Pizza for Dinner
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Easily Suggestable Indeed
I can be very suggestable at times, which was covered in a recent car conversation. By this I mean things like, hey let's watch Better Off Dead and not like, hey, give me $50. A good example is my blog. Most times I check my blog for comments or make a new post I glimpse my title and think, mmm pizza. I should get a pizza for dinner. Except I hardly ever do because pizza is expensive on a regular basis. Although delicious.

I am also craving doritos at the moment, partly because nearly polishing off an entire bag at Dave's parents' house merely whet my appetite and partly because I'm restless in the lab (way too much writing and reading type work lately, it's hard to focus for long periods of time) and food is a distraction. I'm going to have to get a bag at the store tonight because otherwise I'll buy a much smaller bag of nearly the same price from the vending machine downstairs every day. It's not even that I'm particularly hungry, but the idea is in my head and now I'm drooling like a pregnant woman at the thought of cheesy goodness.

A related thought: Has anyone ever found a store brand bag of doritos or fritos? There are off brand potato chips, popcorn and tostitos, but not the cheesy bretheren.

Friday, August 27, 2004
In German News ...

The RPI of Massachusetts
This is an interesting article. The current president of RPI, my alma mater, is a woman. She was actually the first black woman to earn a PhD from MIT (physics) and holds many such honors. So many that people questioned her dedication to the school and thought she may have been just looking for another feather in her cap.

At any rate, I think MIT should be applauded for publicly admitting bias against women and taking actual strides to correct that. I do take issue with the way the accomplishments are minimized, though, by saying women still make up only 18% of the faculty at the engineering/science institute. There are a few practical reasons this figure shouldn't be criticized. One, it appears from the article that Vest has been president for only 5 years and in that time has nearly doubled the number of women faculty. The number of positions opening and departments able to expand is limited. Two, he's dealing with a limited pool of applicants. The number of women with PhDs that are qualified to work at MIT and are interested in working at MIT (ie not already at another university or in industry for family reasons) is limited. MIT is not the only place to discriminate against women in science and engineering, especially women currently of the age to be looking for tenure. I made a similar argument in a staff editiorial of the Poly at RPI; you can't just admit more women to the school to even out the ratio, you need to admit women who are just as qualified as the men. And in many places girls are still discouraged from math and science or, at least, greatly encouraged into teaching, nursing or other typical woman jobs.

I am not on the inside circle of MIT administration, so I don't know that they did all they could to find the most qualified women in each field (carefully sidestepping lawsuits from spurned men looking for those positions) for new faculty positions but I do think great strides are continually being made and the focus should be on that rather than pointing out that the situation still is not perfect.

(Yeah, it was just one comment at the end of the article but you know fem nazi groups are disgruntled about this.)

Wednesday, August 25, 2004
Reasons it can be a little unsettling for women to live alone
1. As you're drifting off to sleep you swear it sounded like someone rustled your hot pink bean bag in the other room. Right next to the first floor patio doors.

2. After you get to sleep you're awakened by several thumps and your bedroom closet door slowly opens on its own. You tell yourself that after several hours of happiness in a bag on the shelf a few pairs of soccer socks just decided to make a break for it.

But hey, it's not like I woke to find a stranger at the foot of my bed. Thanks again for that reassuring comment, whoever you are.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004
Olympic-sized Troubles
This NY Times article nicely sums up most of the recent problems surrounding gymnastics at the Olympic Games.

The situation with Paul Hamm and Yang Tae Young of Korea has gotten a lot of press. The judges made errors, although I have heard nothing saying they were deliberate and with the goal of boosting the American's score. At an event meant to celebrate the best athletes of the world it is an unfortunate mistake that marrs the credibility of these judges, likely for their careers. Paul Hamm, however, does not appear to be involved in the scandal and is simply an amazing athlete looking to do his best. I give him credit for keeping his cool throughout his remaining competitions. At this level of competition there are many tiny errors being made, possibly because of pressure, possibly because of difficulty of the routines nowadays and the medalists are often separated by one .1 point error or .001 seconds. It seems to me that out of the top five athletes in any given event, more often than not the scoring is that tight and in gymnastics, where an actual clock for timing is replaced with human judges, personal preference of the artistic portion of the routine could determine the gold over the silver. According to the NBC announcers the other night that was the case on the men's rings. In any case, the Koreans had time during the competition to look at the scores, to look at the starting scoring value, and make sure everything was correct. They missed it then, which is why the problem is occurring now. FIG doesn't allow ties and they don't allow reevaluations of scores after the competition is over, unless the medal winner voluntarily gives up the medal when scoring problems are discovered.

Take two, last night at the men's individual events. Alexei Namov, a 12-time Olympic medalist, had a truly wonderful performance on the high bar but was scored much lower than anyone apparently thought was fair. The crowd booed for 10 minutes until the judges in question changed their scores, but not enough. He was placed third at that point, behind Morgan Hamm and the Korean with whom he was tied. The act to follow was Paul Hamm, quite unfortunate for him again. He tried to take the stage a few times with no success, it took Namov to ask the crowd to calm down before he could go on. The announcer who had met Namov said he was the best kind of guy and a true class act. He's also rather hot, but that's my assessment. Anyway, Paul ended up with a silver medal after tying for first, Morgan finished fourth after his tie breaker. Not a good night for gymnastics in that respect.

The case with another American champion, Carly Patterson, and Svetlana Khorkina is a bit different. Khorkina is an amazing athlete but unfortunately has the temper control of a 3 year old and looks like an ostrich. (That part's just plain mean, but come on, look at her face when she's yelling at someone. Or watch her run.) She was gracious at the medal ceremony for the women's all around but fired back a scant few days later saying Patterson wasn't real competition and judges should look at grace as much as technical mechanics. She also said the match was fixed from the beginning and she knew before her first event that she would not win. Well, there was no indication of that at the time so it looks as though she's just bitter. I can understand her complaints at Sydney, the vault was lower than it should have been and even though she had a chance to redo her vault her other events had been compromised when her confidence was shaken. Not withstanding the kind of pressure and stress she must have been under, it seems she's a drama queen who the Russians indulge because of her athletic dynasty. And I'm sure the smug attitudes of the American women after they won the silver team event didn't place them high in her esteem.

I think it's unfortunate that this has to go on. Like the American men who showboated in the 100m semifinals, it's sad to see detractions from what the games should be: a venue for men and women who worked hard for years to show the world amazing feats of athleticism. That's a rather naive viewpoint, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be the ideal of those involved. The most emotion shown should be the pure joy on someone's face after they did their best and were rewarded for it; gracious, pure joy.

Monday, August 23, 2004
What? No cartoons?
I found this article interesting. Especially the lack of drawing in the culture. Without numbers beyond none, one, a few, or many and without the simplest of drawings (a straight line was a problem) they're lacking huge chunks of most other cultures. Art and science will be completely different, if present. I'd like to know if there is a written language or if history and such is passed down on a completely oral basis. I suppose they could develop binary but computer programs would be out. I understand that an Amazonian tribe isn't exactly looking for the best deal on DSL but it's interesting to think about how much of the rest of the world's cultures they'd be able to develop on their own without these concepts that seem so key to communication and learning in most of the world. I've always found it interesting what isolated tribes come up with to accomplish universal tasks and how that differs from what I know as normal (think Mayans (Incas?) counting on a base 4, the space between fingers) but this is more extreme than most other examples I've heard about.

Saturday, August 21, 2004
It's a must
Garden State is an awesome movie. If you aren't already planning to see it you need to.

And then see Anchorman and Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.

But first, Garden State.

Thursday, August 19, 2004
Par for the Course
I've been really busy lately. My days are spent in the lab and my nights are spent working out, unpacking, and watching the Olympics. The lab is frustrating because although my cells grew fine this time and I got a great protein yield the western blot isn't quite working right on at least two of the five I need to do so I have to redo that and hope that the new buffer I made fixed the problem. The thing with experimental science is that you don't always know what the problem was so sometimes you just need to refresh all your reagents, strip down to your underwear, and do a special dance using mouse bones and powdered milk.

I also need to finish going through literature to come up with a decent thesis topic so my advisor can help me pick my committee. I'm almost done with this, so soon the problem will be getting a meeting with my advisor.

I've run a few times in the past few days after a long break from working out (due to moving for 3 weeks) and an even longer break from actually jogging. I died when I ran Saturday so I really need to get back on track to build up my pathetic endurance. I already know I'm a pathetic runner. No matter how hard I train I just can't go that fast, best case scenario I can run for a half hour to an hour if I don't get bored first. It's just the best way to keep in shape and lose a few pounds that I know of. That and possibly swimming in my complex's pool, if the weather warms up long enough.

The unpacking thing is bugging me but I have all the essentials unpacked. I am extremely anal retentive and neat though so having boxes and random crap scattered around my apartment bugs me. I'm not even going to mention the red wall that has light red splotches on it due to inadequately mixed paint from the beginning (See, I mixed it to prevent white streaks but the bottom had more white than red compared to the rest of the gallon of paint.) except to say that I'll be going to Meijer on Saturday if anyone else needs something from the store. Perhaps a peach or a drill press? But the unpacking is moving along so soon I'll have a nice, neat apartment with photos and paintings on the (nicely painted) walls (prints, I'm a grad student, my original Picasso is a few years away) and I can go back to taking my homemaker tendencies out on compulsive cleaning and occassional baking.

I've watched a bit of the Olympics as well, as mentioned above. I've always found it interesting and wished I could do cool gymnastic moves and such. I (and I believe the commentators) was a little surprised during the gymnastics at the number of small errors everyone was making. I expected a little more precision out of this caliber athlete, but fuck me, I can't do a pull up so I'm no one to talk. The men and women have been performing really well though and I felt so great for Paul Hamm last night, he was so shocked and excited when he won gold, it was a much better feeling than when the women won silver and were like, "Yeah, it's good. Look, I have a bunch of glitter in my eye I need to go rinse it out." I know they were expecting gold based on their first place win in the world competition last year but you can't walk in with a complacent attitude when your sport is gymnastics and your competitors are Romanian. They are hard core gymnasts. The swimming has been great to watch too, the women's relay destroyed a 17-year-old record last night which was really cool to see.

Now just to wait for the September Playboy to arrive so I can point at the athletes and say "Ha ha, I've seen you naked." Just kidding. But I am interested in who had the chutzpah to pose.

Saturday, August 14, 2004
trading spaces nightmare
There are a few things I've learned about my style over this last move, both from going through all my stuff and from picking up some new things for my new place.

1. I like chrome. Chrome bathroom fixtures, chrome appliances, it's all cool. One day all my kitchen appliances will be chrome on black and it will be a good day.

2. I like wood. This may go in the face of #1. Or maybe it makes sense in a feng shui way. I don't care, I just know that I also like stained wood furniture and floors. I think I prefer darker woods but as long as it's quality I'm happy.

3. I really like solid colors. This is also evident from my wardrobe. It's not that I don't like plaids or stripes or other patterns, I'm just very particular about which patterns I like and where I like them. Plaid walls, no. A small plaid on a bedspread, fine. My search for a shower curtain without a nautical theme was successful this move. It's a clear curtain with a white rice paper pattern on it. No fish or obnoxious blocky shapes.

3b. I don't like frilly, flowery, girly decorations.

4. If I had more money, my style would be different. This is something I realized a while ago while clothes shopping. I'm not (necessarily) talking designer clothes, hot tub in the bathroom different, but I would have more clothes of a higher quality. I'd be a bit more stylish. My clothes style now is a basic funtional/comfortable/classic style. Not trendy, not dowdy. A bit alternative/punky some times, but not in the Avril Lavigne "I'm a punk ... from Canada" way but the Brak t-shirt/slutty cargo pants kind of way. Also a bit 40s retro when I can pull it off. This is mostly for more formal outfits. I think my home decorating tastes are a nice complement. Although half my stuff is best classified as contemporary American crap. Moreso after the damage done to my desk, mattress and dresser this latest move, but most of that damage can be hidden and I am slowly replacing crap with higher quality.

So, this is a pretty general explanation of my style but it rules out a lot of the crap rooms on Trading Spaces for me. Just because I like the water doesn't mean you can put a giant anchor on my wall.

But I will take those designer clothes and hot tub now.

Friday, August 13, 2004
a crazy story
I'm waiting for Comcast and playing A Wedding Story in the background. Except this isn't the usual wedding story freakshow, they have soap opera actors acting as their characters getting married for the third time. It's crazy, yet I can't turn it off. They say things like "next thing I knew she drove her car off a bridge. I dived in after her and searched for hours but found nothing." and "turns out I had been living on an amish farm for 5 years".

As weird as it is to watch these actors introduce the characters before dipping into the narrative style of A Wedding Story, assuming the role of the character again, I'd feel weirder being the actors. You're playing your character on a reality show, it's just bizarre. And you know some viewers won't get that it's fake.

Monday, August 09, 2004
this blog outage brought to you by the letter k and the number 9
So blogger occassionally blanks on me when I change my template to add a link. It'll be like this until I can get my desktop up and running and get to the template file. Not that you'll be able to see this notice until then, but at least you'll know what happened.

a simple quandary
I've reached the point in my day when I'm left with nothing to do but read literature to gather background knowledge in order to formulate ideas about my thesis project. I don't like this time of day because it forces me to read papers that may or may not be complete bullshit and think about cellular pathway connections that no one has yet realized we may be able to target for cancer treatment. The pressure of working with a relatively hot topic in the cancer bio field combined with the fact that my cells are likely to take the gold medal in uncooperativeness isn't helping. On the other hand I get to be cool and say things like, I'm looking for a novel pathway to treat fatal prostate cancer, what do you do?

Anywho, my problem is thus: Do I read in the lab and get little done because Chatty Cathy will want to talk and other people/things will be distracting or do I go home to read and not read because I will start painting or doing laundry or do one of the many other tasks that need to be completed asap? Previously, I had been choosing option B because the Horribly Drawn-Out Move from Hell (tm) has convinced me that my time was better spent trying to get all my mail forwarded and faceplates back on the outlets in my kitchen. Today I think I might just stay in the lab and get 3 pages of a paper read before 5pm and here's why. Mostly because my advisor seems to be under the impression that I'm a lazy dumbass who's never here. There isn't a lot of evidence for the not here part but I'm certain (as in I heard her) that Satan has convinced him of the first two. (Apparently, if I want to get away with not working in the lab I need to either make other people do all my work and take credit for it/fudge results or sleep with my PI. Neither will happen. The latter I'm sure to his dismay.) I'm hoping that opinion will change shortly now that she's gone, but he isn't here so much either to see that I am industrious. At any rate, the other positives to staying in lab for a while longer are that I have an actual chair and there is caffeine downstairs. I've already had a 20oz coffee but I slept so horribly last night that I think I'll get a cherry coke in a while. Just two more nights of sleeping on the floor! Yay! My back is printing up the invitations to the party it will certainly throw when it can sleep in a bed for extended periods of time again. All are invited. That's not meant to be dirty. Unless the answer is yes. (I will so not get bored of that.)

On another note, if you're curious as to what I'm painting, here's an idea. Keep in mind that my color palette is limited, I may post photos when I have furniture and decorations and stuff.

The bedroom
The living room (not really this fluorescent, more just light green)
The dining area. That's right bitches, I am painting my walls red. Which, fyi, is really time consuming. I knew it would take a few coats but I've done at least 6 already and I'm tired of standing on my new coffee table to paint the part of the wall close to the ceiling. There are only so many times you can drag the coffee table over your toe before you don't want to move it any more. And by so many times I mean once.

Friday, August 06, 2004
i'm 3/4 atlantic
long-decayed brain of Plato indeed

interesting, but the fact that no one thought of it before makes me suspect it's the too-obvious choice.

Monday, August 02, 2004
San Francisco Treat
Some random highlights from my trip thus far:
unicorn licks
josie and the pussyhats and flock of seagulls (caw!)
scotty doesn't know and the french robot
CHEESY lasagna
new pumas, complete with blisters!
judith butlers hair and cum palace
sanjay dancing on a chair, complete with photos AND video (to come soon)
completing my utility transfers remotely since I can move into my apartment tomorrow!
and, of course, midnight flights

explanations may or may not come soon, depending on how I feel about explaining some of this.

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