the day:

The good people over at the Nasdaq have been wondering the same thing we have: What's a good way to track how bailed-out companies are performing with all that government cash they've got?

Enter the newest stock ticker you'll want to be keeping track of. The OMX Government Relief Index includes companies that have taken TARP money, not all of 'em, just the ones that got a billion dollars or more.

Here's the kicker though, the index started trading Monday at an initial value of 1,000. Closed today at 941.
Well that's exciting news...

One can dream

So I was listen to Marketplace on NPR with Kai Ryssdal (my favorite radio host) on the ride home today, as per my usual routine and they had an interesting segment which I am going to paraphrase. They had on a soft-toned British gentleman, Charles Handy, talking about the current state of banking and where the future might lie. He had an interesting prediction/hope for the future.
I mean we may get back to a saner kind of world -- what Adam Smith called "cultivation" or "civilization" -- where we don't all sort of spend our life trying to make money, to buy things we don't really need to impress the neighbors, and so on. Where we actually do work -- not 60 hours a week, but 40 hours a week. Where we actually do take holidays. Where we actually get to know our kids again. Where it actually becomes smart to have a tiny car, to walk and bicycle and these sorts of things. And we may find we enjoy it actually just as much as the hectic pace that we've seen in recent years. I've often said that capitalism, particularly in America, is a very exhausting business. It tires people out.
Now, it may just be me, but that is definitely a future I could support.

Wednesday, January 7

Adam's Desk Story

I have duplicated Adam's Craig's List ad for the desk he is selling because it was replaced by the desk starring in "An LA Moment":

This desk is made out of authentic composite wood, unilaterally paneled on all sides by a waterproof wood-imitating surface. It features permanent positioning, and is adorned by an office-depotesque ten inch tower. The curved front legs accentuate the desk's sensuality. The desk was assembled completely in America by the original owner. The Chinese who manufactured the parts of this desk have dedicated their lives to the creation of furniture parts. Featuring stunning workmanship, and wear to due age, this desk is sure to please even the hardest one to gift. Its tootsie pop stain will evoke the sweet smell of childhood for weeks to come.

Don't miss out on this opportunity! This desk is one-of-a-kind.


The actual post is here if you are interested in buying it: http://losangeles.craigslist.org/wst/fuo/984598736.html

Marine Monuments

President Bush has used some executive mumbo jumbo to immediately begin protecting 195,274 square miles of marine habitats in US waters. Not to worry none of those waters are part of the United States of America, but areas of the coast of American territories.

Beyond the absurdity of the wheres and hows, the areas being protects are pretty awesome. They protect some features unique only to the areas being preserved. Including the only active sulfur pool (not even sure what that it) inside the Asteroid Belt. While the marine biologist in me is always happy about more protected marine areas, the disappointed constituent in me wonders why not more and really, more executive powers?

You can follow this link to Discovery News to learn more.

An LA Moment

So I have been back in LA for less than 10 hours, kind of home sick, and I remember one of the many reasons I love this city.

At 10am, Adam turns the corner of my room and goes:
"Dude I am buying a desk off Craig's List, and you have to see who I am buying it from."
At which point he directs me to this web page: http://www.taragerard.net/
It turns out this $60 desk he was getting was being sold by this model/actress, who if you followed any of the links, is rather attractive.

Being the good and caring roommate I am, I offered to go with him and help pick up the desk. :)

We traveled into the Valley to get the piece of furniture and arrived about 15 min late. She was waiting on the side of the road at a busy intersection in her black convertible (some old model that only looks nice because it is a convertible). The desk is already sitting on the curb. We pull up next to her and put on our hazard lights in the right lane and get out quickly to load the desk. She gets out of her car and looks as unimpressive as you would except a non-famous model to be. Dressed in sweats and a loose hanging sweatshirt. She was obviously extremely skinny and much shorter than her pictures would have you believe. Also, unlike her pictures she ULTRA freckly (oh the wonders of Photoshop).

Anywho, we put the desk in the trunk, and as we do, Adam starts to ask her where she got the desk from. Simultaneously, all three of us notice a sticker on the bottom of the desk that says "Big Lots $39.99." Her face suddenly becomes quite frightened, Adam and I look at each other, and he quickly hands over the $60. As we pull away, he looks at me and goes "Man, I wish we weren't parked on the street, I would have said I am not comfortable with giving you more than $40 for this desk. Damn." Needless to say we had a good laugh.

Update: So upon getting home we checked the sticker on the desk to find it was actually labeled as $39.99 for an umbrella. This made Adam feel better about his purchase.

Update: Adam found the desk online at Big Lots for $59.99 brand new. Now he feels even better because she only sold it for the price she got it for. The down side -- it came with a desk chair at that price. A shitty desk chair, but a chair nonetheless.

Monday, January 5

Question

Why does CBS.com suck so badly? How hard is it for them to keep shows up to view longer than 7 days? NBC keeps theirs up for most of the season. ABC gives you 4 weeks if you missed a show. Why doesn't CBS seem to grasp that online viewership helps people stay with the show? When people are all caught up they are more likely to watch your show weekly!!!

Why...

... am I attracted to women out of "my league"? *grumble*

I don't think I realized until this year how much the internet "slows" down over the winter holiday session. I mean it makes sense -- say one person/department has off for the holidays. Anyone relying on those posts for their "news" then has to come up with something different or not post themselves. Thus it spirals out of control to the point where Israel has been launching an attack on the Gaza Strip for 6 days with little splash being made.

And even more so what about the sludge disaster before Christmas? A coal-based energy plant in the heart of America, much like all coal plants, has to deposit and store its solid remains (read: ash). This plant had it stored in a water-y sludge behind a damn, until the earthen dam ruptured. Spilling 1 billion gallons of toxic coal sludge into the local ecosystem -- into the watershed, a major watershed of the American South.


So much for clean coal...

Sunday, January 4

A tad late...

... but still a fairly warming picture. Happy Belated Holidays!
for the first time in 8 years the White House seems to be a symbol of hope. I definitely have my fingers-crossed

Saturday, January 3

For your knowledge

This is what the cool kids look like when hanging outside the Met Art Museum --


now you know...

WARNING

Do not count this as a real post...

Now children, you should never get so drunk that squatting against a glass divider in Penn Station at 3:50am seems like a reasonable idea.

Exhibit A.

Friday, January 2

Activism one person at a time...

For some reason, unbeknown to me, I seem to have very strong convictions about individual equalities and freedoms. Thus, living and voting in California this year was a special treat. I did what I could to fight for equality -- out there on election day (100 ft from the polling center, not being belligerent, as some less empathetic people claimed). Needless to say, I sent a few ripples through my family.

My Dad is a good man, but tends to drift towards homophobia, and my Mother is a religious woman. Now the election is long over, but over a recent dinner my mom brought up my views on gay marriage to my aunt. Low and behold, for both of them, their sticking point was, like many people's, about the use of the word marriage (my aunt in question is even more religious than my mother). They both felt gay individuals should be allowed to have "civil unions" (for a lack of a better word) that granted them exactly the same rights and privileges as marriage does.

I so my short speech began -- and to be honest I think I may have swayed my mom. I pointed out that in America, separate is not equal. Calling something a different name, but giving it the same qualities, makes it different. The problem for some people, is that marriage by definition, a religious definition, means between a man and a woman. Now, the last I checked, there was a separation of church and state in this country, and for the state marriage is a "contract" (again for a better lack of a term) that grants couples many, many rights and privileges. Rights in a court of law. Rights to make decisions for each other. Rights to file taxes, etc.

So the problem becomes that the same word has to be applied to the same rights. People can all undergo civil unions in the eyes of the government, and marriage can be left as a decision for each minister/pastor of each congregation. Or marriage can adopt a second meaning. There isn't many other ways around it. Sounds easy right? I wish...

And that doesn't even cover the people out there who believe homosexuality is a sin. Or that that gay people choose to be like that. As Jon Stewart put it "religion is far more of choice than homosexuality."