Thursday, November 27, 2003

I just had a rather sudden realization of a strange coincidence.

I went to Northwestern University, and worked in a lab as an undergrad workstudy student.

One of the other people who worked in the lab was a research assistant named Aaron. He had already gotten a bachelor's degree, but was working at the moment instead of pursuing more schooling.

He did his undergraduate work at Vanderbilt.

Now I'm a research assistant at Vanderbilt.

Kinda strange... of course this coincidence has nothing to do with why I'm working at Vanderbilt... perhaps that's why I didn't think of it till today... that plus the fact that when I was working at NU I was operating under the impression that Vanderbilt was somewhere in Indiana...

Now, Jason, the lab manager here went to indiana... (continue for a few more connections until I end up at kevin bacon)

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Not much to say about today, other than to offer you all a Thanksgiving Greeting.

Hope you like it.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Two pieces of business. First of all, I think despite my best efforts, my NU email address is experiencing some problems. So, until further notice you should direct communications to pDOTmartinATvanderbiltDOTedu. This change has been reflected in the email link at top right.

Secondly, I've uploaded the preliminary index of essays in my "On Naturalis" series. You can follow the essays link at top right to reach this page. As essays get to readable stage, they will be posted there.

Oh yes, one more thing... 6 and 6 for the season, and we beat our rivals!!

~! Go Cats !~

Friday, November 21, 2003

I'm looking at a ladybug right now... or maybe it's one of those japanese killer glorious pestilential beatles... anyhow it's rather fascinating...

It reminds me of an F6F on a carrier in the pacific. The wings seem to be folded up inside the outside shell, and then evidently unfold out when necessary.

I've also examined what seem to be the mixillary palps... they really seem to move around alot as if the beatle is tasting everything in front of it... very strange.
Two notes related to popular music today.

First of all, I had an interesting dream not last night but the night before. I didn't think much of it at the time. However, when I got home from work last night at around 9:00, I turned on the tube while I made some dinner. I happened to switch on MTV2... a blink-182 song was playing next so I kept it on (I'm not a real fan, but some of their songs remind me of the high school days). Well, the video was of their new single "feeling it" and as I watched I was amazed to see that they had made a music video out of the dream that I had had the past night. Very strange... but a certain interviewee might want to check it out...

The second bit of pop music info is more of a laudation. I'd like to thank Bare Naked Ladies for making a song about a group underrepresented in music these days... monkeys.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

I've been following events at NU through the medium of the IV listserve. Of particular note for the past week or two was an incident of violence involving a student and the subsequent reaction of the student body on campus.

It seems that a student of hispanic ethnicity was not only harrassed with messages on their door, but actually physically assaulted with a knife.

Except he made it up.

Now, prior to this revelation, the whole student body was up in arms. Various "minority" organizations had banded together to stage a silent protest throughout an entire school day by wearing black and refusing to speak in any classes. Folks in IV understandably wanted to do their part in demonstrating their concern and compassion for those who might be targeted solely on the basis of their pigmentation.

When I first read about the situation and subsequent action I was rather shocked. First of all, I found it incredibly difficult to believe that anyone on a college campus would (even if they happened to hold disparaging views of hispanic folk, which in itself would seem very unlikely) dare to act against another person with words and especially with physical violence in a manner that even might be construed as being race based. (unless the victim was Jewish) I mean really, who among students who could get admitted to northwestern would be so incapable of "reading the times" that they would do such a thing. I assumed that most likely the culprit was not a member of the community and that therefore the whole brouhaha on campus would have very little effect.

As it turned out, I was right in my assumption, but for the wrong reason.

I think this whole incident goes to show just how dangerous it is to categorize crime based on perceived motivation.

Imagine if a student had been attacked with a knife and simply asked for their money. The story would have ended up as a paragraph long column in the police blotter section in the middle of the Daily. No one would say or think anymore about it.

Unless the victim was a woman, the assailant was a male, and the word "slut" happened to be uttered at some point.

Then Take Back the Night would have been all up in arms, and there would have been rallies at the rock and lighted candles late at night, and frat boys having to forgoe sleeping with their girlfriends so as to appear 'sensetive'.

All because the crime fell under the rubric of being part of the vast history of evil males oppressing virtuous females.

Don't misunderstand me... I'm all against violent crime. I think violent offenders should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. But to make the same violent crime better or worse based on a perceived "-ism" on the part of the offender? Sounds suspiciously like making some criminals "more equal" than others...
Yesterday evening at 5 I went along with basically everyone else in the lab to hear E.O. Wilson speak. Wilson is emeritus faculty at Harvard, after having been a famous entymologist there earlier in his career. His talk was the culmination of the day's events, and he was to speak on the topic "The Future of Life".

I was expecting some grand sweeping picture of how this fellow expected life to evolve over the next century, millenia, million, billion years.

Instead, he spoke more about preserving diversity of life on earth, and how not enough is being done to protect rapidly vanishing species.

Quite apart from whether or not his facts and/or proposed solutions to the situation were correct, I found it a rather difficult talk to take seriously... and frankly I'm surprised that many others did either...

This goes along with my continuing investigation of the implications of Naturalism, but I'd like to share it here (and then work it into an essay later).

It seems to me that for preservation of species to be something that one should be concerned about, one must believe one or both of the following:

  • Life is intrinsically valuable apart from any benefits it may give to people, and therefore should be preserved.

  • Human life is inherently valuable, and therefore steps which are taken to preserve or improve human life should be taken.

To believe solely the first one, one would seemingly have to be an anamist or a vitalist, believing that there is some inherent "force" or "source" or "light" manifested in life that is outside of the realm of the physical world.

To believe the second one, one seemingly has to be a theist.

Before people think I'm getting ahead of myself, let me clarify what I mean. Certainly a person could not be a theist and still choose to belive that humans have inherent value for instance, but they would be choosing to do so without it being logically supported by other beliefs they also accepted. An athiest can believe that humans have an inherent value, but in doing so they are not following the implications of their other chosen belief to their logical end. Of course there may be many ways that this decision might be justified ("I'm a human, so of course I'm going to think my own species is valuable" or "I just feel like humans are important") but these justifications are emotional and not logical in basis.

Anyhow, the point is, I highly doubt that Prof. Wilson or a large chunk of the audience would claim to be either anamists or theists...

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Up pulls a limo, up goes a thrill,
The Suits are picking up the bill

--Squirrel Nut Zippers

That's the song lyric of the day. We had the deep pockets visiting the building today. Larry took them around the lab for about five minutes... I got the feeling that each PI probably got 5 minutes for their spiel and then they moved on to the next lab. We had the lab in tip top shape for the occaision. No festering plates of bacteria or open vats of ethidium bromide and sulfuric acid just lying around today, no siree.

There was also a lunch buffet, ostensibly for "faculty and staff" presumably to get us in high spirits for the arrival of our visiting dignitaries. The food was catered but it honestly didn't give much occaision for spirits much higher than the floor they were being served on. There were also many "faculty and staff" whom I had never before seen in my life... one of the benefits of holding the lunch in a building directly connected to medical center north...

The spread was salad with two choices of dressing, some veggie wrap thingys, chicken that was colored a strange light orange, and some beanful chili. They actually had coolers full of full size soft drink cans.

Fritos were also served.

There was also a string quartet that was playing in the foyer on the 3rd floor (which only days ago was surrounded by yellow tape to mark it as an area made dangerous by the possibility of falling construction debris from the work going on high above on the 9th floor).

Evidently these folks have a lot of money.

I'm rather surprised I didn't see the CEO.

Perhaps all his money is in bonds.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Ok, if you'll recall the post I made several days ago about sex in television advertisements...

I just picked up a free copy of the 26 September issue of Science magazine from the departmental office. On the fourth page there is a full page advertisement. A third of the space is taken up by a picture of three young ladies frolicking in the surf of the ocean, lifting their skirts to expose their legs...

The advertiesment is for Qiagen real time PCR products.

I just went to a lecture given by Prof. Carthew of NU. Partially I went because he was speaking about RNAi which interests me, but part of me just was eager to see someone else associated with the NU community, even a professor... kinda like meeting up with an American when you're overseas I guess.

Anyhow, the lecture was interesting, although not quite what I expected. He talked much more about his labs work on the drosophila eye development and less on RNAi mechanism. Still, it was an interesting lecture. The worst part was, by the time I got there, there was no food left...

Speaking of getting there, it was rather a nightmare. Larry invited people to go, but I couldn't leave at just that minute since I was setting up a reaction. I ended up leaving what I thought was a few minutes later with Tan. We went down to the basement of our building and then headed south through the tunnels under the medical center. The lecture was supposed to be on the 8th floor of the Preston research building, which is south of Light hall, and actually one of the buildings that flanks my route to work as described last week. We headed up to the 7th floor in Light hall and continued walking south, and then got to PRB and went up a floor.

No lecture hall.

Just animal care facilities.

Thankfully we were evidently not the first people to come this way since some helpful person directed us to go back downstairs, and then do a kind of 'S' turn through the hallways. We actually picked up a few followers at this point who were going the same direction, so we wandered around the halls for a while until we found another elevator.

This one didn't go upstairs.

So we walked through even more hallways. Past labs, and cubicles, and conference rooms and coffee breakrooms. Finally we found a third elevator, and we hoped it was the right one since we were at a dead end.

It was.

But there was no food left.

And Larry and the rest of the lab actually got there after us. Standing room only.

My right hand feels like it's been exposed to fiberglass within the past hour... I'm really not certain why, since there is no fiberglass in the lab. The only thing I can think of is my gloves, since they've been on my hands, but... it would be weird for gloves to have fiberglass on their interior surfaces.

I'm going home now.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Internet wonder of the day #472:

Remember when the Ewoks took some down?

The moon looked really interesting this evening... there were some clouds in the sky which obscured part of it, making it look like a crescent, but the crescent was not in the normal direction, it was rotated ~90 degrees.

Weird coincidence of the week:

Last spring, as certain groups protested the war, I watched a few videos of said protestors online at a site called braint-terminal. If you watch that particular video, you'll see some clips of an interview with a particular fellow, part of a longer interview here. Now, in all honestly, I'm not sure whether to ridicule this fellow or feel sorry for him; he would seem to either have completely ridiculous views on the world or be mentally ill in some way... or both. Anyhow, it would seem that the boy-toy has seen this fellow several times during his travels in SF. Very weird if you ask me, since it's such a big city, but then again, activists I suppose make it their business to be seen.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Well, it would seem that there will be no music city bowl for NU this year :(.
Pity, it would have been fun to see a post season game this year.

So, last night Di and I once again ventured out to the theatre, this time with only one other couple. We stopped for ice cream before meeting them at the theatre... Moo something or other was the name of the shop... typical ice cream shoppe.
I have to say I was not as enthusiastic as the CEO about "Love Actually". I'm more inclined to agree with the Onion AV club review, which stated that the film was actually the makings of a half dozen hit romantic comedies that the writer could have done, but generously decided to cram into one film so that people would only have to buy one ticket. It was a fine date movie, but either the Limies are a lot less squeamish about the human body than American audiences, or the director wanted to give the young ladies' dates something to enjoy during the film, cause there was rather a lot of casual nudity. It must be since I'm an uncultured American that I point it out rather than simply accepting it as art.

The film was interesting though in that it perhaps provided a peek into the psyche of our UK brethren... not to deconstruct things too much, but evidently the British are convinced that US females are reduced to bisexual sorority girl male fantasy archetypes by an english accent, and democratic presidents are insatiable womanizers...

I could be overanalyzing.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

In response to recent NY post article, I decided to create a little campaign poster for the democrats for the 2004 presidential election.

Hopefully you all recognize the peace prize recipient on the left... you may not be familiar with the fellow on the right. He's a simple holy man... he happens to be the leader of a group of Muslim devotees called Hizb'allah...
Hopefully many folks will take their wishes to heart this fall when they enter the ballot box.

Friday, November 14, 2003

I don't watch television that often, but lately... man I'm getting fed up with advertisements...

Everything, and I mean everything is getting sold via sex these days... I mean, it was one thing when lonely man staples such as beer and nice automobiles were accompanied with male fantasy archetypes in televised commercials... I can even see the idea behind sex and hygiene products like deoderant or breath freshening chewing gum -- far-fetched perhaps that your elemental gum or hatchet-like body smell spray would instantly make you irresistable to the opposite sex yes, but at least within the realm of pheremone induced possibility...

But food? And even worse, last night, furniture! And this commercial wasn't even the normal guy-getting girl story line either... it was a girl and a guy making out all the way up a staircase, getting to the apartment room, opening the door, and then the guy fleeing, followed by the grim text "Maybe it's your furniture". Ignoring the realism of the situation (What heterosexual guy has ever turned down sex because of a woman's furniture?) the simple question remains... why?!

I'm disgusted, and I shan't be buying any wares advertised in such a liscivious manner...

Well... maybe the deoderant...

In ralated news... It's disconcerting when a character in a video game asks you to remove your clothing.
Perhaps some explanation is in order... I've been playing around with morrowind recently, after a long absence. Ben and Tim first introduced me to the game last year, and while enjoyable for a time, like anything else it is best in moderation. Anyhow... the game is a roleplaying game where you take the role of an individual in this medieval/fantasy world... Anyhow, the current goal of my character is to find a sponsor among the NPCs (non-player characters ie. characters in the game the the computer controls... in this case everyone but your character) to help advance in rank in this tradesmen's guild. Well, when I talked to one particular NPC who was a prospect for being a sponsor, that character's response came up on the screen as "I'd love to, but first you've got to show me what you have to offer." and then he quit talking to me... I was confused until I opened the "journal" function which automatically tracks important events and remarks, and it said the this fellow wanted me to remove my garments... thankfully in game this involves only a few deft mouse clicks (and leaves undergarments remaining thankfully... no one wants to see elven private parts) however I decided right then to ignore this particular fellow and find another option... even in game a person's gotta have standards.

Finally, I wish to encourage all of you still in the Evanston area to attend the game tomorrow against Michigan, and cheer like you've never cheered before. Carl has informed me that if we beat Michigan and Illinois these next two games that there's good chance of our coming to the Music City bowl, which happens to take place in Nashville. This would mean that I could see the 'cats this year, and anyone else who wanted to attend the game would be welcome to stay at my place... so... good luck and good rooting...

I'm doing 96-well PCR reactions today... that essentially means you're setting up the same reaction 96 times, with just a small change (in this case, the bacteria in each reaction) each time. I've still not gotten used to the multipipetters... Instead of pipetting everything one reaction at a time, 96 times, the multipippetter allows one to pipette 8 reactions at a time, 12 times... this ostensibly speeds things up... but not when you can't get have the tips to actually take up any liquid... I found the problem though, and it seems to be tips I was trying to use... we have both white and yellow color p200 tips.... the white ones don't like the multipipetter.

In other news, I see that E in the MNizzle has given her page a redesign...

Must get mine done soon... monkeys... crawling all over...
Ok, ok...
There were four (4) guests in the forum when I checked it out just now...
Now I'm certain that these were not four random people who walked in off the street...
Which means they were in fact you... people who read this website...
And yet... there were only the posts that I had made... hmmm...
just take the two minutes to create a user name and post something in there...
if you don't want to put down a "real" email address, go to Yahoo Mail and create a junk account, and then start posting...

Thank you.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

And you say I don't respond to the wishes of my readership!

As of today, I'm instituting a new message board/comments system. You will be able to comment on individual posts and/or chew the fat on more general topics.

You can go to the new message board by going to

The New Forum

Or feel free to leave comments...

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

I've taken to walking a new route to work recently, as construction on the hospital progresses. Previously I would head down either 21st or 24th avenue, and then hook west or east respectively to get to my building. These two streets bracket the whole hospital complex on the east and west sides. Now I'm walking straight north from my apartment and cutting through the medical center. They've finally opened up the elevated walkway between the children's hospital and the main hospital, so now I enter the parking garage, go up some stairs, over some bridges, and I'm suddenly in the midst of the hospital. It really is huge... when you're in the middle, you're really in just an alcove of cement and strategically placed plants, with building rising up on both sides of you... things really get hairy when a helicopter is landing on top of the hospital too... the noise is incredible.

Anyhow, this new route has introduced me to some new scenery. And I'm disturbed. Very disturbed. Located in an unpretentious spot, just south of the cafeteria, nestled amongst some bushes is a sculpture, dark metallic. This sculpture consists of four babes, nay wingless cherubs, gleefully and playfully climbing an double-helical structure. The face of the one who has reached the top beams, as his arms stretch outward in an embrace of heaven.

Very disturbing.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Armistice day... thanks to all our young men and women who are keeping the peace.

Had a real epic dream last night... it was a spy thriller, and I was the spy. I had to shoot some soviet-esque guards, get chased around a lake, and almost get exposed several times... like when I was being led around by this innocent dude, who had to step out for a moment and then a guard recognized me and I had to shoot him and hide the body all before the first guy came back. Quite a stunning dream.

Wow... coming off of a great run of halloween related non-email material, and the brothers chaps still manage to turn out a great email.
Homestar's lines in this one are hilarious... his inflection itself is so funny.

Monday, November 10, 2003

I just realized that tomorrow is armistice day.

Had a little bit of an adventure saturday night.

Di and I went out to see the new matrix film, since I owed her a movie, and some folks from her lab were going as well already. We headed down into what Di informed me was the heard of yuppie town -- the green hills mall. We stopped by the local Baja Fresh where my wallet was taken advantage of by the prices on the menu. Eight bucks for a burrito and a drink?!?! And the burrito wasn't even as good as Chipotle. George Davis is totally in the right about Baja Fresh... it wasn't even the Chipotle awarded free merchandise that bought his loyalty... it's simply a better product.

Anyhow, I was shocked when I went to the window to purchase the tickets and the young lady at the counter asked for ID. I was confused.... I couldn't even figure out why she would ask for ID... I wasn't trying to get a case of malbs or a fifth... I finally figured out that the movie was in fact rated R, and evidently I look like I'm under 17. Weird...

The film was ok... didn't really answer some of the questions I had, but it did at least complete the story line. I found it hilarious that the human walkers held their autocannons akimbo style, like some gigantic metallic hong kong gangster...

Our adventure came after the movie, after we had gone back to my apartment. Di was going to head home, but realised that she no longer had her driver's liscence or credit card. We drove back to the mall, scoured the parking lot, and then went back to the theatre. Thankfully there was no film in session in the theatre we had occupied, and some security dude let us poke around. The cards were easily spotted under the seat.

Not a huge adventure, but it got the adreneline flowing for a little bit...

Friday, November 07, 2003

I was on my way to the core (the biological equivilant of your neighborhood 7-11 store) when I saw what seemed like a really strange thing at the time.

These two orderlies were pushing a bed with a patient in it through the hallway.

Then they started running.

I thought to myself "did that patient's heart just stop or something? that they need to move him so quickly all of a sudden. Then however, just as quickly as they had started, they stopped running as they turned a corner and some other people came into view.

Were they just having fun at an unconscious patient's expense? Like riding shopping carts in the grocery store parking lot? Or had the patient himself requested a little bit of a ride?

I found out on the way back from the core. This time a bed was being pushed by five orderlies. Suddenly they all started running and pushing.

This time I noticed that there was an incline in the hallway's floor at that location... so they needed a running start to get up the slope.
I've not been hugely impressed by GW's public speaking in the past, but this is one good speech.

Read this

Thursday, November 06, 2003

A big thank you to everyone who sent me birthday email or postal mail!

For my birthday, Di was kind enough to go pick up Korean food after work, and so we dined together at my apartment. She even brought me a chocolatey cake with berries and a candle. It was quite birthday like...
I really don't feel 23... I thought about it though, and I certainly don't feel younger than 18. I think I feel about 19... or 20... still university age.
I guess monkeys age differently than humans.

This morning I got a cell phone call from Di... she was at a gas station and had a flat tire... the flat tire was from trying to fill the tire up with air. The pump at the gas station seemed to depress the little valve on the tire without actually pumping any air in, so everytime she tried to pump, the tire got flatter. I drove out to see if I could help. Some nice gentleman behind us had some sort of small portable pump, and that worked to get her tire partially filled, enough to drive across the street to a different gas station whose pump seemed to work much more intuitively. Kind of a strange adventure for thursday morning before work.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

It smells like worms outside.

What fourteen letters convince me that America is the greatest society thusfar in mankinds history?


The existence of this website is in my mind reason enough (although there are many other reasons) for us to continue with confidence in our way of life...

Meanwhile, the donkeys continue to bray, while a senate democrats plot how to use US intelligence documents to discredit the preseident...

yup... nothing better to spend their time on... not as if there are national security concerns or anything...

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

I want to write, but I can't seem to compose my thoughts...
oh well..

I guess today I'm 23...


Monday, November 03, 2003

Quote of the day:

"I find it hard to believe, but these naive nine have managed to combine the worst feature of the McGovern campaign--the president is a liar and we must have peace at any cost--with the worst feature of the Mondale campaign--watch your wallet, we're going to raise your taxes. George McGovern carried one state in 1972. Walter Mondale carried one state in 1984. Not exactly role models when it comes to how to get elected or, for that matter, how to run a country.
So, as I have said, my choice for president was an easy decision. And my own party's candidates made it even easier."

That's from Democratic Senator Zell Miller of Georgia.