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


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.


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.


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


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


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.